Londoners with a particular interest in politics and planning may have noticed a new phrase appear in the lexicon of both in recent months – London 2050. In this article we take a closer look at precisely what that phrase means, and how thinking is shaping up so far. For when it comes to transport infrastructure 2050 is far closer than one might think.

Essentially London 2050 is a series of projections about the shape of human activity and quality of life in London in thirty-six years’ time. Not necessarily a literal projection to that precise date, but a clear sense of proportion about relative changes, with key ‘drivers’.

Discussion of London 2050 – actually the ‘Long Term Infrastructure Investment Plan for London’ – has been stimulated by a number of factors:

  • The London Infrastructure Commission and London Finance Commission.
  • Forward projections of population and jobs which in turn drive pressure on transport, energy, water supply and other infrastructure networks.
  • Lack of clarity about how such required upgrades can be funded and delivered in time, so that London strengthens its domestic, European and World City roles.
  • The need for medium and long term planning and lobbying to retain and enlarge London’s entitlement to national funds and resources in succeeding decades, possibly including some of the economic surplus which London generates.

London 2050 information sources

Although we’ll look to provide as succinct a summary as is possible here, readers who wish to review in depth the various project meetings of the steering process for London 2050 will find an extensive set of links at the bottom of this article. Detail on progress with London 2050 planning is set out in the Infrastructure Group minutesparticularly the 3rd December 2013 meeting and the March 2014 Long Term Infrastructure Investment Plan progress report.

Publication dates

It had originally been hoped to have a London 2050 draft ready by February 2014. However this did not prove possible, while later publication would cut across the purdah rules of the forthcoming London Borough elections in May 2014. Publication of a draft for consultation was thus felt to be more robust in early Summer 2014. A final report is now expected in Autumn 2014.

In the meantime a progress report has been published, coinciding with the London Infrastructure Summit hosted by London First on 27th March. This sets out the rationale for such a long term plan, the scoping of what it is intended to cover, and some short commentary about the progress of studies to date.

Within it, the rationale for London 2050 is described in the following terms:

The Mayor’s 2020 Vision sets out the critical infrastructure required on the road to 2020 and beyond. The London Plan, which is currently undergoing further alterations, sets out London’s needs to 2036. Given the long-term nature of infrastructure planning, the next set of investments needs to be drawn up if London is to sustain and accommodate its growth for the rest of the first half of this century.

The Long Term Infrastructure Investment Plan will set out London’s strategic infrastructure requirements to 2050 across the main aspects infrastructure, namely public transport, roads, energy, water waste ICT and partially social infrastructure. Uniquely, it will also provide a bottom up assessment of London’s infrastructure requirements and the funding and financing options to pay for them.

It will ensure the infrastructure London needs for continued economic growth is clearly articulated. Our aim is to demonstrate to the Government, Londoners and investors that infrastructure is a key priority and that London has a clear plan to ensure it has the necessary infrastructure to meet the demands of its growing population and remain a leading world city.

An external Infrastructure Advisory Group (IAG), chaired by Isabel Dedring, the Deputy Mayor for Transport, is providing further guidance and expertise. It includes experts from the private and public sector and academia in infrastructure, urban development, technological change and finance. More details of IAG membership are included in the links at the bottom of this article.

Planning basis

The baseline process was set out in the 12 September 2013 Infrastructure Group meeting, whose minutes closely mirror the March 2014 commentary. These say that London 2050 will be “as much a capital investment plan as an infrastructure plan”.

These also set out the reasoning for a 2050 target date:

4.3 The Timescale we look to needs considering. We are currently minded to look to 2050. This is an ambitious horizon to consider – the next London Plan iteration will take us to 2036. The current Transport Strategy horizon is 20 years. However, this is not intended to be a one off piece of work that commits to a series of projects between now and 2050. Instead it will provide a first view on the scale of investment needed to ensure London has the infrastructure it needs to keep pace with a growing population and to remain competitive. It is worth noting that in terms of infrastructure planning and financing, this horizon is not excessively long. We are likely to still be paying for much of the infrastructure currently being planned in 2050.

4.4 It is worth noting that many other cities have recently brought out long term plans, generally also looking to 2050. New York City’s “Plan NYC” covers the period to 2050, with a recent announcement to extend it to 2100. We are looking into how other cities have managed the processes.

This broad basis for work was restated in the 3 December 2013 minutes. There it was commented that “this is not be a one-off exercise and will be [3.2]:

revisited, periodically, we do not intend for these publications to provide the final answer on London’s infrastructure needs to 2050. Technology, policy changes, economic growth and population growth all have the potential to profoundly change our infrastructure requirements.

The numbers behind the requirements

The March 2014 progress report describes these as:

  • An increasing resident population.
  • An increasing workforce
  • Increasing numbers of visitors

It is expected that by 2015, London’s population will have exceeded its previous peak in 1939, of 8.6 million. By the 2030s this is expected to be 10 million, and by 2050s a range of estimates between 9.5 and 13.4 million with a central estimate of 11.3 million. That is 37% above the 2011 census of 8.22 million:


Population growth trends for London, real and projected.

Forecasts for jobs and visitors are also described:

An increasing workforce

Workforce jobs in London (that is, jobs located in London whether or not they are taken by Londoners) are projected to increase to 6.3 million in 2050, from 4.9 million in 2011, an increase of 29 per cent. This equates to a per annum growth rate of 0.65 per cent.

Increasing numbers of visitors

In 2012, there were 15 million international visitors to London. This is forecast to increase to around 21 million by 2022.

The impact of these numbers on infrastructure will vary by infrastructure type and be greatly influenced by the success (or not) of demand management strategies. The general belief, however, is that there is a high risk of demand outstripping supply. For some sectors such as energy, that risk exists primarily in the short term, not nearer 2050. TfL estimate though that public transport trips could increase by 50-60%, “based on projected population growth with a continuing trend in mode shift from car use given increasingly dense patterns of development” (italics ours).

Improving suburbia

The phrase highlighted above is potentially critical. It is the suburbs where car use is highest, therefore it is the suburbs where public transport will above all have to improve the quality and convenience of its offer.

Whilst the March 2014 report doesn’t go into detail, the implications are there. Quite apart from basic capacity issues on main corridors, combine that greater car usage with greater housing density – also a challenge if applied to ‘semi-detached’ land – and the scene is set for possible radical changes in public transport supply beyond the traditional Central London core and, as evidenced successfully by the Overground, the inner suburban area.

Progress on research and consultation

The succeeding chapters in the March 2014 progress report then address Methodology, Consultation – where there has already been extensive consultation among key stakeholder organisations, and seminars including the London Assembly’s Planning Committee, and a November 2013 call for evidence – then on to Emerging issues, and Next Steps.

If there is one thing to take away from these chapters it is probably that the final report is unlikely to be a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

The basic parameters were that:

We have taken the view that it is sensible to assume that London’s development and new infrastructure requirements will be housing and transport led. Transport enables the unlocking of new growth areas and potential for large scale house building, by linking them to the rest of London. The requirements for other infrastructure types will then be determined by the overall size and density of London and the location of new growth areas.

However the December 2013 Infrastructure Group meeting had started to set out different contextual thoughts and options, compared to a forecast applied solely within Greater London:-

4.2 Going forward, as we start to refine and extend this analysis of London’s infrastructure needs, we will consider alternative scenarios for London development to 2050. This will address questions such as:

  • Locations of increased airport capacity. For example, what will the consequences be for London’s infrastructure needs should Heathrow close and a new airport located to the east of London?
  • Policy towards the green belt and densification change – we will consider the consequences for London’s infrastructure requirements should we see a step change in these policies
  • What would London’s infrastructure requirements look like, if some of the expected growth in population was accommodated by the building of new towns?

    Comments received during consultation, and further consideration by the IAG also raised other uncertainties. These included:

    • Current management of infrastructure not being fit for purpose.
    • Lack of a primary source of governance for London’s infrastructure, if you need to invest in lots of elements simultaneously in a joined-up way – the division of London rail infrastructure responsibilities between TfL and Network Rail being one example.
    • Requirement for integration of physical and digital infrastructure.
    • Shortcomings with funding mechanisms for infrastructure in short and long term.

    This latter point is crucial, as otherwise a plan, even if well defined, may not be fundable. The March 2014 progress report comments that:

    Providing for London’s long term infrastructure requirements is made all the more difficult in a world of uncertain funding.

    Bidding to Central Government on a project by project basis does not provide a basis for integrated infrastructure planning where the strategic needs of the city are assessed and prioritised. The process of bidding for funds is in practice often prolonged and arduous. The high levels of uncertainty of success can be demotivating. Bidding to siloed Whitehall departments which have few incentives to plan for integrated systems of infrastructure and housing is also sub-optimal.

    The London Finance Commission recommended fiscal devolution for London

    London Infrastructure Summit (LIS)

    The London Infrastructure Summit, hosted by London First on 27th March, gave the first (albeit limited) public airing of the latest thinking about London 2050 outputs. There was a galaxy of VIP speakers. The most extensive presentation was by Isabel Dedring herself, the aforementioned leader of the Infrastructure Advisory Group.

    Her speech can be listened to via this link, provided by London First.

    Her key points are set out below though, with emphasis on the transport elements:

    “The purpose of the 2050 plan is to highlight the scale of the challenge that London’s facing, and hopefully to get some kind of consensus around both the challenge and what we do about it.

    “…So the plan will cover four things:

    “Firstly the challenges facing the city, including protecting its world city status – population growth has already been alluded to. In my area, in transport, we are looking at an increase of more than 50% in public transport trips on the network. Clearly the existing network as constructed cannot handle that, so what does that mean, in terms of what needs to happen on the transport side, just as an example.

    “Secondly the plan will look at what’s needed across every sector [housing, energy etc]… In my area again, just as an example, we’re looking at East London and the crossings that are available in East London. Clearly, we need a much longer, more strategic programme of crossings in East London, in order to unlock the potential out there, that includes both public transport as well as road crossings.

    “We need to fundamentally review what we are doing with the rail network in London. The biggest opportunity in terms of increasing high speed capacity in London is to look at the existing rail network, improvements to the existing rail network.

    “Effectively the rail network will need to become a second Underground network. Because the Underground still has some opportunity in terms of capacity, we can get more out of the existing, new signalling systems, but there are limits to that. The sort of theoretical limit is roughly 40 trains an hour, and we’ll start bumping up against that quite soon.

    “Thirdly the plan also will look at what all of that implies, in terms of the total cost, and how much revenue is available. The early estimates are looking like … something in the sort-of £900 billion territory, that’s very early estimates. To me that feels about right, and then the question is just in quantum terms, how does that relate to the overall funding that’s available. So are we 50% gap? 80%? 10%? And then what might we start to do about closing that gap?

    “Finally it will look at cross-cutting governance issues. What do we need to put in place to get infrastructure to work more effectively across the city? So that includes making infrastructure – all these different areas I was alluding to earlier – more joined up, so that we are planning in a more strategic way across different areas.

    “… If there’s a housing problem in the city – there clearly is – how do we use transport to unlock that, rather than thinking about housing in its own silo?

    “And clearly that set of questions, about the cross-cutting issues, links to the London Finance Commission that Tony Travers led, and we’re starting … quite a lot of lobbying of Government, on what we might do to actually get financial devolution to London in a range of areas, for example property taxes is just one of the things that the report talks about, and that we are pursuing quite actively.”

    Mayoral vision

    Elsewhere, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was focused on achieving Crossrail 2 by 2029. He was also ebullient about London’s spatial and economic expansion, with impacts metaphorically as far afield as Birmingham and northern France, which are best understood by listening to this audio link.

    Although it may not seem it at first glance, there was a serious point underlying his expansionary theme, that: “London will be the financial, the commercial, the artistic, the cultural, scientific, academic, and technological capital of Europe and the World. That is the vision, and we have an amazing opportunity to begin building it together, now.”

    New Civil Engineer coverage

    New Civil Engineer has reported such LIS remarks from 27th March, under a strong headline: London’s Overground ‘must act as second Underground’:

    “London’s Overground rail network should be viewed as a second Underground system, according to one of the capital’s senior transport executives… Dedring …was echoing views of deputy mayor for planning Edward Lister…. Last month he said that early work to reinstate disused railway lines was underway. “There is a boom time in transport now and there is going to be a 30% increase in London’s rail capacity by 2019,” he said. “But we also need a whole series of smaller schemes. What would it take to switch on bits of old railway that have been long abandoned?” ”

    “Lister told NCE it was too early to name individual schemes, but he believed TfL was “well-equipped” to take over more routes. Last year it was revealed that the transport authority had been given control of some West Anglia services and stations. Lister said some routes could adopt a guided busway. The area around the Meridian Water development in Enfield, north London was one such route that could lend itself to a busway that would help ease pressure off the existing transport network.”

    2050 at the TfL Board Meeting: Taking control of the infrastructure

    Those who attended the public session of the TfL board meeting on 26th March 2014, a day before the London Infrastructure Summit, also heard some robust exchanges between TfL Board members Boris Johnson, Sir John Armitt, Daniel Moylan and Charles Belcher, on the subject of more TfL control over National Rail in London.

    The Mayor was focused on the following day’s events, when he said that: “To address London growth, especially in the outer suburbs, we must get more control over lines in Outer London. The success of the Overground shows what is achievable. Outer London is criss-crossed with tracks which are not properly used.” There was scope for more services, and TfL would discuss options with the Department for Transport.

    Sir John Armitt responded that it was wrong to take over more of National Rail, “it’s there for non-Londoners’ needs, so focus instead on increasing influence”. Boris replied that he’d “buy that rather than what we’ve got now”.

    Daniel Moylan dissected the issue; “Influence means practically nothing on the main lines. The DfT needs to outsource revenue risk. In TfL we welcome revenue risk.” There was a philosophical issue about the limits of London’s network or a national network. The boundary needs “to be economic, based on different types of value attributed to different services”. The essential ‘control list’ included control of stations, staff and staffing levels, rolling stock, and systemic outputs.

    The Mayor commented that few people would doubt that urban rail services were just as good, if not better, when overseen by TfL. There had been a lot of hysteria in consultation around London about TfL involvement with the main line services. Looking forwards, the only alternative to a much greater role for TfL in those, “is to build our own network” with more trams, more tubes, at vast cost. “Outer London is where growth will be maximised”. London was as dependent on the Overground as it was on the tubes.

    Sir Peter Hendy commented on the strong results “of East London Line extensions to Crystal Palace and West Croydon, and the result of networking of that concession though our contracting process”. He referenced the Southern franchise where TfL was offered [and took] the opportunity to improve stations and services, but it was not marketed as the Overground, as there were “no remedies if delivery was not guaranteed to Overground standards, and there was no evidence that resource allocations were properly attributed to volumes of users. Influence is not enough in those circumstances.”

    He said that TfL intended to refute, via the outcome of the West Anglia concession, that TfL management of a Network Rail line caused any detriment to longer distance flows.

    Charles Belcher (an ex-TOC MD) said that everyone was right. There were three models:

    • London Overground, including West Anglia to come – where he agreed TfL should also oversee SE suburban lines. Direct control was the requirement there.
    • Long distance, eg Intercity, where influence was appropriate, not more, as trains might only stop once within London.
    • Outer suburban, which could do a lot of work inside London as well as outside, where some statutory rules and agreements were necessary.
    • “The key is choosing which is right for us” on each route.

    Other London growth projections

    This mini-debate at the TfL Board should also be taken in the context of a forecast rapid growth in population in Outer London, as anticipated in documents such as the current LEP bid for Growth Deal funding, which looks strongly to locations such as Opportunity Areas, for much additional housing and jobs and the London Boroughs’ expectations for housing expansion by 2041.

    A few practical points

    This article started as a response to ‘Latecomer’, on our Off-peak London Overground and DLR article, who has contributed some really important operational and timetable planning insights as a LOROL train driver. See here and subsequent comments.

    The following comments were particularly pertinent: “We would all love to drive on greens all the time, but it just isn’t possible if we are to keep the volume running through” (italics ours).

    The issue of ‘driving on yellow’ on the main rail lines in London appears to be part of the reasoning behind a Network Rail desire to try to keep to a 2½ minute headway in timetable planning for stopping trains – quite apart from performance fines and perturbation issues. In the ‘old slam door days’, of course, passengers were alighting from trains even before the carriages stopped, let alone find themselves restricted to two double-doors per car, so platform dwell times were also low and 2 minute headways on suburban lines were more feasible.

    Two doors per car side, however, and a 2½ minute headway world cannot be sustainable in future, with the more pressurised public-transport-capacity-driven world that the London Mayor and Deputy Mayor now see for the future. Transforming London’s national rail lines into a ‘second Underground’ is a fundamental policy and ownership and operability challenge going forwards.

    The route capacity relationship between inner and outer commuting flows, and with intercity train slots, marks the basis for a strategic debate about the transport and economic geography priorities in the London and Home Counties catchments. Possibly it could lead to several new main lines being required, not just a single HS2.

    The Network Rail Long Term Planning Process forecasts for 2043 already make clear the longer distance commuting and economic growth pressures and, for London and South East. The Freight and Long Distance Market Studies are also important.

    The future role of balise technology and Automatic Train Operation (ATO) in enabling closer signalling headways, using trains that allow faster boarding and alighting (such as Crossrail’s three-door-per-side rolling stock) are just a couple of examples of practical ways to achieve higher train and passenger capacities. Station platform and passageway sizes, junction relief, passenger handling and congestion management will also be critical skillsets. As John Bull is fond of saying (something that those who have attended our regular monthly meetups can attest), there comes a point where it matters less how many people you can get on or off the train and more how many you can get on or off the platforms. These are not appropriate at this overview and ‘quantum’ stage of London 2050 thinking, but such planning will be needed, not least about the funding for associated infrastructure changes.

    Other infrastructure elements such as housing, energy and water supply will have to address their own demand and supply crises as well.

    Reaching a conclusion

    The debate about the capacity, funding and control of transport supply in and adjoining Greater London, as part of the wider objectives for London quality of life and economic development during the 2020s to the 2050s, has now well and truly begun. Its visibility will be greater still when the draft 2050 Plan is published for public consultation in early summer 2014.

    So with that in mind, let us conclude this analysis with some views from the March 2014 progress report:

    Without pre judging the final analysis and findings, it is likely the level of infrastructure investment will be very high, and higher than expected. We will have to set out the key priorities and develop a co-ordinated approach to deliver these priorities.

    Through the process we have been seeking to identify the main barriers to delivery. This is clarifying the steps that will be necessary to ensure delivery. It is likely that we will identify both short term, as well as longer term barriers.

    As well as setting out the long term systems of infrastructure London requires, to maintain momentum we need to identify and commit to the key projects we can start planning, sourcing finance for and delivering.


    Below are a selection of links to further reading, for those who wish to delve into London 2050 further.

    London Finance Commission 2013


    London Enterprise Panel

    London Jobs and Growth Plan priorities:
    Infrastructure Group work and meetings, minutes:

    Infrastructure Advisory Group

    Meeting minutes:

    Long Term London Infrastructure Investment Plan

    Progress report (March 2014):

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    There are 494 comments on this article
    1. Wow! An awful lot to digest. Despite having seen an advance copy, I still haven’t taken it all in. If I think I understand it correctly, some of the assumptions as to future population are based on the idea that other fundamental infrastructure issues, such as water, are eventually going to constrain the size of London in terms of both daytime and nighttime population. So at least, maybe, London won’t be forever having to rapidly grow.

      These figures coupled with some other ones I have heard recently for the medium term future are absolutely staggering.

      The idea of placing much more emphasis on suburban and inter-suburban growth for transport fits in with other comments made. For example, Leon Daniels at his fairly recent Q&A session at the London Transport Museum suggested that there isn’t going to be much more one can do in central London to increase the number of buses and it is the suburbs that will see the growth in future.

      It is also quite surprising how many journeys on the underground already do not involve zone one or even do not involve more than one zone (not being zone one). As suburbs become more congested, the benefits of using the tube for short distances increases. One must also not forget the London Overground success (although it does technically go into zone one) and some journeys are clearly part of an overall journey into zone one. It too sees many relatively short non-London journeys such as into Stratford and West Croydon. And of course there was the total surprise of how busy the tram became between Croydon and Wimbledon. I am sure there are, or potentially are, similar stories in other parts of London.

      I am a bit puzzled by the use of disused railway lines. I really cannot think of many that haven’t been almost totally built over and I really can’t see the parkland walk being restored to a railway. Maybe, just maybe, beyond Mill Hill East is a possibility.

    2. Toby says:

      Firstly, many thanks for another excellent article – I just need to find the time to read all of the attached papers.

      One immediate thought, however, on the scale of London’s future hinterland. It seems to me that we should be defining it in terms of time, not distance. For example, if we think 90 mins is likely to remain the reasonable upper limit of one-way commuting, then York at 83 mins and Liverpool at 96 mins become the outer limits.

      This clearly isn’t a call for TfL to takeover HS2; but it is an interesting thought experiment, especially if the required number of houses can’t be pushed through in the SE. A more radical solution would be to offer a tax break of 75% of the cost of a standard season ticket up to say £5k p.a. to positively incentivise people to commute further.

    3. Graham H says:

      Another thought-provoking article – really good! It would be foolish to give a comprehensive answer to its contents so quickly and it’s the debate here and everywhere else which will be useful . That said, a handful of strategic points may be worth noting now:

      – it’s all very well to set out a policy for making the mainline routes a second Underground, but those routes are pretty well full now (and will be under pressure anyway with the growth in longer distance travel over the next generation) and any extra capacity will be mopped up soon. There are no known solutions to that beyond longer trains and “pricing”, even the RUS admit that they have only short term answers. So, new infrastructure is going to needed somewhere (the strategy gives an estimate of c£1tn); whether it is better slavishly to follow the main lines or invest in new corridors or strip out the short distance traffic physically from the NR network is the issue. A new network at least solves the governance issues.
      – it’s hard to disagree with Leon Daniels assessment that the bus network is played out in central London as a source of capacity and that growth should be concentrated in the suburbs but it’s far from clear that that is where the growth will take place. Which brings me to the next issue..
      – I have a lot of sympathy for the view that the leafy suburbs are a natural zone of intensification, but I really don’t see how that will be delivered. Market mechanisms are unlikely to handle the scale of what is required, even over a timescale of 30 years – unlike the (roughly) same timescale for the construction of the vast interwar semi estates, this time, the development would be taking existing properties, not greenfield sites. The roughly 2m semis in the GLA area must have a total value approaching £1tn – £30bn a year to redevelop over 30 years – an enormous amount of working capital whether for the state or even more, the private sector, whether a Haussmanesque dirigiste approach is adopted or not.
      – I agree with PoP: where are these disused railway lines (and where they do exist, they are hardly either in the right places or form a coherent network)? For example, to take two areas of low density semi development, NE and NW London, it’s difficult to think of very many disused lines at all – Stanmore, Uxbridge, Staines, and in NE London, err…

    4. @Graham H,

      But go to some parts of outer-suburban London (and I would cite Colindale as a prime example) and the growth of high-rise high density property is … well staggering. I seem to be over-using that word a lot but over the past few months the statistics and evidence on the ground (or in the air) seem to indicate a major acceleration of growth. Now take some of these high-density areas and combine it with areas with the potential to be similar and you seem so huge but very patchy increase in housing even before you look at Battersea, Barking Reach, Ebbsfleet etc.

      No doubt the green leafy suburbs of Moor Park, Ham etc will remain. From a transport perspective I wonder if some areas will remain very similar to now but others will be dramatically transformed leading to a patchy increase that will be even more of a transport challenge than an even increase.

    5. Graham H says:

      @PoP – I must admit I haven’t been to Colindale since CE closed, although I don’t recall it as bastion of villadom so much as rundown industry. I’m sure you’re right that there is a lot going on but (a) there is the sheer scale of what is being implied here – the complete redevelopment of the boroughs of Harrow, Brent, Hillingdon, Ealing, Hounslow and so on, just to list the NW; and (b) the likelihood that it will take place in an unplanned way, which will make the matching of infrastructure an awkward process to put it mildly. I suppose there is a (c), and that is time is short – to do all this in 30 years implies starting right now and turning over 3% of the semi stock every year, right now – given that probably about half the boroughs are affected, that would suggest doing a borough every two years or so. On that basis, you’d be doing a Colindale every few months, as it were. OK, I exaggerate, but not much – the high population estimate implies creating something like 2m new housing units within 30 years – the equivalent of building the semi suburbs all over again.

      It is instructive – hey, this could be timbeau writing in the roundel thread!- to look at Paris, where the transport plans are long term and lead the housing (re)development.

    6. Theban says:


      There is a bifurcation of choice. Splitting slow routes out of fast (new Tube lines) may be a poorer choice than splitting the express services out. The latter means less station rebuilding.

      If Hs2 proceeds, I really think the fast lines on Wcml should be tunnelled into Euston too releasing more suburban slow line capacity.

      Too much we are building what is needed now rather than saying (in terms of transport infrastructure) that any development should be planned to be sufficient over 60 years (two generations). This is a worthwhile initiative but the horizon is still too short. It should be London 2120 not 2050.

    7. Walthamstow Writer says:

      An interesting article but one that leaves me a tad depressed. I can detect in the progression of issues in subsequent meetings that the “vested interests” machine is clearly in operation as more and more issues with presumed outcomes get listed (the Heathrow issue being the obvious one).

      I certainly can’t see where all the empty and disused railway lines for people to use. OK we have the oft debated disused junctions in the Lea Valley and one or two other bits but I agree with others above that there is no “magic bullet” here to vastly increase rail capacity. There’s a bit of an assumed “power grab” by City Hall / TfL in some of the discussion and that *might* be fair enough but the short history of the Mayoralty shows the political volatility that can arise as well as the idiocy of what comes forth (regardless of the political colours of the incumbent). I am not sure that the current democratic structures are appropriate to deal with the demands of such massive financial / economic / social pressures. To the extent that London’s needs impact on those bordering London then the democratic process and representation / influence becomes all important. Boris’s and Moylan’s demands re Heathrow and a replacement airport “somewhere east” have already riled loads of people in Essex, Kent and the Thames Valley and you can multiply that a thousand times when it comes to new railway lines, housing, power plants and reservoirs and sewerage plants creeping across the Greater London boundary.

      While I do think Isabel Dedring is in possession of “a clue” when it comes to transport I’m not convinced about any of the politicians who are seemingly involved in trying to shape the future. To take the basic issue of “disused railways” one has to wonder what they’re on. Ditto for turning the cramped and overloaded surface rail network in the Underground Mark 2.

      I appreciate they’re at the strategic level at the moment and haven’t got all the issues sorted out but the waste of time and money over the last 6 years shows the risks of short term, off the cuff decision making to stop initiatives that would have eased some of the problems people are hectoring about now (e.g. lack of housing development).

      I see that PoP was also at the Leon Daniels chat at the museum. I was there too but there weren’t too many surprises in the discussion. I am afraid I disagree about the central London bus network. I fully understand the issues about road and junction capacity but you can’t adopt a policy which says “no more buses, no more tube lines and possibly one extra Crossrail route” in the face of a 50+% increase in transport demand. It’s a ludicrous position to take. Some extremely radical transport solutions will be required to provide environmentally acceptable and high capacity transport services. I am afraid I do not see that the current orthodoxy inside TfL will allow for such radical ideas. After all that orthodoxy has spent 60 years stopping the return of modes abandoned in the 50s and 60s which is partly why we can’t breathe the air when the wind disappears.

      As for the suburbs well I’ve spent quite a lot of time recently enduring some crazily busy but also slow bus journeys in East London. My over-riding impression is that some of the busiest routes are relatively new and provide links into areas that were not served for many decades – people had to trudge well over 400m to a stop. There are still a lot of journey opportunities where direct buses are missing and could be added easily. As for busways well I went along some of the East London Transit infrastructure this weekend and was wholly underwhelmed. There were some nice bus shelters and paving but not much else. I cannot see where circa £20m has been spent and apparently the buses are rammed full in the peaks. Seems to be a waste of money to me. I certainly don’t want to see guided busways at Meridian Water or anywhere else in London. By all means provide some segregated bus only roads with cycle lanes alongside with full junction priority which can be upgraded to light rail in due course. This is what sane countries build.

      On the subject of buses there is one vitally important point to make here and this does echo Mr Daniels. London’s contracted model of bus operation requires subsidy and subsidy is counted as revenue expenditure. Such expenditure is not viewed as “investment” and therefore has been hacked to bits in recent years with more cuts to come. You simply cannot divorce the operational funding of buses (or any other service) from a discussion about infrastructure enhancement / expansion. The simple fact is that for the moment TfL and City Hall are unable to win the argument over revenue support and I see nothing in the article to suggest they consider that part of the argument for future infrastructure. Bus services could improve massively tomorrow to ease the existing overcrowding and inadequacies face (in the suburbs and elsewhere) if only someone could be bothered about them.

      It will be interesting to see if anything really radical but deliverable does emerge from all of the discussion. Thanks to Mr Roberts for summarising a difficult topic.

    8. Greg Tingey says:

      I’m really going to rain on this parade.
      ONE: It is early 1914 & you are working for/with the Board of Trade & the LCC towards putting together a plan for transporting people in the London of 1950 …..
      TWO: I sincerely hope to be around in 2050, but I will be 104, by then …..

      Three: We might have had more hope for then & even more for the intervening period, if Boris hadn’t killed off even PLANNING for medium-density urban dedicated mass transit[ usual removed stuff PoP]. ( Or was that tory policy, anyway, which he “appears” to be rowing back for, now, when it’s far too late? )

    9. Rational Plan says:

      I’m afraid the idea that were going to add up to 5 million more people inside the GLA boundaries is just wishful thinking. There are only so many old trading estates that also happen to be next existing commuter lines and failing suburban centres that can be redeveloped. If you think whole scale semi-detached clearances are going to occur, then think again. I suspect London will expand like it always has done, and that is outwards.

      This can happen in several ways. They could abolish the green belt, or anywhere within 3 miles of a railway stations. Of they may revive the old New and expanded towns idea. After all they did move over 2 million people out of London into the South East, in their effort to decongest London.

      I suspect a revival of New Towns will be the flavour of the day rather than a whole scale free for all. The pressure for growth in infrastructure will be for both increasing commuters in London and from across the South East.

    10. Castlebar 1 says:

      How differently “thinking” has changed to the days of the Abercrombie Report

      Interestingly, he also wrote in that report report about expansion of three “outer” towns (Ashford, Swindon), but also Haverhill, then a town with two railway stations, but now one one the largest towns in Britain without one. The “visionaries” realised that railways were necessary, but it was the bean counters who once thought otherwise.

      Now, all three are commuter centres (an incredible piece of vision in the 1940s), but Haverhill is railwayless and reliant on the M11

    11. Ian Sergeant says:


      I really can’t see the parkland walk being restored to a railway. Maybe, just maybe, beyond Mill Hill East is a possibility.

      Apologies if I’ve written this before, but it’s possible to run beyond Mill Hill East almost as far as the A1/M1 with the demolition of two houses. To reach Mill Hill Broadway from the new buildings east of the A1/M1 you would need a tunnel. But, thinking about it, what do you really achieve by doing this? Without continuing on the line of the Parkland Walk, lots of people end up at Finchley Central causing the Northern Line to be full even further north. If you want to use the Parkland Walk, then, assuming you are heading for the East London Line, those trains need to be similar length to the Northern Line trains or they are going to be crammed with people heading for Docklands (not forgetting you almost certainly need to be in tunnel as people won’t give up the Parkland Walk easily). And you need to double the Dollis Viaduct, quadruple between Finchley Central and East Finchley. Then you need to move the ventilation shaft so that you can redouble the Canonbury Curve – and make sure you have sufficient freight routes on the GOBLIN not to need the space on the North London Line. Oh, then you probably need to rebuild Finsbury Park to get the trains through.

      Ian takes a breath.

      Maybe it might be easier to build a new tunnel?

    12. Anonymous says:

      There are possibilities which aren’t taken up – once Crossrail opens the slow lines between Stratford and Liverpool Street could be used used for the fast G.E. services, the fast Lea Valley service could then run via Stratford using the fast G.E. lines to Bow then switching to the current relief lines (or whatever the northern pair are called – it might be Lea Valley) – the paths freed up via Hackney Downs could then be used for more Overground services, but instead extra peak hour trains via Ilford will start from Liverpool Street main line station – considering all the money spent on Stratford how much would it have added to put in a fly under for the North London Line – G.E. freight when the trench for Stratford International was being dug?

      As for Heathrow – it is where it is and this fake discussion about moving it with all the extra costs of building rail lines and motorways (remember the British economy is still in deep trouble, there was an interesting interview with someone from the MPC who came very close to saying ‘you may think that but I couldn’t possibly comment’ when asked whether the Conservative spending cuts were actually tough enough and that these would need to be deeper) plus all the relocation costs for logistics companies and businesses – I suggest that we build Richmond Island, perhaps somewhere in the Thames Estuary where all the people who don’t want Heathrow expansion can live.

      As for buses there is the balance between too much regulation and too little, if deregulation had taken place then the areas just outside London may well have had a better service as service provision wouldn’t have been based around where the boundary finished, on the other hand its well worth looking at older timetables – until quite recently most bus services in London didn’t start until around 0600 and finished around 2300, now first buses are around 0400-0500 and finish 0100-0200 – I doubt that this is viable commercially, outside London its roughly 0700-1900 then if you are lucky an hourly service Mon-Sat, perhaps two hourly Sundays, as for free passes I would consider charging, with different rates for bus only, bus + tube and so on – but remember some pensioners use their passes as its cheaper to be on a bus or train than heating their homes in the winter.

      We could take ‘getting rid of all the green crap’ literally and just start building on the green belt – with all the money you save from cheaper housing consumers might then start buying stuff, have children, go on holiday – all the stuff you did in the past if you had a good job.

    13. Jim Cobb says:

      How much spare capacity is there in Overground and suburban networks by running longer trains ? Overground has been an obvious success, but 4 coach trains every 10 to 15 minutes is hardly pushing the boundaries. Similarly, much of the South-western network (the only one I am familiar with) uses 8 or even 4 coach trains. If all these lines were upgraded to 12 coach trains at current timings, that would add a huge amount of extra capacity.

      Obviously, that would be a lot of new stock, a lot of platform extensions, and some station relocations/expansions, but that kind of cost is a lot smaller than new lines. I would suggest that there is still plenty of excess capacity in parts of the network

    14. Castlebar 1 says:

      @ Anonyous

      I think you would be surprised just how few Sunday bus services are still running, once you get away from the S.E. England bubble. Every two hours? No, none at all more like it. But because they have now become such rarities, people are frightened to use even them, where they still exist, in case they can’t get back.

      Many elderly are now trapped in their villages not many miles outside the TfL remit.
      Free bus travel, but no buses to use them on.

    15. Lemmo says:

      Great article Jonathan, thanks. A brief observation: the Infrastructure Group does not appear to be considering rail freight. If this is indeed the case, is it a blind spot?

      Major new infrastructure is required to accommodate growth in rail freight either through or around London, and there are likely to be benefits in integrating this with new passenger routes. Put another way, a step change in passenger services on the orbitals is unlikely to be feasible without provision for rail freight.

      Any sense that the Infrastructure Group is trying to tie the threads together into an integrated strategy?

    16. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Jim Cobb – we risk straying all over the debate in other articles but yes there may well be some places where longer trains are the sensible next step. However as PoP reminds us regularly there is nearly always some other constraint like terminal capacity, slow running speeds at a pinch point or the need to path freight that stops all those 12 car trains running every few minutes all day long. Parts of the Overground are certainly very constrained when it comes to providing ever longer platforms. Some stations are so close that if you keep extending platforms the stations will link together – DLR syndrome! This is one reason why I think the next evolution of the core Overground network will be very difficult for TfL and Network Rail to define and finance.

    17. Ed says:

      It seems clear to me TfL need to take over southeastern routes asap. Interesting to see that TfL say they welcome revenue risk. I’m sure if they took over SE suburban routes and barriered them, like much of LO, revenues would jump. Almost every SE London station has minimal staff levels so even if there are barriers they are only in operation for a couple of hours, if that. Southeastern routes are known as a free railway. No barriers and next to no staff ensure that. Couple that with very poor off-peak frequencies and it has similarities with silverlink before the tfl takeover.

    18. Ed says:

      JimCobb – in SE land just about suburban/metro every line is ready for 12 cars, and many platforms have been since the early 90s. Cut backs to the networker order and halting power upgrade work means most services since then have been 8 cars or less. so scope for longer trains. In recent times remaining power and platform work is finished so much is in place, except there are nowhere near enough class 465 and 466 to do it.

      Lot’s of scope for more dense building in some areas. Places like Dartford. Thamesmead is about to see hundreds of millions pounds worth of new homes, announced by Peabody last week. Lewisham has a few towers coming as does Woolwich.

      Ideally though far taller buildings would be built en masse in zones 1-2, where walking and cycling to work would be easy. Areas like Elephant & Castle and Nine Elms should have Hong Kong/Manhattan levels of density. Many recoil at the idea but 1) it will be needed, and 2) the existing environment is far from great. Manhattan is far nicer with its many towers than most low rise parts of inner London.

    19. The other Paul says:

      I read the “second underground” statements more as being about improving usage of existing routes.

      Older versions of the network map usefully indicated which stations ran a daytime service of less than 4tph. I was always surprised at the number; sure there are routes like the Lea Valley where there’s a conflict with a long distance service holding back capacity, but others like the Wimbledon/Sutton loop have no such issue, the service frequencies are just poor. And there’s a certain irony of Boris bemoaning the poor use of NR infrastructure when it was he who canned the Bellingham service!

      I think there is an implicit understanding that making better use of rail infrastructure will require tactical investment to unlock routes which are only constrained by specific bottlenecks elsewhere, but one of the outcomes of the report should surely be to revisit some of the issues highlighted on these pages as threatening future capacity opportunities- the Blackfriars southern approach, the Earls Court redevelopment…

      Anyway, here’s a list of routes that I think could probably offer more capacity with tactical investment or operational subsidy increases –
      London Victoria-Bellingham-[Orpington]
      Wimbledon/Sutton Loop
      Great Northern inners
      Chessington South (scope for major housing development?)
      Bakerloo/Overground north of Harrow (another densification opportunity?)
      Enfield Town
      Teddington Loop/Shepperton
      Loughborough Junction to Blackfriars (new stations at Walworth/Camberwell?)
      Bromley South-Swanley-HS1-[-Ebbsfleet?] (disused ex-Eurostar line)
      Disused Eurostar flyover at Battersea (Vauxhall-Wandsworth Road)
      Sparsely used Windsor lines track betwenn ClaphamJ and Waterloo
      Windsor lines LC removals
      Additional Wimbledon-East Putney capacity via upgrade to/at Clapham Junction
      Connect Tattenham Corner to Epsom Downs (+densification)

    20. Jim Cobb says:

      By the looks of it, there are a number of possible outcomes from this kind of study –

      1. Dictate where the development will be to make best us of spare or low-cost to upgrade infrastructure
      2. Upgrade the infrastructure to push the development market towards certain areas
      3. Determine where the development will take place and then worry about the infrastructure when development actually happens
      4. Let the market decide where the development will be and upgrade the infrastructure to cope

      No.3 of no.4 is the usual behavior, so if this study manages to achieve no.1 or no.2, that will be an improvement.

    21. Rational Plan says:

      I don’t see many cheapish (under a few hundred million) schemes that will make much difference. Anything that sorts certain problem junctions, such as East Croydon or Herne Hill is going to cost hundreds of millions and then, you’ll either not get uch bang for your buck because all it does is add a few trains an hour because there’s no space at the Terminal for more trains and/or the lines further out can’t handle any more trains because of the mix of fast and slow services.

      It will have to be new crossrails with some new express tunnels so the inner suburban lines can become new metro lines and the tunnels deliver expresses to the central terminals.

    22. Greg Tingey says:

      Haverhill is a transport disgrace.
      However. re=opening Sudbury – Haver hill via Clare as single track, with double from there to Shelford (or alternatively Chappel-via-Halstead as single to Haverhill) would be a very good idea – but it would require an enormous change in public perceptions & finance ….

      The other Paul
      but others like the Wimbledon/Sutton loop have no such issue… Oh yes, it does, because of the single platform pinch-point at Wombledon. Unless the trams are moved upstairs or sideways, then you can’t get a better than an unreliable half-hourly “service” around that loop.
      You could of course, save yourself $(£)_SHEDLOADS by fixing the problem at Wim/Wombledon & then omitting the daft “kink” to Tooting on CR2, couldn’t you?
      but that would require “joined-up thinking”, ahem.
      Your list is one I would not disagree with, except there is one notable omission: Herne Hill the other ‘slink mods you rightly suggest will be effectively useless, unless HH is tackled, as discussed previously, here, ad nauseam.

