The Brighton Main Line (BML) from Victoria (and London Bridge) needs more capacity. This has been known for years but more recently it has been clear that demand has been accelerating and showing no indication of easing up in the future. Whilst there may be alternative long-term approaches possible, if a significant improvement to Sussex services is required in a reasonable medium-term timescale, there is no alternative to upgrading the existing line.

Its time to start to get down to the nitty-gritty and go along the line and look forensically at where the problems are and what can be done about them. We start at Victoria station. This part of the Sussex saga is not as extensive as some will be because there is relatively little to say and details of medium term plans not yet available.

The Victoria Conundrum

One of the curiosities of Victoria station is just why platform utilisation is so low during peak hours. Clearly, if the number of platforms remains the same, this needs to improve if more trains are to be run. The issue is whether platform utilisation is low because of track capacity limitations or whether it is the inability to improve platform utilisation itself that is the problem.

Platforms 15-19

Platforms 16-19 which are tucked away on the western side of Victoria station. Platform 15 is just outside the picture. These five platforms handle at most 12 trains per hour between them. The oversite development robs not only the platforms but also the approach area of just about any natural light.

The measure of platform utilisation is tphpp (trains per hour per platform). As this article is about the Brighton Main Line we concentrate on the platforms (9-19) that serve this line. These are the trains that go via Clapham Junction. The lines serving platform 1-8 are historically known as the Chatham Lines and trains generally go via Bromley South though a notable exception is the Nunhead route to Lewisham and beyond.

Victoria Station

A portion of the Network Rail map of Victoria Station which appears not to be copyrighted unlike the National Rail Enquiries one.

Grosvenor Bridge

You would have thought that the Brighton side of the station with its 11 platforms (9-12 slow and 13-19 fast) would have little or no problem handling any expected requirement of an electrified four-track railway operating with multiple-unit rolling stock. It is also not as if the approach was particularly constrained in terms of the number of tracks. There are currently nine tracks over Grosvenor Bridge which takes the railway over the Thames and of those are five are dedicated to BML services. These track approaching the station are currently assigned as three fast track and two slow ones but there is no overriding necessity for such rigid division.

Similarly one would have thought that nine approach tracks in total over Grosvenor Bridge was more than enough for 19 platforms in total. This would appear to be the case because when the railway-supporters’ favourite 1960s construction firm of Marples-Ridgeway [¶] rebuilt Grosvenor Bridge they actually made it possible to have ten tracks but it would appear that only nine are used nowadays with the easternmost trackbed slowly being reclaimed by the inevitable Buddleia that is starting to appear.

The Cannon Street Comparison

For the purposes of looking at the Brighton main line into Sussex we really ought to concentrate on the three lines over Grosvenor Bridge that are dedicated to the fast lines and the seven platforms that fan out from them. That is platforms 13 and 14 which serve Gatwick Express trains and the five other fast “Sussex” platforms 15–19.

Platform 13

Platform 13 which is one of two platforms dedicated to Gatwick Express services. Because of the desire for a train to be available at a platform for boarding at all times platform 13 and its neighbour platform 14 are each used by a paltry two trains per hour.

The comparison between Sussex Fast lines into Victoria and the lines into Cannon Street is especially relevant. Between London Bridge station and Cannon Street (exclusive) the track layout goes from two tracks south of the river at the east of Borough Market Junction to three tracks before fanning out to serve seven platforms. The approach to Victoria fast Sussex platforms (including Gatwick platforms) goes from two tracks south of the river at Battersea to three (reversible, up, down) over Grosvenor Bridge and then to seven platforms. It is true that Cannon Street has one or two trains empty departing via the western side of the Borough Market triangle towards Metropolitan Junction but that is more to do with getting around a problem with throughput at London Bridge station and not so much any restriction at or approaching Cannon Street.

Cannon Street currently handles 25tph in the height of the peak which means each an average tphpp of over 3.5. In contrast, the fast BML lines into Victoria manages just 16 in the peak hour which is an average of less than 2.3tphpp.

So what’s the problem ?

So the question has to be asked: Can there really be a limitation on capacity at Victoria when Cannon Street (and other comparable termini) seem to be able to manage far more? Well certainly until recently it did seem that Network Rail thought that there was little that could be done – then again for years they said that about East Croydon.

Network Rail’s Long Term Planning Process route specification for Sussex published early in 2014, when referring to “the Brighton Line” side of Victoria station states:

The Fast line side of the station is accessed by three tracks, an Up and Down Fast and a reversible approach.[…] The Slow line side of the station has just two approach tracks – an Up and Down Slow.

The limited number of approach tracks to both the Slow and Fast line platforms (constrained by the width of the alignment into Victoria, the Grosvenor River Bridge and approaching viaducts south of it), means that even provision of additional platform faces at Victoria in the long term would have a limited benefit in terms of additional peak paths.

This does seem awfully hard to believe. As an explanation it is most unsatisfactory. Five tracks does not seem to a particularly limited number of approach tracks. If it is inadequate then why is there a disused trackbed on the bridge? One would not have thought eleven platforms would be a particularly onerous constraint for what can hardly be described as long distance services.

Don’t blame it on the TOC

The above somewhat unsatisfactory quote makes no mention of Southern Railway being rather leisurely with train preparation yet if that was the reason one would have thought Network Rail would have been quick to point the finger at the TOC. It is almost certain that the extended preparation perceived by some as the cause is actually the consequence of the limited station capacity. If the trains cannot be turned around any quicker then one might as well take advantage of the time to clean and re-bowser the trains. To put it another way, it is important not to confuse cause and effect.

Cause for speculation for the cause

In the absence of any official plausible explanation for the limited capacity on the fast Brighton Lines out of Victoria we offer our own explanation:

  • The capacity is limited because it was only signalled for the capacity required at the time when last resignalled.
  • For this reason extra platforms on their own would only be of marginal value. The bottleneck would remain.
  • The only realistic way to free up capacity for the BML fast lines at Victoria is to comprehensively redesign the track layout and signalling.
  • Comprehensive redesign has not been suggested in the past because the amount of extra capacity it would provide would be extremely limited due to restrictions elsewhere (notably Clapham Junction and East Croydon) and it would be extremely expensive for very little gain.

It is hard to be definitive as to what the issues are with the limited signalling capacity but one would have thought that an obvious restriction is the two unidirectional fast tracks across Grosvenor Bridge. This is not helped by the single bi-directional track being the westernmost one of the three. It the bi-directional one was the centre track this would lead to much more flexibility. The current combination must restrict opportunities for trains to cross without conflict. If all three tracks were bi-directional and there was trackwork on either side of the bridge to facilitate changing from one track to another one would presume that there would be far more flexibility and a consequent increase in capacity.

Platforms galore

One thing Victoria does not appear to lack is platforms though Network Rail reports have in the past simplistically suggested this is a problem. It has to be said that this is treated with scorn by many industry insiders.

Between platforms 7 and 8

The enormous space between platforms 7 and 8. If the number of platforms was a serious issue at Victoria then one would have thought a left luggage office, however grand, could have been sacrificed to may space for two extra platforms. It is clear that the priority is retail space.

It is easy to see that platforms aren’t always used as effectively as they could be. Platforms 13 and 14 are dedicated to Gatwick services. The service to Gatwick is every 15 minutes and the current policy is for there to be a train ready and waiting in the platform at all times (it is similar at Paddington with Heathrow Express). The result is that platforms 13 and 14 are each used by only 2 trains per hour – acceptable for long distance services but a bit of a luxury for a non-stop service that is scheduled to take just 30 minutes. To make things worse the trains are usually only 5 carriages long and rarely anywhere near full. If platforms at Victoria really were at a premium then it would be unlikely that Gatwick Express would be allowed to use two of them so inefficiently.

Platforms 10-12

Platforms 10-12. The platforms together with platform 9 serve the suburban trains and between them these four platforms can handle a respectable 16 trains per hour. They are the only platforms at Victoria that are used as intensively as they potentially could be.

In complete contrast to the Gatwick platforms in particular and the BML fast platforms in general it is worth noting that the BML slow platforms handle 16tph – the same as the fast ones. The dramatic difference is that they do this with just four platforms (4tphpp) and two approach tracks. It can be seen that in the case of the slow lines it probably is true that more platforms need to allocated to the services if an increase in train frequency is to be achieved. It does not follow from this that overall Victoria is lacking in platforms.

If you thought the BML was bad …

We have commented on how bad utilisation of platforms is on the BML fast lines at Victoria station but you really don’t have to go far to find even worse overall utilisation. In fact all you have to do is wander over to the Chatham side of the station where there are eight platforms for the relatively few SouthEastern trains and the occasional special such as the Orient Express. This used to leave from platform 8 but now leaves from platform 2.

Platform 8

Platform 8 used to be considered a bit special and was where the Orient Express usually left from. Since those days it has been considerably shortened and the platform built on. It is retains none of its past glory and the Orient Express now leaves from platform 2 with the departure sandwiched in between regular trains to Kent. Just behind the buffer stops a passageway has been built through the wall that separated the two distinct parts of the station so the platform from a station management perspective the platform could easily be re-assigned to serve south London suburban services. Then higher number platforms could be reallocated if necessary. There is also the potential to reassign platform 7.

There can be little doubt that the low occupancy rates for the SouthEastern platforms are down to the limited capacity on the two track approach lines as they traverse suburban south London. The problem is a combination of the result of the two tracks having to provide for both slow and fast services and timetabling restrictions caused by Herne Hill junction.

The apparent surfeit of platforms on the Chatham Line has led to many rail insiders suggesting the obvious solution if the number of platforms were a problem on the Brighton Line and that is to reallocate one or more from the Chatham Line. One could think of it as the Lady Bracknell solution to platform allocation.

The future

We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves too much but Network Rail are talking of substantial upgrades of the Brighton Main Line and yet when doing so the problem of train capacity at Victoria hardly gets a mention. In Control Period 5 (the current one) Network Rail intends to make substantial changes to the concourse so that it can handle more passengers satisfactorily.

The rumour is of a new track layout at Victoria by 2019. One has to presume that Network Rail have seen the light and that this is the case. It would make a significant difference and it is hard to see Network Rail’s plan for upgrading the BML working without this essential piece of the jigsaw. It is a shame more details are not known but, based on crude playing around with simple figures, it does look as if there is plenty of opportunities for Victoria station to handle more trains although very difficult to give any idea of a meaningful figure. So, the early indications are that capacity at Victoria is not a fundamental limitation when planning to upgrade the Brighton Main Line but the exact level potential benefits that can be unlocked is neither available for nor deducible by those who don’t have the necessary inside knowledge.

¶ – This is a facetious comment not intended to be taken at face value. Please don’t supply us with a potted biography of Mr Marples.

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There are 489 comments on this article
  1. Malcolm says:

    Thanks for the article. It is a touch disappointing to read, because of the number of don’t knows and possiblys, presumably unavoidable.

    If there is to be a new track layout by 2019, in line with the rumour you mention, wouldn’t there be some hard facts out there somewhere about it? Obviously no spades in the ground yet, but wouldn’t we expect the track designers to be at least sharpening their pencils by now?

    Might we get clues about how near the limit the current layout actually is, by observing response to disruption? I’m sure things must go wrong from time to time, and maybe someone can say (from experience) how rapidly or otherwise the timetable recovers.

  2. Castlebar (Arundel Chord U. K. Construction Unit) says:

    Very good

    I just hope it doesn’t drift off towards a (spurious) case for taking over the Bluebell Railway, Lewes-Uckfield (which has a wonderful bus service) etc

  3. Slugabed says:

    Just a minor quibble….the Metropolitan curve is that from Metropolitan-jct. up towards Blackfriars.
    The Western curve from Cannon Street West-jct. to Stoney Street-jct. referred to in the article is not the same curve.

    [You are correct of course. I have reworded it. PoP]

  4. Southern Heights (back on dry land) says:

    Or even a chord from the Hayes line allowing a new route: Hayes Victoria? Perhaps using old Bakerloo line trains? 😉

  5. Steve Bird says:

    As an occasional weekend user of Victoria, I find the main drawback of platforms 15-19 is the distance from the concourse. You stand watching the departure board waiting for a platform number for your train, then you’ve got a couple of minutes’ walk and a battle to get through the barriers to get to the train. This must affect the turnaround time.

  6. Haven't you missed something...? says:

    Isn’t the major capacity constraint between East Croydon and Three Bridges? Trains are trying to run from Victoria, London Bridge & Blackfriars along this section of the BML. This imposes a limit of the number of trains from each “London Terminal” that can run to/from East Croydon. So platform capacity/usage at Victoria doesn’t have to be optimised until more paths are available South of East Croydon.

  7. Fandroid says:

    In the dim past, wasn’t there a bonkers idea to turn Battersea Power Station into a theme park and to run fake high-speed trains from Victoria to there as a shuttle? Where would that masterpiece of urban transport have gone? (Boris would suggest a cable-car. Far more 21st century (or 20th, or 19th).

  8. Fandroid says:

    Being slightly more serious. Victoria is having zillions spent on it to improve people movement to and from London Underground. Is it not the busiest Underground station ? (please could the cognoscenti come up with the right answer here). Given that the Victoria Line has already had an upgrade, and there isn’t a lot left that can be done with that line, I wonder if the thinking folk are concerned about how they would shift the incoming hordes if Victoria main line station had its capacity increased significantly. Is this a wait for XR2 moment?

  9. Mark Townend says:

    I would think the station map you link to is copyright National Rail Enquiries rather than Network Rail.

    [It is not specific but you are probably correct. However, on investigating I have discovered that the Network Rail version is much better and appears not to be copyrighted so I have added that to the article. PoP]

  10. timbeau says:

    I seem to recall the “Battersea Bullets” (Class 447) would have gone from platform 1 – which makes sense as the power statoin is on the east side of the line.

    Platform 8 was used for some Central division services, notably the Newhaven boat trains.

    According to Jackson, (London termini, published some time in the 1960s but still the most comprehensive study of its subject matter provided you are not interested in the last half century!) in the days of steam the layout at Victoria (LBSCR) was such that two full length trains could be parked nose to tail, with a third track between the two platform roads on the outer half. Once a second train arrived, the loco would be detached from its train and coupled to the one in front of it, and taken out via the middle road. This would release the loco by the buffer stops which could then run round the second train and couple up ready to take it out. This method of operation (a little like a single-ended Cambridge layout) allowed better turnround time than a simple last in first out, as the first train could be ready to leave whilst the second was still being prepared.
    The buffer stops are now so much closer to Brighton that such a layout is no longer possible.

  11. Sykobee says:

    It’s a pretty dire station map!

    Yes, using platform 8 for slow BML services through CJ seems a sensible option, especially as it would give some extra capacity in case of broken down train (which happens regularly on this line).

    Do the P1 – P7 platforms need to be so long into the station? Extending the concourse area to house more people could be done here, and bring all the platform ends in line.

    TBH I think they need to do something about the raised retail areas that split the station in two in a massively intrusive manner to provide a Wetherspoons and Yo Sushi. I know they’re between the two lines/train companies so people split left or right early on though, so maybe it can remain.

    The remote fast BML platforms are horribly, dingy and have limited local concourse space. It seems to me that they need some work.

    Perhaps the Gatwick Express waiting train oddities are to get people with bulky luggage off the concourse/platform, as well as always having a waiting train?

    The platform area onto P9->13 is actually quite narrow, even though it backs onto the main concourse area, because of some retail outlets. Get rid of (some of) these and more light and turnstiles would come onto these platforms. This works wonders at London Bridge at getting people off and onto the platforms for improving train offloading/loading times.

  12. Malcolm says:

    Does this weird form of working imply tank engines and bunker-first running? At least for the first-mentioned engine. Or are the trains being pulled out empty? (In which case they don’t need to be worked on in the platform anyway).

  13. Malcolm says:

    (My earlier comment referred to timbeau’s, of course, I should have said).

    The station map is like all of them, designed to a rectangular grid and using standard symbols. Actually I think it gives a pretty good idea of the layout, although it looks awful. It particularly shows where the gatelines are, and the horrible retail block in front of platform 9 looks almost as ugly and obtrusive on the map as it does in real life. If you’ve never been to Victoria and want some idea of its layout, and you understand maps in general, it would probably serve OK. The mouse-hovering pictures are again a standard feature, clever perhaps, but not really adding much.

  14. Mark Townend says:

    The Battersea Bullets would have had their own dedicated shuttle track using the spare track space on Grosvenor bridge. I remember reading articles about it at the time.

    A three line approach with the bi-di to the left of the inbound track is actually quite flexible as it can permit an incoming train to access platforms to the right of the station whilst a simultaneous departure from a platform to its left takes place. The departure can cross back to the normal outbound line immediately behind the incoming train. If there’s a temporary problem accepting trains into the platforms, two incoming trains can be lined up alongside each other and once the problem has been solved the two trains might then enter their respective platforms simultaneously. All assuming the throat layout has sufficient parallelism to allow the simultaneous moves, which I believe Victoria does.

  15. timbeau says:

    “Is it not the busiest Underground station ?”
    Correct, it is not the busiest Underground station – not since 2009 anyway.

    According to TfL’s own figures (based on entry and exit to the Underground system, i.e not including interchanges between LU lines) in 2013 it was 4th behind Waterloo, Oxford Circus and Kings Cross (these four all being between 84 million and 90 million, no others exceecded 70 million.
    This is the first change in the top four for several years:
    in 2010, 2011 and 2012 the order was Waterloo, Victoria, Kings Cross, Oxford Circus,
    in 2007, 2008, 2009 the order was Victoria, Waterloo, Oxford Circus, Kings Cross

    Note that apart from a slight dip in 2009, the actual numbers for Victoria have increased each year: but others have grown faster.

    TfL’s data only goes back to 2007

  16. Graham H says:

    @Fandroid – there was indeed such a plan. Ministers and I spent rather more time than it deserved trying to understand both its finances (dodgy) and operations (also dodgy). To the question “And how would you avoid having Battersea Bullets running during the peak?”, the promoters’ answer was that they had expertise in arranging “delaying spectacles” that would so enchant the punters that they wouldn’t want to leave in a hurry. Mine’s a pint of Guinness…

    BTW the scheme had many similarities with Wonderworld, the copyright free theme park based on nursery rhymes, proposed for Corby. Minsters were subjected to a steady stream of such wastes of space (there was the “Potter” theme park for Settle-Carlisle, for example). Luckily, their political adviser, Elizabeth Buchanan, had a wry sense of humour).

    Back on topic, certainly,the former Southern region operators such as Gordon Pettit, felt that if push came to shove, the SE side of Victoria would be available for decanting space if, for example, London Bridge had to be rebuilt.

  17. Malcolm says:

    @Graham I take it you refer to Beatrix rather than Harry?

  18. timbeau says:

    @ malcolm
    “Does this weird form of working imply tank engines and bunker-first running? ”
    Indeed – although as the end of the ten-year rebuilding programme co-incided with the the arrival of the LBSCR’s first electric trains in 1909, operation got progressively simpler as the electrification programme rolled out. I’m not sure when the layout was removed, possibly as late as 1980.
    A photo of the layout is here (second picture)

    It was an ingenious solution to the constraints of the site, hemmed in by the Chatham station on one side and Buckingham Palace Road on the other, the only way to expand was longitudinally.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I was sure I had come into Platform 8 from Purley and on checking, indeed I have, the Caterham trains, off peak arrive in Platform 8 and become Epsom/Epsom Downs on leaving a grand total of 2 trains per hour. In the peak it seems to revert to South eastern. I have to say that I prefer to avoid Victoria, the underground is awful, the fast line platforms are a long way (oh and Purley’s fast trains go to London Bridge which manages to be more pleasant even with the building work surrounding you!). The reversible seems a bit pointless being the other side, I only remember using it twice, and it has very slow, restrictive junctions at Battersea Park.

  20. Slugabed says:

    Timbeau 28/07 16:50
    I suspect that the arrangement was removed around the time the concourse was made much deeper sometime in the 1970s.The platforms were,if I remember rightly,lengthened and straightened at the same time.
    The early 80s re-building was more concerned with putting the raft in for all those retail units.By this time the track arrangement was conventional,as I recall.

  21. Graham H says:

    @Malcom – alas, I did – long before Potter, H had been invented. [The plan promoted by a Mr Isaac Abrahams – who also when investigated turned out to have been called Abraham Isaacs in a previous existence – was to arrange for what we would now call co-marketing of the Settle-Carlisle line coupled with managed visits to Beatrix Potter’s house at Sawry based around her characters, thus forming a complete themed day out: “The Potter-Lakes Experience”. Mr I/A had not actually discussed with the National Trust how they would care to move the 10 000 people a day he envisaged using the trip through Miss Potter’s house which is not, as I recall it, much bigger than mine…]

  22. Greg Tingey says:

    Looking at either Carto Metro or J Brown’s atlas, you will see that there are pitifully few routes available for getting to or from the Chatham & Brighton sides of the station – something that needs remedying.
    The other obvious method for improving p/f utilisation, is to still always have a GatEx in-platform, but it does NOT have to be exclusively the pair in use at the moment.
    Unfortunately, this entirely sensible idea (being mine) would then immediately run foul of the DafT requirement for “barriers everywhere”.
    But, if you want to free up extra platforms, those are the ways to do it – oh & re-lay Pouparts’ Jn as double-track & preferably grade-separated, though that last would cost ££££££’s

  23. Anonymous says:

    @Graham H – nor presumably had he worked out how to get 200 coaches a day from the Settle and Carlisle to Sawrey – the roads aren’t terribly good!

  24. timbeau says:

    Sawrey is forty or fifty miles by road from the nearest stations on the S&C (Garsdale, Dent and Kirkby Stephen) – maybe a little less if you can use a vehicle small enough not to sink the Windermere ferry. On those roads it is probably a four hour round trip.

  25. There is no such place as Sawrey. There is Near Sawrey and Far Sawrey. Beatrix Potter’s house (Hill Top) is in Near Sawrey.

    Incidently it is the existence of places such as Near Sawrey that meant that it was (and is) Post Office policy to discourage people writing Near … when writing addresses – unless of course Near was part of the name of the place.

    Gosh we get off-topic quickly.

  26. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm 28 July 2014 at 14:43

    At a guess that is for part 5? Part 4 just explains that the station itself isn’t the problem.

  27. Graham H says:

    @PoP and others – yes, Sawrey, my mispelling. No, the pantaloon/charlatan hadn’t the faintest idea what his plan involved logistically, let alone how a period house was supposed to cope with 20 000 feet trampling through daily. Another visitor was Mr Broome – he of Battersea Power Station (instant link to different current thread) – who was also seen by politicians as a saviour for the S&C (had he not just saved Battersea?); he had a splendid put downer after the Ministerial sales pitch: “Thanks, David. I’ll fly over the line and let you know what I think.”

    That’s almost certainly enough off topic from me…

  28. Mark Townend says:

    There is a track plan of Victoria here on the Kent Rail website:

    I’m not convinced it is correct. I think it misses out a number of crossovers.

    The former relay interlockings for both Victoria Eastern and Central were replaced with the modern SSI derivative ‘Westlock’ equipment in December 2013 due to wiring condition concerns. If desired, any future layout alterations should be much easier to achieve following this.

  29. Anon5 says:

    I’m sure I read somewhere that Southern services would be taking over platform 8. Perhaps I imagined it.

    On occasions during weekend engineering works it’s always interesting to see Gatwick Express services in platform 7. In fact I’m sure not too long ago I saw Southern and Gatwick Expresses in platforms 7 and 8 with a Southeastern on platform 6. I remember thinking it was a Kodak moment.

    A few months ago I chucked my 80s / 90s editions of Rail, which included the artist’s impression of the trains expected to run to the theme park at Battersea. There was a write up in one of the papers recently about the developer’s son who spoke about the work his father did at the site.

  30. Anon5 says:

    Concept drawing of the Battersea Bullet (among others) here:

  31. Briantist says:

    @Steve Bird

    “As an occasional weekend user of Victoria, I find the main drawback of platforms 15-19 is the distance from the concourse. You stand watching the departure board waiting for a platform number for your train, then you’ve got a couple of minutes’ walk and a battle to get through the barriers to get to the train. This must affect the turnaround time.”

    Not sure why you don’t wait by platforms 15-19 in the first place…. like everyone else does? There several types of sign (one for each platform, a list of departures with the platforms) to look at.

    It’s not like the trains CAN depart from any other platforms!

  32. Malcolm says:

    @Briantist you presumably happen to know that trains to wherever Steve is going can only depart from 15-19. How is Steve, an avowedly occasional user, supposed to know?

    Anyway, if it was me, even if I knew the rules, I’d tend to stay by the main departure board, just in case they’d rewritten the rules specially that very same day, just to make me miss my train!

  33. Graham H says:

    @Anon5 – a most interesting link, and not just for the Battersea Bullet – thanks. I vaguely recall that the windows were supposed to be darkened so that the punters could be shown films and videos of whatever it was that they would find when they got there, so beginning the “Battersea Experience” at Victoria. Can’t now remember what that Experience was supposed to include, if I was indeed ever told.

  34. Jonathan Roberts says:

    @ Fandroid, @ Timbeau

    I would urge some caution about league tables of usage of tube stations serving termini or other principal interchanges for South London main line railways. There is a lot of substitution possible by users, more options have opened up in the last 10-30 years, and much more will be possible in the future, not least Thameslink.

    Just to give four simple examples involving Victoria:
    (1) Thameslink already offers some useful journey options to Central London and North of London, compared to Victoria. This parallel option will grow rapidly from 2018.
    (2) SWT users seeking some parts of Central London may prefer to change at Vauxhall onto (there) a less crowded Victoria Line than via Clapham Junction and at Victoria itself, or alternatively stay on to Waterloo and walk over Hungerford Bridge or use a Red Arrow replacement.
    (3) South Londoners now have WLL and ELL choices, plus inner Thameslink options however varied those are. Conversely TfL has invested in the Southern Franchise so will also have stimulated more travel via Victoria and London Bridge (one thinks).
    (4) Kent to Victoria then on into Central London? Why not Javelin to St Pancras and on into Central London?

    These changes began in March 1969 when the Victoria Line reached Victoria. Since then there has been a long list of new travel options (you can work out the dates and their relative importance), they affect tubes, Overground and SLL, and the main line networks.

    Back at the beginning of 1969, there were arguably 14 realistic routes and termini/transfers, but with only a few being strongly attractive, via the termini and the tubes: District Line x 2 (Richmond and Wimbledon), Victoria SC, Victoria SE, Waterloo/Bank extension, Charing X, Blackfriars/Holborn Viaduct, Cannon Street, London Bridge SC, London Bridge SE, Northern Line x 2 branches, ELL via NXGate, ELL via NX).

    May we please now consider 27 by 2019:- (District Line x 2 (Richmond and Wimbledon), WLL SC, WLL Overground, V SC, V SE, Victoria Line (Vic main lines), Victoria Line (Vauxhall SWT main line), Victoria Line (South London local origins), Waterloo/Bank extension, Charing X, Blackfriars/Thameslink, Jubilee (2 ways), Cannon Street, London Bridge (SC), London Bridge (SE), Northern (almost 3 ways with Battersea extension), ELL (SLL), ELL (via NXGate), ELL (via NX), DLR Lewisham, DLR Woolwich, Kent Javelin. By 2018 there will be Crossrail as well, from Abbey Wood/Woolwich. And this is before any Bakerloo extension, or Crossrail 2!

    If all of that’s not going to lead to changes in the distribution of flows, I don’t know what is. Then there’s change in service structures etc., both within and beyond the London Oyster zones. And that reminds me, Oyster (and how it is counted – or sometimes not if you are ORR), Key, and other ticketing/marketing incentives are all relevant in influencing user figures.

    It will be interesting to look at Network Rail’s London Plan travel estimates for 2043 for the LSE area here:
    or the GLA’s for London 2050 (not yet out!), before we get too excited about what Victoria might be expected to handle in its own right. I’d be interested to understand what PoP thinks about the impact of a second runway at Gatwick on the BML, but expect that will be covered in a later section. So far as Victoria itself is concerned, I’d think that wasn’t where the BML capacity was blown first – partly assisted if necessary by the spare capacity alongside in the SE station.

    Crossrail 2’s role at Victoria appears to be equally a solution to the Victoria Line’s own internal capacity issues as it is to assist the main line transfers. I also note that CR2 would open up South London travel options nos. 28-32 – through ex-SWT trains, Wimbledon transfer, Tooting transfer, Clapham transfer, and Victoria transfer (plus new developments along the way?).

  35. Jonathan Roberts says:

    I recognise some people would add Elephant& Castle from the Blackfriars Line to/from the tubes, and Waterloo East now as a substitute to Charing Cross formerly. The more, the merrier and wider choice.

  36. JA says:

    My gut feeling is that the real limitation on capacity through to Victoria is the need to stop some fast trains at Clapham Junction in the peaks in order to provide capacity between East Croydon-Clapham Junction and Clapham Junction-Victoria. Non stopping more fast trains through Clapham in the morning peak for example would increase interchange at East Croydon, probably upping dwell times significantly on fast and slow trains to Victoria and denting overall capacity.

    More passengers joining slow services at East Croydon would also cause them to be crush loaded further away from Victoria than they already are, robbing stations like Norbury and Streatham Common of capacity, upping dwell times and journey times even further, and reducing overall capacity again.

    I’m basing this on the fact that no Brighton-Victoria train that departs between 0650-0845 calls at Clapham Junction, a change to the service pattern that presumably stems from a limitation on capacity at Clapham Junction.

  37. John U.K. says:

    Thanks for the article. Brought back some long-forgotten memories. I’m certain in the late 60’s platforms 9+ retained the capability for two trains and it was used (“the train for … is the front train/is the rear train at platform X.”) I think the crossovers may have been in use on occasion to despatch the rear train first.

    Platforms 7 & 8 were whence the papers invariably departed. That for Chatham and beyond went from 8, 3.20am, IIRC, and a sad wait on the night the clocks went back at 2am.

  38. ngh says:

    Re JA 28 July 2014 at 19:14

    As previously discussed several times on LR over the last couple of years, the capacity issue is Croydon – Clapham J., Vic- Clapham J. has a lighter loading in comparison as the passengers transfer to WLL or SWT services (including those heading outwards) so fewer services stopping at CLJ is not a good thing.

    I suspect we are touching on the content of PoP’s next article though.

  39. Steve says:

    Interesting article.

    As already pointed out, Platform 8 is used by Southern in the off-peak. However, it’s signalled from the Victoria SE panel and there is (I think) with the routing into Platform 7, so not ideal for regular use by Southern.

    The utilisation of P9-P12 compares precisely with P16-P19 at Waterloo in the AM Peak (P15 is given over the main line in the AM Peak – but used by Windsor lines during the rest of the day). These have 16tph in the AM Peak and although there are four Windsor lines out of Waterloo the Down Slow is used by empty stock and the Reversible usually only for overtaking late running trains.

  40. Slugabed says:

    John UK 28/07 19:53
    Yes,the “Front train” “Rear Train” system was used until quite recently at Victoria.Latterly however,the rear train was trapped until the front train had departed.

