As Pedantic of Purley pointed out recently, it has been some time since we properly paid Crossrail some attention. As much as it is important to delve into the world of timetables and capacity though, we should not forget that, as we speak, construction continues beneath the streets of London. Indeed Crossrail’s final Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) actually launched at Pudding Mill today.

With seven other launches now under their belt, however, even Crossrail themselves would likely admit that there is little of interest still to see there. Instead we therefore turn our attention to one of the sections of tunnel and station that is more advanced – the Eastern Tunnels and Canary Wharf station.

The story so far

Stretching from Limmo Peninsular (adjacent to Canning Town DLR) to Farringdon, the Eastern Tunnels represent the largest stretch of boring to be carried out by TBMs on the Crossrail project. Two of Crossrails Herrenknecht TBMs, Victoria and Elizabeth, were lowered into the Limmo shaft in October 2012, with Elizabeth launching first and Victoria shortly after. Last spring Elizabeth reached Canary Wharf, breaking through into the awaiting Canary Wharf station box in May 2013. Since then her journey has continued, reaching Whitechapel at the end of last month. Meanwhile her sister TBM, Victoria, has now also long left Canary Wharf behind, reaching the Stepney Green Caverns at the beginning of the month.

Canary Wharf station itself remains one of the more advanced stations in terms of completion. We last looked at the station back in September and since then, as can be seen from the photos below, work on the internal and subterranean levels has effectively reached fit out stage, with walls and escalators now in place. Meanwhile up on top, the roof is now largely in place (complete with tree-friendly open panels to support growth in the roof garden).

And now, without further ado, the pictures…


The view looking up to the top of the 40 metre deep Limmo shaft


A better view of the conveyor mechanism used to rapidly move spoil up the shaft


Looking down the eastbound tunnel from the shaft (looking west)


Looking down the westbound tunnel from the shaft (looking west)


Looking back down the westbound tunnel (looking east)


Looking east down the eastbound tunnel from the temporary platform at Canary Wharf


The temporary platform at Canary Wharf


How workers and visitors move through the tunnel


Canary Wharf at platform level


The fitted, but boxed in, escalators at platform level


Looking up from platform level at Canary Wharf


Looking down onto the platform level from the ticket hall


The top of the fitted, but boxed in, escalators at ticket hall level


One side of the ticket hall


The other side of the ticket hall


Looking up the ticket hall, next to the lift shaft


The final wall finish


Looking back down the ticket hall, with the final floor finish exposed.


A closer look at the final ticket hall floor finish


Escalators up out of the ticket hall level


A closer look at the escalators (on the other side of the station)


Stairs up to the second level of retail space.


The shop level, beginning to take shape


The bridge over from Canary Wharf Square


At shop level, with the roof latices to the right


The roof garden at Canary Wharf station


A closer view of the roof latices, designed to allow tree growth

jump to the end
There are 488 comments on this article
  1. stimarco says:

    FYI: “lattices”, not “latices”.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great photos, although the conveyor mechanism is still hard to spot.

    I am liking the colourful escalators, reminds me of Rem Koolhaus’s Seattle Public Library.

  3. stimarco says:

    Also, phwooar! More construction and engineering pr0n!

    Although that temporary platform is clearly going to require SDO. I wonder if double-decker trains could use it too?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Just to be pedantic, peninsular is the adjective pertaining to a peninsula!

  5. Snowy says:

    Love the size of the narrow gauge locomotive in comparison, Ian Visits photos suggests they are pretty cramped inside, can you stand up?

  6. DVD says:

    But no connections to the Jubilee Line or the DLR (as far as I am aware). Must be the only central London Crossrail station without such tube links. So will passengers changing from Crossrail to Jubilee / DLR and vice versa really have to exit the station, pass through the Canary Wharf office complex, then re-enter another station ? I appreciate that connecting them all up would probably have involved difficult tunnelling under or around the CW skyscrapers, but surely it shows a lack of planning ?

  7. Matt-Z says:

    Wow, great pics here and on IanVisits. I think I may have to start my own blog in a feeble attempt to get tickets to construction site tours.

    On a serious note, when does the service track come out and the permanent stuff go in? Obviously tunnels need completing first and no doubt a host of other works.

  8. stimarco says:


    Crossrail will have a proper interchange with the Jubilee at Bond Street if you want to head out to the north-west.

    Remember, this branch of Crossrail terminates only a few stops further out at Abbey Wood, so anyone wanting Greenwich or Waterloo East can just use the existing North Kent line for those. Similarly, passengers wanting other destinations on the DLR will probably prefer to catch it from Woolwich. It’s not that much further down the line, so you won’t gain much benefit from taking Crossrail.

    You can also get to Stratford by changing one station along at Whitechapel. So why bother with an expensive interchange?

    The Crossrail station at Canary Wharf will also actually have a direct link – you can see a picture of one of the walkways in the article – to the DLR’s Poplar station from Canary Wharf itself, passing right through the station site. (It’s basically a big multi-storey shopping centre with a station at the bottom and a fancy roof garden, so the developers really want to encourage passing trade!)

    You can see a good overview image on the Crossrail website’s page for the station, right here. Click on it to zoom in and see a slideshow of other images. The overview image does show multiple routes across the station from the Canary Wharf complex and across to Poplar. (The adjacent West India Quay DLR station’s recent modifications make it slightly less useful as an interchange as some trains don’t even stop there any more.)

  9. Timmy! says:

    Another fascinating article – thanks! I’m still amazed by the size of the tunnels, shafts (that second picture is quite inspiring) and the stations when we get pictures like these. Londonist has a ride on one of worker trains here.

    Interesting colour scheme on the escalators – vibrant!

  10. Walthamstow Writer says:

    I must work out how to get on the “C list” VIP register for Crossrail visitors 😉 I wonder if the Crossrail press head honcho is still the former LU press person I had some dealings with??? I am ever so slightly jealous that you’ve managed to get a tunnel ride and a good view inside Canary Wharf. I thought I was doing well to get on the current series of “half way there” site visits. Nice photos and really interesting to see finishes being applied at Canary Wharf.

  11. Ian J says:

    Great pictures. Do you know whether the Limmo shaft will remain in the finished project, or will it be filled in?

  12. Anonymous says:

    There are two shafts at Limmo. The main shaft and an auxiliary shaft. The auxiliary shaft leads down into the end of the mined tunnels in picture 5. The auxiliary shaft will eventually be backfilled while the main shaft will act as a ventilation and access shaft. The auxiliary shaft was needed to help build the TBM below ground due its length.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Walthamstow writer – yes, the head of press for Crossrail is ex TfL press office.

  14. Ian J says:

    @anonymous: thanks. A brief blast of sunlight for future Crossrail travellers then!

  15. AlisonW says:

    DVD: Canary Wharf is hardly “central” London. Indeed it isn’t by definition!

  16. Anon5 says:

    AlisonW: True but looking at the a Central London tube map on the District line carriage I’m currently riding on, Canary Wharf is clearly there. In TfL’s mind it’s central!

  17. Fandroid says:

    @DVD. The naming of stations at Canary Wharf is somewhat confusing. The nearest DLR stations to Canary Wharf Crossrail station are Poplar and West India Quay. Similarly, the nearest DLR station to the Jubilee Line Canary Wharf station is Heron Quays. The problem is that the whole complex is known as Canary Wharf, so the ‘big’ line stations have that name, but the smaller DLR stations are named after their actual position within the complex. For those in the know, interchange is fairly easy.

  18. superlambanana says:

    @DVD, the crossrail station will have a direct overbridge to the DLR at Poplar, I believe – it is already there, but the Crossrail end is hanging in mid-air.

  19. Messiah says:

    It looks like it will be possible to go underground from Crossrail to the Jubilee line by the passageway created where Costa used to be before it moved about 10m to the side (near Waitrose). Crossrail will have good connection to DLR (across the road from the walkway pictured, out of the end to West India Quay or across the road to Poplar. What isn’t clear to me yet is which of these (if any) would require you to touch out and in again (e.g. Shadwell) or would be behind the barriers (e.g. Bank). I would guess the first option is more likely.

  20. Josh says:

    I’m not so sure about that looks for the walls. Looks kind of 80s reburb.

    In terms of look, obviously only going by the renders, my favourite is Paddington. I notice there is no real attempt at a common motif. It has meant a number of stations have kind of bland finishes.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Great pictures, the station looks like it will end up similar to the endless stream of new metros in China… one thing though, are you sure that is a 40ft shaft at Limmo? Maybe 40m unless referring to the diameter?

  22. Tim says:

    The amount of money being spent on a single train station in Canary Wharf is obscene. The rest of the country is starved for transport spending.

  23. ngh says:

    Re Anon

    I had pondered about the 40′ (12.2m) vs 40m? as well at Limmo.
    40′ deep might be a bit wet as you would be hideously close the to bottom of the Lea. But 40′ diameter doesn’t work either as sizing from the tunnels suggests it is about 1.5 times the size… So possibly 40′ above the top of tunnel?

  24. Pedantic of Purley says:


    The point is though that if you spend money in London on Crossrail it is truly an investment as it generates wealth. Over time the government (and the GLA and businesses) will get back far more revenue from Crossrail and its enormous stations than they ever cost to build. This has all been analysed in great detail.

    If anywhere in the rest of the country can produce figures to the treasury to show that a transport investment will produce far more revenue in the long term than they put in I am sure that they would jump at the chance to invest in it.

    What you find of obscene most people in London think of as pure prudent economic sense. This attitude is maybe why London is doing very well and many of us are rather puzzled when we switch on the news and learn about something called a recession. And incidentally, since London effectively subsidises the rest of the country, you need things like Crossrail so London can generate the wealth so that we can subsidise your much needed by-pass or whatever.

  25. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ Tim
    26 February 2014 at 10:41

    That’s the wrong end of the telescope. The station is being paid for and built by the private sector owners of Canary Wharf, they are ahead of time and under budget, and will secure commercial lettings from shopping etc on top – and more importantly will allow the job numbers in the area to head towards 250,000 by the mid 2020s. It’s the jobs and Gross Value Added which make the case, both for Crossrail as a whole and for this station.

  26. ngh says:

    Re Tim
    Isn’t “Canary Wharf” effectively paying for their new station* out of private funds?

    *Shopping centre with station below hence the coloured glass escalators and so on…

  27. Milton Clevedon says:

    You also need a seriously big station to cope with the seriously large numbers of passengers that are expected!

  28. HTFB says:

    Look at the strip lights on the first three pictures. They’re clearly illuminating the landings of a staircase up the shaft, so each level must be slightly more than 2m apart vertically. (Also, three levels gets to the top of the tunnel). I count 17 levels from floor to ground. 40ft is almost exactly the width of the two running tunnels (6.2m is 20ft 4 in) if they touched; clearly the shaft is much wider than that. So 40ft must be an error for 40m.

    [OK you have sufficiently convinced me to change John Bull’s post. 40 metres it is. PoP]

  29. Rich says:

    @Tim, in addition to Pedantic’s point I note that £150m of the £500m cost of the station is being contributed by Canary Wharf (the landlord of the estate).

    It’s a shame that there aren’t more private local stakeholders that are able to “put their money where their mouth is” to secure improvements to their area.

  30. Tim says:

    Tax payers are funding the vast majority of Canary Wharf. ” It is being built for a fixed price of £500m, of which CWG is contributing £150m.” Hence £350,000,000 on a single station for rich bankers and city types. That’s enough money for 350 new carriages. How many miles of track could you electrify? How many closed lines could you reopen?
    I am not disputing the crossrail project as a whole but London has sucked up all the public funding for transport, leaving nothing for the rest of us. The obsession with cost to benefit ratios creates a massive disparity in regional spending. It’s also self-perpetuating cycle, more spending equals more growth, equals more spending.
    The rest of the country is being forced to pay more and more for their crappy old trains to subsidise all the ‘cool’ London projects.

  31. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Several posters have beaten me to the point that Canary Wharf Crossrail has a significant private sector contribution. I am pretty sure this is one reason why it has made such excellent progress – the developers want to start earning a return. It is also worth pointing out that Woolwich Crossrail is also largely funded by Berkeley Homes. I am not suggesting the private sector are being charitable – they are clearly only spending because they expect to get a significant and worthwhile return from high footfall for their retail investment or on house sales / land values.

    And just to prove I have been listening to the Crossrail presentations I’ve seen on recent site visits it is worth making the point that a large proportion of Crossrail’s project spend benefits businesses outside of London.

    While I understand why politicians elsewhere in the country moan about London’s transport investment it is worth saying that there is decent investment in a range of schemes like main line electrification, capacity increases, bus schemes, Nottingham trams, Midland Metro, Metrolink and the Tyne and Wear Metro. Several other electrification schemes are also being examined which may further benefit areas outside London. Finally several groups of local authorities are now taking advantage of new legislation which allows them to group investment requirements and receive devolved funding and to utilise new sources of funding such as securing future revenue streams for loans. This offers a decent prospect for further improvements but I would note that some of the new regional organisations are more minded to spend hundreds of millions on new roads and *not* on public transport (Yorkshire being one such example).

  32. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I can understand your frustration but believe me we do realise there is life beyond the conurbation boundaries. You may like this spoof tube announcement which probably sums up how you feel.

    I take your point but harsh economic reality (or at least economic theory) makes it much like it is. It is not just London. Go to the Welsh valleys and hear the resentment about the amount of money spent on Cardiff Bay.

    I don’t know whether this will mollify you or not but consider also the knock-on or agglomeration effect that applies to the whole country. Going back to those Welsh valleys: Crossrail meant that a better case could be made for GWML electrification all the way to Cardiff and probably Swansea. As a result the case for electrification of the Welsh Valleys made economic sense. And in future they might complain about getting rolling stock that is London hand-me-downs but a decently refurbished electric multiple unit would probably be more pleasant to travel in than even a new dmu struggling up the valleys. What is more, users would be pretty much guaranteed a seat which is something us Londoners can often only dream of.

    In answer to your question:

    How many miles of track could you electrify? How many closed lines could you reopen?

    the reply is obvious. None at all unless it is in some way economic (not necessarily just through the farebox). And we do have closed lines in London and the surrounding commuter area as well and it is difficult to make a case for re-opening them – and they would probably have a much better case.

    I also have to say it is often my experience that in some tourist areas it is often the tourists (no doubt some of them from London) rather than the locals themselves who actually seem to be using the service so we do have an incentive to see good public transport throughout the country. After all it is quite likely that the locals own a car and use that whilst many people visiting from London do not and even if they do they consider the public transport option because it is part of their psyche.

  33. Southern Heights says:

    @Tim: I would also like to point out the wider economic benefits of the whole Cross Rail project.

  34. The Poster formerly known as Anonymous says:

    For £350,000,000 Scotland has had a partial reinstatement of the Waverley Line. Mainly single track and unelectrified.

  35. Jeremy says:

    @Tim: Like many here, I suspect, I’m not a lifelong Londoner. I’ve been here 10 years, having arrived in London to study and then not left again.

    It is a source of great frustration to me that investment in rail infrastructure outside of London isn’t better than it is, but there are some substantial projects going on at the moment (Birmingham New Street, the Northern Hub, the forthcoming electrification programme) and also the excitement/resentment of HS2.

    It’s a shame that there’s not a great structure for local co-ordination and investment in local services, and it’s true that London gets special treatment because of its national economic significance, higher existing public transport usage and the obvious (electoral) disaster that awaits if capacity here is not expanded.

    It’s also notable that objections to new transport infrastructure are markedly different for projects serving commuters within and near London – there being a much greater likelihood that those inconvenienced by Crossrail construction work, for example, are going to end up users of the service than Chilterns residents facing the arrival of HS2.

  36. Ed says:

    It’s amazing how quickly crossrail has moved since properly starting. It does make me frustrated that it takes so long to gain support for building infrastructure. Decades of talk but then rapid progress when it begins. We should be doing Crossrail 2 now. Instead years more talk and millions on consultants until it begins. The rest of the UK should be given far greater autonomy and then they can get on with the many essential projects around the UK. Centralisation at Westminster and lethargic planning drag everything down to a crawl. Very annoying when you see how quickly crossrail is going and the benefits it will bring.

    The UK government could place far more emphasis on infrastructure to improve economic well being and quality of life. We could do it by shifting priorities. For example, the BBC had an article about annual military spending 2 days ago with figures in dollars. Britain – $57 billion, France $52.4 billion, Germany $44.2 b, Italy $25.2 and Spain below $17.7. Why so much – It’s not 1900.

    Billions more than similar nations, year on year. Then there’s the billions spent annually on Afghanistan and before Iraq each year in addition. The UK has spent around $120 billion more over the past 10 years on the military that Germany, for example. Think what we could have done with that for transport, housing etc across the UK.

  37. Ed says:

    Tim – don’t fall into the London v the rest of England/UK argument politicians love. All areas need more spending. The UK does not spend enough to the detriment of all, but politicians avoid the flak with this London v the rest dispute. I look to Spain and see massive infrastructure investment in all regions. The autonomous system with local independence helps. EU funding does too. How much has Leeds, for example, got in EU finding? If none why not?

    As for Crossrail – is it conceivable building will be mainly finished by 2016 with a very long period of testing?

  38. Tim says:

    The benefits would be the same if they had gone for a more modest station, rather than spending £350,000,000 on a single station. How much could they have built the station for? It’s obscene how much money has been spent on the Jubilee Line station, DLR station and now Crossrail station all in one location, mostly for the benefit of the rich and powerful.

  39. @Tim,

    The benefits would be the same if they had gone for a more modest station, rather than spending £350,000,000 on a single station.

    And how do you propose to do that? Make it not quite as long? i.e. shorter than the trains. Make it not as deep? i.e. so that the line doesn’t go under the docks and the foundations of buildings. Cut out the fancy stuff on top – oh, no, that is being privately developed and is bringing the cost down. Actually £350m for a Crossrail station makes it one of the cheaper ones. On the same basis one could are that much more is being spent on mere shoppers in central London.

    Look at the money wasted in Whitechapel (probably about the same amount) just to build a station so that the poor people can get to work and find a decent job. I wonder where they will find a job? You know, a major centre of employment nearby. Can’t think where there might be one. However we better make sure it has a station.

    It’s obscene how much money has been spent on the Jubilee Line station, DLR station and now Crossrail station all in one location, mostly for the benefit of the rich and powerful.

    You clearly have some kind of chip on your shoulder. The rich and the powerful probably get their chauffeurs to drive them to their underground car park. By and large, it is the ordinary working man and woman who benefits from this station. If the rich and the powerful condescend to join us rather than get their chauffeur to drive them then they also travel to work by means of train journeys that sometimes involve standing up and smelling your fellow commuter’s armpits. Its all equality in the world of mass transit.

    These stations may all be more or less in one location but there provide a service to different locations. So who do you propose loses out on employment prospects? The people of Stratford (Jubilee and DLR), Bermondsey (Jubilee), Woolwich (Crossrail), Beckton (DLR), Thamesmead (via Abbey Wood Crossrail). So which socially disadvantaged area do you propose should have remained socially disadvantaged Tim?

  40. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ed – I am not sure I would use Spain as an example of “needed” infrastructure investment. Surely there are loads of shiny new roads, railways, airports and other facilities. Unfortunately many of them have delivered negligible benefits, negligible revenue and have left taxpayers with massive debts. I am sure there are aspects of the high speed rail system in Spain that are very good but not all of it. We may take ages to make up our mind here and we may not spend enough but we tend to be OK at deciding on the right things to do. I would certainly like to see more infrastructure investment but it needs to be part of a coherent national plan and not one consisting solely of local or political whims. Wasting money will just make the public resentful of future investment proposals. Making sure we have a good energy / transport / flood defence / ports / telecomms / whatever infrastructure needs really good planning and long term funding and sensible business cases / justification.

  41. Southern Heights says:

    @ Tim:

    I’m really sorry you think that way, but I think it is money well spent. The King’s Cross redevelopment, that opened last year was £500M…. I don’t know how much the New Street development is costing, but I suspect it will be off a similar order of magnitude (and let’s face it, it badly needs it, what a dump that was).

    By contrast Canary Wharf CC, was built in a pond (West India Dock), quickly and from scratch. The same with Canary Wharf JL. So if you then take the Canary Wharf developers contribution off the total cost it amounted to £200M. On a £14.8B project that’s relatively cheap given the total cost.

    And if you are going to be building a new station, then it pays to make it nice, and not look like you’re waiting at some bus stop (e.g. Search for “Photo Stratford International Javelin”, to see what I mean). Remember that many very large companies (not just banks) have their offices in Canary Wharf these days and most people travelling to and from there will be arriving by some form of (rail) public transport. As a result of the arrival of Cross Rail, Canary Wharf will continue to grow, so the station should also be larger than what you need, as the numbers will only go up. Expanding it is a ‘mare! See the Bank Project

    Add to that, that over the last decade and a half it has also become quite a shopping centre, so even on the weekend the station will be well used. I remember back in ’99 going to shop there as I lived next door in Rotherhithe. It was dismal… Over the next 5 years it went from strength to strength, partly because of the connections. What the impact of Westfield Stratford has been I don’t know, as I no longer live in Rotherhithe, but I suspect it will still be quite pleasant.

    To summarise, built it bigger than you need, you will need it later….

  42. Jeremy says:

    @Tim: The idea that tens of billions of pounds are necessary to build such infrastructure is something I find mind-boggling and depressing in equal measure. However, at the end of the day, something that repeatedly strikes me about the Crossrail build is just how huge everything needs to be. As has already been noted, skimping on stations would be much like skimping on signalling, track or trains: it reduces the capability of the system, potentially affecting capacity, flexibility and safety. In some cases, this involves expenditure now that is being made at least in part because it will be more complex, disruptive and/or expensive to do later on once Crossrail is a live railway.

  43. Long Branch Mike (LBM1) says:


    Crossrail stations are designed to handle much larger crowds and passenger numbers than Tube stations.

    Furthermore, most Tube/CR users are regular (non-rich or powerful) people, the people who work in banks, financial institutions, insurance companies etc, all of which make the modern economy run.

    Whilst those at the top of banks’ hierarchies have made some spectacularly bad and morally bankrupt investments and decisions in the last decade, you cannot hold the individual bank work, admin staff, tech support that supported them guilty for that.

    Canary Wharf is a major employment hub for many different types of businesses, and the area employs tens of thousands of workers. Furthermore it was developed as a second financial hub district to the City, which allowed expansion of this sector whilst simultaneously alleviating some of the pressure for more office capacity in the City.

    As a result your comment about CR ‘for the benefit of the rich and powerful’ seems more of a social statement than transport, and we do not engage in social or political discussions on this blog. There are many others that do however. We look at transport decisions, and take into account political, geographical, legislative, and cultural realities that affect them.

  44. RichardB says:

    @ Tim I understand your concern but these days £350 million pounds is not quite the vast sum we instinctively feel it is when you are undertaking major infrastructure projects. Underground stations in particular are not cheap indeed that is where the real money is spent and why DfT and Treasury endeavour to limit the number of new stations when new lines are contemplated.

    If you do not believe me you only have to look at the expenditure involved in New York on the East Side Access project and the Second Avenue Subway both of which once completed will have significantly smaller outcomes.

    However where I do part company with you and in a big way is the assumption that this iS only for the benefit of the rich and powerful. Frankly most of the current and future workforce (and also local residents) at Canary Wharf could not by any stretch of the imagination be considered to be rich and powerful. The very rich will still drive or be chauffeured around. It does not help to describe such commuters as rich and powerful when they are in the main no different from the rest of us. Even banks employ staff in large numbers who do not attract bonuses or only very modest ones. The high rollers excoriated in the press are a small fraternity compared to the rest of London’s workforce and it was ever thus.

    The whole nation needs the wealth of London and needs it to grow further as London apart from a small net contribution from East Anglia is the major net contributor to the nation’s tax take. Also the contribution from local businesses in terns of special taxes to pay for such works in addition to businesses such as Berkley Homes direct investments is much more visible precisely because London makes money.

    I think you are falling into a common trap that if for example Crossrail was pared down the money released would go to the regions for more worthy projects. I doubt that outcome very much and politicians like to suggest it because they know that sort of transfer does not happen but the politics of envy are always useful as a means of not doing anything.

    I think we are beginning to see a genuine albeit faltering change of attitude whereby our leaders are starting to see the need for large infrastructure investment but the regions need to work proactively to secure a fair proportion.

  45. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ LBM and previous correspondents

    The point about the cost of the large deep-level stations is well made.

    A notional calculation made for Crossrail 2 costings is a per kilometre single track tunnel with shafts, etc of ca. £48 million.

    Stations however are a different order of magnitude. If you want a potential 12-car (sorry, 11-car now for Crossrail 1) 250m long bored station with double-ended access, fitting out, safe and large enough for the huge passenger volumes involved, then try £200-250m a throw if it is fairly uncomplicated…

    So I am unsurprised by a major station built in a difficult location (the bottom of a huge dock) and indeed with specialised design such as having to be anchored a long way down to stop it floating(!) and 6 or 7 storeys in total, costing £500m.

    BTW, Canary Wharf area has the highest public transport modal split in the whole of Britain, about 90% or more. This is truly a station and local catchment fit for all, and why would you have want it any other way?

  46. timbeau says:

    Surely it is not the rich and powerful bankers, nor their minions who actually work at Canary Wharf, who will profit from the public transport facilities, but the rich and powerful property developers from whom the bankers rent the buildings there. Without DLR and Jubilee, and now Crossrail, the buildings would attract my=uch lower rents, if indeed they had bene built at all. The same applies to Woolwich – it’s being paid for by the proposers of the new housing developments.
    In France, the RERs are funded by an employment tax on local businesses. The British way simply uses a different middle man – the private landlord rather than the council.

  47. Long Branch Mike (LBM1) says:


    Nonetheless Canary Wharf allows very high building density that is very land and transport efficient, which reduces pollution and sprawl.

  48. Ed says:

    Tim – don’t think Canary Wharf is all rich and wealthy people. 75k work there and many are on 15-30k.

    And remember – £5 billion is being spent by central government and that’s over about 8 years. Much of the rest is coming from London itself – private developers, higher taxes on London business, s106 payments, TfL borrowing that will be repaid through fares.

    I don’t think £5 billion over 8 years from central government for such a massive project is bad at all. Look at government accounts and what they spend elsewhere – the crossfail funding is a drop in the ocean. It’s very visible though, and that tangibility makes it and other infrastructure ripe for criticism. Crossrail will have a great effect on the economy and quality of life.

    Walthamstow Writer – yes Spain do have quite a few issues but there’s much to learn from them whilst avoiding the pitfalls. Most urban areas above 500k now have great tram, rail and/or metro systems. The type of things Bristol, Leeds, Plymouth etc are crying out for but just cannot get funding for. Instead Westminster foists second rate systems on them. Bristol’s metro area is around a million if ignoring the gerrymandered 1997 boundaries. Those boundaries stop anything happening.

    Pedantic – Agree with most but Crossrail isn’t great for much of Thamesmead. It will be better off of course, but getting to Abbey Wood station will still be a very long walk/cycle through terrible environments or a long, meandering and slow bus ride. 45 minutes or more from someones home to the nearest station (Abbey Wood) isn’t uncommon, then the journey into London. It needs a river crossing, express buses to Abbey Wood and maybe the GOBLIN extension to Barking to cross the river stopping there en route to Abbey Wood.

  49. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Not disputing Thamesmead deserves something better but at least it is a start. I think the main problem is that it gets forgotten.

  50. JM says:

    Although everyone is talking about the usual suspects (Wharf, City, Heathrow, paddington etc), it would be interesting to see the effect Crossrail will have on Abbey Wood in the longer term which remains from my experience, a fairly old school working class area of London.

    It would be great if it could be rejuvenated without turning into a slightly plasticey 4/6 storey apartment full middle class suburb as a consequence (Stratford).

    Surely only a matter of time Thames Bridge comes back into view too.

  51. straphan says:

    Just to wade into this rather interesting London vs Rest of England debate: I would like to point out that some of the most deprived areas are – in fact – in London. Crossrail will serve some of them (e.g. Ilford, Romford), but will also tunnel under some of them without a station (I refer primarily to the section between Whitechapel and Stratford).

    Other than that, I’d like to point out a thing or two about rail investment, since that is something I am familiar with. I have done – in recent times – plenty of work around improving or re-instating rail services in the conurbations in the North of England. In many instances the economic case (out of MOIRA no less – which is known to underestimate such benefits significantly) looks quite good, but the financial case is never there. I’ve just done a similar study for reinstating services over a certain rail line in London (i.e. TfL fares apply) – the business case has a BCR that is nearly financially break-even.

    The key reason in my opinion? Rail fares in the North are a fraction of those in the South East, which means virtually any service improvement will require subsidy. If you don’t believe me, have a look at to compare season ticket prices for comparable distances in the North and in the South East… Most people in the South East (and in London itself) moan continually about the cost of rail season tickets, but it is that revenue combined with latent demand at peak times which helps pay for continual infrastructure and rolling stock enhancements.

    Having said that, however, we should never underestimate the stupidity and lack of foresight of civil servants within central Government. Don’t forget it was they who let out the Welsh and Northern rail franchises assuming zero demand growth – where statistics from those regions and from the rest of the UK at the time suggested growth – and lots of it – will happen. The people of the North now have to live with the consequences of these decisions, and I have a degree of sympathy when they express resentment towards large transport projects around London or towards the NIMBYs of the Chilterns who are unhappy about having a railway line running through their hills (but had no major problems with letting a motorway cut through said hills a few decades ago).

    I do agree with Tim’s point that transport investment drives more demand, which in turn drives investment. We’ve already mentioned in the Marylebone thread that new roads lead to more cars. The same is true of railways – more rail infrastructure will usually lead to demand growth. The problem with the North of England is the need to kickstart the growth somehow. The DfT has somehow finally understood the scale of the investment gap in rail between the South East and the rest of the country, and has decided to fund a large (but not large enough yet!) amount of electrification in the North and West.

    What I believe is needed is more devolution in the funding of transport projects. Yes, London does generate a sizeable chunk of the country’s wealth, but that does not necessarily mean it should be London who decides how it is then spent. I also don’t see why it should be London’s investment appraisal template that should always be applied to investments elsewhere? Manchester have applied an appraisal based mainly on Gross Value Added (if memory serves me right), which has produced a light rail network that is already significantly longer in terms of route length than many ‘legacy’ networks in Germany and Eastern Europe. You can argue whether that is a better method of allocating funds than WebTAG, but – again – should that be London’s business?

  52. Ed says:

    Staphen – fully agree about devolution. As someone who has lived in London and three other UK cities for long periods the restricted power of local authorities in secondary UK cities (not so much Wales and Scotland) affects growth and transport to a great extent.

    In Bristol the council invested 250k in the Severn Beach Line recently. This improved the service to every 40 minutes. Still woeful but better than before. Passenger numbers have skyrocketed since. Up 100% at least in a few years. 20% last year I think. It was single tracked in the ’60s so higher frequency now requires investment. Local people and politicians are desperate for improvements but plans get vetoed by central government and neighbouring authorities such as South Gloucestershire, worried about losing funding. Every slight investment and improvement has yielded spectacular growth but lack of power and autonomy prevent further modest spending on improvements. See also the reopening of the Portishead line.

    As it is they have to submit bids to Westminster, tailored to the whims of Westminster who are not generally basing decisions of what works best locally (DfT pushing bus schemes nationally not rail) and hope they get accepted.

    A TfL like authority for every city around the size of brighton and above would yield big improvements along with greater local authority financial independence.

  53. Long Branch Mike (LBM1) says:


    Does TfGM (Transport for Greater Manchester) have financial independence?

  54. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ed – while extending the GOBLIN under the Thames might look attractive I cannot see a x15 min headway with relatively short trains being remotely suitable for Thamesmead. The nature of the GOBLIN service would have to be transformed if it was to operate cross Thames. You need only look at the scale of demand on the DLR river crossings to get a sense of what might happen.

    I have only recently visited Thamesmead for the first time and was somewhat surprised by the strange mix of industrial, old and more modern housing. I did understand why the 472 bus is so chronically overloaded from North Greenwich though – housing development is pretty dense in the core part of Thamesmead.

    TfL are reviewing bus services in areas to be served by Crossrail and I would expect there to be some seismic changes in and around Thamesmead, North Bexley and Woolwich in order to feed people in to Crossrail. Whether that will work is open to question given how much more expensive fares from Zone 4 are compared to Zone 2 (where North Greenwich is).

    While I support regional cities in the UK having far better urban transport systems I would want to ensure they were viable, deliverable and reasonably likely to deliver benefits under foreseeable circumstances. Are there not examples in Spain where systems can’t be run due to a lack of local finance or where services are far lower than the design capacity? I would also perhaps question whether “Spanish experience” has influenced some recent decisions about new signalling systems on LU (ahem!). Learn by all means but make sure we learn the right lessons.

  55. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ Ed – – Very interesting

    A general election barely a year away, so promises will be made. Ask for those promises to be put in writing. Remember that politicians only tell lies when their mouths are open, so getting them to put stuff in writing enables them to be called to account later. The Bristol area transport plans are “interesting”, but have to be integrated with those of N.E. Somerset and South Gloucs. Not an easy “do”.

    Now I’m in danger of “losing it”!! as the north Bristol rail system and Filton airport spring to mind, so rather than get a ban, I’ll end now.

  56. Ed says:

    Thamesmead (the part north of the dual carriagways cutting it off from easy access to Abbey Wood station) is a mix of the worst of 60s housing, and the worst of 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s architecture. The poor buggers couldn’t catch a break. It’s a masterclass in how not to plan a new town. Awful tiny barrett boxes where back gardens face onto what should be main streets with dead ends and cul de sacs everywhere, and there’s few amenities. Little use is made of the extensive river frontage and canal network.

    The bus network to Abbey Wood will no doubt be improved but there’s a limit to what can be achieved. The final stretch to Abbey Wood will be chocked with traffic by the time crossrail opens – a big new Sainsbury’s by Abbey Wood crossrail station approach opens in 2015 and new tower blocks replacing the 60s estate near the station have greater density increasing the pressure in the immediate locality, making bus journeys from the rest of Thamesmead prone to hold ups.

  57. stimarco says:


    “Yes, London does generate a sizeable chunk of the country’s wealth, but that does not necessarily mean it should be London who decides how it is then spent.”

    “London” does nothing of the sort. Westminster decides how that money is spent: that bunch of people in the Houses of Parliament, along with their minions in Whitehall, that the entire country helped to elect. It’s not Londoners’ fault that those wastes of carbon all work in offices near Charing Cross station.

    Do you think TfL are an exception to having to doff their cap and go a-begging and a-forelock-tugging to their lords and masters in Whitehall for permission to spend their own money on urgently-needed infrastructure? The only reason London is seeing Crossrail and the Thameslink upgrade work at all is because Londoners are paying for most of it themselves. Central government is only paying for a third of the total, if that.

    The constant whining about London “taking” all the transport money is therefore a very successful bit of political spin that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. London is so far behind in upgrading and improving its infrastructure that even Crossrail itself will be twenty years late. It was originally supposed to open in the late ’90s. (Similarly, the upgrade work on Thameslink was originally named “Thameslink 2000”. Can you guess why?)

    Londoners have seen too little substantial investment in their city’s infrastructure until quite recently. In the meantime, they’ve looked on as Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield have built entire tram networks, including multiple extensions. (Croydon’s Tramlink doesn’t go anywhere near TfL’s Zone 2, let alone Zone 1 and has yet to see a single new extension since its opening.)

    The Northern Hub project is going to be half a billion quid all by itself. And then there’s HS2. Yes, one end of HS2 is in London, but I could have sworn the Birmingham end of HS2 Phase 1 was in Birmingham. Nor will the subsequent Leeds and Manchester branches be anywhere near the Home Counties either. Or the possible extension all the way up to Scotland.

    How does all that equate to a lack of investment in the north?

    Londoners have every right to spend their own money to catch up with their massive backlog of infrastructure development. And they have a right to do so without the incessant and tiresome sniping from ignorant critics who seem to have a problem with Londoners spending at least some of their own money on their own needs every now and then.

    This is a country that makes over £700 bn. in spending money each and every year. Of that, just £11 bn. – the same as it spends on foreign aid – is earmarked for the UK’s entire transport budget, including roads and rivers, not just rail. By comparison, the UK spends more than ten times that figure on the NHS alone.