    23. glbotu says:

      @The other Paul

      Looking through your list (because it’s a nice way to compartmentalise my ideas more than anything).

      – London Victoria-Bellingham-[Orpington]

      That’s subject to capacity constraints at Denmark Hill, although I don’t know much about this stretch of line. Could it be used as a clever way around Herne Hill, or would this cause conflicts at Shortlands?

      -Wimbledon/Sutton Loop

      This could certainly be improved, I think with “knocking through” Wimbledon Platform 10 (moving Tramlink) and some capacity improvements at Sutton, although this has been somewhat hamstrung by forcing all trains here through the Thameslink core, rather than allowing 0 conflicts at Blackfriars.


      Don’t feel in a position to comment.

      -Great Northern inners

      This could be improved once Thameslink takes over some of the inners. Could it be further enhanced with ATO from Drayton Park – Moorgate?

      -Chessington South (scope for major housing development?)

      An interesting idea

      -Bakerloo/Overground north of Harrow (another densification opportunity?)


      -Enfield Town

      I think this may improve once LO takes over these lines. It may not, but I think it’s worth seeing what TfL does with them.

      -Teddington Loop/Shepperton
      -Windsor lines LC removals

      Well this could improve if the Windsor Lines Level Crossings are sorted out, but that in itself would be a huge task. A lot of the level crossings (the ones between Twickenham and Barnes), are in the middle of dense housing and are major thoroughfares. Doing any one of them would be as disruptive as the Hammersmith Bridge reconstruction, if not more so.

      -Loughborough Junction to Blackfriars (new stations at Walworth/Camberwell?)

      This is not without the realm of possibility.

      -Bromley South-Swanley-HS1-[-Ebbsfleet?] (disused ex-Eurostar line)
      -Disused Eurostar flyover at Battersea (Vauxhall-Wandsworth Road)

      You need to sort out Herne Hill if you want to operate anything here. I’ve often suggested using Waterloo to increase capacity at the London end of the LCDR

      -Sparsely used Windsor lines track betwenn ClaphamJ and Waterloo

      This, I think, is being done once more platforms at Waterloo are brought into use. I think it will be used for the Windsor Fast trains (to Reading).

      – Additional Wimbledon-East Putney capacity via upgrade to/at Clapham Junction

      Running over Point Pleasant Junction (assuming you reinstated the up side) could potentially make use of extra capacity at Waterloo once 21 – 25 are brought into use, although it would have to be a Wimbledon terminator. However I can’t see much space in between the District Line services.

      – Connect Tattenham Corner to Epsom Downs (+densification)

      Getting quite far away now, but this would be a reasonable plan.

      As to any comments about Busways.

      As someone who lives in a place with a famous Guided Busway these days (Cambridge), the thing is they’re great, until they get very well patronised. Busways just don’t have the ability to soak up capacity like railway lines or even tram lines, because at some point they have to run on roads and get in motorists’ ways. As someone who’s used the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway a bit, it’s fantastic until you hit Milton Road/Histon Road and are suddenly a good old fashioned bus again. If you’re going to fully segregate, why not build a tramway or a railway line. The cost is similar (as was quickly discovered by Cambridgeshire County Council). I would strongly urge London not to consider guided busways.

    24. Fandroid says:

      Great article Jonathan. I wonder if the IAG has worried at all about a serious issue that will bite London in the bum almost immediately. I mean air pollution. The EU Commission is starting to take the UK government to court over its failure over the decades to deal with this, and the worst problems are in London. I’m relying on the media here, but the blame has been aimed at diesel buses, diesel taxis, and diesel private cars. I know the introduction of hybrid buses is aimed at this problem as is the experimental ‘bionic duckweed’ bus (powered by hydrogen fuel-cells), but I somehow doubt that solution will get the UK out of trouble. Something drastic will probably have to be done, and the only technology that is easily available is (to warm the cockles of Greg’s heart) trolleybuses. A serious infrastructure investment if there ever was one.

      I wholeheartedly agree with Walthamstow Writer that bus services are infrastructure. Without them people cannot move around. Those people’s only other personal way of using the basic underlying infrastructure (ie the roads) is to start using cars more. So, public transport road-based infrastructure includes the bus services. That has to be recognised, not regarded as a cost which ought to be avoided.

    25. Pedantic of Purley says:

      – Connect Tattenham Corner to Epsom Downs (+densification)

      So that is a 2 km connection to join two stations. The more frequent of the two has 2tph off-peak (excluding the 1 tph Tattenham Corner – Purley shuttle of dubious benefit) and is not exactly heavily used at the end of the branch. The less frequent has half that frequency and is so lightly used it is now reduced to a single track.

      How much traffic would actually be generated by such a link? I suspect fingers of hands would be sufficient for daily counting purposes and I wonder if even that is optimistic. Even if it led to additional housing, which I would doubt, I really cannot see why a link would be of benefit. Given the spare space available on the train at these locations (for practical purposes just about the entire train) any housing build-up could easily be handled without an obsession for new infrastructure just because the tracks at two termini happen to be in alignment.

    26. Anonymous says:

      Having had a very uncomfortable trip up Green Lanes last week on a packed 29, I wonder if there might now be a case for opening the once-proposed St Ann’s Road station?

      Could this be added the list?

    27. Fandroid says:

      @glbuto. I would take issue with your comment about guided buses because at some point they have to run on roads and get in motorists’ ways. Surely, if a bus is heavily loaded (as you say they are) then it’s the motorists (with average occupancy of 1.25) who are in the buses’ (and the bus users) way?

    28. Castlebar 1 says:

      @ Greg

      Although you are correct, I fear going “off piste” here

      Abercrombie obviously felt that commuters would commute from further afield. However, you must accept that very few “visionaries” could have foreseen the growth of air travel in the 1940s when Abercrombie was preparing his report. However, 20 or so years later, I doubt that to be true. He foresaw Ashford and Swindon and it “happened” for them. He foresaw Haverhill, and in the 60s, when Freddy Laker and others were dramatically altering the public’s access to air travel, the bean counters closed the Haverhill line(s) which also impacted on the southern branch of the line from Marks Tey which could have been quite inexpensively tinkered with to provide a wonderful route from “the east” to Stansted airport.

      There was little joined up planning and little evidence of “outside the box” thinking. Let us hope mistakes of the past are not repeated. Somebody once said that we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, and it is also true that when history repeats itself, the price always goes up.

      How would anyone go from Colchester/Ipswich to Stansted by public transport now?
      Not via Stratford or Liverpool Street, but by one of the frequent coach services.

    29. glbotu says:


      Good point, it is indeed motorists who are in the way of the buses.

    30. Graham H says:

      @the other Paul – the main problem with your list is that it is (a) quite short and geographically concentrated; (b) comprises, for the greater part, twigs that feed a main trunk on which there is already no more capacity (eg SW mainline); or (c) curious, if you will excuse me for being blunt – what is the capacity value of the Eurostar flyover? The trains have to go somewhere at either end… and those places are already full of trains.

      @Theban – a good point as to whether you develop the fasts or the slows/reliefs. In many ways, the LPTB New Works Programme of the ’30s, showed a pragmatic approach which could be applied in principle in the future.

      @Castlebar1 and GT – New cities rather than new towns, even, given the scale of the problem. Because London happens to be located in the bottom right hand corner of the island, the choice of venue for these is almost inevitably either to the east or the north (the nearer Thames Valley already having been force fed by earlier Heseltine initiatives). Somewhere on the Haverhill/Dunmow/Braintree axis is an obvious choice but really requires a new main line to carry the traffic – perhaps with Norwich as its ultimate destination.

    31. timbeau says:

      Looking at “the other paul'” bucket list, the problem in many case is terminal capacity. Where are these extra Sutton loop, Teddington loop, old-Eurostar-link etc services going to go? There are also pinch points further out, such as the singke track section at Wimbledon, and the double track section from Barnes to Twickenham (with all those level crossings!). I don’t think there are any “sparsely used Windsor lines track between ClaphamJ and Waterloo” – the slack available from the departure of the Eurostar services has largely been taken up already.

      I think the level crossing problem in Barnes and Richmond would be best solved by a tunnel – if stopping trains continue to use the surface level lines the cost of intermediate stations could be saved, although there would still be eight crossing closures per hour. Or, combining two of the suggestions above, create a triangular junction in Twickenham to allow Reading/Windsor services to feed into Crossrail 2 via the Kingston loop, and /or allow the Hounslow and Kinsgton loop services to be combined.

    32. Castlebar 1 says:

      @ GH

      Can you please use the word “lower” rather than “bottom”

      I know we are talking about Kent & Essex, but, nonetheless, “lower” is more “tailored language”

      (Should I be adding an emoticon here?)

    33. ngh says:

      Re the other Paul,

      The SE side of Victoria is very under utilized so there is no need to divert trains down the eurostar ramp to Waterloo if and when Herne Hill gets sorted. The best overall solution would be to demolish the ramp get 4 tracks for the Windosr lines and then run some trains from Waterloo to Wimlebdon via East Putney (reinstate Point Pleasant flyover) which will improve inner suburban capacity.on SW routes.

    34. c says:

      So, Herne Hill is a must, clearly. Croydon too.
      I’d be interested to see what they could do at Lewisham, Wimbledon and Dartford to improve the South London network.

      The route via Denmark Hill is another Herne Hill strategy – it could take more Southeastern trains. The Atlantic lines aren’t too heavily used. Denmark Hill itself and Peckham Rye could be extended to 10-12 cars, tricky at both but possibly worth it. They’re becoming quite important.

      Outer Kent services need to migrate more and more to HS1 and Charing Cross. Victoria and Cannon Street should be metro-focused, and shouldn’t serve beyond Medway. Victoria’s SE platform utilisation is shocking.

      I wonder if an additional Overground route could use the ex-Eurostar flyover and terminate at Vauxhall? Could be very useful – although Victoria line pressure would be massive. And they need to be using those spare lines (and demolish the Queenstown Road platform) better.

      Northern line extension to Clapham Junction, and onwards – either Wandsworth or Earlsfield (to cover CR2 skipping it) seem obvious.

      Bakerloo extension south and/or Camberwell Thameslink station.

      Higher frequencies out of Moorgate (which I think are planned) and TfL takeover. 378s there as well as on the West Anglia lines – which could definitely take higher frequencies too. All Chingfords diverted via Stratford and Hall Farm.

      So much more, but it’s getting a bit random and less big picture…

    35. Jake Noman says:

      And maybe diverted the Stansted Express to Stratford then onto the GEML to Liverpool Street to free up the Lea Valley Lines slightly as well as better connections at Stratford to East London?

    36. Graham H says:

      @c – I don’t think terminating trips at Vauxhall is at all a good idea: not only is there nowhere to do it but you’d foul up the approach to Waterloo.

      @Jake Norman – but at the price of extended journey times – Stansted are already pushing for a 30m journey time (as if!)

      More generally – so, the only palliatives that so far mentioned are essentially tweaking the current network. Useful, but this may buy you only a decade or so of relief. There really is no escape from building new. It is crucial to plan in the knowledge of where the housing densities will be increased because that will (should) drive network design. If it’s more inner city high rise, then tweaking or developing the mainline network is pointless – we are into new tube and tram territory; if it’s the semi suburbs, then orbital routes (train or tram – as in Paris) come into play; if it’s new towns some distance away, then we are looking at new main lines.

      @castlebar1 – gosh, I’d never assumed “bottom” was a no-no – shades of Dickens’ “gentleman’s unmentionables” and the Victorian need to conceal the legs of furniture? Still, I like the idea of Lower Britain (Britannia Inferior perhaps?)

    37. Pedantic of Purley says:

      I think we are all getting obsessed with small scale rail schemes which is not what this article is really about. In fact quite the opposite. It is more or less saying a few extra Crossrails will be needed, we really need to think about having a mindset that properly tackles the enormous unexpected and unsatisfied requirement for inter-suburban rail journeys (not just tacking on an extra carriage to London Overground), just how are we going to plan our suburbs to handle the traffic – more buses?, bus improvement schemes?, more cycling incentives in places that wouldn’t have been considered before?, suburban hubs?

      At the end of it part of the answer may be some of the schemes suggested but it is more about changing the mindset and deciding where expectations should be. If the London Overground needs to be expanded as an inter-suburban railway and handle London Underground type passenger numbers then how is that going to be addressed? It is pointless to not try because of existing freight slots. It is not lines on maps that is required at this stage. Should we look at the idea of potential demand for non-Central London journeys on the Underground and DLR ? After there must be some demand for Heathrow – Harrow and Woolwich Arsenal -Canary Wharf. And the John Bull point mentioned in the article that it might not be just new lines but getting people off stations and interchanging within them. So we shouldn’t be obsessing ourselves over details of a few specific station upgrade schemes but the whole idea of them as a major programme and is it something that is just as important and may need a lot of money set aside for doing a significant number of them? – on Underground, DLR and National Rail.

      Highlight ideas with specific examples by all means but aren’t these reports and this article on them suggesting it is time to think bigger and talk about general requirements?

    38. timbeau says:

      @and in the 60s, when Freddy Laker and others were dramatically altering the public’s access to air travel, the bean counters closed the Haverhill line(s) ”
      Although Laker started in the airline business in the late 1940s (falling on his feet as the Berlin Airlift was about to begin), he did not launch the Skytrain business model until 1971, and it was another six years before he finally got his licence.
      Laker was operating out of Gatwick, and the third London airport was planned to be at Maplin, so I think the bean counters might be forgiven for not seeing the relevance of the Haverhill line to aviation several years before.
      (They should, however, have seen its relevance as serving the expansion of the town, but they only looked at historic data (they also closed the “Varsity Line” in Milton Keynes)
      As I mentioned in “another place”, tinkering with the suburbs, (for instance the proposed link across Epsom racecourse) is beside the point : if London is really going to continue expanding, a major RER-style project is needed.

    39. Southern Heights says:

      @Fandroid: If you are going to mention Trolleybuses, you should make it “doubly articulated trolleybuses”, just to get Boris’ attention and annoy him…

      I have seen these in Lucerne, as well as trolleybuses with separate trailers that can be detached off peak. They are great, especially if you are standing: No gear changes….

    40. Jake Noman says:

      Once Crossrail 2 is built, there will be fast lines built from Tottenham Hale which would cut the times on the Stansted Express a lot which would enable it to call at Stratford. Most passengers would likely get off at Stratford for other transport links to East London, South East London and Essex. This is why the A9 coach stops here from which is where most passengers get on/off who are not going on to the East End or City. If anything Stratford should have an improved and much better coach stop, but I will not drive into that today.

    41. c says:

      Well, it seems to talk about turning the NR and Overground routes into secondary/equivalent metro systems.

      That means unpicking tangles, increasing frequencies etc and I think it’s fair to mention the key locations where this could be done. And tube lines which could sustain extension to improve the inner city. Bakerloos out to Hayes and similar must be abandoned, inner and outer need to be different ideologies like the French do with Metro and RER.

      The flipside of this is through capacity – new Crossrails as you say – OR express tunnels to remove faster services from the suburban network. The SWML and BML ones spring to mind, but possibly ones out to Shenfield, Slough, Swanley or S… joking – Harlow, could be viable.

    42. DeepThought says:

      One thing that strikes me about this report (and many others) is that population predictions only ever seem to be linear, when the historical figures are anything but. There is only one thing I think you can say about the low/medium/high predictions in figure 1 – they will all be wrong.

      I am not trying to bury my head in the sand because anyone with eyes can see that London’s transport infrastructure is creaking at the seams. But the idea that we are going to add x thousand people a year at a constant rate doesn’t fit with history. On the other hand, if you build it, they will come…

      @PoP – I concur. In addition, I think the big issue will soon become not where the lines should go, but where the stations should be. There hasn’t been a truly new station built in central London since Yerkes (City Thameslink maybe?). We just seem to keep trying to get rid of the crowds by connecting up the old stations over and over again. Given the large areas of London that don’t have a Tube/Overground/mainline station this seems to be a bit backwards.

    43. 0775John says:

      After my daughter went to university in Aberdeen a number of years ago I have often mused on the perception we have in the UK ( all parts of it – and please also for the sake of this post ignore the independence debate!) about locations. It is 450+ miles from us here in the Midlands but we drive up leaving here at lunchtime and feel it is no big deal now – but quite easy to have lunch then leave and be home in bed at a reasonable time – and many of the students there are from other parts of the world, not just Europe. When they chose a university in the UK they were not seeing our islands as we see them with Aberdeen at a place so remote very few in the south ever go.

      Once you are there you could be in any city apart from the usual individualities that all cities possess. It seems that most people share an ingrained perception of London that places it at the bottom (or lower end, sorry timbeau) and near to the connections to the outside world.

      Thus it is almost by definition, in a “better” place than Aberdeen. But the oil industry has made that city the place where everyone goes from the US and all the other oil producing countries that have their assets nearby. That is no different to the draw of the finance centres in London. But of course the seat of Government and royalty has always made the big difference. But Aberdeen in relation to oil shows that it doesn’t have to be like that.

      Canary Wharf has segregated a lot of finance away from the the City of London and people moved with the work as the connectivity and environment were better there. Old Oak Common may do the same if fully realised, but this illustrates that things can be pushed to direct workers to new and better places.

      So unless London is to become like the city envisaged in the film “Things to Come” with monorails linking skyscrapers and Pods flying amongst 100 storey blocks (which may please certain contributors to LR) the pressure perhaps should be in incentivising (sorry, horrible word) those who live in Milton Keynes and commute to London think about the benefits of commuting in half the time to Oxford or Birmingham by encouraging certain new industries (of which there may well be some before 2050, one hopes) starting up outwith the M25.

      I realise that people say that they like the “buzz” and night-life of London but those in Brum and Manchester etc are not wholly to be looked down on and do also seem to have a good time. The alternative seems to be killing the goose that laid the golden egg and ruining the quality of life by piecemeal building and infill and half-baked schemes that serve no real long term purpose.

      Sorry about the length of this post….

    44. Fandroid says:

      I wonder how (over-used word coming up) ‘sustainable’ these infrastructure musings are? It seems doubtful if London can keep on growing its population if it doesn’t come up with an alternative to concentrating everything in the centre, or near centre. The 1960s new towns in the SE provided employment as well as housing. That model has collapsed somewhat with the decline of manufacturing so that many of the present day inhabitants commute, many of them to London. The novel solution might be to grow employment out there again, and reverse the flows. But that seems unlikely with London’s housing costs. Very few will want to live somewhere expensive, work somewhere cheaper, and pay for a commute as well!

      London needs more Canary Wharfs, but much further out. Old Oak Common is not really far enough out. Croydon looks choice, as does the Heathrow area. Even if the airport stays, there are acres and acres of land currently used to store stationary cars. Others could come up with more locations.

      The problem with Green Belt development is that , unless it’s a self-sufficient new town, it will need massive transport infrastructure too, plus an enhanced main line into London.

    45. Chris H says:

      Thanks for a very interesting article. I’ve been trying to find out information about this 2050 plan for a few months but have not come across anything. It’s a shame that it’s been caught by purdah but hopefully the report will be substantial and well thought through when it arrives.

      It strikes me that the railway networks in London, by and large, are quite efficient at a system level. The capacity of tracks, junctions, stations and signalling tend to align broadly with each other. True, there are places where a new flyover or pair of platforms will add some capacity, but there aren’t many places that are crying out for one pinchpoint to be removed.

      (I don’t think the same is true of the road network, but the continuing pressure of travel demand growth will probably smooth out some of the inconsistencies in the years to come.)

      What this article alludes to is that entirely new systems of travel might be needed in the coming decades. If we assume that some of them will be railways, it would mean new tracks (probably in tunnel), new stations (whether joined to existing ones or not), linked to large scale new developments and – ideally – linked to each other in a network.

    46. Toby says:

      @Graham H “Somewhere on the Haverhill/Dunmow/Braintree axis is an obvious choice but really requires a new main line to carry the traffic – perhaps with Norwich as its ultimate destination.”

      Is there capacity on the Hertford East Route? A new town on the A10 near Buntingford, with the Buntingford branch relaid and then connecting with the Cambridge line ivo Royston could provide bi-directional relief, given Cambridge’s predicted growth.

      @Greg Tingey: Haverhill is a transport disgrace, and reinstating the line Mark’s Tey (especially with a London-facing junction at Mark’s Tey could be very beneficial. But I presume it ranks some distance behind reinstating Braintree – Dunmow – Stansted.

      But to the question of how do you incentivise people to work in places other than central London, we’ve been trying for several decades and with very limited success – the network effect of London is profound, and there are good reasons to expect this to continue.

    47. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ PoP – I think we will need all the things that you suggest in terms of additional transport infrastructure / services. Paris does give us some clues as to what is required in London in terms of orbital metros, trams, bus rapid transit. They’re perhaps behind the curve on cycling but then so is London.

      For those suggesting trams and double articulated trolleybuses – yes excellent and I don’t give a damn about Boris or anyone else being “upset”. If the people involved in this infrastructure work are ruling out the inclusion / assessment of viable potential solutions because of personal / political / organisational bias then they should be removed. We have had enough money wasted because of “flights of fancy”. We must not and cannot have a repeat of more nonsensical transport “solutions”.

      While I understand the inevitable desire to play with crayons we really do need to get some ambition into the assessment of possible schemes. Let’s take one example – Barking Riverside. I recently went through part of the area that is derelict at present but which is earmarked for development. Imagining an intensive scale of housing development I wondered whether 4 car EMUs carrying a max of 700 people each toddling back and forth was a viable solution. Something tells me that it won’t be and yet the Mayor seems to think it will be. Paucity of imagination, lack of vision or a woeful under assessment of what is needed? Who knows but I don’t see how we are going to get to the right answer with a bunch of clueless uninformed politicians spouting about the Victoria Line running to France and a belief that we have tens of miles of disused railways waiting to be restored.

      Another example – Vauxhall and Nine Elms. Today the trains, tubes and buses are all overloaded. The plan – demolish the bus station, tinker with the tube station’s capacity, do nothing to the railway service but build nearly 20 enormous tower blocks in and around Vauxhall. Nine Elms will get the Northern Line to take you nowhere very far or very local plus a couple of rerouted and slightly enhanced bus routes. I’m sorry but this is just stupid and wholly inappropriate. If these daft ideas are in any way indicative of the 2050 “solution” then we’re not going to getting anywhere far or fast.

      Sorry I seem so grumpy but a lot of this is not terribly complicated if you are in possession of a clue or two about transport, development and actually use public transport to get around. I have my own biases about certain forms of transport but I could do better than those in charge of solutions for Barking Reach and Vauxhall / Nine Elms.

    48. Graham H says:

      @John0775/Fandroid – the argument about counter poles of attraction has been with us now since at least the first world war and – however logical it may seem – has always failed completely and utterly. Since the last war, we have had determined efforts by successive governments (remember the third wave of new towns such as MK and Northampton, the Location of Offices Bureau, the Hardman inquiry), all of which have moved people out of London, only for them or their employers, to creep back over time. The trouble is that London, with or without the government (Please note the examples of New York and Zuerich) is the biggest labour market and the biggest market for goods and services in the country by a factor of about 7 or 8. There is little chance of reversing that short of the direction of labour, and although Stalin is one of the more interesting dictators, and much underrated, I don’t think his methods command general acceptance in the UK.

      Nor should you expect new towns, however large, to be self contained. That was the beau ideal in the ’60s and ’70s but even in the largest – MK, Peterborough, Northampton – commuting has become well-established. With the earliest generation of postwar new towns, such as Hemel Hempstead, their commuting patterns have become totally indistinguishable from comparable towns – eg S Albans – a comparable distance away.

      This may sound defeatist, but any solution is going to have to work with the grain of people’s plans and habits, anything else leads to “Cumbernauld”.

    49. Castlebar 1 says:

      Some excellent ideas, and some brilliant.

      However, one thing that I think can be guaranteed. For as long as air travel exists, there will always be a major airport at Heathrow, even if “Boris Island” gets built. Also, in the unlikely event of it becoming a major freight airport, with some/all passenger traffic being transferred to Boris Island or wherever, many THOUSANDS of people will still work there and need rail access to it.

      @ GH – Britannia Parva?
      (Perivale was once ‘Greenford Parva’)

    50. Christian Schmidt says:

      “some of the economic surplus which London generates”. A bit off-topic but when it comes to “retain and enlarge London’s entitlement to national funds and resources” please bear in mind that a substantial parts of the surplus comes from capital gaines from overseas. (Think Russian oligarchs moving to Chelsea.) While this may show up as increasing London income it is difficult to see how this relates to needs of transport investment, esp. compared to other regions.

    51. Graham H says:

      @Christian Schmidt – whilst the movement of capital funds in itself generates no transport requirement – people don’t move bags of gold about as they used to – the people who do that moving and those who serve them, whether as cleaners or investment analysts, do. Were it not so, mean terrace houses in Fulham of the sort in which my great aunt started her modest career as a ladies maid, wouldn’t now cost in excess of £1m. These aren’t the fifth homes of oligarchs, they are the homes of Mr Pooter’s successors and descendants.

      Put another way, £1 invested in London generates more economic surplus than £1 invested in Halifax. I don’t buy this retro industrial nostalgia. We stopped making things because others could make them cheaper and going back to making things as opposed to selling services doesn’t work if we can’t make them more cheaply and/or better than someone else. London is very good at services, possibly the best on the planet, especially when it comes to money. There is no other place which can raise so much liquidity at the drop of a hat and the high margins support a vast economy. Why throw that advantage away for the sake of Batley shoddies?

    52. Long Branch Mike 1 says:

      @Graham H

      What is the significance of Cumbernauld?

    53. timbeau says:

      @Deep thought
      “I think the big issue will soon become not where the lines should go, but where the stations should be. There hasn’t been a truly new station built in central London since Yerkes (City Thameslink maybe?). We just seem to keep trying to get rid of the crowds by connecting up the old stations over and over again. Given the large areas of London that don’t have a Tube/Overground/mainline station this seems to be a bit backwards.”

      Quite – and even City Thameslink is really just a rather extensive rebuild of Holborn Viaduct (and/or Ludgate Hill!).

      If a new RER / SBahn whatever system were ever to be planned as a whole, rather than join the dots of existing stations I agree they should be put where the new develpments are planned – with the new line then aligned to fit where the need for a statoin is identified. So for example Nine Elms. If an existing tube station happens to be nearby that station could then be connected up (or a “la Defense” style extension made to meet it). In other words we should plan the new network first and adapt the existing tube to fit it.

      Assuming Crossrail and Thameslink as part of such a network, and allowing for central London being much longer east-west than north-south, one might envisage a “Crossrail B” running on a Richmond – Hammersmith – Peckham axis.
      Then we have Thameslinks 1, 2, 3, and 4 intersecting “Crossrail A” at four of its existing five central London stops – probably omitting Bond Street, and Crossrail B at new interchanges selected according to where growth is expected. (The existing Thameslink would be the third of these – Crossrail 2 looks a bit like parts of two others). Maybe one interchange with the Tube in between the interchanges with Crossrail A and Crossrail B, (possibly the Circle Line) and another north of Crossrail A (possibly the Circle Line again). In fact, the existing Thameslink fits this pattern quite well, with Circle Line (Kings Cross), Crossrail (Farringdon), Circle Line again (Blackfriars) and Crossrail B (reopen the station at Walworth, between Nine Elms and Peckham?)

      Which “Grandes Lignes” they plug into north and south of London is left as a Crayonistic exercise.

    54. Pedantic of Purley says:

      Cumbernauld New Town in Scotland. Rather like Skelmersdale New Town in England but not blessed with with the same level of attractiveness or desirability as somewhere one would like to live.

    55. 0775John says:

      Graham H (two posts above)

      I fear that you are correct despite what I might wish. A lot of the recent LR threads have created a negative tapestry made up of a warp of disillusionment teamed with a weft despair about the short term thinking of politicians.

      What we need is leadership by those who understand and care for our children’s future rather than their own future. What has always been need not always be. And between now and 2050 much unexpected may happen (what odds on London suffering major flooding, for example?) that could transform fortunes. The UK has perhaps too many eggs in one basket if it sees itself as London supported by workers from everywhere else and makes no attempt to improve the lot of those who move or make long distance commutes just to reach a job that they could actually do elsewhere.

      If we want bold infrastructure plans that will cost a great deal of money but make a step change to lives we should be happy to make some of those with a vision thinking 25 years ahead but also perhaps add a bit of Stalinist direction! London could be like Hong Kong but then do we want it to be like it?

      As a world city rather than a UK city London appears disengaged from the economic problems of other places in the land. (That disengagement in my view has influenced the wishes of many Scots to govern themselves). Westminster is a bubble within a bubble and most bubbles burst eventually. (British Empire? USSR)

      But the liquidity that you say can be raised in London at the drop of a hat (a good thing) funded securitisation in the early 2000s and that did not end prettily for us – even if those who talked up the availability of liquidity are still enjoying the rewards of theIr labours then!

    56. Graham H says:

      @0775John – no, it’s not a pretty picture and the answer to what functions even your Gosplan director sends to the regions is unclear. The free market answer has been back office functions – which has made Leeds and Dublin and Bristol the back offices to London, and Glasgow and Tyneside the UK call office capitals. Getting head offices to move away is far far more difficult – not only do they like to be near each other for face to face contact* (every transaction I’ve advised on recently has boiled down to endless meetings in London) but as part of that they like to be near the airport. Throw in the entertainment and cultural aspects and the bubble is complete. Planners call it the agglomeration effect and point to parallel examples across the globe.

      * Of course, we shall now hear about the miracle of teleconferencing – that miracle which has been supposed to be with us since the ’80s but never quite works.

    57. Mark Townend says:

      @Walthamstow Writer, 7 April 2014 at 16:01

      “. . . Barking Riverside. I recently went through part of the area that is derelict at present but which is earmarked for development. Imagining an intensive scale of housing development I wondered whether 4 car EMUs carrying a max of 700 people each toddling back and forth was a viable solution.”

      Instead of or as well as a Goblin extension, Barking Riverside could be served by an additional leg of Crossrail, branching off from the GE electrics at Forest Gate. Could help to maintain Crossrail’s off-peak frequency through Stratford.

    58. Melvyn says:

      With Crossrail (1) and Thameslink finally approaching completion London needs to look at new major projects with Crossrail 2 (old Chelsea to Hackney Abercrombie line!) now coming together with lord Adonis evaluation of type of railway and routing now underway .

      One could look at whether other Crossrail/ Thameslink solutions like joining London Bridge Southern services to Waterloo South Western services with Crossrail style stations at these locations and maybe Battersea/ Vauxhall and Clapham Junction allowing further. through services could release capacity and reduce need for trains to stand idle for most of the day at Clapham Junction .

      One other solution must be stations and whether rebuilding stations and even joining together stations that are close to each other could increase capacity of network by getting passengers to change trains without using them just like changing between tube lines at stations like Green Park then better interchange with escalators and lifts providing stair and step free access could join nearby stations together with White City/ Wood Lane being a prime candidate creating a west London equivalent to West Ham Station .

      London had 400 high capacity Artic buses but these were thrown away on purely dogmatic reasons and despite having been replaced by modern double deck buses mayor Boris went on to waste millions on vanity buses that carry fewer passengers than old Routemasters if you apply the same standing rules as they had of about 6 standing !

      It seems that TFL will also be getting the Greenford branch which will be cut back to West Ealing and Romford to Upminster shuttle alongside Crossrail transfer seems Boris went for box 13 !

    59. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ John 0775 – having visited HK many times I don’t think there is any risk of London resembling it. I cannot foresee any part of London approaching the sheer density of population that you see in HK. The one thing that is very different is that virtually every bit of HK that has buildings has a large resident population and a very high density of local shops and restaurants to support those residents. People tolerate vastly smaller flats in HK than we do in this country. Cultural expectations are very different and HK has long had a clear policy of building affordable social housing. We have abandoned that policy in large part and are still wedded to a policy of home ownership.

      Central and parts of the Peak are the exceptions to the usual density of housing. Central is vastly busy during the day due to the concentration of business and retail activity. It is also worth remembering that a vast part of the New Territories is actually a national park / nature reserve and is not built on at all and is not likely to be.

      HK has many areas without a rail service and that is only slowly being corrected but usually in connection with planned redevelopment given property development rights help fund the cost of MTR extensions. There is, though, a plan to extend the network over many years which is a plus point. What is less clear is how lines that are full today will be able to cope with more and more lines being added to the network.

      There is an enormous reliance on bus services and there has been very significant road investment which supports the provision of fast express buses. On the busiest corridors it is not unusual to see full bus after full bus at 1 minute intervals and we’re talking about buses that carry up to 120 people. This still applies where there are frequent rail links (e.g. West Rail).

      The bigger issues for HK are the vast (and it is incredible) expansion of Shenzhen just across the border to the mainland. The other is a growing concern about the environment – air quality is dreadful a lot of the time and you can’t keep reclaiming land from HK Harbour without undue harm being caused. I can see parallels with London with the air quality and flooding risk issues we have. HK also doesn’t have a properly representative and free democratic process and I believe our London governance will come under massive strain if it has to somehow deliver tens of billions of transport investment to support a vastly growing population. At some point the people being disadvantaged from this vast growth (and there’ll be plenty of them in and outside of London) will rebel and then things stop.

    60. Graham H says:

      @Melvyn – it isn’t terminating trains that use up the capacity in the case of Waterloo but the fact that the approaches are full, nor would through services remove the need to stable trains in Clapham Yard between the peaks – they are there because they are not needed (or sometimes because of a quirk in the leasing agreement and mileage related payments). Through services or not, the same amount of stock is needed to shift the off peak punters – as is the case for TLK. As to whether it’s a good idea – there’s a parallel exchange on another thread and I wouldn’t risk annoying people by repetition.

      @LBM – as a Canadian, you might also be excused for not knowing about Skelmersdale either – a ’60s new town in Lancashire that failed to take off and became a byword for ugliness and despair. When I visited it in 1975 as part of the committee tasked with selling off the new towns, the town centre simply petered out with a few derelict shops and then a field cum rubbish tip. We didn’t raise much money from that…

    61. Long Branch Mike says:


      “One other solution must be stations and whether rebuilding stations and even joining together stations that are close to each other could increase capacity of network by getting passengers to change trains without using them just like changing between tube lines at stations like Green Park then better interchange with escalators and lifts providing stair and step free access…”

      I don’t quite follow what you are describing here, could you elaborate?

    62. Long Branch Mike says:

      @Graham H

      I recall visiting Glasgow 2 years ago and being warned to stay away from Cumbernauld… now it all makes sense.

      PS please see my email to you.

    63. Fandroid says:

      While the SE new towns have generally turned themselves into commuter towns, London actually bought itself about 40 years worth of rail infrastructure capacity. Nothing stays the same as it was planned to be, but then it doesn’t instantaneously transform itself into its future guise either. Neither Cumbernauld nor Skelmersdale have any relevance to London. Both were satellite towns of cities (Glasgow and Liverpool) that suffered tremendous downturns in their economies from the 1970s onwards.

      I wasn’t actually suggesting more new towns, but my instinctive contrariness now makes me think they might not be a bad idea in order to gain some time. I was suggesting the creation of centres of employment/housing in the outskirts of Greater London. The logic of that was to avoid the enormous investment required to create new main line railways into the centre. However, unless the outer boroughs feel they are in control, I don’t think Boris waving his arms about will achieve anything except yet more developer-led unplanned blocks with inadequate transport infrastructure. That will be done at a rate that is insufficient to reverse the house-price inflation which is going to lead to a social disaster for London (plus unaffordable pressure to keep on building extremely expensive commuter railway capacity at public expense).

    64. Richie says:

      Jonathan – very good article.

      The main problem in London is the inefficient use of many rail lines. As the LU Victoria & Jubilee lines run exceed 30tph, this could be a target for all other lines (assuming the trains have enough doors, as you pointed out).

      One big problem is the large number of (inefficient) terminus stations, dating back to the 1846 Royal Commission. Other UK cities (e.g. Leeds & Liverpool) and many European ones (e.g. Berlin, Malmo, Vienna, Zurich, Stuttgart) have replaced (or are replacing) terminus stations with through stations.

      London already has several through rail lines (Thameslink, WLL, ELL, LU Met, LU District), many through tube lines and one more line under construction (Crossrail), but there are still about 33 rail lines that terminate rather than running through the city. These can be roughly split into 5 inter-city lines, 16 long distance commuter lines and 12 suburban lines.

      One long-term (35yr) plan would be to build 8 connecting lines to connect the 16 long distance commuter lines and then connect the 12 remaining suburban terminating lines to the existing tube or Overground network. (extra large caran d’ache set required).

      Many proposals have been published since 1940 – for example in 1941 (Dow), 1943 (Forshaw & Abercrombie), 1946/8 (Inglis et al), 1949, 1965, 1968, 1974, 1980, 1989 and 2000.

      The earlier plans contained proposals for multiple lines. For example, Crossrail 2 can be traced back to one of the 9 proposed rail lines in the 1946 report in which 3 tube bypasses/extensions were also proposed.

      London needs a joined-up plan on this scale rather than minor additions to the current rail & tube network.

      PS – A questions for the Liverpool Reconnections site – why was Skelmersdale built while the Ormskirk to Rainford rail line was closed?

    65. The other Paul says:

      I’m glad my straw man list of underused rail infrastructure got some reaction and provoked some debate. Obviously it’s underused for various good reasons, and it would take some proper money to make use of it, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that it is there, and some tactical investment (for example at Herne Hill) and some tactical safeguarding (for example at Blackfriars and Earls Court) could make use of it.

      It’s interesting how the thread develops into some conflicting themes. I don’t have the energy to dig out the names and quotes, but paraphrasing, the “London 2050 isn’t about little schemes but big planning” jars a little with the “But this or that would cost a significant amount” and obviously the source quote of “making the NR into a new Underground”.

      I think I also spotted “no demand there what’s the point” jarring with “we should think big and build the infrastructure to lead the development” – both of these things can’t be true, surely?

      On this stuff I would say –
      1) The London 2050 initiative seems to talk big but the politicians involved are short-termists by nature and looking for cheap, quick fixes. This should not surprise anyone.
      2) Even a medium or large project is going to have a better BCR if it manages to incorporate some existing underused infrastructure as well. Crossrail has rebuilt the former NLL alignment to N Woolwich and will make much better use of that route. The “cheaper to build new” argument didn’t stack up there. There are plenty of other cases where it won’t.
      3) Targeting housing development where there’s underused rail capacity, or the potential for it, is a sensible approach surely? That’s exactly what’s happening at Ebbsfleet – why not Hanwell, Epsom or Chessington? The fact that there’s weak demand in these places now is exactly why they could be suitable.
      4) Joining places together better outside the central area is a way to support suburban densification and decentralisation of commuting. Tramlink, Thameslink and LO are good examples. Larger suburban centres develop best with connectivity from all directions and routes through the centre. Croydon works well, Stratford is getting there, Ealing needs more.

    66. Ian J says:

      @Frandroid: While the SE new towns have generally turned themselves into commuter towns, London actually bought itself about 40 years worth of rail infrastructure capacity

      It was fortuitous that the switch from coal to gas for heating, and the shift of freight distribution from city-centre goods stations to out-of-town logistics parks, coincided with the decentralisation of population in the South-East in the fifty years after the Second World War. All those four-track main lines, originally quadrupled for goods traffic, (plus the duplicated capacity the competing Victorian railway companies left behind) could be repurposed to get people into London from beyond the Green Belt.

      The problem now is that these easy gains have been used up, and an equivalent amount of radial capacity for a new generation of New Towns won’t come cheap. HS1 has made expansion of Ebbsfleet and Ashford possible, but HS2 will be full up with long distance trains almost from the start.

    67. Theban says:

      There has been surprisingly no talk of one transport corridor across London which has massive spare capacity: the Thames. Surely any long term plan should consider how to increase journeys by river?

    68. Fandroid says:

      A comment on the population forecasts. There was speculation about the whether the water supplies would constrain the population growth. I have had a look at Thames Water’s Water Resource Management Plan. This is a statutory obligation, so is prepared with a huge amount of care and gets a massive amount of scrutiny.

      Interestingly, their population forecast (to 2040 – it’s a 25 year plan from 2015) shows that the central pop. forecast in fig 1. in the main article above is actually at the higher level of the figures that TW use. So, let’s say this indicates that someone is probably hyping things a bit! TW figures indicate that the central forecast (for 2040) in fig 1 is somewhere between 0.75 million too high and about right.