  41. Robert Butlin says:

    I second ngh’s comment. I use the train into Victoria every morning and the biggest problem is platform occupancy at Clapham Junction, something that can only be solved by some really big engineering. Blocking back to Balham is not uncommon.

    Sending more trains non-stop through Clapham Junction would serve to make those that do stop even more crowded, indeed I have a sneaking suspicion that stopping the morning Gatwick expresses might make things better by spreading the load from Sussex into Claphma Junction over more trains.

  42. Graham H says:

    @Robert Butlin – yet another reason why Gatex has become Bad Thing, tho’ it’s just possible – the detail doesn’t seemed to have leaked yet – that the successful TSGN bidder will run Gatex as an attachment to the rest of the service. One can but hope.

  43. Anon5 says:

    Steve – Is that also why the approach to platforms 9+ have signs with a large ‘X’ and Networkers underneath? Have Networkers ever ventured into the Southern side even on tests?

    Graham H: that’s brought back memories of being an excited child. I can see them now loading the Betamax to play the video. 🙂

    Here’s the report I mentioned with sketches of the original idea for a theme park

  44. Anonymous says:

    @Graham H – so the train would divide at Gatwick? Perhaps instead of at Haywards Heath?

  45. Mark Townend says:

    The capacity issue at Clapham Jn is exacerbated by the relatively high through speed (60MPH) past the platforms. That means the signals have to be spaced to suit the braking distance at the higher speed, although that results in there being much lower capacity available for trains that stop with a much lower average speed through the same length sections. It is simply not possible easily to signal optimally for both fast through trains AND stopping trains. There are tricks with additional closing up signals very close to the platform on approach but these often involve very complex controls and odd aspect sequences with approach release arrangements under certain circumstances that in turn raise risks of driver anticipation perhaps resulting in SPADS in a busy area where trains are queuing up . . . potentially very dangerous! That type of signalling works best when everything stops, as employed on traditionally signalled LU lines where an empty train doesn’t stop at a station but must slow right down to pass the platform. ERTMS should be able to manage this kind of mixed speed operation much better, as with the train calculating its own safe speed envelope, the positioning of block markers where trains can be stopped is decoupled from the braking distance, so it is possible to insert those additional closing up signal equivalents selectively around stations much more easily without incurring the SPAD risk.

  46. Southern Heights says:

    @Anon5: those same ‘X”s appear at LBG, it would appear the Networkers ate too many portions of fried chicken…

    Apparently, there used to be three tracks from LBG to Cannon Street, looking at the track layout this evening, beats me how unless you move the rails running into platform 4 @ LBG!

  47. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Southern Heights,

    Four actually. See signalling diagram on this page.

  48. Anon5 says:

    Southern Heights: I wondered if that was the case. Referring back to those artists impressions it’s interesting to see the 465/466 concept having a similar slimline front skirt to their 165/166 cousins when eventually they received bulkier ‘buffers’ that soon attracted train surfers.

  49. Brock says:

    The NR Timetable Planning Rules for Sussex are here

    Passenger Stock Turnround Allowances for Victoria on page 60 are:
    Main Line Services (Loaded to Loaded): 12
    Suburban Services (Loaded to Loaded): 7
    Atlantic Line Services (Loaded to Loaded): 4
    And the Platform Reoccupation Margin is:
    Platforms 9 to 19: 3

  50. Theban says:


    As a seasoned BML traveller of many years there is a problem of waiting down by platforms 15 -19 if you want East Croydon. Upto a few years ago (and the practice may continue but I don’t use Victoria quite so often these days to know for certain) the Horsham fast trains usually left from platforms 9 or 12. In general it seems that BML fast trains do sometimes arrive at, or depart from, the BML slow platforms but the reverse isn’t true. If anything the slow platforms are more efficient, and the fast platforms less efficient, than PoP has calculated.


    Thanks. Brave writing about BML. Good article.

  51. ngh says:

    Re Brock,

    Indeed I think that shows quite nicely that the main limitation within the wider station area is people flow rather than track on the immediate approaches or platforms particularly the relatively small number of ticket gates and the amount devoted to retail space fast food outlets instead of gates.

    Having simultaneous joining and alighting at adjacent platforms doesn’t work that well on the suburban side (this is effectively now the limit on turn around as they try not to announce till the platform is clear for passengers heading in the other direction).

    On the fast platforms you could enable faster turnarounds by encouraging more use of the toilets on the station rather than on the trains?

  52. Mark Townend says:

    Here is a shot of part the (circa 1980) former local emergency operations panel for Victoria Central.

    Together with another example for the Eastern side these were situated in the interlocking relay rooms at the station itself and could be staffed if the remote control telemetry to and from the main panel at Victoria Signalling Centre (at Clapham Junction) failed or was isolated for some other reason. The panel illustrated was erected vertically against the wall and shows the route set, track occupancy and signal states on the layout at top, with individual point switches and indications below. Out of shot below, a second sloped console surface carries entrance and exit buttons provided for route setting on a more simple layout mimic diagram. These panels, one each for the Central and Eastern sides will have been removed now following the recent interlocking renewals by SSI-family Westlock technology, which is not compatible with retaining local panels, using alternative methods to ensure reliability.

  53. Theban says:


    You are right to highlight passenger flow as an issue, although I am not convinced it is the issue. There is a serious problem with platform 19 which is not just very narrow but the limited width is split by pillars. I am not even sure it is safe in terms of fire exit the space is so constricted. They do announce departures on 19 though while passengers arriving on 19 are still struggling to get off the platform.

  54. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Don’t forget that platforms 15-19 have separate fire exits at the south (country) end of the platform. They are visible in this view of Elizabeth Bridge.

    This does make you wonder if having a separate direct entrance/exit on Eccleston Bridge or possibly even Elizabeth Bridge would help a lot and be really useful – especially bearing in mind the proximity to Victoria Coach Station and other coach stops in the area.

    Of course the above suggestion would probably be far easier to implement if they had considered it before allowing the oversite development

  55. ngh says:

    Re Theban

    NR seem to think passenger flow is the main issue.

    From NR Original CP5 thinking in 2011

    SE018: London Victoria station capacity improvements
    London Victoria station capacity improvements
    Operating route: Sussex.
    Output: station capacity.
    CP5 output driver
    To increase passenger capacity at London Victoria station.
    Scope of works
     To confirm the extent of the congestion problem that exists, through the use of
    pedestrian flow surveys / modelling; and
     identify options for interventions which relieve the congestion highlighted and test those options against pedestrian flow surveys.
    Options identified to date include:
     increasing the number and location of ticket gates across the station to support pedestrian flows;
     removing / relocating retail facilities including the left luggage office and amendments to the concourse retail island; and
     infilling space behind the buffer stops.
    Development through GRIP stage 3 will determine the single option chosen.
    Significant interfaces
     Potential property development on Rail Air Deck and at Hudson’s Place; and
     no significant CP5 interfaces identified at present.
    Key assumptions
     A technical solution can be found that delivers alleviation of pedestrian congestion at the station to allow for today’s congestion problem and to factor in resolution of future demand; and
     options can be delivered within a Listed Building.

    From NR’s CP5 delivery plan:
    (30th June 2014)

    London Victoria Station Capacity Improvements Details Project reference code: S004 HLOS driver: City capacity – London Victoria (Southeastern and Southern) Operating route: Sussex Last updated: March 2014
    CP5 output driver
    The project will increase passenger capacity at London Victoria station.
    Scope of works
     Remove retail units, and realign and extend gatelines to Kent (platforms 1-7) and Sussex (platforms 9-12) sides.
     Widen platform 8. This means we only plan to remove the access ramp up to the next level to allow the platform widening this specific location. We will also install a lift in replacement of the ramp.
     Reconstruct fire exits, provide new fire escape stairs and install a goods lift in the Left Luggage building.
     Remove retail units next to the escalators on Sussex concourse.
     Construct a Gatwick Express ticket office behind the escalators on the Sussex concourse.
     Relocate the gateline and CIS on the Sussex concourse (platforms 15-19).
     Relocate the switch room and spiral staircase access to CIS for platforms 1-7.
     Relocate platform 7 screen, vehicle gate and seating, and displace the adjacent retail units.
    Significant interfaces
     Alignment of the congestion relief proposals, as far as possible, with the planned Property / Retail Masterplan.
     London Underground Victoria Station Upgrade (VSU) project.
    Key assumptions
     A technical solution can be found that alleviates pedestrian congestion at the station.
     Train operators will support amendments to station change; including relocation / removal of retail units or additional gatelines etc.
     Options can be delivered within a Listed Building Environment.
    Activities and milestones Milestone Description Date Status
    GRIP 3 completion
    Single option selection
    August 2014
    Regulated Output
    GRIP 4 completion
    Single option scope defined
    June 2015
    GRIP 6 start
    Start on site
    February 2016
    GRIP 6 completion
    Infrastructure ready for use
    March 2017

  56. Robert Butlin says:

    The current evening peak timetable has all fast line trains leaving from 13-19 except the 18:38 Caterham and Tattenham Corner. No slow line trains (in the evening peak) leave from platform 15 (which is direct accessible from/to the slow lines.)

    Platform 19 is better than it was originally was – the column line was originally the wall line as well and was a major blockage.

    Platforms 7 and 8 on the South Eastern side are accessible to the Brighton Main Line slow lines only via single lead connection, ie no parallel working is possible.

  57. Jamesthegill says:

    @Graham H

    I seem to recall reading that splitting at Gatwick was how the Gatwick Express was first used, I.E. the rear four coaches left at Gatwick with the remainder of the train travelling south, to have those coaches joined onto the next equivalent northbound service.

  58. Gio says:

    Passenger flow is indeed a big problem at Victoria, which is slightly off-topic. I really look forward to, (and have wondered why it hasn’t been done years ago), the removal of all the retail units which impede passengers entering and exiting platforms. More ticket gates in a nice long straight formation à la Waterloo or London Bridge at platforms 2-7, is well overdue!
    And if they can employ people to herd away tourists who sit on the concourse floor in groups of 30 during the rush hour as well …

  59. Greg Tingey says:

    Southern Heights
    There used to be FOUR tracks between LBG & CST, actually, back in the bad old days – admittedly, the stock was “thinner” then” See RIGHT HERE for a 1950’s image….

  60. c says:

    The Gatwick Express has to go really. The platform occupation at Victoria and Gatwick, the unsuitable stock, the path snaffling and capacity wasting, the fares confusion intra-franchise. Forget it.

    Even if it was replaced by a 4tph ‘Victoria – CJ – EC- Gatwick – Three Bridges’, it would be far more use to all. Maybe 2tph to extend to Crawley/Horsham and 2tph to Haywards Heath if it was blocking things at Three Bridges.

  61. Mike says:

    Jamesthegill: an early forerunner of the Gatwick Express consisted of 2HALs (I think) added to Bognor trains (again I think), coupled/uncoupled at Gatwick. These were replaced by 4VEPs, then 4VEGs with “Rapid City Link” branding along the cantrail line. It was only with the introduction of the Gatwick Express that the Gatwick service became separate trains.

    All of this is from memory, and subject to correction!

  62. Anonymous says:

    GATX: In the new franchise, there will be 2 per hour to Gatwick and 2 to Brighton starting Dec 2015 with new trains. This should deal with the loadings on two trains. I did actually see a full Gatwick Express going through Clapham last Sunday. I almost fell over with the shock!

  63. Southern Heights says:

    @PoP, Greg Tingey: Those links indicate that it used be possible to access Cannon Street from platforms 4-6 at LBG. Something I’m sure would cause a major headaches given the traffic density these days!

  64. The story of Borough Market Junction is a long one but one I hope to tell one day. It caused major traffic headaches then. Don’t get me and Graham Feakins on the subject unless you want a long conversation in which you will play little part. The previous sort out of London Bridge in 1976 was to basically to eliminate this junction but, just like Thameslink, sorting out a problem in one place means a lot of changes elsewhere (e.g. St Johns – in both cases). The previous major sort out of Borough Market Junction (1920s) also required substantial changes at St Johns.

    Borough Market Junction also mirrors the relative importance of Charing Cross and Cannon St. In the days when Cannon Street was much more important than Charing Cross it was logical that all the four tracks served Cannon Street which handled 30tph – more than Charing Cross does today.

    I fear though this going rapidly off topic and needs to be saved for another time.

  65. Gordon says:

    I’m not so sure that the new Franchise will see 2 tph VIC – GTWK – BTON and 2tph VIC – GTWK.

    The bid will continue to see a 15 min interval dedicated VIC – GTWK service outside the Mon to Fri Peak (as now).

  66. Graham H says:

    @Mike, that’s my recollection, too. Gatex first appeared with the cl 73s and a rake of refurbed stock.

    @C – your are absolutely right and the franchise bidders generally said as much but DfT would have none of it. They insisted on letters of support from GAL and GAL would issue those only in the case of a dedicated service. There is a problem with luggage on the ordinary service (and boarding and exit times at Gatwick) but a dedicated attachment seems a good compromise.

  67. Castlebar (Arundel Chord U. K. Construction Unit) says:

    What has really p155ed off a lot of regular Victoria users, is the fact that for some, possibly fat brown envelope related reason, GatEx got the prime location platforms for its possibly once in a lifetime users, whereas regular captive audience users got shoved around to the high numbers, and occasionally trains have been missed as a consequence. Boo!

  68. Gordon says:

    Concerning Plats 7 & 8 – As has already been said, it’s best suited to trains running on the Brighton Slows. When the Gatx services needs to use the Kent side, trains are routed via Longhedge Jct and the Battersea Reversible. See:


    The same tends to happen when there is ad-hoc disruption.

  69. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Yes Castlebar,

    Obviously far better to send those pesky tourists to work out where platforms 15-19 are and then they can bash regular commuters on their way with their oversize luggage. It doesn’t really matter if they miss their train as a consequence because they are only going to the airport to catch a flight.

    If regular travellers find that their train may either leave from the main concourse or the Sussex concourse down the side I am sure the will enjoy the fun of trying to work their best strategy of where to go to maximise their chances of catching their next train. Fun all round! – especially if you can only walk slowly.

  70. c says:

    Well if GatEx is here to stay, then certainly they should all be extended.

    PoP – what are your personal or LR recommendations or proposals? Or does this website editorially not make them? Not having a go in the slightest, just curious as each article talks strictly about what the future articles will discuss, but then I’m not seeing concrete recommendations regarding each sub-topic. Lots of intro, background, history and current day, which is all excellent, but very little about the future. You know I’m a stickler for a conclusion!

  71. timbeau says:

    “Borough Market Junction also mirrors the relative importance of Charing Cross and Cannon St. In the days when Cannon Street was much more important than Charing Cross it was logical that all the four tracks served Cannon Street ”

    I seem to recall reading that the original plan was for all trains to run CX- Cannon Street (reverse) – London Bridge – and away. Hence the four-track-width viaducts on the east and west sides of the Borough Market triangle (the latter now only carrying one track), but only two on the south side.

    This arrangment also provided a direct east west rail link between the West End and the City, a few years before the arrival of the District Line. The extension of the Underground to Cannon Street in 1884 made this less attractive, but the addition of a stop at Blackfriars Road (later replaced by Waterloo Junction) provided a useful link from the south bank, and Waterloo in particular, to both the west end and the City (the latter subsequently superseded by the Drain)

  72. c,

    As far as an article goes I try and report what is happening and not bring personal opinion in too much but to a certain extent it is inevitable. In a comment I regard myself as free as anyone else to comment or go into crayonista mode.

    I think that Network Rail has a plan for the BML which seems pretty sensible although not all of it has been revealed. If you are asking specifically about Gatwick Express then I think some compromises will have to be made and there cannot be just a dedicated service for airport users. This seems to be the general industry view. There are still advantages of treating Gatwick passengers as a special case though – not least to keep them out our way.

    Taking up the point Jonathan Roberts raised, a lot will depend on whether or not Gatwick gets a second runway. If it does that may be the tipping point which makes it sensible to pretty well fully segregate Gatwick Services and have the infrastructure that makes it possible. And even if they were every ten minutes you would still only need two platforms at Victoria (and Gatwick) for them. I hope to look at Gatwick Express in more detail when we are further down the line.

  73. @timbeau,

    I will cover all that one day.

  74. ngh says:

    re Gordon 29 July 2014 at 11:12

    I’m not so sure that the new Franchise will see 2 tph VIC – GTWK – BTON and 2tph VIC – GTWK.

    Govia seem sure in the public material that they have released after winning the bid so far however…

  75. QRB says:

    @Robert Butlin 28 July 2014 at 21:09

    “I second ngh’s comment. I use the train into Victoria every morning and the biggest problem is platform occupancy at Clapham Junction, something that can only be solved by some really big engineering. Blocking back to Balham is not uncommon.”

    I don’t agree that it can ‘only be solved by some really big engineering.’ There are simpler solutions than this – better rolling stock (more doors), improved interior layout, cosmetic changes at the station (platform height and stepping distance), overall better train dispatch. These would go a long way to allowing the current services to operate robustly through this area, and allow some extra services. Obviously once the extra service requirement becomes significant then additional infrastructure would be needed, however I suspect other constraints on the route might be limiting additional services at the same time.

  76. Anon says:

    Are we gearing up for a Clapham Junction article then?

    One that considers moving it east?

  77. Saintsman says:

    This is not really my part of the world. If Sussex side platform capacity is a constraint (not sure it is) then, what is to stop Gatwick Express from running from Kent side? I presume there is a snaking route through past Stewart’s Lane. 8 platforms for 16 (?) Kent peaks seems generous? Not suggesting this is a good or bad thing just interested if it was possible and the impact suffered by South Eastern.

  78. Mark Townend says:

    Maybe a modern splitting and joining operation would work well again for airport passengers at Gatwick, with an optimised layout designed for it. That way they’d get to keep their leisurely boarding at the airport end at least, but each inbound path to London would be occupied by a full length train carrying significant numbers of through passengers from beyond Gatwick.

    Together with that maybe the whole Brighton fast line operation could be rebranded as the Gatwick Express Network with the London End 4 car unit of each 12 car being ‘airport spec’. At the Victoria end, you’d loose the long dwell but effectively you’d be getting a Gatwick Express for every Brighton fast line departure, and it means there’s usually one there loading or at least there will be within a very few minutes. Because some trains drop the rear 4 cars at Gatwick, and it doesn’t really matter which ones, customers for stations beyond may become accustomed to walking to the forward cars, and it might be possible to redesign passenger flow patterns to reinforce this at Victoria. Otherwise and elsewhere on the network access to the airport cars wouldn’t be limited except at East Croydon and Clapham where perhaps you wouldn’t be able to travel on the units in and out of London, whilst travel to and from Gatwick and beyond would be allowed. That might be relaxed if you had a first class ticket or an express supplement, and could policed by a dedicated conductor, travelling in the unit in addition to regular train guard only between London and Gatwick, They could also do refreshments . . .

    Anyway, just some thoughts. I wouldn’t advocate the return of the VEGs though.

  79. QRB says:

    @Saintsman. There is a route via Stewarts Lane in the Up direction, however in the Down direction would require crossing the Up Fast to get on to the Down Fast.

    An article on Clapham Jn would be good – not sure what moving it east would do – if it were to need expansion/additional infrastructure surely optimising the current layout would cost far less and cause far less disruption to achieve the same objective, whilst it is also currently in a really accessible place locally.

  80. timbeau says:

    “not sure what moving it east would do ”

    it might move it into Clapham!

  81. Anonymous says:

    “the exact level potential benefits that can be unlocked is neither available for nor deductable”

    Do you mean deducible?

    [Of course I do. That’s what happens when your proof reader goes AWOL. Thanks for pointing it out. PoP]

  82. straphan says:

    I think I will briefly venture into crayonista mode. Please do forgive me…

    Capacity at Victoria can be theoretically enhanced by a number of ways:
    – build through tracks (another Crossrail) – but to where? Most termini North of the river are already spoken for – either thanks to Thameslink or Crossrail (or Crossrail 2).
    – build extra platforms – e.g. by building an extra deck above the Kent platforms in the old shed. This would then serve as a terminus for the BML slows, with BML fasts then taking over 9-12. Is it feasible though?
    – reduce turnround times – but is this plausible given the already somewhat shaky punctuality levels? Can you really push more people through to plats 15-19 without a melee occurring on a regular basis at the gateline?

    Also, there is the issue of Clapham Junction. I would like to point out, that Platforms 16 and 17 are woefully underutilised, and there is little chance of this changing in the near future. What I would therefore suggest is to incorporate these into the BML proper. These two would then serve as the platforms for stopping services and services to/from the WLL, with fast services then getting two platforms per direction. This would then allow for GatEx overtaking other services, and it would also address the issue of ever lengthening peak dwells, which are slowly becoming one of the biggest capacity constraints on the line.

  83. Castlebar (Arundel Chord U. K. Construction Unit) says:

    How about diverting Arun Valley services to Clap Junc via Dorking & West Croydon, or, Dorking & Waterloo.

    Oh, of course that’s (via Dorking) what used to happen, and the chord to the Vic fasts from West Croydon has of course been taken up.

  84. ngh says:

    Re straphan 29 July 2014 at 14:08

    Also, there is the issue of Clapham Junction. I would like to point out, that Platforms 16 and 17 are woefully underutilised, and there is little chance of this changing in the near future.

    Agreed – see what might appear in the Clapham article?

    The little bit of platform/train interface work that has taken place at Clapham Junction P15 has certainly helped dwell times (options to drop the track are limited due to the pedestrian subway.)

  85. Gordon says:

    ngh – do you have a link or something you could point me to?

    The only comments I’ve seen suggest that they only intend to bring on 27 x 4 car trains. As I understand it, from 2015, when Thameslink services need to all come via Herne Hill two trains per hour (the slow Bedfords) will terminate at Gatwick, to balance this 2 GATXs will go on to Brighton. But from 2018 there will be 4 ‘Thameslink’ trains to Brighton; with the GATXs reverting to direct in the off-peak.

  86. RayL says:

    Passenger information at Victoria is poor. Coming from the Sussex steps of the Underground, the view of the vital part of the departure displays (the left hand end showing the trains closest to their departure time) cannot be seen until one is a long way on to the concourse. At this point one naturally slows down to read the display – and becomes a blockage just at the point where the passengers to/from the fast lines (moving diagonally across the concourse) have to interleave with the passengers to/from the slow lines (moving straight ahead). A mimic display at the top of the Victoria Line escalators (plenty of time to read it on the ride up) would be a great addition as part of the rebuild.

    The policy of “Don’t display the platform number of a train until it has arrived and discharged its passengers” has been mentioned already. In the long evening peak this results in the ridiculous situation of there being no platform number for the ‘Next train to depart’. The concourse jams up with people waiting for that vital number. When at last it appears there is a great surge for the gateline. On entering the carriages they find that the best seats (the ones facing the engine) have already been taken by those who went through the gateline earlier and then hung around by the buffers, watching for the display at the end of the relevant platform to come alive. Ah, the joys of commuting!

    On a related topic. the extension of Platform 17 at Clapham Junction is well under way. Its length (looks to be 10-car) will match that of 16. At present 16 and 17 can only be used for Southern’s Milton Keynes services via the WLL but on the country end they link into Falcon Junction and the BML slows.

    Roll on Part 5! (the Clapham Junction installment, one presumes).

  87. timbeau says:

    “The policy of “Don’t display the platform number of a train until it has arrived and discharged its passengers””

    Waterloo play this game as well – anyone would think they are making it up as they go along, when in fact 99 times out of 100 the same train goes from the same platform every day. The result is
    -extra congestion on the concourse,
    -a game of “British Bulldog” when the train does eventually arrive and you get a head on collision at the barrier line between the people who have just arrived on the train and those now trying to join it, and
    -overcrowding at the back of the train as people all cram in the first door they come to for fear they will close.

    Yes, in the 1% of cases they will have to announce a platform alteration and shift a train load of passengers across, but that’s not any more complicated than the last- minute rush for every single train we have at the moment. Unfortunately, once you are on the platform it seems they consider you to be sorted – why passengers anywhere other than the concourse need any information seems to be beyond their comprehension.

  88. Anonymous says:

    Gordon – The Thameslink trains will be covered by 2 Thameslinks from London Bridge only. There will also be 4 trains to Victoria by extending GATX see the document on (I tried to link but I have no idea how to!). Initially (December 2014 to December 2015, there will be only two trains to Gatwick from Bedford.

  89. RayL says:

    @ Castlebar 14.22 ‘How about diverting Arun Valley services to Clap Junc via Dorking & West Croydon, or, Dorking & Waterloo.’

    What about ‘the route up the middle’? Sutton / Mitcham Junction / Clapham Junction? The bi-directional chord to/from the BML fast lines at Streatham North Junction is currently used for semi-fast services to the Mole valley. There should be plenty of room for Littlehampton/Bognor/Portsmouth services, though a possible consequence might be objections from Merton Council due to increased traffic jams at the Eastfields crossing if the number of trains increased.

  90. QRB says:

    Re discussion on Victoria station layout, congestion, platform information and impact on turnround times and platform effeciency – lets not forget Network Rail’s CP5 improvements on Victoria station which will move the Fast Line platforms back towards the main concourse, and remove a lot of the retail space.

  91. WimbledonPete says:

    As I remember, the old platforms on the Brighton side were indeed long enough to take two 12 coach trains with a kink in the middle. The buffers were a lot deeper into the concourse than they are now. The current platforms 16 and 17 didn’t exist and the current 18 and 19 were 16 and 17.

    In the days before tiptoeing into terminus stations an old Sub wouldn’t even start braking until about halfway down the platform – bit alarming to see that much platform flashing past if you were a new traveller!

  92. Kit Green says:

    The brakes being applied was the signal to open the door ready to leap out when the train got down to a brisk walking pace.

  93. WimbledonPete says:

    Ha! Yes indeed

  94. Castlebar (Arundel Chord U. K. Construction Unit) says:

    @ RayL


    But Southern have told me that they want to ram everything through Gatwick and that longer trains are the answer to every problem. But don’t start me off, or PoP will become irascible again.

  95. Gordon says:

    Thanks! Just goes to show you shouldn’t rely on NR contacts!

  96. Gordon says:

    RayL – Are you sure there is sufficient capacity between Epsom and Sutton? Sutton is difficult to operate at the best of times with the Thameslink circulars standing for a couple of minutes each hour and the (new) Ups having to cross over on the the Wmbledon lines. Then there’s the challenge of making the same moves at Streatham South Jnc. I seem to recall that part of the business case for Mitcham Eastfields was that there was (just) enough capacity left to allow the extra stops not to cause too much delay. Something that Southern (IIRC) objected to when FCC applied for rights to call.

  97. Southern Heights says:


    This does seem to be a sport:

    “Waterloo play this game as well – anyone would think they are making it up as they go along, when in fact 99 times out of 100 the same train goes from the same platform every day. The result is”

    At Orpington normally, in the morning rush, Blackfriars= 6, Victoria = 7, CST = 4, CHX = 8, every now and again when you’re in your routine, they swap Victoria/Chx/Blackfriars. No reason I can tell….

    Maybe they’re checking for Zombies? 😉

  98. ngh says:

    A useful bit of light reading with plenty of good unusual info:

    The engineer’s report on the super sewer being routed under Grosvenor Bridge complete with track maps in the last few pages (and the bridge drawings from the 1960s rebuild).

  99. ngh says:

    Re Gordon 29 July 2014 at 14:42

    ngh – do you have a link or something you could point me to?

    The only comments I’ve seen suggest that they only intend to bring on 27 x 4 car trains.

    Others got there already on the link.

    Secondly – mathematically 27 is very interesting number in this context as you need 24x 4 car units to run the 2tph Vic – Gatwick and 2tph Vic – Gatwick – Brighton service pattern with 3 units to provide cover so this would also be the obvious guess for a service pattern if Govia hadn’t said anything yet.

    (21 units would have suggested Vic – Gatwick only for example)

  100. Mark Townend says:

    Further to my previous musings, at Victoria I suggest a new open sunken concourse excavated in the large area in front of the Central side platforms, connected at the same level to the Underground concourse. The existing level would then become a mezzanine balcony deck surrounding the pit below. The two levels could offer both more circulating space and more retail potential. Access from the sunken concourse to the fast line platforms would be via a new subway with stairs and lifts emerging part way along each of the platforms hence encouraging passengers to distribute along the train. Access to the fast platforms at the existing level alongside the buffers would also be retained but signposted primarily for airport passengers so they would be concentrated in the rear 4 cars, which on some trains would be detached at at Gatwick.

  101. Tunnel Bore says:

    A few random points about Gat Ex from some who has commuted on it since it was 73+Mk2 (and who liked 460s and hates 442s).

    Not everyone on the non-extended Gat Ex is an airport user. I’m one of many regular commuters who change onto or off Gat Ex at GTW using FCC in my case for the local portion. My reason, BAB gets only 3 up service to VIC all day.

    Also, queuing to get through CLJ is more common than queuing to get into VIC in my experience.

    The new down fast platform 7 at GTW, freeing up 5 and 6 to be bays for Gat Ex (sitting between up fast and down fast) has removed the conflicting moves at GTW for Gat Ex to reach platforms 1 and 2 and eased the flow it seems to me.

    Sunday evening Gat Ex to GTW are nearly always full, lots of people flying home after weekend breaks in London.

  102. ngh says:

    Re Tunnel Bore 29 July 2014 at 21:27

    As has already been briefly alluded to the signal spacing on approach to Clapham Junction from the south is designed for higher speed lower tph approach, the opposite of what is needed for the peak. NR are planning on resignalling for higher tph in CP6 (2019-2024) when the existing equipment from the 1980s is replaced.

  103. ngh says:

    Re Mark Townend 29 July 2014 at 21:25

    Isn’t that roughly how the link to the CR2 platforms would be achieved?
    (the other CR2 station entrance under the coach station?)

  104. Ian J says:

    @ngh: Isn’t that roughly how the link to the CR2 platforms would be achieved?
    (the other CR2 station entrance under the coach station?)

    The current safeguarding for the route doesn’t indicate any interest in the buildings on the east side of Buckingham Palace Road at the south end of the station, so it is more likely that the link to the Crossrail 2 platforms would be at the north end of the station where all the surrounding buildings, including the Brighton side station building itself (but not the over-track developments) are indicated as being potentially affected.

  105. Theban says:

    There is a missed opportunity to the Gatwick Express / Victoria platform issue. The Northern Line should have been extended to Battersea Park and a new Airport station provided there. I suspect the developer might have been prepared to pay more for an airport connection which might have funded the new platforms and track. Passengers using a taxi wouldn’t care – and in a taxi East west journeys can be quicker south of the Thames anyway. Those needing the Tube would have the Northern Line.

    As I say, an opportunity missed.

  106. ngh says:

    Re ian j

    The current safeguarding is still for the old chelney route? The comment was rround the new route that is currently under consultation but not the Victoria bit in detail. The main northern entrance would indeed be near 15 to 19 but a southern entrance would be near VCS…

  107. Anomnibus says:


    The number of people buying a flat in the Battersea redevelopment who would also be regular users of an airport is vanishingly small. Worse still, the kind of people who could afford to buy an apartment there aren’t likely to be interested in flying from Gatwick’s wide range of low-cost flying buses. The few regular flyers are more likely to be interested in using City or Heathrow airports.