  58. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Ed / Straphan – is it not the case that the Government have recently approved new regional combined authorities for South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Greater Merseyside? The latter two are larger areas than the old PTE / ITA areas and cover transport and economic development responsibilities. This may allow a more cohesive view to be taken.

    I also understand that the DfT has agreed the Rail North Partnership for the scoping and procurement processes for the replacement Northern / Transpennine franchises. This should allow the local authorities to take a more realistic view about service levels and capacity especially as substantial electrification is due to come on stream in those franchise areas.

  59. Alan Griffiths says:

    Tim @ 26 February 2014 at 10:41

    “The rest of the country is starved for transport spending.”

    I think that’s rather sour and some of the responses too defensive, or too focussed on London’s prominence in the UK economy. I write as someone who lives near a future Crossrail station (Forest Gate) and grew up in Rawmarsh for 5 years and Wath-upon-Dearne for 13 years, the two largest towns in South Yorkshire that don’t have railway stations.

    The facts include that
    a) about two thirds of rail journeys have one end in London
    b) London Underground carries more passengers than all the railways

    Investment in
    1) NW triangle electrification (by May 2016)
    2) Trans-Pennine North electrification (by December 2018)
    3) Northern Hub (by 2018)
    is substantial, but the plain fact is that these big projects don’t cost as much as stations in tunnels in the middle of London and they’ll all be finished and available for use before the Crossrail tunnels are running through trains to the rest of the network.

  60. timbeau says:

    The arrival of Crossrail at Abbey Wood, increasing the total capacity west of there, raises in interesting possibility: with some XR trains continuing to Dartford and beyond, there would be capacity for some existing Greenwich line services to be diverted over a new branch deeper into Thamesmead. I’ll leave the details to the Crayonisti, but this looks a more hopeful proposition than extending the Goblin across the Thames as well as Crossrail.
    Not too long ago, the furthest downstream BR route across the Thames (excluding dead-end termini) was the Cremorne Bridge (West London Line). Since than have been added Thameslink, the ELL (now that it’s part of NR) and HS1, with Crossrail to follow. In addition, the last LU line was the ELL, now augmented by the Jubilee Line (three times) and the DLR (twice) – and I suppose we must include the Dangleway.

  61. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Stimarco – and the imbalance of expenditure between different priorities is simply because there are massively greater political consequences for not supporting the NHS than there are for transport. Transport will never (IMO) get sufficiently far up the *national* agenda because many decades of clever campaigning and policy manipulation by vested interests coupled with a natural enough desire to own a car (for reasons you’ve previously set out) mean that most of the country is car dependent and not remotely in need of public transport. Therefore politicians panic about petrol prices / tanker driver strikes but not about cycling, railways or buses.

    London is an exception because it cannot function without effective public transport and because there is a much closer relationship between politicians and transport in London and has been for decades. Boris is in charge of London’s buses whereas everywhere else (barring N Ireland) politicians *want* to run the buses but don’t! If transport in London doesn’t work then loads of people are affected and they have a much louder voice hence the politicians *have* to pay attention.

    If people outside London want better transport then they need to shift the political landscape and make sure there are obvious consequences for the politicians. This has just started to happen with rail fares hence the vacillation in Coalition Government policy over the last 2-3 years. Whether that remains the case I am not sure – if people start to receive decent pay rises again then it may not figure as a political risk as the affordability concerns will diminish.

  62. Malcolm says:

    “Not remotely in need of public transport” does not accurately describe the substantial part of the non-London population who cannot use a car because they are too old, too young, too blind, too poor or in some other non-car-accessing group.

    (Apart from that significant reservation, I tend to agree with most of the rest of your comment, as it happens).

  63. Southern Heights says:


    “there would be capacity for some existing Greenwich line services to be diverted over a new branch deeper into Thamesmead. I’ll leave the details to the Crayonisti,”

    I’ve got a DVD marker and I’m not a afraid to use it!

    Sod that idea! If you see the roads around there, they are in fact artificially restricted dual carriageways, artificially restricted to stop the boy racers.

    So what is he obvious thing to do? Rip up half of it, and put in a tram. This should also link to the DLR at Woolwich. In fact all the underutilised dual carriageways in that area are crying out for conversion. Call me a “deconversionista” as well as a “crayonista”!

    Then again I’ve seen those roads on the weekend only and never during the week, so I might be all wrong! But then that’s never stopped politicians….

  64. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm – fair enough but those groups, with the possible exception of older people, do not have sufficient political leverage to make an impact. If they did we would not have had the scale of bus service cuts that some towns and counties have been forced to implement. Councillors would have run a thousand miles in the opposite direction if there were any genuine political risks. The fact that there is no statutory protection for socially necessary bus services puts them squarely in the firing line when councils have to reduce their budgets to keep Mr Pickles and Mr Osborne content.

    By contrast London faces a bus network development “stand still” but despite the vast difference in service levels Londoners and their elected representatives are extremely unhappy with the state of their bus services. I sat in City Hall with 100 of them last week and saw how cross some of them are. This just highlights the vast differences in the reality of service provision and user expectations between “spoilt” Londoners and those elsewhere in the UK.

  65. Ed says:

    I think the old Thames waterfront transit was supposed to be similar to that tram idea, running from Abbey Wood to North Greenwich with a branch over a Thames crossing from Thamesmead to Barking, meeting a network in the east linking the brownfield lands in Barking to Barking tube, goblin and c2c line. Boris cancelled it south of the river, though by then it was nothing more than a slightly rerouted bus that achieved pretty much nothing after continual downgrades. North of the river it became the Barking riverside bus which I think started up last year.

    Thamesmead’s road network isn’t that busy as it was designed for a town of 100k instead of the 60k living there now, and dual carriageways have increasingly been narrowed and obstacles put in them to slow traffic. The only busy stretch is the bit from Thamesmead to Abbey Wood where the sainsbury’s superstore and housing is being built alongside.

    Thamesmead could take a tram easily on 80% of its road network, and the 20% near Abbey Wood that is busy has lots of space to widen with large grass verges alongside the road. A tram could then follow the waterfront transit plans through the Arsenal in Woolwich avoiding traffic where it would meet Woolwich crossrail, and then head to North Greenwich station. To think, 10 years ago that could have been signed off and be ready now. Can’t see anything happening until 2018 at the earliest when crossrail opens and a realisation something needs to be done.

    The north Kent branch to Thamesmead has been discussed widely but isn’t feasible. Through trains are very important, and busy. Even after Crossrail there will be 9-10 trains serving Abbey Wood compared to 10 for crossrail, and off peak 8 an hour compared to 6 on crossrail. And with population growth they will still all be needed for the many travelling from Kent – London. What would be curtailed at Thamesmead? The semi fasts provide a link out to Kent, and half loop back around to head into London. The others go Dartford. Diverting some from those destinations to a small branch to Thamesmead would inconvenience many.

  66. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ed – the routes in the Barking area are branded East London Transit and I think the highway changes for bus priority are now complete. There are two “EL” routes and the 387 was amended to run to Thames View Estate. Oddly TfL have removed all the project details and I’m not clear that Phase 2 has actually finished – it was supposed to in 2013 but I can’t recall any great fanfare to confirm this.

  67. Greg Tingey says:

    CR1 was 20+ years between proposal & approval – LONDON has been starved of transport spending.
    PLEASE don’t start the “London has it all & everyone there is a greedy millionaire” whinge again – because it ain’t true.
    & later
    WITHOUT CR1, London will grind to a halt – is this what you really want?
    Thought not – or are you an avater for the very senior civil servant (I think both MC & PoP know his name) who boasted of being able to “stop” CR1 for 20 years & still claims it’s a mistake?
    “I think we should be told”
    See also WW’s comments about, err “electrification” it’s called, isn’t it?
    [Stick to the argument not the individual. And you were doing so well too. PoP]
    And stimarco’s barbs are entirely deserved in the case of your apparent ignorance, too.

    The benefits would be the same if they had gone for a more modest station, rather than spending £350,000,000 on a single station. Which would then have to be immediately re-built, because it will overload. How many times has Poplar / “triangle junction” /W India Quay been rebuilt now?

    a new dmu struggling up the valleys Horse laugh – it’s almost entirely Pacers, shudder.
    The rich and the powerful probably get their chauffeurs to drive them to their underground car park. Or luxury airport terminals (terminae?) … THIS is what is needed to get some sense into the fake security hassle on Eurostar (see other thread)

  68. @PoP,

    it’s almost entirely Pacers

    I know that. Well not almost entirely. There are quite a lot of class 150s. It depends on which valley. The point is that they will have to be replaced one day and a decently refurbished emu in my opinion is far better than a new dmu – especially if one has to ensure seemingly unrelenting climbs up the valley. Back down to Cardiff (or in perverse railway parlance “up”) it shouldn’t matter too much. I bet they could also improve the service with the same amount of stock if it were electric just because of the improved journey times (in one direction at least).

  69. Paying Guest says:

    ……….and think of all that regenerative braking on the way back down the valleys.

  70. Chris L says:

    Sorry but the Greenwich Waterfront Transit has missed the bus.

    Having been cancelled the areas where priority measures would have been created have been built upon.

    In addition, something like an additional 1200 homes have just got planning consent near North Greenwich station. This and hotel/office developments mean that the station and Jubilee line will creak at the seams.

    The badly constructed areas in Thamesmead are being redeveloped and there is inward investment.

    The dual carriageways could be split to create bus roads and cycle lanes with cars sharing the other lanes.

  71. straphan says:

    I do appreciate this blog is by its very nature London-centric, and that by definition ‘civilisation’ for most of you does indeed end at Milton Keynes at the very latest. I also am fully aware of the various infrastructure projects that are due to take place on both sides of the Pennines. Furthermore (@stimarco) I myself pointed out in one of my previous posts that rail fares up North (particularly in PTE areas) are far lower than in the South East, which itself is part of the problem (i.e. however much demand you generate you still need subsidy). And – indeed – where it has been possible to increase these, people have gladly accepted above-standard fare rises in return for better quality service (vide Class 333s being partly paid for by above-standard fare hikes on the routes to the North West of Leeds).

    However, I would ask each of those of you that disagree with me about further devolution of transport decisions to ask themselves, whether decisionmakers in Manchester, Leeds or Cardiff would have ever agreed to something as preposterous as ‘zero-growth’ franchises for their areas? Would they have starved routes of rolling stock despite demand being there (e.g. Dearne Valley Line between York – Pontefract – Sheffield)? Would Britain still have the largest conurbations in Western Europe without light rail/tram systems (Bristol, Leeds)?

    (Particularly @WW) As it stands now though, political pressure to change the status quo won’t get us very far – civil servants, particularly those senior ones in the DfT are generally quite immune from such political pressure, or are more than capable enough of obfuscating to rebuff criticism. This only exacerbates the general lack of accountability across the rail industry brought about by its fragmentation.

    I am fully aware what the constraints of the transport budget look like in this country. I am also not suggesting that devolution of transport spending in England is the panaceum for all its public transport woes. What I am suggesting, though, is that a civil servant or transport planner based in Liverpool, Manchester or Leeds has a far better understanding of the problems faced by the rail network around their patch than a civil servant living on the Brighton Main Line.

  72. Graham H says:

    The thing that puzzles me about the London versus the rest of the country is the assumption that devolution will somehow magic into existence more cash for the regions.. I am all in favour of devolution (on political grounds) but I don’t see that it makes more money available for the regions unless you assume that either that they can raise taxes – higher – locally, or you redistribute the existing pot.

  73. JM says:

    Evan Davies is presenting a show London v The Rest on BBC2 next Monday which hopefully will touch on some of this.

    I hate the idea of ‘us versus them’ and notice that Osborne is expressly non committal about large infrastructure spend in London post Crossrail. His grand plan for Euston will inflate the capacity need for a CR2 and possibly a reorg of camden Town and the Northern Line (not only for Euston but possibly for Old Street and the tech bubble around there).

    One of the reasons I support HS2 is because it can be a driver in helping to shape growth and development of regional cities. With better transport links, Manchester and other regional cities can centre themselves as as hubs for specific industry the way London can now, particularly as they would be able to initially offer lower operating costs. Most cities in the North and Midlands are quite able to sustain higher percentage rise in populations due to much more prime brownfield land. You can walk from Piccadilly in Manchester to the east and it’s marked how the lower population density relates to London. Old areas like Ancoats, Brunswick, Ardwick with low populations. Contrast this to the approaches to most London stations (Fenchurch St, Liverpool St, London Bridge in particular).

    Obviously it’s more than just transport. Education and good local governance are just as vital.

    Otherwise we go through around 10-20 years of arguing of where to build x amount of new towns on the green belt in the south East. I don’t object in theory but I really hate the idea that we should build in the SE because thats just where people want to live. Well of course it is, as long as the deck is so stacked, it always will be.

    Maybe TFL, Centro, Nexus, TFGM and the like should help to create an influential body akin to act as a counter to all the local politicians or bodies that want to silo transport investment to their preferred schemes to increase their profile or value of their land. Somewhere that can help to build strategic cases for investment across the country and try to influence the public consciousness on this.

  74. JM says:

    @Graham H

    I think regional assemblies could actually have the reverse effect if, taking Liverpool as an example, local politicans close bus lanes to appease drivers. Given most big conurbations in the north are one party fiefdoms, the only local assembly that might work would be Yorkshire as a county perhaps. Or drawing Manchesters line out further into Tatton or the Ribble Valley where there might be a possibility of a change in Govt every 4/8 years and you’re looking at an electorate of around 5m people so enough to actually make the whole concept worthwhile.

    Govt will say you had your chances for Mayors and in lots of cases didn’t take it so don’t see any appetite for this at all now…even if splitting Mayors among the same conurbations in some cases was probably a really daft thing to have promoted in the first place.

  75. straphan says:

    @Graham H: Under certain circumstances money can be raised and projects pulled off. Two examples off the top of my head are Nottingham tram extensions (workplace parking levy), and the Class 333 units (above-standard fare increases). The trouble is that it is currently very difficult for councils and local authorities (especially those outside PTEs) to implement such solutions.

    @JM: I don’t have too much experience with Merseyside and Liverpool, but I can assure you both local politicians and PTE officials I have met in Manchester and West Yorkshire are somewhat more competent. In any case, if they do wish to remove bus lanes, councils can already choose to do so.

    Overall, if we do moan about how good German public transport is compared to the UK, then there are two reasons for this discrepancy: funds for public transport projects in Germany are far more readily available than in the UK; and Berlin does not tinker with local public transport decisions to anywhere near the same degree as London (or Westminster or Whitehall or Marsham Street or whoever) does over here. Instead, they have agencies on a federal state rail) or communal (local public transport) level that decide the shape of their local public transport (including fares).

  76. Graham H says:

    @straphan – what I actually said was that devolution doesn’t necessarily make the local pot bigger unless local taxes are raised or funds transferred from London. The examples you cite make my point very clearly – Nottingham’s work place levy is just such a case. And as JM remarks, you can’t rely on local politicians to favour public transport. [PTEs/ITAs are different matters because they have fewer functions compared to a devolved authority such as Wales or Scotland].

  77. stimarco says:


    I’m actually half Northumbrian and half Italian. South London just happens to be where I spent most of my formative years, but I haven’t lived there in years. (This is also why I usually refer to Brits as “you”, not “we” or “us”.)

    I consider myself a citizen of the Earth and have lived and worked in a number of countries, not just that one corner of the UK.

    Nevertheless, there is a constant drip-drip-drip of moaning about how “London” soaks up all the investment funding that, among my earlier points, also conveniently ignores the fact that any major infrastructure project in a major world city the sheer size and scale of Greater London is inevitably going to cost a substantially more than, say, a cross-city tunnel under Leeds or Newcastle.

    Crossrail and Thameslink 2000 are both over 18 years late. (20 years in Crossrail’s case.) These aren’t being built to allow for future increases in demand, but merely to help catch up with existing demand. Both are expected to be rammed pretty soon after opening. The money currently being spent is being used to clear a backlog that should never have been allowed to build up in the first place, caused by a long series of political mistakes.

  78. Ed says:

    Chris L – A shame the Thames Waterfront Transit no longer looks possible on the original alignments. The whole corridor is on the London plan for mass house building and further very large population growth, which it has already had the past 10 years. I guess that makes the GOBLIN or some kind of crossing even more likely but I can’t see it happening any time soon.

    The worst parts of Thamesmead aren’t being redeveloped I’d argue. The original parts are being replaced, which are nearest to Abbey Wood station. They are being replaced with taller towers and increased population density (this is beside the stretch of road that will be most heavily constrained by 2018, affecting bus times from further parts of Thamesmead).

    The bits that are going (stage 1 and 2) were the most complex and architecturally interesting. They were constructed at a very high cost, and flawed in many ways by 1960s thinking of car domination, and necessity about flood prevention thus lots of walkways and street level given over to cars. That could be mitigated though.

    The further north you go, over the main east-west dual carriageway, the worse the housing gets. Thamesmead’s 1970s blocks (stage 3 I think) that followed were greatly simplified and are simple grey slabs. They may get a makeover but nothing is definite. Scope for demolition and building in greater density in attractive new towers if a DLR/GOBLIN/Something else station were to be built. As with stages 1 and 2, the flats are large with lots of natural light.

    Then the 80s and 90s arrived. Smaller and smaller Barrett boxes arrived. Baffling planning is in evidence such as backs of houses face on the front of houses. the design seems custom made to not foster a sense of community. Houses ignore the natural features such as lakes, canals, and the river, often facing away or blocking public access, particularly 90s + 2000s housing.

    Things reach a nadir after 2000 with Galleons housing association building atrocious blocks of flats. They resemble prison blocks. See an example here on google maps. Also worth scrolling around to the the width of the road. It is rarely any busier than shown in the image –

    This shows it at street level and also the unpleasant walk from Thamesmead heading towards Abbey Wood station, and explains why so few do it -

  79. JM says:

    If Thamesmead and Abbey Wood are redeveloped extensively it might be worth looking to create a proper ‘district centre’ for the area between the two as happened in places like Hulme in Manchester where they demolished the appaling Hulme Crescents and started all over again and created a district centre/High St to bridge Hulme and Alex Park in Moss Side.

  80. Valentine says:

    Would be nice if the engineers could leave an easter egg surprise behind a wall somewhere, say a giant statue of a pouting canary laying a golden egg.

    Future civilsations might one day discover this and conclude ‘they must have been a society in worship of cute birds and money.’

    Those wall panels, why have the vertical metal lines leaking into the recessed gaps between the tiles? It looks wrong, but maybe it will all come together when they put the grout in and then suddenly look good? Hope so.

  81. Petras409 says:

    Not wishing to prolong the London versus the rest of the country debate, but as a resident of Cornwall, I can say that the South West looks forward to the implementation of the Great Western main line electrification, which, when complete will reach….erm Newbury (or Westbury if you’re lucky) !

    Don’t mention Bristol, ‘cos our trains don’t go that way.

    I’ve nothing against Crossrail, but the gulf between the Haves and the Have Nots is widening.

    BTW, when Victoria, Elizabeth and their sisters have finished boring through the London clay, spare a thought for us down in the South West. We might need one of them to bore a new tunnel through Haldon Hill for the Dawlish avoiding line.

    Oops, there goes another pig flying past !

  82. Melvyn says:

    This debate seems to have wandered of the original purpose of this article so may I start by commending these photos of the new Canary Wharf Crossrail Station which being Canary Wharf is being built to the high standards the estate is well known for.

    As for the cost of the station its worth looking at the Jubilee Line Station and then when you look at the size of estate it serves you can see what a bargain it is compared to places in the City or West End that often have several stations serving much smaller areas and unlike at Canary Wharf they are not linked to the surrounding area meaning users have to leave stations in all weathers while many of those at Canary Wharf can get from train to desk without going outside a feature Canadian CWG has imported from Canada !

    As for interchange from Jubilee Line to Crossrail then subways already exist covering much of the distance and given how CWG plans its estate don’t be surprised if indoor interchange becomes possible .

    As for size of station well its worth remembering that on the north side of the new station is north dock which has potential for millions of Sq FT of offices and shops between Station and Poplar Station which together with the nearby road might one day be buried in tunnels beneath extended Canary Wharf !


    You talk of money wasted on this station – well I much prefer to remember the money wasted on skimping on DLR which was only built for single carriage trains and then had to have most of its stations extended for 2 car trains and then had the same thing to allow current 3 car trains. While at Canary Wharf the original station was never used and the present station built to allow 3 car trains was built by CWG !

    As for rich with cars the reality is Canary Wharf has just opened a brand new shopping area next to Jubilee Line Station as it was a car park that no one used!

    The Reggie Perrins of the world or at least London have always commuted by rail !

    What a shame construction of Crossrail did not give priority to Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf then on to Whitechapel as had this occurred a branch could have opened by 2016?

  83. CdBrux says:

    @ Graham H: I think the argument for some sort of devolution of powers to the regions is not to generate any additional cash, certainly from central government, but to get a better knowledge of what solutions are best placed to address local problems. The assumption is that this can be better done by [people with the requisite skills] who are more local and thus understand the problem and potential solutions better than some person in London who thinks civilisation ends at the Watford Gap! Of course if the regions felt a better ownership of and alignment to the investments then they may feel more inclined to put a bit of their own cash in?

    I cannot disagree London projects probably offer, in general, better ROI than many of those outside the south east for the various reasons already mentioned, however a potential consequence then becomes that London gets relatively better infrastructure to keep up with it’s increasing travel needs (in itself this will generate some more) which increases it’s attraction for talented working age people to move to live there from other parts of the UK (and beyond), which in turn increases the problem and also the attractiveness of investing in London vs elsewhere. And so it goes on. I am not suggesting it’s an easy cycle to break, far from it.

    The one element I see missing from this type of debate is future influence of technology, will people need to commute 5 days a week to an office, or might that over time reduce to 4, 3 with the advances of technology? As I understand it there are few transport related incentives to persue this: I don’t think you spend less on your season ticket if only used 4 days a week vs 5, perhaps of you did then it may encourage less travel (thanks to alternate working solutions), so requiring less infrastructure investment to increase capacity. Of course it would hit revenue which would be a problem for some…

  84. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Straphan – So the poor souls north or west of Milton Keynes should give up because of some civil servants in Whitehall? Sorry I simply don’t buy that. I appreciate we have access to some spectacular insights into Whitehall lunancy courtesy of some posters to this blog but there is evidence that things can change. Metrolink’s extensions were cancelled by Alastair Darling and yet they’re now being built because of some clever politics and lobbying from Greater Manchester. Picking up Graham H’s point I would cite Greater Manchester as an example where some clever funding mechanisms have been used in a devolved set up to secure a lot of investment. I agree there is no magic money tree but there is some willingness to devolve funding and decision making as well as allowing extra borrowing and private investment. I don’t see this as a funding guarantee – more a range of options.

    The Tyne and Wear Metro and Blackpool Tramway are being / have been renovated and improved whereas by your logic some awkward “so and so” in Whitehall would have stopped it. If someone had suggested to me in May 2010 that the current Government would have been so benevolent towards mass rail electrification I’d have laughed in their face. Things can be changed by careful and sensible lobbying. Civil service “instransigence” can be got round. I am by nature a bit of a perfectionist but over the years I’ve learnt that you get things done by learning the “art of the possible” rather than pitching for something you’ll never get. I think this is equally true for

    One final comment – yes this blog is by its nature London centric but some of us are from areas a long way from London and have plenty of experience of being on the wrong end of Whitehall’s decision making.

  85. Ed says:

    JM – In Bristol they did choose to have a mayor in a referendum. And then elected an independent no less. But still he has been given very few powers by Westminster, and is affected by the restrictive Bristol boundaries that bear no relation to the city. Boundaries change to South Gloucester in a suburb in the north of Bristol. South Gloucestershire are Tory, a mix of Bristol suburbs and rural areas, and pro car so do much to scupper public transport plans and things such as power over local buses.

    There is no ITA, but a weak transport group of which Bristol is just one party. It doesn’t have the power to push much in the way of public transport going against North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, and to a lesser extent Bath. Westminster won’t allow greater powers unless all 4 councils agree. The other 3 will not. Westminster should create proper city boundaries and then allow greater freedom over transport to the mayor and Bristol politicians.

  86. Graham H says:

    @Melvyn – blame Nick Ridley, who, when Secretary of State for Transport, agreed to it at all only on the basis that it cost no more than £77m cash, and even then required hitting over the head by Heseltine. A classic case of wasting money by not spending enough. DLR has been playing catch up ever since.

    @Cd Brux/WW wouldn’t disagree that devolution encourages more imaginative approaches to raising money. It doesn’t, however, encourage more innovative projects – nearly every PTEs etc do have a portfolio of very good potential projects on the shelf; Whitehall doesn’t put forward alternative projects of their own (except for XR in the ’90s) – they don’t have the resources to develop rival projects.

  87. CdBrux says:

    WW: “I am by nature a bit of a perfectionist but over the years I’ve learnt that you get things done by learning the “art of the possible” rather than pitching for something you’ll never get.”

    Reminds me of a well worn phrase, presumably from some management consultancy somewhere (but very worthwile to remember when scoping out a project and asking for business alignment and through that capex): “Never let best be the enemy of better”.

    In practice: better to go for a few smaller projects that improve (for an acceptable payback) what we have and can be agreed quickly and that are in line the goal than to spend forever discussing and failing to achieve alignment on the ‘perfect’ big project.

    This is not to say that occasionally the big project is really needed, but certainly not always. As an outsider to public transport looking into this very interesting forum I do feel some people can be in the ‘big, perfect project’ camp a little too much and wonder why these projects are rarely approved.

  88. Ed says:

    JM – There is definitely scope for a proper High Street for the road (Harrow Manorway) between Abbey Wood and Thamesmead. It ‘s having a Sainsbury’s built facing onto it, and the rest of the road has wide grass verges and low rise buildings. Much of it ripe for redevelopment with retail at ground floor level. Keep some of the original Thamesmead though but renovate.

    At one end is the station and the existing parade at Abbey Wood station of about 20 – 30 shops, and at the other another new development going up with shops. Joining up the two with a widened street and high density housing along it would be a new town centre.

  89. Melvyn says:

    Graham H

    Ah Nicolas Ridley his the right winger that forced through bus deregulation thinking it would lead to competition among bus companies when what really happened is fly by night operators put on old buses and coaches in rush hours only charged half fares and thus destroyed the profits bus companies used to cross subsidise evening and weekend services which lead to destruction of said services !

    Of course when the DLR was first built nobody (except perhaps Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday!) could foresee the massive Canary Wharf development but it began soon enough to upgrade DLR between Tower Gateway and Island Gardens to allow double length trains at very little extra cost .

  90. Melvyn,

    but it began soon enough to upgrade DLR between Tower Gateway and Island Gardens to allow double length trains at very little extra cost.

    If only! The whole thing was built on a viaduct that was intended only for single car trains. So a lot of the viaducts had to be strengthened at considerable expense. And extending platforms on viaducts isn’t cheap either. If it had been designed for 2-car with passive provision for three car (including strong enough viaducts) from the outset a LOT of money could have been saved for only a small additional outlay.

    The network could just about survive with two-car trains but in some places was really at its limits. Most notably was Stratford where they had to have marshalls during the evening peak.

    Other related costs involved selling the original fleet and buying a new one because they needed to be sufficiently fireproofed for the Bank extension.

    When it went from two to three car the expense really kicked in despite the fact that fortunately a lot of the later work had been designed with three car in mind. They then went back and had to strengthen those viaducts again. Stratford, Tower Gateway, South Quay, Mudchute and Island Gardens stations had to be rebuilt. South Quay was in fact rebuilt for the second time thanks to the IRA but unfortunately they rebuilt it exactly as before in exactly the same location where it couldn’t be expanded to three car trains.

    Issues about not appreciating how popular it would be meant the delta north of Canary Wharf has been partially rebuilt twice. Canary Wharf station was rebuilt before it was opened.

    You would have thought after all this and the current rebuilding of Pudding Mill Lane it is all sorted out. But the DLR still has fundamental capacity problems because expansion was not sufficiently allowed for.

    Cutty Sark (built for 2-car) needs SDO though I appreciate issues about tunnelling under a sensitive site mean we are lucky to have a station there at all.

    Elverson Road (built for 2-car) really cannot be lengthened to 3-car because it was not allowed for in the original design and cannot be done in its current location.

    Shadwell is struggling to cope and there is talk of abandoning the station and building a replacement on the other side of Watney St – where it should have been built in the first place.

    Worst of all, the platforms at Bank whilst built long enough for three cars, weren’t built with sufficient capacity to accommodate lots of people on the platform and the station as a whole was not sufficiently upgraded. This restricts the number of services that can be run.

    There is only a single line shunt at the end of Bank station (two sidings would have been better and given some flexibility) and there is nowhere to store a crippled train at Bank (shunt not long enough).

    Basically from start to finish (well its not finished yet) it has been a story of tearing down and upgrading that which was put in only a few years previously – and it still isn’t ideal.

  91. Greg Tingey says:

    Which is EXACTLY why I rant on about “stupid” & shortsighted” at times …..
    However, the other side is that … once DLR was built at all, it had to be up-graded, whereas as a “proper” project would never have got past the government of the day (Needless standard GT slating replaced by neutral statement PoP), would it?
    I’m seriously hoping that this is what will happen @ Abbey Wood, incidentally.
    That it (CR1) will submerge completely, probably within weeks, from both the inhabitants of Thamesmead & even more so from transfer traffic coming from Dartford & points East, so that extension to Gravesend / Hoo Jn will follow-on a.s.a.p.
    [Request for opinions on this removed. How many times Greg? Save discussion of this for a more appropriate time later. Don’t try and drag others into a discussion we do not currently want or entire comments will get deleted. PoP]

  92. Fandroid says:

    I think I would excuse the initial cheapskate spec for the DLR. At the time, light rail (and it was light then!) was just about unknown in the UK. The Tyne and Wear Metro had opened, but that was more like a heavy rail metro with light vehicles (tram-train-ish), and took over long lengths of rail rights of way. At the start, a tunnel extension to Bank would have seemed utterly Crayonista! With hindsight we may think of N Ridley* as mean, but £77m (1980s prices) sounds like quite a lot of cash to throw at a derelict watery wasteland.

    However, once it had proved to be so successful, the lack of foresight built into subsequent stages can only be seen as plain daft.

    *An offtopic aside. With floods being this winter’s home affairs topic of choice, you will possibly have heard calls for the Environment Agency to be transformed back into its predecessor, the National Rivers Authority (NRA). During water privatisation, this was created in a ‘whoops, we forgot about rivers’ moment. So it became known in the water industry as Nicholas Ridley’s Afterthought.

  93. Graham H says:

    @PoP/Melvyn – and to think we could have had the Fleet Line… If I had more leisure in retirement, I would write the book of political interventions in the planning process with disastrous financial and transport consequences. DLR would figure largely, but Stratford International and the Fleet Line to Charing Cross would also have starring roles. Pacers would have a special section all of their own. The chapters on airports and motorways would be quite lengthy, too.

  94. Castlebar 1 says:


    Please DO it.

    I am happy to elaborate on my recent comments on various LR threads as to how these numpties got to where they did, in spite of their lack of intellectual ability and geographical knowledge.

  95. Milton Clevedon says:

    Building DLR was an act of faith authorised by Heseltine as Environment Secretary (announced in Autumn 1983 I think, at the Conservative Party Conference).

    It took a helicopter ride over Docklands to convince him. This was at the time when Transport was the poor relation of the Government departments, and after Horace Cutler (Con Leader, GLC) had fallen out with Norman Fowler (Con, Transport Minister) in 1979 about the cost-effectiveness of extending the Fleet Line as a ‘Docklands Spine’ with powers to go to Woolwich and Thamesmead.

    The spine idea came from the GLC-commissioned reports about Docklands, produced in 1970-72, which were visionary in thinking. In those days the spine could have been a motorway (remember the DSRR scheme – Docklands Southern Relief Road?) or ‘minitram’ or tube.

    This was followed by a hopeless period in the mid-1970s when the various boroughs all put together a London Docklands Strategic Plan supported by the Docklands Development Team (shame about the acronym). Unfortunately all it was, was a series of unco-ordinated local borough plans where each borough thought only within its own patch and supported the other boroughs’ ideas providing there was mutual back scratching.

    But it wasn’t strategic – just stuff sellotaped together, duplicating each other in many respects, no overall vision, and missing a lot of masterplan logic.

    After the Cutler/Foster debacle, the light rail idea then kicked off, after looking at loads of options such as an East London Line branch, and a surface tram from Mile End to the Dogs (LT’s favourite option). Finally Mrs T did some head banging and the LDDC was created, with an Enterprise Zone (EZ) in the Dogs.

    The effective LDDC Chief Exec Reg Ward then told LT he wanted a very visible transport spine, so the surface light rail became an automated DLR on viaduct.

    It was the EZ and DLR combined, which attracted G Ware Travelsted (a real name) and his colleagues to advocate the first version of Canary Wharf, and they funded the DLR City Extension. Then the Reichmann Brothers took over, Canary grew again in planned scale, and the financial services world started to become interested.

    The Reichmanns were very clear what they wanted, a direct tube to London Bridge and Waterloo to pick up high value middle and senior banking executives from these Southern termini. They proposed a £400m private sector tube with 4-5 car trains with a limited number of stops (and a station and further new development where the SE Gas Works had been, on the Greenwich Peninsula, and a depot nearer to Westcombe Park).

    They were about to deposit a Private Bill in November 1989 – and had already deposited the plans in Parliament (which you can inspect if you are minded to) – when the Government freaked out about a private tube (paradoxically, since it was a pro-private sector Conservative government!). The Government canned the priority output from the just published 1988-89 Central London Rail Study (which was to build Crossrail first, before Thameslink and a different Jubilee extension), and invented a short life East London Rail Study which was really a competition to see which private sector party would offer the greater cash input into a revised public sector Jubilee Line extension now via (you’ve guessed) Waterloo, London Bridge and Canary – with a nominal £400m cash contribution from Canary Wharf Group providing the tube was delivered on time and to budget.

    BTW, the JLE wasn’t on time nor on budget, so CWG saved its £400m. That’s one reason why CWG has contributed to, designed AND built the Crossrail station there more recently – it requires its projects on time and on budget, and from hard experience doesn’t trust others’ inputs.

    Would the JubeTube go via Poplar or the Greenwich Peninsula?, was the ELRS question. British Gas offered the best cash deal, think ca. £25-27m, so the JLE finally went via North Greenwich. Not sure that the relevant civil servant leading the ELRS was too comfy with that – but actually don’t think the individual was comfy with anything!

    I won’t go into detail about the later nonsenses about the Jubilee Line Extension issues, getting powers was one thing but getting it acceptable to Treasury and funded was another. Suffice to say that the Treasury was anti, and it took a massive amount of very high level lobbying from many stakeholders to secure go ahead, not least into No.10 and No.11. Steve Norris as Junior Transport Minister was hugely supportive in all this, as was Tower Hamlets Council.

    Just before this period, the DLR was transferred forcibly into the Environment Department from London Transport, after public and political concerns about DLR ‘mickey-mouse’ service quality. LT objected violently, so were given a choice – do you want to lose the DLR, or have London Buses deregulated? Their protests stopped.

    This Government intervention also nearly killed the DLR Lewisham Extension Bill, then in Commons’ Select Committee, when its members objected to the emasculation of London Transport who were the DLR extension project promoter. It took an urgent 10 days of behind the scenes coordination of all stakeholders to agree a effective, consistent line to put before a special hearing of the Select Committee, involving LDDC, LT and the relevant Boroughs. It was personal evidence by the Labour leader of Lewisham telling the Committee (chair Paul Murphy, Lab) that he didn’t care who ran DLR, Lewisham needed the railway and the resulting regeneration, and was contributing £5m directly to the extension, that saved the day there.

    So there is an entire book to be written just about Docklands transport investment and its political and financial snakes and ladders, let alone anywhere else in London. Glad to have been involved in a lot of it!

  96. JM says:


    To open the debate on remote working a little more, I personally don’t see working from home as a choice for many, even with technology advances. Our millions of jobs are far more nuanced, as in human behaviour. It can be progressive for things such as those with heath, childcare problems or allowing the possibility of extended paternity leave, all of which I would welcome but brutally, I don’t think the value of many jobs justify the expense.