      It’s an important point because the Treasury will be aware of the lower forecasts, so will not just fall over and accept the more inflated ones.

      The comforting thing is that there does seem to be enough water. Just expect a lot more meters in the near future!

    69. Slugabed says:

      Following on from Fandroid’s comment of 06:9 08/04 it is also worth bearing in mind that 2050 is also the year after which,the UN has calculated,World population will begin to fall.Although locally this might have no effect initially,it is something else which,in the timescale under discussion,ought to be borne in mind.
      For instance…as with London schools in the 70s,it may be worth putting up with a few years’ crush,because we know the pressure may be off afterwards.

    70. Pedantic of Purley says:

      @The Other Paul

      I’m glad my straw man list of underused rail infrastructure got some reaction and provoked some debate

      If that is what it was then I for one will never again respond to anything you write.

    71. c says:

      Theban – good point. We should and could be using the Thames like Venice. It’s not the same but we could try harder. Wide, flat bottomed boats (with coffee bars, wifi, very relaxing!) – free as part of a Travelcard – and running all sorts of stopping and fast routes focused on moving people quickly from east to west.

      It would be a shame to have to build piers halfway out into the river as is sometimes necessary at low tide, so this wouldn’t work everywhere. But it could be quite useful especially for the booming riverside areas in the west (Nine Elms and onwards) but also for Docklands too. Not to mention Deptford/Greenwich developments, Canada Water, Woolwich etc… – I’d say the central speed limits could be looked at too however.

      Tube frequencies, tube ‘interchanges’ (e.g. Temple/Embankment) – and being on the tube map itself. Much more preferable than the District line surely!

      And some interventions at the Isle of Dogs to get into one of the docks…

    72. Malcolm says:

      PoP says “If that is what it was then I for one will never again respond to anything you write.”

      That is your choice. But I do not think ToP was boasting of having used a disreputable tactic. Although the phrase “Straw Man” can be used in such a way, here I think it just meant that he was further exploring the notion of invigorating disused or underused infrastructure, without himself being 100% certain that such invigorating should happen. Something that any thoughtful person might do.

      I found Paul’s list useful, because it challenged the initial reaction of many (I include myself) which was something like “rubbish, there’s nothing left to invigorate”. It got us away from a “yes there is” – “no there isn’t” tennis match into a rather more grounded look at whether there could be some merit in the idea. I found that useful.

    73. glbotu says:

      Looking at the vague discussions about replacing terminus stations with through stations.

      One major difference between building Crossrail/Thameslink 1 – 8 compared with the way Berlin has created a through station for Berlin Hauptbahnhof is that they still have a centralised station, albeit a through station, but still. The issue being that Berlin Hauptbahnhof can handle a large single passenger throughput (much like London’s many termini can) when an intercity train arrives. RER style stations are designed for metro frequencies.

      The question is would there be any merit in London Hauptbahnhof? (Or multiples thereof, say Sudbahnhof, for all Southern Region DC Lines, Ostbahnhof for C2C/GE/WAML, Westbahnhof for GW/WCML/Chiltern, Nordbahnhof for ECML/MML).

    74. Castlebar 1 says:

      I refer to Slugabed’s comment of 09:00, and particularly to “……….it is also worth bearing in mind that 2050 is also the year after which,the UN has calculated,World population will begin to fall. …….”

      Honestly, I wouldn’t place any reliance on that hypothesis as a basis for any future transport planning requirements.

      It is almost akin to saying that… “Demand will start going down in a couple of generations from now, according to a committee of people who don’t even live in this country”. We cannot take any notice of what might happen AFTER 2050, but we do need to plan for what is happening now.

    75. Pedantic of Purley says:


      On that basis lets give him the benefit of the doubt but I would be really miffed if people were writing stuff they didn’t really believe just to get a reaction.

      Let me cool it a bit then and say that I will think carefully before responding to The Other Paul’s comments. One is trying to fit in a days work and whilst I am very happy to add my bit where I feel people have not grasped the reality on the ground I deeply resent taking the time and trouble to respond to suggestions if they weren’t seriously intended in the first place.

    76. Malcolm says:

      Better use of the Thames has been suggested.

      Improving the river services would certainly help to make London an even more pleasant place, particularly for tourists. And of course we’d all like to see the prices go down – as we would any prices for anything.

      But I do not think that any conceivable river improvement would make a perceptible dent in the overcrowding of proper grown-up transport modes. And if there are to be more boats, they’ve probably got to be electric ones.

    77. RichardB says:

      @ slugabed – even if the UN prediction is correct I doubt it will affect mega cities such as London which will continue to act as magnets. Most of the world is stabilising population wise with the exception of Africa. London has been growing steadily for centuries and arguably the reversal in population growth in the post war period is more of an aberration and London resumed growth some thirty years ago. I am not saying there might not be an eventual cessation to growth but I think we are kidding ourselves if we think the pressure will suddenly ease post 2050.

      It’s like the oft stated desire to see London cease growing and reverse the growth to other parts of the UK. In the absence of a totalitarian regime as per North Korea or Pol Pot’s Cambodia it won’t happen and in all honesty I think the economic and humanitarian crisis which would follow would counter balance any gains. There is an interesting argument that the UK’s problem is not that London is too large but that the second tier cities are too small. Size confers economic success and proportionately Manchester and Birmingham are too small. Other countries “second cities” are proportionately larger when compared with their largest city and because of that studies suggest they are more successful. I am not saying this is correct just that there is evidence to support this theory.

      I think we have to go with the flow and come up with a series of solutions which will enable London to thrive. Depending on which statistic you use London holds between 15% and 20% of the UK’s population if we accept the UK has approximately 60 million and London has a population of 9 million to 12 million. Arguably the mega city extends beyond the border of the GLA and if we take the full urban extent then 12 million is about right. This 20% generates the major portion of the nation’s wealth and before anyone starts that is not a criticism of the rest of the UK it’s just how it is. We can’t afford to damage it by neglect in developing new infrastructure.

      I have to say I favour timbeau’s analysis we need a second network probably located underground. The key issue he identifies is not to create additional interchanges with major hubs such as Tottenham Court Road. One of the issues that troubles me is that many of the contributors to this site favour additional Crossrail type solutions. I emphasise I am not against such lines but they are problematic as increasingly they are seen as regional solutions as opposed to metro solutions which means commuters from far out are rapidly transported to the centre where they will then detrain at various interchanges and complete their journey on the existing Tube network. Given that the Tube is close to capacity it does seem a rather odd solution which is the equivalent of creating a motorway and then decanting all the traffic onto a series of already congested country lanes.

      We need a second network with a significant number of stations not more than a mile apart. The projected 2050 plan with its focus in using disused or underused portions of lines (assuming they exist) does not comprise a strategic vision. I am not suggesting getting the crayons out but there is a need to articulate something a little grander than minor extensions or connections. To some extent we are trapped by the past as because we do have a remarkable transportation system which we acknowledge needs improvement but then quite naturally we focus on tweaking that infrastructure further rather than consider really radical solutions such as a second network. I also think we have to separate out the needs for improved outer suburban, freight and intercity lines from inner suburban metro type services. Effectively I am saying a second network should be segregated to carry metro type traffic only. Crossrail type solutions should address the needs of the other two passenger rail based modes. Freight is more problematic as for example I think no one would favour freight trains bombing regularly through Bond Street.

    78. Castlebar 1 says:

      @ Malcolm (10:21)

      Totally agree

      Even a highly intensive river boat service would barely make a tiny fraction of one percentage point difference.

      Also, you cannot rely on a transport service that would be completely dependant on weather (and tides). “Service cancelled due to fog”, etc, etc.

      Electric boats, yes, fine, but I’m not travelling by a boat that relies on solar panels in this country. With any electric powered boat, you really need a back-up power system. (Could always strip a few engines out of redundant DMUs, but London isn’t famous for CapEx money saving ideas like that)

    79. timbeau says:

      “why was Skelmersdale built while the Ormskirk to Rainford rail line was closed?”

      Because beeching’s brief was only to look at historic data, not future potential. See also Milton Keynes (Oxford-Cambridge line) and Haverhill

      There are serious practical problems to using the Thames in a Venice-like way: particularly the tides. It is perhaps significant that the river’s use as a highway tailed off as soon as we lost Old London Bridge, which had been a very effective weir.

      It is in the nature of boat traffic that dwell times at stations are measured in minutes rather than seconds.

      London Hauptbahnhof? (Or multiples thereof, say Sudbahnhof, for all Southern Region DC Lines, Ostbahnhof for C2C/GE/WAML, Westbahnhof for GW/WCML/Chiltern, Nordbahnhof for ECML/MML).

      We’re a long way towards that already – with Liverpool Street as the OstBahnhof (Fenchurch Street would have been closed long ago if Liverpool Street could have coped with the extra traffic) , potentially Paddington as the Westbahnhof if WCML services go through Crossrail, and the expanded “Euston St Cross” as the Nordbahnhof. (Is it too far-fetched to describe Kings Cross as the east terminal, St Pancras domestic as the North terminal, Euston as the west terminal, and the Underground as the south terminal, all clustered around the International terminal in the middle?).

      Many ex-SR central London stations served two pre-1923 companies (London Bridge, Waterloo, Victoria) but none served all three. However, until 2009 Central Division/Southern trains could be seen at Waterloo East – a legacy of the complexities of ownership in south London: the South Eastern’s original route to Kent used running powers on the Brighton line as far as Redhill (which in turn used running powers on the London & Greenwich, later an SER subsidiary, as far as Spa Road). The SER also owned the Caterham and Tattenham Corner branches and, naturally, ran these services through to Charing Cross. Although some time after 1923 the branches were taken over by the Central Division and later Southern trains, the trains continued to run to CX until 2009.

    80. timbeau says:

      @castlebar 1
      ““……….it is also worth bearing in mind that 2050 is also the year after which,the UN has calculated,World population will begin to fall. ……”
      It is not safe to assume that urban populations in general, or London’s in particular, will follow that trend. On the contrary, the continued urbanisation of the population would suggest the opposite.
      (For example, look at what happened to the populations of Ireland or the Scottish Highlands during the UK’s Victorian-era population boom)

    81. Jonathan Roberts says:

      Thanks to everyone for all the comments so far. I know it’s difficult to keep to a strategic ‘high road’ in commenting on this scale of potential capital investment as well as different options for quality of life and future directions of development, in concert (or not) with transport requirements.

      I’m expect we’ll have to wait for the draft London 2050 report in early Summer before getting a clear sense of probable outcomes and their ‘directions of travel’. Clearly there are some fundamental decisions which will need to be taken fairly soon if the benefits of having co-ordinated infrastructure under different spending headings are to occur. Will this would be before or after the next General or Mayoral Elections!

      It is invidious to single out individual comments at this stage in the debate, but I was struck by the clarity of the decision choices set out by Jim Cobb in his entry here: I like 1 and 2, if those were possible.

      There are plenty of doubts about the likelihood / desirability / feasibility of various forms of a straight line extrapolation, for future activity volumes. Well I too think that eventually things may slow down in population growth – that’s what the Government Actuary also says, with a sort-of ‘S’ curve – but equally the Actuary is still looking at a central estimate UK population of 85 million in 2081.

      In a chapter in the Railway Study Association’s centenary history about the last 100 years on Britain’s railway (‘A Centenary of Change’, 1909-2009), I wrote 20 pages (Chapter 8, pp.122-141) about the future 100 years for Britain and its railways, 2009-2109, and future network development. Link here:

      This looks to a 2109 population of 90 million, with nearly 75% of the population in towns and cities of 15,000 or more, and another 15% in smaller towns down to 1,500 pop. I thought quite a lot about changes in the world trading blocs and society in those next 100 years – to acknowledge Greg Tingey’s point about 1914 and a steady state, there ain’t so such thing. Think of the Estados Unidos, just as one future example!

      To consider London specifically, the agglomeration effect or whatever you name it, is likely to continue the centripetal force of large cities, as Graham H has observed. To that extent, it won’t be a question of ‘predict and provide’, but ‘help, they’re coming anyhow, how do we manage that, and maintain and improve a World City quality of life’.

      I’ll steer away from commenting at this stage on individual possible schemes or styles of possible solution, such as dis-aggregating inner and outer service patterns on the main lines, or new cross-London commuter routes or express main line tunnels, or jointly designing new towns allied to new transport corridors.

    82. Mark Townend says:

      @glbotu, 8 April 2014 at 10:05

      “. . . Berlin has created a through station for Berlin Hauptbahnhof is that they still have a centralised station . . .

      . . . The question is would there be any merit in London Hauptbahnhof? (Or multiples thereof, say Sudbahnhof, for all Southern Region DC Lines, Ostbahnhof for C2C/GE/WAML, Westbahnhof for GW/WCML/Chiltern, Nordbahnhof for ECML/MML).”

      Another capital taking the Hauptbahnhof approach is Vienna.

      London is a rather larger nut to crack and creating a singular central station for all services whether through or terminal is certainly impractical and completely uneconomic now. That possibility was lost in the mid 19th century when Charles Pearson’s original central terminal proposal was dropped in favour of the Metropolitan Railway, linking the existing terminals, and it’s questionable whether expansion of the his original site could have kept pace with subsequent traffic growth on all lines feeding it, without also destroying much of the city it was designed to serve.

      There is one agglomeration opportunity, which although not as neat as the German and Austrian examples, I think would be worthwhile investigating. That is the development of the existing and remodelled terminals at Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Euston into one large Inter-city and International ‘Hauptbahnhof’ complex, with greatly improved airport style inter-terminal pedestrian or transit links. In addition to the direct International, HS1 domestic, HS2, ECML, MML, ECML, Thameslink, Undergound and future Crossrail 2 connections this could provide, I believe it would be also highly beneficial to divert GWML main line services into Euston, as envisaged originally by the Great Western Railway company in the 1800s, but abandoned early in favour of it’s own Paddington terminal. With some capacity between Willesden and Euston released by HS2 in its new tunnels, and Crossrail diverted to Crossrail via Old Oak Common, a pair of existing classic lines on this corridor might be re-purposed for this, with a short link tunnel built from OOC to Queens Park (that could also provide some form of HS1-HS2 link functionality).

      Combined with Reading and Old Oak Common, imagine the fast single-change connectivity across the South East and beyond this could provide for GWML customers arriving from Bristol, South West or Wales.

      At Reading:
      Heathrow (bus or future WRaTH), Wokingham, Guildford, Gatwick, Oxford, Thames Valley (Maidenhead, Slough etc)

      At Old Oak Common:
      West end, City, Docklands, Woolwich etc, Stratford, Ilford, Romford etc (Crossrail 1)
      Wembley, Watford, Hemel Hempstead, Milton Keynes (Crossrail WCML)
      London Overground Orbital services

      At Euston (and Kings Cross/ St. Pancras via inter-terminal pedestrian link):
      International sevices to Lille, Paris, Brussels, possibly also Amsterdam, Koeln, Frankfurt etc.
      ECML to all destinations
      MML to all destinations
      South Eastern HS1 domestic services to Stratford, Ebbsfleet, Medway, Ashford and East Kent, also perhaps Hastings in the future?
      All Thameslink services to north and south – Peterborough, Cambridge, Bedford, Croydon, Brighton, etc.
      All Crossrail 2 destinations in north and south London
      Local tube and bus connections.

      Capacity released at Paddington could be reused by long distance Chiltern services routed via Northolt and Old Oak Common, together with HEX and any residual Thames Valley relief line locals, leaving Marylebone for the Aylesbury line and expanded local stopping service out to Ruislip and High Wycombe.

    83. Castlebar 1 says:


      That isn’t my quote, it’s Slugabed’s

      I don’t believe it will be true. Nor do I believe that what happened in Victorian Scotland & Ireland, where people died of starvation, TB and now other now curable diseases etc, has the slightest relevance to the S.E. of England post 2050.

      You ask me to “look at what happened” there then. Why?

      We now have completely different problems. Immigration as opposed to the mass emigration of mid-Victorian days, people now living too long, people driving around on “buggies” who require level platform access, long distance commuters who require a change of train, contra-flow commuters, “pushchairs” that take half the floor of one bus and a much smaller percentage of the population who live so far away that they cannot walk to their place of work. That’s just for starters.

    84. Graham H says:

      I remain puzzled about this obsession with a London Hbf. The examples cited apply to cities a fraction of London’s size with a fraction of the rail network feeding into it. I cannot for the life of me see why anyone living on the longer distance services out of KX/StP/Euston would travel into London just to travel out again on a different line in the same general direction. Even now, there remain perfectly good cross-country services connecting these routes which offer cheaper fares and faster journey times than travelling into London only to travel out again. East-West will surely mop up nearly all such demand and much of that from GW origins, too.

      Then there’s the sheer scale of the thing – 40+ platforms required to replace all the existing termini, not to mention the impracticality of dumping 4 intercity routes’ worth of punters onto a single tube station. Finding a site would be a nightmare – I suppose you could clear the whole of the north side of the Euston Road from Gt Portland Street to the foot of the Pentonville Road: that would just about do it. Moving the British Library (cost in 1980 £1/2 bn) and most of Camden to make room for the enlarged station throat would be a doddle. Where is the value for money?

    85. IslandDweller says:

      Thanks for another stimulating article.
      Re increasing the use of the Thames. Travelling on the Clipper boats on a sunny day is a life affirming way to travel, and if any LR participants haven’t done that yet I urge you to give up a go.
      However….. The tidal variation (and hence the speed of the tidal flow) on the Thames is large. Venice tidal variation is hardly noticeable, on the Thames it can be 8metres. To maintain timetable against a strong ebb flow, those clippers have to run those stonking great engines hard. Those things can chew a lot of diesel. Just when we’ve had a sharp reminder of how problematic diesel emissions in London are, I don’t think we should advocate more diesel engined vehicles within the city. And before someone says electric, we still don’t have battery technology that can give meaningful range.

    86. Southern Heights says:

      @Slugabed: As others have commented already, don’t hold your breath on the London Population going down anytime soon, after all, according to some newspapers, there are 23 billion (give or take a few) Eastern Europeans arriving on a daily basis… It will continue to act as a magnet for the foreseeable future.

      In terms of plans, I do think Jim Cobb has hit the nail on the head. 3 & 4 are what happens currently, to get even 50% of new developments to happen in pre-planned locations would be a major success.

      On a side note, Southern Crossrail did exist once upon a time. The bridge under the current pedestrian bridge linking Waterloo East and Waterloo Main used to have tracks on it.

      In terms of under utilised infra-structure, only a few small bits spring to mind:

      1. Bromley North Branch
      2. Elephant and Castle route
      3. Sutton Loop
      4. Dudding Hill line
      5. West Ealing to Greenford
      6. Upminster to Romford
      7. Nunhead to Lewisham
      8. Tattenham Corner and Caterham branches
      9. Chessington Branch
      10. Walthamstow Marshes to Stratford

      If we include bits outside of London, then you can add Watford Junction to St. Albans Abbey.

      For each of these there is a good reason why they are under utilised.

      However with most of these stretches, increasing the supply is often simply not feasible due to constraints at either (or both) end(s). On top of this trying to design cross rail scenarios based on deliberately trying to re-use these stretches is also likely to be doomed to failure and to me strikes me of using a kind of a “I have a spare bath tub, how can I stick it on to my project” kind of approach, which has been tried so often in the past and often fails. Thameslink was an unlikely success story in this regard (on a global basis).

      Although having said that, with the acute shortage of transport in London you could probably build anything in London and it’s likely to be full up within a year or two!

    87. Castlebar (Real Fulwell Chord U. K. Liberation Movement) says:

      @ Southern Heights

      The most underused bits of infrastructure that I can think of are

      Ealing Bdy/Acton ML > Olympia > Clapham Junction
      The Ruislip Chord
      The New North Main Line (Paddington > Ruislip {and then where?})

      Oh, and the Fulwell chord

    88. stimarco says:

      @The Other Paul & glbotu:

      The disused HS1 link at Fawkham Junction faces Ashford, not Ebbsfleet. You’d need to rebuild it completely to serve the latter. In any case, that region needs a more radical approach than merely throwing yet more trains at HS1.

      Two ‘quick fix’ options would be to build a Park & Ride station to serve the Medway area a little to the south of the Medway viaduct, before HS1 enters the nearby tunnel. It’d only need two side platforms on passing loops, some car parking, and a decent bus service. This would allow the existing service via Gravesend to be removed and the old Northfleet route diverted through the high-level platforms at Ebbsfleet instead, providing much better interchange.

      Remember, Crossrail 1 is supposed to end up at Gravesend eventually, so most locals would use that as it’s much more direct. Diverting its route into Ebbsfleet’s high-level platforms also provides a better interchange.

    89. timbeau says:

      apologies for the misattribution to CB of SB’s quote. You queried my “You ask me to “look at what happened” there (Ireland) then (19th Century)”. I was merely pointing out that global population trends may no be reflected locally: London may continue to grow despite the projected global fall in population, just as Ireland and Scotland’s populations went against the trend of the 19th century population boom. The causes were, of course, different.

      On another point, Acton ML to Mitre Bridge may be underused, but the rest of the route to Clapham Junction most definitely is not: squeezing six passenger trains an hour in between all those freight trains is not easy.

    90. timbeau says:

      I think you’re confusing Fawkham Junction and Southfleet Junction. It is the latter which would need remodelling to access Ebbsfleet. Fawkham does not face Ashford or Ebbsfleet: it is the divergence of the HS1 link from the Chatham main line, and faces London.

    91. Steven Taylor says:


      Re Fawkham Junction

      Surely it depends which way you are going. If you are going East, you do face Ashford–> Lille, etc.

    92. timbeau says:

      @Steven Taylor
      Of course, I was oversimplifying to the point of inaccuracy: the point is that it is not Fawkham but Southfleet which would need to be adapted to face Ebbsfleet instead of Ashford to meet the other Paul’s proposal. Not sure what it would achieve anyway – surely there are quicker ways from Bromley to Stratford or St Pancras than all the way round by Ebbsfleet?

    93. Castlebar (Real Fulwell Chord U. K. Liberation Movement) says:

      Thanks timbeau

      Yes, I agree about the Acton ML to Clapham Junc.

      Without repeating too much from old postings on other threads, a few facts:

      The Ealing > Clapham J service was first suggested many years ago.
      It was suggested that the Greenford – Ealing service could be extended for this.
      (In those days the Greenford – Ealing was mostly hourly off-peak)
      There was no Greenford – Padd service, (stock laid over for 30 mins every working)
      In those days, there was NO passenger WLL traffic (perhaps 2x inter regionals)
      In those days, BR(W) didn’t co-operate with anyone, especially the Southern.
      The immediate response was “There would be no demand”
      There was no chance of it even being tried (a mere suggestion was a career stifler)
      Now the WLL is near saturation, and as you say, not enough paths are available.

      In those days, North Pole Junction (plus Mitre Bridge) was available……
      ……as was Viaduct Junction (by White City) which linked to the GW at North Acton
      Oh for what might have been.

    94. Mark Townend says:

      @Graham H, 8 April 2014 at 12:58
      “I remain puzzled about this obsession with a London Hbf.”

      Me too, which is why I advocate linking up the existing Euston Road termini with airport style and length travelators or shuttle transit – see my suggestion here

      An elevated transit link through Somerstown as proposed in previous studies, could have major problems with visual intrusion, not only the impact on the streetscape itself, but also a raised link would overlook residential areas, perhaps affording its users with views into properties. That might force an entirely enclosed passageway or shuttle vehicles, probably making it even more unsightly. It might as well be underground.

      Taking some inspiration from Brussels-Midi, where a ‘South Corridor’ has entrances well-up the Eurostar platforms allowing for some very fast transfers to Thalys/ICE services, my ‘North Passage’ proposal envisages the shallow cut and cover subway linked via a gate-line on the western side of Euston station to stairways and lifts to each platform part way along. Immediately public side of the gates a bank of large fast lifts and, or escalators could transfer people between the subway and any new raft developments and facilities above the redeveloped station. Compared to going along Euston Road, you’d only cover about half the distance. As well as linking the terminals together, the North Passage could also provide an efficient pedestrian linkage between the Kings Cross railway land development to the north of that station via St Pancras concourse to Euston for HS2 and GWML.

      “. . . I cannot for the life of me see why anyone living on the longer distance services out of KX/StP/Euston would travel into London just to travel out again on a different line in the same general direction.”

      Agreed they simply wouldn’t do it, especially between adjacent or nearby radial corridors! However the special case of St Pancras as an international gateway makes improving interchange between the existing terminals attractive, and the idea of diverting GWML to Euston alongside HS2, plugs large parts of the south west directly into that hub, as well as providing much additional regional connectivity to non-adjacent corridors through Thameslink, HS1 domestic etc.

    95. Fandroid says:

      A look at the LEP bid for growth funding, as linked in the main article, comes up with some contradictory information. The vast majority of the Opportunity Areas and the Intensification Areas are either fairly close to the river Thames (both east and west of the centre) or clustered in north London. South London doesn’t feature much. It almost looks as if someone clever had decided to design the Crossrail route and the North London Line in anticipation of serving these Opportunity Areas.

      The distribution of the Opportunity and Intensification Areas shown means that the notion of turning the south London railway network into a metro system would be investment in the wrong part of the city. It might just be a case of ‘build it and they will come’ but no-one would write that LEP report and then come up with that philosophy in the hope that no-one else had read the report.

      Perhaps the way forward to fit this is to intensify the Southeastern services along the river (after wresting them off the TOC on behalf of London Overground) and to build more interchange stations in north London between Tube lines and at Tube/rail crossings (as discussed here before) in order to create many more suburban journey opportunities. Top it all off with high intensity (with few stops) main line services on all the lines around the capital to bring in the office fodder from far away.

    96. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista Popular Front) says:

      Hindsight is the most accurate form of vision

      With hindsight, perhaps the South Acton branch would have remained open, and be used for running direct services from the Overground to Heathrow.

      However. IT CAN’T BE DONE NOW, so crayons not required.

    97. Milton clevedon says:

      @ Castlebar (Contra Crayonista Popular Front)
      8 April 2014 at 15:57

      Would rationalisation of the District/Piccadilly Line at Chiswick Park post 202x (with Piccy NTFL programme) allow a direct interchange station to be built?

      Fandroid’s “let build some suburban interchanges” point sounds interesting if challenging in various places. Might that open up various inter-suburb flows, offering easier rail-based travel between or within quadrants?

    98. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista Popular Front) says:

      @ Milton


      But direct running is always a more attractive proposition to a passenger with luggage than a direct interchange, even if “cross platform” were possible.

      The direct running possibility has long gone at S Acton

    99. c says:

      A Bollo Lane interchange station would also allow Richmond – Heathrow in one easy swap and so go some way to provide somehting which came so close in Airtrack.

      Not to mention a huge swathe of North London to Heathrow (and for cheap too) – and other big employment spots along there like GSK and Sky in Osterley…

    100. Mark Townend says:

      Oops. last post 3rd para should have read: my ‘North Passage’ proposal envisages the shallow cut and cover subway linked via a gate-line on the western eastern side of Euston station to stairways and lifts to each platform part way along

    101. Greg Tingey says:

      Is there capacity on the Hertford East Route? Yes _ IF ( & only of) … there are 4 tracks all the way from Broxbourne to Copper Mills Jn + an up flyover from there towards Clapton, assuming that CR ops up just S of Tottie Hale ….

      No, you are perfectly entitled to be grumpy – I understand only too well.
      Although it appears (from the rail pov) that we have fainally turned the corner, there is still scrimping & penny-pinching & lack of vision, cramoing everything + in London the ongoing effects of Boris cancelling even long-term planning for tram schemes, which means we’ll have to start again …
      It’s a re0run of the just-afforderd DLR, which has had to be rebuilt almost continuously, since opening, or the idiocy of arguing about fitting-out the St P Thameslink “box” – & even that went off half-cock, with only a single S-bound platform, where two would have increased both capacity & resilience.

      Graham H
      I don’t buy this retro industrial nostalgia. We stopped making things because others could make them cheaper … Disagree profoundly.
      We “failed” at manufacturing because: (a) British Management was & is crap, & (b) because the madwoman & her acolytes deliberately destroyed even partially-successful industries, because they all voted Labour. { Even the oik Osborne has realised that this was a mistake…}
      We can ( & do – given the chance ) still have a place for high-added-value manufacturing tech. We should never have abandoned it.

      Just as well I was no longer drinking tea when I read your snippet on Skelmersdale ….

      seems Boris went for box 13 ! Explain, please? No comprende senor!

      why was Skelmersdale built while the Ormskirk to Rainford rail line was closed? Terminal stupidity
      Remember when this was? All the railways were going to close, everyone was going to use cars – where they’d bloody well park in Liverpool, never seemed to enter anyone’s head, oh dear.
      See also timbeau’s comments – the short-sightedness & refusal to see what was in front of their faces was astounding.
      Refer also to the “Almost Terminal, Marylebone …” thread?

      The other Paul
      Yes, except As said above Boris totalled the external linkings by killing-off all tram planning.
      He is still, I suspect a MOAR ROADS proponent, just hiding it a little better these days.
      It’s a great pity Pink Ken went criminally-insane & had to be voted out, but go he had to….

      In a word: SLOW
      Even with hydrofoils, river-transport would be no faster than a bus, along a very twisty route.
      Err, um ….
      [ & “c” – please note my comment, above? ]

      Err.. Waterloo was the exclusive use & property of the LSWR, actually.

      Island Dweller
      ”Battery technology”?
      I really suggest you ( & everyone else read the blog of a friend of mine – an SF author. This subject has just come up:
      Start at comments # 286 & 287 & carry on …..
      All very interesting stuff, suggesting that the market ( & therefore use of ) for PV & battery-technology will “flip” … completely … between 2020 & 2025

    102. timbeau says:

      This site is of course London-based, but significant improvement is required in other British conurbations too. The electrification of the transPennine routes should not be the height of ambition but the beginning of an S-Bahn for the Mersey-Humber corridor, maybe around a Pennine “base tunnel”. It will be difficult to get the political will for this, given the Balkanisation of local government in the White and Red Rose counties into a plethora of unitay authorities.

      Central Scotland has made better progress in this regard – and has no less than four routes between the two major cities.

    103. John Bull says:

      We “failed” at manufacturing because: (a) British Management was & is crap, & (b) because the madwoman & her acolytes deliberately destroyed even partially-successful industries, because they all voted Labour

      Somewhat emotionally put but with a firm truth behind it. Certainly one of the problems with the death of “big” industry in this country was is/a failure to recognise that subsidy can be a good thing as long as it is well-timed and the wider economic case for it exists.

      Germany rules the Tunnel Boring Machine world not because they were/are better than everyone at building them, and not because they did/do it cheaper than anyone else. No they rule it because the German government was smart enough to realise that you should throw money at infra projects that companies like HerrenKnecht can work on when the economic times are hard, as that then keeps the firm and its workers busy and economically viable, and then when times are good you’ll have a world leading firm in place to dominate it without trying.

      The rest of the world is then left with the choice between paying an absolute fortune to set up their own stuff to compete, or paying slightly less of a fortune to buy it off of you. And they’ll generally opt for the latter.

      Basically as a post-Thatcher country (and we’re not the only country that does this I hasten to add) we approach all expenditure like we’re on a PAYG mobile deal where we boast about how every single “top up” is cheaper, whilst failing to realise that we’re making more of those transactions than if we just committed to paying a contract price each month.

    104. timbeau says:

      A Bollo Lane interchange station would also allow Richmond – Heathrow in one easy swap.
      Cheaper and simpler to have the Picadilly call at Turnham Green instread of build a new statoin for them to stop at. (Wouldn’t help the Overground, I agree, but that will have OOC soon: indeed Richmond – Heathrow via OOC might be quicker anyway)

      “Waterloo was the exclusive use & property of the LSWR, actually.”
      The South Eastern Railway has been calling there since 1869, and even operated a through service onto LSWR metals at one time.
      (Yes, it’s a separate station, but no more so than Victoria and London Bridge were)

    105. Jim Cobb says:

      Whilst the comments about upgrades to the existing network are interesting, they are missing the point, and are falling into the same trap that bedevils British transport planning – when asked a strategic question, it comes up with tactical solutions. Whatever this study comes up with, it will not be a list of proposed transport schemes.

      The key outputs at this level of discussion will be about changes to population densities, both for living and for working. Those changes will include planned developments (such as OOC), proposed densification and also likely developer led changes. Once you have that kind of data, the next stage is to decide what the transport flows will be between newly developed areas and existing developed areas. Once you have that data, *then* you can start looking at new transport schemes.

      Taking a tactical approach means making the sorts of upgrades already mentioned and then hoping the developers follow along, usually meaning that the upgraded capacity gets filled up quickly and you are then looking for the next bottleneck. Fixing the problem one bottleneck at a time is the British way, but is ultimately wasteful of resources and never really fixes the problem.

    106. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista Popular Front) says:

      Greg (17:03)

      I’d like to tell you what ‘Box 13’

      Many years ago, just after people bought their first ever tv sets, there was a programme “starring” (I use the word loosely) Hughie Green

      There were various prizes, some good some not. All the prizes were disclosed to the studio audience except Box 13 which was the “Mystery Prize”……..Some weeks that might have been a mega prize, e.g., a foreign holiday (when most people had never cycled outside their own villages), or alternatively, it was something akin to a plastic dog turd “to amuse you, whilst you startle your friends”. That’s what Box 13 was about. Nobody had a clue what was in it and it was staggering the number of people who picked it, hoping for a week in Benidorm, but sometimes winning a plastic turd.

      That seems to be Boris’s preferred choice

      Hope that explanation helps.

    107. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista Popular Front) says:

      ………..and now apologies

      It wasn’t Hughie Green, it was Michael Miles

      The programme was called “Take your pick” and ran from 1955

    108. NLW says:

      @ Castlebar1

      ‘a much smaller percentage of the population who live so far away that they cannot walk to their place of work’

      Am I misunderstanding or did you mean larger rather than smaller?

    109. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista Popular Front) says:

      @ NLW

      Thanks, I agree

      What I posted at 12:29 was ambiguous

      I meant that in Victorian times, a much larger percentage of the population than now walked to work, (in inner London, many people (dockers etc) lived within a mile of their workplace), and long distance commuting as we know it today was unknown then.

    110. Nick says:

      Bikes. We need a lot more focus on cycling! I didn’t read one line on this in the whole article. A comprehensive set of segregated cycle lanes would do wonders for all.

    111. Long Branch Mike says:

      Dare I mention this portion of unused infrastructure at the risk of being run off this site with pitchforks and torches:

      The unused ex-Jubby line tunnels from east of Green Park to east of Charing X near Aldwych. An existing station with interchange to 2 Tube lines with just over 2km of unused Tube tunnels, and infrastructure further east constructed with passive provision for the Fleet Line at City Thameslink & other buildings (some likely built upon).

      One could imagine (hands free) a tube or better yet a Crossrail4 in a Central London corridor twixt Victoria through to the City and Fenchurch Street, utilizing Fleet Line underground clearances near/at City Thameslink and onwards. Aldwych station could be re-purposed to it’s original use as well.

    112. Melvyn says:

      Since this debate began an interesting piece of news linked to the HS1-2 link has appeared on the Modern Railways site re a report by Greenguage 21 into a new link which would extend javelin trains from HS1 to HS2 – see link below

    113. stimarco says:


      Contrary to popular belief, not everyone actually enjoys cycling. I owe a number of my current health problems to a cycling accident.

      Take a good look at the photos and videos of places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Notice anything about the cyclists and their bicycles? Here’s a hint: you don’t see many people like this. There’s a good reason for that.

    114. stimarco says:


      That sounds similar to my earlier suggestion. I’m not sure about taking over the Chiltern services though: I was under the impression the Chiltern lines weren’t electrified. Are there plans to electrify them within a reasonable timescale?

    115. Graham H says:

      I read that Greengauge report; it lacked any facts, especially silent on costs, likely useage and other minor matters .

    116. Jim Cobb says:

      When talking about future transport strategy, one area which is going to be important is tracking how the network is used, how that usage changes over time and how usage changes following upgrades to the network (eg. the opening of Crossrail). Does anyone know what tools and methods are used for this ?

      I guess the Oyster system tracks touch in’s and out’s which is good start to modelling usage, but how do you track which routes are used ? how do you track paper tickets ? Is it worth implementing better tracking systems to improve strategic planning ? I am guessing that this is an area that needs improving, but I know very little about it.

    117. Anonymous says:

      Just an observation about HS2 – wouldn’t be better to bring it into London via the Lea Valley, once in London it could sweep via London Bridge, Waterloo then Victoria before continuing to Heathrow – so people south of the river don’t have to clamber through the Underground, after Heathrow you then have options towards Bristol and/or towards Southampton.

      Going north from the Lea Valley you have Stanstead and/or Cambridge, from here you then cut across to Birmingham and then pick-up the planned route – a nice to have would be to continue north from Cambridge via Lincoln and Hull, then possibly York, Leeds, Manchester to join up with the planned route again – this would give a high speed ‘M62’ type service, although I would like to continue beyond Manchester to Liverpool and then tunnel to reach the classic lines to Holyhead.

      I would also have Metro style frequencies – so a minimum every 10 minuets.

    118. timbeau says:

      I’m not sure I understand the point you are trying to make. It is surely the lack of the segregated facilities so prevalent in the Netherlands and advocated by Nick that has left cycling in the UK with the lycra hardman image.

      Things are changing though – about 50% of the cyclists I see in London now are wearing ordinary office clothes. So do I – the one concession I make to cycling gear is dayglo gloves, to make hand signals more obvious.

      I agree with the sentiment in the article you link to though – if you want to have a cycle race or time trial, hire a velodrome – don’t clog up the A21 or Richmond Park. They don’t run the British Grand Prix or the Grand National on public highways, and they close the roads to run the London Marathon.

    119. The other Paul says:

      @PoP @Malcolm
      Malcolm is correct in that I meant I was presenting a Straw Man Proposal, not a Straw Man Argument.

    120. Melvyn says:

      Further to my recent posting please see link below to Greenguage site with full report –

      One could ask how they managed to produce this report so quickly or did they already have this plan as a fall back ?

    121. Anonymous says:

      Since I retired last year I have done a good deal of walking around familiar and unfamiliar parts of the city, and I am amazed too at the amount of projects going on.

      One nagging doubt I have is that the poorer sections of the working class may come to see rail as an engine(sorry) of gentrification. This might be already be happening in places like Tottenham, where the new designated homes will be well above what locals can afford. Any thoughts on this?


      Correct second time – Michael Miles our Quiz Inquisitor.

    122. Malcolm says:

      My thought on Anonymous’ observation is that the phrase “the poorer sections of the working class “ is not helpful.

      I do accept that there is such a thing as gentrification, where housing which is initially more affordable (to rent or buy) becomes less so, and people with more money move into the affected area. I’m not sure whether it is desirable, or even possible, to prevent this happening. But if we do want to prevent it, in particular areas, then not building new rail lines to the areas in question might be one way to do so, but it seems a bit perverse.

      And besides, there is no station in the centre of Chelsea, which maybe proves something-or-other.

    123. Jonathan Roberts says:

      @ Nick
      8 April 2014 at 18:27

      Not in the London 2050 reports so far, but see my 2109 retrospective, in page 122, column 1! Link here. “While electric and hydrogen-powered car travel is still the dominant mode in the 10-120 km journey range, overall total usage of public transport [in UK] has increased from 7.5 billion journeys yearly towards 30 billion – a four-fold growth during the 21st century. Cycles and powered two-wheelers are widely used for local journeys. There is greater allocation of road space for these users, and railway stations have plenty of parking capacity for them.

      Sorry that I can’t guarantee such wording in the draft London 2050 report due to emerge in early summer 2014, but you can always respond to the draft…

    124. The other Paul says:

      “. . . I cannot for the life of me see why anyone living on the longer distance services out of KX/StP/Euston would travel into London just to travel out again on a different line in the same general direction.”
      What do you call “longer distance services”?

      A few years ago I got off a plane in Stansted and was staying with a friend in Stafford. It was early evening and I checked the times of the (then Central Trains) service North from Stansted. For a few extra quid I decided to save over an hour by heading via Tottenham Hale and Euston instead.

      Similarly, if you live in Stevenage and want to go to Birmingham, or live in St Albans and need to travel to York… Even a route like St Neots to Crewe offers a significant time saving via the Euston Road.

    125. @Paul,

      Accepted that you were producing a Straw Man Proposal not a Straw Man Argument. Nevertheless I cannot get my head round someone deliberately proposing something as a solution that they know is not really going to work – which is what I think it is saying. Call me old fashioned but that is not for me and if I suspect a comment is of that nature then personally I will in future ignore it.