    Investing the kind of money needed to extend the Northern Line to a minor station – instead of, say, Clapham Junction itself – for such a negligible return on investment therefore makes no business sense.

  108. @Theban,

    Except that the developers, for good reason wouldn’t like it, they would withdraw their support, the £1 billion Northern Line Extension (to be ultimately be paid for by them and their customers) wouldn’t happen and so airport passengers would be dumped on a high viaduct in the middle of nowhere very central and not connected to London.

    The consequence of this is that either they catch a train from Gatwick that does go to Victoria or they change at Battersea Park, with baggage, to get to Victoria. What about those needing Crossrail 2? So tantalisingly close but not there.

    Here’s an idea. It’s a bit dull so won’t be popular. Why not sort out the issues at Victoria that are in fact quite easy and cheap to sort out when compared to any alternative?

  109. c says:

    If the Northern line went to Clapham Junction, and the platforms 16/17 works were all sorted out – perhaps higher frequencies and some terminating/WLL services from the BML might enable that to be more of a Gatwick hub.

    Clean access from the BML fasts to the WLL would be desirable if works were taking place.

  110. Deep Thought says:

    @straphan, yesterday morning:

    If you want a left-field suggestion for where a cross-rail style tunnel from Victoria should go – how about via Park Lane to either Marylebone, or joining the MML/Thameslink somewhere around Cricklewood?

    (It’s a very crayonistic idea that has been lurking in my head for weeks. Sorry)

  111. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Same problem. If the Northern Line went to Clapham Junction people would not be able get on at Battersea and so developers would withdraw their support. So you actually end up with no Northern Line extension at all.

  112. c says:

    PoP – I don’t buy that the Northern line would be full at Clapham Junction, which some have suggested. By then it would be 30tph or so which I think would be fine. Certainly it wouldn’t be worse than the Victoria line at Victoria in the peaks (which has had Brixton/Stockwell/Vauxhall to ingest also – Pimlico negligible) – and it would be fine off peak.

    Not everyone would debunk to it – many journeys it is not helpful for, but it is helpful within the mix of options.

  113. timbeau says:

    “a new Airport station provided there [Battersea Park] . …………… Passengers using a taxi wouldn’t care ”

    taxi drivers would though – it’s “south of the river” !

    @Tunnel Bore “who ….hates 442s”
    Horses for courses. There are many Wessex Line commuters who would love to have them back. I never did understand why SWT were so keen to offload them

  114. @c,

    One can have an opinion on whether only being as busy as the Victoria Line makes traffic levels acceptable. Remember a lot of people get off at Victoria northbound paltform in the morning which makes space for others. I don’t think you would have the equivalent situation on the Northern Line so it would get worse on the central sections (both Charing Cross and Bank branch).

    I was bemused by your reference to Pimlico. I am sure the number of people who board at Pimlico in the morning peak is negligible because everyone who lives in the area knows that there is very little chance of getting on a train (and certainly not in comfort) and they are probably better off getting a bus. There is always plenty of space on those nice new NBfL route 24 buses south of Victoria. So in your scenario I believe Nine Elms would become the equivalent of Pimlico.

  115. ngh says:

    RE Pedantic of Purley 30 July 2014 at 10:44


    Same problem. If the Northern Line went to Clapham Junction people would not be able get on at Battersea and so developers would withdraw their support. So you actually end up with no Northern Line extension at all.

    One might expect a Clapham extension to be announced after the developers money is in a TfL bank account then…

  116. lemmo says:

    Another good article PoP, but the space between the lines inevitably leads us to fill the vacuum.

    Network Rail’s CP5 alterations will make a difference to the circulation, but turnaround times are still woeful compared to other London termini. Exits at the southern end may help, as may encroaching into the ‘Chatham’ side. But the station itself is now hemmed in.

    Other than CR2, the Grosvenor Bridge approach offers the best options. The ‘Chatham Lines’ have three tracks up from Brixton. Why do they need four tracks over the Thames, with space for another on the eastern side of the bridge unused?

    Looking to the western side and the viaduct from Battersea Park, the reversible line should clearly be the centre line. NR could also widen a short section of the viaduct from Battersea Park to join the existing carriage sidings, which would provide another running line into the station.

    If capacity at the station throat is an issue, then Grosvenor Bridge should be full of running lines: no unused alignments, no sidings.

    Remodelling the station approaches can improve the ability to transfer empty stock up from Stewarts Lane, on both the Brighton and Chatham lines.

    There’s also the intriguing potential to provide a dedicated route from the erstwhile South London Line, now uselessly truncated at Battersea Park, into dedicated platforms at Victoria.

    My hunch is that the BML requires hefty investment at Clapham Jn and Windmill Bridge Jn, largely in grade-separation. But given the inexorable rise in travel demand across London, Network Rail will still have to bite the bullet and remodel Grosvenor Bridge and the Victoria approaches in the medium term.

  117. c says:

    Yes, well I wasn’t suggesting the Victoria line situation was an aspirational level of comfort! But the NLE would probably be better.

    In regards to intermediate demand and churn of passengers:
    I’d expect many to get off at Kennington to change for the City branch, actually. A cross-platform affair after all.
    And a fair few at Waterloo for the Jubilee and other reasons who may not have been on SWT train at Clapham (Battersea and Nine Elms folk, or Southern originating?)

  118. timbeau says:

    indeed, there may be a lot of people from CJ getting off at Kennington or Waterloo. But they won’t be getting off before Battersea, so that’s of no help to the Battersites.

    In fact, if CR2 comes to pass, I would be surprised if changing at Kennington would be possible, with half of Surrey having joined the City branch at Tooting. (there would be few changing the other way, as CR2 will offer a direct route to the West End without changing at all)

  119. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I’d expect many to get off at Kennington to change for the City branch, actually. A cross-platform affair after all.

    Yes, I suspect you may well be correct. But the point I am trying to make is that this will only be adding to the City branch and it is unlikely that people will start to get off in any numbers until London Bridge at the earliest. So if the extension went to Clapham Junction it would put yet further strain on the City branch. Whereas extending to Battersea probably creates genuine new journey opportunities, extending further to Clapham Junction (if it could be funded) probably mostly only provides alternative routes for existing journeys.

  120. @Lemmo,

    Basically agree entirely with the sentiment. Not quite sure what you mean by:

    NR could also widen a short section of the viaduct from Battersea Park to join the existing carriage sidings, which would provide another running line into the station.

    If you mean the carriage sidings on the west side near to platform 19 then I travel on this section often enough and look out the window enough to be aware that this would be very difficult due to a fairly recent development of flats. Not impossible but it would involve land take and the track would be practically adjacent to the new building which I imagine would cause huge opposition.

    I really suspect all this is unnecessary. My gut feeling, no more than that, is that a solution by reorganising what they already have would cost a relatively large amount of money and there was until recently no appetite for it because one could not use the extra capacity created due to problems elsewhere.

    Good to know you are alive and kicking.

  121. Jonathan Roberts says:

    To note that a further Northern extension, to Clapham Junction, is indeed referenced in the London 2050 documents now published. See particularly the Transport Support Paper: and then page 133. The “case needs assessment in the context of Crossrail 2.” But there is of course far more than just that, not least quite a few references to the BML (and interestingly to HS1 to Hastings).
    However I’d urge that London 2050 comments are kept minimal here, for a separate article and for PoP to absorb for the later BML sections to be written.

  122. timbeau says:

    “Whereas extending to Battersea probably creates genuine new journey opportunities”

    Not many – Battersea Park and Queenstown Road already serve the area (and Wandsworth Road, if you want to stretch a point). It is an interesting question as to whether, with suitable upgrade work done to them, they could meet the needs of the new influx of residents (if any – I suspect many of the properties are actually going to be uninhabited “investments”). Just persuade people (including Transport for Middlesex) that there is more to London’s transport network than the Tube.

    I fear TfL will end up with egg on their faces: even if the developers don’t pull out halfway, NLE will end up with a BCR of 0/0 – no cost, but no net benefit either – and the opportunity to extend deeper into south London lost forever.

  123. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I am not familiar with Queenstown Road but as for Battersea Park …

    To use this station to get to, say, the City you need to climb some extremely steep and narrow steps to a very narrow unsheltered platform where you wait for a service and board a crowded train to take you one stop to Victoria where you have to fight your way onto the District & Circle lines. I cannot believe anyone would seriously do this – at least in this direction, the other way is not so bad.

    Of course the answer might be to improve the station and if that was done in the meantime your argument would be stronger.

  124. ngh says:

    Re Lemmo
    If you mean the Brighton reversible line (which is used to access the sidings on the west side) – it was completely rebuilt over several months in late 2013 including bridge deck plate repairs, ballast, track, signalling as far part the way down the platforms at Battersea Park previously it had just been used to access the sidings for ECS moves however it is now capable of more but not utilised that way yet. [I read and interesting NR doc on the works at ones stage but forgot to save it and now can’t find it.]
    On the SE side NR had on a list at somepoint the aim to do similar track improvement works on the 2 SE tracks that connect to the Atlantic lines through Stewarts lane as the permitted speeds through there are very low (this is Probably a prerequisite to any TfL/LO Vic – Bellingham scheme actually happening, hence we might see something happening just before SE is up for retender?). Hence the need to retain 4 tracks across the bridge as the SE (inc Atlantic) lines alternate between 4 and 5 tracks all the way from Brixton, however across Grosvenor Bridge they could be shifted across by 1 track east to provide another for Southern, however you would also have to lose the headshunt by the SE carriage shed.

  125. Petras409 says:

    Getting back to the discussion about splitting/joining Gatwick portions, I would comment that this process is now very protracted, compared with the days of slam door stock. On arrival (to join up), all the doors have to remain closed. This would mean that airport passengers in the process of boarding with their luggage would find their doors closed a few minutes before departure, so the Brighton portion could join. Imagine the panic, when they believe their luggage/loved ones are about to depart without them.

    Similarly, if the splitting process is as slow and drawn out as the Tattenham departures from Purley these days, after the Caterhams have left – again, doors closed, nobody gets out of either portion, while the split takes place.

    It used to be so much easier with the EPBs at Purley and the HALs at Gatwick. A few whistles and shouts, while the slam doors swing. I can’t remember hundreds getting killed by the ‘unsafe’ practice.

    It’s all going to add delay.

  126. Graham H says:

    @Petras409 – I think you will find the last week or so’s posts on this thread cover the point in some depth.

  127. timbeau says:

    I did say they would need some upgrade work – QTR as much as BPk.

    I would have thought from that area you would use QTR for the City and BPk for the West End – they are only 250m apart. (Just as people in Hertford or Enfield will choose which local station to travel from depending on which part of central London they want to go to)

    But my point was that the “journey opportunities” are already there: the NLE would simply make them easier, (and increase capacity on that axis, at the expense of other more needy cases) but it won’t add any new ones. Indeed, the extended Northern Line will closely shadow the SWML all the way to Waterloo, with a change at Kennington, instead of Waterloo, needed for Bank.

    If you wanted a direct route from Bank to Battersea, you would have to sharpen up the teal-coloured crayons – think of the savings if the new stations only needed to take 4-car trains!

  128. timbeau says:

    Joining and splitting can be done, with suitably designed rolling stock, with the minimum of fuss. At Neufahrn on the Munich S-Bahn it is done six times an hour, as the trains divide for Freising and the Airport.

    The important words are “suitably-designed” – if it’s not specified as a requirement from the outset, getting it to work retrospectively is going to be difficult. A particularly bad example was the class 458s, where as I understand the designers did not realise that the operators were expecting to split and join units on the road, as well as in the depot. Hence their banishment from the Basingstoke/Alton services, and confinement to the Windsor Lines.

    By the way, it was suggested some time ago on this forum (can’t find it now) that articulation is not suitable for “heavy-rail” metro applications: the Germans and Austrians seem to have other ideas.

  129. Malcolm says:


    The opinionating about articulation was, if I remember correctly, somewhat befogged by lack of clarity about what the word means. Two possible definitions are:

    1) Adjacent carriage-ends sharing a bogie.

    2) Full width corridor connections between adjacent carriages.

  130. timbeau says:

    I don’t think there is any question about (2) which is now quite common in the UK (well, London) . But in railway usage the usual meaning is (1) , which is only found in the UK on trams and Eurostar, but widely used in Germany.

    The confusion between the terms may stem from the layout of articulated buses which usually have (2) as well as a variant of (1)

  131. GameofT says:

    The importance given to The Gatwick Express just seems overkill. They are always prepared to delay any train that will even remotely come close to hindering the GE perfect timing. And what a waste of platforms.

    The GE is just a blight on Victoria Station (and London Bridge to a lesser extent) given its ridiculous price and hindrance to other services for very very little gain. Only a few minutes faster than Southern services.

    I guess they have to try and steam roll as much money out of GE as they can.

    It frustrates me when the ticket machines and even staff push the expensive GE tickets to unsuspecting users. Ie: Southern service departing before the GE and arriving only a few minutes after the Southern service? Oh no sir, buy the GE ticket for twice the price. It’s disgusting. (you have to click through many ticket options to find a standard southern ticket).

  132. Graham H says:

    @GoT – the entire rail industry would agree with you! It also uses up precious capacity in the Brighton-London corridor. However, for reasons that are not very logical DfT worships the filth that GAL stands on. Airports policy comes first. If only the regular commuters would have the guts to complain.

  133. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    ………and yesterday l was told that I was out of order mentioning fat envelopes and GatEx platform positioning!

  134. Graham H says:

    @Castlebar -ah, but there is very (well, sort of )public evidence for the priority given to Gatex in the form of the franchise bid requirements. Whether’s there’s more behind it, one can only speculate. My money is on the terror that our political masters face in relation to any decision on airports that appears to mow the carefully sown long grass of the Davis commission.

  135. Anonymous says:

    As regards the Gatwick Express operation, it wasn’t that long ago that the DfT were seemingly looking for ways to kill it off. The two big things that have changed are

    (1) Gatwick is no longer owned by BAA who, to be frank, didn’t really care about the place and who wern’t particularly fussed about the Gatex opperation.

    (2) The whole airport expansion thing – the new owners of Gatwick are pushing really hard for a second runway there instead of a 3rd at Heathrow. As part of their campaign they are highlighting the fact that the station is on a main line (not a branch like Heathrow & Stansted), will have through services to the ECML & MML via Thameslink, a single change at Reading for the GWML and is easily accessable form large bits of the south coast. Politically the local councils are broadly in favour of expansion too (unlike around Heathrow).

  136. Briantist says:


    It has the above-mentioned Clapham Junction Northern Line extension phase 2 down for 2045 at a cost of £300m.

    Also in there (on topic) are 36tph on the Victoria Line (and all trains to Walthamstow).

    Lot’s of other good stuff in there but so, so off topic.

  137. Briantist says:

    Re Platform 8:


    BML mainline Frequency uplift with works to Keymer, Stoats Nest, Windmill Bridge Ln, East Croyden two extra platforms, Clapham Jn platofmrs, Vic plfm 8 W Croydon etc – 2024 – £1bn

    Sussex London suburban routes: extra platforms, better junctions and change route patterms in order to enable higher frequencies. 2029

  138. AlisonW says:

    Heathrow airport owns the metals into the area, so rules the roost there. Does Gatwick airport actually own anything on the train side, or pay anything towards service provision?

  139. Ian J says:

    @ngh: The current safeguarding is still for the old chelney route?

    Yes, but there are no changes at Victoria area proposed that I am aware of. If major changes to the safeguarding in this area were proposed then TfL would need to be consulting on them soon. As things currently stand there would be a south exit to the Crossrail 2 station at Victoria Coach Station, but no direct link from that exit to the platforms at Victoria Station.

  140. Graham H says:

    @AlisonW – NR owns everything trainside at Gatwick; I don’t know whether they have ever managed to get a contribution out of GAL during the upgrade, but that won’t have affected ownership.(There are very few stations on the NR network which aren’t actually owned by them -StP and Hatch End -the other stations such Heathrow are on someone else’s metals.

  141. Robert Butlin says:

    Gatwick Express is not automatically a bad idea. What exists is bad implementation, badness driven by political (with a small p) imperatives.

    When GE was introduced British Rail charged the same fare for GE and non-GE trains. More subtly it ensured that Gatwick Airport was not displayed at Victoria for any of the non-GE trains, and all the trains actually heading to Victoria (and stopping at least once) were shown on the indicators as going to Clapham Junction. The result was that those carrying luggage to an from central London were directed to the non stop, luggage-space-provisioned trains and ordinary commuters at East Croydon, Redhill etc were not burdened by having to step over groups of people with luggage draped everywhere. Not that I blame the people now – they are getting on trains that are the right financial choice but which are not designed for airport flows.

    The large numbers getting on the non GE trains at Gatwick Airport in particular tend to lead to longer station stops and so delays up and down the line.

    Getting back to Victoria the GE platform occupation mattered rather less when it was a premium service that mopped up all Gatwick bound passengers at Victoria. The rot started the moment non-stop became premium so more expensive.

  142. Greg Tingey says:

    What Victoria, as in the whole station, rather than the ex-LBSC/LCDR approaches needs is an additional N-bound platform on the Victoria line – unfortunately, I believe there is nowhere to fit it in, down there! ( Correct? )

  143. Fandroid says:

    @Robert Butlin. You could hardly say that the the 442 units currently used for GatEx are designed for heavy luggage. Any of the Southern Electrostar units with their wide doors (just like HEx!) are better equipped for that. Big bags are a real problem, even in airports!

  144. timbeau says:

    “You could hardly say that the the 442 units currently used for GatEx are designed for heavy luggage”
    Robert was talking about GE when it was first introduced by Bristish Rail, with class 488 units (essentially re-wired Mk 2 stock, with fairly wide doors: not ideal but quite wide as the door openings extended around the car ends – note the position of the hinges on this Mark 2 They also had special baggage cars (the class 489 units marshalled at the London end).
    The purpose-built class 460s introduced after privatisation also had luggage vans, and even wider doors.

  145. Theban says:

    @Robert Butlin

    I agree but these days Gatwick Express isn’t the answer because the issue seems to be even more prevalent on the Thameslink route and may be the limiting factor of capacity on that route because of the impact on dwell times.

  146. Theban says:

    At one time you could even check in your luggage at Victoria for some airlines.

  147. Theban says:


    The 2050 plan is clear they would like to stretch the duration of peak travel times further. That’s done by constraining capacity and making journeys at the heart of the peak miserable. The report wants to give the impression of a lot of new investment to reduce overcrowding. The impression I get though is too little too late in most cases. That looks to be certainly true for BML work at Victoria, East Croydon and on the junctions isn’t going to be enough to solve the problems on BML, certainly not by the time they are implemented.

    The 2050 report is concentrating on squeezing more efficiency out of existing infrastructure. That’s sensible but it cannot be the only solution.

    If you look closely the report only really has data on overcrowding on services run by TfL so routes like BML are south London generally don’t get as much focus. The report also only considers London so the critical stretch between East Croydon and Gatwick is largely overlooked.

    Getting back to Victoria, my suspicion is that far from solving problems at Victoria, Cross Rail 2 will just make things worse in three critical ways:

    1. It will divert passengers from SW London from the Waterloo Underground Services onto Victoria Services.

    2. It will divert passengers from Thameslink onto Victoria services to connect with Cross Rail 2.

    3. Generally, it is likely to significantly increase interchange at Victoria, particularly between CR2 and the District Line and vice versa.

    Personally I cannot see the Underground station coping with that, which in turn will make matters worse on the mainline concourse.

  148. Gordon says:

    Robert Butlin @07:19

    Although the perception is that GATX is a ‘Premium’ service and is priced above the Southern fares; the opposite is the case.

    What initially Connex and then Southern (under various ownerships) have done is to supress the rate of increase for Three Bridges (and thus Gatwick by default).

    The current turn-up and go day return from Three Bridges to Victora is £17.60 but £19.70 from East Grinstead which is the same distance but has a far worse service. If you travel via FCC to London Bridge then the day return is £11.30!

  149. Anonymous2 says:

    @Graham H 0653 – off topic but Hatch End? Are you sure it’s not owned by NR?

  150. Graham H says:

    Absolutely! It’s owned by some Victorian gentleman’s estate’s trustees – at least it was when I signed the station lease in 1994 – an exception so striking at the time that all commented on it.

  151. straphan says:

    Regarding GatEx, it was the mafia at GMH whose idea it was to extend the trains to Gatwick. Most likely reason: since GMH is close to Victoria, I bet a good few actually commute down that line.

    Gatwick is unique compared to other airports in that it only has its rail connection to London, and relies solely on that rail connection to get passengers to/from London. All the other London airports either have more than one rail connection (Heathrow), or have road connections which – at least in the off-peak – provide journey times to/from central London that are comparable to rail (Luton, Stansted).

    This is why Gatwick will always be antsy about its rail connection to London and will want it to be as fast as possible, and providing enough space for people to travel with luggage comfortably. Since it sits on the busiest commuter corridor in southern England, this will most likely mean resorting to some methods to keep commuters off a select group of trains. How this happens is of course debatable, but I think an airport of that size does deserve a premium-priced service – even if you do dump some pathing time into it to fit in with commuter trains.

    @timbeau: I think the 442s were kicked off SWT because their replacements – whilst arguably less comfortable – are far more reliable. Not to mention they need far less maintenance – the 444s visit Northam about once a week only!

    @timbeau and Malcolm: Regarding articulations (bogies shared by adjacent carriages): Alstom tried this with their entry in the Thameslink competition. Their design was rejected by NR on the grounds that the axle-loads were deemed too high if I remember correctly. Bombardier has since won the Crossrail contract with 23m carriages, which also reduce the bogie count and increase axle-load, but for some reason are acceptable to NR. Sadly, 23m carriages are a no-go on the Southern…

  152. Anonymous2 says:

    @Graham H – Fair enough! You certainly learn something every day here… it seems a little incongruous in the company of Heathrow and St Pancras Intl for sure

  153. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Sadly, 23m carriages are a no-go on the Southern…

    Hang on one cotton-picking moment. What are those class 442 trains then that run between Brighton and Victoria/London Bridge and seem to be discussed a lot here? Are they not 23m carriages?

  154. timbeau says:

    “Sadly, 23m carriages are a no-go on the Southern”
    Class 442 vehicles measure 23m……….

    What is GMH?

  155. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    @ Straphan

    A MAJOR difference is that the railway went to Gatwick even before aircraft were invented. So, railway first (in situ), then airport

    Heathrow got its railway only recently with the Picc extension. Those in authority decided that all air travellers would want to travel to Heathrow by car, then park it there for however long, OR, use the white elephant West London Air Terminal (which had no rail connection), then a coach journey along the A4 (or later, M4). “Workers” on the other hand would get there by bus (81B or 140). This was the generation of planners who never planned to fail, but failed to plan. Hopefully, that generation of planners is long extinct, but their legacy lives on.

  156. c says:

    @ Greg – even a Stratford Central line solution (Spanish solution some called it here?) with an alighting side at Victoria northbound would help.

    One major but unmentioned problem with the Victoria line capacity is that the doors for Stockwell, Vauxhall, Victoria, Green Park and Oxford Circus are all on the same side. Hence the far side of the vestibules is often not filled.

    People don’t seem to move down as much on the new stock either – I think because the seats are set too deep rather than starting back at the windows. It’s always single file and spaced out – not packed in. Vast wasted space on each train.

  157. Moosealot says:

    I suspect GMH is Great Minster House, the DfT headquarters on Horseferry Rd.

  158. straphan says:

    @timbeau, PoP: Oops, my bad. Where can’t you have 23m carriages south of the Thames then?

    @timbeau: Moosealot is correct – GMH is short for ‘Great Minster House’, although I think the name ‘Mordor’ probably suits it just as well…

    @Castlebar: I think siting an airport first and building a special-purpose rail link to it as traffic picks up isn’t exactly a crime against humanity. As long as said railway is actually a through line as that increases the number of potential direct connections considerably.

  159. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Well the Metropolitan curve taking trains beyond London Bridge to Blackfriars is almost certainly a problem. I would imagine that some curved stations like Lewes must cause large areas to be banned from being served by 23m trains but probably could be fixed. Other than that, if your really wanted to do it, I suspect a lot of Southern could be made accessible but the metro area is probably a non-starter except for the two main corridors already permitted.

    Forgot to mention the class 171 are more than 23m long so clearly one could go to Uckfield so I suspect you could probably get to East Grinstead too.

  160. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    Straphan > > I agree. I don’t know where you get the “crime against humanity” from. Where has anyone suggested that?

    But the histories of the two airports are so different. There was even some loose talk in the 1950s of the West Drayton-Staines branch having a spur built off it to serve Heathrow, but it was much simpler to close that line and build the M4/M25 interchange on top of it. It must have been tough being a “planner with any vision” in those days.

  161. Pedantic of Purley says:


    it was much simpler to close that line and build the M4/M25 interchange on top of it.

    Maybe it would and may be you are correct but that statement, I think, is certainly misleading. As far as I am aware the trackbed was protected. I don’t know if the line was actually open or closed (for freight) when they built the junction. It was closed for passengers many years before they started building the M25.

    The implication in your statement is that the railway route through the junction was obliterated by motorway construction. I don’t believe that is true and believe it would be perfectly possible to run a train service on that line at that location if one really wanted to.

    I am happy to be corrected if I am wrong.

  162. Malcolm says:

    Yes, the line is still there, or was last time I looked. They very cleverly built the motorway interchange round it. The reason for the line not being used (to connect Heathrow to London) was nothing to do with building a motorway, and everything to do with it being in totally the wrong place.

  163. Theban says:

    I guess PoP might write a Gatwick article but while the differences with Heathrow are being discussed, there is another difference. Heathrow benefits from having a rail connection to each terminal, with terminals 1,2,3 all clustered in walking distance. In contrast, The Gatwick terminals are so far apart that they need a monorail connection and the North Terminal has no direct rail connection with the main network. There are grounds for saying that the Gatwick Expresses should serve a new branch station built to serve the North Terminal leaving through services to serve the South Terminal by the existing station.

    If Gatwick does get a second runway there are going to be strong calls for the Gatwick Express services to serve the one or two new terminals which would be needed, or at least for other services to terminate at Gatwick and directly serve the new terminal(s).

  164. timbeau says:

    Part of the M25 is built over the trackbed between Junctions 13 and 14 (A30 and A3113), but under the M4/M25 junctoin the railway is still there, and still in use. Google street view here.

    and continues as far as Poyle (Streetview here).

    Indeed, although it has no regular passenger service, it does provide an important feeder service for Heathrow: the tanker wagons visible in that picture (zoom in a bit) are delivering aviation fuel.

    The branch also carried some of the construction materials for T5.

    [Embedded Streetview links to prevent them being broken. PoP]

  165. straphan says:

    Regarding what is now known as the Colnbrook branch, it is very much operational, and has a number of freight terminals served by GBRf, DB Schenker and Freightliner. If you look at the M4/M25 interchange, the line runs right down the middle between the two lanes allowing left-turns from M25 Southbound -> M4 Westbound and M25 Northbound -> M4 Eastbound. The trouble with that line is that it runs nowhere near Terminals 1, 2, 3 or 4, and during the construction of the motorway junction space was left only for a single track.

    Regarding Gatwick, if it does get expanded, I think it may require a new railway line to serve it, as the BML – even if various upgrades as suggested by PoP are implemented – will simply not cope with the influx of passengers. It can barely cope with them now…

  166. Malcolm says:

    @Theban perhaps you should wash your mouth out, the Gatwick connection is not a m*n*rail, it seems to go by the snappy name of the “inter-terminal transit shuttle service”. I would prefer to think of it as a horizontal lift; but whatever you call it, it gets people slickly back and forth, taking about two minutes. Many other airports in the world use something like this. If only Heathrow had something as easy to use; instead you’ve got a long walk or a motely collection of buses and trains to get you between terminals.

    If Gatwick does need further terminals, let’s hope they get a similar system.

  167. Mark Townend says:

    @Pedantic of Purley, 31 July 2014 at 16:01

    There remains a single track threaded through the middle of the M4/M25 intersection. Unfortunately the current bridge under the M4 main carriageways is built especially narrow for a single track only between massive solid concrete support walls with no possibility to modify it easily without removing the spans and rearranging those support walls or columns beneath. The two slip roads that run parallel either side the track under the M4 both narrow to single lanes using road markings nearby however, despite each carriageway clearly having been built wide enough for twin lanes throughout, so it should be possible to widen the rail alignment to accommodate a twin track if desired taking some of the inactive road space, but at the large cost of rebuilding the bridge, also potentially very disruptive to motorway traffic. There would be an opportunity to make changes if the bridge was approaching a renewal date because of age or condition and had to be renewed anyway, but seeing as structures around are at most 30 years old, I don’t think that is likely in the near future. I think WRAtH examined the alignment but rejected it in favour of the more direct tunnel route from the Slough area.

    There are a number of freight sidings just south of the motorway intersection including aggregates and oil, although whether any are in use I do not know. Major rail served freight terminal developments have been proposed for the Colnbrook/Staines West branch , and although schemes have been rejected in the past it would seem a good strategic freight site to safeguard and develop, and the single line is not a major restriction to freight operations. The whole area would be affected in a big way if any of the ‘North West’ new runway proposals was adopted.

  168. straphan says:

    @Malcolm: That mode of transport you describe is nothing more than a small metro – you wouldn’t call the W&C Line a ‘horizontal lift’, would you? It operates on rubber tyres and guiderails.

    Other airports have people movers which have grown to the size of ‘proper’ metros. The T5 shuttle or the circular railway connecting the various terminals of Paris-CDG airport are of a similar gauge as the metro systems in Rennes or Lille, and indeed not that much smaller than the gauge used by Paris Metro.

  169. AlisonW says:

    If one built a new terminal railhead for the new ‘Gatwick South’ runway terminals at sufficient distance from the main BML then services could run fast and direct off the BML and stand at the new terminal as long as required without affecting the existing Gatwick (Racecourse) station. Use a flyover too and there’d be no need to cross on the level. Optionally you could stop the new GEX services at the old station too, but ideally not.

    /puts crayons away

  170. Mark Townend says:


    I like the service proposition of a ‘horizontal lift’ though, a free frequent shuttle accessed from a lobby area at each end.


    I think T5 has some transit shuttles linking its satellite piers, but not inter-terminal as you say. T5 also has the Ultra PRT linking two business car parks, perhaps soon to be extended to additional parking areas and the Central Terminals.

  171. Fandroid says:

    Heathrow is fairly unique in having both heavy rail and metro access to every terminal. Shuttles are the normal solution elsewhere for carrying passengers and bags to/from rail station to terminals (eg Frankfurt). Putting a branch in at Gatwick for GatEx to serve new terminals would seem to be a bit OTT. The Frankfurt Skyline shuttle is cunningly designed so that it can also be used for air-side transfers between terminals.

    The Colnbrook freight terminal was used as a logistics centre for delivery of all construction materials to Heathrow T5.