    The whole premise of remote working is based on the ability to have the flexibility to work in more than one location. For companies, this would mean essentially investing in the technology at home for their employees (Idon’t know many people that would want to pay bills associated with working with home). Consequently a company would increase its operating costs without necessarily raising productivity. This might be acceptable for a more ‘valuable’ member of a company (top sales staff, account holder or star fund manager for example) but not necessarily for the legion of back office workers who do the donkey work.


    Re Bristol, as you seem to know the city, I’ve always been intrigued about the Bristol/bath rail path. Cyclists/environmentalists were very organised against busway proposals – I’m wondering if the same view would be taken of trams, particularly if a cycleway also remained. Purely hypothetical of course. I’m visiting Bristol soon – keen to see if the buses have improved as I thought it probably has the worst big city bus service in the Uk after my last visit 3 years ago.

    I agree with you on Thamesmead and Abbey Wood. Worry slightly though that Crossrail plus the Thames Gateway Bridge (which I think will happen eventually) and DLR route will just end up leading to social cleansing rather than better quality housing/facilities for the communities already living there. Currently its a bit of a backwater as far as London goes, Crossrail will probably change this.

  97. JM says:

    @Graham H

    Maybe you should try a blog, would be very interested to read your experiences.

  98. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ MC – fascinating stuff. I’ve never heard of the “DLR to LDDC vs Bus Deregulation” threat before. I also wasn’t aware that the Reichmanns never coughed up the money for the JLE. Clearly LT took the right decision given the damage bus deregulation would have wrought on London but perhaps it would have severely damaged the Tory government and got them out earlier? Oh the fun and games of rampant “benefit of hindsight” speculation. 🙂

  99. stimarco says:

    @Graham H and Castlebar:

    If you don’t want to face the prospect of writing a full book, why not join forces and work together on a blog / article site instead? Think of it as a way to serialise your memoirs before publication.

    After about a year or so, you’ll each probably have enough material to approach a publisher with, and you’ll have already done most of the writing, so it won’t feel like so much work.

  100. Ed says:

    JM – There was/is a vocal group complaining about changing the use of the cycle lane on the site of a former rail line from Bath to Bristol to a bus way. I think the route is quite narrow in places hence cycle routes alongside would not be possible to whole way. More widely the bus way plans are widely disliked in Bristol by many groups and local politicians. A tram or tram-train proposal would be more likely to gain support from some cyclists as easier to share space on the narrower sections. Plus any objections would likely be vastly overwhelmed by mass support.

    I think the buses there are cheaper now. The cost was ridiculous compared to other cities before being ‘rationalised’ last year into zone fares. This was after First buses changed from centralised policies dictated from Aberdeen and gave power to local areas to set prices and routes.

    I doubt much else has changed. Oh, there are all night buses now and some that run to 3am which is a big improvement for a city with a big night time economy. You’re right that it is the worst bus service in the UK. London should thank its lucky stars it never had to endure the horrors of unregulated buses. Giving up DLR control was worth it if that was the alternative.

    Bristol spent £80 million on bus changes (new bus stops etc) a couple of years ago. Some of it was good but much ineffective. That was another area where Whitehall forced that funding only on buses when locally there was much stronger support for that £80m pot to have been spent on rail – doubling the Severn Beach line and re-opening Portishead along with other stations like Horfield. All that has been costed at below £80m. The big spend on buses has done little to improve passenger numbers. Compared to what 250k a year did for the Severn Beach line it was a very misguided spend. Sadly that was what Whitehall insisted on.

    As for Thamesmead, Abbey Wood and gentrification. A large majority of the population has already changed in the past decade. Plus Abbey Wood has declined quite a lot. Those there that I know are desperate for improvements. It lacks almost every amenity you get elsewhere – good pubs, places to eat, shops, banks etc. in Thamesmead the Galleons housing association controlled public areas are awful. They have been taken over by Peabody due to a litany of failures. Council maintenance is very poor elsewhere.

    You’d be hard pressed to find anyone worrying about gentrification. In many towns facing change there is resistance but you’d be hard pressed to find it there. It has been forgotton about, neglected and a backwater for a while now so people are hoping it can get back to where it was and then improve.

  101. Long Branch Mike says:


    The Reichmanns’ Olympia & York went bankrupt about the time they were due to contribute.

  102. JM says:


    Interesting. Just to clarify, my view is that Bristol has the worst ‘big city’ bus service in the UK. Although it is still poor relative to smaller towns/cities like Cambridge, Oxford and Brighton, particularly the latter which Darling (or maybe Kim Howells) used to hold up as a model of why deregulation had worked. Arguably those places that I would rank pretty low are all run by the same company….

  103. straphan says:

    @Graham H and Castlebar: I think the very least you could both do is start a blog. Although I do think what you have to say would probably be best published as memoirs…

    @WW and Graham H: All PTEs do of course have good projects on their cards. Particularly in the field of light rail. Trouble is – if Whitehall wants bus, then those places have a more uphill struggle to get what they want. Look at Merseyside, where the Liverpool tram was scrapped at the last minute; or Leeds, where after ages of to-ing and fro-ing they now will have a trolleybus which nobody really wants – it’s a face saving measure more than anything. Why? Anyone with half a brain will tell you when it comes to public transport people will prefer something on rails than a bus. Sadly, nobody in the UK has been able to actually prove conclusively this bias exists, even though simple comparisons between cities on the continent with and without tram/light rail networks will give you a good idea.

    And that’s the issue that I’m banging on about. Whatever ideas cities and local authorities come up with, at present it is always going to be someone else deciding whether they can implement them or not. And anyone who’s done any appraisal work in their lives will know it is dead simple to re-hash an appraisal process to ensure a decision is made as per the wishes of the decisionmaker. Scotland is a very good example here – under English appraisal rules the Borders Railway doesn’t even have a BCR of 1:0, and the EGIP scheme doesn’t reach 2:0. But they will get built, they will bring in real benefits, and they are nowhere near the level of idiocy that the Spanish have achieved with their ghost airports and motorways. Largely because the pot of money available is not big enough to make any really big mistakes.

    And yet again I will push my key argument in favour of devolution: nobody, and I do mean NOBODY in Cardiff or Manchester or Leeds would have ever agreed to having a ‘zero-growth’ franchise on their patch. London-based civil servants, on the other hand, did not lose much sleep over their ill-fated decisions. I have repeated this argument a number of times in this thread and none of you who argue that the wider English public transport decisionmaking process is not in any way stacked-up against the rest of England have even tried to respond to it in any meaningful way. I shall take the silence to mean that you begrudgingly concede that some bias is indeed there.

  104. Greg Tingey says:

    I understand that the Canals have been given short shrift, incidentally, with the now-defunct & at times incompetent [ I’ll quote a classic example if required ] British Waterways Board now replaced with an organisation that is regularly attracting “Private Eye’s” beady eye….

    Graham H
    “Pacers” Shudder ( Yes, I know they do, but I meant the other sort of shudder – oops)

    Re DLR – so Lewisham put real money up – but now (?) regarding DLR southwards extensions – not so happy/other priorities/other people?

    The big spend on buses has done little to improve passenger numbers. Compared to what 250k a year did for the Severn Beach line it was a very misguided spend. Sadly that was what Whitehall insisted on.
    And what is “Whitehall’s” policy on this sort of thing, outside London, now?
    Has the cost of the Cambridge & unpopularity of the Dunstable schemes changed their emotions? ( I hesitate to use the word “thinking” in this context)

  105. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ straphan, who said “Anyone with half a brain will tell you when it comes to public transport people will prefer something on rails than a bus”.

    But there’s the problem. As I have indicated, people with less than half get elected. Political parties need strawmen, poodles and nodding donkeys as what you will have heard of as being “lobby fodder”. This goes the total length of the greasy pole, both up and down, from Westminster to local constituency ward level. Key transport decisions can be made on the weirdest whim by those (often unemployable in a ‘proper job’) and for whom the post is temporary and a mere stepping stone to something more important. I could go on, but you will already have got the picture……………….

  106. Less-than-half-a-brain says:

    “Borders Railway doesn’t even have a BCR of 1:0”

    It probably has a BCR of only around 0.2, and seems fairly bonkers as a way to spend money on transport. It probably needs a large amount of house-building along the line to become anywhere near a BCR of 1.0. Scotland, with its regular transport debacles (Edinburgh trams; EGIP endlessly de-scoped because the budget was wishful thinking; Alloa line rebuild because it wasn’t built properly etc) is not a particularly good advert for devolving decisions down to the local level.

  107. Fandroid says:

    @straphan. England has been centralising for over 100 years. Local authorities, when first set up, used to have powers to do just about everything except wage war! Water Supply, Sewerage, Roads, Local Public Transport, Power Supplies, Police, Education, Public Health, Social Security etc etc. Now, locally raised finance accounts for about 25% of their expenditure, and that’s despite them having lost control over most of those original functions. The rest of the finance comes from central government under a zillion different guises. He who holds the purse strings dictates the way the money’s spent. Time for a localist revolution!

  108. Graham H says:

    @Fandroid – couldn’t agree more. (Those of us who struggle to make sense of the localism agenda have it borne in on us that the whole thing is a sham).

  109. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Straphan – there’s no need to sound so cross. Local democracy and decision making is a farce in this country as are the nonsensical pronouncements about “localism” from a certain Mr Pickles. When you combine the lack of public interest in politics as currently “played” in this country with the emasculation of local government it is no wonder there is no great interest in devolution. We are back to the daft situation of people not wanting to pay for things while complaining bitterly about the quality of services they experience. The “MPs expenses” episode has also created a toxic environment between voters and politicians and I cannot see any of the mainstream parties doing anything positive and meaningful to get some faith in politics restored.

    The cynicism that people have about politics will take a long time to be dispelled and I fear for where we will get to as a country in the meantime. I’d like there to be a complete revolution in local government and funding to restore proper local accountability and delivery but I suspect I am in a tiny minority. Any proposed change will be presented by vested interests as “more cost and more bureaucracy” and everyone can quote their favourite “waste of money” scheme done by their local council. Politicians have to demonstrate a lot more understanding and competence if they want to be trusted with more money, more responsibilities and more revenue raising responsibilities.

    And now my turn to be cross – my current “hate scheme” is a set of highway and pavement works being done close to my residence. The disruption is ridiculous (months duration rather than the forecast weeks) and the highway (a main A road) is being narrowed for no apparent reason, pavements widened and resurfaced for no apparent reason and we’ve been lumbered with multiple speed humps and tables for no apparent reason. It is now extremely difficult to get across the main road to the bus stop because traffic just crawls along in a great big line whereas more variable speeds in the past provided gaps to cross in. The alignment of the kerbs with the road surface at a pedestrian crossing has nearly caused several accidents because pedestrians just walk out without looking and vehicles have to jam their brakes on to avoid knocking people down. I’m waiting for the first serious accident to happen. Oh and the former advisory cycle lanes have vanished completely. All this nonsense is ironically funded by TfL through the local grants process!

    I have no recollection of being advised that this scheme was being considered or asked for my views. Given I have been personally inconvenienced by it (never ending bus stop closures which I have had to complain about in order to get temporary stops provided) and think it is a gross waste of money you might imagine I am not feeling very benevolent towards our local councillors. I cannot see what “problem” is being fixed by this scheme and what the “benefits” will be. This is a micro example of the bigger concerns that trams and metro schemes will generate and also show what a lack of proper local democracy and consultation can generate. Would I want the councillors who decided on this wasteful project with no obvious benefit to be in charge of defining a local tram network? Nope. Do my local councillors understand the weaknesses of the local transport network? Not from what I read in the notes of the council’s transport meeting (last one July 2013?!).

  110. stimarco says:


    “I have repeated this argument a number of times in this thread and none of you who argue that the wider English public transport decisionmaking process is not in any way stacked-up against the rest of England…”

    You’ll get no argument from me. It’s one of the reasons I have no particular desire to return to the UK.

    It’s also one of the reasons I’m inclined to point at Switzerland and shout, “Learn, people!” Seriously: that country has localism, planning and infrastructure down to a tee.

    They also ‘get’ good user experience design – it’s practically ingrained at the cultural level. An ISO certification auditor once told me that it can take weeks to get hold of all the necessary documentation and national certifications in Italy needed to get international certification.

    In Switzerland, the various government departments actually talk to each other and even offer a single point of contact. He’s often done in less than a day.

  111. Fandroid says:

    @stimarco. Sorry not guilty. Try @straphan.

    However, I’ll happily join in. Switzerland had the advantage of starting out devolved and the central government is effectively a cooperative venture between the Cantons. City-wise it’s not centralised either. There’s no dominant big city. The federal capital itself is relatively small.

  112. Kit Green says:

    Sort of re Walthamstow Writer 28 February 2014 at 19:25

    Is reference to current affairs news allowed here?

    If Eric Pickles had supported PIE there would be grounds to accept that there had been a definite food misunderstanding.

    (cynicism about politics)

  113. Alan Griffiths says:

    Walthamstow Writer @ 28 February 2014 at 19:25

    ” The “MPs expenses” episode has also created a toxic environment between voters and politicians ”

    So why is David Laws back in the Government, after claiming that his partner was his landlord?

  114. Melvyn says:

    An item in this weeks Docklands and Eaśt London Advertiser regarding the new Crossrail Station at Canary Wharf mentions that there will be no direct links between the Crossrail Station and DLR or Jubilee Line Stations. Passengers will need to use the wharfs links above and below ground to interchange between stations.

  115. stimarco says:


    Oops, sorry. Yes, that should have been a reply to Straphan.

    I’m not convinced by the “Switzerland was always devolved” argument given that Italy was basically little more than a bunch of bickering city-states until will into the 1860s. Even today, the “Lega Nord” is demanding Scotland-style secession and independence for the richer north to avoid having to pay for the poorer south, so it’s not quite the happy, content country it pretends to be on TV. And they’re actually being listened to – if not particularly hard. (Italian politics is a major WTF all by itself.)

    My point – assuming I had one – is that Italy was just as fragmented as Switzerland and both countries (in their modern form) are still quite young. The key difference, I think, is that the Italians decided to install a monarchy*, which inherently tends towards centralisation in government.

    The Swiss, on the other hand, went for a more loosely-knit federal structure, basing their own constitution on that of the United States. (Switzerland is arguably a lot closer to what the US Constitution’s signatories probably had in mind for their own country.)

    Germany was also a bunch of smaller kingdoms, duchies and the like until the early 1800s. Its current form is that of a loose federation too, though not quite as loose as Switzerland.

    So perhaps it’s not so much the history of a country that’s key, but how and where powers are devolved. I suspect the UK might be better off becoming a “Kingdoms Federation”, with much more power concentrated in its regions.

    * (The Italian monarchy made the mistake of supporting the Fascists and the Nazis. It did not end well and the country become a republic after WW2. This was not a good idea either as the Italians are just as regional culturally as the Swiss and Germans.)

  116. @Milton Clevedon,

    Normally I would hesitate to even challenge any historical point you make but are you sure LT wanted a surface tram to Mile End? I read that LT planned a light railway with street running to Mile End. One of the reasons they were themselves unhappy about this proposal was that the enforced street running limited their options as to what they could provide. British Rail subsequently said they could manage without two of the four tracks into Fenchurch St and that LT could have them. LT jumped at the chance.

  117. Graham Feakins says:

    @ PoP – Permit me to answer – and I quote from my copy of the first (or only?) Edition of “Docklands Light Railway – Official Handbook” by Stephen Jolly and Bob Bayman, published by Capital Transport in 1986.

    “A light railway was seen as a suitable alternative [to extending a tube line] and a number of route studies were undertaken by London Transport for the Development Corporation on a consultancy basis.”

    “There is often a temptation to assume that street running – that curse of old-fashioned networks in Britain – is an essential part of a modern Light Rail system, but it is not. Street running does however allow further flexibility in choice of route, so that traditional railway lines, redundant railway land and street running can be combined to produce new packages of routes. Street running in the Mile End area [along Burdett Road – GF] once figured in the DLR plans, but in this particular case there were technical and environmental problems which subsequently sent the route elsewhere. Ultimately, the adoption of automatic driving for the Railway effectively ruled out street running for Docklands, yet Docklands is still a Light Rail-based system.”

    I am sure that Milton C might wish to add further to this.

  118. Milton Clevedon says:

    @Pop, @GF
    Somewhere in an archive box I have papers prepared by LT who consulted on a Mile End via Burdett Road option. It was the best of the surface schemes.

    The complications were I recall: (a) overall capacity was OK as long as demand was seen as containable, but LDDC wasn’t convinced even though initial thinking on development scale assumed only low rise designs; (b) Mile End tube capacity was going to get burdened (or burdetted); (c) LDDC were unhappy about surface routeings through the development lands area – above all not making a strong enough visibility impact. But this’s all from memory so add a pinch of sugar.

  119. Steven Taylor says:

    QUOTE British Rail subsequently said they could manage without two of the four tracks into Fenchurch St and that LT could have them. LT jumped at the chance. UNQUOTE

    As an observation, I seem to remember reading somewhere (apologies for not knowing where) that Network Rail / c2c would love to have the 2 tracks back to increase operating flexibility into Fenchurch Street from Limehouse.

  120. Greg Tingey says:

    Not quite!
    Italy was “taken over” by the Monarchy of the (misnamed) Kingdom of Sardinia – a.k.a. Piedmont, under Victor Emmanuel II, in successive stages, 1859 – 70, with a nominally democratic guvmint under the monarch.
    However, as you say the then King (Umberto II), in 1922 & subsequently, backed the wrong horse (Or had his arm twisted) – after which it went badly downhill.

    Though the real problems are … only 4 platforms @ FST (remarkably short turn-around times in the rush) & only 2 tracks all the way to Barking [ 20 departure in the PM peak 17.00 – 17.59, from the current tt ]

  121. @Steven Taylor,

    I seem to remember reading that too. Although quite why you need four tracks nowadays all the way from Limehouse for four platforms at Fenchurch Street is beyond me. I suspect what they really want is four tracks for an elongated throat so that you can be more flexible in getting trains in an out of the station without conflicting movements.

    I do wonder if nowadays they really could achieve more with two extra tracks than just putting in a crossover or two and allowing bidirectional working with automatic route setting on the two remaining tracks on the final stretch towards Fenchurch Street.

    There is a very similar situation at Wimbledon when British Rail (or maybe even Railtrack) gave up half of platform 10 for Tramlink and one suspects that Network Rail would dearly like to have that back regardless of whether or not it implements its five track scheme.

  122. Mark Townend says:

    @Pedantic of Purley, 1 March 2014 at 10:46

    “. . . I suspect what they really want is four tracks for an elongated throat so that you can be more flexible in getting trains in an out of the station without conflicting movements”

    There was a short length of the former 4 tracks retained on the Fenchurch Street throat approach, which allows a little of this weaving around. The 4 track section is very limited in length though, which means a 12 car is slow to clear the junction to rear when approaching the station home at red. Even a modest extension of the loop length could be beneficial in speeding up such manoeuvres. The separate DLR viaduct could be extended around 350 metres further east to Shadwell, freeing up at least a further 200 metres of the original trackbed so the 2 to 4 track junction could be moved.

  123. Alan Griffiths says:

    Graham H @ 28 February 2014 at 10:00

    “Stratford International”, like the adjoining Olympic Park, is splat in the middle of the greatest concentration of unemployed people to be found anywhere in the UK. It’s already a success in attracting private sector investment and job creation, and the aren’t any international trains yet.

    All of which is far more important than convenience for me when changing at St Pancras or Kings Cross.

  124. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Mark Townend,

    Thanks for the detail. The fact that a short distance of 4-track remains and that operationally the situation is made worse by 12-car trains goes some way to explain why BR/NR originally relinquished the bulk of the 4-track section but subsequently regretted it. I did wonder if a short distance of new viaduct for the DLR might achieve something but didn’t really have any idea if that would be either practical or beneficial.

    Nevetheless my conclusion appears to be similar to yours in that it is difficult to see why they need 4-track all the way to Limehouse. Time to rebuild the DLR again? After all they haven’t touched this section for just over 2 years now when they rebuilt the DLR junction for extra flexibility so it must be due for another rebuild.

  125. lawyerboy says:

    @PoP, Mark Townend

    Additionally there’s significant consented oversite development at the Royal Mint Street portal (spanning the Fenchurch St tracks) – I’m not sure whether this would prohibit what you plan but it might not make it easy.

  126. Graham H says:

    @Alan Griffiths – It’s just a happy accident that a use has been found for it. When it was planned and built, Heseltine’s grand vision was that it was just what it said on the tin – an international station. It sat empty (well, unused and unfitted out for a very long time). If it had been properly planned for its present use, it probably wouldn’t have been put where it actually is. I would place a very large bet that it will NEVER see an international train; UK Borders will see to that (see recent posts, passim)

  127. Graham H says:

    @Milton Clevedon – thank you for the very thorough “pre-“history of the DLR. May I add a few very minor additions?

    The understanding in Whitehall was that Cutler was persuaded to abandon the Fleet extension because neither the Treasury, nor Mrs T wanted it. The price was a knighthood for the man. Cheap therefore. As far as I recall, he didn’t have more issues with Normal Flower* than anyone else.

    Ridley did in fact decide against the DLR and had to be leant on very very heavily to change his mind. It was at that point he – almost with a snarl, as I recall – laid down the £77m cap.

    The LDDC, DoE’s poodle, were desperate to have their own toy free from LT control. They came up with the wheeze of a trolleybus system and DTp officials were duly summoned to a meeting in the Centre tower at Marsham Street with John Gunn, the pugnacious Under Secretary in charge of Docklands planning. Gunn began by demanding that “we” granted LDDC powers under the Trolleybus Act. When we remarked that no such legislation existed, the meeting ended after about 4 minutes and the latterday Q1s failed to glide round the Wharf…

    *The clerk who prepared the DTp internal directory was – it was believed – paid a large sum/offered a significant promotion to misprint Norman Fowler’s name as above. Of course, the misprint stuck for ever. Fowler’s office pretended to be livid but no action was ever taken. The Perm Sec, Sir Peter Baldwin, suffered a similar fare, when presented to the world as Sir Peter Blodwin, and was damned for ever afterwards as “Blodders” by senior staff in private

  128. stimarco says:

    @Greg Tingey:

    I’ve worked on translations of texts by people who actually fought alongside Garibaldi. I know full well how Italy happened, and in excruciating detail. (I believe I may have mentioned that I’m half Italian; that particular country’s history is something I’ve had hammered into me from a very early age.)

    It’s easy to forget that France’s famous revolution and conversion into a republic resulted in the Reign of Terror, tens of thousands of deaths, and the subsequent rise of Napoleon, all of which was still fairly recent history at the time. There were still people alive who could remember the fall of Robespierre, for example.

    On his first attempt to reunite Italy, Garibaldi originally wrote to the Pope, offering his services to unify Italy under the Vatican flag. He was no fool: he knew he couldn’t pull it off without some backing. His decision to side with Vittorio Emanuele II for his second attempt was just as pragmatic.

    The reason I condensed what was actually the second attempt by Garibaldi to reunite Italy into a single country is because it’s actually a very complicated and involved part of Italy’s history.

  129. Greg Tingey says:

    I fully appreciate that YOU know all this – but a lot of other readers may not?
    And, err what part of Italy’s history is not complicated & involved?
    The bit where the then pope refused to recognise the new Italian Kingdom & condemned catholics who worked for & with it, certainly didn’t help one little bit, either.

    [ OK. I think that is enough about Italian history. Stimarco, please do not reply. PoP]

  130. Alan Griffiths says:

    Graham H @ 1 March 2014 at 15:48

    “It sat empty (well, unused and unfitted out for a very long time).”

    Indeed it did, but SE have been obliged by their franchise to stop High Speed trains at Stratford International. The alternative to the station box, 1 km long and 4 storeys deep, would have been a shorter structure for launching tunnel boring machines in both directions, branch line to the depot in Leyton and emergency de-training.

    I’m bemused that you think either could have been built anywhere else on the route.

    Eurostar aren’t keen to stop trains there, but DeutscherBahn are. So we live in hope.

  131. Graham H says:

    @Alan Griffiths – no doubt, a TBM launch pad (?) had to go there but the cost would have been a small fraction of building a box for very long trains and then fitting it out – say, £100m plays £1 bn. We shall never know whether SET would have stopped there if trading on a commercial basis as the cost is lost in the franchise settlement… and whether DB will ever run to London given the well-rehearsed problems with UK Borders, remains a moot point (and if UK Borders continue their present policy, no international train will ever stop there, alas.) Good for you to have the facility but surely a waste of money for the taxpayer. Better to dig a hole and bury the banknotes – just a mo, that’s what they’ve done.

  132. Malcolm says:

    And of course without Stratford Unintentional, London may never have had the Olympics. Not sure what that proves…..

  133. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ stimarco

    I KNOW this isn’t the place to discuss Italian history, but personally, I am very interested. Can please you recommend any accurate reading? I once read an incredibly interesting article of how the Republic of San Marino came into being and has stayed independent for over 1600 years. Sorry PoP, but this is the only opportunity I have of getting a message to stimarco, and perhaps you would kindly let him have my personal e~address, and I will not mention this subject on these boards again.

    [Done on this occasion but as you have my email address you could have just sent me an email with your request – so this isn’t in fact the only opportunity you have of getting a message to stimarco. PoP]

  134. Greg Tingey says:

    [Deleted. Sorry Greg, this is going way, way off-topic. If you want to have your own email correspondence I will forward one email to the person involved to reply to or ignore but we are not going to have the comment section rendered totally irrelevant for nearly all readers by people using it as a means of having an ongoing discussion that is not related in any way to the purpose of the site. PoP]

  135. AlisonW says:

    One thing the mis-named ‘Stratford International’ would have going for it though is a straight-forward link over to Crossrail which would take travellers to OOC and HS2 without requiring them to do the StP-Euston shuffle.

    In fifty years or so …

  136. stimarco says:

    @Greg Tingey, et al:

    [Deleted. Totally off topic. PoP]

    I think I’ll stop here. [Hurrah. PoP]

  137. Ian J says:

    Thanks to Graham H for the personal testimony on Docklands transport history which nicely adds colour to the more sanitised “official” version in a book published by LDDC and available online here:

    Key quotes from that:

    “LDDC’s preference was for a highly visible, automated, driverless system with a futuristic image, such as had been successfully commissioned in the USA [where?] and Canada [Vancouver Skytrain I assume]. LRT favoured a more low key, functional, simple system, with tram type vehicles and a minimum of new, untested technology. The GLC wanted a local railway, particularly serving existing residential communities”

    “Because of the timeframe for EZ benefits it was seen as vital that the railway should open within five years, (1987) and the street running option could have jeopardised this timescale. In any case LDDC believed that street operation would remove the opportunity to have an automated system, and this would not be right for the area, or have the right image. ”

    Hence the planned Mile End branch, with street running along the M11, got diverted to a route alongside British Rail to Stratford.

    And an interesting observation here:

    “in transport cost benefit terms none of the options was worthwhile in comparison with express buses. The case for the new railway was difficult to make to those who believed the modest job forecasts included in the report were wildly over-optimistic”.

    That’s for a forecast of 15,700 jobs…

  138. Long Branch Mike says:

    @Ian J

    “automated, driverless system with a futuristic image, such as had been successfully commissioned in the USA [where?]”

    This was BART, San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit heavy metro/subway system opened in the 70s. Actually has carpet for flooring to entice suburbanites out of their cars. Initially the ATO was developed by aerospace software engineers, Boeing I believe, but they didn’t account for wheel slip (due to wet rail or braking slides) so the trains would sometimes stop and open the doors in the middle of the Bay tunnel. Fortunately no-one got off or was injured. This was soon rectified. Demonstrates the necessity of subject matter experts…

    Vancouver SkyTrain has always had the equivalent of train captains. No issues to my knowledge except for a kid who climbed onto the track and was killed by a train. No Object sensors were subsequently added as was decided to be a freak accident.

  139. timbeau says:

    @Ian J
    “street running along the M11” conjures up interesting pictures, not to mention a rather large detour. I think you mean the A11.

  140. Graham H says:

    @Ian J – my general impression at the time was that the volcanic expansion of Canary Wharf and Stratford was something not foreseen at the start of the Docklands project – expansion, yes, but growth on the scale that actually took place, no.* Hence no initial plan for XR1 to go there. Hence the interest in low volume modes such as DLR and automated trams.** The transport system has, as usual, been playing catchup ever since. (In NSE days, we very briefly toyed with the idea of providing a new LTS branch under the Wharf, as we were getting short at Fenchurch Street and XR was still limited to the GE; logic suggested then carrying on to the south bank and running through to Medway or similar, but funding would have been difficult at a time when Mrs T was still in office).

    * The key appears to have the Big Bang deregulation of the financial market; more or less overnight, the morning peak shifted forward by about 90 minutes and trains as early as 0630 started to be full to standing.

    ** For the sake of completeness, at the meeting I mentioned with DoE officials at which they demanded authority under the Trolleybus Act, we knew full well that they meant the Tramways Act 1870 but hadn’t done their research properly. Since (a) it would not really have fitted the legal position, and (b) we were trying to find ways of repealing the 1870 Act and replacing it with something that at least reflected the twentieth century – oh, and (c) Gunn was so unpleasant that no one would have wished to help him out – we were not inclined to correct them.

  141. Greg Tingey says:

    Ian J
    And (approx) HOW MANY people work in the “Canary Wharf” area now?
    Again, this is where I normally start ranting about stupidity, but, actually prompts a question.
    How did the forecasters get the jobs number so spectacularly wrong & low? What was (horribly) wrong with their systems?
    Perhaps, we should be asking these questions more often?

  142. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ Ian J 03:03

    It’s now called “redactive writing” (or sanitising history in advance). I have had to do some of it.

    It is about the production of official documents for public consumption which would lead any reader ’20 years after’ to believe:

    1 Everyone was in total agreement
    2 The best possible result was obtained (none of the alternatives [all of which were properly considered] could possibly have produced the desired result)
    3 What was ‘created’ on behalf of the public was irrespective of cost, which was of only secondary consideration
    4 Everybody who sat in and nodded at the right time should be named somewhere and thanked (praised, even)
    5 Those responsible were not paid enough
    6 All peerages, knighthoods etc were thoroughly deserved as people “worked” on the project for pittances
    7 Troublemakers and free-thinkers are to be made to look silly (if already dead, so cannot complain), or, excised from the document altogether if they cannot otherwise be ridiculed (dangerous because of potential litigation – some attendees keep detailed notes).
    8 The “flying pigs” hovering around every meeting, and which outnumber the three wise men (if present), should not be mentioned
    9 No money was wasted.
    10 The lunches and wine make attendance at committee meetings worthwhile even if you just turn up and say nothing.
    11 Such documents (not all are published when completed), are for some reason only seemingly created for the most controversial projects.

    Now I am totally retired, I suspect, (in fact, I understand), others are already working on the compilation of the “History of the creation of HS2”.

    I also strongly suspect that with “wiki” and the internet, things which were got away with in the past, particularly 1950-75 would be found out well in advance today and not allowed to happen because of public disapproval. (Not just transport projects, but these are quite a high proportion). People seem to be less scared of “leaking” these days, and once stuff gets on the internet, it’s viral.

    I am still constrained, and cannot elaborate futher

  143. Castlebar 1 says:

    “I am still constrained, and cannot elaborate further”

    ………other than to say that I have had absolutely nothing to do with any DLR or LDDC “creative writing”. So don’t ask.

    As a mere footsoldier, I would say that the lack of vision regarding Docklands’ growth explosion and thus job creation comes as no surprise to me. Some people could only see the need for “Jobs for redundant dockers”

  144. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham 1625/0846 – If nothing else you show the nonsenses carried out in the corridors of powers (scrap a rail line for a knighthood!?) are at least coloured by civil servants having a sense of humour. My neighbours were probably wondering what was going on when I read about Mr Flower 🙂

    Reflecting on the tram up the A11 corridor idea I have to wonder how busy that would be these days when you consider bus route 25 and its loadings. DLR is not exactly underused on the Stratford branch but a tram version on the road would probably be chronically overloaded with today’s demand levels. The other issue would be how it would have been routed through Bow Roundabout and the relationship with today’s demands for cycling safety. If there had been a Docklands tram perhaps we would have had trams stretching much further into East London and the City and possibly South East London too if tunnelled extensions had still happened. While DLR’s technology has some advantages it has prevented the usual organic growth of tram based systems where the extra flexibility allows extension down roads.

  145. Greg Tingey says:

    Graham H
    “Gunn” – sorry – I missed the reference (presumably up-thread somewhere) – who, please?

    [Greg, A simple search of the page (try Ctrl+F) for “Gunn” will make it clear exactly who is being referred to. Can we ask for clarification as a last resort please? PoP]

  146. timbeau says:

    “Reflecting on the tram up the A11 corridor idea I have to wonder ……………. how it would have been routed through Bow Roundabout and the relationship with today’s demands for cycling safety.”

    My understanding was that the street-running proposal would have turned left instead of right at Bow Church and gone to Mile End, so would not have gone through the Bow Roundabout.

    As for the cyclists’ problems at Bow Roundabout, the solution would appear to me to be a cycle bypass, crossing the River Lea and A12 on a cyclepath cantilevered out from the DLR / GEML viaduct. (A mini-version of Norman Foster’s overcomplicated plans)

  147. Insider says:

    I’m pretty sure I speak for every user of this site other than PoP and Greg Tingey that I find their constant spats deeply uninteresting and demeaning to the site. Greg, please stop being so aggressive in your posts, and PoP please wield your sword of moderation with a bit more restraint- you’re becoming a little power-crazy for my liking.

  148. lmm says:

    @Insider you do not speak for me.

  149. Alan Griffiths says:

    Ian J @ 3 March 2014 at 03:03
    Long Branch Mike @ 3 March 2014 at 03:56

    Vancouver Skytrain appears technologically similar to Docklands Light Railway. That was to me riding on it during a holiday. Others on here will probably have more specialised knowledge

  150. Alan Griffiths says:

    Graham H @ 2 March 2014 at 18:57

    ” no doubt, a TBM launch pad (?) had to go there ”

    At the risk of our unbridgeable disagreement going on for longer than others are prepared to consider it, can I point out that the single-track ramp to the depot in Leyton uses most of the 1Km length of the Stratford International station box?

  151. Anonymous says:

    ““automated, driverless system with a futuristic image, such as had been successfully commissioned in the USA [where?]”

    This was BART, San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit heavy metro/subway system opened in the 70s”

    No, BART has never been driverless. It has always been like the Victoria line, automatic but with a “driver” to open an close doors and to take over in case of an emergency.

    I think the the system being referred to is most probably the Detroit people mover which used the same technology as Vancouver and opened in the 1987 (having been commission several years earlier).

  152. Alan Griffiths says:

    timbeau @ 3 March 2014 at 13:59

    “As for the cyclists’ problems at Bow Roundabout, the solution would appear to me to be a cycle bypass, crossing the River Lea and A12 on a cyclepath cantilevered out from the DLR / GEML viaduct.”

    I can’t see that working. The diversion is too far for A118 through cyclists to use it.
    “London’s safest cycle lanes” (as some of us like to call them) in Stratford High Street are already looking a considerable success. The only danger being to any pedestrians foolish enough to assume cyclists aren’t there, when many of them are quite fast.

  153. Alan Griffiths says:

    Malcolm @ 2 March 2014 at 19:00

    “Stratford Unintentional”

    I wouldn’t use that phrase myself, but I’ll try to sell it to my mate who says “Stratford Non-international.”

    The first or 2nd time he uses “Stratford Unintentional” I’ll come back on here and let you know.

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

    @Anonymous re: BART

    I stand corrected. Thank you.

    @Alan Griffiths

    Vancouver SkyTrain uses the Thales (formerly called Alcatel) SelTrack moving block signalling system. Toronto’s Scarborough Rapid Transit (RT) line is very similar, but due to union rules always has a driver, though is directed by the SelTrack & onboard computers as to what speed to drive.

    SkyTrain/SRT/Detroit People Mover use linear induction motors, that is, an electric motor with part laid out as an induction platform between the rails. Supposed to be more efficient, I don’t know about that. It does have lots of problems on the SRT in the snow & ice, so not that reliable in real winter conditions.