    126. The other Paul says:

      The latest Greengage proposal is very interesting and makes sense, but I question the approach to build to UK gauge, and the lack of mention of the F word – freight.

      Linking the UK’s new continental gauge network and the UK’s direct continental gauge link to the continent with a new UK gauge railway feels bonkers. Are the costs really that much higher? Is there really no expectation of freight trains to/from the continent running through to HS2?

    127. The other Paul says:

      The Greengage document shared by Melvyn is effectively a straw man proposal. It is not really expected by them or anyone to be implemented in its current form, but will serve as a basis for further discussion.

      What I meant with my list was that I wouldn’t expect all of those bits of under-used infrastructure to be less under-used in future, but I don’t know, nor do I want to assume, which might or might not be. Neither do I believe the list was complete nor did I spend hours fact-checking all the entries on it, so I accept some of them might be wrong.

      I’m not sure what your concern is really, I can’t see how a list of things I just thought of that were under-used could be considered a serious proposal, or set of proposals, anyway. I will however try to avoid using dodgy jargon in future :-).

    128. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Jim Cobb – you’re right that the 2050 process will not define the minutiae of transport schemes. It should, as you say, identify the broad sweeps of transport / development and where it may be desirable to adjust the existing flows to achieve wider strategic aims. My concern is that nonsensical political meddling will stop even this broad strategic assessment being made. We also have to get from the teetering edge of transport disaster that we currently have to 2050 without collapsing in a heap in the intervening period. That requires some wisdom and vision now and there’s no sign of that either. Oh and we need a plan and money too and we haven’t got that beyond 2019 which is nonsensical. I am also not remotely convinced that we will have a bias free view of what transport modes will be “in play” when it comes to considering the best way to provide for the new or amended flows identified from the strategic work and to meet other objectives such as environmental performance. The “best” answer might be cycling in some places, a Crossrail for another flow or a bionic duckweed powered water bus [1] in another. I rather fear we’ll get 4 car trains, double deck hybrid buses and a smattering of sponsored hire cycles. Nul points from the WW jury.

      [1] well you never know 😉

      On your point about knowing where people go then there are a range of survey processes and modelling which give a broad picture of where people travel. There are also specific counts (Greg T is our resident practitioner) plus the use of technology to count or weigh train loads (Graham H is our resident critic of the latter). Oyster helps in part but is not perfect and was never designed to be. Nonetheless the use of route validators will give some clues as to the routes a proportion of travellers use. Bus Oyster data captures the precise stop where bus passengers “touch in” (barring hail and ride routes). Clearly the system doesn’t know where people alight unless they make a connecting interchange with another bus or a rail mode.

      @ Anon – I share your concern about gentrification. I’ve no problem with seeing investment come into neighbourhoods to improve housing quality, shops, parks, health facilities and schools. All good but not if it means long standing residents and communities are booted out in consequence. This will be a crucial test of the 2050 workstream – can it deliver lots of good quality housing with a high proportion that is genuinely affordable or social housing? I am fed up with high rise penthouses being built for people who have no real stake in London – it’s just so they can turn a profit by exploiting people who live and work in London. If this issue is not resolved quickly then we will see social disintegration which will wreck a key part of London’s character as a city that welcomes a varied and mixed population rather than having ghettos. It will also have disastrous economic effects – you need a hierarchy of very varied skills, jobs and employment to support a metropolis like London. You can’t have all the support staff living outside of the City because the housing is unaffordable. It’s policy made in a lunatic asylum. It also has dire consequences for the transport system in terms of demand, travel distance and the revenue that can be raised from your passengers. There are also knock on consequences for health facilities, education facilities and the cultural / leisure base of the city. As soon as you start getting these sorts of things wrong you have a very annoyed populace.

      @ Nick – I am pretty sure that cycling will figure in the plan in some way but there are massive challenges in effecting a meaningful take up of cycling across all London residents. I am not convinced segregated cycle lanes and some bike racks are the answer. How do you get a young mum with young child in tow who lives in a big estate in Becontree to use a bike to pop down to the shops to do the shopping or visit the doctor? Second nature in the Netherlands even in the grottier parts of their cities. I’ve not seen a single word written about how you sell cycling to a broad cross section of Londoners rather than a young aspiring “elite” who seem to be the driving force behind much of the social media campaigning. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the Mini Holland schemes work but some of those are in the more affluent bits of London. Where’s the one for Harlesden or for Dagenham or New Addington?

    129. Long Branch Mike 1 says:

      I read T’Other Paul’s list of rail segments that were under-used as the start of a LR debate and analysis as to what the 2050 Report could possibly have in mind of under-utilized assets, from which has sprung very different and interesting ideas and approaches. Whilst this is not the scientific method of proposing a hypothesis and supporting arguments, it has nonetheless provided, in my opinion, a very interesting and different perspective on the usual discussions we have on LR.

    130. Castlebar 1 says:

      This is a very interesting thread, but:

      1) All these wonderful schemes have a “cost”. Why don’t those who propose these major initiatives ever seem to have any idea of how much money will be needed to implement them?

      2) Doesn’t it also go to show that you should try and get maximum benefits from the infrastructure you already have but is underutilised?

      3) How would the proposers of those most grandiose schemes feel if it were their house being demolished and their environment razed?

    131. @Jim Cobb,

      Whilst the comments about upgrades to the existing network are interesting, they are missing the point, and are falling into the same trap that bedevils British transport planning – when asked a strategic question, it comes up with tactical solutions.

      Precisely. And nobody seems to be addressing questions such as how we organise, plan and finance four Crossrails between now and 2050. We can worry about exact routes – at least for the later ones – in future when we can allow for the impact of the first one or two. No-one seems to be challenging what should be on our roads or even mentioning that we might have to consider air quality in any transport strategy. Should we have road pricing?

      I would say strategically we have all the railway lines we need in the suburbs. We need to reduce the proliferation of branches by having tunnels with a very limited number of stations joining these up. Which branches join which other ones and the exact location of central London stations can be decided later.

      We do have a golden opportunity if everyone wants (or is economically forced) to live or work in London. Basically we specify our terms for being part of the London Economy and leave it up to individuals to accept it or not be part of it. So I would argue we decide on what basis road space is to be allocated in central London and enforce it. Then one would say to people who disagree that the proposed solution is the best workable solution for a city of more than 10 million people and if people don’t like it they are free to live and work elsewhere.

      I suspect another consequence of all this is that hard choices will have to be made. To give a specific example, how long before it is realised that running eight-car trains on the rebuilt Thameslink line is going to be seen as the nonsense it will be? It doesn’t necessarily follow it that makes sense to lengthen trains on the existing routes (especially with restrictions on platform length at Elephant & Castle and Herne Hill). How long before it is decided that it would make more sense to run as many of the 12-car trains via London Bridge as possible and eliminate through routes that require 8-car working? – regardless of the political consequences.

    132. CdBrux says:

      Castlebar wrote “in Victorian times, a much larger percentage of the population than now walked to work, (in inner London, many people (dockers etc) lived within a mile of their workplace), and long distance commuting as we know it today was unknown then.”

      The way we build new developments ensures longer distance commuting as we increasingly develop office areas and living areas. Even in large schemes such as OOC the amount of office accommodation proposed is significantly higher than the amount of living accommodation. Maybe a long term strategic plan should look to address this, at least in part. Clearly if the two were more in balance then it does not mean that people will wish to live in walking distance of work, but it may help a little thus reducing the strain on transportation and required infrastructure investments. As ever very hard though to change people’s behaviour no matter how hard central planners try which inevitably must end up with some degree of ‘following’ in terms of investment.

    133. Greg Tingey says:

      Completely separate station on a separate alignment, not even parallel.
      The “Victoria link” was taken out during the rebuild in 1911, having been disused for some time.
      I think we are arguing over nomenclature?

      Since we got a TV set in 1953 (Yes, to watch the Coronation ) replaced it with a colour one, sometime about 1966 & I abandoned TV about 9 years later …
      Thanks for that ( I think ) – &, no I have NEVER watched what used to be called “ITV”.

      NO. We don’t!
      I cycle (I’ve had a bike since 1957) but I won’t go near the cycling advocates any more.. They are arrogant selfish & are never satisfied. Actually, it’s probably their reaction to the road/car lobby, who are just as unpleasant…
      I note the pedestrian & cyclist deaths/injuries in London – & also who shrieks the most & gets attention, & it bears no relation at all to the actual casualties & injuries.

      Anonymous [ 21.44, 8/04.2014 ]
      A Lea Valley HS line?
      ONLY if it dives into tunnel, somewhere about Waltham Cross!
      S of there is a lot of protected wetlands & green open space.
      Would make the Chilterns look like a job for amateurs … the shrieks & protest caused by the corrupt olympics damaging sites in the lower Lea area have only just died down …..

      Anon [ 22.50 8/04/2014 ]
      poorer sections of the working class SNARL
      Oh, we mustn’t actually IMPROVE transport & facilites, must we?
      This fake so-called “argument” never fails to get my goat, usually because it’s dreamt up by politically-motivated sociologists, with a less-than-zero grasp on the practicalities of life, or that people might want to live in better conditions.
      Coupled with the entirely fake distinction of “class” anyway.
      [ I could go into extensive personal details about my ancestors, who include both the poorest, the most dubious of professions & the highest in the land – take your pick. And then insert it. ]
      To the moderators – This sort of spurious sociological nonsense has no place on this discussion, actually, &, as you can see, has distracted me, somewhat!

      [Yes but I will let that go so long as people don’t get inflamed. And this article is one place where sociological issues can get discussed so long as they are relevant so if they have an impact on transport planning feel free to mention them in that context. PoP]

      Sorry, but complete Straw Man argument:
      if it means long standing residents and communities are booted out in consequence. Why & how does this happen? By them voluntarily selling-up & moving out – which is THEIR CHOICE.
      Alternatively, you can sit tight & watch the area improve. But then, I’ve always loved Walthamstow “Village” & I think it is now a great improvement on 1953 or even 1973.
      Don’t worry, btw many of the 1930’s developed areas are heading towards slum-ghettoes, which will ensure the proper rich/poor, respectable/down-at-heel mix that London has always had.
      Oh and Waltham Forest have won a “mini-Holland” scheme – we all know how well that’s going to work out, don’t we? [ Though I’d love to be wrong ]

    134. Anonymous says:


      I agree re allocation of road space in central London.

      But that will also mean redefining “central London”.

      Zones 1 and 2? Zones 1-3?

    135. Castlebar 1 says:

      @ Greg

      What a pity you missed “Take your pick”, with Michael Miles.

      You could always look in a newsagents window, see a small ad postcard for somebody to “convert” your telly to pick up “commercial”, and a bloke would come round with his motor cycle and sidecar to turn up and do it via a tin box screwed into the side of your set. I do not know if this service is still available. You will need to look in your newsagents’ window. Since there is now less likelihood of even parking in the same road as you live in, let alone outside your home, I suspect the motor cycle service might have been suspended. So we have the parked cars which are often there, static during the day, as so many car owners use public transport to get to their place of work.

    136. timbeau says:

      @Graham H
      “I cannot for the life of me see why anyone living on the longer distance services out of KX/StP/Euston would travel into London just to travel out again on a different line in the same general direction. Even now, there remain perfectly good cross-country services connecting these routes which offer cheaper fares and faster journey times than travelling into London only to travel out again.”

      Really? Try Liverpool to Cambridge on the Journey planner –

      choosing a random date in late April

      via Birmingham 5h 04m £79.20 (off-peak, no advance fares offered)
      via Euston/Kings Cross 3h43m £23.50 (advance)
      via Sheffield (change at Ely) 4h51m £79.20 (off-peak, no advance fares offered)

      Why would you pay 237% more for a journey over an hour longer?

      Even Birmingham to Cambridge: 2h46m direct £21.30 (1tph)
      2h53 to 3h via Euston/Kings Cross for between £12 and £16.50 (3tph).
      (all advance fares).

      Is the time saved really worth 65p per minute?

      “Bus Oyster data captures the precise stop where bus passengers “touch in” (barring hail and ride routes). Clearly the system doesn’t know where people alight unless they make a connecting interchange with another bus or a rail mode.”
      One can estimate, based on where people touch in travelling in the other direction later or earlier in the day.

    137. Castlebar 1 says:

      @ timbeau

      Rail isn’t the only option for some of these journeys. What about National Express coach services> They (and other coach firms) have taken a massive percentage of the Oxford – London market.


      As an aside to the last sentence in my comment of 10:40 regarding parked cars:

      Some people leave their cars in the street and take public transport to work, not because they cannot park when they get there, but because they cannot find a parking space when they get back home. I think this is a fairly recent phenomenon, but I now know of a Londoner who takes the bus “for fear” of losing her parking space near her house. I suspect that by 2050, we are going to see dramatic changes to affect on-street parking. It is almost an elephant in the room for transport planners in the suburbs, for it is a potential vote loser for any local authority when it is eventually addressed.

    138. Pedantic of Purley says:


      Parked cars are just the sort of issue that has to be faced up to – especially if we build high density housing. Do we insist on cars being parked off-street? At all times? Everywhere or, more realistically, only within new high-density housing developments? Do you provide off-street residential spaces or insist that a condition of having the property is that you do not own a car? Do you provide a car pools for use (car clubs) as an alternative? What about visitors who want to arrive by car? Perhaps we should put a true economic price on parking.

      What needs to be faced up to is we have to make choices. We cannot please everyone. Parked cars discourages cycling and probably walking and there have been bus routes in London (central London even) that have been re-routed simply because parked vehicles have caused too much of a problem. We even have situations where emergency services get delayed and when they arrive where they need to arrive they then block all the traffic because there is nowhere for them to park.

      What what we try to do currently is provide something for everyone and try not to upset a group of people to much. I suspect that the harsh reality is that to keep the city functioning we need to be brutal and in new high density housing say that people can’t own cars but they can rent them if they want to. If people want to park then it has to be economically priced (as in it reflects the true economic price of providing that parking space) and parking enforced. If people don’t like it then they can live outside the M25.

      Establish the principle then extend it to existing areas where considered necessary – maybe on change of ownership of the property (grandfather rights for car parking).

      As you say an absolutely political elephant in the room.

    139. Anonymous says:

      Greg Tingey
      “if it means long standing residents and communities are booted out in consequence. Why & how does this happen? By them voluntarily selling-up & moving out – which is THEIR CHOICE”

      No, not always, check what happened to many leaseholders at Woodberry Down. The amount they were given for their old flats was insufficient for them to buy a new one, hence their displacement further out.

      Not primarily a transport-led development but well situated to take advantage of the Picc at Manor House and the all new improved Goblin at Harringay Green Lanes.

    140. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Greg – I fear we must disagree about people being booted out of areas. The operation of the rental sector, the ties between council and private rent levels, housing benefit and other benefit payments (largely for those in work) all come together to force people out of areas. We are seeing it now. There are already signs of impacts on the transport network which I’ve posted about before. The lack of a coherent housing policy to provide huge numbers of affordable / social housing will speed up the balkanisation of London. The market approach currently endorsed in London means rising costs and people have to move if they cannot pay their rent. That’s their decision true but they did not cause the issues that meant their rent went up. Many people are unable to change employment to suddenly bolster their income in response to sudden and unexpected changes in their housing costs. I haven’t even touched on what may transpire when interest rates have to rise and people with massive mortgages face financial difficulties. These are all important factors in whether London remains an attractive, affordable and viable place to live now or in 2050. I appreciate you and others won’t agree with me and that’s fine.

      You should have a read of the Waltham Forest Mini Holland bid document – it’s on the council website. I’m sure I’ll hear the howls of anguish and see the “pall of steam” emanating from you from the WW residence. 🙂

      @ Timbeau – yes you may be able to “guess” alighting points from buses but that rather assumes TfL take the time to delve into low level detail in the data. I somehow doubt TfL does that *unless* it has some very clever software that can dig out return trips by individuals and interpolate alighting points. I suspect some clever analysis is done but quite *what* it is I don’t know.

      @ PoP – yes the car parking question is an interesting one as is the future design of developments point. This links to my point about how do you encourage cycling in the suburbs of London in order to reduce car use / land for parking. How do you effect the behavioural / ownership / infrastructure changes to switch the nature of transport use? We’ve sort of done it in Inner London with bus and rail improvements and making car use / parking very expensive. Can that same policy direction be applied to the suburbs where there is likely to be a lot of voter resistance to “enforced” change. Will the moneyed car owners of Sundridge Park or Richmond jump on two wheels just because someone says so? I doubt it. Ditto for those wedded to their cars in Kilburn, Barking or Clapham.

      I take your point about “mandating” how London works and people being “forced” to decide to accept that working methodology if they want to live in London. A nice idea but it’ll never pass on democratic grounds as no politician will identify themselves with such a rigid view because they’ll be subject to unrelenting criticism from the vested interests and then be voted out at the next election. This sort of happened with Ken Livingstone over some of his policy positions and the fact he did deliver things that people hated. I can see a slightly different style of that happening with Boris where people are increasingly enraged by his inability to deliver anything of any substance or importance. I think more and more new developments will be built that are “car free” but whether they sell to people or remain car free are open questions. If we do plan large scale dense developments with no car provision then the sort of public transport provision you need has to be vastly better than what typically results from development funding. TfL will also need much more discretionary funding to allow bus services (in the short term) to be bolstered quickly as people move in to new housing. You then need to ensure other modes are being built or can be started quickly to ensure capacity keeps up with demand and affords people reasonable comfort to travel in.

    141. Castlebar 1 says:

      “Car free” zones where people live, never work

      Where do their visitors park? 5 miles away? Won’t there be a “car free zone” there as well? Perhaps 1984 has arrived late, and people won’t be allowed visitors in their own homes.

      Parents might elect to live in the “car free zone”, but when their kids reach 18, some civil liberties lawyer will insist that they have “rights”, and one of them is to own a car.

      And is anyone seriously going to suggest that “social workers” needing to make “client visits” are going to be restricted to using public transport, because “car free” means exactly that.

      Designating some lines on a map (Parking Zone Crayonistas?) might seem easy, but in the reality world of practicality, you are more likely to see flying pigs, three wise men and a virgin, and Forest Green Rovers winning the F.A.Cup all on the same day, before you will get a working, enforceable scheme approved by residents who will otherwise vote you out of office.

      This is a SERIOUS issue that needs to be addressed in conjunction with other transport schemes and not independently of them. If they all go their separate routes and come up with solutions that cannot work together, it will become a complete Horlicks, omnishambles, and dogs’ breakfast in one massive fiasco. Parking should be addressed before other new developments take all the space. We already have enough ‘cock ups’ to learn from.

      Beeching closed railways. The towns gleefully built on the land, and now there is a crying need for a railway to serve the expanded population. Southwater (especially, where I think the population has increased TENfold since the railway closed 50 years ago), Henfield and Steyning ALL on one former little railway line are testimony to that failure to look ahead. We are now supposed to look to 2050. Yeah, right.

    142. Pedantic of Purley says:

      @Castlebar 1,

      And I am sure if ten years ago I had suggested a central zone in the middle of London where all except exempt vehicles had to pay a daily charge just to be in it you would have said much the same thing.

    143. Castlebar 1 says:

      @ PoP


      If you make something price sensitive, that then becomes a matter of choice. But I still see cars in the Central Zone- they pay and so are not excluded. Telling someone that they CAN’T drive there at any price, irrespective of they fact that they may have been resident there for 20 years is a different issue.

      “Grandfather Rights” to parking is an interesting idea. But it will be abused. People will always find a way. “This is my Granddad’s VW Golf GT wiv wide wheels innit, and he lent it me” (He is 94)

    144. Chris H says:

      The issue with car parking is that it is currently provided free, or for a nominal charge. Any changes to this situation will go down like a lead balloon.

      Certainly the predominant use of our highway network for storing cars prevents other uses. Cycle lanes are an obvious example, but bus lanes or even tram lines could be provided in the same space.

      Perhaps the time will come when it becomes worthwhile to build parking garages (underground or overground) and shift on-street parking into them.

      As a personal anecdote; I am shortly moving to the East Village in the Olympic Park. A small amount of parking has been provided, but none allocated for our flat. As my wife will need to drive to get to work, we’ll have to rent a parking space in the Stratford International car park for £75 a month. Not cheap, but not a deal-breaker either.

    145. Graham H says:

      @timbeau – Of course, there will always be exceptions to a general rule of the sort I indicated, and Cambridge, which has quite poor cross-country connexions, is one of them, but if you look at, say, the cross-connexions between WCML and MML or MML and ECML, you’ll see what I mean. BTW I would place absolutely no weight on fare differentials for planning purposes – cheap fares come, cheap fares go. I certainly wouldn’t launch a multibillion plan for a London Hbf on the backs of different fare discounts between Virgin and EMT.

      @the other Paul – one of the reason why people round here are suspicious of/hostile to kiteflying of the sort you have in mind is that the forum has suffered too many attacks by crayonistas who appear to believe their actual rubbish that has wasted everyone’s time; it is not by any means possible to distinguish between the two sorts of activity. So – kiteflyers have to begin by establishing their credibility.

    146. @Castlebar,

      if you make something price sensitive, that then becomes a matter of choice. But I still see cars in the Central Zone- they pay and so are not excluded. Telling someone that they CAN’T drive there at any price, irrespective of they fact that they may have been resident there for 20 years is a different issue.

      Hang on a bit. I never suggested people couldn’t drive. My starting point was that I suggested that people who move into new high density housing would not be allowed to own a car. I was careful to give them the option of using a car club and they have a choice just like the congestion charge – move into the property and accept the conditions attached or not move in. In the same way I would never have banned social workers from driving to clients. They park in a parking space and pay the economic cost of doing so which they then recover as part of their working expenses.

      I went to to suggest that maybe it could be extended but was careful not to take away exising rights customs and practices from current occupants.

      As to suggesting it will get abused, we tell people they can’t, well musn’t, commit murder but people do it. Stopping at red traffic signals is not universally observed. Do you think as a matter of policy we should give people a choice in this matter? We don’t abandon an idea just because it may get abused. Hence why I emphasised why any policy must be enforced (and by implication enforceable).

      You don’t seem to be arguing against what I suggested but against a scenario that you have dreamed up and are determined to oppose. I was very careful to offer people a choice. The people who will have the hard choice are those who either come to London or wish to stay in the city but live elsewhere within it. I do not think it unreasonable to say to either group that if they want to join or remain in our densely-populated city they will have to agree more stringent conditions than if they live elsewhere. There is already a precedent for this that in London it is illegal to park on the pavement except at designated authorised and marked out places whereas outside London it is perfectly legal. Having established the principle why cannot it be taken a step further?

    147. Mark Townend says:

      @Castlebar 1, 9 April 2014 at 15:05

      “Parents might elect to live in the “car free zone”, but when their kids reach 18, some civil liberties lawyer will insist that they have “rights”, and one of them is to own a car.”

      Which they will be able to do if they pay to keep it elsewhere. What I can’t see is public squares and green space in such new developments being repurposed to car parking, even supposing sufficient space exists to do this at all.

      A development at West Hampstead I researched recently is zero car which means very few spaces and street parking permits will not be issued, yet it does provide a narrow service road with a few spaces for disabled residents, deliveries, and 2 for a PAYG hire/share scheme for which the developers have already signed up an operator. Nevertheless the development is surrounded, literally, by public transport, and there simply isn’t room for expanded parking of a traditional one space per unit level. That former planning stipulation, adopted (presumably) post WW2, and based on an assumption of ever increasing car use, was only removed fairly recently (under the Blair administration I believe) and has been a major barrier to the kind of urban densification our cities need around major nodes to support good public transportation.

    148. Anonymous says:


      “Parents might elect to live in the “car free zone”, but when their kids reach 18, some civil liberties lawyer will insist that they have “rights”, and one of them is to own a car”.

      A very unwise civil liberties lawyer might but living in a car-free development does not prevent one owning a car. It is not of course a ‘right’. The owner is free to seek space for his /her car at the best price they can.

      If the lawyer then proceeded to argue that the owners of the development are obliged to find a space for cars he/she would soon be sent packing by the judge .

    149. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      Chris H, > You have it. Not nice having to pay £75 p.m. (out of already taxed income) to have a parking spot, but you have a choice. Your decision. £75, you have a parking spot.

      A “car free zone” having lived in a place since the Blitz, is no choice.

      “Market forces” vs Stalinism. Neither are very nice options.

      @ PoP This doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with any of it, but my once intense involvement with politics and political people has enabled me to have insight of how things work. “It is better to be on the balcony with Nero whilst he pisses on the crowd, than it is to be in the crowd”. It is better to be on the inside regarding political decision making than be taken by surprise by decisions. It is also good to find if the decision maker occupies a marginal seat/ward, especially if there is an election less than 15 months away. It helps predict the decision.

    150. @Chris H,

      As my wife will need to drive to get to work, we’ll have to rent a parking space in the Stratford International car park for £75 a month. Not cheap, but not a deal-breaker either.

      Very interesting. I suspect that the parking cost is based on the car park owners wanting to cut their losses and get some income. I cannot imagine anyone builds a car park and expects to make more money than other alternatives at those sort of prices. What would get more interesting is what happens as the price goes up.

      Although not quite the scenario I proposed, it does the job in that it makes people think twice about car ownership. It also forced you to make the decision when you moved in and not just assume you could park on the street. There are all sorts of valid reasons why people need a car to get to work. The challenge is to either design the alternative so the reasons disappear or ensure that people who do so pay the economic cost of doing so to cover congestion, air pollution etc.

      A further thought on parking. It was established in the 16th century by a judge that “the king’s highway is not a public stableyard”.

    151. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      @ PoP

      I am not disagreeing with you. But perhaps I am playing Devil’s Advocate too hard.

      The thread is about 2050. I am trying to look that far ahead, AND predict 1) the real, hard options, and 2) the choices politicians might make rather than confront the elephant in the room. 1) isn’t nice, and 2) can be positively dangerous.

      Things such as “car free zones” will be in the frame, but generally, they will be proposed by politicians who live a few miles away and won’t be affected, that is the point I am trying to make. That’s how it worked 40 years ago and in all likelihood, how it will work in 40 years time. Beeching actually lived in East Grinstead and made a point of telling everyone that he closed three of the four railway lines that ran to East Grinstead to “prove he too was affected by his own decisions”. But the lines he closed went to Brighton, Three Bridges etc, and were not the ones he used. It is very easy to plan unpalatable schemes for another politician’s turf. The other politician, the local man, is the one likely to be held responsible at the next election.

    152. Graham H says:

      MT makes a good point about the relationship between density and parking provision. Now let me throw another factor into the mix – it isn’t unreasonable (sorry in advance if I sound like stimarco!) to plan for automatic cars by 2050 (and automatic electric cars at that) – at which point, the demand for cars and therefore parking spaces is likely to increase significantly as new markets (especially the non-driving elderly) are opened up. [Of course, the Clarksonites won’t like the idea but they may be a minority].

    153. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      Oh gosh GH! Another ingredient to chuck into the 2050 soup

      I think I’ll go and read William Carlos Williams’ “The red wheelbarrow”

      Einstein once said he didn’t know with what weapons the next war would be fought with. But he said the one after that would be fought with sticks and stones.

      I don’t know what sort of HGV will be delivering goods in resident parking bays in 2050, but perhaps by then, we’ll all be reliant on wheelbarrows as nothing else would get through the traffic gridlock.

    154. Mark Townend says:

      Graham H, 9 April 2014 at 16:52

      “. . . the demand for (automated , electric) cars and therefore parking spaces is likely to increase significantly as new markets (especially the non-driving elderly) are opened up.

      I’m sure car makers would love to see a continuation of the current dominant single user, private ownership paradigm, but an alternative of shared use small car transit, as a service on demand, could become much more attractive to urban residents. Either way, automation brings the possibility of automated valet parking, which could allow parking garages to be sited away from the densest residential and commercial centres.

    155. timbeau says:

      @ Chris H
      We have a CPZ – introduced long after I moved into the area – no grandfather rights here.
      Not as much as £75 a month – it’s “only” £80 a year – but no guarantee of a space, and as the permit is specific to one vehicle (why?) there’s a lot of red tape if I change my car, either permamnently or temporarily. We also have to pay £2 a day for any visitors’ , tradesmen etc, vehicles.
      We are told that the cost is only enough to pay for enforcement – in which case the only people benefitting from the scheme are NCP.
      Agreed that “the king’s highway is not a public stableyard”, but most residential streets are only there to give access to the properties fronting them, so are essentially shared driveways.

    156. Graham H says:

      @castlebar – of course, I wasn’t expecting to be around in 2050 fortunately. BTW I thought that we were all about to find the end-distribution of goods being performed by Amazon or Google drones, although quite how the skies are supposed to cope with clouds of the things all carrying their loads of potatoes or pizzas (or bombs), beats me.

    157. timbeau says:

      @ Chris H
      I might also point out that in inner London having an off-street parking space could well save you quite a lot in insurance, although maybe not £900pa unless it’s a very flash car.

    158. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      @ GH

      ……..and “Car Free Zone Disability Exemption Application Packs”

    159. Slugabed says:

      I can’t help thinking that the concept of “off-street parking” will,in the context of new-build within the densely built-up inner London area,soon fall victim to the soaring value of land and property.If a developer has a choice between four or six parking spaces,and a one-bedroom flat on the same site,economics will force their hand,and the residents will then have to find their own solution.

    160. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:


      I think that’s exactly the problem that car owners will face in 2050

      Car free zones perhaps, but “Tesco delivery truck free zones” too? The joke being on the regulators as the trucks take more space and burn more CO2 than the cars they are replacing

    161. Malcolm says:

      Joke being on the regulators? No, not really. Yes, a single grocery delivery van might produce more emissions than a single car. (As indeed might a bus). But one trip by the delivery van is replacing say 12 different trips to the shops in cars (even if the van might cover a few more miles than any one of the cars), so the overall effect on emissions is positive. Similarly with buses (provided that they carry a decent average load of passengers).

      To also be extra picky, you don’t actually burn CO2 🙂

    162. Mark Townend says:

      @Castlebar (Contra Crayonista), 9 April 2014 at 19:23

      Oh come on! Supermarket delivery trucks are prime candidates for electric or hybrid conversion, and making many deliveries per circuit save significant amounts of CO2 even if they remain IC only. They also spend comparatively little time at each delivery point.

    163. Slugabed says:

      …also (it occurs to me) how much under-utilised land-value is currently locked up as surface parking for large supermarkets? And how long before supermarkets realise the development potential of all this land,providing them with a clientele that is not only on their doorstep but also pays them rent….?

    164. Mark Townend says:

      @Slugabed, 9 April 2014 at 19:42

      Supermarkets like people driving to their stores, even encourage it with special offers on petrol if you spend so much etc. Its part of a selling psychology of not limiting the customers’ purchasing potential by what they could possibly carry. That ‘weekly big shop’ meme is now heavily engrained in our culture, even in urban areas where alternatives are available.

    165. JEA says:


      This is already happening, the new Tesco stores at Streatham and Woolwich have large residential blocks above them. Nine Elms Sainsbury’s site is currently being redeveloped with a residential tower scheme on the site. I believe there is a scheme for Whitechapel once Crossrail work is complete on the Sainsbury’s site. I expect there are many more schemes at various stages of gestation.

    166. Mark Townend says:

      @JEA, 9 April 2014 at 20:19

      Just before I left Reading, a new Tesco was built on part of the old Battle hospital site on Oxford Road, also with a significant number of residential units above the store. It still had a massive car park and petrol station out back though.

    167. Graham H says:

      @slugabed – stations are just as guilty – think “Woking” (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms), where the ground level car parks stretch halfway to the previous station. So too, hospitals – anyone been to S George’s recently? Or the Royal West Surrey, for that matter?

    168. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Slugabed – I’d say the supermarkets know already given how many are being forced to build housing above any new developments as a condition of planning permission. I can think of 3 Tescos like this – Woolwich, Streatham and a smaller store near Islington Green which was demolished and rebuilt with flats on top. It won’t be long before ASDA follow suit given their expansion plans announced 2 days ago. Sainsburys aren’t daft either – they could certainly build on the car park at South Chingford if they wished.

      I’m enjoying all the controversy over parking spaces. I’m sure that the majority of future developments in London will not have car parking spaces and people will not have the choice to park nearby at zero cost. In many places it won’t be feasible given the ever increasing use of high rise buildings which is one way of effecting a modal change. As PoP has suggested people will have a choice as to whether to live there or not. If they place a car above having somewhere to live then that’s their choice. They can live away from London. Can you tell I don’t own a car? 😉

    169. Jim Cobb says:

      @Mark Townend

      Hey, I shop at that Tesco store (but work in London in case anyone thinks I am an interloper).

      The store now has a high density housing development next to it (called “West Village”!), and the main road has very busy buses every 4 minutes in both directions to a number of different locations. It also has a well used cycle rack. Nevertheless, the large car park and petrol station are also well used, so it is difficult to see how public transport could be improved enough to make any meaningful dent on the car usage.

      So future transport policy cannot just ignore the car, or try to engineer it out. Whilst the “weekly shop” requiring a car could be changed back to a smaller daily shop using public transport, who wants to spend that much time shopping for weekly groceries ?

    170. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      @ WW

      You are right and I am pleased that car parking is being discussed in depth. We are discussing 2050 which is only 36 years away. Those of us who remember 1978 have only to remember that far back in time.

      And cars, parking and goods delivery IS a major big ticket item on this agenda. I am glad that the thread hasn’t deteriorated into futuristic crayon lines on maps of the SE of England, because the problems of 2050 will not be solved by proposing fantasy railways all over the place.

    171. Anonymous says:


      I certainly shopped there 1986 if not 1985.

    172. Mark Townend says:


      Thats rather cool. I like the way the terraces face each other across a ‘street in the sky’.

    173. Stationless says:

      Re Tesco, South Tottenham: Of course the bit between the supermarket and the flats is the car park. Integrated car parks may be one way to go: my brother lives in a block of flats in a recently built development in The Netherlands. There are 7 stories of flats, but the ground floor is a residents car park.

    174. Paying Guest says:

      @ Stationless

      You don’t need to go to the Netherlands to find parking beneath multi-storey apartment buildings. The Butlers Wharf development in Shad Thames to name just one has had that for years.

    175. Melvyn says:

      The discussion on cars is interesting and its worth mentioning that Canary Wharf has just converted unused parking space into an extension of shopping facilities . The fact is the bulk of those who arrive at Canary Wharf do so by public transport and this will no doubt continue when Crossrail opens which CWG has financed a new station with a new shopping and restaurant area above which is due to open next year .

      The overground extension from Barking to Barking Riverside is instead of the previous planned DLR extension which was planned to serve this location en route to Dagenham Dock. What will be interesting is whether Barking Riverside will be built at or above ground level or more sensibly underground to allow for extension to form a new river crossing which could link with trains on the South Eastern network .

      Re javelin via Chiltern the report mentions electrification of sections of Chiltern affected but this is still a plan .

    176. Melvyn says:

      The discussion on cars is interesting and its worth mentioning that Canary Wharf has just converted unused parking space into an extension of shopping facilities . The fact is the bulk of those who arrive at Canary Wharf do so by public transport and this will no doubt continue when Crossrail opens which CWG has financed a new station with a new shopping and restaurant area above which is due to open next year .

      The overground extension from Barking to Barking Riverside is instead of the previous planned DLR extension which was planned to serve this location en route to Dagenham Dock. What will be interesting is whether Barking Riverside will be built at or above ground level or more sensibly underground to allow for extension to form a new river crossing which could link with trains on the South Eastern network .

      Re javelin via Chiltern the report mentions electrification of sections of Chiltern affected but this is still a plan just released by Greengage 21.

    177. SfB says:

      Perhaps it is time to think differently about the way we travel or our mobility, not just infrastructure. For example in the future mobile technology capacity will have increased greatly. as will interconnectivity of modes, devices and infrastructure. So maps, timetables and modal choice become less important. I decide where I want to go from and to. I am the ‘routed’ the most efficient way, this might include a ‘cab’, rail and bus. Using all modes in an integrated and effective way should hugely increase capacity on the current network. How many cabs carry four people, how many buses are full. Combine this with a more flexible working day and I am not sure what the potential is, but it seems huge.

      An ‘intelligent’ transport network should ultimately have the ability to make real time adjustments to frequency (and destination) to optimise capacity. As long as people get to their destination on time and safely I think the routing and mode continuity will be far less of an issue to the young of 2050. Yes we need to think of capacity improvements but isn’t time we thought of using big data and intelligent information too?

    178. Anonymous says:

      @Melvyn if footbridges could be built between North Green to Wood Wharf and likewise between Canary Wharf and the Hilton Hotel then you could create a new cycle route between London Bridge and North Greenwich which would be helpful getting some people off the Jubliee Line who could otherwise use a bike in or out of work

    179. Ian J says:

      An example of the kind of parking policies PoP is talking about:

      The inner suburbs of Melbourne. A bit like say Islington; a mix of Victorian (yes, actually Victorian) and Edwardian terrace housing with some 60s high-rise council housing and a lot of recent medium and high density in-fill.

      If your house or flat was built or rebuilt after 2005, you won’t get a parking permit – ie. existing on-street parking is grandfathered, but as the density increases, new parking can only be provided off-street by developers, generally underneath block of flats.

      If you live in the city centre, no on-street parking permits are available at all. The city centre has the fastest growing population in Australia with a population increase of 23% last year: this the outcome of long-term policies going back to the 1980s to encourage city centre living.

      It is up to developers to decide whether to provide parking spaces (I think some visitor and disabled spaces and bike parking are mandatory, but nothing else), up to a maximum of one per unit. Obviously housing without a car space is cheaper to buy and to rent.

      Remember that over the timescale we are talking about, the ownership of most housing in London will turn over several times. Someone who has been living in London “since the Blitz” certainly won’t still be living there in 2050, and who is to say their children won’t sell out to a property developer when they inherit their house? People will accept change if it happens incrementally and slowly, but not if they feel it threatens to disrupt their current way of life. But the advantage of taking a 2050 perspective is that you can try to steer the incremental changes that are happening all the time in a city like London in a direction that gives you a better long-term outcome.

    180. Greg Tingey says:

      I’ve read the announcement of the “Mini-Holland” on the LBoWtF web-site – actually doesn’t seem too bad – improving cycling down Lea Bridge Rd needs doing.
      But, as always, the devil will be in the details, like lamp-posts / traffic-lights & pedestrian barriers across the middle of cycle-paths ( I kid you not, there’s one about 3 km from here …. )

      Car Parking etc. Something the “Planners” don’t seem to take into account is that many people , like me, uses “Horses for courses” – I have an LWB old-fashioned Land-Rover (The last model with no electronics) I only do about 2500-3000 miles a year in it, but I need it … I cycle a bit around home, I walk a lot, & I take the trains & occasionally, the buses.
      But “Planning|” often seems to assume that people only use one mode, exclusively, or so it seems.
      See also Castlebar’s well-reasoned rant – he is correct (excepting civil rights lawyers) – since neither owning nor driving a car is a “right”
      “This is my Granddad’s VW Golf GT wiv wide wheels innit, and he lent it me” (He is 94)
      Err … My aunt, who died aged 99 – almost 100 learnt to drive on an Army 5-tonner in 1941 … she had a very early mini, that was falling apart – one day, I went to visit her & spotted an almost-new one, instead. So I asked her about it. She said: “Yes, the previous owner had to sell (got a driving ban) – & it goes much better than the old one”. I should hope so too – silver, go-faster stripes, wide wheels twin-carb 1200cc engine. She was about 77 at the time!

      Graham H
      See also the link to “Charlie’s Blog” I posted regarding battery & PV costs & efficiencies. Which means that petrol/diesel are going to be dead, except for legacy vehicles like my Land-Rover, by 2025 – it will be, if not all-electric, well over 75% electric by then, I predict.
      Plus, of course, inductive charging (a la Milton Keynes) for public transport vehicles, too ….
      Ah, drones – did you read “Diamond Geezer’s” posting for Sunday 6th April, where he noted a surveillance-drone over the “olympic” park?

      Castlebar ( @ 19.23)
      NO WRONG
      What CO2 emissions? It will certainly be all-electric by 2050 & well before than – see note higher up this posting.

      Graham H
      think “Woking” (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms) No – you mean BASINGSTOKE, don’t you?

    181. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      Ian J

      Thank you for your Melbourne link

      I have forwarded it on to relevant councillors within W Sussex for their info.