  172. Mark Townend says:

    @Allison W

    I don’t like the idea of a separate station for such a separate new terminal. Trains on the main line wouldn’t be able to serve it, and if your preference for not stopping at the existing station also applied, then terminals still served from there would be getting a comparatively worse service to London, with passengers only being able to get regular Brighton line trains rather than the terminating expresses. It would be better to build a transit shuttle between the existing station area and any new terminal building, possibly by extending the existing system and adapting it to a loop configuration for more frequent operation rather than the current twin single track shuttle.

  173. Petras409 says:

    @ Pedantic of Purley 1543

    I don’t think that the curved platforms at Lewes are a bar on 23m coach lengths. There are 442 workings up from Eastbourne and they must somehow manage to curve through Lewes station !

  174. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I didn’t realise 442s went Eastbourne. In that case one does wonder if there are any restrictions once outside zone 6.

  175. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:


    Sorry for the delay in response. When Mrs C wants to go shopping, winning the war has to be done later.

    But I see others have answered the question. The line was deliberately kept as single track and could not possibly be widened. It was also deliberately severed at the Staines end, which could have provided the possibility of a direct electrified service from Waterloo.

  176. Malcolm says:

    The notion of horizontal lift was supposed to also encapsulate the simple, no fuss, frequent service, not much to go wrong, and 2 single tracks means that if one is out of action, the other still goes. The aqualatrina urbisque is not two single tracks – just as well considering the traffic volumes, but nor do lifts (except paternosters, to continue the latin theme) use different shafts for up and down.

  177. timbeau says:

    “the line runs right down the middle between the two lanes allowing left-turns from M25 Southbound -> M4 Westbound and M25 Northbound -> M4 Eastbound. ”
    Right turns, surely

  178. Ian J says:

    The other thing that makes many of those airport shuttles “horizontal lifts” is that they are often cable-hauled and made by (ski)lift companies (not the inter-terminal shuttle at Gatwick, though).

    If you used the Colnbrook branch for a frequent passenger service then Heathrow’s jet fuel would have to go by road. It serves its function well just as it is.

  179. Mike says:

    Ian J: “If you used the Colnbrook branch for a frequent passenger service then Heathrow’s jet fuel would have to go by road” – why? Passenger and freight trains can (and do) share the same tracks.

  180. ngh says:

    Except in cases of disruption (Buncefield etc.) Heathrow is fed from the pipeline network.

  181. ngh says:

    PS the jet A1 usually coming from Lindsey refinery on the Humber.

  182. Ian J says:

    @Mike, ngh: There are still fuel trains from Lindsey Oil Refinery to Colnbrook. Fair point about the pipelines though, and yes, they could interwork with a passenger service so long as it wasn’t too frequent. But I suppose I am more thinking about the general attitude that freight-only lines are “disused” just because they don’t have a passenger service; and that the Colnbrook line in particular has or had potential use for a service to Heathrow, even though it doesn’t go that near the airport (especially not when Heathrow was first planned and the terminals were in the middle of a star of David of runways).

  183. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    OK, As the crow flies, how far is Heathrow T5 to the nearest point of the W Drayton – Staines branch please?

    If less than half a mile (in old money), how was the branch always in the wrong place??

  184. ngh says:

    re Castlebar,
    Circa 800m from the end of the North runway but the end of the branch is about 1300m from the T5 station.

  185. timbeau says:

    The current terminus, maybe, but further south the disused trackbed passes within half a mile of T5.

  186. AlisonW says:

    and if Heathrow gets the ‘third runway’ option of doubling the length of the northern one then the line will be inside the airport.

  187. Greg Tingey says:

    AND, if you are going to carelessly waste spend that much money on Heathrow, then re-widening the Colnbrook/Staines ex-GW branch to double track is peanuts anyway, isn’t it?

  188. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    Railways seem vital to airports

    I cannot understand the apparent reluctance to see that simple truth for many years after the war. When was the Picc extension to Heathrow finally given the “go ahead”??

    Gatwick is almost equidistant twixt Brighton and London. The North Downs Line can now cater for pax from Dorking/Reading etc, but fabulous opportunities have been missed by lifting the line from Three Bridges to East Grinstead (and beyond)

  189. timbeau says:

    In the UK at least, up until the late 1960s, air travel was seen as the preserve of the “Jet Set” and the numbers involved could not possibly justify a mass-transit system.. (remember also that we backed the “Concorde” business model (expensive but exclusive) , the Americans backed the” jumbo jet” (pile’ em high and sell ’em cheap)

    Moreover, railways were seen as outdated and irrelevant – the Jet Set all had chauffeurs to take them to the airport and wouldn’t be seen dead using public transport. (yes, I know flight BA123 is just as much public transport as is the Northern Line)

  190. Mike says:

    Timbeau: since the present Gatwick Airport station with its dedicated 2HALs to/from Victoria opened in 1958, clearly the Southern Region was ahead of the pack!

  191. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    …… and mass air travel started in the 1950s, with companies like Silver City, Dan Air, Skyways, Eagle, BKS (who flew a regular London – Birmingham(!!) service), etc. This was well before lines were closed and lifted.

  192. @Castlebar,

    I cannot understand the apparent reluctance to see that simple truth for many years after the war. When was the Picc extension to Heathrow finally given the “go ahead”??

    How I dislike phrases like “simple truth”. As a certain character in a well-known Oscar Wilde play stated “The truth is rarely pure and never simple”.

    Those 20-20 Hindsight Vision glasses must be working overtime. Heathrow was ostensibly built in World War II as a military airport (there’s a story in that) and when it opened the single passenger terminal consisted of a few tents. The logical place to join Heathrow to a rail network was to the north and into Paddington. The usual mode of traction was steam on the Great Western Railway. Do you seriously think anyone would believe that the rich, famous and those in a hurry having dressed for their international flight seriously wanted to catch a steam train into London? And the planners with foresight would have recognised a nice new multi-lane highway that leads directly into London. Surely all the passengers would just get a taxi to take them and their luggage?

    Try watching a film like The VIPs which I suspect gives a bit of a feel for Terminal 2 in the early 1960s and ask yourself if you could seriously imagine one of the characters involved catching diesel train. Or whether anyone at the time (Beeching Report about to come out) would have thought it worth electrifying the Great Western Main Line a few miles out of Paddington to be used by relatively few people (as is still the case today despite the current size of Heathrow).

    I am with Lady Bracknell on this one.

    To answer the second part of your question.

    I am sure you are quite capable of looking this up yourself but it would have been the early 1970s. Given the need for a public inquiry (which there was) this suggests that this was being considered in the 1960s when traffic at the airport had built up to an extent that it was at last sensible to investigate the possibility.

  193. @Castlebar,

    …… and mass air travel started in the 1950s, with companies like Silver City, Dan Air, Skyways, Eagle, BKS (who flew a regular London – Birmingham(!!) service), etc. This was well before lines were closed and lifted.

    But I suspect most of these were from Gatwick which did cater for new breed of travellers.

  194. @Castlebar,

    The point is that is doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong. The fact that there is considerable discussion on the point merely emphasises that you present an opinion in a simplistic way and label it as the “the truth”. What I am trying to get at is that we welcome debate and points of view but please do not be as bold as to consider that your point of view is “the truth” and those who disagree are by implication not telling “the truth”.

  195. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    PoP @ 10:42

    Sorry but all flew from Heathrow except Silver City (Southend & Lydd). Even the BKS Birmingham service was from Heathrow. AFAIK, NONE of those airlines used Gatwick.
    Your other comments are ‘noted’.

  196. @Castlebar,

    BKS (who flew a regular London – Birmingham(!!) service)

    Of course one could argue that this is yet further evidence that airline passengers would not consider taking a train in those days!

  197. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Castlebar – I appreciate you like to take every opportunity to highlight the failure of planners but the lack of rail access to airports during the 60s and 70s is easily explained. Consumer preference was to buy cars and then to use them. Infrastructure like airports was designed on the basis of road access. This is true of what was done to town centres, hospitals etc etc. Timbeau has kindly pointed out the different approach to air travel in the UK but the last 35 years have seen seismic change in the airline industry and the relative affordability of air travel. That then changed the entire dynamic of surface transport access to, from and within airports. Hence the increase in rail links. Pressure from environmental lobbies has also resulted in airport operators having to add more sustainable forms of surface transport access like rail links.

    Where we have ended up is an economy that is largely car dependent. Railways and other public transport was deemed to have had its day and it took 20-30 years of increasing congestion and pollution for the penny to drop and for people to realise an alternative was needed. I know you know all this but people advocating public transport and cycling were deemed to be loonies in the 60s and 70s. Only by the 80s were things beginning to change but it took until the 90s for people to realise that starving the rail network of money damaged economic performance and the ability for town centres to be viable. Look back at photos of the BR network in the 70s and 80s and you have to wonder why anyone used it given the parlous state of the assets. I don’t say privatisation has fixed all this – money and 5 year funding settlements based on agreed programmes of work have helped enormously. I rather think we’re headed towards an era where government will expect the rail network to become “self funding” for operations with only capital investment receiving state support.

  198. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Just to add, one highly plausible explanation was given in the pub a few months ago by Jonathan Roberts as to why we haven’t got a southern rail link to Heathrow.

    According to him, at the public inquiry Southern Region totally botched their presentation and clearly hadn’t prepared their case well. The London Transport case was backed up by various reports looking into all the issues a planning inspector may be concerned with. Not surprisingly the inspector and ultimately the minister went for the Piccadilly scheme.

    I have a certain amount of sympathy for Southern Region. They were probably out of their depth as it was probably years since they had actually applied for a line to be constructed as opposed to closed – indeed it might not have happened since nationalisation. London Transport on the other hand were almost certainly not only adept at this but they probably knew how to find exactly the right legal team to best present their case.

    It may also be that there was a level of arrogance in Southern in assuming that their case was clearly the best. Never assume! You always have to make your case.

    Now look what you have done. You have made me write lots of comments on something totally off-topic.

  199. peezedtee says:

    @WW “Look back at photos of the BR network in the 70s and 80s and you have to wonder why anyone used it given the parlous state of the assets.”

    I don’t have to look at photos, I was there. I used BR pretty intensively through most of the 1970s and found much of the intercity network quite good. Fast WMCL services had fairly recently been improved dramatically with electrification, for instance, and still felt “new”. On the non-electrified lines, the arrival of the HST towards the end of that decade was likewise an enormous improvement. To say that everyone thought the railways had “had their day” at this point is absurd, frankly. It was the lesser, “regional” services that were neglected and often grim. One has to make that sharp distinction between different types of service. Your sweeping assertion is at best a wild exaggeration.

  200. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    Not 100% off topic PoP because the Brighton Line has Gatwick, and I think there are still lessons to be learned from what happened at Heathrow. One is that the need for extra rail capacity to any airport is unlikely to diminish in the future and even Cardiff Rhws has had the coastal route Bridgend line re-opened, partly in an attempt to portray rail accessibility. To go 100% off topic, I would need to start on Filton and Aldergrove, which would escalate my blood pressure to unacceptable levels, so let’s not.

    I think one of the questions is why so much London bound traffic from Gatwick ends up at Victoria. If that were solved, it would be a PART solution to solving BML line capacity problems,. And as you may remember, my discussions with somebody at FCC a few years ago included hearing a FCC man telling me that Southern were playing dirty by ramming as much as they could into Gatwick to prevent them (FCC) getting just one extra train path.

  201. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    @ Greg (09:26)


    Thank you.

  202. RichardB says:

    @ peezedtee in defence of WW I worked in Hayes in the early seventies and the GWML ran past the site I worked at. One of the sad features was the number of intercity services which passed which seemed to have only a handful of passengers. The perception was then that the railways were in long term terminal decline and investment was narrowly focused consequently. The WCML modernisation was notable but it was really the last hurrah before Beeching and others commenced the famous cuts. It was a product of the 1955 Railway Modernisation Plan and it almost did not happen. Beeching queried it especially the need for electrification and there was a view that all that was needed was one “heavy train” per day to Manchester.

    Remember also the Network proposed by the Serpell report in the 1980s which had it been accepted would have dramatically cut the network back to some 1500 miles of line. Yes some services were good during this period but the corporate view and that of their paymasters DfT and Treasury was that the network was a liability and minimalist investment was the order of the day. I can still remember ignorant colleagues admonishing me for taking the train to Manchester in the late eighties when one could travel so much more efficiently (nonsensical) by taking a plane from Heathrow to Manchester. It was nonsense but it took the last modernisation effort and Pendelinos to finally demonstrate to that community that air travel from London to Manchester was actually more time consuming.

  203. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PZT – fair enough, I was too sweeping. It was commuter, local and regional services that I had in mind but I didn’t make it clear. I think these days there’s perhaps a smaller gap between best and worst as money has been spread around the system. It’s Pacers and some DMUs that are next in line for replacement with hopefully some accompanying investment to upgrade the lines they run on.

  204. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Castlebar – didn’t FCC submit the requisite application for extra train paths to the ORR? IIRC the ORR fully and properly considered the application taking into account submissions from Network Rail and Southern. I don’t see how Southern can “ram” trains into Gatwick as if it’s some sort of free for all. They have to apply for paths and meet their franchise obligations like everyone else. I believe the ORR decided against FCC’s application on the basis that there was insufficient capacity to allow the extra services to operate reliably and not affect the performance of other train operators including Southern. Thankfully we will have a more integrated approach with the new merged franchise starting in July 2015 (when Southern joins). This will hopefully bring a bit of sanity to timetable planning and service planning. More investment should provide the means to unlock some more capacity.

    I have to say I am surprised by the apparent “relaxed” way of working and low platform utilisation at London Victoria for longer distance trains. I assume the real bottlenecks are elsewhere on the route. I am a pretty clueless about the BML, although have done London – Brighton a few times, so am hoping to learn more as PoP’s series progresses.

  205. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    @ WW

    Well, the Arun Valley line was “rammed” in after services were diverted from the Dorking route. The relevance here is that trains from the coast are often fairly full before arriving at Gatwick. And the trains are not really suitable for ex-airside masses, with large quantities of luggage attempting to enter a train that is already half full. So, ergo, platform occupancy time increases, = fewer train paths available.

    And actually, I was quoting somebody from FCC

  206. @Castlebar,

    that Southern were playing dirty by ramming as much as they could into Gatwick to prevent them (FCC) getting just one extra train path.

    Interesting thing, perception, depending on your (or my) preconceived prejudices.

    You perceive this debacle as Southern playing dirty to obstruct FCC. But Southern wanted two extra off-peak paths to Brighton and I perceive it as FCC unreasonably doing the best to block them and succeeding in blocking one of them (despite Network Rail being happy with the arrangement). Whatever interpretation you or I wish to put on it, it is the customer who suffers. We now have the bonkers situation of 7tph off-peak East Croydon to Brighton with an obvious gap as to where the eighth train should be.

    I cannot believe that this could not have been sorted out if the TOCs co-operated instead of “playing dirty” – and in my opinion it is not Southern who played dirty but you seem to have a deep-rooted dislike of Southern that manifests itself from time to time.

    Fortunately this will soon be water under the bridge and with the new TSGN management contract there will be 8tph East Croydon to Brighton as there logically should be.

  207. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t the Heathrow aviation fuel trains only start after the Buncefield fire?

    Although the pipeline system has been restored, it is apparently cheaper for Total to carry the stuff by train, and it refuses to transfer back to pipelines.

    For safety and anti-terrorism reasons, it doesn’t seem a good idea to run these trains, and GLA members have tried to stop them crossing London:

  208. straphan says:

    @timbeau: Yes, you’re right – I was thinking in Continental terms there, wasn’t I?

    Regarding the FCC vs Southern conundrum, I too remember there being a scrap between the two regarding how many trains can be run between Croydon and Gatwick. Fortunately, I think that is going to be resolved once and for all when the two merge.

  209. Jonathan Roberts says:

    @PoP 11:24
    Ron Brewer, then LT’s Planning Officer, set out an admirable case for the Piccadilly Loop at the Heathrow T4 inquiry (which I attended on the relevant days, I think in 1978). LT included demonstration of adequate capacity even on days when the Piccadilly Line didn’t offer a 100% service – 95% was a modelling test. Most passenger demand was to/from the centre of London, not Waterloo or Victoria, so overall tube journey times were competitive at T4. It also has to be said that the inquiry was in the days when passenger demand at places like Hounslow was static or declining, not rising.

    Behind the scenes, LT would also have lobbied the Government directly and via GLC, through board members such as Paul Garbutt, who had been instrumental in securing the initial go-ahead for the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow T123, in the teeth of strong opposition from BRB.

    The BR London & South East planning officer presented on behalf of the BRB. The inspector (Mr Glidewell, appropriately for an airport inquiry) concluded questions on his evidence with a comment which looks innocuous in the transcript but was loaded with meaning for those who were there and saw and heard the inter-play, so I’ve capitalised how it came across: “So that’s ALL you have say, Mr Satchwell?”

  210. Theban says:

    FWIW Dan Air was based at Gatwick

  211. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    @ Theban

    Yes, you are right that Dan Air moved to Gatwick from Blackbushe, not Heathrow, Thanks for that correction.

  212. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    @ Jonathan Roberts

    Thank you for your posting. There are interesting hints and inferences therein. I wish you would say more.

  213. @Castlebar 12:38

    The fact that you have ex-airside passengers (a fixed number of them) getting on non-dedicated airport trains is indeed a problem but I don’t follow the logic that diverting more trains via Gatwick makes the situation worse.

    The problem that they create is more or less independent of the number of trains that serve Gatwick and very dependent on absolute numbers of these travellers. Even if there may have been a case in the past to be made about dwell times this has of course been superseded by the recent addition of further platforms.

    Who were you quoting from FCC? Platform staff ? Chief Executive? Is it on record?

  214. straphan says:

    @PoP: I think Castlebar and I are referring to this episode of Train Wars:

  215. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Excellent link. That was it.


    At the risk of pouring fuel on the flames, the way to reduce dwell time when you have lots of passengers who individually take a long time to board is to increase the number of doors per carriages or the number of carriages. In this way at each door the slow boarders all board simultaneously and the fixed number of them board the train quicker.

    Isn’t it you who are telling us that Southern always claims the answer is longer trains? On this issue at least, I believe they are correct.

  216. ngh says:

    There will always be plenty of Gatwick passengers who don’t get on the GatEx Services because all we want is the first service to get us to East Croydon etc. so we can change for other local services to take get us home without going via Victoria and paying lots more!

  217. Chris C says:

    @ POP 14:51

    Longer trains may be the answer to quicker boarding but only if passengers spread themselves along the entire platform

    But they don’t.

  218. Southern Heights says:

    @Castlebar: Re: Aldergrove, especially as there is mothballed railway line running past it. I don’t know if it’s changed now but the way funding for NIR (and public transport in general) was arranged back in the days, was a formula for Railway destruction…

  219. straphan says:

    @PoP: Chris C has a very good point about train length – longer trains won’t be very popular. Customers with season tickets to Victoria want to get to Victoria, not ‘somewhere slightly past Battersea Park’.

    More doors per carriage or larger vestibules, however, lead to fewer seats, which then makes services more likely to foul DfT’s sacred crowding metric (no standing for longer than 20 minutes).* Also, luggage doesn’t pay any fares, which is why it keeps getting less and less space on newer trains and you end up with suitcases strewn all over the vestibules and gangways.

    @ngh: It’s great that air passengers are given a choice of fare and destinations in Central London and beyond, but the vast majority are unfamiliar with the service and need their choices explained simply and clearly. This is why – once there is no more differentiation into blue trains and green trains – there should be a clear labelling, such as ‘Gatwick Express’ or ‘Victoria Fast’, ‘Victoria Slow’ (everything else to Vic), ‘London Bridge Fast’ (Thameslink via Quarry Line), and ‘London Bridge Slow’ (Thameslink via Redhill).

    Or better yet – number the damn service groups like in Germany. Or is that too difficult/civilised for this place?

  220. Anomnibus says:

    @Chris C:

    Part of that is due to the way most British stations were designed, usually with just the one entrance / exit point, because the trains were quite a bit shorter back in the day. (The typical length of a passenger coach has increased over the years, so bear that in mind when reading rail history books.)

    On the continent, longer trains are the norm – 16 coaches isn’t unusual for some popular commuter routes. The advantage of longer trains, however, is that you can reduce the service frequency to compensate for longer dwell times, without sacrificing overall passenger throughput for the route. (A useful feature given that so many continental stations still don’t have high platforms, so you need to climb what is, effectively, a ladder to get into the train to begin with.)

    That said, there may be a technological way to encourage passengers to move along a platform: install digital advertising along the opposite platform, and only run the interesting ads* at the points where you want to encourage passengers to stand. Immediately after a train has left, you can run ads anywhere you like, but as the next train approaches the station, you deliberately run increasingly dull / repeated ads in the places where you want to discourage passengers from standing.

    It’s either that, or a giant spatula** suspended above the platform and used to spread people along it nice and evenly.

    * (Picking the “interesting ads” is the hard part, I admit.)

    ** (Patent Pending.)

  221. Anomnibus says:


    Luggage space is where continental trains have an advantage thanks to the prevailing loading gauges used over there. In the UK, luggage racks are small, mean little shelves barely large enough to hold a briefcase. On the continent, you can easily put a honking great suitcase up there and still have room on top for your raincoat. That makes a big difference.

    That said, the rise of cheap air travel – where hold luggage is actually charged for – means far more travellers are used to travelling light, bringing only carry-on luggage, with big suitcases now less common a sight than they used to be.

  222. I don’t deny it can be a challenge to get people to spread out along the platform, especially if they have luggage, and I totally take Straphan’s point about greater walking distance. The greater walking distance is related to Anomnibus’s point about stations tending to have a single entrance/exit.

    I can’t exactly go along with Anomnibus’s suggestion but simple things like the positioning of seats, coffee outlets and shelters can also influence where people wait on the platform. Best of all is to have multiple stairs/escalators/lifts to the platform at Gatwick. Go to Paddington (Hammersmith & City) or Clapham Junction and see how this helps spread the passengers along the platform.

    I think longer trains are a necessary evil we are just going to have to plan for them properly in future. To get back to Straphan’s point, this is one reason why I believe that consideration should be given in future to a country end entrance to Victoria (and make sure it is served by taxis). There are bound to be at least some passengers who want the coach station or have other reason to use that entrance. These factors also need to be considered when planning the Crossrail 2 station at Victoria.

    Hey! On topic (almost).

  223. Chris C says:

    Yes I’m aware that it is a feature of station design but that does not and should not stop passengers from walking down the platform a bit for not only more space when waiting but also a better chance of getting a seat.

    My local station has its entry about 1/2 way down the platform yet day in day out people congregate there and moan how they never get a seat yet if the walked a couple of dozen yards either side they would!

    It’s the same on the tube as well I know but at least there they make ‘move along the platform please’ announcements

  224. timbeau says:

    “DfT’s sacred crowding metric (no standing for longer than 20 minutes).”
    More honoured in the breach than the observance now I’m afraid.

    @Chris C
    “My local station has its entry about 1/2 way down the platform yet day in day out people congregate there and moan how they never get a seat”
    At stations with a lot of churn your best chance of a seat (or getting on at all) is to wait there: after all, that is where all the regulars will be alighting from, as they know which carriage will stop closest to the exit.

    At my local station only a third of the platform has a canopy, and the information screens can only be read from about half the platform. This is a discouragement to moving further along.

  225. Castlebar (Caisleán an Bharraigh) says:

    Back home now and allowed a 5 minute break before Mrs C ensures that gardening begins in earnest.

    @ Southern Heights 15:43

    Exactly!! 100%!! Spot on!!

    Aldergrove is Belfast’s “Heathrow”. Railway line runs along the back of the airport you are about to develop. So, close the railway down and divert the services. Even more in common with Heathrow is that Aldergrove was moved to being Belfast’s primary airport from Nutt’s Corner (only in Ireland) before the railway was closed. Nutt’s Corner (now a “kart circuit” or something) is almost the same distance to Aldergrove as the old Heston Airport is/was to Heathrow.

    It is almost as if railways and airports were seen as being “in domestic competition”, which on some domestic services, I suppose they are. Could that have been a factor in what seem today as being inexplicable decisions?

    I am told “Your 5 minutes up!”

  226. Malcolm says:

    With regard to spreading passengers out along the platform, we should perhaps distinguish between regular users and occasional ones.
    Regular users at busy times will disregard any nudge factors, spatulas or the position of stairways, and stand exactly where they want to. Whereas occasional travellers can certainly be spread out by the techniques already suggested above, and probably more which could be dreamed up. (And the slower boarders will not generally be among the regular users

  227. Pedantic of Purley says:


    The trick is to ensure that where they want to stand and where you want them to stand coincide.

  228. Long Branch Mike (Aerodromes!) says:

    I have by chance found this quite interesting video on the history of London’s 6 (six) airports, by Jay Foreman as part of his Unfinished London series of videos (Episode 1 described the Northern Heights Tube plan, Episode 2 the Ringways orbital roads plan).

  229. Pedantic of Purley says:

    That is very good but does have some errors. I am pretty certain Croydon Airport never had a tarmac runway. Arguably it was the frequent fog rather than the lack of runway length that killed it off. I don’t believe Stansted was ever an RAF base. Certainly it was built as a USAAF base. He has got Biggin Hill the wrong way round. It was closed as an RAF base but was then developed as an executive airport and is still open as such (and arguably could be considered as another “London Airport”).

  230. Southern Heights says:

    @PoP: There’s also this: London gets a new train set

    Has a nice picture of what Boris might be intending….

  231. Castlebar (Caisleán an Bharraigh) says:

    Re Croydon Airport

    According to the “Ian Allan abc of British Airports” published around 1958, “is scheduled to close in September 1959” and “the airliners of the late forties outgrew its grass runways”

  232. Malcolm says:

    If you are right, Pedantic, about Stansted being built as a USAAF base, then any confusion is likely to come from the way all such bases, at one time, were referred to as “RAF whatever”, and people said that one man and a dog were indeed from the RAF. The purpose of this “courtesy title”, so I was told, was to make it clear that we were in no way under US occupation.

  233. Ian Sergeant says:

    To reinforce what Malcolm is saying, in the 80s American Cruise missiles were stored at RAF Greenham Common and RAF Molesworth.

  234. Fandroid says:

    Aldergrove airport suffered from two problems. First, NI Railways in Belfast were rationalised by a fairly hefty investment in a bridge that directly connected the Central Station to Bangor line with the Larne line. It also meant the direct connection between the Larne line and the Derry/Londonderry line could be brought back into passenger usage as there was now a direct connection into the main city centre station at Great Victoria Street. The new connection meant shorter journeys to Antrim, Coleraine and Derry/Londonderry. Secondly, the factory airfield of Short Brothers was opened as a public airport, Belfast City (Now George Best !). Having used both, I can attest to City airport’s superiority in terms of location and convenience. Anyway, Aldergrove has a decent dedicated bus service, from the bus station at Great Victoria Street (to which the rail station is but an annex!) In Northern Ireland, it’s generally the express buses (Ulsterbus) that provide the long distance public transport, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

  235. @Castlebar,

    Thanks for that. I added the “arguably” about the runway length because if that was the only problem then I believe there was room to expand even if it meant diverting a road or two. However further investigation shows that they must have been aware by then (1958) that the future lay in jet aircraft so yes the runway length argument probably was decisive in closing it. I believe in its last few years it was very little used and run down anyway so the decision had already effectively been made.

    Despite that, I have certainly read that one of the reasons that Heathrow was considered necessary was the frequent fog surrounding Croydon Airport at the time.

  236. Fandroid says:

    And another thing! When the Staines West branch was closed to passengers in 1965, Heathrow terminal 5 was a massive plant for the treatment of sewage sludge (Perry Oaks). It remained so for 37 years until 2002. Terminal 4 didn’t open until 21 years after the branch closure. Foresight of an astoundingly accurate nature would have been needed for someone to have said ‘ let’s keep this duplicated un-electrified single track link to Staines open just in case someone decides to build a new airport terminal on that smelly sea of sludge’!

  237. timbeau says:

    This is my favourite railair link – Ronaldsway on the Isle of Man

    @Southern Heights
    Similar to the way I envisaged it, except:
    – they seem to go via West Hampstead NLL instead of West Hampstead Thameslink, which makes Neasden difficult to serve,
    – they carve a new spur through Strawberry Hill, instead of reversing at Twickenham (like the existing Zone 2 orbit, you have to start and finish somewhere, and Twickenham is as good a place as any)
    – likewise a great carve up of the west Wimbledon, when a reversal would work there.

    I envisage services would run something like Twickenham – Peckham – Abbey Wood, and Wimbledon – Sutton – Abbey Wood – Neasden – Twickenham

  238. Castlebar (Caisleán an Bharraigh) says:

    @ Fandroid 20:59

    100% “Best is best” for location, but mañana, or sometime after that, I need to check and compare runway lengths.

  239. Philip Wylie says:

    @WimbledonPete…..your comment about 4-SUBs not braking until way down the platform makes me comment on the Chatham side of Victoria. I’m a regular user of Beckenham Junction trains and am always aware of the achingly slow departure speeds almost to Grosvenor Bridge. Is the track layout unkind towards progressive acceleration for any reason? The slow departures often mean that by the time an Orpington stopper has departed Beckenham Junction the following fast is checked waiting for clearance at Shortlands. Inbound the approach is similarly slow. Networkers are quite fleet of foot and higher running speeds would save precious seconds and improve efficiency.

  240. Mike says:

    Re spreading people along the platform, this is how the Dutch are doing it:

    And re Croydon Airport, it was still busy in 1957 when my family flew to Alderney with Jersey Airlines, but in 1959 we had to go from Gatwick.

  241. Graham H says:

    The noisy crayonistas keep you awake at night, especially the subspecies Crayonista Orbans Officinalis – maybe the result of global warming.

  242. timbeau says:

    Ingenious, but on my line the signs don’t always manage to identify the next train correctly, so I certainly wouldn’t trust them to tell you how many people are in each carriage.

  243. T33 says:

    Great article and comments as ever.

    Travelling through Victoria everyday I’m not sure the need to squeeze more trains in is the answer. Changes have been happening and a movement in travel patterns.

    First, a significant number of passengers are clearing out at Clapham Junction and going to Waterloo historically but also now to the West London line. I’ve noticed my morning train now has spare seats after Clapham Junction towards Victoria. (Yes I know they have to terminate somewhere but it is a change in the way the service is operating)

    Second Thameslink and Crossrail, in 2019 it will be much easier from the BML to get your morning commute to Farringdon on Thameslink and then a couple of stops on Crossrail to Oxford Circus or wherever in the West End. Usage on the Victoria line at Victoria may decrease.

    The bigger issue is the overcrowding of the entrance to Platform 15-19. All BML trains except Gatwick Express congregate there and it adds walking time both getting on and off through the throngs. They are spending millions to sort out the Victoria line entrance and nothing to get people off the platforms at 15-19. The gate line needs doubling (5 gates going to platforms were closed last night due to faults and I missed my train by seconds due to delays) and more space for people to stand when waiting for their train to be announced.

    I also don’t think extending the Northern line to Clapham is a good idea as it just duplicates current routes to some extent. It should go somewhere that creates new journeys to relieve congestion in Buses and Trains.