  155. Graham H says:

    @Alan Griffiths – I think we can’t agree because we are trying to answer different questions! My answer is directed at “Why build a station when no trains will call there?” I believe – and forgive if I have misunderstood – your answer to be directed at the question “Is it now useful” or perhaps “was it inevitable”? The answer to the first of your implied questions is “Maybe – although whether it’s good vfm is another matter”; the answer to your second question is “No – you could have plain lined it with a side access to a depot for a fraction of the cost of a fitted out box.”

  156. Greg Tingey says:

    “Stratford-in-the-‘ole” surely?

    Oh, & I wasn’t sure Mr Gunn was on this thread, not another, btw, because of the quite large amount of cross-referencing that’s being going on recently.
    CTRL+F only works on the page/script you are currently using, after all!

  157. Ian J says:


    “It is about the production of official documents for public consumption which would lead any reader ’20 years after’ to believe: 1 Everyone was in total agreement”

    Except that the link I provided (which was itself written 15 years after the events it described) is very clear about differences of opinion between LDDC, LRT and the GLC (and by the time it was written LDDC was on the way out and the GLC was long dead. The owl of Minerva flies only at dusk, as someone once said.)

    As for the lack of planning for the explosion of employment in Docklands: wasn’t that rather the point? The Enterprise Zone was all about removing planning controls and having a free for all err, letting the market decide. The government then spent the next couple of decades trying to catch up.

    @ Long Branch Mike: You can now add the Victoria Line to the list of systems using SelTrac. As I understand it Skytrain is completely unstaffed, DLR has train captains, and the Victoria Line and Scarborough LRT have drivers, which just goes to show that the decision about whether to have onboard staff, and if so what type, is not mainly a technological one.

    @Graham H: “a fraction of the cost of a fitted out box”: but the fraction in question (you suggested a tenth) does vary depending on the assumptions you make about the size of the box that had to be built anyway.

  158. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ Ian J


    but some instructions to record history are given before the “event”. Some politicians prefer to “provide” information, rather than leave it to others.

    This seems to enable things to be recorded that didn’t happen, nor words that nobody else can remember hearing being included, whereas, writing from hindsight, the opposite is true as some things/opinions mysteriously get left out.

    As I said, I knew nothing about “Docklands and its history”, but with one or two extremists at the table, it was inevitable that packages/jobs for ex-dockers would be the only item of interest on some agendas. The future was for a future generation to sort out. Hence the problems you correctly highlighted.

  159. Alan Griffiths says:

    Ian J @ 4 March 2014 at 01:02

    “@Graham H: “a fraction of the cost of a fitted out box”: but the fraction in question (you suggested a tenth) does vary depending on the assumptions you make about the size of the box that had to be built anyway.”

    Key point.

  160. Alan Griffiths says:

    Graham H @ 3 March 2014 at 23:11

    “@Alan Griffiths – I think we can’t agree because we are trying to answer different questions! “No – you could have plain lined it with a side access to a depot for a fraction of the cost of a fitted out box.” ”

    I wasn’t expecting you to agree with me, just trying find out where you are coming from. Now I think I know.

    Your view of the potential development and job creation around an International station in Stratford is much more limited than mine. That’s our key difference

  161. Graham H says:

    @AG – actually, I might agree with you – only it’s never been an international station, alas; the development potential arising from a not very frequent service to N Kent is probably less.

  162. Ian J says:

    @castlebar: “with one or two extremists at the table, it was inevitable that packages/jobs for ex-dockers would be the only item of interest on some agendas”

    I’m not sure I follow you here. The only extremists at the table that I can perceive were some of the more ultra-dry members of the Thatcher government, for whom Docklands was to be the acme of private sector driven laissez-faire capitalism. Problem being that the private sector wasn’t going to provide money up front for transport, hence the grudging provision of the 77 million.

    An example of the kind of thing that probably doesn’t show up in the official record and would be more in the realm of oral history would be how far politics influenced the decision to go for driverless trains (perhaps with a naive belief that technology could keep the pesky unions out of things… still an obsession in parts of the Conservative Party to this day) and to not have the DLR run by London Transport. Although it is interesting that the official account gives so much weight to the LDDC’s concern about creating the image of a “futuristic” and highly visible transport system. I’m almost surprised they didn’t go for a monorai fixed beam lightweight guideway system.

  163. Melvyn says:

    The origin of Stratford International was told in the documentary Britains New Railway when it is mentioned that builders found they had a large box structure at Stratford and someone thought it was an ideal place to put a station!

    Remember in those days it was in the middle of nowhere surrounded by railway goods yards and wasteland but is now next to one of the worlds biggest shopping centres at Westfields and has a DLR station alongside with thousands of flats that were used for the Olympics about to create a new local population .

    In addition the Olmpic venues are now opening for public use with the swimming pool just opened and in a few years away supporters going to West Ham games will no doubt use Javelin trains from St Pancras and so demand will build.

    It’s not railways fault for Little Englander politicians who won’t sign up to Schengen Agreement despite fact we remain an island !

    The next move should be to extend Javelin type services onto ECML and run through domestic trains from Leeds to Kent in order to build up custom for when through international services become viable when HS2 opens.

    I also think we should have copied France and extended HS1 from London to a junction with ECML and solved Welwyn Bottleneck at same time !

  164. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ian J 0102 – Seltrac is in use on the *Jubilee* line and partially on the Northern Line. The Victoria Line uses something else – Westinghouse / Invensys “Distance to Go” along with Westrace interlocks.

  165. Ian J says:

    @WW: Thanks for the correction (and Timbeau, thanks for the M11 to A11 correction – trams down the slow lane of the M11 to Stansted would be quite a sight but sadly impractical) – so that means Seltrac could be well-placed to become the “standard” signalling system for the Underground if Thales get the sub-surface contract?

  166. Graham H says:

    @Melvyn – and that just about sums up what was wrong. A short phone call to Eurostar would have established whether they were actually going to stop there. DTp knew – or should have known – that there was no power to compel Eurostar to stop (and if they had tried to alter the concession, making it a legal obligation to stop, they would have thereby imposed a Public Service Obligation, which would have required them to tender the services affected…). Cricklewood New repeated the same mistake, but fortunately, at the private sector’s expense.

  167. Greg Tingey says:

    Ian J
    And even then, the ultras failed, as recent disputes & near-disputes on DLR have shown. The trains still have to have “Train Captains” to take over if all else fails (which it still does, occasionally – though nowhere nearly as often as in former times)
    [snip PoP]

    Some of us preferred Stratford as the wonderful, grimy, filthy hole that it was (maybe)
    Photobucket links don’t seem to be working properly, so let’s hope this works:
    1961, main shed
    Or, slightly cleaner – underneath West/Eastfield, now:
    “New” diesels, 1962/3

  168. Alan Griffiths says:

    Melvyn @ 4 March 2014 at 23:42

    “The origin of Stratford International”

    Tres amusant.

    At one stage. it was envisaged that Eurostars would reach a station at Stratford railway lands by tunnel from Hither Green. I recall being assured that there was enough room for a working site in the railway lands south of Hither Green. That was when there was serious talk of a huge station underground at Kings Cross.

    Use of the word “terminus” was banned a little later; then people form Ove Arup walked the route in Kent, and projected onwards to Essex and London

  169. Taz says:

    “note that five of the 65 trains to be purchased under the Agreement are to
    enable provision of residual services on the Great Eastern line from
    Liverpool Street (high level) to Shenfield, that works would be required at
    Liverpool Street to accommodate those trains as Full Length Units, and that
    standalone authority for such works will be sought in due course in
    accordance with Standing Orders” from TfL Finance and Policy Committee
    minutes of 23 January 2014

  170. Melvyn says:

    At Alan G that was part of an earlier plan which was mentioned in one of those Streets of London programmes where locals fraught off plans to build a sub surface station next to Kings Cross Station .

    The irony is that had it been built the trains would have been facing the right way to continue through a further tunnel to North of London thus dealing with the arguments now over HS1/2 link!

  171. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Alan Griffiths – Before Arup walked the route, members of the TALIS scheme (Thames Alternative Link Scheme based on a Stratford axis) walked their route; indeed a pal in TALIS from deepest Kent likened himself to Stevenson treading the path of and surveying the new railway! TALIS folk then joined with/worked with Ove Arup and their scheme. I can’t remember now but it’s likely that if Arup’s also walked the route, then the inspiration was my latter-day Stevenson pal.

    For a detailed and informative background with maps, go to view this Channel Tunnel Rail Link Case Study (35MB pdf):

    One thing in mind then, especially with the TALIS scheme, was to incorporate the ability to run high-speed freight on the route.

  172. Graham H says:

    @Graham F – once more that High Speed Freight tune”! It’s actually very difficult to identify what this market might be: I worked on the French LGV Sud-est Atlantique project fairly recently, and the same question arose there, SNCF were desperate to make the case for the intensity of use of the route (because that made it more attractive financially to my clients who were funding it) and even so, couldn’t when challenged, say what traffic was likely – cut flowers was one suggestion. Another was overnight express parcels, but this assumed that every private operator, such as DHL and UPS, would abandon their own logistical chain, and get into bed with La Poste to consolidate their operations – only in France.

  173. Fandroid says:

    Yes, the high speed freight network, based on TGVs, seems to have disappeared in a puff of smoke since the demo train arrived at St Pancras amid the usual media blah blah.

  174. 0775John says:

    Graham F 02.44
    Apologies in advance but Stevenson = lighthouses and Stephenson = railways.

  175. Ian J says:

    @Fandroid: the Eurocarex project seems to have been last heard of <a href=";looking for money (and not getting it) in 2013 – it appears “l’état lamentable des finances publiques” in France has killed it off. The general principle of targeting containerised air freight with overnight trains from curfew-constrained hub airports was probably the most fruitful source of traffic, but in the case of the proposed London service they did tend to gloss over the impossibility of getting a UIC-gauge train to Heathrow.

  176. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Graham H – I ought to have added that TALIS wanted freight knowing, as you have suggested, that freight revenue ‘could’, rather ‘should’, form a significant part of the revenue for the line, as well as relieving the traditional routes of such to permit more and/or faster domestic passenger services. As it is at the moment, there are many train paths reserved in South and South East London, for example, for freight to and from the Channel Tunnel. This is one of the factors restricting the Catford Loop stopping passenger trains to just 2 tph.

    As to what the market might be, remember that TALIS had its sights on Stratford freight terminal as the transfer location to domestic routes. This link is to a National Archives 1991/2 document on “Reconstruction of Stratford International Freight Terminal (London) for Channel Tunnel freight traffic” which may well originally have been associated with the TALIS scheme:

    The case seems stronger than the French ones you mention. If anyone expresses interest, then I’ll order a copy to download.

    @ 0775John – Yes, Stephenson indeed. My apologies. I was actually waiting for someone to tell me it was Brunel who walked to survey the routes but I’m sure Stephenson did (as well).

  177. Graham H says:

    @Graham Feakins/Fandroid/Ian J – the key to explaining some of this lies, perhaps, in the distinction between “high speed freight” (Carex) and freight using high speed lines. The former seems a joke – how many containerised air freight movements take place nightly between, say, Bordeaux and Paris?* – My bet is for half a dozen, tops; the latter usually relates to very long distance movements (eg, the automotive traffic to Italy) and might have a substantial potential if it weren’t for the aggressive access charges levied by Eurotunnel.

    *The business case for the LGV SEA seemed to envisage between 4 and 6 high speed freights daily between Bordeaux and Paris; that would seem to equate to some hundred air movements…

  178. Greg Tingey says:

    The Lighthouse Stevensons
    by Bella Bathurst
    Pub Harper perennial (Various editions) 1999 – 2005
    ISBN 978-0-00-720443-4 ( for pbk)

  179. Lawyerboy says:

    Returning to Crossrail for a moment, this is a sobering reminder that building all of this, while safer than it once was, is still dangerous work.

  180. Fandroid says:

    @Lawyerboy. Thanks for that link. I have personal experience of construction safety in general and tunnel safety in particular. Sobering stuff. Huge efforts have been made to improve things, but the dangers still lurk around every corner. Proximity to a workplace death or serious injury immediately drives away all temptation to snipe away at ‘elf & safety’.

  181. Anonymouse says:

    Obviously terrible for the individual and his family, but I noticed that the BBC are using the phrase “Europe’s largest construction project”. Does anyone know what this is in terms of, as it is frequently bandied about with no explanation? People employed perhaps? or budget? It can’t be physical size

  182. Windsorian says:

    Is an Ebbsfleet Garden City the catalyst required to get Crossrail extended from Abbey Wood to Gravesend / Hoo Junction ? Good time to buy property in the area ?

  183. Anonymous Duck says:

    Despite what Gideon Oliver Osborne said, Ebbsfleet is not on the river. And planning permission for these houses has been available since 2007, and chucked around like confetty for the since 2010. While I believe it is the right place for a “new town” other do not and the justification to extend from Abbey Wood would need new population before building starts.

  184. MikeP says:

    @Anonymous Duck – If you want to get people using public transport, it absolutely has to be in place before significant occupation occurs. Otherwise, people will simply use their cars (or buy ones because there’s no other option available). It will then take years to shift them out again, because they will have become accustomed to the travel mode they initially chose had forced on them.

    I experienced this with the foul-up over the circular bus route around the Epsom Hospital Cluster redevelopment, and much the same seems to have occured where I am now with the hugely-delayed penetration of Fasttrack into the Ingress Park development – and even now it takes a stupidly circuitous route thanks to developers not enabling access.

  185. Windsorian says:

    @ Anonymous Duck

    I think we all know Ebbsfleet has been slow to get off the ground, but it’s pretty defeatest to say it always has to be so.

    Osborne’s proposal to set up an Urban Development Corporation (UDC) with powers for compulsory purchase, transport planning & tax breaks would mirror the the Docklands Development Corporation that gave birth to Canary Wharf.

    So what new transport infrastucture do you think would kick-start an Ebbsfleet Garden City development, considering the Thames, M2, HS1 and North Thames line are already there-abouts ?

    My own opinion, for what it’s worth, is this is a real opportunity to promote the Crossrail extension from Abbey Wood to Gravesend / Hoo Junction and it may help to unlock the full Ebbsfleet potential.

  186. stimarco says:


    Having lived in the area for a year, I think there might be a case for either building some light rail (probably trams) through Bluewater and Ebbsfleet. The classic North Kent line that runs through the area at present has poor connectivity with HS1’s Ebbsfleet station – you have to change at Gravesend and double back to use it from any station west of Gravesend. (Although Northfleet station looks close on a map, it’s actually up on a chalk ridge, while the HS1 station is down in the valley. It’s a surprisingly long walk.)

    Furthermore, none of the existing stations on the North Kent line are particularly convenient for the new development, while Bluewater currently has no rail (or light rail) connections at all, which is a poor show for such a big shopping centre.

    I remember seeing the original plans for the area, (in model form) which included new housing all the way from Bluewater to Ebbsfleet. One of the structures built across HS1 just south of Ebbsfleet – which looks like a very wide bridge – was intended for buildings and a public square, not a road. So, for once, forward planning did happen.

    I remember thinking at the time that, with most of the development being built closer to the M2 than the railways, it wasn’t likely to be particularly attractive as it stood. As the M2 is already crammed with traffic (see my previous posts on the subject of Kent’s infrastructure, ad nauseam), alternative transport options are clearly necessary. The only other road worth a damn is the A226, which is a single carriageway for most of its length. The Fastrack route was built with conversion to light rail in mind, so this seems like a good starting point.

    An alternative might be to extend Crossrail over a brand new route east of Dartford, via Bluewater and Ebbsfleet (with a decent interchange at the latter and a bus/light rail interchange at the former), before returning to the North Kent alignment a little west of Gravesend. There’s just enough left of the disused Gravesend West branch formation left to make this viable.

    This would potentially allow conversion of the older section via Northfleet to light rail use for cheap, creating a new light rail nucleus that could be extended, DLR-style, over time. 

    (It might even be worth replacing the entire existing route into – and through – the Medway Towns at some future date, with the old infrastructure entirely given over to light rail. The classic rail network has some ridiculously tight curves and other problematic features that make running fast services effectively impossible, but it’d be ideal for trams or DLR-style stock, and would provide a stronger foundation for future regeneration and development in the region.)

  187. Windsorian says:

    @ stimarco

    Thank you for your useful coments; I have to admit I only know the area slightly from when I worked on the construction of the HS1 Singlewell Maintenance Depot outside Gravesend. I understand Ebbsfleet International has 6 platforms used by some some Eurostar daily trains plus a more regular Javelin service to StP/KC (14mins). Whilst the International platforms need border controls, this is not required for Javelin services.

    The Wiki entry states “Northfleet railway station is approximately 400 metres to the north-east, although the walking distance …….. approximately 2000 metres if roadside footpaths are followed….. there is a shorter walking route (approximately 1000 metres) through the car park to the north of Ebbsfleet station, but there are no footpaths provided and this way is obstructed by the car park access barriers. ….. Gravesham Council acknowledges ….. it is a complex planning issue as Northfleet is in Gravesham, Ebbsfleet station is just over the border in the Borough of Dartford, and there are many other stakeholders involved.”

    I would agree any Crossrail extension should run independently of exising rail lines via Dartford, Bluewater, Ebbsfleet and Gravesend and this should open up the whole area for serious residential development – far more than an initial 15,000 homes. I think the UDC proposal may be a game changer in cutting through the local authority boundaries and land ownership issues.

  188. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Stimarco / Windsorian – I think any development corporation for Ebbsfleet will want Crossrail extended but goodness knows the funding will come from. The Kent politicians will probably want the service to be run by South Eastern rather than “evil” TfL. 😉 We need to remember this is the county where the politicians like having their train service frozen in time and “improvements” like extra frequency and more convenient fares and ticketing are viewed as undesirable.

    In terms of more local transport links then I would expect Fastrack will form the basis of any local public transport infrastructure in the development. It’s viewed as a success story and is a “known quantity” with local people and politicians. There may be some new glitzy environmentally friendly buses plus extra busway but that’ll be it. I cannot see light rail being wanted in an area that is addicted to car based transport – lose road capacity for trams?? Ho ho. Fastrack does reasonably well and Arriva will lobby hard to retain its local (virtual) monopoly – it is a big money earner for Arriva overall and they won’t want that diluted.

    One interesting aspect is what effect the “garden city” will have in terms of development – will it end up being considered an extension of Greater London with a westwards developmental impact or will it stretch eastwards into the Medway Towns? The reason for posing this is how the role and influence of TfL will come into play. If development heads west then TfL’s influence on transport matters will grow but not if it goes east. There is already the bus related issue about access to Fastrack infrastructure for route 96 which has reached a nasty stalemate and more westward development will increase demands for TfL routes to stretch from Greater London to serve the development. The existence of the Greater London boundary and the split in bus regulatory regimes could create some interesting issues for the future.

  189. Greg Tingey says:

    Yes, well… Ebbsfleet – Northfleet ~ 350m straight-line, well over a km by road, or on foot (!) [ Ah, just read your second post with the Wiki entry – quite so ] This is called “Town Planning”, or not, as the case may be.
    As stated elsewhere, the railways there are twisty & slow & rammed in the peaks.
    The local roads are ditto & often narrow, with it.
    How are the inhabitants of Fartyswamp Central Ebbsfleet New Town going to get to Dartford, the Medway Towns or London to work?
    Neither the present road or rail systems are adequate now, never mind after all the houses are built.
    Your & stimarco’s suggestion of a re-routed CR1 extension, along a new alignment is entirely sensible. Lets see if the “development corporation”, which I’m assuming will be set up, has the sense to push for this, among other things.
    [ I mean, so there’s an admin boundary between the two stations – so what – I mean there’s this thing called “the telephone” & another called “the Postal Service” & isn’t there some newfangled thingy called the “Interwebby”? Can’t they, err, talk to each other? ]

  190. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ Greg

    Rather like a game of poker, “The one who blinks first, loses”

    So it was with local authorities etc, talking to each other. The one who makes initial contact “……must need something. Let’s make life difficult as we are bigger than they are”. “Let us ask ‘Sir Humphrey'”

    This is also how different BR Regions worked in the 50s and 60s and why there was little dialogue and almost no co-operation between BR(W) & BR(S).

  191. Windsorian says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer

    Thank you: I found the link to the Fastrack bus services

    and see that Route B has been operating since Sunday 26 March 2006 and links Dartford, Bluewater, Ebbsfleet & Gravesend in just 44 minutes.

    I think you have to admit that whilst buses may be a feeder to some destinations, they are not the quantum leap required to allow any Garden Cities to flower along the North Kent coast !

    In terms of Crossrail extension funding, the GLA are mainly responsible within their area, which extends to the LB Bexley (with the government also contributing). Dartford is not a London Borough and I believe the Crossrail Western extension is being funded by Network Rail. At times Boris has laid claim to a Greater London Area within the M25, however Bluewater, Ebbsfleet & Gravesend all lie outside the M25.

  192. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Windsorian – my “logic” is that development corporations are often cursed when it comes to transport development. They either want “suspended methods of movement” (ahem!), some geewhizz system that is unproven or what the cheapest solution (buses) coupled with loads of provision for cars. We have had much insight recently into the machinations about Docklands, the LDDC and LT. I can all too readily foresee a similar “bun fight” over Ebbsfleet with people clinging to the known solutions like Fastrack.

    I think the fact there is a safeguarded alignment for Crossrail will force its consideration but beyond that I do not expect much clarity around providing a step change approach in local transport provision. There is obviously an opportunity to do something different (cycling, walking, buses, light rail) but I rather fear the impetus will be “build the houses quickly and work everything else later” which, of course, will be too late.

  193. Greg Tingey says:

    “build the houses quickly and work everything else later” Like the Edison Close “development” in Walthamstow, you mean?
    16 years+ now for a 50-metre connection between two stations.

  194. Windsorian says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer

    “……safeguarded alignment for Crossrail will force its consideration…..

    Yes WW, I’m sure you are right – however I do hope that a UDC will seriously consider a new route linking directly to the “open” platforms of HS1. We all know the North Kent line in this area is seriously conjested and that was before one (or more) Garden Cities were proposed.

  195. Graham Feakins says:

    Ebbsfleet services – Just before the latest development news a friend pointed out to me that the Southeastern plan is to extend the St. Pancras International – Faversham service round the coast to Ramsgate and then to Ashford, not as an extra service but to replace trains from Victoria and Charing Cross. That will mean that to/from east Kent, if you want Victoria or Charing Cross, on half the services you will have to change at Faversham or Ashford. It’s presented as faster trains to London from East Kent, but what they don’t say is that local passengers who would have been on a “classic” train will be on a Javelin and can be counted as growth in the HS1 services. It also gives a couple of otherwise spare Javelin units some work to do (and presumably eases the tight situation on the Class 375’s).

  196. Castlebar 1 says:


    If I just heard the BBC news correctly, the HS2/HS1 link has just been cancelled

    This is to “save money” as the bean counters cannot “justify the cost” (= the cost cap cannot be met)

  197. Windsorian says:

    @ Castlebar 1

    Off topic, but you can find his report here –

  198. Windsorian says:

    @ Graham Feakins

    A news report from a week ago –

  199. Graham H says:

    @WW I’m sure you’re right that the Development Corporation will be starstruck by “new ” technology (even before the LDDC, the old New Town Corporations were just as bad – MK, in particular, Runcorn lowly commended, Skelmersdale DNF). The main risk is that they assume that HS1 is enough (and a glitzy selling point to boot) to handle the commuter traffic and that otherwise, the “garden city” tab calls for eco-transport.

    As to extending XR there, the attitude of Kentish folk is irrelevant as the EDC, like the LDDC, will be able to act without agreement from the existing local authorities*. They will theoretically be able to fund both its construction costs and its extra operating costs, as with DLR. Whether they do so or not will depend entirely on the Treasury, of course – the dynamics of the Osborne/Johnson rivalry will no doubt play an interesting part…

    *I’m assuming that the EDC will be closely modelled on previous development corporation legislation – can’t see why it wouldn’t be and unless otherwise instructed, Parliamentary Draftsmen go straight to the available precedents.

  200. Graham H says:

    @Castlebar 1 – with apologies for the double post – the BBC report says only that Higgins believes the link should be reconsidered and possibly replaced by some alternative option. Hark! Already I hear the rumble of advancing crayonista armies and the crump of their heavy field artillery.

  201. stimarco says:

    @Walthamstow Writer, et al:

    The Fastrack services – which I used frequently when I lived in the area – are mostly concentrated around the A226, as that’s traditionally where all the populated areas have been.

    The new housing developments are being built in what used to be quarries. These quarries literally shaped the landscape of this part of Kent. It really helps to use things like Streetview or Google Earth’s 3D mode as you barely get a hint of the height differences here, nor of how sheer the cliffs are: the cement industry that shaped the area literally carved bloody great holes and removed entire hills, leaving the village of Northfleet in particular perched on a very narrow ridge.

    A good example is the reinstated branch from Northfleet station to the old Blue Circle Cement works, currently being used to shift the spoil from the Crossrail works.

    The imagery you can see at that link shows the branch before its reinstatement (you can see one of the old tunnel mouths just below the “Church Path” label; another is above the footbridge, and there are others around there that served older factories; some have since been recycled for roads).

    That footbridge is a very long way up. That Kent Rail page has photos of the reinstatement works for the Crossrail project, and you can really get a feel for the landscape from some of them. Scroll the Bing map link a bit to the west and you’ll see another slice near Northfleet station that looks like it’d make for an easier interchange with Ebbsfleet, but even here, the North Kent’s station is sufficiently high as to require a lift or very long ramps to make that viable.

    The mistake wasn’t failing to build a decent walking route between the two stations: the mistake was failing to divert the North Kent line over the new station instead. Any attempt to create a pedestrian link between the two now will result in an ugly kludge.

    Note how square and angular the cliff faces are: this is an entirely man-made landscape. And it’s like this all the way west to Bluewater, which was itself built in a chalk quarry. Which is why I’m unconvinced by the argument that the Crossrail extension to Gravesend should use the present North Kent tracks. It’ll be of negligible use to the new developments. The only option for them will be to drive a mile or so to Ebbsfleet and use one of its massive, and really ugly, car parks.

    All in all, a UDC makes a lot of sense if the root problem is political petty empires.

  202. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – I recognise that a Dev Corp can act in an unrestricted manner and that it may well do so in the case of Ebbsfleet. However the area can be politically volatile with some marginal seats so the Conservative element of the Government may not want too much upset on its doorstep. I agree that there seems to be a fixation about HS1 as the main transport link. I’ve no idea how heavily or lightly loaded South Eastern’s High Speed service is in the peaks and how realistic it would be to expand service provision given the (receding) probability of extra Eurostar / DB / Whoever international rail services on HS1. I can still see all the local councils and Kent County Council getting agitated about being “kept out” of things if that is how the Dev Corp works in practice.

    @ Stimarco – I am not hugely familiar with all the chalk quarries in Kent but am aware of some of the height differences around Bluewater and near Northfleet. While I recognise the topography presents some (big) challenges there will have to be viable solutions for access to the developments. I just think we are very unlikely to see a truly rational and balanced set of solutions for a variety of reasons that I’ve set out in previous posts. I would dearly love to be proved wrong and for the residents in that area to be given an excellent transport infrastructure that is attractive to use, environmentally sustainable and a UK examplar of best practice. I also hope that developers provide a good mix of housing, including affordable residences, and that the “garden city” develops a good balance of facilities which are complementary to other centres in the area. I’m not going to be holding my breath in anticipation though.

  203. Kit Green says:

    A reminder of the pleasant walk from Northfleet to HS1:

  204. timbeau says:

    Why is Higgins suggesting the extension to Crewe? The first phase will already provide a link between NW England and London via a connection between the WCML and HS2 phase 1 at Lichfield (plus a silly little spur to an isolated station in Birmingham with no connection to the rest of the network in the area other than by a walk from Moor Street or New Street .

    HS2 phase 1 (even without the Crewe connection) can be used by direct trains from all over the north west and Scotland, but not from Wolverhampton or Coventry.

  205. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I think Mr Higgins is trying very hard to appease Northern politicians and the Labour Party by dangling some carrots that they will hopefully chew on and remove their opposition. I think the Crewe bit allows faster services to some parts of the North West much earlier than previously expected. Speeding up construction and suggesting better Trans Pennine services also plays the right “mood music”.

    The other issues he’s raised also seem tactical in terms of removing opposition – getting rid of the HS1-HS2 link partly buys off TfL opposition and shuts up some of the people in Camden. The larger scale of Euston development is obviously still an issue for local people and Camden Council and I have some sympathy given the way the proposals have changed and changed and changed. TfL and Boris are unlikely to be too enthused about far more people coming to Euston and the numbers building up faster *unless* they get a commitment to CR2 very early on. What is interesting is that if the Government wholeheartedly accept the Higgins report (I’ve not read the DfT response yet) then CR2 is probably needed 5-7 years earlier. Will the Treasury fund it or are they really still expecting Boris to find all the funding as previously indicated?

    Mr Higgins has, based on initial responses, done what was asked of him which was to dilute the worst case opposition to the Hybrid Bill in parliament. He’ll never be able to appease MPs like Cheryl Gillan (on the BBC at lunchtime) who remains in full opposition mode due to local issues / fear of UKIP.

  206. stimarco says:

    @Kit Green:

    I spent most of my time in that area learning how to walk again (long story).
    I lived closer to Gravesend (close to the Aldi), and I’d go for a long walk each day, sometimes into Gravesend, sometimes down along the riverside: the area that shows up on Google Maps as a huge mass of white had a number of huge, derelict, factories at the time; the kind of melancholic environment that would have looked great in a black and white photo.

    But I’d usually take long, looping walks all the way along Thames Way to Ebbsfleet station as this was the year when the HS1 Domestic services began, (I even rode on one of the preview services), returning via Northfleet itself, which was a stiff climb back up to the top of the ridge.

    If any readers ever happen to be passing through this area, Northfleet’s best feature is probably the B2175, between Northfleet proper and Gravesend. A long stretch of it is bounded on either side by sheer drops and offers impressive views for anyone even remotely interested in industrial archaeology. And Tilbury Docks is clearly visible too and is frequently host to some of the biggest, ugliest ships you’ll ever see.

  207. Chris says:

    @Timbeau – A couple of reasons for Crewe come to mind on top of those already mentioned; it should help alleviate the capacity issues otherwise experienced north of Lichfield between the opening of phase 1 and phase 2. There is also an ongoing battle between Crewe and Stoke over HS2, which this may help put to bed.

  208. Ian J says:

    @WW: The larger scale of Euston development is obviously still an issue for local people and Camden Council

    True to a point, but Camden Council are on record as saying they would prefer a total rebuild of Euston to the current half-rebuild proposal, because it would give the opportunity to create walking routes across the top of the station that would reduce the division the station building causes to the area. Higgins makes sympathetic noises to that idea and seems to endorse something like the original concepts for Euston by Terry Farrell (assuming this is what Higgins means by a “level deck” approach). Note that Farrell in the linked article cites his Kowloon station project that George Osborne visited the other week as an example of what could be done.

  209. ngh says:

    Re Graham H

    HS2-HS1 link in a different form

    Lets hope they get the TBMs out for some GC gauge freight tunnels (or just links if being cheap!) at the same time to help free up some capacity on the NLL/GOBLin as Higgins did say in an interview yesterday that HS2 was more about capacity than speed…

  210. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ W.W. 23:11 who said ” He’ll never be able to appease MPs like Cheryl Gillan (on the BBC at lunchtime) who remains in full opposition mode due to local issues / fear of UKIP.”

    My friends who live in a village near Gt Missenden, tell me that in effect Cheryl Gillan is now a “one trick pony”. They tell me that her seat (and thus pension) is entirely dependent on her anti-HS2 stance. She is “more anti than the antis” because her parliamentary career depends on her being so. The Chilterns certainly have “an issue” with HS2

  211. timbeau says:

    Would an Ebbsfleet equivalent help to mollify the Chiltern nimbys?

  212. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – Gosh – you didn’t mean an Ebbsfleet Garden City in the Chilterns, did you? That would probably require a military occupation to construct…

    @ngh – Why not? – not sure where you’d portal (Willesden?) but surely a relatively small cost in the scheme of things – 1-2 bn?.

  213. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ timbeau

    Is it April 1st already??

  214. timbeau says:

    No I didn’t mean a garden city – I was thinking of a station (sort of equivalent to the one on HS1)

  215. Graham H says:

    @Chris – my cynical mind suggested that Crewe is as far as it will get and Higgins is pre-empting the inevitable truncation of the project by getting at least the leg on to Crewe built asap.

  216. Greg Tingey says:

    So, you want to construct a monumentally-ugly station, surrounded by car parks, which is impossible of access by normal train, in the middle of the Chilterns. And, preferably somewhere in sight of, but totally inaccessible from an existing station?

    Wendover (Bacombe Lane, perhaps?)

  217. Malcolm says:

    Aylesbury International would not work – mainly because HS2 (unlike 1) will be full up. So no trains could stop there unless they all do, and that would muck up the headline “high speed”. (And cause big questions when an average of 2.4 people joined the train there).

    Granted, most/all HS1 trains do stop at Ebbsfleeet, without visible protest, so that does spoil my argument a bit. But HS1 is actually not so time-critical: the domestic trains have other slow bits en route, and the international ones have the security delays to blur the issue a bit. And it would be quite possible for more trains to non-stop at Ebbsfleet, if commercial reasons made that desirable.

    Plus the fact that Chilternians would probably make just as much fuss even if they were thrown this sop. East Midlanders outside Toton are not over-thrilled with their provision.

  218. Windsorian says:

    Back in 2008 some people with vision (& HS1 experience) made the Heathrow Hub proposal that would have allowed some HS1 and Thames Gateway (Javelin) trains from Ebbsfleet / Stratford to avoid central London on a route to a new station on the GWML between West Drayton & Iver.

  219. CdBrux says:

    Malcolm – a quick look at the timetable for Eurostar shows that no more than 20 / 25% of International trains stop at Ebbsfleet (but more than at Ashford and Calais).

    It seems clear to me that any ‘north of London’ International train demand would be insufficient on it’s own in order to justify a HS2 / HS1 link unless it’s very cheap as I have mentioned before so therefore it would need to find, be primarily for, domestic flows.

    At the risk of drifting further off topic, I noticed the (to be canned) HS2 / HS1 link was in a separate tunnel from OOC to Camden (why not just branch off the main tunnels much closer to Camden?) then followed the NLL presumably making use of what from Google maps seems to be a couple of disused lines next to it, but not for the whole route. Why were Camden residents so opposed to this, what disruption would be caused to the local area? And why was it a single track line? Apologies if this covers old ground.

  220. Windsorian says:

    @ CdBrux

    It seems clear to me that any ‘north of London’ International train demand would be insufficient on it’s own in order to justify a HS2 / HS1 link ……

    There is one location just to the West of London, which could produce a substantial volume of new HS1 passengers – which is a new station at or near Heathrow airport; this was the logic behind the original Heathrow Hub proposal. This is from :-

    – virtual elimination of near continent short haul flights < 4hrs
    – growth in demand arising from HS1 / HS2 construction
    – transfers from HS2 particularly from the Midlands

  221. Slugabed says:

    Windsorian 11:33 19/03
    I’m sorry,but I don’t follow your argument.
    If I am living in (say) Paris,why would I want to go to Heathrow at all? (Or,worse still,”Near Heathrow?”
    If I am already AT Heathrow,I am unlikely to take a train back home to Paris,because the plane will be quicker and (possibly) cheaper.
    The only reason people are at Heathrow is because they work there (unlikely to be using International services) or they are using it for air travel (ditto)
    Only transfer passengers would benefit as far as I can see,or,were HS2 to be built,and given a Heathrow station,people from HS2 could change there onto International services…

  222. Ollyver says:

    I believe that the idea – reading the link @Windsorian provided – is that the Heathrow Hub would reduce journey times from several UK towns and cities to Heathrow, making it worthwhile to have links to HS1 and HS2 there regardless.

    Once you’ve done that, though, it may then be much easier for, say, travellers from the south-west to just transfer to HS1 instead of to a plane?

    But I think it seems much more likely (in the absence of any data) that an HS1/HS2 interchange would benefit domestic passengers more than international ones.