    182. Fandroid says:

      Greg. I can honestly testify that the parking at Basingstoke station doesn’t go past my allotment. Hook (the next station) is in another universe (Hart District- home of the smuggest inhabitants in the South). Fleet station is current having its car parking tripled in elevation. Expect Woking to follow. If you need to park your heritage beast I can rent out part of my front garden at a reasonable rate. (It won’t be lonely there are several others in the street)

    183. CdBrux says:

      Building on SfB above:
      In 2050 I wish to go from A to B, assume both are in a suburban area. I do not have a car of my own.

      I enter this information into my smart phone (or it’s equivalent by then). It feeds into a central journey planning system and informs me that in 10 minutes an automated mini-bus type electric vehicle will pick me up. It arrives, already with a few others on board (think of it as a shared taxi typically found in north Africa for example).

      The journey planner has told me to get off the local vehicle at a mass transit stop (tube, train, bus, tram, …) and tells me my best journey through the mass transit network (depending on my preferences for speed, least changes, tube vs bus, walking distances, steps,… and also knowledge of occupancy levels). At the other end I get off and soon another local vehicle will arrive to take me to my destination on a route chosen to be optimised for the people who are on board.

      This journey can be booked ahead as desired for a small discount as this will better enable capacity to be matched to demand especially on ‘turn up and go’ mass transit part. Prices will vary in some way, to try and manage demand in peak hours. I may be able to pay less for a longer journey using infrastructure with more available capacity.

      If I choose to pay more for a quicker journey, or to travel as a family group, I have my own or a shared car (electric / hybrid) which, for major conurbations and motorways, will be automated. The journey planner will equally be able to spread traffic loads out across allowed through routes. As humans no longer drive road capacity will be much higher. Also worth considering that maybe cars would not be a worse environmental option vs mass transit (after all they would use the same source of energy), meaning mass transit is needed more for the travel corridors where demand is simply too high for roads.

      Of course for a journey that only uses the mass transit network this is easier cheaper. When they go out to the sticks on holiday or for business they can either hire cars near source or destination if they do not have their own.

      Developers will need to incorporate some parking provision in their new apartment buildings. I live in a 15 year old block in Brussels, about 2km south of the city centre. It’s a mix of 1, 2 & 3 bedroom apartments and I would say there are underground parking spaces for 60 – 75% of these apartments, presumably the larger ones as priority as families are more likely to want / need their own transport vs the person living on their own. It’s not unusual to see notices displayed to rent out parking slots not needed by the owner.

    184. stimarco says:

      Re. parking spaces and apartments…

      In Rome, apartment buildings* were – and still are – usually designed and built with parking spaces below, but before the car really caught on in a big way, many condominiums decided to sell / lease those spaces off to bring in some money and reduce the fees used to pay for upkeep and maintenance.

      Retail is normally provided at street level, but the lack of parking at the time wasn’t felt to be a big deal initially as most walked, or took the bus – Rome was still a very compact city at the time. (The opening of Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” illustrates this perfectly. Entire districts can be seen under construction, and note how empty the roads are of mechanical transport.)

      The Piaggio Vespa was popularised in part by that movie, while the 1970s saw car use suddenly explode. And that’s when the proverbial hit the rotary ventilator…

      This is why so many older suburbs in cities like Rome have such terrible parking: roads laid out to three lanes in each direction are now often reduced to just one each way because Rome has massively increased in size. No longer is it possible to walk everywhere, while the public transport infrastructure has failed utterly to keep up. In Rome’s case, this is because the deep strata of archaeology make building anything below ground extremely slow and expensive. Northern cities like Milan and Turin are a little better in this regard: cars are still a problem, but both cities have decent public transport now, and have far less difficulty expanding their networks than the likes of Rome and Naples do.

      * (While British architects stuck with the notion that their vast new housing estates should be accessible to everyone, like the streets of the inter-war Downham and Bellingham estates, our continental cousins applied the ‘gated community’ approach, particularly to larger apartment complexes. In Rome, almost every post-war apartment with more than four storeys has a concierge, for example.)

    185. stimarco says:

      Also, what CDBrux said. Pretty much my own view of what 2050 might look like, and it’s why I hold no truck with those who would advocate a specific transport system (e.g. rail, buses, cars) over the others, as if any one technology was inherently superior to all the others. All have their part to play.

      Minds should also be open to other technologies and advances in construction techniques that may help square the circle of transport infrastructure. For example, the DLR has shown that an elevated rail network can succeed and thrive if done properly. I’m not suggesting running a DLR extension down Oxford Street or the Strand, but there may be a case to be made for building a similar network focused on OOC and its neighbours to improve orbital connectivity.

      But CDBrux nails it: we need to be thinking not in terms of “How can we twist and distort a specific technology to link A with B,” but in terms of “What’s the best choice for journeys between A and B?”

      The fun begins when the palette of ‘accepted’ technologies proves too limited and too many answers to those questions are “None of the above.”

    186. HTFB says:

      You don’t need to look as far afield as Melbourne to find on-street residential parking permits to be restricted to those grandfathered to older buildings. Oxford has this system, with the cutoff surprisingly early (maybe in the 70s?).

      New developments in Oxford are also very restricted in the amount of parking space that planners will permit. It becomes important to use the spaces well—if your flat is only entitled to one parking badge at a time, and *any* visitor, workman, or other unattended vehicle must use that one, it is a real problem if your landlord has hung onto the badge so he can park easily on the rare days he chooses to inspect (or to come into town for the fun of it).

    187. timbeau says:

      @Graham H/Greg T
      “think “Woking” (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms) No – you mean BASINGSTOKE, don’t you?”
      I’m getting used to Greg’s more obscure references: this one is from the Savoy Operas: Ruddigore I think.
      Other G&S transport-related references
      “They’re a ravenous horde and they all came aboard at Sloane Square and south J]Kensington stations” (Iolanthe)
      “The idiot who in railway carriages scribbles on window panes, will only suffer to ride on a buffer in parliamentary trains” (The Mikado)
      Dragging the subject back on topic:
      WS Gilbert was writing in the 1870s, when railways were still the new and high tech. Although motor vehicles started to appear about the turn of the century, they only realy took off between the wars.
      Do we really expect the far more drastic changes in transport technology and infrastructure suggested in this thread in the next 35 years? Look at the late 1970s – how far have we come since then?
      Any new technology will either have to interface with “legacy” systems or displace them utterly – there are plenty of 30+ year old vehicles on the roads (and railways) now, and no doubt in 2050 some of the vehicles being built today will still be in use.

    188. Long Branch Mike (London Bridge Mike) says:


      I’d expect alot more electric bikes, and more powerful to pull freight/child trailers.

      Electric bikes are still quite expensive, even the add on battery packs and motors, but that should come down considerably with more widespread use. Combined with increasingly cheaper solar PV panels for distributed electricity generation, this foretells an electric propulsion future.

      As in a Gary Numan (ex-Tubeway Army) mashup – my friends are here in my electric car.

    189. Fandroid says:

      The restrictions on parking spaces are driven by the housing market combined with the very strong reluctance of existing communities to see green spaces built on. That applies as much to Castlebar’s Sussex and Graham H’s Surrey as it does to anywhere in London. It’s just more acute in London due to the high demand for housing and the price of land.

      Someone somewhere is going to require an efficient use of road space. If brave, that will be done directly. If not brave, that will be done indirectly. To some extent the latter is happening already via the decreasing ratio of parking places to numbers of residents.

      Although the UK is fairly polarised between London and not London, the same pressures are being applied to other cities (e.g. Oxford) and to medium sized towns as well.

      I really don’t see automated personal transport contributing more than a niche in London’s transport system. On another of my contra-peak bus trips from Waterloo to Kings College Hospital recently, the bus lower deck was almost empty (9 passengers), but it was still easily a better user of road space per person than the cars on the same route. When those automated cars are coming from or returning to their (very expensively purchased) parking space they will just be in-the-way dead-weight.

      The tricky thing everywhere will be to get the transport infrastructure included as these dense developments get built. Remembering of course that bus services are infrastructure, not something where we can wait for the privateers to turn up and provide.

      Pleased to see in the Standard that Andrew Adonis has been out and about on the buses, including in the early hours of the morning. We need a lot more like him, willing to see for themselves what transport reality might look like.

    190. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Stimarco – I understand the problems with building Metros in Rome – horrendous issues to try to deal with. However I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere where the buses are quite so overstretched as in Rome. It’s almost like a bus apocalypse.

      @ Timbeau – I tend to agree with you about “legacy” transport modes vs the whizz bang vision of future possible transport modes. I’m also not hugely convinced by the “press a button on a gizmo and be given 27 choices as to how to go from a to b”. People can barely cope with a choice of 2 or 3 modes or mixes thereof even with smartphones, real time info and journey planners. There was a brief feature on the Daily Politics today about how people struggle to cope with “choice” and the resultant need for a decision. Supermarkets and healthcare (as a proxy for public services) were mentioned. I fear the same applies with transport. Most car users dread using public transport apart from a regular commute where they may have no choice. I’ve no great enthusiasm for private transport – I’m happy to let others do the driving even though I’ve got to get to stops or stations. Clearly there are people who mix and match (like Greg) but I suspect that’s the exception if you exclude walking (nearly everyone walks somewhere to get about). I just don’t see “normal” people fiddling about trying to plan journeys – they want something simple and straightforward with minimal interchange. This is why there’s so much demand for through journeys because interchange = uncertainty. Transport enthusiasts are far more willing to contemplate planning journeys and even making complex trips as it boosts their egos when their plans work 😉 We simply don’t start thinking from the same position as “normals”.

      @ Greg – I don’t agree with you on how planners consider things. They are required to understand how people travel and to what modes may be available to people to travel. Given the scope for challenge arising from increased transparency I think they need to have decent data and a proper assessment process. There are no guarantees that they’ll come up with a perfect answer but they do need to demonstrate rigour. Obviously the politicos can and do override what the planners come up with and that’s my fear with the 2050 Plan. Excellence and innovation may simply be squashed by conservatism, the familiar and short termism. The concept of our Mayor allegedly pressing to be “Infrastructure Minister” in a future Conservative administration is enough to have me packing my bags and going to live in a slum in the third world.

    191. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      @ Fandroid

      “Castlebar’s Sussex”??

      Castlebar’s WEST Sussex please.

      The relevance is that on Saturday, we’re going abroad. Yes, we’re crossing the A23 for the first time in years to visit Lewes in East Sussex (or “Sussex Inferior”). It’s a big decision to take.

      What makes this relevant to London, is that many (north especially) Londoners never crossed the Thames. Many would know more about the Costa Brava than Crystal Palace. The outer suburbs all have their own travel needs, and getting from, say Willesden, to say Wallington just didn’t happen. All the rail termini, scattered around the edge of the centre, really didn’t help. Many people left their suburb, worked in London, then returned to that same suburb.

      I think the Overground in particular is accelerating change. I know somebody who has bought a flat in Brockley because the Overground has made the commute to his job in Islington possible with one simple train journey. I promise not to make a habit of going to East Sussex, but just like the crossing A23, the Thames was a bit like a Berlin Wall to some Londoners. As attitudes are changing, so are London’s travel requirements. We cannot continue to work on the basis of “there’s no demand” as has been proven wrong (I hope) to those who delayed The Overground and the re-opening of the WLL. The surge in contra-peak flow travel is another example of something that seems to be taking ‘planners’ and travel strategists by surprise.

      We really do need to get a really accurate and up-to-date picture of people’s new travel patterns before thinking of new infrastructure for London that is still based on old travel habits. My philosophy lecturer once said, “Change is constant. Therefore a state of constancy cannot happen because that in itself would be a change” London’s travel planners really do need to be up to speed with that. They got it right with the need for night buses, but elsewhere, there’s a lot of scope for improvement.

    192. stimarco says:


      “When those automated cars are coming from or returning to their (very expensively purchased) parking space they will just be in-the-way dead-weight.”

      You’re assuming the same kinds of vehicles will be in use in 2050 as today. I mentioned this tendency to see new technology as something that simply replaces existing technology like for like, but this is rarely the case. There is an element of this, certainly, but many new technologies also have a “disrupting” effect on markets. The most well-known recent example is the recent fall of Nokia. Apple’s iPhone completely transformed the mobile phone market. And the first iPhone was only released in 2007.

      There are plenty of other examples in the IT sector, but even in transport, you can see how entire industries focused on horse-drawn transport had to adapt or die in little more than a generation as the automobile came of age. This technology radically changed the appearance of – and attitudes to – our roads. No cobblestones; lots of street lighting; better signage; painted lanes; traffic lights; bus lanes; new bypasses; cloverleaf junctions, and dedicated motorways… look at photos of London circa 1900 and the changes the internal combustion engine has wrought on our roads are obvious. The automobile was no simple ‘plug-in’ replacement for the horse and cart.

      The invention of efficient electricity generation and distribution brought about the knitting above our railway lines and those 3rd and 4th rail systems, not to mention electric light signals and even centralised signalling centres replacing the thousands of line-side signal boxes.

      One relatively safe assumption is that electric vehicles will likely become notably shorter and using up less road space as a result. In effect, they’ll become little more than boxes with seats, batteries below, and the motors built right into the wheels. Compared to a typical saloon or hatchback, that’s already quite a bit of space saved, improving efficiency. Add self-driving and ‘road train’ support, and the only remaining difference between a normal train and one on the roads will be reduced to the efficiency – or otherwise – of rubber tyres on tarmac and steel wheels on steel rails.

      The reason traditional cars are inefficient today is because they’re owned privately. If you automate them (and make them electric, self-driving, etc.) then you (a) gain an additional seat for passengers, and (b) have, basically, a “micro-bus”. For smaller towns and villages, these will be fine, but larger urban areas will likely see more use of larger vehicles capable of taking more people at a time.

      If there’s no bonnet and no boot to speak of, and your road vehicles can simply run in virtually coupled ‘trains’, with individual units splitting and joining the train in transit, then we’re no longer talking about automobiles as we know them today.

    193. Ben Phillips says:

      A report has come out laying down the reasons why City Airport should be closed down and redeveloped into housing. I think that it should be shut down. Once Crossrail opens anyone from/to The City/Canary Wharf will be able to get to Heathrow Airport (or Boris Island if it built) easily on Crossrail. So this airport has no real purpose after 2018/19. It causes nothing but bad air across East London. I fail to see who could have a real argument for it to stay open?

    194. Graham H says:

      Just standing back from this thread for a moment, it is apparent that policy makers and planners face a conundrum: either the future in 2050 is business as usual, only more so, in which case major investment needs to be planned and started now; or the technology will have changed, radically, with profound consequences for urban planning, but we don’t know when or indeed, if, it will happen and even if does, how quickly. Nor can we be absolutely sure what the change will be. If it does occur, the programme of investments would be very different and, indeed, much of the “business as usual” projects might conceivably be entirely nugatory.

      Followers of FM Cornford will at once recognise the argument for doing nothing, but it’s difficult to see that doing something is at least evens likely to be the wrong thing. No, I don’t have a glib answer, and – yes – I have the uncomfortable feeling that one day we (well, not me) will wake up and find that everything we have just done has been a waste of money. ( I tend to do that now, of course).

    195. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Fandroid – I won’t be joining you in the “praise” of Lord Adonis just because he rode a few buses in a week. By any criteria that’s a tiny sample and very unlikely to give him any sort of representative view. He’s not even said whether he regularly uses the bus (in London or elsewhere). I’ve read all the articles he produced during his week of busing and also his “conclusions”. I obviously have my own prejudices but his diagnosis of the problems is flawed and I fear he is too obsessed with restructuring Zone 1’s bus network to appease Oxford St’s shop owners. I also wonder about his assessment of outer suburban buses – his main comment was how empty the 269 he rode was. Would be take an axe to buses in Bromley and Bexley? If yes he’d probably be making a big mistake in electoral and transport terms. He has also completely failed to explain how transfer tickets and bus service improvements would be funded. That is a crucial issue and why I am more than a little cynical about his “damascene conversion on routes 25 and N9”. I want more emphasis placed on the value of the bus network and I want to see a more rational and balanced approach that addresses needs across the network rather than the subtle outer suburbs emphasis we’re seeing under Boris. That means Central, Inner, Outer, radial, orbital, local, however you want to cut things – they should all get a fair slice of the money and management attention to ensure better transport for people.

      @ Stimarco – in your vision of automated “for hire” electric cars how do you reconcile the “no ownership” aspect with the current view of car ownership which emphasises the “personal” and a private, protective secure mini world in which you drive yourself? Car ownership and use is, for many, an emotional as well as a practical decision. This is why tampering with that model or the costs thereof is so politically risky. I understand your great enthusiasm for technology and “different things” but I’ve yet to see anyone explain how you achieve the transition from personal fossil fuel transport to de-personalised electric “cars”. I don’t expect you to set out a prospectus as that’d be unfair but it’s a massive change and one that’s way beyond some advances in the mobile phone market.

    196. Pedantic of Purley says:

      @Ben Philips,

      A report has come out laying down the reasons why City Airport should be closed down and redeveloped into housing

      Please give a link to this report

      @Everyone else

      Ignore this and do not comment on it until it is verified.

    197. Resident of Sivertown says:

      Hate to break what the member has said above but I can back up what @Ben Philips in fact saw a report on this on BBC london news and i 100% agree with it. It’s terrible to live near the flight path! Please do give us a link to the report however as I wish to read it myself @Pedantic of Purley the real question should be where the partition?!?

    198. Mark Townend says:

      @Walthamstow Writer, 10 April 2014 at 19:29
      “. . . how do you reconcile the “no ownership” aspect with the current view of car ownership which emphasises the “personal” and a private, protective secure mini world in which you drive yourself? Car ownership and use is, for many, an emotional as well as a practical decision.”

      I think younger generations, particularly urban dwellers are much less emotionally attached to their vehicles and the notion of driving than previous generations. Partly that’s down to the very ubiquity of the product. Private car sales is no longer a growing market based on ‘converting’ former PT users, and there’s really nothing special or sophisticated any more about owning a sensible car suitable for the city. The downsides of driving are manifold: costs of parking; how far away from your real destination you have to leave a vehicle parked; the worry about its security whilst unattended; the extraordinary cost of youth insurance; the costs of current and future schemes for congestion and road price charging; the poor car journey time performance on certain corridors at particular times. All these mean younger people weigh their transport choices far more rationally. Information technology solutions available through the increasingly universal smartphone allow such realtime desisions to be made very easily, and I believe young people will adapt to them readily to save time, money and inconvenience.

    199. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      @ In the reality of what actually happens, i.e., the “Real World”, I wouldn’t want to be the next one to hire an “automated “for hire” electric “no ownership” car”. It is not my intention to travel in other people’s sick & urine, nor is it my job to clear it up before I can even sit in it.

      Yes, GREAT idea in theory
      In reality, ‘No thanks’.

    200. Greg Tingey says:

      You have it correct – it is in fact, usually referred to as “The Great Green Beast”!
      (With nicely toned coating of Sahara dust & mud of course (“Paved roads, another form of guvmint waste” )
      Ah, & you, too have an allotment?
      My peas are sprouting nicely!

      As a lapsed member of the Cliffe Bonfire Society, I know the town well ….

      Graham H
      Well, I’m in the “radically changed” camp, if only for the changes in battery / PV / other electric technologies that those with eyes, can already see coming – & that is without any Black Swans flying into view – or even well-fuelled pig-squadrons!

    201. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      @ GH

      F M Cornford!

      Wasn’t he the guy who advocated not getting anything right, in case it set a precedent for the future that might have to be followed?

      Wow! His books must have been required reading at the LCC, GLC, GLA, LT, LU, TfL, BR(W), BR Marylebone Road, etc., usw, et cie.

      No wonder his books are now difficult to find

    202. Paying Guest says:

      @ WW

      “I just don’t see “normal” people fiddling about trying to plan journeys – they want something simple and straightforward with minimal interchange. This is why there’s so much demand for through journeys because interchange = uncertainty.”

      I think you are being unduly pessimistic about people’s ability to use devices offering them ways to get from A to B. Today’s commercial software lets you set up (or have set up for you) preferences, so the traditionalist could opt for cheapest, quickest, or least hassle, while the transport aficionado could ask to be offered 3, 5 or 10 nuanced options. I’m sure the capabilities in 2050 will be at a whole new level.

    203. Theban says:

      The argument that travel is [energy] inefficient and that people should live close to where they work is an economic argument. It ignores the social arguments in tension to that premise. Most residents of the Isle of Dogs would thus be bankers, lawyers and accountants for Canary Wharf. They wouldn’t mix with hospital workers who would live in Hammersmith and Bermondsey etc. That would increase class stratification. It also wouldn’t work if a banker was married to nurse, or an accountant to a car mechanic.

      Employment of the same type clusters. Silicon Valley is a great example and helps the understanding of why clustering is efficient. In a modern economy a fair amount of travel between homes and workplaces is unavoidable.

    204. Graham H says:

      @Castlebar1 – Cornford’s Microcosmographica Academica was based on Cambridge University politics c1910 but is, of course timeless. He stated that there were only two political arguments – both for doing nothing – the “Argument of Unripe time” and the “Argument of the thin end of the wedge.” The latter was summarised as not doing the right thing now in case you were asked to do it again even more strongly in the future. There are, he suggested, only two political parties: the Liberal Conservatives, who agree that something must be done, only whatever was done in 1885 (remember this was 1910) should now be undone, or the Conservative Liberals, who agree that something must be done, but what was undone in 1885 should now be done. A sort of “Yes Minister” avant la lettre. Still available on Amazon. I certainly lent my copy to a BR colleague who never returned it.

    205. Long Branch Mike (London Bridge Mike) says:

      Chicago got rid of its waterfront Meigs Field airport in 2003 – Chicago’s mayor Daley tore up the runways in the middle of the night, with the aim of making it a park according to the 1909 plan of Chicago’s city planner, Daniel Burnham. This park is due to be constructed in the next 2 years.

      Toronto is currently debating expanding our waterfront island airport to allow so-called whisper-quiet jets. Whisper-quiet is an oxymoron like military intelligence, exciting baseball etc. Our city is about to get an airport rail link to downtown running DMUs, making the Island Airport redundant.

    206. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      @ LBM

      “Whisper-quiet is an oxymoron like military intelligence, exciting baseball etc. “……………..
      …………and, “We’re all in it together Government”

    207. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Paying Guest – yes some people may well fiddle with the technology and when it tells them to change 5 times to go 2 miles down the road what do you imagine they’ll do? I’m looking back at CD Brux’s post where he set out various ways and parameters to make a particular journey. I just wonder if people will want to “cope” with that much choice. Some might but many will not.

      Perhaps my views are coloured by having done “strike cover” days when you have to instantly “journey plan” for anyone who wanders up to you at a tube station. You give them an answer and when it’s different from their commute, or their own alternative they’ve got in their head but not told you about, their eyes glaze over and they ask “why isn’t station “x” open?” (station x being their regular destination that is closed!). Suggest they walk or (eeek!) catch a bus to reach station x from an open tube station and you need to get a seat and smelling salts to help them recover from the shock. And I’m only slightly exaggerating. 😉

      I’ve done a lot of travel information / travel advice work over the years and I just think many people prefer predictable, direct and fast journeys compared to multi legged, multi mode ones. This is why people like cars and bicycles – oh and the sense of being “in control” of their journeys. I accept they may be deluding themselves given the risk of traffic jams, accidents and breakdowns but this is where perception can and does overrule reality.

      A future world of 2050 with an even more involved and complex transport network and / or modal choice will not necessarily be “attractive” to many people even though they may have little or no option than to use it. I think this is where psychology, personal preference and a sense of having “choice” forced on them (to suit other people’s agenda) may give an unexpected result with a lot of people being not very happy. Imagine the fall out if key parts of the future transport network became unreliable or subject to some form of endemic failure? [I’m taking “overcrowded” for granted] That’s the sort of “risk” that lands on politician’s doorsteps and which they are terrified of.

    208. James Bunting says:

      @ Castlebar 1813

      Overheard yesterday in a Lower Regent Street coffee shop between appointments, two friends. One was telling the other she was thinking of moving from (somewhere north of the river) to Norwood because it was cheaper and, “as they have at last built a railway down there” the value might rise and she would make a profit. The friend responded that she couldn’t think how people in the south had managed without a railway for so long.

    209. answer=42 says:

      Can I take a step back and have a look at what we know and what we don’t know about the year 2050?

      Well, for a start, we know quite a lot about the population. Everyone who will be over 36 in 2050 is already alive and we have some good information about trends in longevity. We also have some good information about fertility rates. Of course, the global population could be shaken up by a large meteorite, a major war or an epidemic. Or indeed by the growth of fundamental religions that teach against contraception.

      We know a little less about the EU population. We know the natural trends in population, as above. In some EU countries and further East, the population is falling;, present trends in immigration are unlikely to last. Immigration into Europe could be higher in the long term due refugees from global warming impact and/or wars. Economic success elsewhere could make Europe a less attractive place to move to.

      The demand for travel in and around London is a function of population, wealth and most of all employment. Population change in the London region is, within the population path of the UK and EU, largely itself influenced by employment opportunities. Any forecast of employment in the London area 35 years hence is going to have a pretty wide margin of error. Downside shocks could come from a financial crisis or London leaving the EU free-movement area. Upside shocks could come from the London area taking its share of global warming or war refugees.

      But in the long term, the relationship between employment and demand for transport will break down: as they say in the financial markets, a trend that can’t continue, won’t. We have seen growth in rail travel of over 3% a year over the last few years in the UK. A hundred years of 3% growth leads to a 19-fold increase.

      The 80-year long trend of growth in rail travel was broken in the period 1920-50 by economic collapse, war and the growth in car ownership. The trend in increasing car transport was broken over the period 1980-95 largely by increasing road congestion but also by the adoption of information technology by public transport.

      Public transport congestion, its high costs, the increasing cost of building high-density offices and homes in London and the costs of new transport infrastructure will break the trend. What will take its place: centres of dispersed offices finally having sufficient weight to become self-sustaining; London pricing itself out of the market for business services; the development and use of effective e-commuting ad e-meting services reducing the premium on location; some combination of the above?

      Both development and transport infrastructure will have to be cost-effective – much development will have to be outside the central London area. The number of new Crossrails will have to be limited. We will have to start comparing the full-life cost of each passenger-Km of additional transport capacity by different modes. And all of this will need high quality planning.

    210. Paying Guest says:

      @ WW – I don’t disagree at all with your paras 2, 3 and 4. As regards your first para, in the picture you paint I would expect many people to react just as you describe. My point is that the better software is already pretty good and in another 35 years I am sure it will be capable of giving the technology averse a simple, effective route with minimum hassle. Maybe not the shortest, quickest or cheapest route, but not far off it – if that is your preference. The really skilled designers have the knack of making things look deceptively simple – think the design of the NEST thermostat or Jonathan Ives’s products.

    211. AlisonW says:

      LCY is a great and, more importantly, fast airport, and long may it remain so. Closing transport services is (as noted upthread) usually realised as having been a bad thing some years afterwards.

      There is indeed a massive London -v- non-London issue here. Though I live in Highgate with decent 24-hr bus service at the end of my road, I retain my car because I regularly travel out to the countryside, where I also live. There I’m at the top of a long hill away from the village and though there is now a – very – slightly better bus service than when I first lived here as a child, I wouldn’t ever rely on it.

      I’ve tried the shared-car thing, but would suggest it can never replace personal ownership. Firstly, because it is unlikely to be in your drive/close by, second, they will not be available when you _need_ it urgently. Thirdly, you can’t leave useful things in a shared car – like maps, picnic sets, rugs, boxes of tissues, toys for the kids, but mostly because the price structure demands that you know how long you’ll need the vehicle for. No changing plans during a trip, no freedom at all, really. And yes, there is the issue about the state other users leave it in.

      That things will change is certain. How they will change is unlikely to be unexpected and disruptive and not yet known.

    212. AlisonW says:

      ps. Castlebar: I’ll have you know that baseball is about the most exciting sport there is!

      (signed, a Boston RedSox fan)

    213. Chris says:

      @The other Paul
      Linking the UK’s new continental gauge network and the UK’s direct continental gauge link to the continent with a new UK gauge railway feels bonkers. Are the costs really that much higher? Is there really no expectation of freight trains to/from the continent running through to HS2?

      It’s not bonkers at all given the cost and disruption involved and it’s very limited usefulness – practical choices appear to be either a fully tunnelled connection, probably between Old Oak Common and Barking where HS1 surfaces, at massive cost, or a shorter tunnel to Primrose Hill and then increasing the loading gauge of the NLL viaduct through Camden with all the disruption and controversy involved.

      It’s not hard to see why this isn’t considered worthwhile, given that HS2 is neither suited to nor designed to carry freight and there is questionable demand for international passengers services for which it’s likely paths could only be found off-peak anyway. Rather like the Heathrow Branch, it sounds much better in theory.

    214. CdBrux says:

      @WW. I was not suggesting people be given a whole list of choices, to be honest that had not occured to me. I was suggesting you select either “quickest” or “least changes” as options and then was proposed one solution and maybe an alternative.

      Really as others have pointed out this is 36 years away so who knows what will be available by then? The point is more technology, in this case journey planning, as a vision to be much more central than today rather than the executional details which should be left to private companies and competition to deliver innovate solutions. For clarity I do not suggest this is anything but a good help in a future system to persuade people that not having their own car is not so bad for quick transport solutions.

      Several people have mentioned that the technological advances will result in road useage, by whatever means, will be much more efficient than today permitting more people to be transported efficiently vs today. This may alter the benefits of public vs private / semi private transport so is worth a thought, should we weight investment in those technologies, which must produce a more flexible outcome (better allowing people to live where best suited to them) , vs building more mass transit solutions which by nature is less flexible?

      Ultimately I would suggest the more the state bets on one solution (or priority to one solution) the less likely it is to get it right, or perhaps better to say less wrong. On the other hand leaving it to a laissez-faire approach I don’t think will work either. The person who can navigate the middle way well should be paid a fortune! However I for one will be probably sticking to the day (non transport related) day job and ignoring the enticing letter I received from Spain today about a lottery win inviting me to fax my bank details to a nice man…!

    215. Ian J says:

      @The Other Paul, Chris: the Greengauge proposal also involves extending the HS1-HS2 connection to the Chiltern line and Heathrow by using the Old Oak Common – Ruislip surface trackbed. We already know this can’t be easily or cheaply converted to continental gauge (otherwise HS2 would be using it). Of course, this presupposes that even this more limited vision is worth the cost.

      On new technologies: The risk with too much focus on what new technologies might bring is that they offer too much of an excuse to do nothing. The classic example was the DfT’s insistence that there should be no more electrification because of the possibility that new fuel technologies based on algae (AKA bionic duckweed) would come along and render electrification a waste of money.

      The problem with this kind of reasoning is that firstly, it tends to underestimate the limitations of new technology (bionic duckweed may look great on paper, but doesn’t seem to have made it out of the lab yet), secondly, it ignores the strengths of existing technologies (for example, electrification gives you a choice of power sources) and the likelihood they will also improve (eg. regenerative braking increases the efficiency of electric trains), and thirdly, it ignores inescapable fixed constraints like geometry, human behaviour and the laws of physics (for example, a car, however powered or owned, will always occupy a certain amount of road space, which is more than the standing room on a train or bus; totally efficient use of any transport system is impossible given that demand will never be evenly distributed through the day; storing energy with total efficiency is impossible).

      The sensible thing to do is to plan on the basis of existing technologies, but with provision built in to adopt new technologies (like automation) incrementally, and the flexibility of mind to change or abandon plans in the event that demand changes or new better technologies become available.

    216. Long Branch Mike 1 says:


      The trend is for organizations to collect more data over time, as sensors and data collexion & processing become cheaper. For example, transit organizations could in the next 10 years could be able to monitor automatically in real time how many passengers are on each bus, how many are currently waiting at each stop, predict using past data how many more are likely to arrive by the time each bus gets to each stop, traffic conditions, and predicted speed of each bus. By making this open data, an app could determine quite accurately the time at which a user would arrive at their destination, and compare that to alternate routes and modes such as by rail or Tube (if nearby), the likelihood of getting on the next train, to provide realistic travel options.

      As the road and Tube networks get saturated, intelligent transport demand will be needed to get the most out of each mode.

      I believe that central London ‘s road network is still constantly monitored at peak times to achieve maximum throughput, although a lot of this is still manually observed and directed.

    217. @Walthamstow Writer,

      when it’s different from their commute, or their own alternative they’ve got in their head but not told you about, their eyes glaze over

      I have experienced similar in Oxford booking office when half of Botley Road rail bridge outside the station was being replaced. You could hardly fail to notice the sight and sound of the work taking place especially with the enormous steam crane in operation. They had steam cranes then.

      The conversion generally went like this:

      Passenger (in those days they were passengers not customers):
      Day return to London Please

      Me: The train will be leaving from platform 2, platform 2. You need to go use the subway to get to platform 2. There was a subway then. I stressed the “2” each time I said it.

      Passenger: Are you sure? It normally leaves from platform 1.

      Me: Yes, and that is why I am making the point that it is leaving from platform 2 today.

    218. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      @ James Bunting

      Brilliant. Thank you. Perfect confirmation of what I was getting at.

      @ AlisonW

      I was actually quoting LBM. But I agree with him. I am proud to stand up and say that I have never wanted to attend a baseball match. On the other hand, he was talking about oxymorons, and as a supporter of Brentford FC, for many years it was difficult to put “Brentford” & “exciting” in the same sentence. However, that too has changed.

      @ PoP Here is another real booking office dialogue for you,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      “Day return please”
      “Day return to where dear?”
      “Back here of course”
      “No. Start again. Where are you going, dear”?
      “To see my sister”

    219. 0775John says:

      Some points arise in my mind about the scenario described above by CdBrux.

      Presumably the vehicles and technology available for calling up to transport people to places will either be operated by the state via some authority/organisation or will be a free market operation. Any third alternative?? With the removal of most(?) personal vehicles, space will be available and we have been told previously on LR that the vehicles will be able to identify the odd wandering pensioner and wayward child or dog – but even by 2050 the idea of driverless vehicles may not have wholly been accepted? (And maybe domestic dogs will have been banned by that time as being unhygienic or expensive licences reintroduced for those who wanted to pay).

      If operated by the private sector presumably it will be a form of franchised operation from whatever DfT-like organisation exists and be similar to the railways since the travel flows will be known and thus the extent of services that will be needed will be too.
      If free market free-for-all then it could be reminiscent of the worst days of bus deregulation.

      The journey planning systems will presumably be based on central data developed in various ways by the free market. If there were to be competition for the provision of the journey then any journey planning system may be biased in what results it provides. So some form of regulation is required or clear separation of the journey planning part from the delivery of vehicles part. (But franchising areas would do away with this problem).

      The franchising of the transport in a large area could be of all modes – Virgin rail, Virgin bus, Virgin Tube and Virgin Personal Vehicles – a truly integrated transport system!! All modes delivering a seemless transport experience……

      And to finish – some also may be concerned over the data collected by the system on what could be primarily private journeys – not that Oyster and other don’t collect data already. And maybe we will no longer care by then…..

    220. timbeau says:

      @castlebar Aprl 8th
      “Electric boats, yes, fine, but I’m not travelling by a boat that relies on solar panels in this country. With any electric powered boat, you really need a back-up power system. ”

      Trolleywires down the Thames? (To simply matters, if the water is brackish enough you might even have an earth return!).
      Or perhaps if bionic duckweed comes to pass, that’s another power supply that they could collect on the fly.

    221. Anonymous says:

      I can see a lot of sense in the ‘second Underground’ idea.

      Although can’t help thinking TfL could start by making the Overground more like a second Underground right now. To be fair, it is trying to.

    222. Paying Guest says:

      @ timbeau – Damsel fly??

    223. SfB says:

      Just thinking more about the mobility challenge. A couple of things.

      The line between the ‘Hackney Cab’ – Black Cab and the Private Hire Vehicle – Addison Lee, is becoming increasingly blurred and narrow. I suspect in the next ten years the distinction will go altogether and ‘cabs’ as we know them now will all be accessible in the same way. I know there is a battle to go on here but I am sure it will happen. Interesting to see how TfL deal with this one.

      In terms of who or what platform providers bring a mobility solution I think it worth noting the current contract for congestion charging is managed by Siemens, who, I think are likely to be one of a few private sector companies to provide city wide infrastructure solutions. This might include mobility and power, based on a agreed with GLA for example. Or massive clouded base data providers. It might even be someone like Amazon.

      Our data and knowledge on occupancy measurement is increasing all the time. Certainly by 2050 it should be possible to accurately and quickly measure the occupancy of every element of transport. This data then allows you to manage the network in real time much more efficiently. This means we can manage transport infrastructure better. As a ‘customer’, still prefer passenger, I can wait in my office a receive real time information on occupancy to allow me to time my journey better.

      By 2050 mobility systems will have changed, data, occupancy and contract management are the critical skills to do this.

    224. Chris H says:

      I don’t think 36 years is that far ahead. I wasn’t alive 36 years ago but the world of transport hasn’t changed *that* much since the 1970s.

      There was an exhibition in the City a couple of years ago about a “vision” for the City of London in 2050. All the visions contained sky-parks, enormous redevelopments, wholesale changes in the way the City operates – and were thus (in my view) unbelievable. If there’s one thing that has defined the City for the last 1000 years it’s a resistance to change. I would bet that the City of London in 2050 will have some more skyscrapers but that most people will still commute to it from homes in the suburbs, using railways. St Paul’s Cathedral is not going to end up in a biome.

      I think the same applies across the board. The short-term thinking endemic in politics, media, planning (to an extent) and academia mean that wholesale changes are very unlikely. What I think we will end up with is a few more Crossrail lines, a tunnelled Inner Ring Road, extensive road pricing and a lot of overcrowding.

    225. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      One of the interesting consequences of relying on Oystercard data for assessing travel patterns (and thus needs) is the proposition that a major chunk of information will get missed.

      Let us suppose that I live in Hillingdon, and work in Perivale, or, suppose I live in Greenford and work in Uxbridge. I would be mad to use public transport. If the Ruislip Chord were enabled for “customer” use, then I could and would use public transport. Because I cannot use public transport for what should be a simple UndergrounD journey, I drive. Every day. There is no sensible alternative.

      Because I drive, there is no statistic, so, TfL say there is no demand. Because (they say) there is no demand, the chord will not be developed for passenger use because current statistics of LU journeys will show that the scheme fails all CBR methods.

      Yet the evidence is on the A40 daily, at every peak time and suggests otherwise.

    226. AlisonW says:

      the fastest way to build a second underground would be to roof over the overground and put lots of new housing on top. Two problems sorted at once!

    227. timbeau says:

      “Electric boats”

      A bit of lateral thinking made me wonder how much power there is in the water pouring in and out of locks: taking Molesey lock as an example simply because I found the data, the volume is about 1000 cu m, so 1000 tonnes. The fall is nearly 2metres, so in round numbers we have 20MJ of potential energy, which is about 6kWh. A large narrowboat might have a 50hp (36kW) engine, so assuming perfect energy conversion a complete locking cycle (up and down) could power one such boat for about ten minutes at full power. A useful range extender maybe, but not enough on its own to get you to the next lock!

    228. Greg Tingey says:

      Castlebar & others
      Sorry, in this year of all times, the picture of the confused traveller at a ticket-office window, brings another image to mind
      Ah well ….

    229. timbeau says:

      bags I don’t have a house over the section from Wapping to Rotherhithe – if the rising damp doesn’t get you the Thames Clipper will!

    230. StephenC says:

      Lots of high level questions in the article and comments.

      I’d particularly note the boundary question. London’s boundary is defined by the GLA boundary, yet that is non-sensical for the kind of planning (and revenue raising) that is required here. The true impact of London goes many miles beyond the GLA boundary. Places like Dartford, Epsom Staines and Watford are all clearly within any sensible definition of London. But I’d prefer a planning definition that extends out to many more places, such as Chelmsford, Harlow, Luton, Aylesbury, Reading, Farnborough, Guildford, Crawley, Tonbridge, Maidstone and Medway. Side question – what metrics could be used to meaningfully define such an area?

      Defining the boundary correctly changes the answers to many of the hard questions in 2050 planning. For example, the RUS indicates that the Waterloo and Liverpool Street fast lines are the ones most under pressure, to which the most economical solution is an express tunnel for each. But as the express tunnel only provides definable benefits to those outside the GLA boundary, the GLA will refuse to fund it. This simply results in more expensive solutions, which are not in the national interest. Change the boundaries for planning/finance and things look rather different.