    Similarly calling Crossrail 2 at Victoria is pointless, as the trains would have come through Clapham Junction SWT anyway so it is the same passengers already on the trains. It needs to pick up parts of central London not already served by the service to create new easier journeys for passengers.

  244. ambient says:

    I’m aware that the post-Thameslink service pattern is now fairly well defined and locked down and this won’t therefore happen, but where are the problems with some kind of dedicated “airport express” service…. Something with say a Bedford, Luton Airport, Kings Cross, Farringdon, Blackfriars, London Bridge, Croydon, Gatwick, Brighton service pattern?

    Get this right, with the right frequencies (say every 15 mins through the Thames link core), appropriate trains with luggage provision, and not only could you get rid of Gatwick Express and free up Victoria, but airport passengers have a range of central London destinations to disperse from. Luton airport gets the benefit of an airport service for the first time, and it even hooks into Eurostar.

    Given this seems obvious to me there clearly must be some kind of major problem with it that I haven’t thought of?! Of course some of the planned Thames link routes will have to be changed, but capacity lost in one place is freed up in another.

  245. Graham H says:

    @ambient – well it would work if you could stop the unluggaged punters using it as a commuter service; if you could keep them off, then you’d lose 4 tph commuter capacity through the central core. Airport links are a conundrum. They work with sharing tracks with other services so long as they don’t get too busy, then the problem of priorities cuts in. With the steady growth in airport traffic in the last couple of decades throughout Europe it may well be that the “fast link over shared tracks” is a concept whose time has gone for the major airports. On the other hand, providing a dedicated link on new infrastructure is far from cheap.

    Crossing over to another thread for the moment, it may well also be the case that the concept of hub and spoke is also getting to its sell by date for two reasons: as the volume of destinations and traffic increases it becomes ever more easier and just as cost-effective to run “many-to-many”patterns of service as it is to run “one-to-many” – think of the range of destinations that many UK non-hub airports now offer. Secondly, a number of hubs are getting very large either to place in the landscape or for the punters to use them easily as hubs -LHR is quite close to being three separate airports so far as the travellers are concerned.

  246. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

    Is it at all possible, that the first public airing of the expression “hub and spoke system” came with LT’s “London Bus Reshaping Plan” in the mid-1960s?

  247. Southern Heights says:

    @Graham H: hub and spoke is something that Boeing think is out these days, hence them going for the Dreamliner, a wide bodied aircraft for flying point to point. Airbus is of the opposite opinion hence the A-380…

    Probably for the moment both will have their uses: Dreamliners for busy read high frequency) medium to long haul routes, e.g. London to New York, the A-380 for Europe to South East Asia…

  248. Graham H says:

    @Southern Heights – interesting (must admit I’d not really reflected on the different manufacturers’ strategies). I’m sure you’re right that any change in strategy will be slow which is a pity in terms of changes to airport policies – we are likely to be still investing in the “big is beautiful” approach for many years yet as the noisiest proponents such as Bozza, BAA, and the CBI don’t seem to have noticed and are hardly likely to change their public positions so radically so quickly.

  249. Southern Heights says:

    I’m sure Boris would love the “Boris Johnson International Airport”…

    I hate to cite this as an example, but the temptation is just too strong! 😉

  250. Graham H says:

    “planned to fail” ! – a new twist on the corruption one expects these days.Just like certain recent wars, perhaps?

  251. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ T33 – interesting observations about relative loadings into Victoria and Waterloo. This tends to add some weight to the “eastwards drift” of jobs and development – the City, Canary Wharf, Stratford, Old St / Shoreditch – affecting travel patterns as pointed out by other posters in previous threads. This does rather raise some very important questions, again as raised before, about plans for CR2 and other routes and where they should run.

    An errant crayon emerged when I read your comment about the Northern Line extension. To my mind an extension on via Clapham Junction, Wandsworth, East Putney / Putney Heath to Roehampton would be very welcome. The major problem, though, is that I expect such a link would be overwhelmed within months of opening even with an assumed increased frequency following Northern Line upgrade 2. Roehampton features large in complaints about public transport accessibility and is reliant on bus links. Relieving overloaded bus links from this area and Wandsworth into Zone 1 plus the SWT / District Line routes would be welcomed I’m sure. Again not on anyone’s 2050 radar.

  252. Fandroid says:

    It would be interesting to do the numbers on ambient’s proposal for a dedicated Airports Express service on Thameslink. If the GatEX numbers could be squeezed onto Thameslink, then I’m sure trains could be configured so that there are carriages in the formations obviously dedicated to passengers with big bags. Platforms could be marked out to tell them where to stand. If the practice were consistent enough, the regular commuters would soon learn the ropes and know which ones to avoid. Dwell times might be a problem, but the airport sheep could be strongly advised to only use the major central stations eg St Pancras, Faringdon and London Bridge. With the inefficiently utilised 2tph GatEx paths taken off the BML, then there’s room for more creative thinking.

  253. timbeau says:

    A Gatwick – Thameslink express would still use the BML at far as Croydon, so would not provide much relief on that section.

    The point about relative loadings into Victoria and Waterloo is interesting, as work moves from the West End to Docklands. I suspect not many of them heading for the Wharf have transferred from Victoria to Waterloo however, as that would involve a change at CJ. Most will be taking direct services to London Bridge and picking up the Jubilee there. (There will also be people who used to change off SWT at CJ to get to Victoria, who now stay on to Waterloo and get the Jubilee.

  254. Graham H says:

    @Fandroid – clearly different rolling stock to that now entering service would be required, so something for 2040+? (And given that TLK will be full with ordinary punters by then, if not next year, who should be displaced to make room for the big bag folk?)

  255. Robert Butlin says:

    @ fandroid and timbeau. I second the point about Clapham Junction being the point at which trains significantly empty out, indeed the BML official Network Rail paper made this quite clear.

    I tend to think the passengers are not heading to Waterloo for the Jubilee line (at least certainly not on the trains I get because there is the option of via London Bridge for Purley Oaks passengers. I feel they may be heading to vartious destinations down the South West Main line (Wimbledon, Kingston, Surbiton, even Woking and Basingstoke), or heading to Kensington Olympia (for Hammersmith) or heading down the Windsor lines to Richmond and other places down the Thames Valley. Look at the passenger numbers at places like Putney.

    I am an occaisional traveller down the Windsor Lines, and when I do the trains seem pretty busy even counter peak. I have a regular trip to near Southampton – there are plenty heading for Woking, Basingstoke and points further on. Not enough for full ten coach trains, but certainly enough to make it worth while to run a live rather than empty stock service.

    Some of this thread has grumbled about missed opportunities, and some have replied that foresight is a lot harder than hindsight. One of the really pleasant things about looking at the transport scene in London is that we are spending our time worrying about demand. Long may that continue, and long may we have to worry about the problems of success, becasue the problems of success are a heck of a lot more fun than the problems of failure

  256. Anonymous says:

    @Robert Butlin

    Windsor Lines certainly have a healthy counter peak flow especially on the Reading services to/from the Thames Valley, not unusual for these to be full and standing in the evening peak heading back to London. 10 car trains certainly needed asap.

  257. AlisonW says:

    Hindsight is easy. Foresight takes planning.

  258. Malcolm says:

    Robert Butlin says “the problems of success are a heck of a lot more fun than the problems of failure“.

    I find it interesting that you see it that way. Much though I personally love trains, and all transport, I am still glad that I have been able to so arrange my work and where I live, that I have mostly avoided long commutes. They are such a waste of time.

    Of course there are many reasons for the rise and rise of train travel, and I guess some of them could be totally welcomed. If people are travelling to work because they have a job, where they previously had none, or are travelling further because they have a better job, fine. But if they are travelling just because society has failed to ensure that people can afford to live near their work – as I suspect many are – then I don’t really call that “success”. (Except for the train company shareholders, I suppose).

  259. Rational Plan says:

    I would not count on the decline of Hubs airports any time soon. The traditional model for intercontinental travel was, you flew to your local hub, then flew across an ocean to another hub and if your destination was not there, you connected to yet another flight.

    Over time as numbers of passengers have grown, smaller cities can now support their own direct intercontinental flights, but that is often only to major hubs on another continent. Boeings 787 allows longer thinner routes. Boeing gushes about bypassing the hubs, but if you look at where they are actually being deployed, you will see one end of the route is at a major city’s hub. So the growth of Manchester to New York not Lyon to Phoenix. Hence the clamour for every mid sized metroplex in middle america to support at least one daily flight to a European and East Asian hub. Which is why everyone wants to get a slot at Heathrow and not Gatwick, sure London is an important destination in it’s own right, but those smaller cities might have only a couple hundred people who want to fly to Europe per day, they need good onward connections to make these smaller routes work.

    What makes a new route work is just not the raw numbers of travellers it also how wealthy they are and their demand for at least business class seats, plus belly freight can sometimes be more important than the passenger fares.

    So for London, cities with strong Finance, Oil & Gas, Pharma and Tech industries drive high yield corporate customers. BA’s strength is its vast number of daily flights to medium sized cities in the USA, it drives it’s connections to European, Asian and African destinations. BA talked about it’s desire to boost it’s Chinese and Newly Industrialising country connections but reality has so far turned out different.

    Their launch of Las Vegas flights from Heathrow rather than Gatwick has proved a much bigger success than people expected with high yielding tourists willing to splash on first class fares, with high % connections from across North Europe. The flight has already been pushed up to a 747 and their is talk of when it goes double daily. Also BA’s new flight to Hipster and tech haven of Austin, Texas has seen 90% loads from the start.

    Meanwhile Chengdu has been a dog with loads of only 50%. On the other hand it took a while for Lufthansa to make it’s network in China to pay and now that Visa restrictions have been eased to Chinese visitors we may see an uptick in numbers.

    In fact the big upset to European airline industry has been the rise of the big Mideast airlines operating out of new mega hubs offering dozens of links to medium and large sized cities and connecting them in one hub. Most famous is Emirates, but there is also Etihad and now Turkish has seen major growth. Despite operating out of already large airports they have all announced they want to move to new mega airports with at least 6 runways. While European airlines can still compete on routes that have enough passengers that can support a direct flight to an Asian city, but that’s a very small part of the market, most people have to fly at least one connecting flight , in which case it does not matter where you connect.

    If you can do it on a large enough scale then lots of minor cities can support multiple flights to the hub. This model does not use small planes at all, it relies on brute force of 380’s 777’s and soon a350’s.

    So I don’t see hubs declining any time soon. What worries some cities is the fate that have happened to several smaller hub cities in the USA following mergers or bankruptcies. Some de hubbed cities have regained lost traffic and connections but most have not. mostly these are medium sized metropolises in the rust belt, so it’s hard to decide whether a declining local economy contributed to dehubbing or dehubbing accelrated the slide.

  260. Robert Butlin says:

    @ Malcolm. Society’s arranging of its jobs and housing are I fear a little outside this forum’s remit. But I do genuinely think that a forum with reasoned articles about the problems of success is going to be a lot more fun than one wondering which line to close, which junction to make single lead and which stations to close.

  261. Rational Plan says:

    I don’t think there is any evidence of declining employment in the West End. What has happened has been the resurgence to total central London employment. This has meant that areas that areas that are collectively known in property circles as the City fringe (Farringdon, Aldgate and Southbank) have seen a significant in turn around in occupier demand. Areas that last saw significant office construction in the 1970’s have seen a surge in employment and new schemes have started to appear on the edges of the Central Activity Zone.

  262. Malcolm says:

    @Robert Butlin. I take the point that I was digressing too far. And I do agree that discussing improvements is much better than discussing cutbacks.

    But the improvements I would most like to discuss (and of course most like to see out there in the real world) are those where particular journeys can be made better for the passenger: faster, cleaner, more frequent, easier, cheaper, whatever; rather than ways of adding capacity so that more people can make unchanged journeys in unchanged levels of discomfort. Ideally, of course, both things happen together; crossrail is intended to both add capacity and make many journeys easier.

    I may still be wandering too far from on-topic-ness though. Accordingly I promise not to pursue this matter further (unless egged on by others).

  263. Long Branch Mike (Aérodromes) says:

    Manchester based much of its rationale for the Northern Hub rail improvement scheme on Manchester Morrissey* airport being the hub for northern England, so that trains from Liverpool, Leeds et al terminate at Manchester airport via Mcr Victoria and / or Piccadilly stations. How Manchester airport compares in size to Liverpool John Lennon and other airports nearby I know not.

    * Given Liverpool renaming its aeroport after Lennon, Manchester could do the same kind of branding with one of its own musical sons, for the tourism market, namely Morrissey of the Smiths. The modern musically inclined among you will note that Moz is not actually dead yet, although he is on record saying that Manchester is dead to him, so that should suffice.

  264. Long Branch Mike (Aérodromes) says:

    @Southern Heights

    A great example of An Airport Too Far.

    In the 1970s, Montréal was Canada’s economic powerhouse and its largest city. Its Dorval aéroport was seen as being too hemmed by suburbs to be expanded sufficiently for the anticipated continued growth since Confederation (1867), having always been the country’s premiere city.

    So the Federal government planned and built a large airport 45 minutes away from downtown in the middle of farmland, Mirabel. It was supposed to herald Montréal’s elevation to world class city status.

    Unfortunately at the same time the séparatiste Parti Québecois won the provincial election about the same time, with the goal of separating the predominantly French speaking province from Canada (which would result in a partitioned country like Pakistan and Bangladesh, originally one country split in two by the creation by another.) An independent Québec would split the remaining English Canada in two.
    As a result, sever major Canadian companies moved their HQs from Montréal to Toronto in protest, along with a major Anglo brain drain.

    So now Toronto has grown much larger than its longtime rival, and far off Montréal Mirabel aéroport was almost immediately seen as un éléphant blanc, struggling to justify its existence with 10s of thousands of passengers instead of millions per year, attracting much more government money trying to stave off the inevitable closure. Mirabel was unpopular with pax, aircrew, ground crew and airlines as it was so far from the action in Montréal centre-ville. In 1991, I wanted to see Mirabel for myself and had to struggle to find a flight from there to Paris. It was almost deserted, and there was no industry or business or shops within 20 miles.

    Such white elephants are a major reason politicians are so risk averse; the stench of one of these disasters follows a politician to their grave.

    Whilst the politics, economics, and geography of London are much different, there is much to be learnt from Ciudad Real Central Airport and Mirabel aéroport by those pushing for Boris Island Aerodrome.

  265. Rational Plan says:

    @Long Branch Mike, I think a lot to do with the Anglo exodus was the strict new language laws, that made English strictly second class and certainly made English speakers feel the same, so of course with the rise of the Quebec nationalists, and the lack of love directed at the English speakers, well it’ s not surprising they decided that maybe Toronto would be a nice spot instead.

    Now of course Toronto is now Canada’s Mega city with a Metro population heading towards 8 million. A domination of Canada much greater than London of the UK.

  266. T33 says:

    @Fandroid I think a direct Gatwick Express service to Thameslink wouldn’t be needed.

    Firstly there are four trains an hour which take 35 minutes to Blackfriars currently even though they call East Croydon and London Bridge. I’d expect that journey time will fall when Thameslink is complete. So you already have frequency but this increases to “8” trains per hour in 2019 (However I’m aware that is marketing speak, as 4 per hour will go through Redhill in a much slower stopping pattern)

    Plus the new 700’s (coming to a Thameslink station sometime in 2016) are specifically designed to allow excessive standing room so the Gatwick passengers will have plenty of space to stand with their luggage. Unless the Gatwick passenger is 5’2″ and can thus fit into the seats of the 700’s

    Removing tongue from my cheek, with the advent of 12-coach 700’s and similar new trains with wide entrances and standing room the Airport speciality train becomes less required as luggage becomes easier to fit around commuters on the same trains. The parts of the journey where mass standing will happen are places where the airport passengers with luggage will be squeezing on anyway as they are the “tube-like” core sections of the route.

    In respect of Victoria, I expect that the Gatwick Express will becoming increasingly the vanity route it is and eventually it will be subsumed into the fast South Coast trains. The first stage is the Brighton all day extensions. This will allow more trains to serve commuters. If these are also made to stop at Clapham Junction then the need for a faster train path through Clapham diminishes and may in turn allow a more regular pattern of services.

  267. timbeau says:

    Both Gatwick Express and Heathrow Express are clearly directed at tourists – neither Victoria nor, particularly, Paddington, are particularly convenient for business users or onwards connections to where most Londoners live, and anyone in the know will use the cheaper and better-connected alternatives. They are primarily there to promote the airports as having a non-stop service to central London.

    GEx would be far more useful if it called at Clapham Junction – as it is, many of the passengers to Gatwick, and their luggage, have to mix it with the commuters on the other BML services whilst empty GEx trains whizz past.

  268. Malcolm says:

    Do you have any figures for this? I would estimate that at most 1 in 20 air passengers from Gatwick would change at Clapham Junction. Which does not rule out a stop, of course, but makes it far less of an obvious thing to do.

  269. timbeau says:


    I don’t have any figures, but observation at Clapham Junction suggests there are at least as many people there who are heading for Gatwick as there are whizzing past on the GEx. People simply don’t take that much luggage if they are going to Horsham for the day, or even to Eastbourne for a week (in February?)

    (Observations at Gatwick are skewed by people who could use the GEx but prefer the cheaper alternatives)

  270. Mark Townend says:

    Let us not forget that it is the *difference in stopping pattern* on the fast that (probably) more than anything else limits capacity. It does this in two ways:

    1: ‘Fast’ trains or more correctly merely ‘non-stop’ trains catch up those that stop at East Croydon and Clapham Junction.
    2: Signalling at intermediate stations is optimised neither for stopping nor non-stopping trains, hence is an uneasy compromise between the two, whose minimum block spacing is constrained primarily by a fast through speed that is rarely achievable due too point 1.

    A maximum capacity railway is best acheived by having maximum length trains with a common stopping pattern, whether those stops are 500 metres apart on a metro or 10000 metres apart on a regional express.

  271. The Other Paul says:

    @Anon @Timbeau @QRB
    Re: Possible Clapham Junction rebuild

    It has to be said that CLJ is a mess, both rail and passenger-wise, that cannot be ignored forever. The platform-train interface at many locations, particularly the lightly-used 17, leaves a lot to be desired, and this is very difficult to address at the station’s current location where the BML lines are curving away towards Balham. The difficulties of signalling fast and stopping trains have been mentioned.

    Redeveloping CLJ in its current location might be possible, but it would seem to me to be both more straightforward and less disruptive to rebuild it to the East of Falcon Road where most of the tracks are straighter and more parallel. Those that aren’t – the WLL lines – could have new platforms constructed above the new main parallel platforms at a diagonal. Personally I would put all the platforms on a deck above a ground-level concourse which would give ample circulating space as well as meeting the beancounters’ desire for retail opportunities.

    Some commercial buildings, including Aldi and the PCS building, would probably need to go to make way, but the result would be a station fit for the 21st century, rather than the one stuck in the 19th we have now.

    And did I mention the disruption that would be involved by attempting a serious rebuild at the current location? Give it some thought. Is it even feasible to give that location the major surgery it needs whilst maintaining the busiest rail junction in Europe at full capacity?

    @Deep Thought
    Re: “Crossrail” from Victoria
    Crayonista mode on, but it strikes me that much of the potential route Victoria-HydeParkCorner-MarbleArch-Marylebone runs under green areas – Buckingham Palace Gardens, Hyde Park and Bryanston Square. This would seem to me to make construction somewhat less onerous than the current Crossrail. A lack of interchange with CR1 might be a problem though.

  272. Anonymous says:

    Are you suggesting digging up the queen’s garden for a cut and cover. I wonder which poor employee would be dispatched with that news!

  273. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm – I don’t have any figures either but from my very limited use of fast BML trains that stop at Clapham Junction I’d agree with Timbeau that a reasonable number of boarders at CJ are Gatwick bound. Plenty of people loaded with suitcases and clearly headed for places other than the UK south coast (judging from their attire). The other thing that always surprised me, but I guess shouldn’t, was when I used to get the 0817 off Victoria and witnessed the hordes boarding at Clapham Junction. This is the dreaded contra peak flow that is more and more prevalent and has been mentioned by many on here. I wonder if these journey patterns are being properly modelled and considered not only for the BML but also Crossrail and CR2?

  274. The Other Paul says:

    @Anonymous 15:40
    I wasn’t necessarily suggesting a cut-and-cover under BP Gardens, but it’s maybe important to remember that, thanks to George 3rd, the London palaces and parks are the property of The Crown Estate (ie the state) rather than the monarch personally. So if parliament voted to dig up BP gardens to build a railway underneath, the monarch would (legally and constitutionally) have to lump it.

  275. The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Orange says:

    @The Other Paul

    Did you mean Asda?

  276. The Other Paul says:

    @The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Orange
    Actually I meant Lidl, but there’s an Asda as well. Maybe I conflated them both in my head and made an Aldi 🙂

  277. Long Branch Mike (Aéroglisseurs) says:

    @Anonymous at 15.40

    Wouldn’t a TBM be a quicker and cheaper way to tunnel such a route, given the many non-greenspace areas it would traverse, instead of cut and cover then TBM and possibly hand tunneling twixt the park bits?

  278. Graham H says:

    @LBM 🙂 [That assumes that it really is worth providing a direct link from the Victoria area to Marylebone – hardly either a balanced flow or serving any popular places where the tube is overcrowded).

  279. Long Branch Mike (Aéroglisseurs) says:

    @Rational Plan

    Au contraire, Canada’s major cities (Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver) are of roughly the same magnitude in population. Given that the country is enormous, it is not surprising that that no one city dominates, like London does in the UK. London is an order of magnitude (if not more) larger than Manchester and Birmingham.

    Regarding the French first language laws, they were brought in by the same Parti Québecois as well in 1977 or so.

    Back to London’s airports, I can’t see airlines wanting to spend 100s of thousands of £££s to set up operations at a far off Thamestuary airport when expansion of Gatwick and possibly Heathrow is much cheaper possibility.

  280. timbeau says:

    @the other Paul
    “rebuild it to the East of Falcon Road where most of the tracks are straighter and more parallel. Those that aren’t – the WLL lines – could have new platforms constructed above the new main parallel platforms at a diagonal. ”

    Below would be easier, given that’s where they are now.

  281. @Graham H,

    That assumes that it really is worth providing a direct link from the Victoria area to Marylebone – hardly either a balanced flow or serving any popular places where the tube is overcrowded.

    Clearly not a balanced flow if you exclude the Metropolitan Line. But I would assume by implication any such proposal would also mop-up many Metropolitan Line trains which could possibly join the line at Neasden. There is plenty of scope there for a balanced flow. 12tph supposedly will terminate at Baker Street in the peak after 2018. There would be 16tph through trains. Some or all of the service that the through trains provide between Baker St and Aldgate could be easily replaced by extending the Edgware Road terminators to Aldgate.

    Of course there would be the massive, massive problem of anyone currently getting a Metropolitan Line direct train to the city would be up in arms in protest.

  282. ChrisMitch says:

    @the other Paul and timbeau,
    rebuilding or re-siting Clapham Junction station on a working railway would make the current London Bridge remodelling look like a quick dab with the paint-brush.
    I suspect that we are stuck with Clapham Junction as it is, apart from possibly a CR2 station underneath it.

  283. Rational Plan says:

    @ Long Branch Mike

    It depends whether you count just Toronto or the whole Golden Horseshoe. Even if you don’t Greater Toronto is still bigger than Montreal by a couple of million people and Montreal bigger than Greater Vancouver by a million or so.

    Anyway the big difference with the UK is that there are just one or two major cities in each Canadian state, there a very few mid sized towns, It quickly declines into much smaller towns. Unlike the UK where we have just two reasonably sized Metro’s after London, before we get to the large spread of medium sized cities between 250,000 and 500,000.

  284. Anonymous says:


    Those contraflows must make operating Southern out of Victoria and SWT out of Waterloo quite lucrative. I doubt such demand exists on Southeastern.

  285. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 2338 – I’m not familiar with South Eastern so don’t know if it does have contra peak flows into places like Dartford or Sevenoaks or Gravesend. I wonder if Greenhithe has some different flows because of Bluewater? I’ve always had the sense that the SWT franchise was lucrative and has undoubtedly grown more so over recent years with the booming patronage levels. I haven’t seen the numbers for TSGN but given FCC is notionally profitable I imagine there are some big numbers involved. I see in the new Modern Railways the DfT are advertising for a load of staff to manage aspects of the TSGN franchise. I imagine that’ll be a fun process to get up and running.

  286. Theban says:

    We may be getting ahead of ourselves because PoP plans a Clapham Junction article but I don’t see problems enhancing Clapham Junction for the BML. It needn’t even be especially expensive. Move the slow lines over to use platforms 15 (up) 16 (reversible) and 17 (down). Do the same with the fast lines 12(up), 13 (reversible) and 14 (down). I cannot work out whether 4 fast and 2 slow platforms might be possible. There is spare land to the NE of the station for the extra track work needed.

    It would mean using the horrible platform 17 more intensively but that could be widened, even if it has to move somewhat NE to get more space.

    The key seems to be bringing the WLL platforms 16 and 17 into use for BML.

  287. Anomnibus says:

    Re. Rebuilding Clapham Jct.

    I think a ‘stacked’ design might work best here.

    1. “Down” platforms – i.e. all services heading out of London;
    2. Mezzanine Level, with connections to all platforms and exits;
    3. “Up” platforms – i.e. all services heading into London, to either Victoria or Waterloo;
    4. (Optional) Lower Concourse, to provide additional capacity.

    Interchanging for Overground and Gatwick are the only reasons I can think of for people wanting to change from an “Up” to a “Down” train, or vice-versa, so the Lower Concourse could be used to segregate other passenger flows if desired to reduce congestion. (And it gives Network Rail a chance to offer additional “retail opportunities”.)

    As such a station would have a substantially smaller footprint than the present station, it could be built in phases, reducing the impact on services during construction.

    Note that the “straight” lines east of Falcon Road would cease to be straight once you plonked a station there: you have to squeeze the actual platforms in somewhere, so the tracks would still need to fan out at each end of the new station site, assuming a single-level design. A stacked design would reduce that ‘fan’ requirement, and would allow the closure of the western chord alongside Cranleigh Mews. (This would compensate for the need to build a new pair of viaducts up off the eastern chord before the dive-under to retain access to the Wimbledon lines; the dive-under itself would be modified in one of the later phases to retain access to the Brighton lines.)

    Unfortunately, the A3036 (Saint John’s Hill) and Plough Road / Strath Terrace bridges to the west of the current station site make rebuilding here difficult, as does the tight junction with the Wandsworth / Putney route which is the reason why the present station is so awkward, so I concur with the Falcon Road re-siting. The station would need to be far enough away from those road bridges to allow the upper-level tracks to drop down beneath them in any case.

  288. Ian J says:

    @timbeau: neither Victoria nor, particularly, Paddington, are particularly convenient for business users

    Both are pretty handy if you are aiming to head for your hotel first after landing at some ungodly hour in the morning from your flight from the Far East.

    @Long Branch Mike: way off topic, but I had an idea the most stringent French-language laws were actually introduced by the Quebec Liberals (Liberaux?), not the nationalists? But yes, Dorval is an example that comes to my mind whenever Boris Island is mentioned. Also the cities (Bangkok, Tokyo, Dallas, etc) where a big expensive new airport was meant to replace the existing one, but public and airline demand kept the more convenient existing one open.

  289. Greg Tingey says:

    The key seems to be bringing the WLL platforms 16 and 17 into use for BML.
    And where would you then put the lines heading for Kenny O (etc) & the junctions, please?

    IF you could find somewhere else for the ex-LSWR carriage sidings, then none of this would be a serious problem, because you could probably shuffle most of the station to the NW.
    OK, where do you store ( & light-maintain) the units, then?

  290. Fandroid says:

    There was a very good reason for not stopping GatEx at Clapham Junction in the past – getting heavy bags on or off the platforms was a dangerous nightmare. That has all been changed with every platform now accessible, and the re-opened Brighton Yard entrance giving ground-level access to the bridge. GatEx could now well stop there. Airline passengers don’t care if their dedicated express stops a few times, as long as the station announcements are made very clearly in a way that non-English speakers can understand (ie not that strange NRE jargon -absent from all English phrase books).

    I take the points made about class 700 already being suitable for the big-bag brigade. The real point is that the GatEx paths will have to be used to the maximum in terms of passengers carried. If that can be achieved by giving them a premium brand but not charging silly premium prices, then maybe that’s the answer.

    As for interchange at CJ. You have to see it to believe it! I suspect that NR & SWT are beginning to worry that the station facilities are already in danger of being overloaded in the peak. And that’s really only passengers to and from parts of the London network, as both main lines do not stop there in the peak. There is a massive suppressed demand. I often catch the first off-peak train from Basingstoke which stops there and seriously large numbers of people de-train with me.

  291. timbeau says:

    “Interchanging for Overground and Gatwick are the only reasons I can think of for people wanting to change from an “Up” to a “Down” train, ”

    On the contrary, almost any journey from SWT-land to Southern territory is best done via Clapham Junction. Connections via Wimbledon (either Thameslink or tram) are slow and, in TL’s case, rare. In the frontier territory between the two, a few connections are possible via Epsom or Portsmouth.

    Transport for London’s journey planner shows the fastest journey from either East or West Croydon to Wimbledon as being by train, not tram.

    “Move the slow lines over to use platforms 15 (up) 16 (reversible) and 17 (down). ……
    The key seems to be bringing the WLL platforms 16 and 17 into use for BML.”

    If platforms 16 and 17 are tied into the slow lines to/from Victoria, how will the existing services to and from the West London line use it? Do you envisage moving the junction to the London end of the station? The WLL tracks are on a steep gradient right up to the platform end – would the slow lines have to dip down to meet them?

    @anon 2338 – there seems to be quite a lot of contraflow traffic at Waterloo East – although, like me, most folk are only going to London Bridge

  292. Chris C says:

    @ Anomnibus
    ” Interchanging for Overground and Gatwick are the only reasons I can think of for people wanting to change from an “Up” to a “Down” train, or vice-versa,”

    I used to work in Hounslow and got the train from Balham and changed at CJ. Same as lots of other people who traveled up to CJ on the BML and changed to Southwest trains on their lines to places like Woking, Guilford, Putney etc etc

    And there were plenty of people doing the reverse of that too.

    I’ve even seen people on an up train to Balham and then change there for a down train to streatham hill etc

    Being able to change at CJ to do that made the daily commute very convenient and relieves pressure on other stations too.

  293. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I hate to keep labouring an earlier point but Clapham Junction has clearly got much busier in the past five years and changed in character. Note also Fandroid’s point about how busy it is.

    The footbridge is busy with people making all sorts of various changes. There is no really obvious dominant flow. I don’t think an intelligent perceptive person visiting Clpaham Junction today would be of the opinion that people were merely switching between different up trains or different down trains. This would be in contrast to the footbridge at East Croydon where I would be as bold as to suggest that is still largely the case there.