    I just don’t want us to end up with the same situation as France – multiple high speed lines, but a minimum hour interchange in the capital, transferring your baggage through the underground network!
    There are many ways to solve this issue – rail connections out of London, rail connections in London, tube connections, pedestrian tunnels, adequate signage… – but there are also several ways to ignore that it is an issue until you have a problem that was entirely preventable. It does seem like there are several people who are thinking about it, though, so even if the ‘optimal’ solution doesn’t go ahead – hopefully that won’t stop a solution.

  223. straphan says:

    Old Oak Common seemed to me to be the best place for an interchange between HS1 and HS2 – over there you would get:
    – Trains from all over London and the suburbs (Crossrail and Overground)
    – Trains from most places North of London (HS2)
    – Trains from the West of England and South Wales.

    Bearing in mind you would still need your luggage to be scanned to get on an international train, I think providing a one-stop interchange for all those people onto a 2h10min train journey to Paris doesn’t sound very unattractive to me…

  224. Windsorian says:

    @ Slugabed

    Fully agree people in Paris will not (generally) want to travel to Heathrow and vice versa. However there is still a very large HSR market for passengers who travel to LHR for <4hr travel to the near continent.

    I think the price problem may be a lack of competition, as there is substantial spare capacity on HS1 for both more and larger Duplex trains. I have my doubts whether terminating HS1 at StP/KX or OOC will produce the step change conversion possible.

    @ Ollyver

    At the present time, the Airports Commission are considering a Heathrow Hub / GWML station (between West Drayton & Iver) in regard to both the LHR R3 North proposals. However, following Higgins, we now seem to have a total void as to if or where the HS1 / HS2 link will go. Pathetic !!

  225. Graham H says:

    @windsorian – the UK Border Agency says you’re wrong…

  226. Windsorian says:

    @ Graham H

    ……. the UK Border Agency says you’re wrong….

    Why ?

  227. timbeau says:

    ” then followed the NLL presumably making use of what from Google maps seems to be a couple of disused lines next to it”

    Where are these disused lines? Immediately east of Camden Road the double track becomes four, with freight loops either side of the Overground tracks through Cally Road & B, and then from H&I the NLL and ELL each have two tracks.

  228. timbeau says:

    Sorry – should cite my source as Carto Metro

  229. Graham H says:

    @Windsorian – suggest you try travelling by Eurostar to anywhere other than Brussels or Paris. Enjoy the enforced disembarcation at Lille so that you can be frisked/strip searched/ waterboarded according to taste and thus fill up the odd hour or two between trains. Why do you think DB has gone quiet on running through trains to Germany? Here’s a clue: The really friendly people in UKBA have announced that do not intend to open any more border facilities at any additional stations and are not prepared rely (as you might think was logical) on concentrating their efforts on arrivals at St P or Ashford.

  230. Windsorian says:

    @ Graham H

    Whilst DB may have electrical technical problems to be solved for multi-system / country use, it seems Eurostar are pushing on with plans for e-320 trains to / from Rotterdam & Amsterdam from December 2016 –

    So why do you think border controls will limit DB but not Eurostar ?

  231. straphan says:

    @Windsorian: regardless of what colour the train is, the facts are that (a) the UK Border Force will not open any further overseas posts; (b) will not conduct document checks on board moving or stationary trains; (c) will not allow for documents to be checked upon arrival to the UK as that opens the door for people to claim asylum (which can only be claimed once on UK soil).

    As far as I am aware of, the only exceptions to that rule are the weekly Eurodisneyland services, as well as the seasonal services to Avignon and Bourg-St-Maurice. These operate about once a week, and I doubt there would be further leeway for additional, more frequent services to be ‘checked through’ at St Pancras and other international stations en route.

  232. Ian Sergeant says:

    @Graham H

    That was exactly my worry with the extension to Crewe – it’s all we’re getting. At which point our recent debate on the Finsbury Park thread about how we extend traffic to the north, north-east and Edinburgh would need to turn into concrete proposals.

  233. Mark Townend says:

    I don’t understand why UK Border Force wouldn’t countenance checking all incoming travellers at St Pancras, as this is customary practice for international arrivals at UK airports. Why would they believe potential asylum seekers would be more prevalent on trains than aircraft? I have seen it stated in another forum that Eurostar themselves are against universal arrival checks at St Pancras because it would slow down unloading and dispersal. Assuming it wasn’t the Border Force stopping the full St. Pancras check, then another operator like DB might have a different attitude, and its possible that Eurostar itself might favour an alternative method for services from wider European routes. I can certainly see why the Border Force would’t want to to commit to an unspecified number of satellite operations at stations all over Europe.

  234. CdBrux says:

    @ timbeau:
    I’m looking at Google satellite view, on that immediately east of Camden road there are two lines and what looks like 2 (to the north) disused trackbeds – maybe a better term than tracks? (I am not a railways nerd!). Maybe these images are out of date?

  235. Mark Townend says:

    The problem at Camden Road is a narrow bridge over Kentish Town Road between the station and the junction. This can only carry two tracks although you are right there were at one time 4 tracks through the station. I think the proposal was to widen this to three tracks.

  236. CdBrux says:

    I just looked at the carto metro link. My comment is that there appears (from Google satellite view) to be the space to stick in another 2 lines starting at Camden Road station going east to join into the lines out of StP using disused trackbed. I imagine there would be a problem to the west where it appears there never has been 4 tracks before and there are some buildings / car parks in the way.

  237. Fandroid says:

    Something to ponder when considering Heathrow. The station usage figures for 2012-13 show that Gatwick is the 6th busiest station outside London with 15.4 million entries and exits (behind Birmingham New St, Leeds, Manchester Picc, Brighton and Reading). If you build it, they will come!

  238. timbeau says:

    The difference between Eurostar and Heathrow is that international flights have passport checks before embarking, and generally a flight is point to point – it is rare to have an extra stop en route, and even rarer to have a domestic leg and an international leg.
    Therefore the airline can insist on a valid passport before you get on board an international flight. But on a train that is carrying domestic and international traffic, how do you ensure domestic passengers don’t overstay their welcome on the train and end up in another country?
    certainly pre-Schengen there were border checks on international trains.

  239. Mark Townend says:

    Agreed International flights have passport checks on embarkation, but who does that at airports within Shengen for flights to UK airports? Presumably not the UK border Force. I can understand the complication for domestic (within Shengen) passengers on multi-stop schedules.

  240. Windsorian says:

    @ timbeau
    ….. international flights have passport checks before embarking, and generally a flight is point to point – it is rare to have an extra stop en route ….

    The reality is there are increasing numbers of 5th & 6th Freedom flights –

  241. Ian J says:

    @Mark Townend: Agreed International flights have passport checks on embarkation, but who does that at airports within Shengen for flights to UK airports

    The airline does it. Airlines (and ferry companies) get fined if they bring people to the UK who do not have the right to enter the UK. It’s not clear to me why a railway operator would not be willing to take on the same responsibility.

  242. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ian J – is it also not the case that airlines are required to return any person without a right of entry to their original embarkation point at the airline’s expense? I’m not an expert on all this but something tells me rail practice is different to air and sea. What we might have is a classic stand off with the Border Agency refusing to bear any extra costs and the rail companies possibly refusing to take on the same responsibilities and costs as the airlines and shipping companies. Meanwhile the passenger is lumbered with all the inconvenience.

  243. Ian J says:

    is it also not the case that airlines are required to return any person without a right of entry to their original embarkation point at the airline’s expense

    I believe so, but this must also have been the case in the early days of Eurostar, when passport checks were carried out on trains – I assume anyone who failed to gain approval for entry to the UK would have been detained on board the train (they were fitted with cells for this purpose) until it returned to the country it came from.

  244. Fandroid says:

    Despite having had plenty of multi-segment flights to get from the UK to destinations within the Schengen area, I have never experienced one that took off from the UK and then landed there without discharging all the passengers at the first airport, even if it was continuing to another Schengen destination. For flights to the UK, the border police at the departure airport check all passports of passengers leaving the Schengen area. The only check I have experienced for intra Schengen flights was an identity check when checking in. For international flights the gate staff always check that the boarding pass is for the person on the passport or id card. So for flying to the UK, there are three checks at departure! Once when checking in, once at Passport control, and once more at the gate (and once again on arrival!) I haven’t done Eurostar for a bit, but suspect that there are less checks than that.

  245. straphan says:

    @Mark Townend: Unlike in the UK, pretty much each country within the Schengen area carries out a document check of people leaving the Schengen area, using their relevant uniformed services that are authorised to do so in that country (police/military/border force…). This is customary also for flights from Schengen to the UK & Ireland. On top of that, your documents are checked at the boarding gate by airline staff.

    You are correct in pointing out that air passengers are the only foreigners that get their documents checked by UK authorities only on British soil and can therefore apply for asylum. This is purely because it would be impractical to provide a Border Force outpost at every airport on Earth that provides direct flights to the UK. However, passengers of all other modes (Eurostar, ferry, Euroshuttle) get their documents checked outside of the UK, thereby effectively denying those travelling on board from applying for asylum. Given the current state of debate about immigration you will appreciate the Home Office will not want to be seen to be making claiming asylum in the UK any easier by allowing more trains to be checked only on arrival in London.

    @WW: As far as I am aware it is indeed the duty of airlines to provide a person denied entry into their destination country a return flight. That costs them revenue, and is a potential safety risk (the person is usually somewhat agitated and might try something stupid like hijacking or self-harm), so airlines will try to avoid this at all cost. Finding a spare seat for someone like that on a Eurostar is a little easier, and of course that person is less of a safety risk on a train than on a plane.

    Plus there is indeed a fine for the operator.

    @Fandroid: For intra-Schengen flights there is an identity check carried out at the gate to ensure the person travelling is indeed the person who has the boarding pass – but note this check is not carried out by police, but by airline agents. When travelling to the UK on Eurostar you do not have a named ticket, so the only check that needs to be carried out is the border documents check, carried out first by French/Belgian police (to control who is exiting Schengen) and then by UK Border Force (to control who is entering the UK).

    The one catch is the ‘Lille loophole’. Lille is within Schengen, so people travelling there from Brussels do not need to show their passports – just their tickets. However, they can choose to stay on board the train past Lille and get into the UK unchecked.

  246. Pedantic of Purley says:


    When travelling to the UK on Eurostar you do not have a named ticket

    Are you quite sure? I am pretty certain you do if booked through Eurostar. The one I travelled on five days ago has my name on it. It is also in all likelihood in future going to get worse with the authorities wanting names in advance i.e. no turn up and go passengers.

    The only way I can envisage this being true is if the booking is via a third party e.g. DB but even then I find it hard to believe that this being the case.

    I am pretty sure that the Lille loophole is well and truly plugged these days but not sure of the exact details as to how they currently do it. Quite why anyone would want to make a legitimate journey from Brussels to Lille using Eurostar is completely beyond me so I would imagine anyone trying this would really stand out.

  247. Malcolm says:

    I am fairly sure that when I bought, a few years ago, a walk-up ticket from rural France to Ashford Kent (via Paris, obviously), it did not have my name on it. But things may have changed.

    Incidentally, I asked when booking whether or not the metro ride was included, and was politely informed that it wasn’t, because that’s a different company. So one tiny respect in which rail travel in the UK is slightly less fragmented than in France. Sadly, there are rather more examples in the opposite direction.

  248. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – I would imagine there may be people who commute between Lille and Brussels for whom Eurostar may be a good choice given the timings of “business” trains. Similarly there may well be people from Belguim using Lille as an interchange to the regional TGV services that avoid Paris and Eurostar gives an easy connection to those services. Others may be able to say if my imaginings have any substance to them.

    I agree that every Eurostar ticket I’ve ever had has had my name on it courtesy of buying them on line.

  249. straphan says:

    Eurostar tickets can be bought over the counter at most stations in Europe – these come in a standard Continental European ticket format and do not have the name of the passenger printed.

    Print-at-home tickets bought on-line generally do have a name on them to prevent fraud – not sure why or how that helps, but there we are…

  250. Mark Townend says:

    @straphan, 20 March 2014 at 10:16

    Thanks for your very informative reply. If the underlying issue is truly about not expanding the range of places from which illegals or asylum seekers could potentially get onto British soil without British run checks beforehand, then surely the Border Force should, in a similar way as they seem to be doing for new rail routes, also be actively preventing new international air routes and perhaps lobbying for a reduction in the number of air gateways from the Shengen Zone too, after all we can’t trust those foreign johnny police and border officials to do a thorough job. I suspect that international treaties, trade agreements etc would prevent them from doing so as it would be restricting trade, apparently the worst kind of crime in the modern global economy. International rail services are a thus a ‘soft target’ because as they are a relatively new phenomenon in the UK and probably not covered by the same rules. I understand the Lille loophole is a problem and I have read anecdotally that the Brussels Eurostars stopping there do form a useful part of the continental HS network, filling gaps at busy times between Thalys departures, but that in itself should not stop a solution being found to this restriction on expansion of European rail services to and from London, something that seems to give give a blatantly unfair advantage to the airlines in an age when the whole World is supposed to be endeavouring to limit emissions.

  251. straphan says:

    @Mark Townend: This is clearly a matter of policy as it is the politicians who decide where you draw the line on issues like this.

    I’d just like to point out that Eurostar essentially provides most if not the entire high-speed service between Lille and Brussels – Thalys trains do not call at Lille Europe but by-pass the city using the LGV Nord high-speed line.

  252. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Print-at-home tickets bought on-line generally do have a name on them to prevent fraud – not sure why or how that helps, but there we are…

    Simple. You drop your ticket. Someone else picks it up and attempts to use it. They are prevented from doing so because the name doesn’t match the name on their passport.

    Named tickets for a specific journey on Eurostar do have the advantage that if you lose it then a replacement can be issued on production of a passport with the same name in it for small fee.

  253. Malcolm says:

    Mark. I don’t think the “Border Force” (by which I assume you mean the UKBA) are “actively preventing” new rail services to the UK. They may well be making stipulations as to where and how passengers are checked, and these stipulations are of course a factor in whether, when and how such services will happen. But these are consequences to which the UKBA ought to be, and probably is, as a government agency, quite indifferent.

    They are also probably just as indifferent about how many air routes there are into Britain, as the number of such routes makes no difference (as far as I can see) to their operations.

    When it comes to airline advantages, I think their globally-untaxed fuel is probably a much greater one (about which “something should be done” – if only we could work out what).

  254. timbeau says:

    “As far as I am aware it is indeed the duty of airlines to provide a person denied entry into their destination country a return flight. That costs them revenue, and is a potential safety risk (the person is usually somewhat agitated and might try something stupid like hijacking or self-harm), so airlines will try to avoid this at all cost. ”
    There is also the risk to the airline that the country they flew from doesn’t want them either (expired or no visa, etc), leaving the airline stuck with the responsibility for a stateless person.

    ” Quite why anyone would want to make a legitimate journey from Brussels to Lille using Eurostar is completely beyond me ”
    Come on – Lille is not that bad!
    Seriously though, as others have pointed out, it should be no more peculiar than my recent journey from Munich to Innsbruck on a train that was continuing to Milan.

    And if Scotland gets independance and joins Schengen, is UKBA going to turf everyone off trains at Berwick and Carlisle for passport checks? I can see that being really popular with passengers on the Highland sleeper!

  255. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @timbeau et al

    There are TGVs be from Brussels Midi to Lille Europe taking the same time as Eurostar but without the need for a long check in. So much more peculiar than your recent journey from Munich to Innsbruck on a train that was continuing to Milan.

  256. Graham H says:

    How about joining the Schengen agreement then? It’s clear that a high proportion of those whom you don’t wish to see entering the country have (a) already arrived legally or illegally, (b) don’t come from the Schengen area anyway, and (c) not been prevented or deterred by the ever more rigorous checks imposed on the UK borders. Politically impossible just now, of course, but a great convenience for the 99.99% of us who travel around the continent legitimately.

  257. Mark Townend says:

    @Malcolm, 20 March 2014 at 12:08

    The UK Border Force, employing the border officials at ports etc. was split from the Border Agency in 2012 and reports separately to the Home Office. Whatever they’re called this week, my point was really that the stipulations for checks at overseas rail embarkation points should be no different fundamentally from those applying at airports and if they were more onerous (and I have no evidence that they would be) then that would be unfair to rail. I can certainly see that the special arrangements set up for the Three Capitals services couldn’t be expanded without significant cost and difficulty. Perhaps the other side of the coin is the problem of various European security forces not wanting to have to set up checks for Shengen exit at a range of additional stations across the Continent, something they clearly don’t have to do for travel within Shengen.

  258. Mark Townend says:

    @timbeau, 20 March 2014 at 12:25
    And if Scotland gets independance and joins Schengen, is UKBA going to turf everyone off trains at Berwick and Carlisle for passport checks? I can see that being really popular with passengers on the Highland sleeper!

    Perhaps there could be special ‘corridor trains’ between Scotland and the European mainland, making no service stops within England and surrounded by armed guards wherever they’re scheduled to pause for operational reasons.

  259. straphan says:

    @Mark Townend: As far as I understand there were never any objections from German or Dutch authorities with regard to exit checks. Both Amsterdam and Cologne have large airports in the vicinity, which operate non-Schengen flights and therefore there is already a number of staff working for their relevant border security forces (Koninlijke Marechaussee and Bundespolizei respectively) living and working in the area.

    I think one of the issues would be finding enough capacity at those stations to operate Eurostar services. The agreement on operating international rail services into the UK specifies, that platforms, which are shared between services running into the UK and other services must be ‘neutralised’ at least 15 (or is it 10?) minutes before the timetabled arrival of a service heading into the UK. ‘Neutralisation’ is defined as the sealing off of the platform to all unauthorised persons in order to allow pre-screened passengers to enter the platform and board the UK-bound service. Both Amsterdam Centraal and Koeln Hbf are very busy stations, and I don’t think it would be very easy to allocate so much capacity to UK services, particularly in the peaks – bear in mind we are talking about shutting down one or even two tracks to stopping services for 15 minutes. Then there is the cost and feasibility of providing the rest of the infrastructure, i.e. departure lounges, passenger screening facilities, etc.

  260. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I also think that there is the further issue that people seem to be assuming that Eurostar will run non-stop from Brussels to Amsterdam. I understand that this is not the intention and it seems inconceivable that the trains will not call at Rotterdam and probably Schiphol as well. Then there is Antwerp to consider and there may be others. No problem on journeys from London but realistically I think that the current plan of turfing people off at Brussels to go through UK immigration looks like the only workable one – awful though it is.

  261. Greg Tingey says:


    [No post that is fit for publication has been suppressed today. There are three comments early this morning that were rejected due to the language used within them. PoP]

  262. Mark Townend says:

    Presumably an overseas airline gate area needs to be similarly ‘neutralised’ before a UK bound flight. 15 or even 10 minutes is definitely too long for a rail platform. Why not just take all reasonable steps to ensure its clear using all modern surveillance techniques.

  263. straphan says:

    @PoP: if that is the case, then I think this is just Eurostar finding a way around the fact, that the Fyra high-speed BeNeLux services never came to be (ti salute, Ansaldobreda…). If the high-speed service between Brussels and Amsterdam (calling Antwerp, Rotterdam, Schiphol) ever materialises, then I do not see a case for Eurostar running its rather expensive trains to pick up fragmented demand that Fyra services would be much better suited for.

    Also, will the new Eurostar service still require passenger screening facilities at stations between Amsterdam and Brussels? As far as I am aware, passengers boarding any service running through the Channel Tunnel must be security-screened even if they do not intend to travel through the Tunnel themselves. This is why today Eurostar passengers travelling between Brussels and Lille or Paris and Calais-Frethun must go through the X-Ray machine along with everyone else.

  264. CdBrux says:

    @PoP. The other alternative for Eurostar from Amsterdam is that all passengers are controlled on arrival in UK. Of course that takes you back to the ‘Eurostar are responsible to take back a person denied entry’ and the fact it would take a few minutes (but no worse vs an airport).

    I wonder what they will do about security screening of luggage at Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp stations and indeed Brussels as through trains would not be able to use the existing bay platforms at Midi station. The platform neutralisation rule would need to apply there as well I would imagine.

    Personally I find the screening far more silly than not being in Schengen. 3 weeks ago I travelled through the tunnel on Eurostar and was screened as in an airport (the rules are less stringent, for example no problem to take liquids through). One week later I was in a car on Le Shuttle. There is some sort of screening you drive through (although that might just be for heat to avoid another fire), but it strikes me any terrorist would be far better off taking their bomb on a car or better still sticking it on (someone else’s) lorry should they not fancy the suicide part.

  265. Paying Guest says:

    @MT 13:06

    Ah, just like the Berlin Corridor military train of fond memory!

  266. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I wonder what they will do about security screening of luggage at Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp stations and indeed Brussels as through trains would not be able to use the existing bay platforms at Midi station.

    My understanding is that no luggage would be screened prior to Brussels then everyone on Eurostar will have to disembark at Brussels for a security check. Remember Thalys have ambitions on the Brussels-Amsterdam route too and they don’t screen luggage.

    Why can’t through trains use the existing bays at Midi? As I understand it, the plan is to drop passengers off on the through platforms and the train will be shunted into the bay platforms whilst the disembarked passengers are going through security and immigration checks.

  267. CdBrux says:

    @straphan – there is already a high speed Brussels to Amsterdam service, it’s operated by Thalys and is generally hourly (taking 1h50) in peak times and every 2 hours outside that. What they do is a half hourly train between Paris & Brussels of which some continue / start from Amsterdam. Same idea for Cologne via Liege & Aachen.

    I notice on the Thalys website they have a new service to Lille starting next month, 2 per day in each direction. I don’t know if this is a shuttle from Brussels or an extension of a service arriving from the east. It will presumably reduce the number of Eurostars from Brussels that accept a ticket just to Lille (although they all stop in Lille not all of them are open for passengers just travelling from Brussels to Lille)

  268. straphan says:

    @Mark Townend: I think you fail to appreciate the difference between a station platform and an airport gate.

    Both at airports and for rail services to the UK, any person getting on board the vehicle must have their documents checked, and must have gone through security screening. At airports you are screened before you get to your gate. Your documents (ID and boarding pass) are then checked twice – once before you enter the gate and then again by the on-board crew once you get to your aircraft. Thus – in theory – there is no way you can board an aircraft without going through both sets of checks.

    For rail services into the UK, both the security screening and document check takes place in the station building – there is no further check at the door of the train (think how many people that would involve and what the dwell time of the train would be!). This is why there is a need to remove other people off the platform before allowing pre-screened and ID-checked people onto it to board the train. This is perfectly do-able at Lille Europe because there is enough capacity, but I think you would struggle to find such capacity at either Amsterdam or Cologne.

    This issue would go away if the UK Government stopped insisting on document checks away from UK soil, and on security screening for Channel Tunnel services. Those looking for this to happen are advised to also watch out for low-flying pigs.

    @CdBrux: Again, that opens the door for more people claiming asylum on UK soil, which will also only happen when pigs take to the skies.

  269. straphan says:

    @CdBrux; Indeed, the service is 2-hourly during the middle of the day. Missed a trick!

    In that case I really do not understand how Eurostar could see any further potential especially if people are to be kicked out at Brussels to go through security. Furthermore, I was under the impression that anyone that ever touches a Eurostar train must go through security screening. Indeed, when I was shown around Temple Mills depot as part of an RSA excursion, we were made to go through a metal detector along with employees!

    There are 8 pairs of Eurostar trains available for Brussels-Lille passengers. Having visited the Eurostar website for the first time in a while, I noticed they now have separate facilities for Lille passengers at Brussels, and require them to occupy a specific carriage without the freedom to move around the train. I presume this has been instigated at the behest of the UK Government.

  270. Mark Townend says:

    Requiring people to get off the train at Lille or Brussels with their luggage for security and immigration is not really a through train at all, its just a guaranteed connection with the same operator that just happens to use the same rolling stock,

  271. CdBrux says:

    @PoP. No reason why they couldn’t do that shunting / screening palaver I suppose and I take your informed word that this is their intention, but it would invite quite a bit of ridicule I would think and take up rather a lot of time. Indeed why not just get a Thalys to Brussels then board a Eurostar, it ammounts to much the same thing and is more or less the existing situation as long as the timetable gives a suitable change! And for the train companies (Thalys and Eurostar are both part of Railteam so they never cease to tell you on board) it would seem easier!

    Without this then Amsterdam -> London would be essentially 4h (1h50 Ams -> Bru + 2h02 to StP based on todays timings, I think the new trains are a bit faster so could shave a little off that). Adding 20 or 30 mins to that plus a huge annoyace factor… What do you gain vs today? Probably only less hassle should one leg of the journey be delayed as you know the train will wait for you!

    If you are travelling from near Amsterdam or Rotterdam airports to central London then a flight to London City or even Heathrow may well be a quicker option still. Isn’t a 3 hour train trip supposed to be the point when most people will switch from air to rail, so even in the best case (no messing about in Brussels) this is already at that limit? Still Eurostar are investing quite some money in all of this with the new trains so they have presumably thought all this through rather more thoroughly than I have!

  272. CdBrux says:

    Straphan: “Having visited the Eurostar website for the first time in a while, I noticed they now have separate facilities for Lille passengers at Brussels, and require them to occupy a specific carriage without the freedom to move around the train. I presume this has been instigated at the behest of the UK Government”

    That’s interesting! Unless I missed something 3 weeks back although Lille bound passengers can bypass border controls but not security screening in Brussels these people are then mingling in the departure lounge with everyone else and can walk along the platform and get on whatever coach they like (well 2nd class coach, you get your name checked boarding the 1st class coaches). So plenty of opportunity to get round that!

  273. straphan says:

    @CdBrux: Last time I visited Brussels was in October 2012, so I’ll take your word for it – but have a look at the message that pops up if you try buying a ticket from Brussels to Lille on the website!

  274. Paying Guest says:

    @ Straphan 14:50

    The other key difference wrt airports is that international airports almost always have permanently segregated blocks of gates for domestic flights and hence international gates are permanently sanitised.

  275. Graham H says:

    CdBrux has surely hit the nail on the head -why bother with through running? The thought also occurs that there is some inconsistency in what constitutes UK soil for the purpose of asylum-seeking: both rail and air will have needed to disembark an incorrectly-documented person, in both cases actually touching the soil of the UK as it were, but for airlines, it’s OK for them to send them back (presumably after spending a bit more time on the ground in the airport) but not so for persons removed at railway stations.

    Given that Schengen is in the too difficult basket, you might have thought that it was (a) worth a train operator giving up the required cell space (shades of SBB, who used to have a fleet of prison coaches) and (b) paying for on-train checks, if they were to compete with air in the <3-4 hour market. Perhaps Higgins was sending a discreet message when he recommended abandoning the HS1-HS2 link?

  276. CdBrux says:

    @ straphan: Oh yes, looks like I need to take my previous comment back!
    This will be at the main arrivals area which is at the front of the arriving train. I did notice there was some new ‘building’ there when I got home (Brussels) last time. So presumably Lille passengers are limited to travelling from Brussels in the rear coach(es). So the loophole is closed.

  277. straphan says:

    @CdBrux: That sounds about right – the website suggests they will be limited to travelling in standard class and – if I remember my Eurostar train layouts correctly – the last two carriages are standard only.

    @Graham H: You are confusing two things: not having leave to enter the UK and claiming asylum. If you do not have leave to enter the UK, you will either be put back on a plane out of the UK ASAP or – in instances where border checks take place outside of the UK you will simply not be allowed to board the mode of transport (boat or train) that you were intending to travel on to the UK.

    Asylum should be claimed on UK soil, as soon as you reach it. This is taken to mean as soon as you reach border controls at the airport. Since for other modes border controls take place on FOREIGN soil (Paris, Brussels, Lille, Calais, etc.) you will simply be told to b$%^&r off. If you claim asylum on UK soil, your application needs to be properly processed, you must be given leave to enter and remain in the UK until your application is processed, you are provided (meagre) benefits to survive, and it is relatively easy to abscond and disappear. You can see why Government is keen to keep the chances of someone actually being able to claim asylum in the UK ALARP (i.e. As Low As Reasonably Practicable).

    On-train checks would cost a shedload of money and would have to be fully carried out and finished before the train reached the tunnel – otherwise the theoretical asylum seeker would then be able to claim asylum as they would make it onto UK soil. Hence – if you were to do on-train checks – you would have to timetable a stop at Calais-Frethun for every train entering the UK. Given you would still be forced to carry out security screening before boarding a train, this would only extend journey times and reduce revenue.

    Incidentally, VR (Valtionrautatiet, Finnish Railways) still operate prison carriages that are attached to regular passenger services. French regulations also require (or used to until recently) a facility on-board trains where people could be detained – this is why there was a delay in operating ICE trains to Paris – DB had to fit an extra handrail in places, which you could then handcuff the offender to…

  278. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ Graham H
    20 March 2014 at 15:35
    Not sure Higgins’ message was that discreet about HS2-HS1. I also though it contained several coded messages.

    He bluntly says in his report (page 13) that “it is an imperfect compromise because of the effect it would have on existing passenger and freight services and the local community. It would also use up HS2 capacity that would be better used on services to more areas, such as North Wales. The Hs2 platforms at Euston will be a short distance from those at HS1, and one stop on the Underground. This is the equivalent of transferring from one terminal to another at Heathrow…”

    The implied killer point is that, for HS2 Ltd as an organisation and a business justifying and designing a 21st & 22nd century railway (mostly West Coast tracks 5 & 6), North Wales to London is a more important future domestic market, than the best available international rail flows from north of London, such as Birmingham/Manchester to Paris/Brussels. This speaks volumes.

    Many stakeholders in the London and Home Counties region have argued instead for a double-track E-W link (various options) that focuses on the domestic market – Intercity past London, and London & SE flows, and keeps North London Line capacity sacrosanct for Overground and freight.

    The domestic market – think of an E-W Javelin, for example – looks busy from the 2030s onwards as motorways fill up and housing and jobs carry on booming around London and further. Of course you could specify to keep the occasional international slot if the Birmingham burghers can show a business case or carry the political arguments before them, but the primary justification would be the domestic opportunity. (Which sounds rather like what Sir David is now arguing, in terms of more through running with classic lines, for the Midlands and North of England on the HS2 Phase 2 sector.)

    Patrick McLoughlin is now talking of redefining the continental link, but it is only when that is redefined with a different remit and primary domestic uses, that it might succeed.

    Possibly Sir David is also hinting that a continental link should in future be someone else’s problem, and that he doesn’t want HS2 Ltd to be lumbered with it again, to have to sort out. Maybe Network Rail or HS1 would be the best project owners, going forwards, with clearer purposes and opportunities.

  279. Malcolm says:

    The question has been asked, why bother with through running, if all passengers are to be turned off at Brussels/Lille. The answer might be related to the return journey. If London-Amsterdam (or wherever) can be done in train times with no messing about, that might be worthwhile, commercially, even if Amsterdam-London takes longer. So the re-use of the same train in Brussels for the newly-chucked-and-checked passengers might just be a handy way of getting the train itself back to London.

  280. Graham H says:

    Like the phrase “chucked and checked” – deserves wider publicity. You may be right, tho’ it’s a difficult message to get across in marketing terms.

    @MC – I agree with your analysis, although it will not still the pressure for through services, however loss-making, remembering how the state was forced to buy the ONS as a piece of Danegeld to get the regional MPs off its back, even though it knew there was no chance of using it.

  281. Milton Clevedon says:

    Graham H
    I’m keeping a leery eye out for the new version of Section 40 !

  282. Malcolm says:

    ONS. Office of National Statistics? Something else? Please explain further.

  283. straphan says:

    I strongly doubt there will ever be a strong business case for services from anywhere North of London to Brussels or Paris. Old Oak Common would have provided a common interchange for HS2, London suburbs and Wales/West of England services. However, constructing an HS2HS1 link purely for trains to start/end at Old Oak Common would have been painfully expensive – much cheaper to build some underground shuttle between Euston and St Pancras…

  284. Windsorian says:

    It would also use up HS2 capacity that would be better used on services to more areas, such as North Wales

    Personally I find it beyond belief that HS2 will be full up on day one. This is reminiscent of LHR which claims to be full but still has 61 daily flights to New York !

    HSR like airports could use more efficient carriages with greater capacity. Probably not to North Wales, but quite possibly to the larger conurbations.

  285. stimarco says:

    It is not (legally) permitted to pick and choose where you wish to claim asylum. You’re supposed to apply in the first safe country you get to – hence the problems in Italy with all those refugees trying to get to the tiny island of Lampedusa.

    Once you’ve applied for asylum – and assuming your claim is upheld – then you may still be sent to another country as the EU has agreed asylum quotas for each country. Without those quotas, the EU nations along the mediterranean coast would have collapsed long ago under the strain as that’s where most asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are entering the EU.

    The reason the Daily Mail set insist the UK has a ‘problem’ with asylum seekers is because the UK has failed to invest in the resources necessary to ensure failed asylum seekers (and illegal immigrants) are sent packing within a reasonable timescale. This is a political / financial problem and has little to do with border controls as such. The system needs replacing.

    You don’t get to choose to claim asylum on UK soil just because you’d rather live there than in, say, France or Germany. It’s not that hard to learn a new language. So the asylum-seeker thing really isn’t a ‘thing’ at all.

    The faff and bother is all to do with protecting those expensive tunnels (and car ferries). Eurostar’s insurance premiums get a fat discount if they can show they’re reducing the chances of damage being caused to their infrastructure.

    That these procedures also effectively protect Eurostar’s business from rivals is icing on the cake. (Not that I’m being cynical, you understand. Perish the thought!)

  286. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – ONS also = The overnight stock – bought by HMG to provide for through services from the North (and Wales) to Paris – never turned a wheel in anger in the UK. We looked at it when considering replacing the Royal Train in 1997 – for which it would have been quite a good replacement, if expensive. Subsequently sold to the Canadians. Money down the toilet so far as the UK taxpayer was concerned.

    @stimarco – makes the Eurostar argument even more curious?

  287. Chris says:

    @CdBrux “I noticed the (to be canned) HS2 / HS1 link was in a separate tunnel from OOC to Camden (why not just branch off the main tunnels much closer to Camden?)”

    Single tunnel almost certainly cheaper and less disruptive than the separate tunnels and caverns needed to connect the two approaching Euston with the NLL. Also avoids the maintenance issues of hard to access pointwork and allows HS1-OOC services to operate independently from those on HS2. There are probably alignment issues too.

  288. Ian J says:

    @PoP: My understanding is that … everyone on Eurostar will have to disembark at Brussels for a security check… the plan is to drop passengers off on the through platforms and the train will be shunted into the bay platforms

    Are you sure about that? The only information in the public domain about the future Eurostar service to Amsterdam seems to come from their press release, which promises two trains a day with a journey time of “around four hours”, stopping at Antwerp, Rotterdam, Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam Centraal. With current journey times of around two and a quarter hours London to Brussels on Eurostar, and one hour 50 from Brussels Midi to Amsterdam on Thalys, there doesn’t seem to be any allowance in that time for shunting either trains or passengers around at Midi.

    I get the impression that neither DB nor Eurostar are being too forthcoming about their future plans because neither wants to tip off the other about what to expect. Eurostar only seem to have announced the Amsterdam service this far in advance to help NS look like it is getting out of the hole it dug for itself with Fyra.

  289. answer=42 says:

    In your penultimate paragraph, I think you mean Eurotunnel’s infrastructure, no?
    Otherwise, good post.

  290. Windsorian says:

    @ Ian J

    Thank you and isn’t interesting to see a station proposed at Schiphol Airport, between Rotterdam & Amsterdam; the 27.9.13 press release explains the logic in that 3 million passengers per annum (mppa) at present fly between Londons airports and Amsterdam.

    Meanwhile in the UK there is no link at present proposed between HS1 / HS2 and a HS1 terminus station at OOC is hardly a substitute for a HS1 station at or near Heathrow. Back in Sept 2008 Arup did make an intelligent proposal for combined Western Access and a Heathrow Hub station on the GWML between West Drayton & Iver. (see my Whatdotheyknow link 19.3.14 at 00.51

    I think most Europeans think we are crazy not building a LHR station between London & its second city – Birmingham.

  291. Graham H says:

    @Windsorian – did you mean a “stop” at Schipol? There’s been a “station” there for years.