      A second high level point is the choice of technology. I’m not a big fan of second guessing drones/monorails/auto-cars, as these things can only really be dealt with when they actually arrive (and technology is often late or not taken up en masse). But where the 2050 plan should guide us is in the “why” when thinking about the costs of heavy rail (surface vs sub-surface), metro-rail (surface vs sub-surface), light-rail (DLR) and street running trams. The plan should outline what (known) technology is justified when. For example, it should provide a guide to determine if a tram serving Walworth/Peckham/Camberwell could ever make sense – what boundaries of demand would cause it to work vs not work.

      Planning for where the housing growth will occur also matters. For example, you could look at the Beddingham industrial area, plus the Pollards Hill estate as being two massive potential areas. And they are along a single potential rail line following on from the existing high demand areas of Clapham and Tooting. Getting the list of possible large development sites allows the potential lines to be drawn, and they are not all in East London.

    231. RichardB says:

      I think we are to some extent avoiding addressing the real issue. The existing underground network is close to capacity and even with the various improvements bring considered it will within 15 years be at maximum capacity. The Tube network is dominant within zone 1 and cross rail and its successors will still rely on passengers de training and completing the final stage of their journeys on the Tube network. In short Crossrail and co will depend on the Tube network to achieve success. They are interdependent. London Overground excellent though it is does not really address this issue as it skirts zone 1.

      Given this scenario we need to consider a second network which parallels and overlaps the Tube network. Such a network will need a significant number of stations if it is to succeed. Some if these clearly will be interchanges but it needs additional stations. Arguably given the geology and the existing infrastructure such a network will have to operate at a deeper level. Any scenario for 2050 and beyond which assumes that the current Tube network has infinite elasticity will not be fit for purpose.

      This is an uncomfortable scenario as historically our government is very slow to authorise the type of expenditure which will be necessary unlike say the Chinese who are contemplating a 1000 kilometre network for Beijing. One of the strategic issues which has to be faced is how do we finance this and ideally escape the dead hand of HM Treasury and DfT. Our current timescale for approving new lines let alone building them is far too long. I think it was timbeau pointed out how the original growth of the Tube network occurred in a very short span of time and in part that was because it was seen as financially worth the risk. Is there no way that new projects can be made sufficiently attractive to merit investment without a wholesale reliance on the public purse?

      I would also add that I think 2050 will look different but not to anything like the extent the visionaries believe. One has only to look at the film Metropolis which had railways and highways in the sky criss-crossing between the skyscrapers with lot of bi planes flirting between the buildings to realise that some things never change

    232. Reynolds 953 says:

      On car parking, I can dig out the latest figures with a bit of time, but within the inner boroughs anyway, the trend is towards increasing number of car-free households: in Hackney 65% of households are car-free, Westminster is 63% car-free and even Kensington and Chelsea, a borough that loves cars so much that it is refusing to have a cycle superhighway pass through it, 56% of households are car-free.

      Even where there is controlled parking for residents, personally I think charges are far too cheap. If I want to have a skip on my road in W4, a permit will cost me about £45 a week. If I put 4 wheels and an engine on the skip and register it as a car, a residents permit will cost just over £1 a week.

    233. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Castlebar / PoP – I have my own experience of “tedious” transactions having worked in a Travel Centre. Let’s just say I made sure I avoided inflicting tedium on other booking clerks after that. I always wrote down complex transactions allowing the clerk to whizz through the ticket issue process.

      @ CD Brux / John 0775 – some other interesting questions there about organisation, ownership, costs and who supplies what under what “market” regime. There are a myriad of further concerns thrown up depending on which answers you select in response to those questions. You also potentially arouse the concerns of civil liberties and the surveillance society if everyone is tracked in terms of their planned and then actual travel.

      There are also big questions about the reliability and robustness of inter-connected systems, how they are upgraded and when and how you avoid obsolescence or undue dislocation to people and businesses when upgrades / replacements are needed. If we keep on increasing our reliance on this technology then we risk massive issues if it were to fail. I know that the trend is to keep expanding the use of such technology but let’s progress with our eyes open and understand the implications and need for resilience / contingency. I know people are enthusiastic about this clever technology and I may be wrong to be quite so hesitant but we do still possess brains and can travel around without heads buried in our smartphone screens.

      @ Stephen C – yes the boundary issue floated across my mind earlier partly prompted by the renewed debate about devolution of SE Trains’ services and the role of Kent. You rightly ask where the boundary is and how you raise finance and who from. My train of thought was more about who decides, how are people represented and who delivers the services. Do we expand TfL?, do we get rid of it? Will central government ever properly devolve control of services that need more localised control? I know these (or variants thereof) are age old questions and history is littered with examples of different structures but they must come back into scope of the debate once people have the broad outline of where they think development of infrastructure is needed. Delivery mechanisms are something we’ve touched on before and we have examples of good and bad practice as well as recent decisions about Old Oak Common. How do you manage a decades long period of change and improvement across a vast area?

    234. Long Branch Mike (London Bridge Mike) says:

      @Reynolds 953

      Agreed that parking is far too cheap in all major cities. Its a major subsidy of cars that will be no longer sustainable given the increasing urban densities, higher gas sorry petrol prices, and the sheer need to move millions of people into and around cities every day.

      @Chris H
      I too foresee incremental changes as you mention, except for a tunneled Inner Ring Road. That would require so much more tunnel diameter dug for moving far fewer people than a CrossRail tunnel it would not get far.

    235. StephenC says:

      @WW, The issue of control is beyond just TfL though. The planning being talked about here is more than transport. My issue is that drawing up a London-only 2015 plan is missing huge problems and huge opportunities (like a new town half way up HS2).

      Personally, I think that we’ll need a TfSE (Transport for South East) covering most of the Network SouthEast area. But such a beast would be linked more to local government than railways, which is where the tension is, and why Salisbury, Bournemouth and Ipswich would probably be excluded for example. Note that I would not get rid of TfL, simply because it is an established organisation of proven competence. Government is much more likely to devolve funding to organisations with a proven track record than ones without.

      Just to note something that I’ve said before, if I were in Government I would NOT give TfL the money for Crossrail 2. Instead, I would give TfL £n billion per year of fixed funding (ideally via devolved taxation). Once TfL has that revenue stream, it has a much better opportunity of picking a sensible steam of investments than an all eggs in one basket one. Final note – this plan also requires that Westminster MPs get out of the Hybrid Bill/Transport Works Act realm.

    236. Greg Tingey says:

      Stephen C
      this plan also requires that Westminster MPs get out of the Hybrid Bill/Transport Works Act realm. And how many squadrons of pigs will have to fly before that happens? MP’s give up the opportunity to mind other people’s business?
      Do come on!

    237. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Stephen C – My use of TfL was as an example and not the sole body in scope of possible change / abolition / whatever. Clearly many other organisations could be in scope for change if it were deemed necessary to improve planning, development, construction or operation. Of course if you widen the area under consideration you also widen the scope for challenge, argument and dispute as vested interests get upset that their power base may be disrupted. Diving into detail for a moment you also get an interesting clash of regulatory regimes for bus services. I can see several operators heading straight for court if TfL were to be suggested as the “controller” of buses in Thurrock, St Albans, Kent Thamesside or Guildford.

      I like the idea of a hypothecated, regular flow of investment monies for TfL but I remain concerned that there remains historical and long standing bias within TfL about what are “suitable” transport modes for London. The other concern is that a change of Mayoral control could change the taxation level and thus the money. I accept you said “fixed” but nothing is ever fixed when it comes to public sector spending. It can always be changed.

    238. Liverpool Reconnectionist says:

      @ Richie 7/4/2014

      ” A questions for the Liverpool Reconnections site – why was Skelmersdale built while the Ormskirk to Rainford rail line was closed? ”

      Skelmersdale is in Lancashire. Have you checked out Preston Reconnections?

    239. timbeau says:

      Liverpool was also in Lancashire at the time

    240. Liverpool Reconnectionist says:

      ……..and the County borough of Lancashire was Preston 🙂

    241. Mike says:

      Re boundaries, there is the Mayor’s Wider London Boundary, which includes places such as Sevenoaks, Dartford and Hertford, defined as the area within which the Mayor has the right to make increments or decrements to National Rail services –, p23.

      Re electric boats and overhead wires, such things did exist on canals in northern France, where barges were towed by trolleytractors on the towpath, while trolley wire was slung through Harecastle canal tunnel (I think) to power electric tugs – not that either of those examples make OHLE along the Thames more likely!

      Re Preston – while it was a (not the) county borough in Lancashire, I suspect what’s meant is that it was (is?) the county town.

    242. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      Tonight on the BBC news website is a story about a Cityhedge fund manager who is alleged to have evaded £42,000 in fares because on unstaffed station at Stonegate (Sussex) . I have just cut and pasted it here


      13 April 2014 Last updated at 19:35

      Hedge fund manager ‘in £42,550 train fare dodge’
      Person using their Oyster card The senior executive is thought to have avoided paying full fares for five years

      A city executive is believed to have dodged paying £42,550 in train fares by exploiting a loophole which meant he only paid a third of the journey cost.

      The hedge fund manager from Stonegate, in East Sussex, who has not been named, had an Oyster Travelcard and regularly travelled to and from London.

      Southeastern said he commuted from Stonegate to London Bridge, where he caught another train to Cannon Street.

      His Oyster was only used at Cannon Street so he paid a maximum £7.20 fare.
      ‘Tapped out’

      The rural station at Stonegate has no ticket barriers, so the man was able to avoid “tapping in” with his Oyster card, and only “tapped out” through the barriers once he reached Cannon Street.

      He also managed to avoid ticket inspectors on the train, Southeastern said.

      The then maximum fare of £7.20 was incurred when a passenger “tapped out” through a barrier without having “tapped in”, a Southeastern spokesman said.

      The executive was eventually caught in November last year by a ticket inspector standing next to the barriers.

      He paid back the £42,550 in dodged fares, plus £450 in legal costs, within three days as part of an out-of-court settlement.

      Southeastern said it believed he had been dodging the fare for five years as his last annual season ticket from Stonegate expired in 2008 and within five days of being challenged he renewed his lapsed ticket.

      The spokesman for the company said: “We recognise that this issue is important to customers who pay their way and expect the system to treat them with fairness by acting against people who don’t buy tickets.”

    243. timbeau says:

      Surely a pattern of someone “maxing out” every day should have been noticed in weeks rather than years?

    244. Malcolm says:

      Agreed. I am also saddened (but not surprised) by the omission of any penalty element. Try to avoid a £3 fare, and you’ll be stung for a penalty fare of £20. All this person seems to have paid is the fare avoided, plus some legal costs. He may play golf with the magistrates, of course.

      Southeastern refers to “fairness” in their statement. Hmm.

    245. Walthamstow Writer says:

      Clearly we’re very off topic but I don’t like the subtle inference that somehow there is a flaw with Oyster. Oyster isn’t used for out boundary season tickets but the BBC have to make reference to “not tapping in” at Stonegate even though it’s a complete irrelevance. If the Beeb are using a South Eastern press release for this story then South Eastern need to educate their PR people. I also agree with Timbeau’s observation about someone not paying proper attention to Oyster data with max fares being paid daily for years on end. That is the sort of *very* basic analysis that Oyster and gate data allow you to do and the system allows the card to be flagged if required. No one should be able to get away with fraud for *5* years to a value of £43k and I know what I’d be doing if I was in charge of South Eastern trains.

    246. GW says:

      PoP/Castlebar South Tottenham in early 1990s. Me: “The XX:XX Silverlink departure calling at all stations to Barking has been cancelled.” Passengers on down platform sigh and slowly wander off………..all except a woman who is standing right opposite the signal box. I go to the window again.
      Me: “The next Barking train is cancelled, you’ve got a half an hour wait for the next one.”
      Woman snaps back: “I’m not going to Barking, I’m going to Forest Gate!”

    247. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      @ W W

      Sorry, but when I posted about this “Stonegate” case, I didn’t think we were at all ‘very off topic’

      There is no point in running a system which has funding requirements, if revenue sources are being evaded. The detections systems need to be in place now to provide funds for 2050,

      If there is a continual “Leave the gates open/can’t be bothered attitude” the Revenue lost could provide incorrect CBR figures.

      Hypothetically, Let’s suppose there was an attempt to close Stonegate station because of insufficient use. Yes, if “customers” are travelling free, it will affect the statistics.

    248. Greg Tingey says:

      I can see several operators heading straight for court if TfL were to be suggested as the “controller” of buses in Thurrock, St Albans, Kent Thamesside or Guildford.
      Oh, a revival of “London Country” buses – dark green RT’s you mean?
      Like THIS perhaps? We should be so lucky!

    249. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Castlebar – I think we must agree to differ. The article is about planning for 2050 and not the minutiae of a fraud case that South Eastern have decided to trumpet despite the fact it makes them look (IMO) incompetent. I recognise we have a lot of thread drift in the comments on this blog but I just felt we were veering a long way from *strategic* themes for 2050.

      Let’s be clear – you will never raise the revenue needed for the likely scale of investment from the farebox alone no matter how high the fares and how tight you “turn the screws” on fare evasion. Revenue protection used to be my area of expertise and I recognised a long time ago that you will never achieve 100% revenue take with no leakage or fraud. We already know ORR’s station usage data is wrong so I’m not sure what your point is about closing Stonegate. I think we can probably safely assume that no one knows what the real number of people travelling is nor what the proper revenue base of the railway should be (assuming everybody did pay the “right” fare). Business cases will typically use the revenue that is actually recorded by Rail Settlement Plan (RSP) not some notional view as to what it might be. Only projects designed to reduce fraud will use some estimate of revenue evaded and that should really come from a fraud model or similar that uses data collected from ticket checks, penalty fares levels etc. Clearly that relies on there being regular checks, reliable ticket inspection / evasion data and operational research expertise to pull it together. That’s what LU do. I am unclear how the TOCs, with their short term view, handle such research or whether RSP do it on their behalf.

      Anyway this is a matter for PoP and JB – neither of us are blog moderators so they can decide if you, I or both of us are on the “naughty step” over our posts and use the delete button as required.

    250. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      @ W W

      I don’t think we do really differ that much

      Why I feel that Revenue Protection is relevant to the thread (and that is my opinion), is because we are talking about services and infrastructure needed for 2050, and I maintain that not enough emphasis is being placed on money seepage such as the Stonegate case. And if few people pay at a particular location, services are reduced as the numbers who actually pay don’t justify the service provision

      That is why I am adamant that more be done to stop seepage. Why should taxpayers and other non-users pay for services that users are not paying for. People with get away with what they can, and how much money “lost”, do you feel is satisfactory? On another BBC site today I see a man caught with a 2011 season ticket said “He thought is still was 2011”.

      I want good good rail services now and in 2050, funded as far as possible by the people who make use of them

    251. timbeau says:

      “I can see several operators heading straight for court if TfL were to be suggested as the “controller” of buses in Thurrock, St Albans, Kent Thamesside or Guildford.”
      I would have thought they would love the guaranteed income received on the TfL contract model – whether the councillors of the local authorities would welcome London interference, or London council taxpayers would want to subsidise buses in Guildford, is more debatable.

    252. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Castlebar – it is not for me to define what is “satisfactory” in terms of revenue loss. I am merely of the opinion that achieving zero leakage is impossible given that both human intervention and technology are prone to failure of some sort. People who do not want to pay will always find a way not to do so. Further there is a part of society that consider fare evasion on public transport “fair game” but who would never shoplift from a shop. I would also question your stance about future investment being “funded as far as possible” by users. That has some potential downsides in terms of fare levels for any new infrastructure and could mean that valuable other funding or subsidy would not be sought even where non user benefits would justify such support. I recognise this a political question but I do support subsidy or non user contributions where there are wider societal benefits.

      @ Timbeau – I know for a fact that Ensignbus have zero interest in running under a TfL regime or one with excessive political intervention. If we look at the ongoing saga of Nexus vs the Bus Operators in Tyne and Wear we can see precisely what the reaction is to trying to “grab” businesses by the public sector. Your point on funding is well made and I cannot see any extended TfL bus regime operating on the same generous basis as now. You’d immediately get a mismatch of expectations against reality. I also believe that any funding settlement for such an extension would inevitably result in London’s funding being compromised meaning London’s services would be cut in order to fund a better service outside London. That would inevitably cause resentment in London plus you certainly run the “political representation” risk that blighted the devolution of South Eastern inner suburban trains. Can you imagine the outrage of Dartford’s MP if TfL took over the entire local bus network? [And yes I do understand the 96, 428 and 492 wander through Dartford]. All those horrible Oyster cards and frequent bus services! 😉

    253. I think we have now got to the point where discussion on fare dodging has gone way beyond any relevance to 2050 so I have deleted the latest comment to appear about it and proposed to do the same to any future ones.

    254. stimarco says:


      “I want good good rail services now and in 2050, funded as far as possible by the people who make use of them”

      The vast majority of bus users rarely use more than a handful of bus routes, yet there are literally hundreds of routes; why should people pay to subsidise a railway serving northwest London if they only ever use trains in the southeast?

      And what about the businesses that benefit from all this expensive infrastructure? Shouldn’t they contribute towards such services too?

      And how about the people in London who also benefit indirectly from new transport infrastructure? Should they not also put a few pennies of their own into the community pot?

      No major city can function without decent infrastructure and the transport networks are part of that. All people who live, work and trade in said city benefit from all of its infrastructure, whether they use it directly, or benefit from the effects of other people using it.

      So why should it be only the end users who pay? We don’t charge road users by the mile. We don’t demand private cyclists touch-in and touch-out with their Oyster cards if they choose to use a publicly-funded road. London’s cycle lanes may be pointed and laughed at by the Dutch and the Danes, but they still cost money to install, and require regular ongoing maintenance too. And when oh when are we going to start charging all those pedestrians for crossing those expensive Thames bridges? Surely we should be copying the Dartford Model all the way across London and tolling every bridge!

      If any city wants to attract more businesses and the workers they need, the onus is on the city itself to ensure it provides the necessary infrastructure to support that goal. That means all its citizens need to reach into their pockets and pay. If it’s unwilling to put its own money where its great big mouth is, it’s more than welcome to lose businesses to other, more enlightened, locations that have a clue about the value of long-term infrastructure planning and investment.

    255. Nathanael says:

      Thinking about through-routing, it seems to me that the services from Kent are the most in need of through-routing — you can’t really get to anywhere north of London from Kent without going through London.

      Unfortunately it is probably too difficult now to simply run tunnels from Cannon Street to Moorgate, due to various decisions made in the past.

    256. Graham H says:

      @stimarco – you are right, of course. What is not so apparent to the casual observer is that public transport is the playground of economist geeks. The end user should pay for public transport because it is easy to organise, whereas for road end users it’s much more difficult. And once it becomes easy, then it’s time for the theorists to try out their ideas at the practical expense of those who actually use the system. (I have bored people on this forum before with tales of Treasury economist idiocy and so won’t repeat myself, but it is essentially the same mind set as that seen amongst Competition Commission – or whatever it’s called this week – the people who argue that it’s in our interest to have deliberately uncoordinated bus timetables, for instance, or that the interavailability of bank cards in cash machines is an evil which must be stopped. Remember, the Whitehall definition of a Treasury economist is someone who sees something working in practice and asks himself why it doesn’t work in theory…).

      Could write you a short essay on the futility of the Treasury crusade against cross-subsidy, but won’t.

    257. answer=42 says:

      There are some serious questions raised in the excellent article that have not been properly addressed in the discussion.

      Let’s list the problems that have been discussed:
      1) London needs more radial transport capacity both to access the central area and its new satellites: Docklands, South Bank, Old Oak Common and probably some more developers’ dreams.
      2) We know there is a problem with car ownership / personal transport in inner London that needs a technological step change.
      3) The private car is still the primary mode of transport in outer London, except for access to the central area/satellites. Its modal share must diminish considerably as housing density increases. More buses are not the only answer.
      4) More housing will be needed outside the GLA area and more rail transport capacity from these places to central London & satellites. Where this capacity will come from is not at all obvious.

      The solutions proposed – 2nd tube / using non-existent underused rail lines – are massively insufficient.

      As I said in my previous post, competitiveness requires that development and infrastructure remain cheap. We also know that the present trend for increasing demand for transport related to increasing London employment will end at some point. Don’t know when. No-one wants to be left with underused infrastructure that has to be paid for. Political decision-making is unlikely to get hugely better (though it surely can’t continue to be as bad as it has been these last few years).

      In the light of these considerations, I give you a few ideas to discuss concerning problem 1: increasing rail capacity to access central London & satellites. Cheaply.

      1. Longitudinal only seats on the Underground. Very cheap capacity. Larger standing areas around the doors. Maybe just a few seats to remain for elderly / children etc. (take it easy, Greg.)

      2. By 2050, there will be only two more Crossrails. No politician will sign for Crossrail 2 until there are 2 years’ passenger figures for Xrail 1. Hence Xrail 2 starts 2020, completion 2030. Repeat the process for Xrail 3: sign in 2032, open 2042.

      3. New Xrails will be double-deck – maybe even Xrail 1 will be converted by 2050.

      4. Greater use of underused or non-used railways. But no big deal.

      5. Tubes massively overcrowded, so the only solution is longer trains, longer platforms and really good brakes to stop the trains sliding down the humps. What about station capacity? Ration it where it is too expensive / takes to long to build additional entrances. Overcrowded stations become exit only in the morning, entry only in the evening rush. Who said anything about passenger convenience / travel speed?

      What we need to be doing right now is to realise that all the new South Bank developments under construction are going to cause a massive access problem. The problems identified in the LR article ‘Blackfriars: Safeguarding The Future’ must be dealt with. Some of the readers here might have some ideas about what can be done. Perhaps there is scope for an article about the South Bank transport issue to get the ball rolling?

    258. Jim Cobb says:

      @Graham H – “Could write you a short essay on the futility of the Treasury crusade against cross-subsidy, but won’t.”
      If it is related to transport, it sounds like a future article for London Reconnections 🙂

      So how do you ensure future transport infrastructure is practical and relevant to the needs of the city rather than the plaything of economist geeks ? The London 2050 study is just the sort of thing to attract that kind of “specialist” to the detriment of the users of the solutions.

    259. answer=42 says:

      Actually, transverse seating is already all gone / almost so. But you get the point.

    260. Greg Tingey says:

      “New Towns” outside London.
      Something in past two days about putting them “Along the Oxford-Cambridge line” (not meaning the railway line, of course! ) ….
      But, these towns will also require rail access to London & away from London … unless, of course we are really going to re-open the GCR & turn Marylebone into a proper 8-platform terminus (by knocking down the flats … Then where are you going to put said towns, & where are the rail-routes to carry the people going to go?

      Like deliberately removing every single piece of integrated cross-subsidised structure the railways had, in fits of spite, stupidity & ignorance?
      Hotels, shipping, integrated road transport services [ The LNE & GW were particularly good at that. ] Red Star Parcels, etc ad nauseam

    261. stimarco says:


      “1) London needs more radial transport capacity both to access the central area and its new satellites: Docklands, South Bank, Old Oak Common and probably some more developers’ dreams.”

      What London needs is better segregation of services. And not just rail either, though there’s an entire website’s worth of blog posts on that alone.

      Bus lanes need to be an order of magnitude better than they already are, instead of the current system of having them randomly swap sides and even disappearing entirely at junctions. If necessary, only allow vehicles with suitable permits to use particularly congested roads.

      If this means cyclists have to go (literally) round the houses because there’s no room for both bus and cycle lanes on a particular section, then so be it. One advantage bicycles have over buses is that they tend to make a lot less noise and emit fewer particulates, so creating dedicated cycle routes along some residential streets actually makes more sense than diverting double-decker buses down them instead.

      Short of demolition of entire High Streets on a massive scale, there’s just no way to squeeze all modes down many of south London’s high streets, so segregation is the only viable solution here.

      Radial routes are a problem once you get into the TfL Zone 1/2 area as neither the road and rail networks have the capacity to handle it all. South London’s rail network is particularly congested as all services – local metro, regional traffic and inter-city – all share the same infrastructure with very little true segregation provided. It’s like running the express trains from Kings Cross to Edinburgh over the Northern Line: you can’t do that and retain a 30 tph. intensive metro service over the same tracks at the same time. Something has to give.

      So we come back to segregation. It’s not physically possible to have every bus and train entering London serve the City, the West End, Canary Wharf, and the other key destinations, so we need to ensure interchanging is as painless as possible.

      In my view, this means we need to start thinking in terms of a grid approach, not a purely radial one. Ideally with greatly improved orbital connections in the outer Zones too. That can be done using light rail, such as on-street trams. That will in turn reduce car use.

      Finally, it should be noted that commuting by private car is dwarfed by commuting by public transport: London’s commuters tend to prefer mass transit solutions already and have done so for generations. Those who commute to London today by private vehicle are often doing so for a reason – e.g. lift, HVAC and office maintenance crews, who have to bring their own tools and equipment to site; bus and train drivers heading in for a very early shift (i.e. when no public transport is running – or, at least, none where they happen to live) and so on.

      There will therefore always be a need for some private vehicle use. The trick is to keep that figure as low as possible, but it will probably never be zero.

    262. Mark Townend says:

      @Nathanael, 14 April 2014 at 22:42

      “. . . you can’t really get to anywhere north of London from Kent without going through London.”

      But where in particular beyond London do men of Kent or indeed Kentish men (or women) wish to go? They already have excellent direct interchange with ECML and MML services at Kings Cross – St. Pancras via the HS1 domestic services, which avoids using the tube or bus to cross London, but seems to demand the premium going this way for any through fare where the northern destination is within the former Network SE area, whilst the routing is allowed without premium for longer journeys. Kent will also get a much improved interchange to Thameslink following London Bridge reconstruction and the increase in services going that way. I’m not arguing that Kent should’t be part of some future Crossrail, but the primary purpose from a cross London journey point of view is connectivity to the other routes, as any particular radial pairing of routes is only going to meet the needs of a fairly small number of through passengers.

    263. Windsorian says:

      @ Greg Tingey

      unless, of course we are really going to re-open the GCR & turn Marylebone into a proper 8-platform terminus (by knocking down the flats …

      or developing the Chiltern Lines (after electrification) as another XR launch point.

    264. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Stimarco – the problem with chucking the cyclists down the back streets is that they don’t want to go there. They want the fastest most direct routes but with segregation and priority on the main roads. They’re no different from anyone else in wishing to get from a to b as fast as possible. We can try to go into “dictator” mode but I rather feel it won’t work. It’s like saying to people in the Olympic Park “please don’t walk on our nice flowers” when the nice flowers on the most direct route between a lower and upper pathway. Result – trampled flowers and ignored sign. You see the same lunacy when people design pedestrian access to big supermarkets. Look where the bus stops and then spot the muddy pathway / destroyed fencing or hedging where people have created their own path. I never understand why planners and designers get this wrong so many times. Have they never heard of the “principle of least effort”?

      While I understand your segregation argument I really don’t agree with it. I also don’t agree with dismanting existing service patterns in order to move to a grid pattern with mass enforced interchange. People value direct services and while Londoners have to accept higher levels of interchange in order to get about than in many other places I don’t believe they’d accept a significant loss of direct services even if there were compensatory increases in frequency on some connecting links. London’s traffic is too volatile to be able to offer guaranteed connections between road based services. We’re not Zurich and are never likely to be.

      We certainly do need better interchanges although we don’t have the land in a lot of places. We also have the proposed lunacy that the excellent bus station at Vauxhall is to be demolished with bus stops resited at various places around the road layout (as they used to be at Vauxhall). All this to allow umpteen tower blocks to be built on the bus station site. TfL have said a lot of fine words about interchanges for many years but I’d content it is one of their weakest areas of actual delivery. Some places have been improved but many plans have been shelved in the face of spending cuts. Further a lot of bus stop locations have been moved permanently or temporarily thus significantly worsening interchange opportunities. Tottenham Court Road is a good example of convenient interchange havinge been worsened but you can’t build massive Crossrail stations without having big holes in the ground!

    265. Ben Phillips says:

      If Boris gets his way with his airport in the thames idea then by 2050 it could be a spaceport for space planes going up to space stations or even the moon! for holidays and work! If we’ve left the EU under UKIP then we could have a joint commonwealth base up there instead of an European base. So maybe the mayor does have the right idea? Which means London role as a transport hub will have yet another importance! So in theory will need it?

    266. Graham H says:

      @Ben Phillips – it’s touching to think that the Commonwealth will still mean something in 2050 when it is pretty well meaningless now. If we leave the EU, I can’t see the Ozzies rushing to greet us with open arms, can you?

    267. Ben Phillips says:

      @Graham H it will take time but if you look at France and Germany during the early day’s of the EU they had to come out of a war and didn’t greet eachother with open arms but look at them now, like best best friends running the club so in a space of 30 years a lot can change so don’t give up hope on the Commonwealth just yet!

    268. Milton Clevedon says:

      @ Ben Phillips
      15 April 2014 at 20:22
      Dan Dare used to take off from Heathrow in ‘Eagle’ comic, before any rail connections whatsoever – I assume they used the A4 Great West Road extension.
      Presumably Boris will now want him to take off in Anastasia from Thamesrow, along with Algernon and his Lancastrian auntie.

    269. Graham H says:

      @Ben Phillips – {O Moderators, forgive us for thread drift for we know not what we do…] but we have really nothing in common with the Commonwealth any longer. The old Commonwealth was based on colonisation and the fading light of empire. That rightly means nothing to today’s Oz, Kiwi or Canadian. Family ties are at best third generation – do you keep in touch with your second cousins twice removed? Half the population of these places comes from Asia or Africa. Nor do we buy “empire” products – wheat, mutton, jute – we all threw away those geography textbooks c1970. What is the basis of association which is stronger than, say, our trade ties with Germany (not in the Commonwealth) or Ireland (not in the Commonwealth). Maybe a lingering aura of having fought the second world war together, but by 2050, anyone who did that will be long dead.

      BTW why doesn’t Canada (and the other old Commonwealth countries) join the EU? Complementary trade, shared values, same cultural heritage.

    270. Graham H says:

      LBM will have to forgive the previous post – I think we treated the Commonwealth shabbily in 1976 but there is no going backwards – international relationships don’t work like that.

    271. Castlebar 1 says:


      He probably used the West London Air terminal and got to LHR in a BEA coach

    272. Graham H says:

      @Castlebar – a bit too ’60s, surely? How about from the air terminal at Waterloo, possibly in a C class ?

    273. timbeau says:

      “If necessary, only allow vehicles with suitable permits to use particularly congested roads. If this means cyclists have to go (literally) round the houses because there’s no room for both bus and cycle lanes on a particular section, then so be it.”
      That’s all very well until you realise that all these vehicles, cycles included, are not just out for a spin but trying to get from A to B. The road that passes my workplace happens to be part of the A40. How can I cycle (or walk) to work if those modes of transport are barred from that particular street?

    274. Mike says:

      *Off topic warning*

      Graham H – you seem to think that migration within the Commonwealth stopped several generations back, but it’s very much alive and kicking, with current-generation links common. (Of course, there are many people without those links, too.) Family and cultural ties are still very strong – it’s not that long ago that kiwis referred to Britain as “home”, and the current downunder Royal Visit dominates the news in NZ. All over by 2050? Claptrap!

    275. Milton Clevedon says:

      @GH, @Castlebar

      [Desperately trying to pull the thread back on course…] Motorbikes were popular for work and play in the 50s – NB: Eagle no.1 was published on 14th April 1950, so had its 64th birthday this Monday. Can just imagine DD hurtling to Heathrow on a BSA (Sir Hubert: “Dare, get here pronto, the Mekon is making a bid to be Mayor of London”), and possibly the auntie was a bit of a tigress too, she and Digby were fra’ Wigan after all.

      These days of course, m/cs have become ptws – powered two wheelers – and could be space-friendly (road-space that is) and quick for some journeys to work in 2050, for a few percent of the annual travel volume. Noise and emissions would hopefully be better managed…

    276. Castlebar 1 says:

      @ Milton

      Eureka!! You have solved the puzzle

      Digby drove the m/c, and DD was in the sidecar. He dropped him at Hounslow West where he completed his journey via a 81B bus

      Nonetheless, the Mekon succeeded in his attempt to become Mayor of London.

    277. Mohammed Rahman says:

      What would be the impact of a spaceport near London in the Thames in 2050 and beyond? There will be High Speed 1 giving direct links to London and Kent and Crossrail 1 giving a direct link to Canary Wharf and The City and West End and good plane transfer and coach and road and cycle links. But there will need to be better Cross Country links to the rest of England and Wales (Scotland can build it own) so I do worder if High Speed 2 will be pushed on due to this? Will a branch of Crossrail 2 or a Crossrail 3 be needed to take the load of Crossrail 1 from here?

    278. Graham H says:

      @Mohammed Rahman – Spaceports? They MUST have their own monorail connexion, of course… although I seem to remember that the Mekon had a natty little flying dish to sit on with an unknown propulsion system*. More seriously, you are right to raise the point about Bozza island airport being out on a limb so far as connexions to anywhere but London are concerned; there’s no sign that the issue has even been considered by the island’s proponents.

      *Probably another Alstom “fix”…

    279. Castlebar 1 says:


      The Mekon’s dish worked by Maglev. The graphene used was so fine that it didn’t pixellate sufficiently for the Eagle


    280. Ben Phillips says:

      @Graham H he does also rise the point that that way things are going with space then we will indeed see more spaceplanes going up to more private stations and private moon bases? 2050 is an awful long way and there already plans to send people to Mars by 2023 to live there? There is in talks of the first UK spaceport being in Northern Ireland so if that goes well then maybe there will be some space for one in the Boris Island giving it could run 24 hours and there not a lot or people who live near it

    281. Castlebar 1 says:

      @ Ben Phillips

      You said, “… and there already plans to send people to Mars by 2023 to live there?”

      When do nominations open?

      PS. If anyone puts me on the ‘naughty step’ again, they’re going on that list!

    282. Ben Phillips says:

      @Castebar1 haha people have indeed been nominated for it after they sign up to it. It’s going to be a reality TV show with cameras filming them! The project being led by a Dutch company! Like a Big Brother in space only it never ends! Guess this is to get funding for it. But the risk of going off one I will stop!

      But I do think that Boris Island will need better cross country links for both air and future space (Virgin) planes!

    283. straphan says:

      @WW: As a cycle commuter, I couldn’t agree more. With the slight exception that I don’t mind backstreets – I do, however, mind cycle chicanes and shared paths with child buggies (and children playing on the pavement) and dogs on leashes.

      To reiterate my argument from another thread: my door-to-door commute by bike is 30 minutes. The same with tube is 30-35 minutes uncongested, or 40-45 minutes congested (i.e. cannot board first train that comes along). My bike cost £800 of which I will get about 1/3 back through Cyclescheme. The bike will last me about 3 years with another £200-300 expenditure for maintenance. An annual season for Zones 1-2 currently costs £1256 and will grow every year. I do of course use PAYG on weekends, but I spend maybe £60 per month and a lot of it is outside Zones 1-2 (i.e. I’d have to pay it anyway).

      All in all – cycling for me is both cheaper and faster than tube – and more convenient. This probably is the case for a lot of people living in Zones 1 and 2, provided you installed showers and lockers at their workplaces. Take away the ‘faster’ aspect of it and I would reconsider mu options – especially in the colder months when I don’t sweat like a pig when on the tube and cycling isn’t as pleasant as in the Spring/Summer.

    284. Long Branch Mike (Long Bus Maps) says:

      Can we keep the space vehicle/space port and technutopian comments off this blog please? This is not the place for such discussion.

    285. Jonathan Roberts says:

      The House of Commons Library today published a summary note on Garden Cities, following the Government’s proposal in the 2014 Budget to support a new 15,000 homes (about 40,000 population) Garden City at Ebbsfleet in Kent, on the periphery of London. Garden Cities are referenced in the London 2050 planning material as another option in accommodating the expected population growth by 2050.

      The HoC Library link is attached here:

      Further, it is worth considering that if housing development in London doesn’t keep pace with growth in the workforce, demand for daily travel from the ‘Home Counties’ and further is likely to increase dramatically.

    286. stimarco says:

      @Walthamstow Writer (and others):

      ” – the problem with chucking the cyclists down the back streets is that they don’t want to go there. They want the fastest most direct routes but with segregation and priority on the main roads. “

      Last time I checked, there were a heck of a lot more residential roads in London than High Streets. An unavoidable side-effect of all that low-density terraced housing.

      Something has to yield and running cars and vans and HGVs down a quiet residential street is going to have a lot more people up in arms than simply pointing cyclists down there instead.

      In many cases, cyclists might even get to their destinations more quickly than is currently the case as they’d no longer be weaving their way down narrow congested shopping streets full of pedestrian crossings and traffic lights. (You cyclists reading this do all obey traffic signals like the good Highway Code followers that you are, right?)

      Because it’s pretty much one or the other. The only other alternative is to get the bulldozers out and start unleashing the Grimshaws and Foster + Partners of the world on large swathes of London.

      If London is to function at all in its present form, compromises are going to be inevitable. A litre into a pint glass won’t fit and we haven’t quite gotten to the stage where we can start rewriting the laws of physics.

      Something’s got to give. And it’s going to have to do so sooner, not later.

    287. AlisonW says:

      Something prompted by an earlier comment, but should Scotland [snip PoP] decide to leave the UK then the full extent of HS would become an international line, which poses the funding question.

      I agree with stimarco that something major will need to change (a step-change not just a step-plate) and wonder if a realistic look at freight could be the impetus for that. Not just the long-distance transportation (routing through / around / under London) but the ‘last mile’ issue. Arguably removing large trucks from streets is actually a benefit of separated shopping ‘zones’ outside the central area.

    288. timbeau says:

      ” – the problem with chucking the cyclists down the back streets is that they don’t want to go there. They want the fastest most direct routes but with segregation and priority on the main roads. “

      Last time I checked, there were a heck of a lot more residential roads in London than High Streets.”
      My daily cycle commute does follow back streets where I can, (and last week a cyclist was killed on one of the junctions I am able to bypass) but:
      – at present one of those back streets m has been closed for a year for building works, with a diversion on to the parallel A road – this despite it being part of national Cycle Route 4:
      – no “back streets” cross the River Thames
      – my route ends on the A40

      Thus I have to use A roads for three sections at the beginning, middle and end of the journey.

    289. Anonymous 57 says:

      “should Scotland go crazy and decide to leave the UK”.

      “loonies” was clipped earlier today, can this go as well?

      Or shall we just have a free for all?

      [No definitely not a free for all. I have now removed that part of the comment. If we do see an upsurge in derogatory statements of no value we will have to be harsher with comments and just delete the entire comment. PoP]

    290. Long Branch Mike 1 says:

      @Anonymous 57

      You are quite right, we prefer to avoid inflammatory language and and especially political issues, lest it spark off emotions that distract from the serious transport discussion (and challenge the very essence of sang froid 😉 on this blog. I very much doubt that Alison meant any discord with her comment, but we should all endeavour to stay clear of potentially inflammatory comments.

      I am sure that when PoP awakens from his well deserved slumber he shall add his 2 bits (roughly 20p at today’s rate).

    291. stimarco says:


      I have suggested greater use of residential / “back” streets for cyclists, but this does not mean that no cyclists would ever be allowed on any trunk route, ever.

      The idea is to favour non-trunk routes that are more suitable for cycling, rather than simply throwing everything down the same stretch of main road, regardless of whether that actually makes any sense.

      To pick an example: the A21 through Bellingham, south of Catford, is one of the few examples of a dual carriageway in that part of London. However, if you follow it through Lewisham, you’ll notice that it merges into the A20 in Lewisham, where it gets notably narrower. The A20, in turn, then merges with the A2 near New Cross Gate station, where the road is even narrower still.

      While nailing a dedicated, segregated cycle lane along the A21 through Bellingham may be feasible, it’s a lot less feasible as you get close to Lewisham’s town centre, where the road reverts to the old country lane it originally was. So where do you send the cyclists? One option would be to send them off towards Ladywell Fields, skirting its edge before crossing the B236 (Brockley Lane) briefly to get at Algernon Road. That gets you all the way to Loampit Vale / Loampit Hill, bypassing the town centre entirely, but retaining access to the latter via Elmira Street if desired. And no need to demolish anything. Or, at least, nothing expensive. Algernon Road’s junction with the B236 is a bit tricky, but not unusually so.

      There are plenty of alternatives of varying expense, but that’s just one example where residential streets can provide a viable route for cyclists for very little expense. Note, too, that Algernon Road is part of a grid of residential streets, which makes setting up one-way systems here for cars a viable option, allowing for a smoother cycling experience without any need for expensive civil engineering works.

      This is probably the only way London will ever get anything close to a proper “Cycle Superhighway” worthy of the name.