  294. Long Branch Mike (Aéroglisseurs) says:

    @Rational Plan, Ian J

    Just a couple correxions:

    Unlike Australia and our cousins to the south, Canada does not have states, but provinces. There are probably not 2 countries more similar in language and culture than the States and Canada, so those of us in the Great White (for snow) North are keen not to be mistaken for ‘Muricans.

    The “stringent French-language laws” were actually introduced by the Parti Québecois; the Québec Liberals were/are their main opposition. And Mirabel is the white elephant (freight only now) airport, as well as Bombardier Aerospace’s flight test strip for its factory at Mirabel.

    I’m happy to discuss this more, but we should do so offline.

  295. ngh says:

    Re Theban, Greg and Timbeau,

    Southern CLJ alterations – wait for PoP’s Clapham article.
    NR do indeed have a cunning plan – much more cunning than anything mentioned so far. It should enable all fast line up services to stop with even greater tph with less of the tailback to Balham in the peak.

    If SWT/NR go ahead and sort out the P7/8 issue as rumored then there could be many more SWT up fast services adding to the passengers changing at Clapham Junction instead of Waterloo.

  296. T33 says:

    Look forward to Network Rails cunning plan, something has to happen soon as whilst the bridge still has some space for more passengers changing, the underpass is dangerously restricted.

    It is clear from changing each day that passengers spread to all sorts of different routes often reversing direction (i.e. up to down lines). The London Overground has definitely made this worse over the last few years by creating new cheaper travel opportunities which passengers are finding useful.

  297. Kit Green says:

    I have seen the bridge at CLJ so busy that already some of the retail units may need to be scaled back.

  298. Mark Townend says:

    At Clapham Junction existing platfrom 17 could be removed and an additional track laid in its place, which together with the old platform 17 track could lead to a new island platform slightly to the east of the existing platforms built roughly on top of Junction Approach, with the new track alignments alongside cutting the corner at the station’s narrowest point and crossing Falcon Road. The new island would be used both by slow line trains in and out of Victoria, as well as by trains to and from the West London Line. The Brighton Slow Line/WLL junction would then have to be east of the junction, perhaps on the gradient itself, but that should be possible as long as its on a plane descending to the east rather than on a vertical transition. Clearly the slows would have to climb back up to their original level once past the junction, but there should be room to do this at fairly low speed in the space available before the WLL underbridge.

    Platforms 13-16 to be reallocated to Up and Down Brighton Fasts, with an island and two tracks for each direction, and space to lengthen and straighten 14-16. South West Main Slow lines could then be rearranged around the 11/12 island, and that would leave 7-10 available for South West Main Fasts, again an island with two tracks per direction. All these platform loops would be designed to provide acceptance with free overlap distance beyond the starting signals, so a train can always arrive at the same time as a departure from the adjacent line.

  299. straphan says:

    One other point about Victoria: we keep talking about the need to introduce more trains, and how the operation at Victoria is rather ‘slack’. Now the sub-operator PPM MAAs (moving annual averages) for Southern and FCC are currently as follows:

    – Southern Metro: 85%
    – Southern (whole franchise): 84.7%
    – FCC (Thameslink route only): 84.9%

    These are all well short of the CP4 punctuality target (92.5%). Since – inevitably – running more trains on the network will lead to more delays, do you think it is wise to cut those turnrounds at Victoria? We all want more room on our daily commutes, but what is the point of stuffing even more trains onto the network when they increasingly fail to run on time?

  300. timbeau says:

    @Mark T
    Any addition to platforms on the SE side of the station would either have to remove large amounts of the station buildings, and involve even tighter curvature than the existing platform 17, or be staggered from the rest of the platforms towards the London direction – note in particular that the existing platforms barely take an 8-car train: ten cars are planned for the BML slows. This means the platforms would extend across Falcon Road, and the gradient to the WLL underpass starts immediately beyond. Never mind the junction – half the platform would be on this gradient.

    At the risk of channelling Blackadder, whatever cunning plan PoP is planning to regale us with, I suspect it is more complicated than that.

  301. Mark Townend says:

    @timbeau, 4 August 2014 at 17:29

    Yes, that’s what I was trying to express. The country end of the new Slow/WLL island would be roughly where the London end of the existing platfrom 17 is, so could not be connected directly by stair and lift to the footbridge, but new access would be provided near the subway. Agreed the gradient down towards WLL would probably still have to start as soon as Falcon Road was crossed, but contrary to common misconceptions, although not ‘preferred’, gradients along platforms are permitted as long as reversing movements are not planned at the particular location. In this case only part of the eight or ten car platforms would be sloped. The switch tips for the junction would be on the short straight segment right outside Victoria Signalling Centre, where there are points currently leading to sidings between the Slows and WLL incline. Anyway, enough speculation! Looking forward to learning what PoP has to tell us.

  302. JA says:

    The Clapham Junction article will certainly make for interesting reading. I’m wondering if the solutions are Crossrail 2 dependant, and if they involve Pouparts Junction and the low level route to Victoria.

    I assumed one strategy for the slow line services, at least in the morning peak, would be to look at limiting the contra peak traffic coming back through platform 15 (perhaps by sending more terminating services ECS to Stewarts Lane) In order to reduce conflicts at Falcon Junction and send more slow line services down the West London Line via platform 16 to keep everything moving back to Balham and Streatham. WLL services have very recently been lengthened to 5 cars by the introduction of the 377/7s and they’ll be going up to 8 car in the foreseeable future, so it’s already a strategy that’s being pursued to an extent. Though looking at the 2014 Network Rail route specifications they foresee the WLL still having 6tph in the peak as far in the future as 2043, which I honestly struggle to believe.

    A missing piece of the jigsaw would be a platform at Willesden Junction Low level (as suggested/drawn by Mark Townend in relation to the Sleepers) that could be used by Southern’s WLL services, and allow them to take over some of London Overground’s diagrams, It would also be a boon to WCML commuters looking to access other services from Willesden Junction. At the moment there’s plenty of stabling space beyond for potential terminating services as well. Clearly this could all be rendered null and void if Crossrail 1 to Tring and Old Oak Common interchange get off the ground, but it could be an interim solution.

    If Clapham Junction gets sorted then the next bottleneck up the slow lines is Balham. The numbers boarding, many for the short hop to Clapham Junction, are matched by those alighting for the Northern Line, lengthening dwell times. Someone in City Hall has clearly noted this as a possible London Overground extension to Balham creeps into the 2050 transport supporting paper. I think it’s a safe bet that it wouldn’t be running on the existing metals.

  303. Robert Butlin says:

    By the way – does anyone know why the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway went for up slow, up fast, down fast down slow on the line to London Bridge but ended up up fast, down fast, up slow, down slow on the line to London Victoria? A book I have on Clapham Junction suggests that the Victoria line was paired by direction for at least a brief period, and the junction layout at Streatham (for the Mitcham Juction line) suggests it was being considered back when that line opened.

    Paired by direction makes things a great deal easier operationally (see South Western Main line).

  304. Mark Townend says:

    @Robert Butlin, 4 August 2014 at 22:20

    Operational convenience is not so clear cut and one arrangement is not always better in all circumstances. Instead it is ‘Horses for courses’ depending on the particular location. If there are a lot of branches from a main trunk on one side then paired by use can make more sense and that can save a lot of expensive flyovers. In all cases on final approach to a major terminal paired by use makes more sense, allowing a large station to be divided up into a number of individual smaller ‘sub-terminals’ – LSWR, LNER both change configuration on approach to their respective terminals. Whilst paired by direction makes fast-slow track switching easier, that’s only especially valuable if the service pattern requires that functionality.

  305. Anonymous says:

    Big fan of this site! I commute from Finsbury Park to Feltham, and I can confirm that the south west trains services are full to bursting from Clapham Junction to/from the west going ‘against’ the peak flow.

  306. Ian J says:

    @Greg T: And where would you then put the lines heading for Kenny O (etc) & the junctions, please?

    @JA: a possible London Overground extension to Balham creeps into the 2050 transport supporting paper. I think it’s a safe bet that it wouldn’t be running on the existing metals.

    These two comments dovetail together quite neatly…

  307. Theban says:

    Trainline suggests there is generally only one direct train per hour between Balham and Kensington Olympia, two between 8am and 9am. Most WLL leave (or could leave) from the terminating platforms at the opposite side of Clapham Junction, what were going to be platforms 0 & 1 but I tbink ended up being labelled 1 & 2. That’s hardly a great number of services to interleave with other slow line services at CLJ. If there is a problem because of the gradient down from platform 17 to the WLL underpass I don’t see why WLL through services couldn’t be abandoned and terminate at Clapham Junction instead. There may be a more cunning plan as suggested but I think the point in this case is that there is at least one option for improving throughput at Clapham Junction so it shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to improve throughput at Victoria.

  308. Robert Butlin says:

    Theban – how does you solution deal with the freight trains coming off the West London line at Clapham Junction?

    @ Mark Townend. A couple of thoughts – 1. All the southbound junctions on the London Bridge main line head west, and the older of the well used northbound ones heads west as well, yet the LBSCR went for flyovers; so there should be a reason for the company makng this decesion. 2. Just becasue everything may head off in one direction does not seem a terribly good reason to have flat junctions and tracks paired by use. What it produces is flat juction after flat junction (Battersea Pier, Battersea Park [formerely] West London, Balham, Streatham North, Streatham South, Selhurst and Cottage Bridge on the slow line), and flat junctions are the enemy of good timekeeping.

  309. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Robert Butlin,

    All the southbound junctions on the London Bridge main line head west, and the older of the well used northbound ones heads west as well, yet the LBSCR went for flyovers; so there should be a reason for the company making this decision

    I think that is the one bit I can shed some light on this. The arrangements for the way part of the LBSCR south of London Bridge was built and paid for was highly unusual. I forget the details as to which was which but one company (I think SER but maybe LBSCR) was tasked, by Parliament I believe, of building the line which on completion would be paid for, at actual cost price, by the other company on completion. The result was no incentive to cut costs and every incentive to build the line to as high a standard as possible and in such a way that it would be convenient to operate. The decision may have been helped by the fact that between Norwood Junction and New Cross Gate (both exclusive) the only station to have ever had platforms on the fast lines is Forest Hill – now long gone of course but the evidence in the form of an unusually large gap between the up and down fast is still there.

    One has to remember that Tattenham Corner (or as it was then, Tadworth, except for race days) and Caterham were both SER branches as was the lines from Redhill to Reading and Tonbridge and the SER had running rights into London Bridge. So every incentive for the SER to avoid flat junctions and make sure the fast trains had an uninterrupted run into London Bridge.

    On the subject of the line into Victoria, I can see that it is probably the case that, unless one went to enormous expense, it was probably easier as well as cheaper to pair by use and create the junctions in such a way which would at least leave the fast lines unencumbered by flat crossings.

  310. Greg Tingey says:

    … except for the LBSC “Portsmouth” deviation @ Streatham, of course.
    And the emergency spur towards W Croydon

  311. @Greg Tingey,

    But surely one would want the Portsmouth deviation to come off the fast lines. And you never miss an opportunity to mention the now defunct emergency spur. But the whole point is that it was just that and wasn’t intended for normal use. It is more appropriate for West Croydon to connect to the slow lines as it does.

  312. straphan says:

    Regarding Clapham Jn, I have seen NR work into identifying interchange flows there. Indeed, trains going towards Brentford in the a.m. peak are absolutely heaving, and there is also a good deal of ‘reverse commuting’ from London to places like Woking or Basingstoke.

  313. ngh says:

    Re PoP, Greg, Robert B.,

    The original Victoria route was 2 track via Streatham Hill and Crystal Palace joining the BML via the grade separated junction at Norwood Junction (i.e. done properly with a 3 track section Clapham inwards, hence the current 3+1 track arrangement on all the structures in a similar way to the Peckham Rye – London Bridge section was laid out with 3 tracks and why there is no up fast platform at Battersea Park as the current Up fast line was added later). The Streatham Common route came 15-20 years later (and done comparatively on the cheap still leading to the problems at Windmill Bridge and East Croydon to this day).

  314. Peter Heather says:

    @ PoP

    “The arrangements for the way part of the LBSCR south of London Bridge was built and paid for was highly unusual. I forget the details as to which was which but one company (I think SER but maybe LBSCR) was tasked, by Parliament I believe, of building the line which on completion would be paid for, at actual cost price, by the other company on completion. ”

    The arrangements weren’t quite as you describe. The original line out of London Bridge was built by the London & Greenwich Railway. Parliament was keen to minimise the number of lines into London, so when the London & Croydon wanted to build their line, they were required to join the L&G line and pay the L&G a fee for each passenger they took over their tracks. The L&C terminated at what is now West Croydon.

    The London & Brighton Railway came a bit later and in turn was required to join their line onto the L&C line at Croydon. They in turn had to pay fees to the L&C and the L&G to use the track into London Bridge. The L&C and L&B merged eventually to form the LB&SCR.

    Onto the scene then appeared the South Easter Railway who wanted their line to Dover to enter London. Parliament continued to insist on minimising intrusion by new lines and required the SER to join the Brighton line at what is now Redhill. Parliament also required the Brighton company to sell half their line to the SER (the bit between Coulsdon and Redhill) while giving running rights to both companies over both halves.

    The Brighton and South Eastern never got on and regularly obstructed each others trains, while arguments with the Greenwich company resulted in the LB&SCR building their own London terminus at Bricklayers Arms to avoid using the Greenwich line.

    Not the easiest to follow and I’ve no idea how it affected the way the running lines are now laid out, except that subsequent widening and diversions have massively affected the layout since those early days.

  315. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Peter Heather,

    I omitted the issue of running over the London and Greenwich. Your detailed description sounds more plausible and I wish I could remember which book I read my explanation in but it was very emphatic about how it described it and it really stood out when I read it. Having said that, I have known books to get things wrong, as indeed I do myself sometimes.

    I wonder if the running rights involved payment for each journey and the price chargeable was related to the cost of quadrupling the track. This could provide the incentive to build it as expensively as possible, so long as it could legitimately be justified, if it was believed that the cost would be more than offset by the benefit of what today we would call track access charges.

    Whatever the exact reason for it, the line between New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction is just about perfect – straight, flat, no flat junctions, pretty well equidistant stations at a sensible distance apart.

  316. Castlebar says:

    @ PoP

    I am glad that I am not alone in being able to remember my sources every time.
    At least I can cite age as a reason

  317. timbeau says:

    @PoP / Peter H

    added complications were that the original L&G station at London Bridge was to the south of the Brighton’s, until they agreed a swap. The SER had more of the upper hand after it took over the L&G, and finally escaped altogether when it built the direct line via Sevenoaks. Until very recently a relic of the LBSC/SER sharing of the Forest Hill line was the running into Charing Cross of the central division services off the ex-SER Caterham/Tattenham Corner branches.

    The Quarry Line was an LBSCR enterprise to give itself a line of its own (and is one reason the BML is “paired by use” all the way to Gatwick)

    The Brighton had a similarly dysfunctional relationship with he other half of what would beome the SECR (immortalised in Oscar Wilde’s line quoted in the title above). Both the LCDR and LBSCR first approached Victoria over the Crystal Palace and West End Railway, now the Beckenham Junction/Norwood Junction – Crystal Palace – Victoria route. It wasn’t long before each company built itself a second line, via West Dulwich and Norbury respectively.

  318. THC says:

    @ PoP – 13:49

    The London & Croydon Railway originally proposed to build the line between New Cross (latterly NXG) and Norwood Junction on the course of the former Croydon Canal, bought by the L&CR on closure in 1836.

    However, problems with the gradients resulting from two lock flights (at New Cross and Honor Oak) and curvature of the canal line meant that the railway from NXG to Forest Hill was constructed in a cutting beside it, rather than on it, at a gradient of 1 in 100. From Anerley to Norwood Junction and then onto West Croydon, the new railway ran level over the course of the old canal. As an aside, the latter station is built on the site of the former canal basin at Croydon.


  319. Greg Tingey says:

    As always
    “London’s Termini” is a valuable resource as is “The First Railway in London” – a history of the L&G by A Rosling Bennett & Rixon Bucknall’s “Boat Trains & Channel Packets”
    The building-history of sarf Lunnons’ railways is COMPLICATED … & one of the reasons for this Saturday’s tour, of course!

  320. Anomnibus says:


    The canal followed the contours of the land more closely than the railway did, so it wasn’t entirely obliterated. The canal’s route can be seen here.

    A (very) short stretch of the canal can still be seen – albeit in much abused form – in Bett’s Park, a short walk from Anerley station. That link above also includes some pictures of the old canal when it was still in use, and even has some photos of other remnants of the canal.

    Note how much the canal meanders; it was nowhere near as direct as the railway. The railway company bought it because they knew they’d have to build on some of it, but also, I suspect, because it helped reduce the costs of constructing the line itself. (If nothing else, it was ideal for bringing in the vast quantities of supplies the undertaking required. But it’s also possible it was just cheaper than buying suitable properties elsewhere for stations.)

    Note, too, that the canal bed was often at a very different level to the railway. A good illustration of the different levels can be seen on the link, at Penge Bridge. (Remember, this was built many decades before the Crystal Palace would be relocated nearby.) The railway crosses on a bridge above the road at this point, not under it.

  321. Anomnibus says:

    Greg Tingey just reminded me of a suggestion I’ve been meaning to make for a while: a Recommended Reading List. (Part of a possible “FAQ” section.)

    Perhaps this is as good a time to start the ball rolling as any.

  322. Slugabed says:

    A friend of mine (a canal buff) told me,as we walked the canal’s route a few years ago,that HE had been told that a complete lock,wooden gates and all,was buried beneath the railway formation in the Forest Hill area.
    Whether this is true,or an urban myth (the Crystal Palace area is fond of tales of buried transport infrastructure) I couldn’t say….

  323. Robert Butlin says:

    Thank you all for your explanations – I think they get perhaps three quarters of the way there. The missing quarter is my aside that the LBSCR through Clapham Junction was at one point paired by direction. My source is Rail Centres No 17 by J.N. Faulkner published by BLP which has, on page 20 a track diagram of Clpaham Junction showing four LSWR main line tracks (Paired by direction – this is before the Wimbledon flyover) and four LBSCR tracks, also paired by direction. There’s half an explanation in the book (lots of fractions now) but nothing quite explains why the LSWR decided to stick with paired by use and the LBSCR decided against it. Maybe the LSWR simply had more money available in the late 19th century and had an chief civil engineer a bit ahead of his time whereas the LBSCR was poor and so unable to pay for the civil engineering needed for pairing by direction.

    I can lend the book to the author of the Clapham Junction chapter of this story if he so desires.

  324. Mark Townend says:

    @Robert Butlin, 5 August 2014 at 22:38

    What you’re saying is that LBSCR or a successor deliberately decided to convert PBD through CJ to PBU at some point in time. I don’t know the entire context here. There may be an issue with how far out the four rack section extended at that time. Perhaps only as far as Balham rather than all the way to Croydon and beyond. Also note the advantage of PBU on final terminal approach, which is why a flyover was introduced at Wimbledon later on the SW to achieve this. If PBD had been retained then a similar flyover would have been needed on approach to Victoria. With the Balham and Streatham junctions so close in on the east side each serving branches used mainly by slow trains, then providing this arrangement all the way through to the terminal probably made sense. Perhaps also when the LSWR was widened more open land was available for the wide looping flyovers to be built for each of the branches that diverge on either side.

  325. AlisonW says:

    Slightly tying together two threads, what appears to be the case is that “Clapham Junction” is a hub railway-port. Most (?) of its traffic isn’t actually going there and, probably, doesn’t care if it is where it is or not: any location on the routes from Waterloo and Victoria would do for their purposes.

    So maybe the ‘interchange hub’ doesn’t even need external access and can be rebuilt up or down or *under* the lines.

  326. Ian J says:

    @anomnibus: Thanks for the link. I had never realised before that Surrey Canal Road is called that because it used to be the Surrey Canal.

  327. Theban says:

    So many people enter/exit Clapham Junction station that recently the third entrance from the streets was opened. The original main entrance had become so busy it was almost a scrum at peak times.

  328. THC says:

    @ Anomnibus – 5 August, 20:51

    Thank you for the link to and description of the Croydon Canal, manna to this student of canal history. According to Wikipedia, the L&CR paid just over £40k for the canal, which reflected its value as a going concern rather than in its abandoned state.


  329. Gio says:

    How fun it would be to travel home nowadays on Venice-style vaporetti down the canal! It wouldn’t probably take much longer either what with the amount of signal failures and broken down trains one experiences on a daily basis!

  330. Steven Taylor says:

    I have checked the latest stats. and for 2012/2013 they are:
    1) Exits/Entrances 23,622,718
    2) Interchanges 23,334,118
    This is my local station and it barely copes with rush hours despite the recent improvements.

  331. Steven Taylor says:

    My above post should have stated Clapham Junction.

    I was recently informed that Network Rail is costing a fourth entrance/exit to the station direct from the high-level to Grant Road, because it is so busy.

  332. timbeau says:

    @mark Townend 2333
    Having now consulted Faulkner’s “Rail Centres: Clapham Junction” , wrapped my head in a wet towel and had a long lie down, I think I can explain the history of the Brighton side of CJ. (The LSWR side is far more complicated).
    The platforms have been renumbered many times (which is a major source of the confusion) so I will use the current numbering, although that only dates from 1947 when the LSWR side finally numbered each face instead of each structure – necessitating all the Brighton side numbers having 5 added to them.

    The one fixed point in the history is, inevitably, the LSWR/Brighton boundary, now platforms 11 and 12. These have always been the LSWR Down (now Down Slow) and the Brighton Up Fast. Both companies expanded away from this invisible frontier.

    Until the opening of the West London Extension, CJ did not exist – the Brighton and the LSWR each had their own separate stations a little to the west (there was no station on the Windsor lines). By the time CJ was built, the Brighton had already added a third track to the original two. As built, Platform 13 was narrower than it is now, and there were three tracks in between it and platform 12. These two platforms were respectively the (only) Down, and the Up Main. The track in betweeen was the Up Slow, served by a short and very narrow single-sided platform located at the London end, between the two up lines. (I shall refer to this platform as “12x”, but it has no equivalent in the current numbering scheme)
    What are now Platforms 14 and 15 originally served the Kensington line.

    Some time around 1900 a fourth track was added on the BML, necessarily on the south side. This became the Down Slow, and used Platform 14. To accomodate this the Kensington departure line was moved to Platform 15, which became an island, with the Kensington arrival line moved to the opposite face (platform 16).
    It will be noted that this means the Brighton lines through the station were paired by direction but were not “centre fast” but unusually, from west side to east side , up fast (12), up slow (12x), down fast (13), down slow (14): this arrangment was used even though on the rest of the route a “paired by use” layout was adopted, presumably because the narrow and short up slow platform was unsuitable for express trains. However, the layout was awkward as it required down fast and up slow trains to cross each other’s paths twice.
    The situation was resolved in 1910 when, like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, everything moved one place on again. A new platform (17) was built for Kensington arrivals. The Kensington departures then moved from 15 to 16, and the down slow from 14 to 15. The up slow could then move into platform 14. Platform 13 could then be widened across the site of the original down fast line, reducing the number of tracks between platforms 12 and 13 from three to two, and abolishing the original up slow platform (12x), with the original up slow line through the station now used as the down fast, calling at the widened platform 13.
    And that remains the layout today.

    If you think that’s complicated, try and get your head round the LSWR side!

  333. Theban says:

    Somebody asked what to do about WLL freight if the Brighton side links to WLL were removed at Clapham Junction. Frankly I don’t think freight should be using a BML / WLL route anyway. These days freight would be much better run at night via Thameslink. I assume after all the rework that the gauge is now freight-compatible on that route.

    I still think platforms 16 & 17 can be lengthened without losing a WLL link. If necessary it could be lowered somewhat to midway in height between BML and the WLL spur with BML trains then rising back to BML height and only a short space needed for WLL trains to get down to the lower level.

  334. spych102 says:

    @Chris C
    It’s often not the passengers’ fault that they don’t spread themselves along the platform as many have experienced being caught out by assuming a longer train length than actually arrives and then needing to rush back to a packed front carriage.

    I’ve seen passenger information systems on the continent that display a diagram showing which parts of the platform will be used by 1st or 2nd class, which carriages have spare seats and which are full.

    Of course if it’s raining or windy the passengers will stay in the sheltered spots come what may.

  335. Anomnibus says:


    Although most freight isn’t destined for London itself, the fact remains that a city this size really does need to have some rail-freight infrastructure within its boundaries…

    If you’ve seen the recent documentary on Crossrail’s construction – “The 15 Billion Pound Railway” – you’ll have seen the support infrastructure needed to serve the Woolwich TBMs. What you didn’t see was the freight trains being loaded up at the other end of the Crossrail core, at Royal Oak. These trains are taking spoil all the way down to… Northfleet, in Kent.

    If London is going to be building even more Crossrails and the like, then all the dirt dug out of the ground for all those tunnels will need to be sent somewhere, and that means you can’t just pretend there’s no purpose in sending freight through London.

    Whether that means building a couple of dedicated (and station-free) tunnels deep under the city to take these trains away from the passenger services, or whether the solution will mean building a big ring similar to the M25, I can’t say, but London is *vast*. It’s certainly big enough to support container freight and it does, in fact, have freight facilities within that orbital motorway.

    You can’t wish freight away. You *can* plan and build for it. If even Los Angeles can get off its collective arse and dig a massive trench for the freight flows from its huge port to eliminate dozens of level crossings and bottlenecks, I see no reason why London can’t do something to help itself too.

    London’s 8 million+ population generates a *lot* of freight demand in its own right. The seemingly constant construction that the city is likely to see over the next few decades will put even more strain on its freight haulage infrastructure. Passenger-only solutions aren’t enough.

    And no, running freight at night through Thameslink isn’t enough: freight customers require *dependability* and Thameslink’s core will need to close often for maintenance as it’s going to be taking a hell of a pounding during the day and the Victorians didn’t design with modern Health & Safety requirements in mind.

    You can’t run a just-in-time operation if you can’t be sure your deliveries will, in fact, arrive just in time.

  336. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I virtually certain that freight is banned from the Thameslink core which is sort of ironic given that is why it was built. It’s a bit like banning horses from canal towpaths.

    Apart from anything else I am pretty sure clearances in the Thameslink tunnels would be too tight for modern freight anyway and the gradient of 1 in 29 between Blackfriars and City Thameslink would make freight unacceptable. Then there is the issue of motive power. Diesel would probably be totally unacceptable. You would need a loco capable of working off overhead and third rail and you would need sufficient power available from the third rail for a freight train which very much doubt you will have.

    Just for clarity, the TBMs at Woolwich returned their spoil mixed in with slurry to Plumstead where it was separated from the slurry. I presume it went from their to Northfleet by train by the direct route.

  337. timbeau says:

    Just remembered why I was looking at Faulkner in the first place – incidentally the same book referenced by Robin yesterday: the diagram he refers to is, I think, the post-1910 layout as he says there are four tracks on the SWML. (Apart from the new platform 2, it is still physically the same as 1910, although the names of some tracks have changed because of the Wimbledon flyover, and the platforms were renumbered in 1947) .

    @anomnibus 0143 4th Aug
    “This would compensate for the need to build a new pair of viaducts up off the eastern chord before the dive-under to retain access to the Wimbledon lines”

    Not sure what you are suggesting here – there is not, and according to Faulkner never has been, access from the WLL to the direct route to Wimbledon via Earlsfield. Any train from the WLL to the SWML at Wimbledon has to go either via Balham and Haydons Road, or via Point Pleasant and East Putney.

  338. straphan says:

    As long as London has industry it will need freight terminals. Also, freight terminals are the most efficient way of getting construction materials to the thousands of construction sites operating in London each day (plus spoil in the other direction).

    What I do not understand is why do freight trains that run from the South & East of England (i.e. Haven Ports) to the Midlands & North have to cross over some of the busiest items of rail infrastructure in the country? There is fortunately some relief coming for the North London Line with the completion of the F2N project. East-West Rail, when it finally opens, will also provide some relief in that general area as well. But what about the West London Line? It and the Basingstoke-Reading line are the only freight-accessible connections between the rail networks in Southern and Western England. Worse yet, the Reading-Basingstoke line faces the wrong way at Basingstoke, making it necessary for all freight from east of Basingstoke to run via West London (or do a lengthy detour from the coast via Eastleigh). Thameslink is and will be closed to freight – an off-peak frequency of 16tph will make it impossible to route freight through there. Ditto HS1 – there is no way of squeezing through freight trains between 125/140/180mph high-speed trains between the peaks.

    The one gap that would need to be bridged to relieve the WLL is the construction of a flyover at Redhill. Sadly, Tesco has its sights on the land, and there is no funding to build it.

  339. timbeau says:

    Freight can and does also use the Blackwater Valley line between Reading and Guildford – which is why the Redhill flyover would be useful of course – and the N&SWJR route from Willesden Junction via South Acton and the Kew Bridge triangle, giving access to the SWML via Chertsey or the SLL via Factory Junction.

  340. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – “Freight can and does also use the Blackwater Valley line between Reading and Guildford”. Apart from the ‘tanks’ on their way to Alton from Fawley what else is there?

  341. straphan says:

    @Graham H: Currently, probably nothing much. With a flyover at Redhill, though, things would be a tad different…

    @timbeau: Trains are generally not timed via the Kew Curve due to the volume of trains through Clapham Jn – I doubt you would find a clear path there even in the off-peak. Add to that the state of the bridge that the ELL Overgrounds have to crawl over – not sure that bridge is fit for freights?

  342. Theban says:

    It cannot make sense for any freight to use BML given the severe capacity constraints but yes there needs to be a decent north-south freight route across London and some freight terminal access within zones 1-3. It is hard to suggest what route that should take in London when there is little clarity on the best route south of London.

    It’s easy to see why WLL might until recent times have been a good option for freight but the Overground has really changed that and BML capacity constraints north of Croydon are the nail in the coffin of that being a viable freight route going forwards.

  343. Slugabed says:

    One of the many re-builds of Clapham Junction (in this instance,the construction of Platform 17 in 1908):

  344. Castlebar (Peoples’ Popular Front for Ruislip L.U. Chord Liberation) says:

    But there ISN’T ANY freight that needs to go to Eastbourne, Brighton, Chichester, Horsham, Pulborough etc . It all died with the ending of loose coupled freight trains, when the Horsham – Shoreham line closed, and the closure of Norwood, Horsham, Three Bridges and Brighton yards.

    Brighton yard morphed into the station car park, FAR more profitable for the railway than having to run pesky trains!!

  345. Steven Taylor says:

    Re Clapham Junction. Thanks for your post. It is a most interesting station, and unfortunately, most books, including Howard Turner`s famous trilogy on LBSCR have errors, but fortunately, the LBSCR minutes etc, at Kew National Archives are mostly complete. It is a complicated picture, especially the LBSC / WLE side. One has to consider that the only platform face still in existence from the original 1863 station is Platform 12. The other side of the island (LSWR) platform 11 was widened in 1874.
    On the LBSC / WEL side, several platforms have been re-sited, especially in 1895 when quadruple track was provided through the station for LBSCR. This was done be closing up the gap between the original 1863 side platform for the WLE, which originally had broad gauge tracks for the Great Western trains. The other side of the platform was converted into an Island for WLE services. Four track running between on the LBSC commenced in late November 1895.(National Archives MT 29/57). Then in 1909/1910, the current arrangement was instigated, namely dispensing with the narrow platform for Up Local services, and apart from current Platform 12, all the existing LBSCR /WLER platform faces date from this time. If you observe the current staircase to Platform 15/16 from the subway, you will notice that it is not centrally situated on the platform because the face of Platform 16 was moved slightly westwards from its 1895 position in 1909.