    BTW, I would imagine that most of your 3mppa flying between London and Schipol would (apart from those interlining) transfer to an Amsterdam rail service even if there were no LHR station on HS2. In fact, at ~10000mppd that would seem to justify an hourly service although I dare say Eurostar are being cautious.

  292. Graham H says:

    @MC of 1658 on 19/3 – Life imitates art rather too quickly these days – I noticed from last night’s Question Time which came from Warrington, that we already have HS2’s s40 moment, in the form of a demand from local MPs for an HS2 station at Leigh backed by the threat of voting against the HS2 Bill if not… Concede this and a couple more like it, and HS2 will begin to look like WCML2.

    BTW, reflecting on the inclusion of Crewe in phase 1, I wondered if Higgins has realised that it will open up the rest of the scheme to a Pareto attack by the Treasury, along the lines of “Crewe gives you X% of the benefits of going fast/releasing capacity, now justify the incremental cost of the rest of the scheme”. Adding in a Leigh station would make the answer worse, of course, though one wouldn’t expect the average MP in the gutter to understand why.

  293. @Ian J
    Are you sure about that? The only information in the public domain …

    There is often a lot more in the public domain than is searchable on the internet e.g. talks given by relevant people in an organisation acting in an official capacity. Mind you, it is sometimes not clear what is an official pronouncement and what is an official, or renegade official, giving personal thoughts or thinking out loud.

    I think you can take “My understanding is …” to mean either I am not quite sure of the status of the information received or I just don’t want it linked back to where I received it from. In both cases it might mean that it is not the final incontrovertible decision but in this particular situation I think it is highly unlikely there will be any other solution.

    I think the ultimate indication will be when they start making the not-insubstantial necessary structural alterations to Brussels Midi station.

  294. Greg Tingey says:

    It all comes back to politics, rather than transport, as such, doesn’t it?
    In spite of Cameron/Osborne saying “Britain is open for business”, they have left out the addendum … “but not by train” (!)
    I disagree that Shengen is “Too difficult” ( Graham H, 15.35, 20 March ) it is actually quite easy, but the political will is non-existent.

    On-train checks would cost a shedload of money Would they, really? Given that you would be doing away with the fixed facilities & all the mechanical maintenece at the ends, & re-deploying the Grenzploizei UKBA, err, persons?
    Of course, because of the politics, no-one will have looked at that, will they?

    Actually, IF we didn’t have the “security theatre” restrictions, there would be a very strong business case for through HS trains.
    Manchester-Paris in 4 hrs, folks? But, note the caveat.

    HS2 – I heard on BBC this morning that there is a push for a dedicated guvmint “Minister for HS2” – Lord Deighton was interviewed, briefly.
    Fascinating stuff, because it appears (note that word) that now Sir N MacP’s open opposition to HS2 is in the public domain, then a public faction-fight is in prospect – I was under the impression from the “Today” clip that Ld Deighton is himself “Treasury” which is fascinating, if true.
    Oh: Link HERE
    – hope that helps?
    – Err- “section 40” on the imprinsonment of Debtors? Surely not – some other section 40?

    …because the UK has failed to invest in the resources necessary to ensure failed asylum seekers (and illegal immigrants) are sent packing within a reasonable timescale. This is a political / financial problem and has little to do with border controls as such. The system needs replacing.
    Precisely – that is what this whole discussion is about, and the only way to change it is through political will, & the realisation, by the politicans, that it’s broken.

    Schipol ( a P.S.)
    Indeed, used it to change, in 2012 going London – Germany, but significantly slower than going via Köln (And there’s better bars in Köln)

  295. Milton Clevedon says:


    Will Hay got it right:
    “Oh, Mr Porter, whatever can I do?
    I want to go Birmingham and
    They’ve taken me on to Crewe.”

    Now there’s the emerging sequel:
    “I’ll get where I don’t want, quicker,
    Because of HS2.”

    I trust you are referring to Leigh-on-Busway, at the end of the Wigan Pier show, not Leigh-on-c2c! It sounds a perfect NW complement to Toton Marshalling Yard International, the proposed railhead for the East Midlands.

    If I were indeed thinking Treasury thoughts, then truncating the NW spur at Crewe could be validated by saying that we’ll see the colour of the Scots’ money for an HS2 southwards (independent or not), and whether the East or West Coast route is preferred, before the extent of a line towards Preston is defined. Safeguarding would be cheap in comparison!

  296. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ Graham H

    Interesting you mention Leigh

    At a Chiltern contraHS2 meeting, (there are many of these and many village halls along the Chilterns have been revivified), a lone voice allegedly asked “If it is going to be built, can’t we have a station at Wendover”?

  297. Windsorian says:

    @ Graham H

    Yes, of course I meant station; the “…most of your 3mppa…” was the Eurostar figure – are you desputing it ? You appear to wallow in the GOGGS mindset you claim to abhor !

  298. CdBrux says:

    @Chris: thanks

    Setting aside any border considerations for the moment there is an additional point on the economics of international trains from North of London using a HS2 / HS1 link. As I mentioned a few weeks back I doubt if there would be the demand for more than two trains to each (Brussels, Paris) destination per day for a combination of Birmingham, and each of the two northern legs when looking at flights existing today. Indeed probably the best way to make sure your international train is full is to time it to leave London after the first one or two domestic services have arrived and arrive back in time for the last one or two services further north.

    If these trains are run by the domestic HS2 operator what do they do once they get to Paris or Brussels? Do they just sit there for 8 or so hours awaiting the return journey and hence earning no revenue? Or do they make a return journey or two to UK? I suggest in order to make any sort of money you’d need to be using these trainsets for more than 2 trips a day! Similar question relating to the train crew.

    Clearly for HS2 passengers arriving from oop north easiest connection would be OOC, but then you have to get these trains over to HS1. Not much harder could be get them to Euston and, should asking them to walk or building some interconnector be thought too much, manage the seat bookings so they are in the same area of the train, have an ‘International connections’ only exit from Euston to the side somewhere to the rear of the arriving train and provide some shuttle bus which could go through the back streets to the Midland Road side of StP or conceivably to a separate check in area under the north side of the StP station (I have no idea what is under the platforms there) and bring them up to the front end of the International train. If future destinations from StP expand I think this solution offers more flexibility in terms of start point -> destination options.

    So in short maybe before any discussion about how border controls could work for an HS2 / HS1 link we need to start by asking even without them would building the thing be economical without it’s prime purpose being for domestic use (for which we don’t seem to have a plan involving this yet)? I would suggest not and thus all the discussion around how to organise border control is irrelevant. (I also heard that the design for all HS2 stations should have an area set aside to check in International travellers – maybe scope for some modest extra savings?)

    I also think Graham H makes an important point about Crewe and what the marginal economics would be then to build further on that leg. Could be a good time though to buy some land / houses in Crewe…

  299. Graham H says:

    No, not disputing the 3mppa figure at all – quite the contrary – using it as the basis for making an estimate of the Eurostar London-Amsterdam traffic – and concluding that Eurostar were keeping something up their prudent sleeve. Still doesn’t make the case for through running from LHR to Amsterdam, though, unless the volume of interliners is enormous.

  300. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ CdBrux, who said “Could be a good time though to buy some land / houses in Crewe…”

    I am sure there are some “already on the case”.

    It’s what golf club and political party club bars are for, isn’t it?? I was always intrigued to see “who was talking with who” at lunchtime in a certain famous club in St James’s. Understanding how that all works, helps one to understand how 2 + 2 = 4, and how building companies get “land banks” before planning permission is granted.

  301. Milton Clevedon says:

    2010 CAA stats (two-way passenger flow):

    Schipol via scheduled airline:
    7m to/from GB mainland airports (so excluding Northern Ireland)
    Of which, total 3m to/from London airports:
    In descending order:
    Heathrow 1.41m
    Gatwick 0.63m
    London City 0.38m
    Stansted 0.34m
    Luton 0.27m.

    (From all GB to rest of Low Countries airports excluding Brussels, was 0.54m in 2010.)

    Passenger numbers between Greater London and Schipol: 2.7m.
    But bear in mid that a lot of passengers interline via Schipol.

    Modelling below included HS2-HS1 to access Old Oak/Heathrow.
    Allow 20% interlining, and the following other factors extrapolated from 2010:
    1.0% p.a. population growth London & Home Counties
    0.7% p.a. population growth rest of UK
    0.3% p.a. population growth nearby EU countries
    1.0% p.a. economic growth UK and Western Europe to 2020
    1.5% p.a. economic growth 2021-2035
    Stops at Stratford, Ebbsfleet, Lille, Brussels then rest of Low Countries.
    Journey time from St Pancras to Amsterdam about 4hr 10.

    Then, there could be scope in 2035, PER HALF-DAY, for about 2 through trains in each direction, modelled on a wider Low Countries catchment, with ability to reach directly or by interchange Antwerp, Charleroi, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Groningen (which all have scheduled UK flights). More passengers might also travel to/from Brussels, with better frequency.

    Even so, the commercial train operator could be taking a big marketing risk as this assumes 550 seats sold per train and about one-third of those seats dependent not on established (and diverted) airline passengers, but on yield marketing seat promotions at risk to the operator’s bottom line.

    So you can see that the inconvenience to passengers (or not), with security measures at Brussels, could critically affect the commercial interests of the train operator. I can well understand why Eurostar is testing the Netherlands market with only one toe in the water per half-day, to start with.

  302. Rich Thomas says:

    GrahamH: BTW, I would imagine that most of your 3mppa flying between London and Schipol would (apart from those interlining) transfer to an Amsterdam rail service even if there were no LHR station on HS2. In fact, at ~10000mppd that would seem to justify an hourly service although I dare say Eurostar are being cautious.

    How many of those 3mmpa are interlining, though? I don’t have the figures, but I suspect it’d be a substantial proportion.

  303. Graham H says:

    @Rich.Thomas/Windsorian – We now have (thanks MC) a detailed breakdown of the “London”- Schipol figures, from which it emerges that LHR-Schipol is only about 1/2 of that 3mppa figure, and that the CAA seems to be content with an assumed interlining proportion of 20%. That would suggest that you would have great difficulty filling many Eurostars from Heathrow to Amsterdam with interliners plus those people for whom Heathrow was a better starting place than StP. Even in the unlikely event that all 1.41m transferred to Eurostar, that would be about 4 trains a day, which is hardly an attractive service for those flying in.

  304. Windsorian says:

    These are the last CAA figures for 2013 by UK airport (I can find)

    What we are talking about is the possibility of HSR substitution to the near continent, not just cherry picking specific destinations (with a limit of 4 – 5 hours by train).

  305. Graham H says:

    @Windsorian – very few of those flows look as if they would justify running a train*, even if all the exhaustively – and exhaustingly – discussed problems of running through services were to be resolved. Which had you in mind? (This isn’t really cherry-picking except in the sense that if you were going to run a train, you’d prioritise its destination according to the likelihood of filling it).

    * I Eurostar = about 6 planesfull so planes will usually win on frequency even where the flow is big enough to fill a train.

  306. CdBrux says:

    Manchester to Paris in 4 hours by train. I used to live in Manchester and flew occasionally for business to Paris (and for a 5 months period every week to Brussels before I moved to live here). Rough timings, starting at the airport (it would take me roughly same time in taxi to airport than Piccadilly station):

    Arrive & check-in: 0 hours (start the clock)
    Take off: +1 hour
    Land and taxi to gate: +2 hours
    Exit airport with bags: +2.5hours
    Arrive in office (taxi): +3 to 3.25 hours
    If you travel without hold luggage you can shave 20 or 30 mins off this.

    Train could not compete on time, even to a relatively central destination in Paris or Brussels that is say 15 or 20mins from the rail station there. And often I would land at Paris and hire a car for a 1.5 hour drive to our factory (these are often not that close to good rail connections and certainly not close to good, direct form airport, rail connections). At that point (and also if you lived in NW outside the Manchester connurbation) getting to and from an airport is often much easier, quicker and comfortable than a train station in the city centre.

  307. Windsorian says:

    @ Graham H

    I think we may be talking at cross purposes.

    I’ve always assumed that when Eurostar commence their e320 services in December 2016, they will be extending some of their existing daily services from Brussels to Amsterdam; I’ve never thought in terms of starting entirely new services from St P to Amsterdam.

    Is that GOGGS mindset limiting your vision ?

  308. Graham H says:

    @windsorian – may well be cross-purposes! I don’t think anyone would dispute that Eurostar would like to go to Amsterdam, although the mood music seems to get less joyous by the month, and DB seem to be about to take their ball away all together.

    No, I won’t rise to the GOGGS bait, even at the second cast. Have never worked there, I am pleased to say. In fact, I was perhaps naive enough in the ’90s to hope (but not expect) that Eurostar would recreate, even improve upon, that feel of seamless train travel to the Continent that was the norm in the nineteenth century. And for a very short space of time, that was so – no security to speak of, turn up and buy a ticket and go, short checkin, and so on. Not to mention decent on-train catering and clean interiors. But then the rats got at it quickly – these were not, however, Treasury rats, but Home Office rats.

  309. Castlebar 1 says:

    What is interesting is that some rail routes in the US are becoming viable because, since 9/11, the extended security checks at airports. Flying seemed to be the option for even the shortest journeys, but that is no longer always the case. The increased airport security has probably increased the radius where rail (if it still exists) is now the preferred choice.

    This will probably be imported to Europe, and people will look to rail, not as an alternative to flying but as an alternative to using airports

  310. Milton Clevedon says:

    @GH and others
    Just to be clear, the 20% interlining at Schipol is my judgment, not CAA’s (though CAA have been clients of mine). It could even be worse, 25, 30+% plus. I don’t consider it can be much less than 20% overall, given the KLM efforts to promote hubbing via Schipol, plus Westminster/Whitehall’s inability to enlarge SE runway capacity, resulting in fewer connectional flights via Heathrow/Gatwick. So I have modelled a baseline for Schipol of 20%, the potential rail-transferee numbers could be even fewer than that…

    Agree with those timings from my regional airport, Bristol Lulsgate (it’s the closest to Milton Clevedon – a real place, by the way!). Indeed it’s a pretty standard 3+-4 hours from much of the UK to the near-Continent (or even South West to Scotland, fastest there was the other year, having Haggis and White Pudding for breakfast in the Caley Hotel in central Edinburgh under 3¼ hours after leaving home). How can train ever hope to compete in the absence of HS5 or thereabouts? – my modelling tries to be realistic!

    Modelling allows for attempts to maximise/aggregate flows via as-convenient-as-possible international railheads – hence Stratford aka Stansted, Ebbsfleet aka Gatwick, etc. It’s the total journey times which end up as killers. You can just generate (relying on a lot of yield managment optimism as set out above), a couple of trains every half-day to the Low Counties (also in aggregate at the far end, in terms of destinations).

    If you set the same conditions for other combinations of HS Rail flows from the wider London zone to reasonable aggregates of other continental destinations (and v.v.), then the answers for 2035 are:

    1 extra train per half-day to/from Paris/Ile de France if you try to access more catchments more easily at the London end.

    1 train per half-day everywhere in Germany in a zone north and east from Koeln to Hamburg and Berlin.

    Ditto to/from Frankfurt, Muenchen and the rest of south Germany.

    If you were lucky, one train per day, no more, down the Rhine towards Central Switzerland.

    Nearly 2 trains per half day via the Rhone towards southern France/western Switzerland.

    One train per day towards SW France / Spain.

    That isn’t cherry picking, it is the economics of long train journeys with commercial-only rules and needing, arguably, even more than 550 pax per train to make it pay its way, with expensive track access charges and long staffing days, plus UKBA as the marzipan on top (they are hard-headed, after all.).

    There is a reason why European short haul flights use the plane size they do – it is the economically most effective load factor transport operation for that sector distance which also offers reasonable frequency – and you don’t have lots of track charges, crew hours, silly state rules for rail fare pricing, extended hours of operation, UKBA etc.

    Give me EasyJet every day.

    Now let’s see, what did all those trains add up to during a half-day in one direction? 8 trains per half-day originating in London, and (I won’t bore you with modelling details) no more than about 2 from North of London (and of those, all from the WMids-NW corridor, none from Yorks/NE as they’re better off going to Kings Cross and St Pancras…).

    Given that many passengers might wish to head off at similar times, and that train operators need to be efficient during the operating day, that’s about 2-3 international trains per hour in peaks and as few as one per 2 hours in the off-peak.

    So you can see why (modelling 2035, it gets busier by 2055) HS2 Ltd only offered a single-track mousehole known as HS2-HS1. But it is still very poor value for money compared to a travolator down the Euston Road., and yet still knackers the Overground and freight hourly capacity planning on the North London Line. Good riddance to HS2-HS1.

    Can we therefore move towards an E-W cross-London railway that is primarily focused on domestic travel, with the occasional slot offered to Mancunian or Birmingham burghers?

  311. Windsorian says:

    @ Graham H

    I was really trying to make the point the Eurostar e320, with its new electrical equipment, will be able to run to / from Amsterdam; so some existing London / Brussels services can be extended without new services being introduced. What I’m talking about is growing the existing services and then seeing how they perform before adding additional services.

    I don’t think this is unrelated to DB who want to develop their new Valero D services on the continent first, before considering an extension to London. I’m not sure you are correct in thinking that boarder controls are the sole restraint to DB coming to London as soon as the Valero D’s are available.

    The advantages of the Valero D is it is half the length of an e320, so two trainsets from different destinations can be joined to pass through the Chunnel; also it can be split in the UK (Ebbsfleet or Stratford) to preceed to different destinations e.g. StP and LHR.

    @ Castlebar 1

    Many years ago when Eurostar / StP was announced, the proposal was reviewed by TransCom (Dunwoody); their recommendation was HS1 should be limited to Reading / Watford. Personally I think a Heathrow Hub is the limit, because of its potential to mop up and grow the near continent passenger market.

  312. stimarco says:

    It’s worth pointing out that HS2 also offers a full-fat UIC-gauge passenger railway with some lovely long platforms at its stations. That makes it ideal for continental-style sleeper trains, including the “couchette” type. (The “Caledonian Sleeper” service, and its Cornish sibling, are basically high-end “Wagons-Lits”-style sleepers; they’re not a valid comparison.)

    The UK strikes me as being an excellent market for sleeper trains. Everyone has to sleep anyway, but this focus on demanding a maximum four-hour journey time doesn’t take that into account. If people are already willing to put up with sleeping in the economy seats of a flight to New Zealand or San Francisco, why wouldn’t they be willing to sleep on a much more comfortable bed in a train?

    Suddenly, even a basic, cut-price HS1-HS2 link makes a lot more sense.


    On a related note: remember that our continental cousins aren’t used to the UK’s high-frequency metro approach to intercity rail services. Even some very large towns and smaller cities have barely one train per hour.

    That’s bound to skew the data for UK HSR. I keep seeing HS2 compared to the French TGV network, but HS2 actually looks a lot more like the German ICE system in approach, which has some very different characteristics – not least of which is that even the new-build ICE tracks are much more likely to see non-ICE trains on them. France’s TGV is much more segregated.

  313. Malcolm says:

    I’d be happy with that. Especially if some flexibility/safeguarding is done by building the first 750m of the mousehole at Old Oak Common, just in case. It could probably serve meanwhile as emergency reversing siding for use when Euston goes wrong.

  314. Malcolm says:

    (I was responding to Milton Clevedon’s suggestion of moving to a mainly-domestic East-West link).

  315. Milton Clevedon says:

    No problem so long as the spare OOC portals are double-track for domestic – which brings some different fun and games!

  316. P Dan Tick says:

    Hoe spel je Schiphol ?

    Met twee ‘h’ !

    Dank u

  317. Malcolm says:

    Come to that, how do you pronounce it?

  318. straphan says:

    @Malcolm: Something like “Skip-ol”.

  319. Fandroid says:

    What I suspect Eurostar will want to get out of its planned Amsterdam service is new passengers getting on and off all the way from Lille to Amsterdam itself. The UK/tunnel bit of the journey is only a small part of the whole route, so why not try to get revenue in the same way that CrossCountry does here? The UK Border/Tunnel security thingy makes it a lot more difficult than it ought to be, but that’s irrelevant for travellers between France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Thalys service (similar in so many ways to Eurostar) happily operates in this way, and if you plan a journey from London to somewhere beyond Brussels, Thalys is often shown as an option. Be prepared in the future to see Eurostar’s Amsterdam service offered as the Brussels to Amsterdam part of a journey starting from Paris on Thalys!

    Thalys is an international link between France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. If you look up potential train journeys from London to Germany and the Netherlands, you will almost certainly see Thalys offered as an option for the part of the journey beyond Brussels. They are

  320. Fandroid says:

    Whoops. Sorry the last part para of my previous comment was not deleted as it should have been.

  321. straphan says:

    @Fandroid: you’re forgetting the track access charges through the tunnel probably cost more than the rest of the journey combined. I think I’d get into serious trouble for quoting what these are exactly, but think of a figure per passenger (in £) that has two digits, a two at the front, and not much at the back…

  322. Fandroid says:

    @straphan. I’m not sure how relevant the high track access charges through the tunnel are to this debate. A lot of the previous comments have been exclusively about how many people will be expected to transfer from Heathrow-Schiphol flights to St Pancras-Amsterdam trains. My point is that there will be a whole new potential bunch of customers that can help the trains reach decent loadings throughout the journey. We can expect passengers to get off the train at all of the scheduled stops during the journey (unless Eurostar is proposing a non-stop end to end service!). So a sensible commercial proposition would be to not rely entirely on ex Heathrow (or Luton!) to Schiphol flyers, but to also attract passengers from within France and Belgium (and possibly within the Netherlands) who also want to travel northwards.

    The tunnel track access charges may make Eurostar contemplate a nice hassle free service from Calais and/or Lille to Amsterdam, and ditch all that border/security nonsense (watch this space!)

  323. Windsorian says:

    @ Fandroid

    I’m scratching my head trying to understand your comments about Thalys; clearly it is a different operation to Eurostar and already uses different trains to Amsterdam –

    The Eurostar press release provided 21.3.14 by Ian J specifically refers to a new e320 service from London to Amsterdam via “Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam Centraal” . So what is the Thalys link ???

  324. Fandroid says:

    @Windsorian. I mentioned Thalys because it operates as a ‘normal’ TGV service and happily provides connections to the Netherlands and Germany for passengers off Eurostar trains starting in London. A Eurostar service heading all the way to Amsterdam would potentially attract connecting passengers off Thalys (Cologne bound services) and SNCF (Brussels terminating services) trains arriving at Brussels from Paris. That’s not something that Eurostar, with its very limited routes, can really do at all at present.

  325. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – you were not alone in your hopes for seamless, convenient trains to the continent when the Tunnel opened. The fond memories rekindled on early Eurostar journeys of having your passport and ticket checked *on the train* and then seeing the view change as you go from country to country but this time it was the UK and France providing the vista. Now we have an inconvenient, isolationist nonsense of a train service that is more involved than passing through East Germany to Berlin was when the Wall was still up.

    All this debate about forcing people off trains from Amsterdam to trudge through a check at Brussels is profoundly depressing. London to Amsterdam is my sort of ideal rail journey but I won’t be doing it if I have to be treated like a terrorist and alien invader just to travel through a tunnel and to satisfy “swivel eyed loons” of whatever point on the UK political compass.

  326. Malcolm says:

    @ww Yes of course it is depressing that we have these constraints. But I think you are over-egging it a little. We are already treated rather like “terrorists and alien invaders” whenever we travel anywhere by plane, or indeed come into Britain on a coach. But we are accustomed to that, and we mostly just mutter darkly.

    Of course it will be wonderful when all borders whither away, and people can travel where they want to. But that isn’t going to happen any time soon, and it has little to do with which mode of transport we choose.

  327. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – – I fear you are right. BTW an FOI request a few years back (I’m sorry I didn’t keep the reference) revealed that the Government considered very seriously imposing passport controls on N Ireland in the eighties. I can’t think of any country other than Tsarist Russia which imposed internal frontiers in that way (present-day Russia highly commended for effort).

  328. Fandroid says:

    @Malcolm. Borders are withering* away throughout Europe. It’s just that ours are perversely getting tighter.

    *the spellchecker doesn’t like this word (withering), but my dictionary is happy with it!

  329. Fandroid says:

    @Graham H. You can still see the legacy of the 1980s paranoia about terrorists travelling from Northern Ireland. I travelled Cairnryan to Larne last year as a foot passenger on the ferry. My bags were subject to the the x-ray machine before I was allowed on. At airports such as Glasgow and Newcastle, there are very prominent police checkpoints just before arrivals, with large official notices. They used to be there in Heathrow T1 by the gates for Belfast flights. I haven’t been there for a long time so don’t know if they still exist. Recently, at Newcastle, the police checkpoint was staffed by no less than four heavies!

  330. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm – merely expressing my opinion. I hate the way our borders are “managed” and the way you’re treated *as a citizen* in trying to re-enter your own country. You could just about tolerate the nonsense if there was any level of competence in the border authorities but seemingly there isn’t judging by the repeated bad headlines (and yes I know there’s a strong bias in parts of the media). Other countries have their own domestic and terrorism woes but can manage a far saner way of controlling their borders and managing terrorism risk. I don’t see what makes us any different apart from our outmoded and irrational view of ourselves as a country. None of this makes our transport networks work to the benefit of passengers or business as evidenced by the extended debate we’ve had and same scale of deliberations by the “powers that be”.

  331. stimarco says:

    @Walthamstow Writer:

    If I walk across the border between Italy and Austria and set of a large bomb while doing so, I’m extremely unlikely to severely damage expensive infrastructure.

    If I set of such a bomb while on a cross-Channel ferry or train, I very probably will damage expensive infrastructure.

    So most of the checks aren’t there to protect people: they’re about protecting assets.

    The infrastructure and assets require insurance, so the companies that have to pay the insurance premiums are going to do whatever it takes to keep those insurance premiums as low as possible. Their #1 priority is to make a profit for their shareholders. (In fact, any Public Limited Company or similar is legally obliged to do just that.) And most such businesses couldn’t spell “user experience”, let alone provide a good one.

    But even those few companies that are aware of the inconveniences they cause their customers are going to be limited by what their insurance agreements require them to do. These are now the rules of the game and all the companies involved – transport companies, SeaFrance, Eurostar, and their insurers – are bound by those rules.

    If you want this security theatre to change, you need to change the rules of the game first. And, like a fart in a lift, is where the rank stench of politics comes in.

  332. Greg Tingey says:

    You will damage the train & maybe kill a few people.
    You will NOT damage the tunnel in any significant way.

  333. Mark Townend says:

    @straphan, 20 March 2014 at 14:50

    “I think you fail to appreciate the difference between a station platform and an airport gate . . . For rail services into the UK, both the security screening and document check takes place in the station building – there is no further check at the door of the train (think how many people that would involve and what the dwell time of the train would be!). This is why there is a need to remove other people off the platform before allowing pre-screened and ID-checked people onto it to board the train. This is perfectly do-able at Lille Europe because there is enough capacity, but I think you would struggle to find such capacity at either Amsterdam or Cologne.”

    Unlike the temporary arrangements set up at Avignon and other occasional Eurostar embarkation points, I was thinking more about permanently adapted platforms at major stations, with segregated secure passageways, waiting areas and passport / ticket checking facilities for UK services. I imagine a single access point from that secure area directly onto the platform that could be opened for a departure only when the platform had been cleared of domestic passengers. To help with this domestic access would also be controlled through a separate gate channel that can be locked off when the platform was required for UK bound trains. I expect this may be the arrangement already at Lille, and would argue that if so the 15 minute neutralisation rule applied there as at say Avignon is probably unneccessary. In fact given subsequent revelations in this discussion about new procedures for separate carriages and platform areas being used for UK and domestic passengers on the same train, effectively this no longer applies.

    A special dual purpose platform would be designed with no place to hide and no facilities that could encourage passengers of any persuasion to linger, that means no seats, waiting rooms, refreshment stands etc. Think of the platform as the linkspan from gate to aircraft. The steps to ensuring practical security would be as follows:

    – Only admit checked passengers through the gate when their train is due
    – Close and lock the gate before departure
    – Check the entire platform during and following departure for stragglers using CCTV.

    If the above was carried out there should be no reason such a platform could not become available for a UK departure immediately following a domestic one, subject to the very unlikely event of security having to remove any stragglers identified.

    Whilst the ideas above might address the physical track capacity issues without having to build very poorly utilised completely segregated new platforms, it would nevertheless also be very costly and possibly quite difficult to thread the additional secure passageways, waiting rooms and customs halls etc through historic station fabric.

  334. stimarco says:

    @Greg Tingey:

    You don’t have to destroy the tunnel. Damage and disruption are often more than sufficient. Remember: the IRA used to warn the police in advance about their bombs, but the bombs still tended to go off as the police rarely had time to do more than evacuate the area. The damage therefore still occurred, causing disruption and needing expensive repairs. That was enough to create plenty of economic and political fallout.

    (E.g. The “Gherkin” was built on the site of the Baltic Exchange, which was extensively damaged by an IRA bomb.)

    Now, last time I checked, the Eurostar trains were quite expensive in their own right as they’re 20-year-old custom-built designs derived from the TGVs of the day, not off-the-shelf models. Getting replacement carriages isn’t as easy as walking into your local Alstom dealer and picking one out of their catalogue.

    Also, the last fire in the Channel Tunnel took months to fully repair, at a cost of around £80 million. That’s not a payout any insurer would consider trivial.

  335. ChrisMitch says:

    Your postulated arrangements are a very big ask for continental rail operators. Is the cost of adapting station buildings and the disruption of existing passenger flows going to be outweighed by the benefit of receiving direct Eurostar trains? I think not.
    This is a policy decision by the British government, which, for better or worse, is trying to do its best to keep the UK ‘border’ secure.
    Until this policy changes, it seems unlikely that we will have many more direct rail services to St P, as I can’t see many people falling for the nonsense of having to disembark half-way through a ‘direct’ rail journey to go through security and passport control.

  336. Mark Townend says:

    @ChrisMitch, 23 March 2014 at 15:10

    I fear you are correct, whilst of course near-international air service will continue to be allowed to grow unabated, leading to further pressure to expand airport capacity.

  337. stimarco says:

    Eurostar services have an unusual requirement for security controls: unlike airliners, bulky luggage isn’t separated from the passengers for screening and loading, so the security checkpoints need to be able to handle both hand luggage screening and those big suitcases full of stuff.

    Unfortunately, someone only saw fit to provide these areas with basic X-ray arches for passengers, and small conveyor-scanner systems alongside – the same setup you find at airport security gates. Except you can’t physically fit a large suitcase into the conveyor scanners, so the process for those is limited to: “Would you mind opening your suitcase, sir?” Followed by a move to a table at the side of the room, taking up valuable time and making very inefficient use of the security staff.

    (I speak from experience here: I left the UK on a Eurostar train from Ebbsfleet. I was carrying everything I owned in two big suitcases and an equally massive backpack. It took over 20 minutes to get through security as they had no way to scan any of my luggage: it all had to be inspected visually.)

    What’s missing is the baggage scanning system airports have linked to their baggage handling conveyors. Not fitting anything at all – not even passive provision – seems odd. The security areas themselves also felt like an afterthought rather than an integrated part of the design, so I wonder if only basic passport controls were intended originally.

  338. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ ChrisMitch @ Stimarco – could you please get together and agree whether the government is really looking after the insurance industry or trying to control illegal immigration? 🙂

    @ Mark T – I’ve only used Lille Europe once but I am pretty sure they do the “platform isolation” tactic there. I am certain I saw domestic TGVs arrive at the same platform as the Eurostar used. There is a great big glass screen with doors in it down the middle of the London bound platform. If you are departing for London then obviously you through the security / immigration / insurance industry protection procedures and are then corralled in a non descript waiting area. You’re only allowed to head for the platform a few minutes before the Eurostar arrives which, of course, can be problematic if there are a lot of people to funnel through a narrow door and down an escalator / use a lift. I am also pretty certain that you can exit from this platform via an escalator or stair without any controls for those doing the Brussels to Lille trip. I didn’t notice if there are guards at the tops of these escalators to stop people getting to the “secure” platform by running down an upwards escalator.

    No such nonsense applies upon arrival at Lille – you can walk to the opposite platform for a connection or just head for the exit without any check. Now Lille Europe is fairly busy and was probably purpose built but it is not an intensively used station like Cologne or Amsterdam Centraal.

  339. stimarco says:

    @Walthamstow Writer:

    Insurance is part of the cost of doing business. Granted, if the UK hadn’t gotten involved in the wars that resulted from 11-SEP-2011, the insurance industry might not require such high premiums, but insurers aren’t stupid: unlike politicians, they have to learn the lessons of the past, or they’d go bankrupt pretty quickly. They’re businesses, not charities.

    Nobody’s “protecting” insurers here, but as long as we have a government that thinks it’s perfectly fine to allow entire towns to be built in flood plains, insurers will charge accordingly.

    I doubt very much whether SeaFrance give a toss about the UK government’s immigration policies as they’re French and it’s usually the HGV drivers who get it in the neck, but they definitely care about not having to pay over the odds to insure their vessels.

  340. Slugabed says:

    17:48 23/03
    Staying well off-topic…it’s actually WORSE than you describe.
    Insurers,having actuaries to do their sums for them,planned to make homes built on floodplains uninsurable (and,hence effectively unmortgageable) but the Govt stepped in and OBLIGED them to take on the risk,so that those in low-risk areas effectively subsidise those in high-risk areas…

  341. AlisonW says:

    Re multinational stations, before Shengen a number of stations were ‘bi-national’. For instance Geneva had its main SBB station with a small SNCF bit tacked on the side with customs controls between the two.

    But let’s face it, Eurostar now is not a patch on the quality and service it provided when it was first available, even if it is now substantially faster.

  342. Ian J says:

    @stimarco: do you have any evidence that it is insurance companies who insist on Channel Tunnel security requirements, or are you just guessing? Note that all commercial terrorism insurance in the UK is provided by a single government-backed organisation.

    Incidentally, hundreds of people arrive in the UK by train every day without passing through any kind of security or passport check at all. And this on a train which was regularly disrupted and targeted by terrorists for decades…

  343. Ian J says:

    @PoP: thanks for clarifying your sources on that – disappointing that this seems to be the current thinking. I wonder how far the distance travelled from the through platforms to the terminal platforms at Brussels Midi via passport control etc. by passengers will be. If you are at the south end of the train you will probably end up walking further with your luggage than the distance from Euston to St Pancras, which puts the complaints about abandoning the HS1-HS2 link into perspective.

    @AlisonW: The Swiss approach seems much more sensible. Imagine if they had insisted on having Swiss immigration officers at every station with trains to Switzerland, or making everyone get off the train at Basel Bad station to go through immigration!

    Why not just make St Pancras station part of the Schengen migration zone, with juxtaposed border controls there? It would save money as there would be no need to have expensive offshore UKBA staff in Paris and Brussels, and France and Belgium (and the Netherlands and Germany?) could pool the cost of the Schengen officers. If there wasn’t enough room in the current building some kind of extension to the station could be built.

    Security and the perceived need for security scans is a completely different issue to that of border controls – after all, you have to go through a security scan to catch domestic flight, or on domestic high speed rail services in Spain and China. I wouldn’t assume that passengers on HS2 won’t have to experience something similar…

  344. Graham H says:

    @Ian J – I fear you are right about HS2 (no doubt, there will also be an impenetrable advance booking fares structure, too, to complete the “airline experience”…). Indeed, the Home Office and Met are reportedly taking a close interest in the Israeli technology which may enable them to start mass screening at rail stations – or so they think.

    I agree absolutely about adding St P as a Schengen area; so far, in this thread, the reason adduced for not doing so has been the risk of asylum seekers using the opportunity to declare themselves when touching UK soil – however, that doesn’t seem to be an issue at UK airports, where there are Schengen zones for transit passengers.

  345. Greg Tingey says:

    Ian J
    Called: “The Enterprise” of course …..

    Graham H
    The Home Orifice & MetPlodd keep on & ON about “security” screening at “all” termini etc. but it’s a total non-starter, because of the volumes of people involved.

    They did a couple of trial runs & it collapsed under the load & the (very) angry passengers.
    Any attempt at repeating this would probably result in a lynching or two.
    …..of the wrong people, of course

  346. straphan says:

    @Mark Townend: What you are proposing will never float. From what I understand you are suggesting people travelling on other (i.e. non-UK) services used by the shared platforms would be subject to security checks as well? Nobody would ever agree to that. The whole point of Schengen is that you can travel across Mainland Europe without let or hindrance, just like the whole point of high speed rail is that you can just board a train without all the scanning and checking nuisance that you are subject to at airports.