    292. Castlebar 1 says:

      The Great West Road around Osterley, (and I believe parts of the Uxbridge Road at Hayes End too, but stand to be corrected), were built with cycle lanes on each side.

      They then became convenient car parks for local residents and cyclists needs were ignored. I think that suck cycle lanes have also been found to be convenient “land take” for subsequent road widening schemes.

      They were there. Now they are needed for their original purpose, but the land has ‘gone’. (Reminds me of some closed railway lines)

    293. timbeau says:

      Of course a Lewisham bypass for cyclists is a good idea, provided it is reasonably direct and easy to find – not just a “collection of signposts” like the South Circular road, where any one missed (or missing) can make route finding a lost cause. But cyclists still need some provision in Lewisham town centre – unlikely as it may seem, some cyclists actually want to go TO Lewisham, rather than through it or past it.

    294. Castlebar 1 says:

      Of Course, the above should read “such cycle lanes”, but I admit to a hangover.

    295. Rostopher says:


      You are facing the familiar problem of trying to fit cycling in around what is currently in place on the roads – which inevitably leads to the fiddly back-street routes you suggest or cycling on congested main streets. Neither of which are ideal, and leads to the pitiful uptake of cycling outside the young, fit and central.

      If you are to prioritise cycling, then it should follow the most direct routes (as you are much more sensitive to distance on a bike than in something that’s powered). I don’t know the example you raise in detail, but why should it be that cars (a much less efficient use of road space) should be allowed to drive straight through a town centre but cycles are sent around the houses?

      To be vaguely related to the topic: one way that could boost the capacity of the roads for people, would be to install a range of selective filters – allowing buses and cycles through certain routes, but not other vehicles. There’s a pretty serious proposal floating around for the “Clerkenwell Boulevard” which would remove non-bus traffic from Old Street/Theobalds Road between Old Street Roundabout and TCR. If this is successful, maybe the example can be rolled out more widely

    296. straphan says:

      @Rostopher: I think I agree… I’d also add that it’s not really the congested roads that are the biggest problem for cyclists – it’s the busy junctions. That’s where the lethal accidents tend to happen most often, and that’s where cyclists simply get in the way of other traffic – no matter how fit you are, you will always have better acceleration in four wheels than in two. To add to this issue: roundabouts are generally the most difficult and dangerous junctions for cyclists to traverse – yet they are the ones that have been proven to be the most efficient form of large junctions for other traffic.

      Thus, I think in the first instance the issue that needs to be tackled is routing cyclists away from other traffic at dangerous junctions. Doing so in such a way that does not involve steep gradients or long detours (you rightly point out that distance and directness of routes are more important for cyclists than for other road users) is very challenging. You only need to look at Elephant & Castle – the superhighway detour avoiding the roundabout isn’t very long (but it is twisty and requires you to stop and give way in a few places) and you therefore still get a large number of cyclists using the roundabout. Also, the detour does nothing much for people coming in from the Old Kent Road or the parallel cycle route (Route 22) which – due to the amount of traffic and lack of any rapid transit lines – is a cycling hotspot.

      The problem with British cities and cycling is that they (a) have a relatively low density of building; and (b) terrace housing generally leads to narrow streets with sharp curves and long detours. Add to that the fact, that London is cris-crossed by canals and railways, and the picture isn’t pretty.

      I think there is only so much you can do before sending in the wrecking balls. Whereas it is integrating cycling into urban planning as far back as the 60s and 70s is what makes Holland, Germany and Denmark the most cycle-friendly places. Thing is, though, people living in cities expect a low-rise apartment with communal green space and segregated car and cycle+pedestrian routes. The British on the other hand expect a house with a small garden and space to park their car on their doorstep – even if they live in Zone 2 in London!

    297. stimarco says:


      Actually, cars are already diverted onto Molesworth Street round the back of Lewisham’s shopping centre – a particularly bland example of late ’70s architecture – where the access ramps to the multi-storey car park above it are to be found.

      The old high street was pedestrianised a long time ago, with limited access to vehicles other than buses provided via Lewis Grove. (Like Penge, WW2 was not kind to Lewisham. The postwar years were even less so.)

      As an ex-resident of the area, I’d be more than happy to see the 1970s entire town centre buildings razed to the ground completely; a nice, deep, stacked, multi-platform station box built below ground on the site to replace the existing, rather crap, station, and a brand new, less depressing, shopping area built on top. Cost? £Lots, but, oh god, it’d solve so many of the area’s transport problems. And not just rail-related ones, either. But I’ve discussed that at tedious length before, so I’ll shut up about it now.

      I understand your point about cyclists preferring more direct routes, and I admit that this part of southeast London also suffers from being a river valley with some pretty stiff gradients (Vicar’s Hill, off Algernon Road, is a particularly punishing route for the small midi-buses that serve it). Even so, I did point out that you can get into the town centre through the regenerated Cornmill Gardens area via Elmira Street, off Algernon Road. That gets you right into the town centre.

      However, any cyclist wanting to get from Catford to New Cross and into the City currently has to negotiate two congested roundabouts and junctions just to get through Lewisham’s town centre. Avoiding that area entirely makes a lot more sense for such riders. Some hills here are going to be unavoidable given that Loampit Vale/Hill and Lewisham Way climb up and down the side of the valley, but there are a number of residential roads that can be used to keep cyclists away from the very busy A20 itself, such as Brookbank Road (an easier gradient than Vicars Hill), which gets you up to Hilly Fields park. From there, you can get all the way to Brockley, and most of the way to New Cross without touching any major trunk roads at all.

      That’s really my point: we tend to focus on trunk roads like the A2 and A20 for motorised vehicles because, originally, they were literally surrounded by open countryside, so there wasn’t much choice. And people tended to want to get to town centres.

      But that’s no longer the case today: while we don’t have many parallel trunk roads in London, it’s often not hard to find roughly parallel minor roads through residential areas. Sending motor vehicles down these isn’t going to win many votes, but bicycles are a much easier sell. Even if a house or two has to be knocked down to provide a reasonably direct route, this is still likely to be an order of magnitude cheaper than knocking down entire rows of housing and shops for a road widening scheme.

      We do have road space we can use to segregate some of our modes. Even that should go a long way towards easing congestion. Though this would, naturally, be only one part of a holistic solution.

    298. Paying Guest says:

      @ Castlebar1 – I rather preferred the first version. I spent a very pleasant quarter of an hour musing over whether a suck cycle was an inanimate object in some way related to a bicycle or a motor cycle, or alternatively whether it was related to the otto cycle or the carnot cycle – or indeed any other thermodynamic cycle. Maybe an abbreviation for the old suck/squeeze/bang/blow description of the 4 stroke engine.

    299. Castlebar 1 says:

      I can foresee a time, perhaps it will be 2050, when all parking within the whole M25 area, except private and perhaps supermarket car parks, will have to be paid for.

      Other towns/cities (Bath, Brighton, Oxford etc) might even bring it in before London

    300. timbeau says:

      “If you are to prioritise cycling, then it should follow the most direct routes (as you are much more sensitive to distance on a bike than in something that’s powered). ”
      One example of this which is being done on a small scale is to have contra-flow cycle lanes: cars have to go the long way round the one way system but cycles are permitted in both directions
      https:[email protected],-0.30109,3a,37.5y,210.4h,75.15t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s4QQWtWJdIDztdqQP-hiHZw!2e0 .
      But there are some stupidities – the Bloomsbury Way contraflow bus lane used to be barred to cycles: and a few days after the police were out enforcing it, a cyclist died at the High Holborn/Kingsway junction the contraflow lane avoids.
      Suddenly the lane was opened to cyclists

    301. Long Branch Mike 1 says:


      Certainly a less right mayor could levy a fee on adding new parking spaces, given the heavy costs to keep the auto infrastructure and pollution mitigation operational.

    302. The expected population increase is staggering. One need to remember that this needs to be combined with a previous failure to keep up with past increases. We are also approaching the limit of how we can increase capacity on existing tube lines. Furthermore it is seemingly be the case that, far from reducing the need to travel, the dull repetitive jobs are going away and modern business needs more face-to-face human interaction. So we really need to think dramatically.

      Considering the case of deep level tubes I think we need to to introduce two further amateur crayonistae -the Contractador and the Duplicatador.

      The Contractador argues that tubes already go out further than they should do and are already ridiculously overloaded after just a few stops of their journey. They are disappointed that Greathead’s idea of deliberately building them with a small diameter to prevent people being tempted to combined them with existing overground lines did not work. They believe that these lines do not serve the inner suburbs properly as the trains are all full by the time they reach them. Contractadors argue that tube lines (especially those that took over trackbeds where main-line trains used to run) should be contracted to only serve as many stations as they can handle and the outer reaches transferred to to new lines better able to take advantage of the potential capacity.

      High on the Contractadors hit list:

      – Bakerloo: cut back to Queen’s Park and do not consider a southern extension because the new high density “Elephant Park housing estate” (no I am not making that up) will use up any free capacity.

      – Central: Remove the Epping branch in its in entirety. If necessary at a later date cut the Hainault branch back to Newbury Park. They begrudgingly let the western branches remain because the West Ruislip branch is quiet and is needed for the the depot and the Ealing Broadway branch will be less busy when Crossrail opens.

      – Jubilee: Contractadors look forward to this terminating at a new West Hampstead interchange but are struggling to find a suitable plan for the eastern (Stratford) end of the line.

      – Northern: Contractadors still working on this but they would terminate the High Barnet branch at East Finchley. They are trying to work up a plan to terminate the Morden branch at Tooting Broadway but are struggling with the issue of the need for access to Morden depot. They hope that by saving the need for Crossrail 2 to serve Tooting Broadway they can be credited with an enormous cost-saving.

      The Duplicatadors have a different agenda and they want inner suburb and outer suburban lines separated with a new limited stop central section. They argue that we cannot easily fit more platforms in at King’s Cross and propose a new station midway between Euston and St Pancras with underground passages to both Euston and King’s Cross St Pancras. Duplicatadors also argue that hard decisions have to be made and if people have to change trains that is the price that needs to be paid to double capacity of the two lines they have set their sights on.

      The targets for the Duplicatadors are:

      – Piccadilly:

      1) Duplicatadors would run the existing line from Turnpike Lane to Holborn and then on to Aldwych (if only to gain popular support) and Waterloo. They would give it a working title of Great Northern & Strand (GN&S) to appeal to the nostalgia vote. Unfortunately this line would need access onto the remaining Piccadilly Line north of Turnpike Line to get to a depot. Duplicatadors argue that if the north King’s Cross area continues to develop a case may be able to me made for re-opening York Road station (and they think that this would also go down well even if rationally not very sensible).

      2) Divert the existing line from Covent Garden to new platforms at Holborn (possible same level interchange with the GN&S). It would then call at Euston St Pancras. From there it would go straight to Turnpike Lane where it would also have same level interchange with the GN&S before joining with the existing line up to Cockfosters.

      The scheme would only require eight new platforms and one new station plus running tunnel (relatively cheap), rolling stock and a new depot.

      – Victoria:

      This is the Duplicatadors’ piece de resistance. They would make the current Victoria Line the Victoria Inner and just run it from Seven Sisters to Vauxhall. It is considered that with the number of high rise residences being build at Vauxhall and Nine Elms as well as the number of people transferring off South West Trains the trains will depart nearly full from Vauxhall. The line may possibly be extended from Seven Sisters to the depot at Northumberland Park.

      The Victoria Outer would only have stations at Brixton, Stockwell, Victoria (possible same level interchange with Victoria Inner), Hanover Square (change for Crossrail), Euston St Pancras (same level interchange with Piccadilly), Seven Sisters (same level interchange with Victoria Inner), Tottenham Hale (likely to get very busy with the development of the Lea Valley), Blackhorse Road and Walthamstow Central. It may need access to the Chingford branch in order to get to a new depot.

      This would require seven new platforms and no new stations (assuming Euston St Pancras built as part of the New Piccadilly Line) plus running tunnel (relatively cheap), rolling stock and a new depot. If Northumberland Park were to be added that would require two surface platforms.

      Neither Contractadors nor Duplicatadors would touch the Waterloo & City Line.

    303. Malcolm says:

      A very convincing analysis of these two new sub-species. There is of course a third sub-species; I refer to the shut-a-doors. It is not entirely clear what these people’s philosophy is, but they may argue that the proposition “if you build it they will come” leads naturally to the conclusion that “if you shut it they will go away”.

    304. Slugabed says:

      I’m impressed by the way PoP has managed to go wild with the crayons whilst disguising it as an anthropological study!
      To add my 2d’s worth,the Northern (Barnet Branch) is easy.Terminate the Northern at East Finchley,with cross-patform interchange with a “Northern Heights Overground” from Moorgate to High/Barnet/Edgware/Alexandra Palace…
      Or something.
      I’ll get my coat.

    305. Graham H says:

      @PoP – the trouble with these newly observed creatures is that absolutely none of what they do increases capacity one jot. I agree that over the next generation we shall run out of options for increasing the capacity on all the lines (at least in places where it matters), whether LU. LO, XR. There is no alternative to building a new system, alas. And it had better not simply be a duplicate of what we have – that would be a total waste. S0 – as in Paris – several new LU lines, two or more additional XRs, and so on.

    306. There is no alternative to building a new system, alas.

      Ah yes. The Duplicator Extremists and their plan for duplicating the entire system – but with different lines and different connections obviously. But it might turn out that theirs really is the only decent solution.

    307. Jim Cobb says:

      So if the only answer is to build more lines, how should they be paid for ? Adding some local transport tax, either to the population in general or to developers, or increasing fares, will suppress demand to a degree and possibly reduce the need for new lines. Even if demand isn’t suppressed enough, people opposed to new taxes or fare increases will use it as an excuse not to change.

      Using national taxes will just alienate the rest of the country, unless more money can be found for the rest of the country as well. Of course, investing in London increases the overall wealth of the UK, so that may be an argument. Otherwise, are there any other options for raising the huge amounts of capital required ?

    308. Anonymous says:

      PoP @19:12

      I know you don’t mind an occasional visit from the language police- ‘theirs’ does not take an apostrophe.

      [Oops. What made me put that in>PoP]

    309. Graham H says:

      @Jim Cobb- not clear why a development tax will suppress demand. (It may very slightly reduce the volume of construction but the evidence of DLT in the ’70s suggests not).

    310. timbeau says:

      @Graham H
      “the trouble with these newly observed creatures is that absolutely none of what they do increases capacity one jot.”
      I think the duplicadors’ Turnpike Lane to Holborn, Holborn to Waterloo, and Seven Sisters to Vauxhall sections would add quite a lot of capacity. Whether the stations could cope with the extra people is another matter.

    311. Jim Cobb says:

      @ Graham H – a development tax would mean it is more expensive for developers to develop and so reduce the amount of development (or increase leases). London is already expensive, so reducing the amount of development or increasing costs in London would drive some of the demand elsewhere.

      For example, my company moved to new premises in Chiswick a couple of years ago, and in doing so expanded the number of people based in London. There were options for expanding in London, Paris or Frankfurt, and some of the choice was down to the availability of suitable office space in the right location, with the right transport connections. This choice also drove more demand for suitable housing in west London. If the new office had been anymore expensive, Paris would probably have got it instead.

    312. Anonymous says:

      If an infrastructure project is considered to be a long-term asset to the nation we should print the money.

      It can be recouped from the main beneficiaries by a land value t- oops!

    313. Graham H says:

      @Jim Cobb – yes, that’s what I said: “would slightly reduce demand” – there’s no evidence that it would have a large scale effect (developers might simply reduce their margins, for example); there are already some good examples of tax-like developer contributions, via s106 payments, and these do not seem to have stopped the rush at Canary Wharf or Battersea. It’s just that you (your firm) doesn’t see these directly. You may indeed have already unwittingly paid a sum towards someone’s s106 contribution.

    314. Jim Cobb says:

      @Graham H – Okay, fair enough. So why hasn’t a development tax already been implemented ? What are the downsides of it ?

    315. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ PoP – could you provide the HQ addresses for these new groupings? That’s just so I can let the commuters, who’d have their journeys wrecked, know so a public lynching can take place. I know you’re trying to stir up the debate but I don’t think either concept works.

      As an aside Christian Wolmar held one of his regular Q&A sessions on Twitter the other day. As is my wont I asked him about how he’d improve the Underground. Based on his answers it seems he’s backed off from his previous ideas about two new lines preferring instead to rely on the existing uprade programme, Crossrail and possibly some tube extensions. I wonder what has scared him off his previous ideas? I was somewhat disappointed as he’s the only person (pitching for power) who’s shown any sign of wanting to expand the Underground network in a meaningful way.

    316. @Walthamstow Writer,

      Ah yes. But here lies the problem. Do something overtly to try and sort something out and it is going to cause extreme unpopularity. But do nothing and you cause unpopularity for precisely the same reason (people have their journeys wrecked) but it is done by stealth. How long before no-one can actually get on a Victoria Line train at Vauxhall northbound or Finsbury Park southbound in the morning? And the consequences of both of these is that on National Rail people are then going to take an entirely different route to avoid those two interchanges with all the ripple effects that would generate.

      The above is not Apocalypse Now that doesn’t actually happen. I can see the same thing happening to myself as for one journey I make today. I no longer go via the Jubliee Line at London Bridge simply because I cannot get on a train unless I accept a significant delay (around ten minutes) whilst I queue to get on. 20% increase in Jubilee Line trains in 2020 is not going to fix that. And if I do get on I am preventing someone else making that journey. So I go by another route via Charing Cross. But I will soon be prevented from doing that so I will go via Victoria and the Victoria Line which is real out of the frying pan into the fire. And the rebuild of Victoria Tube station won’t provide more space on trains.

      I am convinced that by the time Crossrail 2 comes along there will be a lot of people who simply cannot get to work by the sensible route because they just will not be able to get on a train at all in the peak. So they go by another route that displaces other people and the above mentioned ripple effect is produced.

      As you and Graham H have grasped we are really going to require a change which probably means something in the order of magnitude of our existing tube network needs to be built – but obviously with larger longer trains and fewer bigger stations. However no-one seems to grasp this just as no-one in the sixties seemed to grasp that we were going to run out of road space and the car was not the solution to everything – despite the fact, as a nine year old, it seemed perfectly obvious to me.

      I do have another concern and that is that both my anecdotal evidence and recent statistics available that show that travel is increasing at a much faster rate than predicted. Yet there seem to be no medium term solutions. No quick fixes. Nothing of sufficient magnitude that can sort stuff out until Crossrail 2 comes along – sometime in the 2030s it seems. We are already thinking on the basis that Crossrail 1 will be with us shortly and is going to be pretty full up within a year or two of opening despite the project being under construction for a while now and being nearly five years away just for the Paddington – Abbey Wood section to open. They pretty much constructed the entire Victoria Line as far as Victoria in six years with the technology of fifty years ago.

    317. RichardB says:

      @PoP I agree but I think such a network does need a fair number of stations. The present orthodoxy is to cut down on the number of stations when designing new lines because of the cost. However I think this rather misses the point. Whilst providing interchanges with the current network we also need to make a second network sufficiently convenient that many passengers use this in preference to the older network. What we need to avoid is to use such new lines as feeders to to the current network as it merely compounds the problem. This is one of the reasons I have difficulty with the Crossrail concept. Crossrail is our equivalent of the Parisian RER lines and I accept we need these but I think we need additional metro lines with stations at intervals of not more than a mile apart. Where possible in the central area zones 1 and 2 we need stations at new locations as well as the interchange stations. I am thinking we ned to spread the load not only on the current lines but also relieving the pressure on the current station networks. I suspect we need at least three of these lines and thinking of Paris we perhaps need six. These would be additional to the Crossrail lines which should also be contemplated. If each new metro line was say capable of being 30 miles long with a station at roughly one a mile I think this would give us the sort of capacity we require.

      I realise that this seems highly aspirational not to say megalomaniacal. I would prefer the term visionary as realistically this is what London is going to need to address the population growth.

    318. Greg Tingey says:

      How long before no-one can actually get on a Victoria Line train at Vauxhall northbound or Finsbury Park southbound in the morning? Already happening at Finsbury Park, alas, on some days……

      Richard B
      but I think we need additional metro lines with stations at intervals of not more than a mile apart. And the distances between the stations on CR1 between Paddington & Whitechapel are, IIRC, all less than a mile?
      What point, precisely, were you trying to make?
      Agree re CR2 etc, that the stations should NOT be at present interchanges – where I differ from you is that they should, if possible, all be “double-enders” using stations that are not currently interchanges.
      To take a purely hypothetical example, one end at Chancery Lane & the other at Temple/Aldwych, or something like that, so as to spread the loadings.

    319. Fandroid says:

      Back to the title. All this Apocalypse Tomorrow stuff suggests that the centres of employment of the future need to be out in the suburbs, so that the existing system can be better utilised in both directions. Can I add Connectadors to PoP’s list of tribes? Those who want to see neighbouring outer suburbs properly connected to each other, rather the current lunacy of having to join the peak flows inwards, until a central-ish connection is reached, and then to travel back out again. A waste of everyone’s time and train capacity. The desire is there. Why otherwise would the orbital part of the Overground be so successful? Perhaps there are also Claphamistas? Those who want to see Clapham Junction properly rebuilt to allow longer distance SW line commuters seek work in say Croydon. No need for more Tubes then, just making use of existing half-empty trains.

    320. Jim Cobb says:

      Taking a step back from the detail, the fundamental issue here is whether you plan for development and expansion, or just react to the market. If you are going to plan for development and expansion, the question then becomes where you develop and how you spend your limited resources. So the options become –

      1. Develop within London, which then drives improvements to metro and bus services

      2. Develop around London, which then drives improvements to regional rail and road services

      3. Develop elsewhere in the UK to take the load off London, which then drives improvements to high-speed rail, motorway and air services

      4. Let the market decide and react accordingly, spreading your resources thinly across all areas

      The last option is the one we do at the moment, but can this be changed ?

    321. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ PoP – I think plenty of people here see the need for improvement. There’s just not a lot of consensus about the “best” solutions. I see from random tweets that people are trying to get the route of Crossrail 2 changed so it serves Streatham and old ideas about Crossrail reaching Hounslow from Old Oak Common are being discussed again. I can see those debates being repeated a thousand fold if there was some hint of wider rail network development. For understandable reasons everyone wants a better train service but don’t really know what “better” means other than the old classic of “a seat in the rush hour” which is an unattainable dream with the growth we face.

      My starting point would be to try to ensure that each train path runs with the longest train possible where the demand warrants it. This will need a planned series of infrastructure upgrades and rolling stock builds to ensure that 12 car trains run. It’s clear from past comments that even this is not an easy task due to physical constraints at stations, terminal approaches and the terminals themselves. Nonetheless this should ideally be a starting point to get the best out of what we have. Obviously not every route can have trains expanded to those lengths and this does pose serious questions about the current Overground network (as we’ve touched on many times). The planning for the next big step beyond 5 cars will be a big challenge for TfL.

      I quoted the exchange with Mr Wolmar as I was left disappointed with the lack of / removal of (past) vision about the tube network. The issue seemed to be the risk that you couldn’t build a tube line in one Mayoral term (!) rather than seeing the need to set a strategic direction *and* get the support so you either win a second term or you get things to a point where they won’t be unravelled even if you are not re-elected. I’d have expected a so called “railway expert” to see the strategic point but clearly electoral self interest comes first! This bodes badly for any workable plan to deal with 2050’s problems as nearly everyone else pitching for power is a politician first and an expert in very little!

      I suspect housing is going to be the number one issue at the next Mayoral election and I rather fear it will crowd out the strongly related issue of transport and mobility. Both issues should really be tackled together or else you’ll just end up with a horrendous mess. Coming a close second in concerns is how you provide adequate “infrastructure” for education, health, emergency services in the face of rising resident population and rising working population within the City (includes those who commute in daily). This is one reason why I think it was “unwise” to embark on a programme of police and fire station closures and why repeated health service rationalisation will probably be found to be deeply flawed. We can see already the ridiculous problems with school capacity and the building programme of more / bigger schools. I don’t see the evidence of the related transport planning to ensure pupils and parents can reach those schools. It clearly gets worse when you throw in development for business purposes.

      I’ve said before what sort of approach I’d like to see being taken in terms of modal consideration. Some of the potential choices would present TfL with “learning curves” but that should not be used as a “block” in the assessment process.

      Unfortunately I suspect there are simply too many stakeholders and vested interests to make it possible to pull together a coherent plan that can be supported and funded. I also think there’s something “British” about not liking long term plans as it tends to force consensus and we’re not good at creating that – especially in politics. I think we’re more likely to muddle our way through with a lot of people being very grumpy about what they have to put up with. We only get people of “vision” every 20-30 years who are able to pop up and push things through to try to rectify the errors of the past 20-30 years. We then decide we don’t like them and vote them out and decide to argue and squabble again until we get the next crisis in 20-30 years.

    322. timbeau says:

      “I see from random tweets that people are trying to get the route of Crossrail 2 changed so it serves Streatham ”
      So the mission creep continues – yes: Streatham needs better services, and yes the SWML needs relieving. But trying to achieve everything with the one project means it will end up trying to do too much and acheiving none of it well. (The Tooting dogleg is already reducing the potential effectiveness of CR2 whilst acheiving litt;le in relieving the Northern Line – indeed it is likely to feed more passengers in that it will take off. But the seemingly impossibilility of running more than pone project in parallel means that the only project likely to be started in the next quarter-century gets seized on by everyone’s long-felt-want.
      Why can we not have a rolling programme of Crossrails (and HS projects for that matter)? Yes, it will cost more money in the short term, but if the money has to be spent, better to do it now, and get the income from the finished project rolling in sooner.

    323. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Timbeau – I think the rolling programme point is key. There is no sense of one overall strategy which provides improvements to people across the capital across a range of modes. As you say that’s why you get scope creep because it always appears that there is “one game in town” and you must get a slice of that or else you’re doomed to travel hell forever. I recognise that a rolling programme would become an argument about who is where in the queue of schemes but at least people would see an emerging picture and reality and one that hopefully fitted together. We also need to get away from the “one scheme at a time” logic and I think recent years have shown that London and the supply chain can cope with big bits of work happening concurrently.

      Paris is fairly close to the rolling programme idea with its 30 year rail plan but I’m not sure if Paris has a similar outlook for buses, roads and cycling. I don’t know enough about how their planning process works across all modes and how responsibilities are allocated. Paris has realised, though, that buses are a valuable mode and can play an enhanced role even with a very dense Metro coverage in the central area.

    324. Jim Cobb says:

      @Timbeau – “Why can we not have a rolling programme of Crossrails (and HS projects for that matter)? Yes, it will cost more money in the short term, but if the money has to be spent, better to do it now, and get the income from the finished project rolling in sooner.”

      So where does the money come from to build these projects ? If you borrow it, you are further adding to the country’s already staggering level of debt. For example, XR is costing around £16billion, so if you borrowed this over 30 years, the total cost would be around £70billion or over £2billion per annum. Will your new line bring this much in ?

      You can increase fares to pay for it. Assuming there are 1 billion trips on LU every year (according to Wikipedia) and you take 8 years to build your new line, you have to add £2 to the cost of every trip to pay for your new XR.

      Or you could tax everyone in London, which would cost them around £500 per annum. Lastly you could tax everyone in the country, which would cost around £50 each.

      My calculations are very rough, so please excuse any mistakes, but this is large amounts of money we are talking about. So which is it to be ?

    325. stimarco says:

      @Jim Cobb:

      “So if the only answer is to build more lines, how should they be paid for ? Adding some local transport tax, either to the population in general or to developers, or increasing fares, will suppress demand to a degree and possibly reduce the need for new lines.”

      You say that like it’s a bad thing. As I pointed out before, London is itself a business. It’s in the business of hosting other businesses – essentially a “serviced offices” facility on a gargantuan scale, with the “services” including those needed to get employees into the shiny new building you want to conduct your own business in.

      All this has to be paid for. As businesses do, in fact, benefit from having reliable transport and other services for their employees, it’s hardly a stretch to demand some form of tax or regional levy to fund transport.

      You’ve said yourself that your own employer nearly chose Paris over London. Paris already charges a regional to pay for its rolling transport infrastructure improvements (among other things), so the fact that the choice was so close does not suggest Paris is doing anything wrong. On the contrary: it strongly implies that London could bring in even more businesses if it had a similar policy in place.

      London’s problem is that it cannot make long-term plans and stick to them, because Westminster insists on London – and the UK’s other cities – crawling to them, cap in hand, for regular grovelling sessions to ask for their few crumbs from the Treasury’s table. Even when those crumbs came from those same cities.

      Devolution of powers from Westminster would not only make long-term planning easier to arrange and budget for, but it would also free up Westminster to focus on matters of genuinely national import instead, like they’re supposed to. So that’s another form of congestion solved too.

      Many other nations keep such policy decisions devolved to local and regional tiers of government, so there’s really no excuse for this ongoing farce to continue.

      But it would involve wiping out an awful lot of petty empires, so the chances of it happening any time soon are slim to none. And Slim just left.

    326. Graham H says:

      @Jim Cobb – “It is a truth universally acknowledged” that enhanced rail services can generate increased property values – Islington and Canary Wharf are the easy examples – a tax on that increased merely recoups for society at large the additional value its investment has generated.

    327. Long Branch Mike 1 says:

      @Jim Cobb

      Tax Increment Financing (TIF) attempts to quantify this and provide funding loans against this increased tax intake. See the LR article on this, as proposed for the Battersea Northern Line extension.

    328. stimarco says:

      @Graham H:

      To put it another way: if we don’t reclaim that value, then taxpayers are effectively subsidising those property owners by paying for such infrastructure enhancements. Land Value Tax really is a no-brainer when considered in that light.

      @Jim Cobb:

      This harks back to my post in another thread about London being effectively a business in its own right: it’s in the business of hosting other businesses. Viewed in that context, it really makes no sense to demand that taxpayers – who rarely have any say in where their employers want them to work, and most of whom certainly can’t afford to live anywhere near the centre of London itself – subsidise their employers.

      As for how we pay for it: remember, nobody hands over an overside cardboard cheque the moment the first sod is dug by a smug politician. The ‘cost’ of a project like HS2 is that £2bn. / year. The media have a bad habit of adding those £2bn. up over the construction period of the project, while conveniently forgetting that most of the UK’s existing rail infrastructure is still in use and therefore generating real, measurable economic benefits after 160 years!

      The lift shafts, stairwells, climate control and networking infrastructure in a skyscraper don’t make a direct profit for the building’s owners either, but they’re still included in such projects even today, despite the existence of block-and-tackle lifting gear, trampolines, openable windows and USB memory sticks that you can just throw across the room at your colleague.

      An urban metro is fundamentally just a high-capacity lift that moves horizontally. Fibre-optic cables are just office building networking on a wider scale. Water mains; sewer systems; airports; high-speed transport – and most forms of connectivity; street lighting, etc. are all required features in the fabric of any city. You don’t get to be a major world city without them, and businesses do gain an economic boost when they can take advantage of such infrastructure.

      With the days of a job for life long gone, and a depressing trend of treating most employees as little more than replaceable cogs in a machine, businesses need to wake up to the fact that that attitude works both ways: if I’m a replaceable cog, then the machine I’m in is just as replaceable. Why should I choose to work for you in City A and not your competitor in City B? If I can get a better lifestyle – shorter commutes; cheaper, better housing, etc. – by choosing your competitor, why would I choose you?

      Today, most people expect to change employer multiple times in order to advance up the corporate ladder. This does not engender company loyalty, no matter how many insulting “team-building” exercises you insist on sending us on.

      If you want the best talent working for your business, you first need to attract them. A long, arduous commute that effectively loses you 2-3 hours a day, every workday, for years and years, is going to figure heavily in their decision to accept your kind and generous offer.

    329. timbeau says:

      @jim Cobb

      As has been said before – there is nothing wrong with debt, provided you can pay it back.

      And if we have established that there is a need for the new development, we are not talking about IF we incur this debt, but WHEN – and when better than when interest rates are at an all-time low? Why not buy a new suit which will last for years instead of spending the same amount every year continually patching up a threadbare old one?

      “the total cost would be £2billion per annum. [a quick calculation reveals you’re assuming borrowing at 5%] Will your new line bring this much in ?”
      How much is it costing the economy NOT to have the line? And why borrow over thirty years? It will start getting revenue much earlier than that.

    330. Jim Cobb says:

      It is far easier to quantify the cost of doing something but much harder to quantify the value of doing it.

      Anyway, please don’t think I am against such development – we desperately need more investment in transport across the board, both in London and elsewhere in the country. My point is that people have to understand the reasons why it is important so they can be persuaded to pay for it.

      Also, either London has to pay for these kind of stuff itself, or it needs to be persuade the rest of the UK why it is more important to invest in the capital instead of their own area. What may seem obvious to the knowledgeable membership of this forum is not at all obvious to the general populace.

      The ultimate problem is that the UK does not do long term strategy and so everything is about catch up or making sure your own pet project gets approval over anything else.

    331. Castlebar 1 says:

      @ timbeau, re “Mission Creep”

      As was mentioned earlier this month, it already seems to have reached Devizes.

      I wonder who starts this particular ball rolling? My money is the building companies who have already stockpiled a few strategically located land banks.

    332. stimarco says:

      @Jim Cobb:

      “My point is that people have to understand the reasons why it is important so they can be persuaded to pay for it.”

      Indeed, the solution to 99% of the world’s problems boils down to more, or better, education. Of course, it would help if more people realised that learning is a journey, not a destination. Education doesn’t stop the moment you’ve left the formal education system.

      “Also, either London has to pay for these kind of stuff itself, or it needs to be persuade the rest of the UK why it is more important to invest in the capital instead of their own area. “

      London is paying for these projects mostly out of its own pocket. Of the £14.8bn. cost of Crossrail, HM Treasury is covering only £4.7bn, while Network Rail is contributing about £2.3 bn. The rest really is being paid for by London itself.

      [snip PoP] Only £6.9bn of that headline figure is actually coming from the taxpayer – and £2.3bn of that is basically money Network Rail was going to spend on their network already. Only the sidings near Maidenhead, and some changes to a depot at North Pole, are strictly Crossrail-related; the GWML electrification project, resignalling, etc. is part of a separate rolling programme, while the Reading station rebuild was always going to happen regardless.

      That last point is worth highlighting: part of the massive price tag for HS2 includes a massive rebuild of Euston – exactly what will be done there is still uncertain – but Network Rail already intended to rebuild that station, long before HS2 came along!

      These projects often contain silly accounting tricks like this to try to offload a major expense from one spreadsheet and onto another. Suddenly, “Network Rail” has “cut” its expenditure! Never mind that exact same cost has simply been transferred to the spreadsheet labelled “HS2.xls”! The money’s still going to be spent. It’s just being spent by another head of the same Hydra.

    333. Jonathan Roberts says:

      Osborne/Mayor announcement today.

      Implies further support for STAR (Stratford-Tottenham-Angel Road, and case for TfL to take it over when ready), more case for Crossrail 2, and possibly Crossrail 1 beefing-up via Southall, plus Northern Line extension.

      Plus note commitment to new housing zones outside London.

    334. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ JR – apologies for my slightly negative view but I am not enthused by a policy that gives Boris (or any Mayor) unfettered planning powers. Experience to date shows he brings very little to things like the provision of affordable housing. Worse it is borderline nonsensical to support transport investment and then deprive TfL or the TOCs of the necessary funding (revenue grant / franchise funding) to provide comprehensive and attractive public transport services. That is clearly what current Government and Mayoral policy is.

      Does anyone believe that Meridian Water can function with two rerouted bus services and a x15 shuttle train to Stratford? I don’t but that’s what the last lot of plans envisaged when I read them. There are serious implications if the scale of anticipated development could be bigger than envisaged to date. We must hope the local authorities are not booted sideways by City Hall while massive skyscrapers of unaffordable flats are built. That would be a disaster on so many fronts. The implications for Poplar, Southall and Wandsworth could be profound; it immediately raises questions for CR1 and CR2 in my mind. If we get big developments at Nine Elms / Battersea / West Chelsea / Wandsworth and Old Oak Common there are huge issues for transport infrastructure (all modes except air) in this swathe of inner South West London. Earls Court and Westfield (White City) Phase 2 don’t help matters either. With a constantly changing environment it must be making TfL’s planners’ lives a misery trying to set out something appropriate for 2030, 2040 or 2050.

    335. PeterW says:

      The recently elected (Labour) council in Hammersmith & Fulham are reviewing contracts to see if the Earls Court development can be stopped. Even delay or de-scoping may have some impact TFL finances as they are a 37% partner in the deal
      It’s also unclear whether there will be any enthusiasm for other large scale developments such as Old Oak Common

    336. Anonymous says:

      WW “We must hope the local authorities are not booted sideways by City Hall”.

      If I understand this scheme it’s the Boroughs that must apply for this status for their projects.

      As far as I can tell they see this as a way of getting the Nimbys off their backs!

    337. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Anon – I sit corrected. Not sure there are too many NIMBYs at Meridian Water but I don’t really favour policies which seek to prevent fair representation for people who may be genuinely affected by developments. I know issues can get hi-jacked and blown out of proportion but simply excluding people from the planning process is not the right answer. It also does nothing to dispel the suspicion that politicians are in the pockets of developers and business. We have enough cynicism about politics without it being made worse!

    338. MikeP says:

      @WW – (I hope PoP will allow this brief way off-topic response)

      People, indeed, see planning as “un-democratic”. Mostly because it is – the decision-making at individual application level is quasi-judicial. Because elected representatives make those decisions, most electors think they can make any decision they like – but they’re even more circumscribed in the options available than usual. Surrey CC got a £1m judgement against it as a result of it making a decision on the persuasion of one member which was shown to be ultra vires (and the officers advised so at the time)

      Have a look at residents’ planning objections and see how many actually refer to specific local planning policies that the application doesn’t conform with, rather than hand-wave about quality of life.

      There is one point in the process where real influence can be brought to bear – when the strategic plans under whatever name they’re known this week are developed and approved – and even those have to comply with national polcies. But the person in the street very rarely realises the impact that things in that will have on them and doesn’t engage until the mile-high block next to their house comes up for approval. At which point they find the latest strat plan removed the 4-storey limit on buildings and they’re stuffed when it comes to (validly) objecting.

    339. timbeau says:

      @Mike P – Surrey County Council ultra vires
      There was also this sorry tale

    340. MikeP says:

      To be fair, the SCC member was reflecting the desires of the residents near the site (to get rid of the HGVs, noise, dust, etc.) rather than feathering their own nest.

      This case (I’ve googled for a reference, but can’t find it) was on the back of the review of conditions on very long-standing minerals permissions (they go back many decades). The legislation permitting (indeed, requiring) it came in in the mid-90’s. The LPA (Local Planning Authority) had power to revise the conditions, particularly in terms of bringing them up-to-date. The legislation did not give them the power to make unreasonable conditions or even worse to rescind existing permissions.

      Which is what SCC decided to do in this case. Hence site owner getting a very substantial award.

    341. Jonathan Roberts says:

      A further stage is expected shortly on long term infrastructure planning for London:
      see Item 7:

    342. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ JR – interesting spot there. Reading the papers for item 7 shows the output due in July for consultation is lumbered with the Estuary Airport idea which is a needless distraction (IMO, of course). It is also likely to take a big slice of the funding requirement along with the balance of Underground upgrades. I fear we are not going to see very much that is radical despite some of the trail blazing. I also suspect there will be attempt to link the estuary airport with “ribbon” development along the corridor of whatever road and rail links need to be built to support the airport. If that’s the proposal then months of effort will have been wasted but given the political bias that must be involved we’re just going to have to stomach that wasted effort.

      Of further note was the item below in the agenda which was an update on the Stratford – Angel Road rail link / extra tracks. Looks like end 2018 for a possible completion *if* Network Rail can come up with a viable scheme within the agreed £72m funding package. If not then it will down to the GLA to see if it can find the extra cash. If the scheme is cancelled then the GLA will have to find money to replenish the capital account for the monies recently authorised for Network Rail to conclude the next GRIP milestone. The report was fairly “bland” and I note that a private version was circulated to the meeting attendees. This rather suggests there was more “excitement” about what is really going on and what risks there are to the project. Looking back at a previous meeting I note this very interesting presentation setting out the range of options considered for adding tracks on the West Anglia line including options for Crossrail 2! Interesting we’re getting the cheapest, least ambitions option.

      Also of note is the AOB item that there will be a further TfL consultation on East London River Crossings in July 2014. One wonders if a bridge option will re-emerge and whether Boris’s Rainham – Belvedere comment at MQT has let the cat out of the bag as to what TfL may end up proposing. I can hear Bexley councillors lining up their campaign guns already.