    When the additional Down Line was added to the LBSCR (making 4 lines) in 1895 from Pouparts Junction to Streatham Junction North, they were paired by direction, including Clapham Junction. Pairing by use between Clapham Junction South box and Balham Junction box happened between April and June 1906. The reason that Clapham Junction was not changed at the same time was only due to the delay in reconstructing the platforms.

  346. Theban says:


    One does occasionally see a freight train heading through East Croydon. They aren’t very common but they do exist and I don’t just mean ballast trains for track work. There aren’t many though which is why I don’t think freight should affect the best outcome for BML passenger services whether at Clapham Junction or elsewhere.

    At the same time, I do think there should be both national and SE rail freight strategies. We should be encouraging more freight onto rails and that’s going to need a strategy and some investment. I thought it disappointing that the 2050 strategy didn’t address freight.

  347. Castlebar (Peoples’ Popular Front for Ruislip L.U. Chord Liberation) says:

    @ Theban

    but I suspect that they’re turning off the BML at Redhill

  348. Peter Heather says:

    Or they could have been going to or from the aggregate yard at Purley.

  349. Graham Feakins says:

    Network Rail are working on signalling interfaces to permit Class 92 locomotives to run from Tonbridge to Clapham Junction via Redhill to enable diversionary/relief Channel Tunnel freight to run that way.

  350. Graham Feakins says:

    @Anomnibus – “and Thameslink’s core will need to close often for maintenance as it’s going to be taking a hell of a pounding during the day.”

    In fact, the plan is to run all-night airport services through the Thameslink core; the tracks will be bi-directional. It will be interesting indeed to see how often the route needs to be blocked.

  351. Mike says:

    Re Timbeau’s 13:51 post, the Ian Allan reprint of the LBSC’s 1901 Table of Distances, which includes track layouts (doubtless with some simplification), shows the BML as double track Victoria- Grosvenor Road; up/up/down across the river and through Battersea Park to just north of Clapham Jc; up/up/down/down to Streatham jc, where the outside lines went west towards Mitcham Jc, the inside southwards towards Streatham Common (then double track). At Balham the Streatham Hill lines connected with the respective eastern lines.

    So through Clapham Jc the LBSC platforms served, west to east, trains

    *from Mitcham Jc (up fast (12) in Timbeau’s post);
    *from Streatham Common/Streatham Hill (up slow, 12x);
    *to Streatham Common (down fast, 13);
    *to Streatham Hill/Mitcham Jc (down slow, 14);
    * from Streatham Common/Streatham Hill to WLL (Kensington departure, 15);
    * WLL to Streatham Hill/Mitcham Jc (Kensington arrival, 16).

    But I can’t see why “the layout was awkward as it required down fast and up slow trains to cross each other’s paths twice” – where would this have been necessary?

  352. Mike says:

    Re the Croydon Canal and the L&CR, there’s an excellent little book called “Retracing Canals To Croydon And Camberwell; Living History Local Guide No. 7”.

    In the same series there’s also “Retracing The First Public Railway. Living History Local Guide No. 4” re the Surrey Iron Railway and its subsequent uses. They’re both well worth a read.

  353. Mike says:

    Also from the LBSC Table of Distances, the line was double track from Earlswood (south end of the Quarry Line) southwards, except for four through Horley, three (up/down/down) to Gatwick, and six through Gatwick – race business must have been good – with platforms just on the four loops, not on the through roads. Three Bridges had a third track, from Crawley.

  354. Theban says:

    I think I have seen both aggregates and non-aggregate freight at East Croydon. Whether they are just from Purley, from Redhill (ex-Tobridge) or up from the coast, I still think running freight through the Croydon – Clapham stretch of the BML is a mistake and isn’t the sort of free pathway needed either to get more freight onto rails.

  355. Ian J says:

    @Graham Feakins: Network Rail are working on signalling interfaces to permit Class 92 locomotives to run from Tonbridge to Clapham Junction via Redhill to enable diversionary/relief Channel Tunnel freight to run that way

    Wasn’t the Tonbridge-Redhill line electrified in the first place for Channel Tunnel freight (and then never used for it)?

    In fact, the plan is to run all-night airport services through the Thameslink core

    Thameslink already run virtually all night through the core already don’t they? Or at least used to before all the current works started. The only real down time was Saturday night/early Sunday morning (much to the annoyance of those of us who used to go clubbing on a Saturday night in our misspent youths…)

  356. Robert Butlin says:

    The aggregates trains also run to Newhaven.

  357. timbeau says:


    That was the arrangement in 1901, but according to Faulkner the tracks were rearranged in 1907 between Balham and Battersea Park to be paired by use. However, because of the constricted up slow platform at CJ, trains had to still be paired by direction there until the rebuilding in 1910, hence the need for weaving.

  358. THC says:

    @ Mike – 00:55

    Thanks for the references – I’ve managed to trace and order a copy of each book. Looking forward to see what I can find ‘in the wild’!


  359. Steven Taylor says:

    Re your reference to @Timbeau
    But I can’t see why “the layout was awkward as it required down fast and up slow trains to cross each other’s paths twice” – where would this have been necessary?
    I have probably answered this – see my post 06AUG 21:42.

    The new Down line South of Clapham Junction was brought into use after inspection on 8th November 1895 – probably late November 1895, and was Paired by Direction, namely Down Local, Down Main, Up Local and Up Main.

    By June 1906, these lines between Clapham Junction South box and Balham Junction box were re-arranged as Down Local, Up Local, Down Main and Up Main, i.e. changed from Pairing by Direction to Pairing by Use. There was a flat junction at Clapham Junction South to swap position of two lines as Clapham Junction was still Pairing by Direction.

    Battersea Pier Junction – through Pouparts Junction to Clapham Junction North Box was converted from Paired by Direction to Paired by Use on 10 February 1907, with installation of flat crossing at Clapham Junction North.

    This operationally difficult scenario of a flat junction either side of Clapham Junction only came about because of the delay in rebuilding Clapham Junction. It should be remembered that apart from Platform 12, all remaining WLER and LBSCR were moved, and agreement had to be reached with the WLER before plans were formalised.

    When all the platforms had been re-sited, full Paired by Use (alternate) running was instigated through Clapham Junction LBSCR platforms on 13 March 1910. Not before time I would guess!!

    Trust this clarifies.

  360. Mike says:

    Thanks, Timbeau & ST: hadn’t appreciated that Timbeau’s reference was to the situation post 1906 rather than to 1901.

  361. straphan says:

    If there was the capacity and the gauge, you would be able to find plenty of potential freight flows down South. Sheerness port handles 400k cars a year, and has the largest banana ripening warehouse in the UK – neither is served by rail despite there being a rail line pretty much right up to the port terminal. Purley and Ardingly could also just as well be served via Redhill than via the WLL. And then there are those daft 39 freight paths per day for Channel Tunnel freight traffic – even though there will not be enough demand for half of these paths over the next 50 years, these are subject to complex international agreements and cannot be removed from the graph. And since they can’t, why do they have to eat up capacity on the WLL when they could just as well pretend to exist on the Tonbridge – Redhill and North Downs lines, where even in the next 100 years demand won’t justify more than 2tph passenger services.*

    There is also Grain Thamesport and Angerstein Wharf – both of these are, however, arguably better served through the West London Line.

    * I do appreciate that the business case for building a flyover on the basis of diverting non-existent freight trains through it might look shaky. However, since these paths are reserved, they are very much a real constraint on capacity on the Catford Loop, and on the Atlantic and West London Lines. As such, extra revenue and benefits from releasing these constraints might go a long way towards paying what may end up being a bit of a grey concrete elephant. Also, even with possible electrification of the North Downs Line (Redhill-Reading) there would at most be demand for 2tph passenger services in any case (1tph local Gatwick-Reading + 1tph semi-fast Gatwick to Reading and Oxford).

  362. Graham H says:

    @straphan – whilst I agree with you entirely about wasted freight paths (and I can’t see an easy way of making the freight operators pay for what they don’t use or need), there might be a business case (if only Ashford International were better served) for using Reading – Tonbridge- Ashford for through services from the Midlands and the west to connect with the Tunnel services (Redhill flyover cheaper than HS1-HS2 link). Slower, yes, but only slower than the complete HS1-HS2 link, not slower than going to Euston and then pottering off to StP, perhaps.

  363. Anomnibus says:


    Re. WLL link to “Brighton”. Oops, you’re right: the link is with the line via Putney. Mea blunder; I should have caught that one.

    In any case, a link at that level may still be necessary, although a ‘stacked’ station would make a cross-platform interchange between the two segments of the Overground Orbital route tricky. Lift / escalator and / or stairs access between the two levels would need to allow for such flows.

    I still think a stacked design would make the most sense for the site though: you can get double the number of platforms into the same space as a single-layered station could handle. That neatly resolves the NIMBY problem as land take would be dramatically reduced. And the stacking means you already have most of the work done for grade-separated junctions too.

  364. straphan says:

    @Graham H: Methinks that may be overkill, as:
    – you would have to provide an all-shacks service on the line.
    – you would have to maitain the existing link from Reading (or Oxford) to Gatwick.

    There is then little space or demand for an additional third hourly service to Ashford which would by-pass Gatwick AND prevent people from changing for Gatwick by not calling at Redhill. Plus there are hardly any Eurostars calling at Ashford anymore – you would need to coax Eurostar into calling more of them there, which would lead to revenue loss on the prime London to Europe market…

  365. Graham H says:

    @straphan – indeed (I was careful to prefix my remarks with a comment about a better service to Ashford!) I agree, some additional loops might be required, though the present (semi-)flighting in the timetable suggests that that might not be very many. With better platforming at Guildford (bring 6 back into use) a cross-platform interchange from the Ashford service to the stoppers may be possible.

  366. straphan says:

    @Graham H: The future plans that I have seen for the line do envisage just that: 2tph, with 1tph all-shacks and the other a semi-fast, which overtakes the all-shacks at Guildford.

    Trouble is where would we now squeeze the third one to Ashford, and whether the junctions at Shalford and Wokingham could actually hack it…

  367. Graham H says:

    @Straphan – dunno! Probably not – one would need to do a simulation exercise on a putative timetable (to the surprise of some, I don’t have Railsys installed on my home PC) which is why I suspect some additional loops might be necessary at, say, Gomshall and North Camp or similar, tho’ I note from your comment that the present 2 tph doesn’t rely on the semi running down the all shacks at Guildford and wonder why this is needed in the future – Guildford platforms are not exactly an abundant commodity.

  368. straphan says:

    @Graham: I’ve just actually reviewed what I had been sent through regarding the North Downs and I’m sorry to say I’ve misled you all.

    The proposals are for 2tph semi-fast and 1tph all-stations. Currently, the all-stations is only 14 minutes slower than the semi-fast, so that it comfortably fits between the hourly semi-fast paths. With the second semi-fast, the all stations will have to sit at Guildford for a good few minutes to let this one past.

  369. Fandroid says:

    @straphan’s basic suggestion of transferring the virtual freight paths away from the WLL by expending money on grey concrete elephants at Redhill and elsewhere is one of those semi-bonkers ideas that, at the very least, might make the planners look hard at their own starting assumptions. In practical terms, the sad thing about the idea of using Ashford-Redhill- Reading is that the line west of Reading and north of Didcot is probably spoken for in Electric Spine dreams.

  370. Castlebar, - a crayon free zone says:

    The Bletchley flyover is a lasting memorial to concrete (pun intended) thinking.

  371. Mark Townend says:

    @Fandroid, 9 August 2014 at 14:21

    The electric spine is perhaps part of the attraction of going via Reading. Kent and Chunnel freight could slot in behind southern ports traffic, flighted in groups of two or three trains to the midlands and north where they can spread out again. It might even be possible to couple two trains together in Hinksey sidings then run them together with electric superpower up front to save paths.

  372. Castlebar, - a crayon free zone says:


    That makes sense,
    but would it justify a mega concrete flyover at Redhill?
    The Bletchley flyover was on line that was going to be a SW/NE freight spine avoiding London. Now 60 years on a more expensive and bigger concrete flyover to avoid Redhill??

  373. Graham H says:

    @MT -If you could persuade freight to run to a timetable and you provided some very long loops…

  374. Malcolm says:

    @Castlebar – no, the big concrete flyover at Redhill would be, just like the Bletchley one, to avoid /London/. Sounds pretty good to me, whether it is occupied by real freights or phantom ones.

  375. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – so you’d pay happily for something that had no use?

  376. Malcolm says:

    @Graham no, not happily but resignedly. I would certainly rather pay for a mostly-empty flyover than a nuclear deterrent; but I have no choice about either.

    Of the three possibilities:
    1) Negotiate away the unused freight paths
    2) Leave them in place but route them out of London
    3) Status quo

    I would prefer (1) over (2), but (2) over (3)

  377. Greg Tingey says:

    Indeed- & may yet see freight trains, but not ones going to & from Marshalling yards, this time around ….
    And PROVIDED the freight actually does come & go through the tunnel, rather than on lorries, because of silly/overpriced use-charges on rail-borne traffic, then …
    Yes a Redhill flyover would be a very good idea

  378. Castlebar, - a crayon free zone says:

    Surrey residents are generally “better connected” (and I don’t mean by rail) than Bletchley ones. (Ask GH). Anything like a concrete monolith that could frighten the horses 10 miles away, (or would reduce property values) will NEVER happen

  379. Anonymous says:

    Not sure the residents of that particular bit of Surrey are terribly well connected. I suspect that Crispin ia more bothered by reigate than the bit of the constituency that persistently votes green. Reigate level crossing however – they would be seriously well connected.

  380. Ian Sergeant says:

    Reigate and Wokingham level crossings. These really would not be fun if Redhill to Reading were to be used as a strategic freight corridor. Has anyone offered a solution?

  381. Graham H says:

    @Ian Sergeant – not to mention North Camp – all nicely situated in built up areas /centres of towns. I haven’t ever seen any projects to get rid of them.

  382. Mark Townend says:

    The Wokingham station link road project plans to reduce the congestion caused by traffic turning across the crossing by remodelling road junction layouts nearby. The local road crossing the railway is of no great importance in itself, and alternative routes exist when it is closed, but historically the crossing caused major problems at the adjacent junction because traffic waiting to cross it completely blocked other traffic. The project relieves this by abolishing some turns at the junction and provides dedicated filter lanes for those remaining.

    At North Camp the crossing is already bypassed by a parallel road overbridge.

    Reigate remains the most intractable problem with an extremely busy important A road and no obvious or easy means to grade separate the intersection.

  383. T33 says:

    Anonymous 13:07 Crispin has his handful over Biffa Whiffs, new flight paths and angry customers at Redhill district stations with all the cutting of services, that I’m sure he will love to have another fight on his hands with a level crossing. He’ll probably move back to Westminster again.

    I can’t see them building the Redhill concrete monstrosity without major hand backs to the station users. However I am sure they will eventually build a bridge over the level crossing at Reigate eventually – doubt it will look pretty as locals expect but would make local traffic much easier.

  384. Graham H says:

    @MT – so no plans, then?

  385. Mark Townend says:

    @GH – I’d be surprised if there’s never been some design study at Reigate, but I’ve never seen anything published, probably because there’s no clear solution that stands out or that the local authority would want to put their name to!

    It’s a difficult site, boxed in by development at each corner. Probably the only practical option would be a long rail flyover, which would also have to incorporate station platforms at the high level, perhaps also retaining a terminating track at the low level for the Southern services. A rail underpass might also be technically possible but gradients would be rather steep to clear the bridges under the railway either side of the crossing, around 600m and 500m away. To allow construction alongside the working railway huge ramp trenches would be required next to the railway with major implications for surrounding property and the railway itself, and utilities and services under the street would need moving. A flyover could have less severe gradients, and in the crossing area might be able to run partly over the existing rail alignment to avoid demolition of large buildings nearby, but the visual intrusion of such a massive structure would be a major issue especially for the large number of residents nearby – “not pretty” as T33 observed.

    By contrast the Redhill link flyover itself between Reading and Tonbridge lines would mostly cross underused industrial land and apart from the CPO requirements in Grovehill Road near the new Reading line junction would affect little residential property.

  386. Graham H says:

    @MT _ I know the area well, alas. A road overbridge or road underpass to leave the railway where it is now, would be even less appealing – the gradients would be formidable, and the ramps’ sides would damage a lot of property. I suspect the long term solution – if there is one at all – is to put rail in a tunnel at outrageous expense or construct an entirely new road down from Reigate Heath into the town but I can’t imagine where it would debouche. Politicians who demand the closure of every level crossing on safety grounds need to study individual cases such as this.

  387. Malcolm says:

    Reigate crossing. Visually and noise-wise a trench would seem to me to be far preferable. I wonder if either of the underbridges you mention could be closed? And what would be the impact of not even trying to do it alongside a working railway, instead closing the line for (?6 weeks) and building it fast?

  388. Anomnibus says:

    Reigate is an interesting engineering puzzle…

    On the one hand, you have a level crossing that is really difficult to replace. You also can’t raise the trackbed as there are too many bridges in the way. That leaves dropping the railway into a cutting or tunnel. But how do you do that without causing major disruption? Also, what do you do with the old right of way? If you just leave the railway in a very deep cutting, you’re wasting an opportunity to solve one of Reigate’s other problems: the fact that the A25 passes right through its town centre, exposing it to lots of unwanted through traffic. (Note how wide the road is here: it’s basically a dual-carriageway in all but name!)

    What if we could divert the A25 from the point where it crosses the current railway (between Linkfield St. and Fengates Rd.) to reuse the old railway alignment? The A25 is mostly a single-carriageway, with plenty of filter lanes, so it could fit if road ran at grade. This means we can get rid of most of the bridges as well. The A25 could then return to its current right of way by rejoining it near the quarry a little west of Reigate.

    If memory serves, this is chalk country, so tunnelling using diggers and shotcrete may be viable here. In which case, you could start at Clifton’s Lane and work your way east. Build a new station box at the Homebase site next to the present station and you could retain the existing station in service for as long as practical.

    (I did originally consider cut-and-cover, but the railway actually passes over a number of roads, so that wouldn’t be feasible on those sections.)

    Continue the tunnel right out to the Ashford line—if only for ease of access to the work site, and because it gives you the possibility of sending tunnel spoil out to Northfleet by rail. You then knock a hole into the tunnel for the new ramps from Redhill junction, providing the final link.

    Once the new railway is built, you can remove the old infrastructure at leisure, replacing it with the diverted A25. A couple of new bridges might be needed, but it may be preferable to just keep it at-grade throughout, eliminating all the bridges along the new road entirely. This would offer much more flexibility for local bus routes, as well as for other road users.

    (Of course, there’s no reason you couldn’t just build a new cycle route instead. Or build a tram. Whatever takes the local council’s fancy, really. Diverting the A25 just seems the most obvious option to me, but I’m not a local resident.)

    Basically, my point is that, for projects like this, it’s a lot easier to justify the expense if you can kill more than one bird with this stone. Focussing on just one improvement at a time can blind you to the synergistic* possibilities of combining related projects.

    * This is a real word that has value in this field, but has been so abused by marketing and PR people as to be considered by many to be tantamount to an expletive. It needs to be reclaimed, I say!

  389. straphan says:

    With regard to the Redhill flyover: Given how well protected these ‘phantom paths’ are, and given the going rate for rail lawyers these days, I reckon building the flyover would cost probably little more than negotiating the deletion of these paths from track access agreements (plus compensation to the operators, etc.), and you would actually end up with a real piece of infrastructure, rather than just extra white space on the graph…

  390. Anomnibus says:


    But why a flyover? It seems to be consistent that a flyover is needed here, but the site strongly suggests a dive-under would be a better fit, if not necessarily cheaper.

    How would you get it past the A23, which crosses above the tracks very close to the junction? Over the bridge? No wonder the locals aren’t pleased with the idea. It’d have a huge visual impact on the area.

  391. T33 says:

    At Reigate crossing the ramps on either side of a road overbridge would lift up against Office Blocks, not pretty but sort of acceptable.

    You might lose the Road Junctions closest to the bridge as well so would need to replace somehow. Yes an interesting engineering problem

  392. Anonymous says:

    @anomnibus. The A23 at Redhill passes under the Reigate line just south of Redhill station. Therefore you definitely need a flyover. The ground rises thereafter so that the line passes under the A 25.

  393. CdBrux says:

    @straphan, 13:20: and we wonder why things get done slowly and expensively in the UK!

  394. Dr R Beeching says:

    Local populations of Reigate & Redhill are never going to accept any concrete monstrosity whether a flyover or whatever, on their turf

  395. Anomnibus says:


    Probably a good thing I got my reading glasses repaired today. Again. I can’t believe I missed that.

    Okay, forget everything I wrote. You din’t see nuttin’.

  396. Castlebar, - a crayon free zone says:

    I agree with Dr Beeching. Reigate is in central Nimbyland. They will now forgive their tree-hugging children living in Carmarthenshire yurts, and ignore their previous transgressions.

    “Come home kids and protect your inheritance!!”

  397. Theban says:

    I can see why the notion of joining the Tonbridge and Reading branches with a crayon flyover is conceptually and visually appealing but is it really needed? Isn’t the key to Redhill, and in part to BML as a whole, to ensure that 24+tph can be pushed down the Quarry Lines which avoid Redhill?

  398. straphan says:

    I think the REAL ‘keys to Redhill’ would be to:
    – build a West-to-South connection (from North Downs Line towards Gatwick);
    – electrify the North Downs Line as well as Aldershot South Jn to Wokingham.

    You could then:
    – Merge the North Downs stopping service with the Reigate – London service, reducing journey times from Dorking (Deepdene) to Victoria from the current 1 hour (Dorking Main via Sutton) to about 40-something minutes, removing a reversing move from Redhill, and saving unit mileage
    – Increase the semi-fast frequency on the North Downs line, divert the semi-fasts away from Redhill towards Gatwick (reducing journey time), and extend them to Oxford.
    – Divert freights from Ardingly onto the North Downs Line, saving a few paths via East Croydon and West London Line.

  399. Theban says:


    I am being dense and cannot see how a SW chord would much assist those improvements. Electrification of the North Downs Line clearly would be beneficial, and extending the Reigate service is an obvious move, but I struggle with the chord?

    Reversing at Redhill really doesn’t add much – maybe 5 minutes – and there aren’t many services and hour which do, or even would with a chord, go west – south or vv.

  400. timbeau says:

    @ theban
    The main benefit of not reversing at Redhill would be for freight. If a chord was there it would be much easier to route freight via the North Downs line intead of West London. Reversing Gatwick services is a nuisance, but not as much I suspect. The five minutes may not be much in terms of journey time, but they do clog up Redhill station.

    (Conflicting moves might be reduced by running Reading trains from Redhill to Gatwick on the down slow and back on the up fast, thus requiring only one point of conflict instead of two).

  401. Mark Townend says:

    @timbeau, 12 August 2014 at 18:12

    “Conflicting moves might be reduced by running Reading trains from Redhill to Gatwick on the down slow and back on the up fast, thus requiring only one point of conflict instead of two”

    That could lead to further conflicts at Gatwick, unless there was a dedicated terminating facility between fasts and slows. There’s an additional platform planned on the west side at Redhill I understand. That should allow simultaneous run in from Gatwick and Reading.

  402. Theban says:

    A bigredevelopment of Redhill station was approved in October 2013 but is a commercial development. If that includes an additional platform that might make a big difference.

  403. Anonymous says:

    An additional platform is on the cards although it doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the tsgn benefits. The reading semi fasts are very busy at Redhill as it has a large incoming commuting base as well as outgoing. If the North Downs line was electrified then extending the services back to Victoria would be very useful giving Croydon direct services to Guildford again and also easy changes at Reading for the West of England.

  404. Graham H says:

    @straphan – I agree very much with you analysis (and a through Oxford-gatwick service was an aspiration even in NSE days,with Ashford as a possible further extension – we believed Eurostar propaganda about the frequency of Ashford stops…), Where would you terminate the present Reigates? Guildford?

    @Anonymous – the present service already runs through to Reading so the interchange wouldn’t be improved – it’s quite easy (but with lousy timings) even now.

  405. Malcolm says:

    Graham says “we believed Eurostar propaganda about the frequency of Ashford stops“.

    I expect Eurostar believed it then too. I don’t see them as villains for having cut the Ashford stops to a token few. I’m sure they’d stop more if the demand was there. It isn’t, because the catchment area of Ashford (even when supplemented with places like Tonbridge and Hastings) is a drop in the ocean (overseas-travellers-wise) compared to London (+everywhere else from which it’s easier to get to London than to Ashford).

    It also doesn’t help that a stop gobbles up quite a lot of minutes, and I think the Eurostar market is quite time-sensitive.

  406. Graham Feakins says:

    Network Rail states that an additional platform at Redhill is planned within the next five years to provide capacity and resilience.

  407. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – Indeed, with the benefit of hindsight – always a Good Thing, of course – its not clear that Ashford International has been worth the investment.

  408. Anonymous says:

    Very good article, a great read.

    What I think needs to be done really is a complete rationalisation of London’s Crossrail plans. Crossrail 2 causes so many problems in railway planning I’m suprised TfL are going along with it. In my view. Crossrail 2 should be shifted to the Southern Metro services out of Victoria, then head up to Finsbury Park and take over the Hertford Loop and WGC suburban lines. Leaving Crossrail 3 as a move useful, Waterloo to Liverpool Street tunnel abolishing the Waterloo and City Line. By doing this, the Hertford Loop line has some sort of a future. Instead of being confined to a Moorgate to Hertford London Overground type service, and of course, creates precious platform space at Victoria for the longer distance services. Otherwise, if Crossrail 2 is built as is, there will be no North London destination to send Victoria slows into a Crossrail. Unless you want to do a Victoria-Bond Street-Marylebone route which will probably not be terribly useful.

  409. Ian J says:

    Ashford’s service was reduced when Ebbsfleet opened, but when Ashford was built it was no more than a twinkling in Blue Circle’s eye.

  410. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous 2250. How about Victoria Waterloo Liverpool street.

  411. straphan says:

    Regarding Reading – Gatwick:
    – Yes, there is a plan to build an additional Platform 0 on the western side of Redhill. This still does not remove the need for conflicting moves across the mainline. A West-to-South chord with grade separated junction at the southern end takes care of this.
    – Reversing at Redhill takes more than 5 minutes as you are not taking into account the extra distance travelled, as well as deceleration and acceleration. With a current end-to-end journey time of 76 minutes from Reading to Gatwick, I think knocking off 10% of the journey time on an airport flow (more than that if travelling from intermediate stations!) is very much worthwhile.
    – I believe there is enough platform space at Gatwick for the Reading-Gatwicks, particularly if you were to improve linespeeds from the south of the slow lines, so that Platform 1 becomes the up slow, 2 the terminating bay, and 3 the down slow.
    – I have not thought about where the Reigate service could be extended to if the North Downs were to be electrified. From a capacity and resource perspective the most sensible solution would be to merge it with the current all-stations North Downs service to Reading. From a performance point of view that would of course not be a good idea…

  412. Theban says:

    If the Reading Gatwicks ceased stopping at Redhill then the cross-country route from Ashford and Tonbridge to Reading, changing at Redhill, would be broken. Those First Reading trains are more than an airport service – the connections at Redhill are important too.

  413. straphan says:

    Sorry, what Ashford-Reading route?

    Ashford to Reading is:
    – 1h 43min via high-speed

  414. straphan says:

    Sorry, what Ashford-Reading route?

    Ashford to Reading is:
    – 1h 43min via St Pancras high-speed
    – 1h 50min by car (assuming no congestion)
    – 2h 12min via Charing Cross
    – 2h 46min via Redhill

    All rail journeys require two changes. Off-peak price is £39.20 regardless whether via London or not.

    My conclusion: if I wanted to do this journey I’d do it by car. If I didn’t have a car, I’d go via London.

  415. timbeau says:

    @Theban “the cross-country route from Ashford and Tonbridge to Reading, changing at Redhill, would be broken”

    @Straphan “Ashford to Reading is:
    – 1h 43min via St Pancras high-speed”

    Indeed, but by that logic there is no point to the District Line because there are quicker ways of getting from Ealing Broadway to Upminster

    High Speed is not much use if you’re going from Ashford to Reigate, or Edenbridge to Reading.

    (Anyway, I can get from Ashford to Reading in 1 hour by changing at Staines – but you have to choose the right Ashford!)

  416. straphan says:

    Nowhere am I suggesting to break the link between the North Downs line and Redhill completely – were the line to be electrified, I would propose merging the 1tph Redhill-Reigate shuttle with the 1tph Reading-Redhill all-stations service. Given Tonbridge-Redhill is and will remain 1tph, increasing the frequency of services from the North Downs line to Redhill for the sake of east-west connections via Redhill is pointless.

  417. T33 says:

    Redhill – Reading (Some quick lunch break comments)

    Platform 0 at Redhill is due to be in situ and commissioned in December 2017 and will be timetabled from May 2018 (Source: the NR guy who is building it at recent meeting)
    The extra distance of going into Redhill and then South to Gatwick is hardly any at all. In any case from my experience watching the FGW trains at Redhill, you would not want to route the trains that way as more people use them to get off at Redhill than go on to Gatwick (by at least 5 to 1)
    @Straphan – Please don’t send the Reigate trains to Reading, as from Dec 2015 they will be Redhill’s Victoria service (when the Arun valley trains are diverted away). These will be very busy trains all day and to have them wandering off all round the network will create unreliability.
    Interestingly from Jan 2015 to Dec 2015 Redhill will have 8 trains per hour off peak to London, a frequency that Southern have constantly denied is possible. (we will still only get 4 or 5 per hour in the peak of course – not sure why you need more off-peak than peak trains)

  418. straphan says:

    @T33: I am well aware of that. I am also aware that the all-shacks train on the North Downs line will wait 16 minutes or so at Guildford in the future, where it will get overtaken by the second semi-fast on the route. Perhaps letting the Reigate service (once the North Downs is electrified which in itself is pie-in-the-sky) take over the all-shacks service to Guildford will be more reasonable?

    The distance of going into Redhill is indeed minute, but the journey time repercussions are not. You need 4 minutes to swap ends, and the trains have to absolutely crawl through the junction due to approach control and tight curves. Cutting off the Redhill stop would save at least 6 minutes.

  419. Mark Townend says:

    @straphan, 13 August 2014 at 14:46

    There is significant business to be had at Redhill, which is a good reason to retain the stop there. It is a sizable town centre with employment, retail and leisure activities, I would judge bigger than nearby Reigate in the same conurbation, and all conveniently located near the station. Passengers arriving from the Guildford direction can interchange with the Tonbridge line there and for services in towards London. Some changes towards Horsham and Brighton may also be better there than at Gatwick. I can’t see a W-S chord being justified at all personally, especially on its own, but it might be at least possible as part of a larger project to provide a Tonbridge – Reading flyover for freight traffic, if other constraints on the route can be resolved.