    Also, while space could (just about) be found at Paris Nord for the check-in facilities, Amsterdam and Cologne are much busier stations (and possibly listed buildings?). As I’ve said before, it would be difficult to find space for check-in facilities, and capacity to ‘neutralise’ platforms before UK-bound departures. As I’ve highlighted before, there is no way the relevant infrastructure managers (DB Netze, ProRail) would ever agree to permanently segregating platforms and expecting intra-Schengen passengers to be security-screened.

    @Alison W: Basel had three principal stations: Basel SBB, Basel SNCF and Basel Badischer Bahnhof. In pre-Schengen days many DB trains coming from Germany would actually terminate at Badischer Bahnhof, where as far as I am aware of there were border facilities. Not too great if you fancied continuing your trip by rail into Switzerland, but hey.

    Basel SNCF was initially separated out due to customs controls, but later became a convenient point for French trains to terminate at, as the station is still formally part of the French network (i.e. signalling, electrification, gauge…) and trains terminating there did not need to be built as multi-system.

  347. MikeP says:

    Obviously (!!) the world’s moved on, but I travelled by rail to Switzerland and Austria a number of times in the latter half of the 60’s and the very early 70’s, to ski in winter with school and to climb those big lumps of rock in the summer with the Venture Scouts.

    I well remember scary armed immigration/customs types coming round checking our passports and occasionally checking baggage as we crossed borders. No detraining, and we hung around maybe for 20 minutes or so – not long in the context of the then-journey times. They may even have done it on the move, too.

  348. Chris L says:

    St Pancras is too late for the trains that stop in Kent

  349. CdBrux says:

    @Greg: Until the Lille loophole was (it seems) closed then on arriving at StP from Brussels the whole train was often checked, I don’t remember any ‘mutiny’, just frustration at having to wait up to 10 or so minutes and wondering why if they just don’t check all arriving passengers rather than go to the expense of sending border agency staff abroad. I am perfectly happy to have my passport checked at one point along the route, but just one and preferably in a way that costs UKBA less money to do the job.

    So I do not agree it’s not possible, it is very possible and like Graham H I wonder just what is different between St P (and Ebbesflett, Ashford) and an airport

  350. stimarco says:


    All infrastructure like this will be insured. You’d have to be insane not to get at least the basics.

    While the UK government is underwriting terrorism insurance policies, the infrastructure owners are still obliged to buy them from actual insurance companies, who will be adding to the terms and conditions HM Treasury will have imposed to avoid having to pay out at all very often.

    That’s the only rational explanation for the security theatre; no transport company in its right mind wants this as it puts off customers.

    Nor do many security experts agree that it actually does much to stop major terrorist acts. (The scans do help catch the occasional nutter, but there aren’t many of those who also have access to high explosives and the necessary bomb-making skills.)

    While the owners of the docks at Dover will have insured their property portfolio, I don’t know what the arrangements are for the ferries. I don’t think any of them are British-owned any more.


    The Paris-Rome sleeper service I used a few years ago required you to hand your passport over to the steward on boarding. They then give them to border controls when the train arrives at the first station after entering a new country. I remember this being done even when the family used to use the older Boulogne/Calais-Naples sleeper during the late ’70s and most of the ’80s.

    The train passed through Switzerland and the Simplon Tunnel, stopping at Lausanne for a while for a crew change and the passport checks. (I was finally asleep by the time the train crossed the border into Italy, so I don’t know if it also stopped at Domodossola.)

  351. straphan says:

    @MikeP: What is so scary about a uniformed border guard with a pistol at his/her hip? The British attitude to uniform and weapons is more irrational in my opinion. The average bobby is unarmed, yet every now and again police forces decide it’s fun to parade two tough-looking blokes with fingers on triggers of M16s through an airport or railway station ‘to reassure the public’. Imagine one of those would have an itch on his trigger finger at Heathrow once – very reassuring, thank you very much.

    @CdBrux: aside from the asylum seeker argument that’s been done to death, I think there are three reasons for having passports checked before boarding:
    – It satisfies Home Office (and others’) paranoia about’not letting illegals in’.
    – Eurostar doesn’t have to transport those, who were refused entry, back to the Continent.
    – There is still a need to security-check people before boarding the train – so you might as well check their passports while you’re at it and do all your checking in one hell swoop.

  352. Fandroid says:

    I don’t think the transit arrangements at UK airports are strictly part of Schengen, as there is always a passport check when you leave a Schengen country, so the passenger is simply regarded as still being in flight. From a border control only point of view it would make huge sense to put French and UK passport controls back to back at St Pancras. The same would be needed at Ashford and Ebbsfleet. That would then leave Eurostar and its competitors to be as imaginative and flexible as they wish with security scans for UK bound trains.

  353. Milton Clevedon says:

    May I just observe that such Border/security/paranoia costs are then loaded onto the relevant train services (as they are, effectively, on the airlines), resulting in the marginal profits of cross-Channel trains going beyond the LonParBrux triangle being reduced further – as if there were many in the first place. These have to be commercial operations, as state subsidy is not allowed. So it’s the commercially most affordable operational solutions that operators will be interested in.

  354. Graham H says:

    @fandroid – point taken but the matter remains that if transit air passengers are allowed on to UK soil without intermediate check, then the asylum argument is threadbare. That said, straphan’s first point – about the paranoia+ – remains; as to returning illegals whence they came, imposing such an obligation on Eurostar seems to be an administrative matter (or is this something that is written into the small print of the Chicago Convention but not the Berne Convention/COTIF*?); the security check point might well sort itself if the first two points were resolved.

    + Another fine example of the rhetoric today, in fact…

    *I certainly don’t recall anything in the relevant treaty from the days when I dealt with such things.

  355. 0775John says:

    It has been well and truly shown by the detailed comments above that what is at play here in determining the level and nature of the controls that anyone is subject to on entering the UK by rail is governed by politics and not the risk to the nation as an whole. The politicians of the main parties are clearly scared witless of being seen as “lax” in this area as they know that a good proportion of the voting (ie those who take the trouble to vote) public is xenophobic and not keen on immigrants from any country unless their children have married one in which case they will make an exception. Asylum seekers are seen as potential terrorists and so clearly as bad.
    Thus instant deselection awaits any sitting MP who supports reduced controls and those aspiring to be elected will be outvoted by UKIP or some other fringe party except in the most Guardian reading of constituencies.
    We shall thus have to grin and bear it for the foreseeable future and of course we could make it much worse for ourselves if we have a Euro-referendum and vote to leave!
    Perhaps those who are in support of the EU need to begin to flag up the consequences to the masses who feel we should leave of them as UK citizens being treated the same as those from the Yemen when trying to access the beaches of Italy once we do leave….

  356. straphan says:

    @Fandroid: It’s nothing to do with Schengen but more to do with being ‘airside’ rather than ‘landside’ at an airport. Your status ‘airside’ is a bit of a grey area, as evidenced by the recent interrogation of David Miranda (the partner of Glenn Greenwald, who published most of the Edward Snowden revelations) – even though Miranda had not technically entered the UK, he was subject to police interrogation subject to various terrorism laws applicable on the territory of the UK.

    Airports within the Schengen area will have the ‘airside’ portion split into a Schengen and non-Schengen sections. Typically, you first enter the Schengen section after security checks, and are then subject to an extra document check to gain access to the non-Schengen section.

    Shifting border checks to UK stations will only solve part of the problem, as (under current agreements) you will still have to ensure that all UK-bound passengers undergo a security check before boarding the train; and that only UK-bound passengers will be able to enter a UK-bound train. Hence your UK-bound train will not be able to easily cater for intermediate flows (unless you separate out carriages for those passengers as with Lille passengers at present), and you will still need to provide facilities for X-Rays at all continental stations, and ‘neutralise’ them (i.e. clear of all other people) up to 15 minutes before the UK-bound departure. IMHO this is not do-able at places like Amsterdam Centraal or Koeln Hbf – which are the principal targets for the expansion of high-speed services to the UK.

  357. straphan says:

    @0775John: I, too, think that the problem will most likely go away once the UK leaves the EU. I think this is another very important reason for Deutsche Bahn stalling its decision to enter the cross-Channel market.

    People do need to realise that if they wish to remove the freedom of movement of people, the other EU principal freedoms (of movement of goods, services and capital) will be removed as well. They also need to realise that the likes of Norway and Switzerland have had to accept EU immigration policy without even getting a say in it – indeed I would risk saying the percentage of people residing in Norway who have Polish citizenship is roughly the same as in the UK (or only slightly less).

    One of the economic consequences of removing these principal freedoms will undoubtedly be a reduction in demand for cross-Channel services. I therefore think that our discussion should switch focus from ‘where do we put the UK-departures lounge at Amsterdam’ to ‘will we still need a regular Brussels service in four years’?

  358. Graham H says:

    @straphan – the chances of having a rational and factual debate in this country about EU membership are about as strong as the chance of removing the Russians from the Crimea with the threat of the “comfy chair”.

  359. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Agreed Graham H. Which is one reason why we don’t want this to degenerate into a discussion on the EU.

    Straphan, this is not the first time you have made comments about “when we leave the EU”. This website is not the place for such a debate or provocative assertions and I will not hesitate to delete an entire comment if it transgresses into that area again.

    When it comes to emotionally charged topics that are nothing to do with transport (if strictly relevant it would be allowed) just imagine you have the sergeant-major breathing down your neck:

    Listen sonny, you are entitled to have your own opinion. But here you are not entitled to say it.

  360. straphan says:

    @PoP: I only wanted to make the point that – given current political realities – debating the finer points of whether there should be 3 or rather 4 trains per day to Amsterdam is a slightly less relevant topic than the merits of having a Brussels service at all in 4-5 years’ time. I have no intention or desire to shift the topic of discussion onto immigration any further than it has already.

  361. timbeau says:

    “Your status ‘airside’ is a bit of a grey area”

    As I understand it you are subject to the law of the country in which you are airside, (so, for example if you are caught stealing another passenger’s luggage you will be tried by that country’s courts, and local laws on for example the age you are allowed to buy alcohol apply) but you do not automatically have the right to go landside. If you go to Australia or New Zealand via an American refuelling stop you need a transit visa for the USA, even if you don’t go landside.

  362. 0775John says:

    PoP 17.26 Sorry, sir. I am afraid I seem to have egged him on unintentionally, sir! If you punish him you must punish me too since it was my aside about the effect on the possible leaving of the EU that seems to have strayed off the topic and got him in trouble. Red rag to bull etc etc.
    I shall think before I post and keep my nose clean in future, sir!!

  363. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Possibly but I think there is a difference between your tone and Straphan’s – which I fully concede may be unintentional. If it was merely the comment if we were to leave the EU this would all be irrelevant then that would be different. Discuss any transport-related consequences of leaving the EU by all means but I don’t want anyone to cross the line of getting in to transport-unrelated political debate or do anything that would provoke it.

  364. stimarco says:

    Oh dear. Looks like HS2 won’t be connected to HS1 after all. Not for the foreseeable future, at least.

    So much for services from the North to Europe – sleeper, daytime, or anything else. If you want to get to Paris by rail from Manchester, you’ll have to drag your luggage down the Euston Road – or whatever link between the stations is built, if any.

    So much for joined-up planning.

  365. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Stimarco – the removal of the botched “let’s wreck the North London Line” proposal is probably no bad thing. TfL will probably be happy. However cancelling the safeguarding is possibly an error – assuming it does happen. I suspect there may be some lobbying of the Secretary of State about that. DfT Minister Baroness Kramer has said more work is needed to examine how HS1 and HS2 are linked. Interestingly she said on the Sunday Politics London “you will, of course, have Crossrail” at Euston and Kings Cross (implied given the context) which is another interesting slip by her of possible intent on the part of the DfT.

    Suggestions of “travelators down Euston Road” are being roundly ridiculed by people and dumping people on to the Tube for one stop is also a bit barking but no worse than the current situation if you arrive in Euston on a Pendolino today. Clearly passenger volumes post HS2 should be rather different though!

    I suspect we will eventually get to some form of tunnelled solution to link HS1 and HS2 but the question is really where does the junction get built and how long is any connecting tunnel. If you’re going to build CR2 at the same time then you could theoretically build CR2 tunnels and stations somewhere in Islington or Hackney and just “accidentally” build a nice connection to HS1 a bit lower down. Probably very complex but if you’re going to dig a hole then make the best use of it while you have it. Clearly such a connecting tunnel might run through Camden and hence my remark about not removing safeguarding just yet – let’s decide what we actually want to do before we allow someone to build something that renders a future proposal impractical.

  366. Castlebar 1 says:

    It all boils down to money. They said as much today.

    They are committed to HS2 and are scared witless by the price cap.

    The odd few £Millions have got to be saved somehow, and this link line is the first casualty

    Was it Nelson who said “Never spoil a ship for an ‘apeth of tar”??

    We have obviously not learned the lesson.

  367. Malcolm says:

    Nobody knows, but it was probably someone earlier than Nelson, and the ship may even have been a sheep.

    But in any case, the same proverb could also be used to make the opposite argument, because the proposed bit through Camden Road would have arguably been a nasty bit of penny-pinching which, if it didn’t spoil the HS1-2 ship, would have made an awful mess of the Overground trains passing in the night.

    Another proverb would be “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”.

    The cancellation does make it even more likely that the only way of delivering the captive trains from wherever they are built (obviously not known yet) will be by road!

  368. Mark Townend says:

    @Malcolm, 24 March 2014 at 21:19
    “The cancellation does make it even more likely that the only way of delivering the captive trains from wherever they are built (obviously not known yet) will be by road!

    Perhaps the bodyshells could be manufactured and fitted out in the UK somewhere next to the new line, then an alternative continental gauge link route could be planned for completion towards the end the Phase 2 when the domestic production would be running down and the plant would be looking for new continental orders.

  369. stimarco says:

    “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” is a sentiment I totally agree with.

    I admit, I’m not exactly shocked that the proposed link has been dropped. I’m just disappointed that there appears to be no plan to replace it with anything at all, let alone something done well.

    At the very least, I hope they still intend to build stub tunnels at the OOC station complex for a future link. It’ll be a lot more expensive to build it otherwise.

    I do wonder if the CR2 project could be adapted to provide an additional cross-London pair of tunnels from OOC to Stratford International, with a single intermediate cross-platform interchange with CR2 at (say) the KXSP complex. With no additional stations to worry about, this could provide a much better link at relatively low cost. As all services would be expected to call at the intermediate station, the tunnels need not be built for speeds above 140 mph – if that.

    Time to put down the crayons, I think. (Nurse! The screens!)

  370. Windsorian says:

    And a few last words from the late Bob Crow on a possible Eurostar sell off –

  371. CdBrux says:

    It seems the consensus is that the HS2 / HS1 link as proposed was not a great solution. Maybe also there is a lesser, but still reasonable consensus that if only used by international trains from north of London it would be far too lightly used to be economical (even before considering potential uses of those train paths on HS2 for other cities to have some connection to London).

    So are we really expecting in the few months Higgins* has been looking at the whole HS2 project he’d have come up with an alternative on this one part that is good / detailed enough to mention? Surely the logical situation is to rule out the current proposal, gain consensus on that (which seems to have happened) and then look at alternatives.

    All the criticism of not having a new selected alternative seems to be distinctly unfair to me. I’m sure HS2 / DfT / NR have some ideas, much like the rest of us. And there’s probably a lot of similarities between the majority of them. And I am sure we could fill a lot of column inches here discussing them and no doubt at some point a preferred option will surface. For now I would say getting HS2 approved is more important as long as a preferred option (options if the impact on HS2 is the same) are identified and safeguarded during HS2 design and construction.

    * of course he’s not a one-man team, but everyone seems to link him and him only to all this review work!

  372. CdBrux says:

    @ Windsorian: private companies sell off profitable parts of their businesses if they believe they can use the cash they generate from the sale for more profitable things. (Not that I am saying it’s the case here, I have no idea of the economics involved, just that a blanket opposition to such things is as ‘ideological’ as a blanket wish to sell things).

    [If this is deemed to ‘cross the line’ on suitable subjects for LR I have no problems for this comment to be deleted]

  373. timbeau says:

    “If you want to get to Paris by rail from Manchester, you’ll have to drag your luggage down the Euston Road – or whatever link between the stations is built”
    Just like getting from Strasbourg to London then, involving a walk along the Rue de Faubourg-St Denis, or going one stop on line 4 or line 5.

  374. Graham Feakins says:

    HS2 – HS1 link: Maybe a little German-style planning and confidence would not go amiss, somewhat along the lines stimarco suggests. Back in the early 1970’s, I was shown the first major tram/U-Bahn subway in Köln, by physically getting out of the tram stopped in the tunnel for the purpose and I asked what the stub tunnel off the running line was for. The answer of course was that was the intended junction for the line of the new route extension they had planned for some seven years thence and that it was cheaper and ultimately quicker to construct the junction ‘box’ then rather than to open up the road again and disrupt the whole shebang years later. For HS2 to HS1, we just need to get ‘the junction’ in the right place and get on with it to avoid possible immense expense and disruption later. Is there any passive provision at the HS1 end to link with HS2 today?

  375. Windsorian says:

    @ CdBrux

    …..the consensus is that the HS2 / HS1 link as proposed was not a great solution….”

    Agreed – a bodge-up on the cheap; but so was the original HS2 surface route from OOC to Ruislip. Now tunelling is proposed from OOC to Ruislip with more through the widest part of the Chiltern’s AONB – and 4km more tunelling still being demanded; then there is a possible spur to LHR.

    Whilst CDG and Schiphol have their HSR links, it must be their dream to have LHR sidelined; particularly as the Heathrow Hub GWML station (between West Drayton & Iver) is still being considered as part of the Airports Commission’s LHR R3 proposals.

  376. Castlebar 1 says:

    “…..the consensus is that the HS2 / HS1 link as proposed was not a great solution….”

    Maybe, but I am surprised to hear that the parliamentary statement given yesterday also seemed to state that “safeguarding the route of the proposed link will be withdrawn as soon as possible”.

    Can anyone confirm?

  377. timbeau says:

    @Graham F
    It has been done in London too – the tunnels beyond Charing Cross (Jubilee Line) – the step plate junctions at South Kensington (Piccadilly) are two examples. problem is that, unlike Berlin, in London we never seem to see the plan through.
    (Although Thameslink’s junction tunnel at St Pancras and the widened viaduct at London Bridge will, perhaps, see trains one day!)

  378. Fandroid says:

    While not being designed for regular passenger-carrying services, it must be possible to put in a link for stock transfers. A gauge-cleared link between HS1 and HS2 using existing lines as much as possible should not be as horrendously expensive as the last proposal.

    Crayonistas – get scratching!

  379. Taz says:

    I believe the H4/H5 junction was built at the time of the original Heathrow Express. And there is the Overground link at Dalston Junction to the east half way along the southbound platform!

  380. Windsorian says:

    @ Castlebar 1

    Patrick McLoughlin made a Commons statement yesterday re High Speed Rail at 3.53pm

    The HS1-HS2 link proposed in the hybrid Bill has not secured consensus. It requires too many compromises in terms of its impact on freight, passengers and the community in Camden. I therefore intend to remove the link from the hybrid Bill and withdraw safeguarding as soon as possible.

  381. Windsorian says:

    Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) : ……“It does not matter how many studies or justifications he puts forward, he needs to understand that for many of my constituents, it is like putting lipstick on a pig. However glossy the lipstick, HS2 is still a pig.

  382. Castlebar 1 says:

    Can’t believe the necessity to add “as soon as possible” bit
    Odd, that??

  383. CdBrux says:

    Withdrawing safeguarding for the current (soon to be past!) proposal is not the same as saying they will not still be working on an alternative proposal though. I think I have heard noises to the effect they will, and I hope they do as Graham F says. Presumably they’ll need to work quickly on this as it seems they first need to define the problem / opportunities let alone propose something in time to be taken care of in HS2 approval and construction .

    At risk of emptying too many crayons out the box it does seem quite a few ‘opportunities’ could involve a solution that starts at OOC on the western side.

    And, according to this entertaining website, there once was a time when we did big plans (and like many countries never followed them through), though in this case I suspect most people on this forum will not shed many tears!

  384. Anonymous 2 says:

    Ah Mrs Gillan; the woman who is in favour of rail alternatives to HS2- just so long as none of them go through her constituency.

  385. straphan says:

    I think it’s a shame, but I also think the link as was proposed was a bit half-baked (incidentally, Greengauge21 is of the same opinion). I wonder whether having a connection somewhere where the two lines are closer would also end up being cheaper?

  386. Mark Townend says:

    @Fandroid, 25 March 2014 at 08:50

    Just word sketching here. To achieve a connection to HS2 itself there could be a ramp rising up from the centre of the OOC station box as at Stratford for its depot connection. It would be good to safeguard space for that in the station design. After crossing over to the WCML via a much shorter tunnel to Queens Park which could either begin in the box as planned previously or at a separate portal a little further west alongside the GWML. Getting to Camden could reuse the DC tunnels, enlarged by some means for continental loading gauge and straightened and leveled out at the east end through to Primrose Hill to form a medium speed multi-functional, freight compatible double track route through to Camden, where widening, ideally to four tracks through the current junction area, would still be required.

    The original HS1 junction design near St. Pancras already provides passively for a full double, albeit fairly low speed grade separated junction from the main line towards Camden as well as a chord from the west into the station. so any affordable solution should really use this or it all risks becoming largely abortive. A general purpose link could also provide a continental gauge freight link into the Willesden yard area. perhaps allowing the La Post TGV to reach the Royal Mail’s Stonebridge Park depot, and other high value European intermodal traffic to be handled in the vicinity, as well as continental gauge passenger rolling stock import and export. Perhaps Royal Mail might also like to use such a more flexible link to run some of their own HS2 high speed post trains to domestic destinations in place of short haul flights (reversing siding at Queens Park required).

    A controversial part of this plan would be withdrawal of the inner segment of the DC line services with closure of stations at Kilburn High Road and South Hampstead. The outer end of the DC line would be diverted to Crossrail, along with much of the existing WCML slow line suburban service. This would clearly stop any future diversion from Euston to Camden and beyond as part of London Overground, but could safeguard reliable freight and other general purpose paths between Willesden and both the North London line and HS1.

    It might be possible to replace platforms at either or both Kilburn High Road and South Hampstead with equivalents on the slow lines, replacing the OG calls with suburban stops using AC units. Kilburn High Road in particular is an excellent station site with healthy patronage (1.643 million pa, 2012/13 – wikipedia), equivalent to many NLL station, and would be a difficult station to close completely. South Hampstead by contrast has only around a third of the traffic (0.573 million pa, 2012/13 – wikipedia), perhaps due to nearby Swiss Cottage, probably more convenient for most going into central London.

  387. Mark Townend says:

    Oops, my 4th sentence should read:

    After crossing over to the WCML via a much shorter tunnel to Queens Park which could either begin in the box as planned previously or at a separate portal a little further west EAST alongside the GWML.

  388. Graham H says:

    @Mark T – this is in danger of merging with the Offpeak thread…!

    On the freight issue, it’s not really Willesden Yard that’s the objective for trains coming from the continent, so much as the north generally; in an ideal world, the objective would be to feed such trains into ECML/WCML well north of London. I wouldn’t lay too much emphasis on the “high value”/high speed market either. The French have silently abandoned their Carex project recently – unsurprisingly, the volume of high value goods was never going to be enough to fill many (any?) high speed trains and their plans for such a network depended on every shipper and consolidator abandoning their existing logistical networks to benefit SNCF. Only in France.

  389. straphan says:

    @Graham H: Given the access charges for freight trains through the Tunnel and HS1 and the capacity available on HS2, I don’t think too many operators would be overly keen to run freight trains from the Continent anyway.

  390. stimarco says:

    @Fandroid and Mark Townend:

    One temporary option – which may have to rely on using Eurostar stock for through services – would be to use the old Eurostar route from North Pole depot, which gets you access to Fawkham Junction (albeit by a somewhat roundabout route).

    Granted, this does mean running trains over a bunch of other lines, but it might be viable for some off-peak / overnight services.

    Note that many HS2 services will be extended onto the UK’s older lines, so there’ll be smaller UK gauge trains as well as the full-fat HSR-gauge ones plying HS2 itself. This reduces the pressure for full-fat gauge clearance if there are only a few trains planned to run all the way through to Paris.

    (Note that all the above assumes some kind of link tunnel to the route as North Pole depot itself is earmarked for Crossrail. OOC would be the “London” station for such through services.)

  391. CdBrux says:

    @ Mark T: what’s so different to your idea, especially on it’s impact to Camden and the NLL, than the proposal just ditched?

  392. Graham H says:

    @straphan – agree – it’s the traffic from Thamesport that’s the real issue.

  393. Mark Townend says:

    @CdBrux, 25 March 2014 at 17:43

    “what’s so different to your idea, especially on it’s impact to Camden and the NLL, than the proposal just ditched?”

    Not that much difference as far as the bridge over Kentish Town Road is concerned. In fact I would propose 4 tracks here rather than the 3 of the original scheme although three tracks would not need to continue for a short distance towards Primrose Hill. 4 tracks would keep a separate pair each for Overground services (on the north pair) and freight/international (on the south). To the east of Camden Road station a double junction from the southern pair would link to HS1, adding a second track to the existing single line link on structures that are already built for this purpose. Through Camden Road station the NLL service would be moved over to the northern pair, reinstated together with its platforms. The southern pair would continue independently east of the HS1 junction to merge with the NLL tracks east of Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station, which would need an additional platform face and access constructed for its northernmost track. The trackside demolition for widening over Kentish Town Road is really not that significant, running to at most one or two substantial houses nearest the railway on the west side of the road and a few yard businesses behind them. Perhaps more political is that the original proposal effectively prevented any future diversion of the DC lines services from Euston to Camden Road and further by monopolising one track west of Camden Road for HS1-HS2 link purposes and one for freight, leaving no realistic pathspace for a reasonable frequency Overground service . By diverting the Watford services to Crossrail via OOC, the Camden diversion is no longer relevant (assuming a solution can be found for the Kilburn High Road and South Hampstead problem), so a more flexible general purpose link for freight and international services can be built.

  394. Mark Townend says:

    @stimarco, 25 March 2014 at 17:39

    “One temporary option – which may have to rely on using Eurostar stock for through services – would be to use the old Eurostar route from North Pole depot, which gets you access to Fawkham Junction (albeit by a somewhat roundabout route).”

    Original Eurostars can theoretically get to existing ECML and WCML routes by reversing at St. Pancras then using the link lines provided north of the station. They can also access the WCML directly from HS1 without reversing using those existing links and the NLL. Needing new route clearance agreed however and retrofitting with TPWS/AWS (or perhaps by then standard ERTMS will be all-pervasive), the trains wouldn’t need reinstatement of their 3rd rail power equipment as would be required running via Fawkham (unless those routes have been converted to OHLE by then). Perhaps as the frontline fleet on the Three Capitals gets replaced gradually by more modern stock such services could provide a graceful semi-retirement for the older trains, running holiday charters and the like to Paris and beyond from the English provinces (stopping at Lille for immigration and security on the way back as appropriate!).

  395. Fandroid says:

    Note to Crayonistas. When I invited thoughts on an HS1-HS2 link I was really only thinking of the cheapest possible gauge-cleared route that would enable a modest number of freight-type paths to allow full-sized continental stock to be shifted between the two networks without resorting to road transport madness. Avoiding clashes with existing station platforms is the main problem- apart from the small matter of a new tunnel and existing tunnel enlargement!

  396. Graham H says:

    @Fandroid – even if you provided a direct link for stock movements, those helpful folk at NR charge so much in access charges for this type of operation that many such movements take place by road anyway.

  397. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ Fandroid

    Yes, GH is correct and one of the bizarre consequences of rail privatisation is that because of previously unheard of “track access charges”, more rail vehicles travel by road than ever before.

    Hardly a good advert for trying to get getting freight off the roads and transferring to rail

  398. straphan says:

    The two key constraints with running freight on high speed lines are:
    – the value of track access charges through the Channel Tunnel and on HS1; and
    – the very limited supply of capacity available for these moves – amounting to a bunch of paths throughout the night when there is no engineering work.

    Both of these factors make freight through the Channel Tunnel as attractive as it currently is – a grand total of something like a train a day.

  399. Mark Townend says:

    OK scribbling cap back on again . . .

    With fast long distance WCML traffic being largely displaced to HS2, and Slow line suburban largely going into Crossrail, I think the residual traffic going into Euston (excepting the DC trains) might be accommodated from Queens Park into Euston (classic side) on one pair of tracks. If that traffic normally used the fast pair this could leave the slow pair spare. I would advocate using the short OOC – Queens Park tunnel described before to divert GWML into Euston as part of a London Hauptbahnhof super hub scheme at Euston/Kings Cross, but alternatively the pair could be cleared as a continental gauge cleared general purpose route from Willesden and OOC to NLL and HS1,

    I would aim to maintain double track throughout, both GC cleared from Queens Park, but clearly that could be impossible to achieve economically through Primrose Hill tunnel. Here I suggest reducing to single track through the centre of the current double track tunnel, with the double track resuming immediately beyond the tunnel and through to Camden Road, where the 4 track solution I described before would be most suitable. With the Willesden/OOC – Camden – NLL link pair still dedicated to international and freight, diversion of DC services to Camden would remain impractical, hence they should continue to run into Euston where space should be available. I would additionally divert the outer DC service beyond Wembley into Crossrail via OOC and use the inner part from Willesden to Euston for a new Overground route between Euston and OOC and Hounslow using a new connection shown here – . That would allow the Bakerloo to take over the remaining DC connection beyond Willesden to a new terminus on the slow side at Wembley Central.

  400. Graham H says:

    … but why bother?

  401. Malcolm says:

    Like Graham said.

    Also, this: “With fast long distance WCML traffic being largely displaced to HS2” is complete stogburdle. By the time HS2 opens, the suppressed demand to/from Milton Keynes, Northampton, Rugby, Coventry, Stafford, Nuneaton etc etc etc will immediately sploosh out to fill any and all available space in Euston and its approaches. Especially Milton Keynes, which is sure to be, by then, even more established as part of London-commuter-land.

  402. John says:

    Some grist to the mill….

    British Airways are starting a London City to Rotterdam service next week. 5 flights each way on weekdays; about £165 return; flight time 50 minutes

  403. Mark Townend says:

    A quick enquiry on for tonight 18:00 to 19:00 at Queens Park reveals a total of 64 trains scheduled. Filtering out LO and LT trains leaves 40 main line trains passing on 4 tracks in both direction (including one freight), thats 10TPH on each line.

    Following HS2, I don’t believe it will be neccessary to run any more than the 10 or so an hour on the fasts that VT run to all their midlands and north western destinations, in order to maintain a much more frequent fast service at Milton Keynes and Northhampton, whilst also serving Coventry, Wolverhampton, stations to Stafford etc.

    Equally with diversions of say 6 of the 10TPH LM suburbans to Crossrail via OOC we could see a total of only around 14 TPH required in each direction, easily managed on one track pair with capcity to spare over the last few miles as long as there aren’t any station platforms and booked stops to mess up consistent section timings, and junctions at each end are arranged to minimise conflict.

  404. Milton Clevedon says:

    So why, based on your calculations, does HS2 need any new tracks/tunnels between Queens Park and Euston? Interested in your view. Isn’t it just a takeover job of the fast tracks? Surely Higgins should have cottoned onto that? Wouldn’t it be handy to route any modern day North Country Continentals (standard Eurostar size) via Queens Park/Primrose Hill/HS1 portal?

  405. Windsorian says:

    I see Higgins gave evidence to TransCom yesterday; on Parliament TV :-—ev-session/

    But the transcript does not yet appear available

  406. Mark Townend says:

    @Milton Clevedon, 26 March 2014 at 19:26

    I suppose, for a very cut price HS2 lite with only classic compatible trains, Phase 1 could get away without new dedicated approach tunnels all the way to Euston, or indeed the Euston reconstruction itself, and could rely on a cut price short tunnel connection across to Queens Park instead, but that would limit trains length to the existing platform capacity and I think handling the daytime NLL freight on the slows eats up their capacity disproportionally with speed limited moves on and off at Camden and around Willesden, and potential for delays awaiting junction clearance. That pushes more LM trains onto the fasts through this area so typical flows on each track are not equal throughout the day.

    Phase 2 needs much more capacity clearly. It makes sense to complete the common south end of the line to final configuration so already established Phase 1 service patterns are not disrupted by rework later to handle the higher final traffic, at up to 18TPH total. Existing tracks might just handle that level of traffic if the trains all fitted physically within the classic structure gauge, but only if all the freights had been shifted away to some notional ‘rail M25’.

    Some argue that the ‘rail M25’ should be a high speed GC gauge inter-connector to enable through continental passenger services to bypass London at speed. It’s unlikely two separate routes could ever be justified, one for freight, one for HS passenger, but a multipurpose twin track version could be built to continental gauge , although its speed capability at any realistic capacity and cost would be limited by its dominant traffic which would likely be freight at typically 60 to 75 MPH, so actually using it for passengers might not be any faster than notional through timing via the original scrapped link and any potential London stops at OOC, St Pancras (reverse), or Stratford would be impossible, although an outer London Parkway or Interchange where crossing another main line would be possible on the orbital route.

    It seems untidy that we plan to build a shiny new railway to continental loading gauge, but provide no connection to allow through running of any kind of full size service or rolling stock movement between this line and the continental mainland itself. I’m no great believer in the large untapped potential market for through passenger rail services from the UK provinces however, but without a viable link how will any operator, passenger, mail, parcels or light freight (air freight substitute), ever be able to test that market. The original slowly aging Eurostars could provide a stopgap, exploiting their uk classic loading gauge capability to run charter style continental passenger operations aimed squarely at the pre-booked leisure market as I suggested previously and possibly a regular Heathrow to Paris service via my OOC – Queens Park connection completed only to UK gauge and existing NLL links. Two TGV-SE sets were converted to additional La Poste units to supplement their original purpose built fleet, so perhaps a similar UK classic compatible light freight conversion could be applied to these trains as they eventually fade from the Three Capitals front line.

    I support the decision not to build the very far from ideal originally planned link in the short term. It might encourage the building or at least fitting out of the captive HS2 train sets in the UK to limit expensive long distance road movements of completed cars, but I would like to see something in place eventually. If the trains were built in the UK it would be nice if a continental gauge link was in place before the final completion of phase 2 so that as the UK domestic fleet production was running down the line would be available for export of similar British built trains to mainland Europe.

  407. Malcolm says:

    Some interesting thoughts here. But I suspect that stock transfers by road, offensive though they may seem, cost peanuts compared with building special tracks. Witness the total road delivery of the entire Victoria line new stock (as I understand it) rather than building a purpose-built crossover at Hi-and-I. (They wouldn’t fit on the Pic). Or countless examples on preserved railways, some of which have main line connections but practically never use them for steam loco movements. It sometimes seems as if you can’t drive down a motorway without seeing a low-loader with some sort of rail vehicle going somewhere.

  408. Malcolm says:

    I’m also a bit unclear why you reckon that HS2 phase 2 will need more capacity in the London area than phase 1. (Aside from any general rise in traffic because of the passage of time). Phase 2 will just involve diverting the trains north of Lichfield (or Crewe) onto new tracks (and allowing them to be bigger).

  409. Milton Clevedon says:

    Thank you very much. What if Bakerloo joined DC a bit further west at Queens Park (eg, remove the builder’s yard) then WCML residual slows could join DC through flying junction with Queens Park Overground lines. DC tunnels can be rebored (they’re only cast iron after all) to whatever dimension you like, so allowing all future ‘classic’ WCML to use DC+slow approaches?

    Ids there then capacity for HS2 via fast lines from Queens Park in Phase 2? Yes, extend Euston platforming as near the Euston Road as needs to be for 400m trains – not all platforms! But could still save £½-1 billion?

  410. Mark Townend says:

    I think a lot of the road movements of rail vehicles in UK, especially for heritage stock, are also influenced by the high costs for mainline approvals and inspections for each vehicle. Even if a loco for example has a full mainline certificate, a road haul between heritage sites avoids a mainline readiness inspection, never mind the cost of the path. New Metro and light rail deliveries can be particularly difficult because whilst sharing a track gauge the trains will not have been designed primarily for mainline haulage at any speed – perhaps having alternative wheel profiles etc. Paths for stock delivery may have to be unusually slow for parts of their route and thus might not fit in with regular traffic patterns, and the alternative of night time operation can conflict with planned infrastructure maintenance activities.

    The LU S stock, much more like main line stock in design of course, is being delivered by rail.

    Stricken main line rolling stock was sometimes hauled back to workshops using low profile ‘skates’ with tiny wheels to raise faulty wheelsets above the rail surface whilst remaining within the loading gauge, but again the low speed limit this entailed is difficult to reconcile with modern regular operations so these are very uncommon now, except perhaps from point of a failure in service to the nearest depot (with road loading facility!)

  411. stimarco says:

    It’s worth pointing out that any station built on an HS2-HS1 link line would have to be able to cope with 400m. long trains as this is the mandated minimum platform length.

    Which means my earlier suggestion of an interchange station built as part of CR2 could actually link all three mainline termini at that end of the Euston Road. Any new tunnels and stations built down there would have to be pretty deep to begin with, so if you allow for escalators at each end – and probably an entrance halfway between Euston and St. Pancras – that’s damned near half a kilometre. That’s easily long enough to link the two station complexes.

    Although what you’d call the resulting Monument & Bank-style mess is anybody’s guess; “Euston-King’s Cross-St. Pancras” is a hell of a mouthful.

  412. Malcolm says:

    The distance between, say, platform x at Euston, and platform y at Kings Cross, doesn’t get magically shorter just because there’s a theoretical route between them going down a long escalator, along a very long (straight) platform, and up another long escalator. Your idea sounds like the Euston Cross scheme which was soundly whipped just recently, for many reasons including this one.

  413. Greg Tingey says:

    Talking of Tunnels…
    Ian has visited the Connaught Tunnels & taken some interesting pictures.
    Which is actually on the original topic of this thread, too!

  414. timbeau says:

    “I’m also a bit unclear why you reckon that HS2 phase 2 will need more capacity in the London area than phase 1. Phase 2 will just involve diverting the trains north of Lichfield (or Crewe) onto new tracks (and allowing them to be bigger).”

    ……surely running trains from “nearly-Sheffield” and “nearly-Nottingham” into the phase 1 core will also have an effect?

  415. stimarco says:


    On the other hand, keeping out of the weather is considered a plus.

    In any case, the primary advantage of such a design is that you don’t need to build two stations – one for Euston and one for KXSP – and can get away with just one, with entrances at each end.

    Given that this is exactly the same principle being applied to Crossrail’s stations at both Farringdon (with an entrance at Barbican), and Moorgate (with an entrance at Liverpool Street), I would like to know why their approach is fine, but my suggestion is not.

    (Note: I’m not disputing that there are physical obstacles to building much of anything under that stretch of the Euston Road, but that’s equally true of CR2 as well.)

  416. straphan says:

    @timbeau and Malcolm:

    This document shows that during Phase 1 there will be no HS2 trains from cities served by the eastern leg of Phase 2.

    @stimarco: The point that Malcolm is trying to make is that if you build an underground platform that stretches between Euston and King’s Cross St Pancras that still does not reduce the distance and therefore the journey time between Euston and St Pancras (much). The current walking distance along Euston Road from the doors of Euston to the Eurostar check-in at St Pancras is 810m (according to Google Earth) – a straight-line distance between the two is 600m. These are not distances you would expect people with suitcases to walk.

  417. Long Branch Mike 1 says:


    A moving sidewalk/travelator twixt Euston & KXSP would be a cost effective and relative minor addition to an interchange station built as part of CR2. Certainly much less than a HS1/HS2 rail link in Zone 1. It could be sold as a short jaunt between airport terminals, albeit underground…

  418. timbeau says:

    “during Phase 1 there will be no HS2 trains from cities served by the eastern leg of Phase 2”
    That’s the point, surely? Malcom’s assertion that “Phase 2 will just involve diverting the trains north of Lichfield (or Crewe) onto new tracks ” ignores the eastern leg services that will also be fed into Euston by phase 2.

    “principle being applied to Crossrail’s stations at both Farringdon (with an entrance at Barbican), and Moorgate (with an entrance at Liverpool Street), I would like to know why their approach is fine, but my suggestion is not”.
    A station connecting with two other stations is nothing new – see “Kings Cross St Pancras” for a 19th century example. But it is one thing to provide interchange between Crossrail and both Moorgate and Liverpool Street – quite another to suggest that it is in any way an improvement on the existing street level OSI between Moorgate and Liverpool Street.

  419. stimarco says:


    I wasn’t saying it was an improvement. Merely suggesting an alternative given the attempts to twist and skew CR2 to Euston. It seems silly not to serve both stations with a single station if there’s a way to do so. If you can make it a CR2 interchange as well, why not?

    Besides, it would take genuine talent and skill to make make St. Pancras an even worse interchange than it already is and I lack both.

  420. Fandroid says:

    Stimarco’s underground Euston is simply sorted. Passengers wishing to interchange with trains at St Pancras simply have to make sure they are near the front of their HS2 train (or have a 1st class ticket). Regular travellers already make such choices about their seat position. It’s not much of a challenge for the HS2 TOC to ask the heavy suitcase gang where they are travelling on to and then to advise them accordingly.

  421. straphan says:

    Can I just point out that there already have been questions whether 340m is a reasonable walking distance (with or without travolators) for an interchange in the context of the plans for an Overground station to serve Old Oak Common. Here you are proposing travolators for at least double that distance.

    While I consider 340m to be borderline acceptable for a travolator-based pedestrian connection, 600+ metres is a healthy distance between stations for a light rail or metro…

  422. CdBrux says:

    If 340m walking is ‘borderline’ then what about those arriving in the back carriage of a 400m long train where the platform exit is at the front of the train, travellators on all platforms?.

    Have international passengers sit at the back of HS2 train and at Euston provide an exit back there (which might be useful for other passengers as well) and a free shuttle bus (accesible only with their through ticket to the continent) to take them round to St P. If this proves popular then build some travellator solution based on the payback of savings of not having the shuttle bus if by that time a full HS2 / HS1 link is not on the cards.

  423. stimarco says:

    Note that I’m advocating building an HS2-HS1 link line as part of the CR2 project, given that you’d already have the TBMs and will also have to build a station under either (or both) Euston / KXSP anyway. It seems silly to go to all the effort of starting such a project and not taking advantage of the savings, even if the actual costs are attributed to two different notional entities.


    The CR2 station at “Euston-Cross-St. Pancras” would have cross-platform interchange with HS2 trains using said link, so having to walk down the full length of a 400m. train at Euston’s HS2 terminating platforms wouldn’t happen that often anyway: passengers would take a through service instead. Ditto for St. Pancras HS1 terminators.

    As the HS2-HS1 station platforms at this interchange would also be 400 metres long, you’d only need to build one, double-ended station to serve all three of the existing termini involved. It may be feasible to position it round the back of the British Library and St. Pancras station complexes to reduce the walk needed from the two sets of commuter platforms there, and it’d be close enough to the Western ticket office at King’s Cross as well.

    Realistically speaking, an HS2-HS1 link will be most heavily used by the “Domestic” services, as they could be used to provide additional through services up the GWML or elsewhere. (It might be viable to send 2tph of Class 395s all the way out to Reading as it is a very useful interchange.)


    Incidentally, I just spotted an interesting throwaway line on SubBrit’s page on the British Library’s basements. Third paragraph from the bottom, regarding a planned “pedway” linking Euston, St. Pancras and King’s Cross…

  424. Windsorian says:

    Boris 27.3.14 on Crossrail 3 at London First Infrastructure Summit –

    “… he said a Crossrail 3 could offer a solution to the problem of how to connect HS2 to the continent. We need to get on and link HS1 and HS2, which has currently been postponed…. We’ve got to do it properly and I think probably what you need is a Crossrail 3 taking the thing all the way out to Stratford.”

  425. Chris says:

    @Graham Feakins Is there any passive provision at the HS1 end to link with HS2 today?

    No. Work undertaken by HS2 Ltd has confirmed that the nearest practical location for a tunnelled connection is Barking, where HS1 surfaces – this is why tunnelled alternatives to using the NLL are so absurdly expensive.

    @Fandroid A gauge-cleared link between HS1 and HS2 using existing lines as much as possible should not be as horrendously expensive as the last proposal.

    The cheapest practical link was the one being proposed, trying to gauge clear a surface route from Old Oak Common to Primrose Hill (and thence HS1) would only add to the controversy, the disruption and would if anything cost more given all the work needed.

  426. Greg Tingey says:

    Meanwhile, Boris is re-proposing to close Heathrow & redevelop, using all the nice, existing transport infrastructure & bog off to “The Estuary”
    As seen HERE
    How’s that for crayonista-itis?

  427. AlisonW says:

    I know ‘logic’ has precious little to do with such things, but it seems to me that it should be possible to find some location in Islington or Hackney where a from-surface box could be excavated to create an HS1 cavern, permitting link tunnels to branch outside then pass beneath the current line on the way to OOC.

  428. CdBrux says:

    Could not a HS2 / HS1 tunnel surface just north of St P, in the area where there is now a cement(?) plant. OK so that would have to go, but depending on what it actually makes and the exact geography of the area it could possibly be quite helpful during the construction phase!

  429. straphan says:

    @CdBrux: I think the area within the triangle would be too tight for a tunnel portal and a meaningful alignment heading out towards the HS1 tunnel.

    The remainder of the land north of King’s Cross has already been spoken for:

  430. stimarco says:

    @Greg Tingey:

    An airport in the Thames Estuary isn’t an inherently bad idea, but I’d ignore Foster + Partners’ proposal like a hot potato as they’ve clearly not spent much time in the area. (I’ve said it before: the only Estuary Airport proposal worth a damn is this one, which is backed by the only person who’s actually got a track record in the field.)

    Nor is redeveloping Heathrow an inherently bad idea, given that it would have the added advantage of already being amply served by public transport. This is something the Docklands regeneration lacked and is why they had to take special measures to help that project gain traction.

    Given the problems with accessing Heathrow effectively without causing massive disruption to other destinations along the same road, a ‘clean slate’ approach does make sense: a new airport could have its own dedicated infrastructure, unlike Heathrow which relies on both the M4 and M40 – both of which are in dire need of upgrading at their London ends – for most of its access. Given that new Thames crossings are urgently needed between Kent and Essex anyway, as well as a new Thames Barrier, there’s a lot to be said for killing multiple birds with one stone here.


    I’m disappointed that there’s no way to build a pair of tunnels outside the existing ones at Stratford. I’ve pointed out before that if Network Rail’s default response to Kent’s transport problems continues to be “Just send more Javelins up HS1!”, then something’s going to have to give. HS1 and the Channel Tunnel were supposed to be used primarily for international services, not for commuter trains trundling out of Dover and Ramsgate. Four-tracking (or, at the very least, a Dartford Loop-style diversionary route), may be required if all of Kent is to be served effectively by this “solution”.

    On the other hand, if the HS2 stub were extended south via OOC and Croydon to Brighton to resolve the BML’s problems, there may be a case for a connecting line being built from around Redhill-ish to connect with HS1, rather than building below London itself. But if Heathrow does get kicked out to the east, then an HS2-HS1 cross-London tunnel might be logical as part of a new High Speed link to the new airport, via that connection near Barking.

    Some holistic thinking will be required here. A proper Master Plan. Not just for rail, but for all modes. Even the M4/A4 and M40/A40 will need some thought: burying those viaducts and flyovers is all very well, but they still need somewhere to connect to, and that’s going to be tricky given all the existing stuff under the ground there. Linking these roads to their eastern counterparts and / or the M1 – which has a disused stub at the end as an extension further into London was intended – might be required given that there’s really no alternative to the M25. (You could charge for using the new tunnels, but only to non-Londoners. Numberplate Recognition should be able to do this.)

  431. Chris L says:

    Stobart airport at Southend is more than enough for Essex and nearby. Already got a rail connection.

    A new river crossing between Kent and the Southend area would be more useful to air and freight users.

  432. straphan says:

    @stimarco: Boris does indeed conveniently forget about this ‘small’ problem with his location:

    Still, the Davies commission does conclude that – as with HS2 – upgrading existing infrastructure appears to be cheaper than building from scratch. Funnily enough, there is lots of pressure in favour of building a new airport despite a lack of evidence that the demand warrants it; yet there is lots of pressure against building a new railway line despite plenty of evidence that the demand will indeed warrant it soon.

  433. stimarco says:

    In fairness to Boris Johnson – and that’s five words I never expected to write – politicians at that level aren’t involved in the details of major projects. They’re expected to leave that to specialists.

    It’s like expecting Cameron or Clegg to get involved with the nitty gritty of site analysis and infrastructure planning for the various “garden city” proposals they’ve put forward: their involvement is at the high-level policy-making (“We need to build more housing!”) It’s down to ministers and specialists to execute on those policies.

    I sometimes wonder if Boris Johnson and his PR people are even aware that there have been at least three separate “Thames Estuary Airport” proposals, but it’s telling that the only such proposal to actually get any financial backing and support from the GLA, instead of mere lip-service, is the Testrad one I linked to earlier.

  434. straphan says:

    @stimarco: I don’t think the Testrad one is the one that actually made it to the Davies Commission? I thought it was the one on the corner of the Isle of Grain?

  435. Chris says:

    @CDBrux Could not a HS2 / HS1 tunnel surface just north of St P, in the area where there is now a cement(?) plant.

    That was probably the first idea they looked at but a portal in that area was ruled out, IIRC due to a lack of room and subterranean obstructions. TfL and Network Rail suggested portals nearer Camden Road, but these were also ruled out upon further analysis.

    @Stimarco – As far as I could see in the reports published every half sensible idea has been considered for the link, including those put forward by TfL and Network Rail to avoid use of the NLL.

  436. Windsorian says:

    It seems Greenguage 21 have updated their HS1 / HS2 ideas –

  437. GrahamH says:

    @Windsorian – thank you for the link. The report is pretty short on facts about the market it believes exists and the idea that any HS1-HS2 link should be to UK loading gauge would certainly act as a restraint on competition if more through running from Europe was ever permitted – a very French trick. A quick glance at the Eurostar timetable would have shown them that few services now call at Ebbsfleet and Ashford (and of course, none at Stratford International) and the time penalty in adding in more Eurostar stops (12-15 minutes) would undermine the current business. This is not mentioned. Nor are the costs and the engineering issues – and therefore there is no business case presented. [That’s not to say that there isn’t one, it’s just that the commercial viability of the proposal isn’t discussed or even acknowledged].

    The spelling and grammar are better than your average crayonista posting but that’s what it is – nice try but no cigar. I hope their sponsors didn’t pay them too much (but, again, that may account for the thinness of the analysis).

  438. Fandroid says:

    At first I thought that Greengauge 21 had cracked it with their HS1/HS2 update paper. Then I read on and it seemed to get obsessed with Heathrow connections and turning Stratford-in-the-hole into a true international station.

    A core good and simple idea is that an HS2-HS1 link would enable HS2 trains to reach Ebbsfleet, where border controls and security checks already exist. That would mean that if HS2 trains were extended there then international passengers would have a fairly simple interchange (ie not lugging cases along some long underground moving walkway between Euston and St Pancras).

    However, Greengauge 21 then seem to get lost around Old Oak Common and Stratford.

    They want to internationalise Stratford in order for cross-channel business folk to access Canary Wharf. I’m not sure that a two-stage journey via DLR alone or DLR plus Jubilee, is going to be that attractive. For non-Canary international travellers, (ie those from East Anglia), there is no reason why Stratford could not be internationalised now. If Eurostar thought there was a business case, I’m sure they would have already done it. However, connecting Stratford to HS2 does make some sense. The international travellers accessing Canary Wharf could do so fairly easily if Crossrail (as originally intended) terminated at Ebbsfleet.

    There is plenty of time for through domestic services via the HS1-HS2 link to be developed, to Old Oak Common and Heathrow as Greengauge 21 suggest, but the clincher must be to start by raising the profile of Ebbsfleet (and increasing the number of services stopping) as the international interchange for everyone within the range of HS2.

    To summarise. We do need that HS2-HS1 link; not as a way of getting international trains to reach west/north of London, but as a way of allowing HS2 trains to easily interchange with international ones at Ebbsfleet and for fast domestic services to cross between east and west of London.

  439. CdBrux says:

    To my untrained eye it seems a concept rather than anything else to be put into the ideas funnel for forthrer work then early screening in or out.

    Graham H mentions the infrequent current stops at Ebbsfleet & Ashford (&Stratford!) but I’m not sure they were proposing additional Eurostar stops, rather additional international trains originating from LHR via OOC, the link to call at Ebbsfleet? Having said that they were saying, as many of us have, that the business case would need to rest on domestic use, so in reality isn’t this a concept for XR3 with some international possibilities opened up as a result?

    Would the idea to link HS1 to the Chiltern line give opportunities at Marylebone & STP domestic HS terminals for additional local services once longer distance services are cleared out of the way? From what I glean from the combined knowledge on these forums this may help in particular at Marylebone where I gather capacity is already tight.

    As I understood the engineering part seems to be as the dropped idea but:
    * UK instead of continental guage (implied cheaper and less disruptive to add the two tracks back between Camden & StP)
    * Twin tunnel from OOC to NLL vs single bore – presumably more expensive?
    * Link to Chiltern line via lightly used existing rail corridor from OOC
    * Chord from that line to HS2 LHR spur (but that for the international opportunity)

    As for who lives in Kent / Chilterns and works in the other and is just waiting for this link, well who knows? I suspect the reality is more a Chiltern -> Stratford & Kent -> OOC (& LHR) benefit to increase accesibility to those work poles.

    Stimarco may suggest they are encouraged to move there rather than commute though 🙂

  440. Mark Townend says:

    Greengauge 21 acknowledges the HS1-HS2 link decision gives fresh impetus to thoughts of improved inter-terminal transfers between the existing terminals.

    “. It is to be expected that fresh consideration will be given to
    the ways in which Euston and St Pancras International can be better linked
    with some form of transit system. In practice, this will serve a multitude of
    purposes – for instance, a valuable connection from Euston onto the
    Thameslink network. International travellers between HS1 and HS2 services are
    just one of many groups to be considered and their specific needs (traveling
    with luggage, multi-lingual signing systems etc) will need particular attention.”

  441. Fandroid says:

    Can someone give me a quick advice on how to add emoticons? (I promise not to abuse this facility)

  442. Anonymous says:

    Surely any future trains ordered for travel to Europe (by Eurostar or anybody else) would be built to the continental loading gauge, meaning they would be incompatible with this proposal for a HS1-HS2 link?

  443. Fandroid says:

    @Anonymous. Good point about continental gauge trains. Greengauge 21 do suggest that they network-compatible HS2 trains are the ones that should use the link, but seem to forget that Eurostar might want to dump their older fleet at some time, and new entrants are unlikely to buy the smaller sets anyway. All the more reason for regarding the link as part of the domestic network with international interchange opportunities in Kent rather than as an extension of the international route. (If the domestic gauge link is the one adopted)

  444. @Fandroid

    re: emoticons

    There is a well known published list e.g. colon followed by close bracket gives a smiley face.

    However, the problem is that the preview box (below) which makes an attempt to display your output as it would be when published doesn’t translate it into the pretty yellow icon you are expecting. Despite that when published it is displayed as a pretty icon. A rare example where the previewer doesn’t work and the real thing does instead of the other way round.

    For that reason you cannot be sure if you will get the pretty emoticon or the vanilla version. One thing you can do if using Windows is copy and paste one that you have seen working. It will work when you click “Post Comment” even if you don’t think it will. However even this is more complicated than it should be because you will have to copy at least one byte of text to stop Windows attempting to copy it as an image – you can delete the unwanted byte(s) once you have pasted your emoticon. 🙂

  445. Windsorian says:

    Greenguage 21: HS1 / HS2 link & LHR

    The proposal for a UK gauge surface link from OOC to LHR may fall foul of the EC Technical Specifications for Interoperability, in that DB have already sought approval for the Valero D to run through the Chunnel; this proposal would have allowed the double units to split in the UK (Stratford or Ebbsfleet) and terminate at KX and LHR ?

  446. Jake Noman says:

    If one looks closely between the footbridge at Poplar station and Canary Wharf station (Crossrail) you can see how a future extension of the footbridge will come about with space clearly provided for it and how it will be connected to the new footbridge between Canary Wharf station (Crossrail) and Canary Wharf. Will the footbridge be seeing any major improvements to it near Tower Hamlets college?

  447. Windsorian says:

    Boris: HS1/HS2 tunnel under Camden for non central London domestic trips (Javelin?) –

  448. Graham H says:

    @windsorian – “Domestic” ? Difficult to believe that Kent has so much business with the rest of the UK to justify that! A few billion to save a short walk down the Euston Road…

  449. straphan says:

    @Graham H: I could argue it doesn’t have any at the moment just because its links with the rest of the UK aren’t great. I heard rumours one of the bidders for the infamous West Coast franchise did propose running Pendoes from the WCML via Primrose Hill and Camden Road onto HS1 and through to Ashford – as this was not really in the franchise spec I assume they managed to pull together a commercial case for this.

    Not sure that case would be strong enough to justify a tunnel under London, though…

  450. Windsorian says:

    NCE 28.3.14 – report on London First Infrastructure Summit

    ““We need to get on and link HS1 and HS2, which has currently been postponed” said Johnson. “We’ve got to do it properly and I think probably what you need is a Crossrail 3 taking the thing all the way out to Stratford.

    If a HS1/HS2 link is being considered, there is a logic to also allowing Kent Javelins to bypass London and link onto the GWML &/or the Chiltern Line.

  451. Mark Townend says:

    @Windsorian, 17 April 2014 at 10:53

    “If a HS1/HS2 link is being considered, there is a logic to also allowing Kent Javelins to bypass London and link onto the GWML &/or the Chiltern Line.”

    Only if such trains can also call at a major London terminal en-route, such as underground through platforms at Kings Cross – St.Pancras. For domestic trains that needn’t be the massive 10 platform super-cavern imagined previously for ‘Euston Cross’ but nevertheless it would an expensive proposition. The problem is if the tunnels were constructed to European loading gauge to also carry through international traffic, then it would seem odd if those trains were not able to also call at the station. Through international trains could alternatively go via the old link proposal and call at St. Pancras with reverse, but that would still require the NLL clearance changes and the extra portal near Primrose Hill, together with an underground junction cavern in the vicinity. Makes my North Passage pedestrian link look like pocket change in comparison, especially seeing as the new rail tunnels would probably have to extend east all the way to Barking to join HS1. The only way I could see the expense being justified could perhaps be as part of a Thames estuary airport access scheme, another of the Mayor’s schemes.

  452. Windsorian says:

    @ Mark Townend

    I missed a word out “…to also allowing some Kent Javelins to bypass London…

    I was thinking in terms of the majority of HS1 and Javelins continuing to terminate at StP; however some HS1 (half Valero D?) and some Javelins giving the main London terminals a miss so East /West they would run …Ebbsfleet, Stratford….OOC for GWML or Chiltern Line.

  453. CdBrux says:

    I suspect there are a couple of reasons Boris would want a link used (primarily) for dometic trains:
    1) Wider access to OOC development area – bringing Kent and people transferring at Stratford into play (yes there will be Crossrail, but this would be much faster)
    2) Getting pretty much the whole of the country out to a Thames airport – and cynically I could suggest to have the cost of that bit of infrastructure linked to HS2 rather than the airport. Of course in the reverse direction it could greatly improve rail access from Kent & east of London to LHR!

  454. Graham H says:

    @CDBrux- your no 2 is surely the most likely reason – providing better links for Kent (population equivalent to 3 London boroughs) is hardly a priority – might as well argue for extending HS2 to Croydon…

  455. PeteD says:

    @Mark Thompson

    I had a looked at your Northern Passage proposal. Have you thought of keeping the passage under ground and pass under Midland Road and the Domestic Concourse and over the Thameslink lines? There is space to do this as can be seen in the Thameslink station where you go down the first flight of escalators before crossing above the lines to access the Northbound platforms.

    In doing so the link would be underground and not expossed to the elements all the way from Euston to King’s Cross.

  456. PeteD says:

    Sorry Townsend not Thompson

  457. PeteD says:

    Make that Townend. Shouldn’t post between getting off train and getting on bus.

  458. Mark Townend says:


    Thanks for the suggestion. An extended tunnel could certainly be an option, or a subsequent phase, but whilst very customer friendly would be comparatively difficult, altering the existing station structures to some extent. I’m planning to add a sketch showing how the west end could tie into Euston station, arrangements for which could be incorporated as part of the development plans. I could also include another illustration showing a possible eastern extension. Can anyone point me to a drawing of the underground levels at St. Pancras, or some photographs?

  459. Fandroid says:

    I’m puzzled by this H&S culture report as it was commissioned by the Contractor joint venture BBMV, so doesn’t reflect the usual ‘nasty contractor bullying staff’ story. It seems to imply that Crossrail managers are looking over the shoulders of BBMV’s managers and destroying any relationship based on trust. If what is reported is true, and Crossrail managers are filming unsafe practices and doing nothing to intervene at the time, then they could be on very dangerous ground legally. Precedent was set years ago in the courts. Any qualified observer, even if they have no immediate line management responsibility, is still required in law to intervene if they see an unsafe practice. The case I remember was of a Derby City (or Derbyshire County) engineer who witnessed a contractor’s excavator swinging over the highway potentially in the path of double-decker buses. There was a death, and he was found liable (as well as the contractor).

  460. Greg Tingey says:

    That was one reason I posted … I thought there was a general “Duty of Care” clause, involved, which seems to have been breached, IF this report is correct.
    Very strange

  461. Southern Heights says:

    And the Woolwich station fit out contract has been let to Balfour Beatty

  462. Josh says:

    Great news. I have shares. Certainly a better investment than First. Yuck! Unfortunately, MTR aren’t traded on the LSE.

    I do like the styling in the renders of the platform level. Not so sure about the buildings they’re planning to build on top though. Look a brutal.

  463. Graham H says:

    @Josh – Yes, the above ground structures do look distinctly dated – say, early ’80s, with some ’60s touches to add retro charm. BTW, are you sure you can’t find a broker who will trade on Chinese exchanges?

  464. Southern Heights says:

    @Graham H: let’s call it Lewisham East Station: Just as boring and uninspiring, and obviously cheap….

  465. Graham H says:

    @Southern Heights – reminded of an AJ cartoon of some years ago, with an obviously rich client addressing the luckless architect: “I want it cheap, I want it quick, and by God I want it ugly”

  466. RayK says:

    Ref straphan 26 February 2014 at 17:46
    ‘Rail fares in the North are a fraction of those in the South East’

    This is a statement typical of many that crop up repeatedly on this site. can somebody put a reasonable and graspable figure (or range of figures) on what the ‘fraction’ is? It would be more useful than the vague statement. What would be even more useful would be figures for each region of the UK. With this information we would have a much more useful basis for many of the comparative comments that are made.

  467. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ray K – download the parliamentary briefing note linked to from this page.

    There is a split between London & SE, long distance and regional operators. That doesn’t split purely on geography. However I understand that fares in the former Metropolitan Counties have been more heavily subsidised historically whereas fares in the South East have seen greater increases above RPI because the franchise awards allowed it. South Eastern, for example, was deemed to have fares that were “too low” so Govia were allowed to shove fares up by 3-5% more than RPI. The usual justification for greater flex in fares is to “pay for investment” whereas it is really to shift the balance of funding towards the rail passenger and away from the taxpayer.

    The stats in the note do show little difference between LSE and regional and I imagine that is because outside of PTE areas fares have risen faster. I can’t prove that so if others have more data then happy to be corrected. The other aspect to this argument that people cite is the scale of subsidy vs franchise premiums. It is clearly the case that a couple of South East franchises (FCC and SWT) make an overall profit having covered their opex, franchise premia and access costs. The scale of profit is small but nonetheless it exists. That contrasts heavily with Northern Rail which receives hundreds of millions of pounds in subsidy. Clearly there are issues about the scale of service and average usage levels which determine the cost base and efficiency of a franchise and its potential revenue take. Trains outside the South East are busy but they are relatively short so the potential revenue per train is limited by train length. It is fairly typical that trains in the SE will be longer than elsewhere and we’ve already discussed at great length the emergence of strong counter peak flows and off peak traffic on London franchises. All of this means more revenue being earned by every train which I doubt, but can’t prove, is the case in the Met or Shire counties.

  468. timbeau says:

    Recent reports of “Britain’s most overcrowded trains” bring home the point that it is relatively easy to redeploy rolling stock, (provided it is available, but that is a network-wide issue). However, outside London most trains are considerably shorter than the platforms, and so replacing a 2-car with a 3- or 4-car is only dependent on the rolling stock being available. However, in the SE expensive platform extensions are needed to every station on the line before any longer trains can be run.

  469. Moosealot says:


    Trying to find journeys of similar lengths, all prices are walk-on off-peak singles.

    South East: Maidstone East – Lenham (9m 15ch), £5.10
    South West: Lympstone Village – Exeter St Davids (9m 14ch), £3.90
    North: Dewsbury – Leeds (9m 12ch), £4.00
    Wales: Coryton – Penarth (9m 13ch), £2.90

    If SE travellers wish to point out comparisons to claim that they are overpaying for rail travel, they should compare their fares with Wales, where a similar-length journey is nearly half the price. The North and SW prices (i.e. England outside the SE) are pretty comparable.

  470. @RayK, straphan et al

    The North/South divide issue (London or UK) re: fares, service, investment etc can be devisive and very subjective. There are many historical, political, & railway companies’ decisions that have gone into the London (& UK) railway networks’ growth and operation, so we have what we have today.

    I understand the feelings of injustice, but as this a very emotional issue for some, it soon leads to emotional arguments that very quickly stray from, or can lead to interesting interpretations of, the facts.

    So to stave off such digressions, we will be clamping down on such topics. There are other forums (fora for the Latinist readers…).


  471. Greg Tingey says:

    Bring back the mileage based fare system?
    I think a separate dedicated discussion, if someone can write it up (?) might be a better place for this , though, rather than on this topic.

  472. RayK says:

    When I posed the question I rather thought there might already be an article which had thrashed this one out. I see that it could be quite a knotty one to unravel.

  473. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ray K – I think it’s close to impossible to write a sensible article because the stats are based on average fares but not at TOC level. You have vastly different levels of subsidy. You have differing levels of historic and current investment funding some of which is recouped through fares, some not. You have at least three approaches to how the services are contracted (revenue risk bearing franchise, gross cost management contract, gross cost concession) plus some open access operation. The cost base and service levels also vary widely by franchise. Roger Ford has done some good analysis in Modern Railways over the years but even he would not claim he’s developed some form of definitive analysis of fares, subsidy, revenues and costs.

    You could lump the stats together in one article but trying to draw any meaningful conclusions or comparisons would, I think, be fraught. Sorry to be a party pooper.

  474. Moosealot says:

    On topic!!

    The TBMs Elizabeth and Victoria have both been held in the Whitechapel station box for 7&half; and 5 months respectively. Does anyone have any idea why?

    I also note that on the Crossrail website it is now stated that they are due to complete tunnelling ‘early’ next year — in January tunnelling was due to be ‘substantially complete’ by the end of 2014 and a year before that the Eastern TBMs were due to arrive in Farringdon before the end of 2014.

    They’ve got just over 5.1km to go, so even if they restarted tomorrow and managed to average 190m/week — the fastest average speed that any of the TBMs has achieved — we’re looking at 6 months. If they’re delayed any further or cannot keep up the pace it’s going to be ‘mid’ or ‘late’ 2015 rather than early…

  475. Funnily enough there was someone from Crossrail at the pub yesterday and I commented on the fact that these TBMs had been there for months. Apparently it is a change of scheduling that has led to this. Basically they have swapped the order of particular phases. I was assured that that everything was going according to (the revised) plan and there would be no adverse impact on overall project completion dates.

    Remember the TBMs would have been refurbished and the tunnellers have got faster as they have got more experienced so I wouldn’t be surprised if that 190m per week was achieved. And in fact Jessica achieved an average of 194 m per week on her second (admittedly very short) drive. In fact this drive (837m) was less than six times the length of the TBM itself.

    This won’t have been the first change of plan with TBMs. The original plan was to retrieve the first two TBMs but a decision was made to simply bury them in place. This is something that has been done in the past in London with Greathead Shields and it was also done during construction of the Channel Tunnel.

    In the case of the burying the first two TBMs it was a case of saving time and the cost of extracting them which more than compensated for the financial loss as a result of not being able to sell the used machines back to Herrenknecht.

  476. timbeau says:

    I understand the reason for burying TBMs is because it would not be economic to dismantle them to get them out of the tunnel, given that they are worn out (having been designed to do just that one job) and only worth their scrap value. No doubt some component recovery is possible.

    Same with the Apollo moon missions – most parts of the spacecraft were designed for a single purpose, and jettisoned once that had been done – only a tiny part returned to earth intact.

  477. Malcolm says:

    @timbeau yes, but it seems that there is no firm rule about whether to recover TBMs. Their components are quite valuable, it seems, and worth recovering in some cases. But not in others. What seems to have happened here, rather unusually, is that these particular TBMs have moved from one category to the other, alongside (or because of) the replanning to which PoP refers above. Apollo was rather different (!) the junk left abandoned in space or on the moon was always destined for such a fate.

  478. @timbeau,

    I am pretty sure the TBM would have been worth a lot more than scrap. The purchase contract included a clause whereby Herrenknecht would buy the TBMs back at the end of the job for a fixed identified price should Crossrail wish to sell. For many tasks a factory refurbished or rebuilt machine would do the job quite adequately.

  479. Southern Heights says:

    @PoP: I am not an expert but… I believe the only bit left behind is the “shield” at the front. It cannot go back as the lining blocks it, but AFAIK the whole machinery behind it is dismantled and removed… So it’s only a little bit that is left behind, admittedly a crucial piece, but those control systems are expensive too!!!

  480. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Southern Heights – that (shield retained / buried, everything else removed) is certainly my understanding too based on attending several Crossrail site visits including Farringdon where various TBMs terminate.

  481. Josh says:

    According to tidbits I’ve found, they’re building a crossover just West of Whitechapel. I’d imagine this would need to be finished before the TBMs can resume or their operation would get in the way. It was supposed to finish this month. Should we be expecting the resumption in the next few weeks?

  482. Pedantic of Purley says:


    That may well be something to do with it. What puzzles me is that I do not recall that crossover on any of the original plans. That crossover (combined with the Fisher St one) should make maintenance much easier especially if they introduce a 24 hour service. I must point out this is not something that has been proposed but one could quite easily imagine such a thing – especially at weekends.

  483. Fandroid says:

    The cutting face of a TBM is only a very tiny proportion of the whole. The whole beast on Crossrail is 140 metres long and weighs 1000 tonnes. The only bits left behind after dismantling would be a fraction of that (a few metres). We are talking about drive motors, controls, steering jacks, lining storage and erection modules, and muck-handling gear. There are probably also some welfare facilities for the operators.

  484. @Fandroid

    “There are probably also some welfare facilities for the [TBM] operators.”

    I’d like to think, having watched a lot of James Bond films in the 70s, that each TBM has a fully decked out pub, a dormitory, and a Managing Director wood clad office within, much as one of Her Majesty’s submarines did that dropped Bond off in Hong Kong…

  485. Eddie says:

    There’s another full weekend closure at Abbey Wood. Wouldn’t surprise me if the temporary station opens very soon (new footbridge and portacabin type ticket office in place) and the work is centred around that this weekend, with the old station demolished asap.

    Anyone know when the track slew into Abbey Wood will be complete so both tracks will wrap around platform 1 so it becomes an island?

  486. IslandDweller says:

    Canary Wharf Crossrail station open as part of Open House weekend. Interesting to see a modest queue to get in this morning. Impressive stuff, and the other visitors I passed seemed equally impressed.
    My good mood about tfl then evaporated when I discovered that yet again local buses are diverted away from C Wharf this weekend. No publicity at bus stops. Countdown not updated, still shows times for buses that will never arrive.

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