  420. straphan says:

    @Mark Townend: I do not have the demand figures to hand, but if the Redhill connection is indeed so valuable, then I am happy to stand corrected.

    And once again, I never suggested for Redhill to be totally disconnected from the North Downs line. My proposal was for the following service pattern:

    – 2tph fast/semi-fast (Oxford)-Reading-Guildford-Gatwick
    – 1tph (almost) all-stations Reading-Guildford, by-passing Redhill
    – 1tph all-stations Guildford-Redhill, then semi-fast to Victoria

  421. mr_jrt says:

    Random thought: would it be worth building a flyover at Redhill with platforms on it to remove the need for through services to reverse, and then either:
    a) Treating it as a separate station
    or b) Rebuilding the main station south of the junctions, and thus linked to the new platforms in a single complex?

  422. Theban says:

    Is it really worth building an expensive chord to save 6mins for what I believe is at present 1tph and realistically in the medium term is unlikely to exceed 2tph?

  423. Anonymous says:

    How 8 trains in Jan. I thought the Thameslink trains weren’t starting till December. I’m hoping you’re right and they stop at Purley.

  424. Graham Feakins says:

    @Theban – I thought that the whole concept of the Redhill chord was for Continental freight to run through via Tonbridge to/from the West and North avoiding London and the BML/West London Line. Nothing to do with passenger services at all, as such.

  425. Theban says:

    That’s not a chord linking BML towards the south with the North Downs Line but a flyover linking the NDL with the Tonbridge branch.

  426. Castlebar, - a crayon free zone says:

    @ Theban , GF etc

    I seem to remember that the chord I think you are referring to was once called the “Crowhurst Chord”, and it enabled westbound freight on the NDL to turn north after Edenbridge, and then Hurst Green and East Croydon, completely missing Redhill. I would have thought it would be an “easy do”

    Chord re-instatements seem out of favour.

    However, I am puzzled why this appears on no agendas, whilst very cost ineffective re-builds currently seem attractive.

  427. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Chord re-instatements do create their own problems. An obvious one is signalling as it forces you to put block sections in places where you do not want to (which is the primary reason why I got so frustrated every time Greg talked about reinstating the emergency spur at Windmill Junction).

    Another really important feature of a chord is that it should as a minimum be able to hold the longest train that could use it otherwise you get performance delays as a train blocks the junction. It is not so critical on lightly used lines but on those lines the case for reinstating a chord cannot be strong unless it would turn it into more heavily used lines.

    A further consideration to the above is that ideally you really want the chord to include a complete signal overlap as well otherwise an train traversing the chord even if going to stop on the chord itself will potentially block the running lines of one of the routes it joins up to.

    One of the problems with Airtrack, not as publicised as level crossings, was that one of the chords at Staines would be too short for 12-car trains and this could have led to all sorts of issues. And at St Johns the Tanners Hill flydown can only take 10-car trains in the down (away from London) direction without blocking the main line which will lead to potential issues one day.

    So chords cannot be too short. Once they start getting long they probably start getting surprisingly expensive. Campaigners see it as “just” reinstating the track but the chances are the route was created in the days before we understand what we do today about soil mechanics. Look at the cost of reinstating the track on an embankment as part of Evergreen 1. I forget the amount but it was commented on as phenomenal given that the formation was in place but of course the formation had to be rebuilt. Sometimes it is better if it is not there in the first place as the first thing you may have to do is remove it. Remember that chords by their nature tend to be on an incline which complicates things.

    ngh will probably come along and tell you of all the electrical earthing and other issues junctions create. There is also the timetabling complication. Its a lot easier to not have them if you don’t need them.

    I suspect you would get a shock at how high the full cost of reinstating a chord can be if both lines are electrified and it is in an area of intensive signalling.

    I think you can presume I do not believe that the decision to re-instate chords should be taken lightly.

  428. Oh, and I forgot to mention the extra maintenance cost of four extra points and two extra crossovers (if all double track). And that by introducing complexity you are creating more opportunities for failure. The most reliable junction is the one that you got rid of. It is notable that the work currently going on at Watford on the West Coast Main Line is to take out points in order to improve reliability.

  429. Castlebar, - a crayon free zone says:

    Thanks PoP

    I think (please correct me) that Crowhurst was only ever used for freight, and was there just to avoid Redhill as it served no other purpose. It was a particularly sharp (100 degree??) turn on an incline, so any ‘stuck’ train on the incline would not have had an easy start. Similarly, there would be less enthusiasm for re-instating a freight only link, especially one that only saves a couple of miles, so it would be hard to find a business case for re-instating Crowhurst.

    And, was it built to “Hastings gauge”?? I’ve only ever seen just one photo of a train taking this curve: a loose coupled goods, possibly early 1950s, possibly even earlier.

  430. Mark Townend says:

    @Castlebar, – a crayon free zone, 14 August 2014 at 10:08

    I don’t think anything was built deliberately to ‘Hastings gauge’. That was a nasty compromise developed by necessity when a second lining was added to some poorly built tunnels.

  431. Mark Townend says:

    . . . although each pre-grouping company had their own standards, so there was no agreed common loading gauge across the UK.

  432. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Mark Townend,

    I suspect the tunnels themselves were not poorly built at all. The problem was that the contractor carried out a sophisticated fraud which involved building the tunnels too narrow and putting in fewer layers of brick lining than was specified. The fraud was not discovered until after services were using it and problems started arising.

    I believe that the contractor did not originally set out to do this because he apparently ordered sufficient bricks for the work to be done properly. It is rumoured that there are an awful lot of identically coloured red brick houses in the area that were built at the same time as the railway.

  433. Mark Townend says:

    @Pedantic of Purley, 14 August 2014 at 10:00

    re: extra maintenance liability, complexity and failure potential of junctions

    That is why I think the Crossrail link from OOC to WCML should not actually join the Dudding Hill line, but should run parallel on an extra pair of tracks alongside.

  434. T33 says:

    @straphan demand for Gatwick services via North Downs is actually very low compared to local traffic on the route. Its always misunderstood that the Gatwick part of the North Downs service generates the passenger traffic – it does not but it does add convenience for the few that do. Hence building a chord (even without all the issues POP has mentioned) is a white elephant.

    The Flyover to create a Tonbridge to Reigate through line is perhaps a more valid idea – however it will cause major rebuilds to be required at Reigate (A217 flyover) and Guildford (Flat Junctions and a tunnel) that I suspect it will remain a Crayonista project for well beyond our lifetimes.

    ANON 23:09 – indeed they are in OpenTrainTimes for Jan 2015 as an off peak service (plus two in the evening) – Sadly they are fast from Redhill to East Croydon at the moment although I believe their calling pattern from Dec 2015 will include Merstham/Coulsdon South and Purley as this is when the current Reigate/Tonbridge services will become fast from RDH to ECR and divert to CLJ and VIC in turn because of the withdrawal of the Arun Valley Trains from Redhill.

    Looking forward to see if POP discusses the Redhill line services as part of the “Study in Sussex” articles. We are looking forward to major changes over the next few years starting in January 15 with the cutting of 4 morning peak trains to London Bridge which is bound to cause chaos. Also looking forward to the Clapham Junction article as I have a few ideas on fixing that one too.

  435. Graham H says:

    @T33 – I think the demand on the North Downs line is a bit more nuanced than it may seem: I use the line extensively myself and carried out a specific study of the route in NSE days as part of the case for transferring it to the then Thames Trains. There is quite a lot of very* local traffic on the stoppers, including reverse commuting into Reading from Wokingham onwards and to a lesser extent into Guildford but there is a substantial volume of premium traffic on the semi fasts to Gatwick, much of it originating from beyond Reading or at Guildford – hence the consideration given to extending back to Oxford. In particular, every time I have left Gatwick (including some very strange hours of the night), the train has been well over half full with passengers who were still there when I got off at Guildford – virtually none of that can be “local”.

    A different analysis might therefore show that the money, such as it is, comes from the Gatwick punters, not the short trips from Earley or Shalford.

    *And there are a number of stations which generate very low volumes of any sort of traffic: Betchworth, Chilworth, Wanborough, for example.

  436. T33 says:

    @Graham H – you are very right at certain times it is an indispensable link for Gatwick travellers.

    I suspect neither group (Gatwickers or locals) generate enough traffic to make the huge expense of a chord worthwhile in any case. It must be hard to generate a business case for more trains on the line either

  437. Graham H says:

    @T33- I fear you are right -I guess we’ll see longer semifasts well before we see more of them.

    BTW, the other evening Betchworth was so quiet that the rabbit nibbling away on the w/bound platform paid zero attention to the train.

  438. straphan says:

    @T33: Word has it there may be a second semi-fast on the line within the next 10 years or so.

    @PoP: I take what you said about lengths and costs of chords, but bear in mind the current (and future) layout at Redhill isn’t exactly short of points, nor is it efficient in operational terms.

  439. T33 says:

    @straphan Redhill’s layout needs a full revision which they will hopefully do some of with the insertion of platform 0 (I really hope it remains named Platform Zero – sounds like a character from a James Bond movie)

    They need to make Platform 2 capable of operating fast trains on the Down Main Line without affecting access to Platform 1 from the Up Main Line.

    Access to Platform 2 from last signal down before station – currently if a train breaks down in Platform 3 the next train has to use the Down Fast through road and Redhill passengers have to get back to Redhill from Earlswood or Gatwick depending on stopping pattern

  440. timbeau says:

    (I really hope it remains named Platform Zero – sounds like a character from a James Bond movie)
    There are precedents – Kings Cross and Stockport for example. The trackless platform at Clapham Junction – formerly platform 1 – is also known as platform 0.

  441. straphan says:

    Haymarket also had a platform 0 built for the Edinburgh Waverley and Princes St tunnels reconstruction.

    I also think Redhill is a nightmare in terms of layout, which is why I proposed to do something to reduce the number of reversal moves through it. However, I agree that placing the platforms on the through lines (especially since there are no passenger trains that run via Redhill non-stop!) would make a world of a difference.

  442. Steven Taylor says:

    @Castlebar, – a crayon free zone

    Re Crowhurst spur. The line between South Croydon, through Oxted to Crowhurst North Junction was a joint line (LBSCR and SER). The spur was there to enable SER trains to gain access to their line.

    I recollect that the last single passenger train ceased in 1955 ( may be a year out here).

  443. Castlebar, - a crayon free zone says:

    Thank you ST

    I knew it was a pre-Beeching closure. It would probably cost £10/15Million to re-instate, and thus I suggest there could never be a case for it.

  444. Theban says:


    Think we were talking cross-purposes about the Crowhurst Chord but that doesn’t matter because I totally agree with what you are saying about reinstatement.

  445. Theban says:

    I was through Redhill today and there are two lines west of platform 1, so there is some space for a Platform 0. One of the lines looks as though it gets some occasional use but the other is clearly redundant.

    Why on earth do the Tonbridge -> Victoria services cross everything on the flat to use Platform 1? It suggests that either capacity of the Redhill junction (at least off peak) is not a problem at all, or the layout is totally messed up. (I suspect both.)

  446. Theban says:

    Sorry, Lon Bdg not Vic of course

  447. timbeau says:

    @Mark Townend
    “I don’t think anything was built deliberately to ‘Hastings gauge’.”

    Infrastructure, no: rolling stock, most definitely yes! From Schools Class 4-4-0s, to Class 201/2/3 demus, to Class 73s and 33/2s.

    The problem was finally solved in the 1980s by singling the track through the errant tunnels when the line was electrified.

  448. Graham Feakins says:

    Redhill & “Chord” – Forgive my misinterpretation (?) where the Redhill chord is mentioned above. I always understood that “chord” meant “A *straight* line that links two points on a circle or curve.” In other words, a straight line linking what is in fact the two curves from the north proceeding east and west respectively at Redhill, i.e. the chord is proceeding straight on from the Tonbridge direction towards Guildford.

    To talk about a ‘chord’ connecting south to west there is thus surely a misnomer and should, in railway parlance, described as a spur. It would curve.

    Straphan may be perhaps surprised to learn that there are through, non-stopping services through Redhill and not just because of diversions off the Quarry Line. In addition to passenger services, freight must also be remembered.

  449. Castlebar, - a crayon free zone says:

    @ Graham F

    The term “chord” has been used in railway circles (no pun intended) for many years.

    See “Ipswich Rail Chord, by Network Rail” on wiki

  450. straphan says:

    @Graham Feakins: My apologies, that should of course be a Redhill Avoiding Curve.

    @Theban: The Tonbridge service is hot on the heels of the Portsmouth/Bognor service and routing it into Platform 2 would fall foul of the minimum platform reoccupation at Redhill (2 minutes).

  451. T33 says:

    @Theban @Straphan It is also surprising the Bognor – Victoria service doesn’t use Platform 1 so the Tonbridge service can use platform 2 and stop near the stairs (rather than all the way down the end of the platform 1)

    However I suspect you cannot enter Redhill directly to Platform 2 from Tonbridge without crossing the access to Platform 1 from the Main line, otherwise both trains could be routed to their respective platform simultaneously.

    The Tonbridge train often has to wait if there is a slightly late running Bognor train to enter the platform before it can be released across the station throat.

    Perhaps they will consider this when adding Platform Zero!

  452. Theban says:


    Thank you. An explanation.

    With an additional platform then the westernmost platform could serve North Downs Line in both directions and the easternmost the Tonbridge branch in both directions (ie both reversible working) leaving the two central platforms for up and down BML services.

    I think there’s one or two through running lines as well. It’s questionable whether they would still be necessary.

  453. Anonymous says:

    The only Tonbridge train that uses Platform 2 is 1651 at Redhill. It is frequently late as there are 4 minutes from the Bognor train and the platform reoccupation is just over 3 minutes (timed in real life). There is a Reading to Gatwick using Platform 1 at the time and if the Bognor is late then that tends to go first adding even more delay to the Tonbridge. There needs to be far more flexible working when they resignal.

  454. Theban says:

    Actually I am being silly. Maybe we all are.

    It’s easy to see Redhill as something complicated but in BML terms it just has duplicated track north and south of the station (see note below) so it doesn’t matter which platform the Tonbridge – London service uses – it crosses just one running line either south or north of the station. Likewise the Reading to Gatwick service. In the other direction there’s no crossing.

    They look more complex than that because there are three platforms and a running line in the middle (or a pair?) plus two more outside platform 1.

    The more I look at Redhill the less I think it’s a bottleneck at present. It could become one if traffic on either branch intensified but as things stand I think Redhill is not really a current day bottleneck on BML. Could it be improved? Yes. Is it a priority for investment? I don’t think so.


    There’s a (little used) third line for a few hundred yards north of the station and space for (possibly remains of) one for a similar distance south of the station so pedantically it isn’t quite two tracks on the BML but for all practical effects it is.

  455. Mark Townend says:

    @Theban, 15 August 2014 at 22:55

    I’d agree Redhill won’t be too much of a capacity bottleneck once the extra platform has bee built, but it is a bit of a squeeze today.

  456. Alan Griffiths says:

    Long Branch Mike (Aérodromes) @ 3 August 2014 at 03:25

    “Whilst the politics, economics, and geography of London are much different, there is much to be learnt from Ciudad Real Central Airport and Mirabel aéroport by those pushing for Boris Island Aerodrome.”

    One of the lessons to be learned is that building “Boris in exile” will take so long that London won’t be able to catch up with the number of destinations already flown from Frankfurt. I’m with Howard Davies: one new runway for London; decision to be made between Heathrow and Gatwick.

  457. Graham H says:

    @Alan Griffiths – indeed, so why bother? (Perhaps someone can explain to me this obsession with the number of destinations served by an airport. If businessmen want to come to your country to do business, they’ll make sure they get here one way or another; they won’t simply shrug and say “OK, I’ll sell my product or whatever somewhere else because I don’t have to change planes”).

  458. timbeau says:

    @Graham H

    I think you’re looking at it from the wrong end of the telescope – if the businessman wants to be able to sell to lots of customers, he will base himself somewhere where he easily get to them all.

    That’s the theory anyway.

    You see the converse of this when any office move is proposed from central London into the suburbs or Home Counties – at least 75% of the staff will end up with a more complicated journey to work, simply because Croydon, Uxbridge, Chelmsford or Stevenage – or even Docklands – is not as well-connected as central London is.

  459. Castlebar (Restore cash payment availability for women on London buses after 7 p.m.) says:

    Anyone wishing for a new airport, should contact Monsignor James Horan and ask him about “Knock International” and how it got built

  460. Southern Heights says:

    @timbeau: you would think that wouldn’t you? My previous company decided to relocate from Regent St. (Customers would queue to come for a visit) to Watford. They decided (despite all available evidence to the contrary), that this is still “London”.

    What was important to them was connections to Heathrow and their commute time (all living in the local area). Not that many people would to travel to Heathrow very often, mainly execs going on a jolly to the U.K. from head office (in the U.S.).

    As I live in SE London, Watford was just too far…

  461. Graham H says:

    @Southern Heights – same here, only their watford of choice was Basingstoke – over the years they shamefacedly sidled back to Victoria…

  462. timbeau says:

    At my former employers it was said that you could tell how long someone had lived in their house by comparing its location with dates of the various abortive plans to move the office to, in succession, Croydon, the South Bank and Victoria. In the end they moved to south Wales.

  463. Anon says:

    When one of my colleagues joined our company he bought a house in Ealing, having been told by the estate agents that Crossrail was on the way and would make the commute really easy.
    He retired earlier this year after more than 25 years service (and 25 years of the Central Line).

  464. Paying Guest says:

    @ Timbeau – we had the reverse experience. After abortive plans to move to Newport (S Wales), Glasgow, Keynsham and Cardiff everyone was caught out when the move actually did occur – to North Bristol. No-one believed the move would ever happen, so for a long time there was a huge amount of long distance commuting. Unfortunately despite the location being very convenient for Bristol Parkway comparatively few used the train because of the time it would take them to get to Paddington or Reading.

  465. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – I was reflecting on the theory that your global salesman company will locate near the best airport hub and I must say, I’m still not convinced. Global companies will have their own local marketing forces (having worked several times for multi-nationals by now,I found that actually very frustrating because the locals knew very little about the subtleties of some of our softer consultancy “products” and central marketing didn’t believe that it was necessary to pay for the local reps and us to meetup and discuss at their expense).

    Smaller companies are quite capable of ordering the sales force to travel by changing planes and the inconvenience is rarely more than tiresome. Of course, there are always going to be a few markets – Windhoek, for example – where even a combination of changing planes is unviable because there are too few connecting flights, but they are not numerous or important enough to ring the sort of dire alarm bells rung by aviation industry. It’s really the aviation version of the NHS “shroud-waving” techniques – and those whose lifestyle involves a lot of air travel fall for it.

  466. THC says:

    @ Castlebar / Caisleán an Bharraigh – 1 Sep, 18:20

    You’d have a job getting in touch as he departed for the airport in the sky in 1986. His legacy lives on though in opening up the north west of Ireland for tourists, pilgrims and returnees alike. When I was a boy, the journey from home in south west Herts to “home” with my mother’s people in county Sligo took the best part of a day; now it’s a four-hour breeze door to door. Thank you Monsignor Horan. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis. 🙂


  467. answer=42 says:

    Windhoek isn’t too bad – there are 2 hour connections in Frankfurt most days, a daily 2 hour connection in Joburg with SAA or 3 hours with BA. There are plenty of capital cities that are much less accessible from London.

  468. Graham H says:

    @answer=42 – thanks for the update; it’s now ten years since I was requested by the Namibian government to go there and do a presentation on railway management and at that time, there was only a thrice weekly Lufthansa (old empires live long in the aviation world) which didn’t connect with with the daily flight from Joburg, with the result that a round trip would have taken an entire week just for the sake of delivering an hour’s speech. V difficult to justify a week away and the expense. A pity – I’d have liked to visit the area. Glad to see matters have improved!

    [Albania used to be similarly difficult with only a thrice weekly flight, but it was direct so I could happily waste a day (sc spend the time “marketing” ) going up country to see the sights.]

  469. answer=42 says:


    I think that your travel agent could not have known about the wonderfully named Eros Airport, Windhoek’s answer to London City Airport, where many of the BA and SAA flights from Joburg went in those days. Depending on the time of day of your speech, the trip could have been done in 36 hours!

    But you are right to say that the country is worth visiting.

    The world is a shrinking place – I checked the flights to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, an oil hotspot that has a reputation of being inaccessible. One change of planes from Heathrow. Daily.

    To get back to the subject, I also agree with you that access to a global hub airport is not so important for a sales force. Flight connections are now so good that access to the global flight network, either by connecting flights or effective rail links, is sufficient. Both time and money are important and the notional company could well save money by locating away from the global hub and accepting a small time penalty. Neither Paris nor Amsterdam have developed major international business sectors, despite their airports being about as well connected as London Heathrow.

  470. answer=42 says:

    To get even more back on topic, I suppose that this is an argument in favour of developing a runway at Gatwick rather than Heathrow, since the cost of doing so will be much cheaper.

  471. Graham H says:

    @answer=42 – I wish I’d known (my then employers, Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners used to have an implanted travel agency which served us well but that disappeared as a result of a cost-cutting exercise…) Eros?. Marginally more politically correct than Biarritz’s main station – Negresse. (Do they still call it that?)

    Back on topic – on the Gatwick issue, I had the “pleasure” of sitting on RUCATSE, when the second Gatwick runway was mooted. At the time, we were told by BAA (who had a vested interest in telling us this) that a second runway imposed serious technical demands on aircraft undercarriages because of the length of any taxiway. Mysteriously, that constraint seems to have disappeared – and it’s not that the aircraft parc is so radically different now.

    Just for the record, RUCATSE’s other options (apart from those that Davies has identified) were Manston (too far), Northolt (needed by the government so that they could flee in the event of an uprising), Southampton ( a serious contender and much underrated), Bournemouth (sleepy and inaccessible), and Bristol (where?).

  472. RUCATSE Runway Capacity to Serve the South East, a study by DfT started in 1990 when the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) advised that another runways worth of capacity would be needed to serve South East demand by around 2005. In February 1995 the Government rejected RUCATSE options for new runways at Heathrow and Gatwick (they were silent on the RUCATSE option for Stansted). Further work was commissioned by CAA on making more use of existing capacity at Heathrow and from BAA to consider less environmentally damaging options for new runways…

    La plus ça change…

  473. Castlebar (Restore cash payment availability for women on London buses after 7 p.m.) says:

    One of our local councillors here in West Sussex is already today calling for the re-development of Manston as a major airport, one reason being “only 16 miles from HS1”

  474. Graham H says:

    @Castlebar – a natural goal for CrossRail, too, of course, if not the Bakerloo.

  475. Mark Townend says:

    @Castlebar, 2 September 2014 at 16:06

    With the east end of its (former Manston Airport’s) runway less than a kilometer from the classic line already carrying existing services running to Ramsgate via Ashford and HS1, and other HS1 services soon to be doing big loops around East Kent via Sandwich and Dover. With suitable terminal developments, coupled with the proposed Ramsgate parkway station acting as railhead, a reopened airport could be provided with very useful direct rail services linked to London as well as many parts of Kent, without running a single additional train.

  476. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    ….or the DLR from Beckton of course. (or just extend the nearest tramline, at Adinkirk)

    The runway points directly at the Isle of Grain – just extend it a further twenty miles and Boris will be happy.

  477. Graham H says:

    @MT – the proximity of the main railway line (and the relatively small property take ) was also one of the attractions of Southampton. From Manston, it will be difficult to have journey times of under an hour*, even if paths can be found (unlike you, I’m assuming that, if built, it would generate much more traffic than could be absorbed by the existing service.) It would also bring on the pains again for the HS1-HS2 link.

    @timbeau – you know you mustn’t provoke them – already I smell hot wax. [I wish I had known the Vicinal in its heyday. The museum at Thuin and the rides through the streets/front gardens is fun].

    *Shades of the abortive Port Ramsgate scheme. The best the Board’s demonstration run could manage was 55 minutes, with all the stops pulled out and a clear run.

  478. Anomnibus says:

    @Graham H & timbeau:

    Wot, no W&C extension? Philistines!

    I’m curious about one thing: surely an expansion at Manston will run into the same problems as the Boris Island* proposals? (Too noisy! Dirty, filthy machines! Not far enough away from our lovely towns! Pollution! Ecology! Environment! Traffic! Rhubarb! Etc.)

    I.e. if none of the “Boris Island” proposals is a goer for Kent’s worthies, Manston won’t stand a chance either.

    Better for the oiks to fly from Essex, old chap!

    * The link should be fine, but the rest of the site contains some NSFW content. Still, that’s probably the most realistic proposal I’ve seen yet.

  479. Southern Heights says:

    All: Manston is toast, it was recently sold for scrap basically, AFAIK an auction of much of the equipment was held not long after…

    The problem’s the same as with Heathrow: Catchment. Manston’s is too low, Heathrow’s is too big. Boris island will only work if you shut all the others plus your Rail links would need to extend one heck of a lot further than just London!

    Look at Amsterdam, you can get to it from any railway station in the country with at most one change. HS2 to Boris Island anyone? It would require vision and a twenty year program to get it done, not going to happen if you have a Schizophrenic parliament!

  480. Castlebar (Restore cash payment availability for women on London buses after 7 p.m.) says:

    If you can get the

    “Paul Dendle Facebook” site, you will see today he has championed Manston

    He is a cabinet member of Arun District Coucil and is a chum of our useless, local MP Nick Herbert. He has the ear of Cameron. Paul Dendle has been in the airline industry all his life, and has just set up another bucket shop ticket company, (Lo-Lo Flights)

    Some people in the airline industry will take his championing of Manston quite seriously

  481. Anomnibus says:

    @Castlebar (Lorem ipsum dolor sic amet):

    There are still people who take the BML2 proposal seriously as well. Doesn’t mean they’re right. (Some bits of BML2 do make sense, but as a “solution” to the BML’s main problems, it’s rather too full of vague hand-waving.)

    We all wear blinkers. We all have our pet loves and hates, our petty obsessions and biases. MPs are no exception. You can bet your open rear bus platform that there’s a crayonista cell or three in Whitehall too. If nothing else, Boris Johnson should be ample proof of that.

    However, there’s a point that isn’t particularly clear in the rumours: “Boris Island” has been used to refer to multiple projects, all different, sharing only a proximity to the Thames as a common feature. The only such proposal that is actually being funded by the GLA is the TESTRAD “Britannia Airport” proposal, headed up by Doug Oakervee, who actually has a track record of building such projects. And that hasn’t been referred to as “Boris Island” for a very long time.

    So there is some political wiggle-room there.

    One issue with expanding Gatwick is that its rail connection happens to be the BML, which is a line we now know is pretty much saturated already. If that airport gets the nod for expansion, the BML will need some serious enhancements to cope.

    So, I suspect, will the roads, which barely cope during periods of high demand as it is. The lack of any motorway north of the M25 is also going to be a problem. The M23 was originally supposed to continue all the way past Streatham, but the section inside the M25 was never built, although its junction with the M25 was designed with the extension in mind. I can’t see the M23 ever being completed given current attitudes to road-building, but I also can’t see how the BML can possibly cope with the additional demand.

    Perhaps a spur off the GWML / Crossrail / HS2 *(delete according to taste) down to Gatwick – preferably via either Croydon or Redhill – and onwards to Brighton might help here. It would certainly be a more logical option than a short stub branch from HS2 to Heathrow alone.

    Stansted seems to have the most scope for expansion in light of the above. It’s not on a particularly important line—Cambridge has multiple routes to London—so adding fast tracks / tunnels to increase capacity on the existing railway wouldn’t be too onerous. (A couple of billion quid for some additional tunnelling and railway isn’t going to make a big difference to the overall bill for an airport expansion. They’ll need to improve the existing rail access anyway.)

  482. Anonymous says:

    @timbeau. – Surely we should add in a cycle way

  483. Castlebar (Restore cash payment availability for women on London buses after 7 p.m.) says:

    Amber Rudd MP is at it again. . If she does get Hastings connected to HS1, it will make the BML seem like a historical anachronism

    From the BBC website tonight > > > > >

    Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has pledged to improve the line
    An MP has called for railway improvements on the Ashford-Hastings line to be brought forward by two years.

    Network Rail and the government have already pledged to improve the line between Hastings and Ashford by 2019.

    Amber Rudd, Conservative Hastings and Rye MP, wants the the line electrified sooner for high-speed trains.

    Network Rail said it had resourcing limitations. The MP said this meant the company needed more skilled staff.

    “There’s so much electrification going on, there just aren’t enough [people] that are trained,” she said.

    She said rail campaigners were urging Network Rail to look further than the UK for skilled workers.

    ‘Significant limitations’

    In a statement, Network Rail said Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin had made a commitment to extending the existing high-speed services from Ashford, Kent, to Hastings, East Sussex.

    It said the high-speed line would not be extended, but electrifying the line would allow high-speed trains to use the track, speeding up journeys.

    A study into the business case had been positive, but the company said it still had to do a feasibility study.

    “We would love to see this scheme accelerated. However, there remain significant resourcing limitations for both the electrical and signalling side of the project – particularly with the large amount of work already scheduled for the next four years,” it said.

  484. Deep Thought says:

    I know discussion on this article has long since departed Victoria and then died down, but I thought I would point out one weird benefit of the spare capacity on the Chatham side of the station – a backup destination for Thameslink!

    Twice in the last 6 months my Sevenoaks-St. Albans train has been diverted into Victoria in the evening peak. The 1st time the points between DH and Peckham had failed, so the train was stuck on the wrong set of tracks. The 2nd time (yesterday), there was apparently power supply problems at Blackfriars, so someone made a conscious decision to route us into Victoria.

    I think the 1st time the train did actually carry on the Blackfriars after reversing out of Victoria, but seen as I have other transport options I escaped to the tube. They seem to make the decision to divert quite quickly, so I assume there is so much spare capacity at Victoria that there is no knock-on effect to other services.

  485. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Deep Thought – there were overhead wire problems at City Thameslink. I suspect the strategy now is that when the core is blocked then trains are moved out of the way / diverted as quickly as possible. This is presumably to try to avoid the sort of delays and resulting incidents (passengers climbing out of trains) that have occurred before. I’d imagine it was utter chaos yesterday as there were apparently problems at East Croydon for hours which won’t have helped matters in South London. Just from what ends up on Twitter it seems Govia have not had a good start on the Thameslink route. It does leave me wondering what happens come 2018 if we get a repeat given the much more intensive service that is planned.

  486. Deep Thought says:

    It’s actually quite a good strategy from the South – although there was a lot of muttering pretty much the whole train decamped at Victoria and made their way on another route. I have no idea where the alternative is on the North end, reversing at Kentish Town? Of course, that doesn’t really help all the people stuck in the core who actually want to leave.

    I agree about the future intensive service and what will happen in the event of a problem, although I “worry” more than I “wonder”.

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