    343. Jonathan Roberts says:

      Item 8 is also interesting as you say. Network Rail is committed to £44m for Stratford-Tottenham Hale section, with TfL putting up £3m for an improved Tottenham Hale interchange, so the question is where the extra costs are arising (assuming there are some). GLA put up £25m for Tottenham Hale-Angel Road.

    344. Graham H says:

      @WW/JR – presumably, we shouldn’t read the quoted time saving to Stansted (6 minutes) as implying that XR2 will go there?

    345. Jonathan Roberts says:

      I think you will find that the Stansted time-saving is dependent on nominal run time from Tottenham Hale to Stansted irrespective of which type of train were used (eg Class 379 versus a Crossrail 1 clone). It is unlikely that you could achieve ‘Stansted in 30’ from Central London, without a new direct line which cuts the corners from Broxbourne/Harlow to Stansted, because of the speed restrictions inherent with the existing, lengthy and curvaceous route, quite apart from level crossing issues.

    346. Graham H says:

      @Jonathan Roberts – that’s what I suspected. (Stansted in 30 has always been just a political noise…)

    347. Greg Tingey says:

      Interesting we’re getting the cheapest, least ambitions option.
      Which inevitably means it will have to be upgraded, later, but something is better than nothing.
      They still haven’t learnt from the DLR/NLL results, have they?

      Stansted in 30 is entirely possible – via Stratford.
      Err ….

    348. Jonathan Roberts says:

      Tottenham Hale-Stratford is a scheduled time of 10-12 minutes depending on pathing issues at Coppermill. Tottenham Hale-Liverpool Street is regularly scheduled at about 11 minutes. Stations stops at Tottenham add ½-1 minute. So I don’t see how you magic the trains to achieve 30 mins end-to-end, even with some limited line speed upgrades.

      As you are well aware, the route’s geometry and geography don’t help, abetted by 2 tracking, flat junctions, level crossings and a variety of local services sharing the tracks, which unavoidably cause insertion of extra pathing and recovery times in the working timetable, in order to create some hope of punctuality.

      The broader issue is what need to be achieved before 2050, say by 2030, to accommodate more non-airport trains on a fast-growing economic corridor.

    349. Walthamstow Writer says:

      A short article giving some insight into Michelle Dix’s priorities for the 2050 Infrastructure Plan. Looks exceedingly dull and unadventurous to me. More roads features large which is just wrong IMO. The only vaguely interesting point is a “modern era” Post Office Railway for goods distribution.

    350. Greg Tingey says:

      JR & WW
      Stratford – Tottie Hale is currently very slow, with generous recovery times & slack scheduling.
      However, if the curves just S of Lea Bridge were eased, even insode the current solum … AND the
      Stansted “fasts” were routed that way, then a conflict(s) at Copper Mills & Clapton Jns are removed, also LST – Stratford is nowhere near as bendy & speed-restricted as LST – Hackney Downs – Clapton..
      I think, that if taken properly, then the original route is likely to be faster, given that major works are going to happen in the area, anyway.


    351. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Greg – I agree you could speed up T Hale – Stratford. Surely the bigger issue, though, is whether there is capacity at Stratford to get these trains from P11/12 on to the lines into LST. Is there not a strong risk of conflict with freight paths that cross over the tracks, to loop to the west of Westfield, that run out of P11/12 to the main lines into LST? There is also the unknown factor of exactly how Network Rail want to remodel the tracks near Stratford post Crossrail to increase the numbers of longer distance trains from Essex into LST. I haven’t gone back and checked but I thought Network Rail had specifically decided against routeing Stansted services via Stratford?

    352. Long Branch Mike (Sur le Métro) says:


      Re the Michèle Dix article and a reinvigorated Post Office Railway :

      It sounds to me that Michèle’s wording “autonomous goods vehicles in tunnels”

    353. Long Branch Mike (Sur le Métro) says:


      Re the Michèle Dix article and a reinvigorated Post Office Railway :

      It sounds to me that Michèle’s wording “autonomous goods vehicles in tunnels” are robot cars, not rail wagons, thus losing the inherent advantage of tracked rail vehicles (higher weight loadings, no need for sophisticated guidance or driving system development for this unique application), as well as having to design entirely new bespoke ‘autonomous goods vehicles’, when the Post Office Railway’s original vehicle designs would be much quicker and cheaper to upgrade.

      In other words, don’t reinvent the wheel – there was nothing technically wrong with the original rail system, it was the Post Office’s declining business volumes that forced its closure. And yes, I’m not getting into the possible corruption and / or politics or its closure, nor do I suggest anyone rehash it, as it’s been already discussed a few times on this blog.

      Nor is this an invitation to propose or advocate for ‘autonomous vehicles’ of whatever form or technology.

    354. Mark Townend says:

      If rail was to be retained for autonomous freight vehicles in the old post office tunnels or elsewhere, a passive switching system might be considered. Eschewing moving point blades, a steering mechanism on the vehicle instead follows a fixed left or right mechanical steering guide at a divergence. That could reduce trackside complexity and the cost of providing junctions, and it is possible to switch out vehicles from the middle of a close following convoy whilst on the move as its not necessary to stop approaching movements whilst the points move.

      Just like the old post office operation, a degree of multimodality could be provided by having standard self contained rail bogies, onto which are mounted wheeled cages or containers that can be trundled around stations and connected warehouses and loading bays by hand or hauled in trains by a tug unit. A modern control system and passive switching on the rail network could squeeze a lot more capacity from the tunnels than rail mail could ever manage with their original equipment. With no passengers to protect tighter headways could be tolerated and higher accelerations used like airport baggage handling systems.

      I also wouldn’t dismiss something like the Ultra system as employed at Heathrow for air passenger transfers from car parks. That employs no rails and self steers on tyres in a u shaped concrete guideway. In normal operation the vehicles don’t come into contact with the guideway sidewalls, although if steering fails, the vehicles are constrained safely by them. In the future autonomous Google pods could also run easily on similar dedicated infrastructure with the benefit of also being able to run on sections of non dedicated roadway, perhaps also being allowed to run at slow speed through pedestrianised shopping areas on clearly marked paths, like trams do in some places.

      Interestingly, Ultra didn’t dismiss rails for guidance but the company felt that an automated self steering road vehicle derivative would be easier and less risky to develop as a pioneer venture, indeed components for the prototype vehicles built at Cardiff came from electric golf carts. That’s not to say future systems could not adopt rails or even maglev technology.

      Another system, Vectus, uses non-conventional type rails with flangeless solid wheels and separate guidance wheels together with a passive switch arrangement.

    355. Greg Tingey says:

      RANT ]

      Maybe by 2050, TfL will have their new web-site working …

      I have just tried to make an enquiry concerning river services.
      Wanting to go to Putney from central London, by boat, for a change ….
      It turns out that “RB6” does the job.
      Now – look at this:
      Note that the route IS NOT A MAP – the stops are in alphabetical order. ( you what? )
      Similarly to the tube, they don’t show a timetable, they show a departure list, per hour to a specified destination.
      Changing your mind, making a general enquiry or trying to get an overview are NOT ALLOWED.
      And, all of this uses more computing power, than showing a simple pdf of a TIMETABLE.
      As mentioned above this fundamentally-broken model is also used for tube non-timetables.
      WTF? is the phrase, I think, at this point.
      RANT off] ( for the time being )

    356. Mark Townend says:


      Its the little line and station icons to the left of the names that confuse; they all line up to evoke a continuous route map. Nothing wrong with having an alphabetical list, but showing the icon in that way is a graphical blooper I agree. Perhaps the user should have an option to display the stops in line order or alphabetically.

    357. timbeau says:

      TfL’s website loves sorting things into alphbetical order at the slightest provocation. During strikes and similar pronlems, they list closed stations thus: this makes it difficult to “join the dots”: if I see my preferred station is closed, I want to know what is is closed in the area. Without a photographic memory of the order of stops, it’s difficult to work out. Is there a station near Barking that might be open? What appears between Barking and Becontree? Barons Court!

    358. RichardB says:

      @ Greg you may find this link helpful as it presents a PDF map showing all the river bus routes. It is on the TfL site but it is the last option offered in the river maps section

      I agree whoever at TfL thought their “route diagram” was of any use in alphabetical form needs their head examining. Doubtless if they deign to comment it will be with their usual puzzled mien as I am sure they will argue you do not need a map or a timetable.

    359. Long Branch Mike (Deux-Montagnes) says:


      That Thames Clipper map omits the name of the connecting LU/DLR/NR station, except for St George Wharf (Vauxhall). How is one to know how to get to a Thames Clipper dock then with this map?

      Furthermore, walking distances twixt such rail stations & the docking points should be indicated.

      I am reaching Gregish levels of despair with the poor maps provided by non-LU agencies…

    360. Jonathan Roberts says:

      Even worse for us strategic aficionados (are you there GH?) is that the new TfL website doesn’t direct us directly to Board meetings, if you require those as the most important thing, then committees and panels next (I do, I don’t need any of the travelogue), it is a most arcane link using search words that are unlikely to most practitioners:-

      Shame someone abolished that most modern of prisons for such errant web designers:-

    361. Long Branch Mike (Deux-Montagnes) says:


      We could also send LR’s offending crayonistas and technutopians there…

    362. Mark Townend says:


      In an autonomous prison van?

    363. Long Branch Mike (Deux-Montagnes) says:


      Yes! That would be an excellent way of testing out new technology, on the busy streets of London 🙂

    364. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ LBM – I linked because it provided the timetable, that Greg requested, in a format that would probably not cause him to require hospital treatment or be at risk of arrest for criminal damage to TfL computing assets. 🙂

      @ JR – the TfL Board papers link used to be prominent but in the last couple of weeks it’s vanished. Goodness knows why but then they also managed to lose all the Board papers archive for a few days too. Thankfully I systematically updated all my TfL links a while back so I don’t have to dig round in the vaults of the website or be frustrated by the useless nature of the site’s search engine. The other annoyance is that they now regularly review what constitutes a “project” and then clean up the Projects and Improvements page. A whole load of historical information and linked documents has vanished as a result. I have to wonder quite what the motivation is – maintaining a projects archive with the relevant info would not be a great hardship.

      The bus tenders results page had also lost a load of information but I left a message on the Digital Blog page. Having checked as writing this it now seems the lost information has been largely but not fully restored. Still routes missing and some blank pages.

    365. Anomnibus says:


      Mail Rail used conveyor belts from the main building above to transfer mail down to the platforms, where human beings then transferred said mail onto the trains. The process was then reversed to get said mail back up to the surface again at the other end. This was all fairly labour-intensive. At the time Mail Rail was built, humans were still relatively cheap to hire, but that era ended many years ago. The problem is—as is so often the case—the interface between the tunnels and the surface.

      You have to provide a useful link in the logistics chain to make such a system attractive to paying customers. Given that the system already serves points from Liverpool Street to Paddington (more or less), the trick is to be able to load up a vehicle with freight and have that vehicle take said freight all the way to the destination, or as close as it’s possible to get using available technology.

      If such automated vehicles were designed around the standard loading pallet, taking palletised loads from depot to depot, and being loaded and unloaded directly into suitable road vehicles for that ‘last kilometre’ stretch to their final destination, this could work very well indeed. Just as containerisation revolutionised bulk shipping, ‘self-driving pallets’ might conceivably pull off a similar trick for urban distribution.

      (There’s an advantage for railways too: the auto-pallets can be sent on their way direct from a rail-connected container-load distribution centre. Pallets would drive themselves into suitable rail vehicles, where they’re taken to their destination. Then they drive off the train—so, no need for expensive shunting infrastructure—all by themselves and make their way to their customers. From the railway’s perspective, this becomes just another ‘merry-go-round’ service, which is absolutely perfect for rail-freight.)

      This could disrupt the logistics industry in very interesting ways, as well as changing how town planning is done in future. And ULTra and Google have already proved the core technologies work. This is the kind of thing cities like London really need to invest in. It’s a much better use of the Mail Rail infrastructure than letting it rot quietly to itself.

    366. Long Branch Mike (Deux-Montagnes) says:


      My parents both worked at Canada Post for decades, and I worked on wintertime holiday extra mail sorting shifts, and I never saw a standard loading pallet being used there, just bags of mail.

      Now, I realize Canada Post is an ocean away from Royal Mail & its operation, but bear with me.

      From the images I’ve seen of the Post Office Railway, its wagons, chutes, and cranes were used by said bags of mail.

      I’ve not had direct contact with courier companies’ logistical works vis-a-vis whether they use pallets or not. But I believe that the very random & irregular sizes of packets, parcels, and flat mail do not lend themselves to being stacked neatly on standard loading pallets, whilst wholesale and retail product delivery does.

      I agree however with your argument that the automated package/letter handling extend vertically as well as horizontally. Perhaps a much smaller mail/package container could be devised, with RFID (radio freq ID) encoded to aid sorting, a covered mini-pallet so to speak, would be more viable. Stackable in PO Ry wagons, easy to conveyor vertically, easy to carry & deliver by hand. Small enough that pneumatic (rectangular) tubes could be tunneled and built into buildings for point to point service.

      Perhaps the century old circular pneumatic mail tube carrier design could be used, but I suspect they are too small for most modern parcels.

    367. Malcolm says:

      Mike and Anomnibus both offer some interesting musings about freight traffic, and indeed thinking along such lines might lead somewhere useful.

      A pallet, while it does have an almost standardised interface with a fork truck (modulo shifting the forks a bit closer or wider from time to time), is otherwise not very well standardised. The actual palette can be a variety of sizes, and its load can (and often does) extend to arbitrary heights above, have arbitrary bulges, and be capable of supporting arbitrary quantities (often but not always zero) of further pallets stacked on top of it. Such flexibility is fine when there are humans (or, just perhaps, amazingly sophisticated robots) manipulating it, but it tends to fight back against dumb machinery.

      Perhaps a better model would be the cages in which some groceries are delivered to shops. With their own wheels, and pushable by one person, and of fairly fixed size, they might provide some sort of basis for handling mixed freight.

      Or you could look at the containers used by airlines to fill up their planes. Lightweight, and very fixed size. Probably expensive. And current ones are weird curvy shapes to fit into the planes, but that could be designed away perhaps.

      Or we could always stick with white van man. I suspect that might be cheapest.

    368. Long Branch Mike (Deux-Montagnes) says:


      Good points all, cept for white van man, who will be stuck in traffic. Bike Courier Person may be better, but has limited carrying ability, unless they used bike trailers, which I’ve not seen and would restrict their death defying (and at times death encouraging) street mobility.

      Chicago btw had freight tunnels under its downtown (the ‘Loop’, the area bounded by its El(evated) train system) for almost 60 years, see

      Very PO Ry like. And quite innovative as a business, as they sold cool underground ‘tunnel air’ to theatres above its network in the days before AirCon.

    369. Mark Townend says:

      The PO railway was very advanced for its time being driverless. I wouldn’t go so far as ‘autonomous’ as the trains explicitly followed the routing instructions manually given by operators working a signal system based on contemporary miniature slide lever interlocking machines at each station. Instead of operating visible signals for a driver to interpret, levers operated contactors that applied traction power to the relevent sections of track together with a dispatch switch operated by platform staff. As Anomnibus says, with controllers at each station, platform loading staff, and a train and track maintenance contingent the system was quite labour intensive and in a time of major cut backs closing it was a quick and legitimate way (in terms of employment legislation and union agreements) of abolishing a fair number of jobs in one fell swoop.

      From the pictures I have seen the Chicago system, although a much larger and more elaborate network, was manually driven using electric locomotives similar to those used in mines to haul trains of cars of varying types to suit the wide range of cargoes carried. I don’t know what the control arrangements were for signalling and point operation though.

    370. Greg Tingey says:

      Richard B
      Thanks, though I had already found that before I penned my “RANT”, but that’s not the point, is it? That should be the first thing one finds, should it not?

      “Thames Clippers” are a separate service to “River Bus” … and go to different places & (I think) have a different fare structure, too …
      All inside the TfL area & under their supposed control (or not)

      WW & JR
      But, the TfL web-site is PERFECT (TfL says so, so it must be true)
      It is very noticeable that they really don’t like criticism of it, and that even getting decent bus-maps up took about a month (or longer) as a result of a deafening barrage of criticism, which they apparently ignored, as far as they possibly could.
      Now, it appears that they are still actively changing it up, so that it *looks* whizzy & hi-tech & (etc) but is actually useless.
      I am beginning to wonder, in paranoid fashion, if this is not sheer incompetence, but deliberate.
      I can certainly see how making important matters like board meetings & minutes difficult to find would be to their advantage ….

      Speaking of which, isn’t there a Board meeting this weekend?

      I think you have just re-invented the BRUTE trolley ? ?
      Complete with added Google self-drive, perhaps?

    371. @Greg,

      It is a pity we didn’t get around to our look at the TfL website. Could I just remind you that opinions tend to be subjective. I keep saying this but you have to look at the world from the perspective of all users and not just the Greg Tingey perspective.

      Yes, a transport organisation that thinks that publishing timetables is unnecessary does seem strange. But to take a couple of other points …

      The site is clearly designed for mobile phone use which seems reasonable as a tool to help you when travelling on the move. At the same time it is also intended to be useable at home on a computer. Now you might not like that but it doesn’t mean that they made the wrong decision. Because of that, the language and tone used by you isn’t appropriate. It is entirely subjective (and off topic) and should not be viewed as right or wrong.

      On the point of board meeting & minutes I would argue that it is no more difficult to find. It is just you were familiar with the old system. In fact in someways it is better because they have lumped relevant stuff and given you helpful filters to get exactly what you want. I have issue with some of the software implementation and the fact that you get defunct committees included (having a current committees only option would help). On the other hand there genuinely is stuff there that there wasn’t before – notably Working Timetables.

      I get nervous of straying into arguing over the TfL website. If we ever get around to a separate self-contained topic on it then fine but otherwise we are just going to pollute another thread with a lot of opinion and severe shortage of facts.

    372. RichardB says:

      @ Greg as far as I can tell Thames Clippers operates the river bus network including route RB 6. Essentially Thames Clipper is the operator for the river bus network as London General is for bus route 213 etc. You are absolutely right TfL does not really help someone understand the river services. Yes they are independent of TfL but the concordat should mean TfL provide the same quality of information as it does for other transport services. In part I think the problem is the geeks have taken over on the website. I fully understand the advantage of search tools (which is what they are) which can for some be a useful way of obtaining the information people they may require. It’s very much pitched at the tourist not the resident Londoner. They should though have always sought to provide the traditional information as well placing it in a logical context. To have provided an alphabetical diagram which looks like a clone of a route diagram is particularly stupid.

    373. Malcolm says:

      Discussing the TfL website (here or elsewhere) has its pluses and minuses. One particular minus is that it’s a bit like debating the shape of a cloud. It keeps changing.

      In the “good old days” (whatever they were) bits of software had fixed versions. You could make a remark about, say, Microsoft Word version 6, and if the remark was true, it would stay true; though possibly inapplicable to version 7.

      For (probably) good reasons, it’s not like that any more. A website can, and does, change in major, minor, or trivial ways with no notice whatsoever. Obviously regarding the content; but also in respect of the ways of getting at stuff.

      There is no “fix” for this situation.

    374. Greg Tingey says:

      I am largely in agreement – however:
      I tried to use the TRfL web-site on my whizzy new “smartphone about a fortnight back & I &/or it failed, utterly & completely.
      Also, so it’s supposedly designed for ‘phone use.
      This should not render it unusable, or very difficult to use from a static big screen-&-keyboard, should it?

      Also, being pedantic (!) their so-called timetables are not, in actual matter of fact, timetables, are they?
      They are departure-time lists for a specific destination, which makes general searching more difficult.
      A lot of the time, of course WTT’s are too detailed, if you are merely (!) trying to plan a journey across a part of London with which one is not familiar.

    375. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Greg – I feel you need to learn a bit more about the River Services. There is no separate TfL operation of boat services apart from Thames Clippers (or other companies). You wanted a timetable link, I provided it. Ignore it if you want to and carry on moaning about the lack of a traditional timetable when I gave you a link to one! Private operators run the boats, TfL provide the piers and some associated infrastructure like signage, website info, Countdown info.

      On the TfL website issue then PoP is broadly right. I think we all have our own moans about it but the move towards a touch based interface for mobile phone usage is not going to be changed. That change in approach is evident across loads of websites – Hertfordshire Intalink has had a similar change recently. Where I do diverge from PoP is that there is a distinct lack of consistent presentation – some timetables are presented as pdfs while others are not. Alphabetical lists are not helpful to describe routes or lines which *really* should be self evident to those in a transport organisation but apparently not! It is not beyond the wit of man to offer a choice in presentation even if it means one further decision point in reaching the info that’s wanted. Things like finding Board Papers have been changed for the worst in my view and the nonsense about the latest Annual Report has been ridiculous. Try finding the finalised annual report for 2013/14 – best of luck!

    376. Greg,

      The timetables are generally there on the website. Certainly all the bus timetables for all the stops. Sometimes they only say “every xx-yy minutes” because on frequent services the controller’s job is to provide an even interval service rather than run it to a timetable (if there is one). Again, the perceived wisdom is that most people just want the to know how long to the next bus or train and how frequent they are. Remember we are not normal users.

    377. Graham H says:

      Every London Bus route – even the theoretically high frequency one has a timetable, here: It would be interesting to know whether there are any studies available of the impact of inspectors in trying to maintain even service intervals. Practical observation and too much time spent looking at the Live London bus map suggests that they may not – always fighting yesterday’s war, as it were.

      “Remember we are not normal users” – Quite so. (I used to think that any casual reader chancing on this forum would be, to say the least, bemused, but having looked more widely at the web forums, I think we may all be quite sane – anyone tried the forum devoted to Ukrainian bus shelters, for example…?)

    378. Greg Tingey says:

      you misinterpret me – I did not “ignore” your link.
      I used it, but I found the section on the TfL site on river services very badly disjointed. If I had been a visitor to London I would have been very seriously confused, I can tell you!

      I’m going to be pedantic: They are NOT “timetables” as generally understood by the word, are they now?

      Agreed that once you try several work-arounds one can eventually, usually, find what you are looking for.
      But is all this struggle really necessary?
      No, it isn’t because of bad design, or just lack of thought.
      See also my comment re: “If it’s supposed to be smartphone-friendly, then why did my first (desperate – I was on a bus in deepest SW London) attempt to use this supposedly “phone-friendly” system crash without result, then?

    379. Malcolm says:

      ” Practical observation and too much time spent looking at the Live London bus map suggests that they may not”

      May not what? Have an impact: obviously they do, without some form of regulation, all the buses would inevitably clump together. (Perhaps a case could be made for leaving it to the drivers’ intuition, but in the unlikely event that such a policy succeeded, it would constitute self-regulation).

      But if “may not” was meant to be followed by “enjoy perfect success”, then yes, undoubtedly so.

    380. Graham H says:

      @Malcolm – “obviously they do” – really? Bunching of buses seems a pretty common phenomenon (for good mathematical reasons – first observed and modelled by Pascal, of course, with his carosses a cinq sous in Paris in the C17). What evidence do you have that things are better with manual intervention?

    381. Graham H says:

      @Malcolm – I do suggest you spend some time with the London live bus map and you will see the amount of bunching that actually takes place – try (if you’ve the time ) looking at the 2 just now – there are some clear 20 minute gaps in the service and and some 2 minute gaps. maybe the running inspectors are all having their tea.

    382. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Graham H – the usual mix these days for bus service control is the I-Bus control room with a few inspectors “on the ground”. I regularly see Stagecoach and Go Ahead inspectors at Walthamstow Bus Station. Clearly they have a snapshot view supplemented by whatever they can see on a digital device plus whatever I-Bus tell them. The “all seeing” I-Bus controllers do take steps to regulate the service which is why drivers get radio calls and passengers get the doleful “the destination of this bus has changed” message. The numbers of buses running “not in service” or with blank blinds are a good indication of service management taking place to restore the contracted service interval even if it means passengers dumped at the roadside. One of the nastiest practices is Arriva chucking people off eastbound 38s at Cambridge Circus so buses can dash up Shaftesbury Av and onwards to save time not serving TCR which is a bottleneck due to the station works. Another classic is dumping people off 11s and 24s at Parliament Square so they can dash down Millbank to Pimlico and Chelsea to catch up time. I am sure we could all quote our own examples of this service management practice. I understand First Capital Connect follow similar practice north of St Pancras with trains running non stop to make up time.

      There are also examples of buses shuttling back and forth on sections of route to maintain a headway but no useful through service if buses are bunched at the other end. As with any system there is an element of “gaming” to meet the contracted requirement.

    383. Malcolm says:

      What evidence do I have that things are better with manual intervention?

      Well, none whatever, actually. Not proper scientific evidence. I suppose I was counting the observed fact that, at the end of each day, the buses are not all piled up in a big heap, as evidence. But actually that lack-of-a-big-heap could have some other explanation, though I don’t know what it might be – perhaps a day is not long enough to produce a big heap?

      There is another observed fact, of course, that bus companies all over the world spend money intervening to try to even out their buses, and it stretches credulity slightly, capitalism being what it is, to think that they might all be wasting that money. But stranger things have occasionally happened, (such as the general medical consensus that stomach ulcers were not caused by bacteria, until Marshall and Warren proved that they were and won a Nobel Prize). What everybody believes is generally true, but not always!

    384. Anomnibus says:


      I feel there’s little point in reopening Mail Rail just to use it for its original purpose. It was mothballed for a reason: the markets for mail have changed, moving away from traditional letter post. Instead, Royal Mail’s infrastructure is now seeing far more bulk mail, such as parcels from Amazon. Very little of this needs to be shuttled around central London on its own transport system as it will already have been sorted by destination at order fulfilment centres.

      Simply put: MailFreight™ will need to get the freight from the surface down to the tunnels, then back up to the surface again at its destination, as autonomously as possible. That means rail guideways are out of the question.

      This isn’t as difficult as it sounds: basic spiral ramps would likely be more than sufficient. (Even lifts might work at smaller sites.) Although it might be easier to just build standard road vehicle ramps down to the platform level, even if it means punching a great big hole through a disused sorting office to get there.

      @Malcolm: Aren’t those cages still within the “pallet” size? I was thinking along those lines myself. It makes sense to pick something that existing vehicles, like almost every LGV ever made since the 1970s, has been explicitly designed to carry. I’m not sure those tall trolleys would fit in a Ford Transit, but there’s no reason why a standard size couldn’t be designed for the purpose.

    385. Long Branch Mike (chemin de fer de postes Royaume) says:


      Agreed that the PO Ry’s not likely to see a revival for post and/or freight usage in our lifetime – only if the surface streets are jammed for hours at a time. My analysis in the comments was in response to Michele Dix’s comments.

      Furthermore, such tunnels would be much more profitable moving Terrabytes of electrons +/- millions of litres of water (and/or sewage) than discrete parcels or letters.

    386. Anomnibus says:


      Terabytes of data don’t require massive tunnels; you could send that much through a few mil. of fibre-optic cabling. Even after wrapping it in a protective sleeve, that still leaves an awful lot of tunnel left over.

      Tunnels built for moving water around usually rely on gravity to do most of the work. They also require a specific approach to construction: you need the tunnel lining to be able to keep the water in and dirty water out (or vice-versa for sewers).

      The Mail Rail tunnels were never designed for this and would require very expensive conversion.

      Reusing them for some kind of freight system is pretty much the only option for keeping them in use. Otherwise, they’ll remain mothballed.

    387. Long Branch Mike ( says:


      I didn’t want to state the obvious regarding underground cabling, just that this is a common use of existing conduits sous terre. Similarly for water/sewage. Cincinnati Ohio’s abandoned subway tunnels, partially converted in the 20s from the disused canal bed through the city, were retrofitted in the 50s for water/sewage pipes (and, uh, pumps) as a much cheaper and less disruptive method vs digging up city streets. Recently however, proponents of Cincinnati’s LRT are rueing the fact that these water pipes preclude reconversion of the tunnels back to transit use.

    388. Anomnibus says:


      Canals tend to be built on the level (or on a very, very slight incline when serving double duty as reservoirs), which makes them easier to use for this purpose. The Mail Rail tunnels aren’t particularly level and include a fair few gradients—not least at the approaches to each station.

      One option might be to use them for high-voltage power cables, as was done at one of the Woodhead tunnels. Those can be very chunky indeed. But I’m not sure exactly what you’d be connecting each end of the cable to.

      The tunnels can only link something near Paddington to something near Liverpool Street. I don’t think there’s any great demand for power or water supplied between those points, or to any of the points in between, that can’t already be fulfilled using existing infrastructure.

      Mail Rail’s tunnels run not too far from the major department stores in Oxford Street, so there’s arguably a better case for conversion to a freight distribution system.

    389. BMD/IRT says:

      Not sure if this is the right thread for this (Mods please move if you wish), but for anyone who happens to be in Zurich before September, there’s a fascinating exhibition at the Zurich Design Museum about all things underground – transport, engineering, design, art. I can highly recommend it. And yes The Underground gets a look-in, alongside some Swiss constructions that are miles more ambitious than any that would be attempted in London, sadly.

    390. CdBrux says:

      It seems something must now have been published as Boris has released a statement on the 2050 plan and got a whole load of other ‘worthies / interested parties / people who hope their companies get a good slice of the cash’ to comment.

      Nothing much new from the highlights mentioned it seems to me, though I did pick up on a comment about electicity / energy supply constraints already potentially slowing down Nine Elms development (a bit iroic considering the most well known building there!). Could this constraint also be required for consideration in relation to significant electrically driven transport expansion, both rail & road?

      I’ve now found the plan set out for consultation – I haven’t time to look through it and in any case many others here are far better qualified to draw out the important points than I.

    391. Jonathan Roberts says:

      Thanks CdBrux, the main document link is as you state, and the specific transport supporting paper is here:-

      There’s a large amount to read and absorb, in the context of what housing densities you are prepared to tolerate (or support) in the suburbs or beyond.

    392. Stationless says:

      Boris got quite excited about this today in Barking. Here’s The Guardian’s take on it:

      Personally, I can’t see Barking being the Piccadilly Circus of any where, any time.

    393. Southern Heights says:

      @Stationless: barking idea if you ask me!

    394. Graham H says:

      @stationless – the headache for orbital railway planners/crayonistas is that the target destinations come in pairs – Barking/Romford. Ealing/West Ealing, Harrow/Wembley, Edmonton/Enfield (or Stamford Hill?), and so on. Which to choose?

    395. Southern Heights (Crayon Alert) says:

      Having had a fairly quick glance at the Transport attachment, I’m un-impressed, to say the least…

      Bakerloo to Hayes: not needed, but then not delivered until 2040 or so… NR will probably fight to keep the link via Beckenham Jn for their diversion route if there are works between Chislehurst and Lewisham. Maybe just terminate at Catford dogs? Or under tunnel the Catford loop instead?

      Crossrail 3: not really mentioned, whereas there should be mention of taking the Greenwich/Bexleyheath/Sidcup lines and linking the via Shadwell/City/West End/Clapham junction to the Wandsworth line. Even XR2 gets little mention..

      But then my expectations were low….

    396. Anonymous says:

      The Guardian map for R25 i.e. “Zone Three Orbital – Source: Mayor of London” is pretty much all existing or reinstated rails. Exception – from Barking to Abbey Wood and on to Sidcup area and connecting Bromley North to the BS line. Also a chord/tunnel in Twickenham. And flyovers/unders at several other places well known here: Wimbledon, Herne Hill, Lewisham.

      Is this map really MoL/TfL or is it a Guardianista Crayonista’s interpretation of Borissian bluster?

    397. timbeau says:

      How does the southern branch get from New Malden to Sutton? And from Norwood Junction to Abbey Wood? (I suspect the Bromley North line may be part of it)

      I don’t think the middle route goes through Herne Hill: surely Wimbledon – Tulse Hill – Peckham – Lewisham?

    398. Anonymous says:

      As seen today on London 2050 Transport Supporting Paper – p156:


      Do we have a back cover”

      Well, do we?

    399. Anonymous says:


      I have forever mixed up my Tulse and Herne Hills. You are right as usual. I meant the former. Have you ever been there? Very strange car-oriented places when not on a platform.

      “How does the southern branch get from New Malden to Sutton? ”

      Who knows? A chord before Raynes Park?

      “And from Norwood Junction to Abbey Wood? (I suspect the Bromley North line may be part of it)”

      Tunneling through Sidcup does not sound cost-effective to me.

    400. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Anon / Timbeau – the map as used by the Guardian is shown, albeit drawn slightly differently, on page 90 of the Transport specific section of the 2050 Plan consultation. It is unclear quite what is proposed. The Guardian are presenting it as new build and as a fast Metro whereas it looks rather more like squashing more service on to lines which are already at capacity plus some new bits to get across the river. It is also worth noting that the cost of this rough and ready proposal is not included in any of the cost numbers.

      If it was all new build as a Metro then I’d be genuinely excited at the prospect. However if it is shoving more service onto existing lines then I cannot see it working at all. There’s no way you can run a metro type frequency over the GOBLIN and on to the MML then off at Cricklewood on to the Dudding Hill Line which is how I interpret the map. There is simply not the track capacity nor any prospect of providing it if you’re also intensifying services on just about every radial line in the Capital.

      Reading the Guardian article I note that the Mayor rubbishes the DLR Dagenham Dock line which he cancelled. He seems to be saying that a DLR line that would serve 3 or 4 stops on the Riverside and link directly to Canary Wharf at a likely 6 or 8 tph frequency would be worse than a GOBLIN service to Barking running every 15 minutes with 4 car units. Is the man deranged or just able to talk utter rubbish in a way that no one challenges?

    401. Malcolm says:

      @WW While Boris may be deranged (though I doubt it) he is only doing standard politician behaviour when he talks up the Riverside service which is now “on offer”, and talks down the one which he cancelled. If I was considering moving to Riverside, my preference would be “neither of the above” anyway. It would be a proper regular train service which would get me somewhere useful in reasonable time. At least the connection to Barking will be capable of providing this at some future date, when some sort of capacity increase further in could permit rapid through services from Riverside to Fenchurch Street, Stratford or (rather more speculatively) Crossrail. DLR is a wonderful concept, but it should not be stretched too far.

    402. Ian J says:

      @WW: There’s no way you can run a metro type frequency over the GOBLIN and on to the MML then off at Cricklewood on to the Dudding Hill Line which is how I interpret the map

      You could, for example, build a new tunnel under Hampstead to get from Gospel Oak to the east side of the MML at West Hampstead, then take over the little-used MML freight lines as far as Dudding Hill. Not cheap, but it would give you an alignment completely separated from radial routes for much less cost than a completely new tunnelled route. The bits in outer southwestern and southeastern London are harder to see working, though. Plus of course it conflicts with the “possible Overground extensions” map which shows Overground on the Dudding Hill line turning north to Brent Cross and beyond. Similarly taking over the Bromley North branch would conflict with one of the proposed Bakerloo routes.

      In a way this all shows the power of lines on maps to attract attention – the actual text is very carefully hedged and the fact no date or price tag is put on this speaks for itself.

    403. Graham H says:

      @Ian J – indeed and also the political utility of maps in being able to be designed in such a way as to “vague it up” with complex and maybe insoluble issues simply shown as dotted lines or broad corridors.

      Some lessons from the maps seem unavoidable,however: the growth remains in the CAZ largely and yet nearly all the schemes mentioned are concerned with bringing more people into the centre. There’s virtually nothing about how to distribute them when they get there (station upgrade isn’t the point).

    404. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Malcolm – and yet the 2050 Plan indicates that the DLR service will be ramped yet further with 3 car trains on all routes, intensified off peak services and a probably night DLR. Where the DLR works is that it has a clear “identity” and role in moving people round East London and across the Thames. It also serves existing centres several of which are marked for further itensification. Now I agree with you that the DLR may not be super zippy but it’s reliable and frequent and scalable. To be honest does anything really think a 4 or 6 tph service with 4 or 5 car EMUs is remotely viable to serve a development with up to 40,000 residents or to link across the Thames to Thamesmead and Abbey Wood. I don’t often agree with Anomnibus but if we are to build a rail tunnel to Thamesmead and link to Crossrail then we really, really must get it right on day 1. If we end up with a piddling service level on smallish trains which I’d expect to be overwhelmed within months then someone is surely going to question the competence of our transport planners.

      @ Ian J – you may well be correct about new tunnels being built where you suggest. I do feel that it would have been far more helpful to add some more detail to what is really intended with this “new” Metro idea. I agree that it conflicts with several other proposals which is not exactly helpful in trying to understand what TfL and City Hall want to achieve. I’m minded to consider it a chimera which is playing the typical role “of new shiny bauble” in these plans so that people ignore all the rest of the stuff that is really controversial or contentious.

      One final observation – read a few of the comments under the Guardian article. To say there is some anger about London asking for more spending is a mild understatement.

    405. CdBrux says:

      @WW (re: outer orbital overground incororating GOBLIN): The document states that ‘there may be a case for providing …. in stages … something like this…’. To me I read that as an idea for comments / feedback in consultation. If thought to be a good idea then at some stage (and given this seems to not to be a top priority) then surely only then you’d start with some rough engineering and development of alternatives etc…

      I will say as someone not used to reading these types of documents (and not having read this one in full detail) that I find it tends to jump around a bit between background info and assumptions, projects certain or almost certain to happen, some general ideas and many things in between. In places it seems to be a bit contradictory, but maybe this is normal as for sure not everything (population growth / workplace development) will happen and thus not everything will be needed to support this. However at least it is better than nothing.

    406. Anonymice says:

      IanJ at 06:42 is likely to be quite close to the mark. Probably best to consider some costed elements of the explicit schemes (eg Hounslow-Old Oak-Neasden etc, GOBLIN upgrades) as early Phases of a full Outer Orbital. Looks like flying junctions and links (over or under, some tunnelled) would be needed in various places, to achieve part of all of the OO. With some design elements, there could be interesting benefits for existing services plus options for other new services as well. (How would YOU join the c2c line to the North Kent Line, for example, to maximise utility and opportunity? What links would you create?) Agree that the Boris Island topic swamps some of the other proposals.

    407. timbeau says:

      Most of the outer orbital route via Peckham Rye already exists, albeit many of the services run only 2tph
      The best I can find is Barking depart 1603, Abbey Wood arrive 1924 (via Brondesbury and Richmond, as the Neasden/Hounslow route involves two lines currently having no passenger services)
      changing at :
      Gospel Oak (14 minute wait)
      Richmond (5)
      Wimbledon (10)
      Peckham Rye (8)
      Lewisham (5)

      There are very few direct services from Wimbledon to Peckham Rye – off peak you need to change at Tulse Hill – and there is no peak hour service from Lewisham to Abbey Wood. That’s over three hours, of which nearly a quarter is spent waiting for connections.
      Off peak it’s a lot slower.

    408. Long Branch Mike (Les Canadiens) says:

      Not having yet fully read the 2050 Transport adjunct, I am still struck by the Borissian obsession of the Thamestuary Airport, ironically whilst there is much HS1 capacity. Increased use of HS1/Chunnel can easily and cheaply replace the need for the former.

      In other words, shouldn’t the obvious solution to the future lack of airport capacity be to promote more HS1/Chunnel rail services to the Continent, to further destinations than Paris & Bruxelles, to reduce or eliminate the need for further runway and airport gate slots?

      I don’t recall exactly which such services DB was promoting but recall they were along the lines of further European destinations.

      Along the same lines, HS2 should reduce the need for UK only connector flights betwixt London & Manchester/Brum, much as has been the case in France, where TGV services have the majority of travel within France, having wrested (not an auto-correct!) mode share from air travel.

    409. Malcolm says:

      @LBM Not really. You cannot fly London to Birmingham any more, and there are few flights London to Manchester. There are still some flights London to Paris or Brussels, but their main use is by people who are transferring to/from a longer flight, for whom changing mode and chugging to Paddington then St Pancras (half-hour check-in) doesn’t really cut the mustard. Journeys further into Europe, yes there is scope for some shift to trains, but only a very limited reduction is likely to ensue.

      The majority of Heathrow flights are relatively long haul. A lot of it is transfers (e.g. India-USA). If Heathrow cannot cope (and it is already struggling) this transfer traffic will shift to Schiphol or Paris or Frankfurt or the Gulf. Some say good-riddance, but many people in the UK are keen to keep it, because of the tax take, and because it results in a wider choice of cheaper flights that we can piggy-back onto.

      Boris’ preference for the Thames Estuary is quite logical, it would make very many west- Londoners happy to be able to go outdoors again. The only good reason not to do it (in my view) is the absolutely enormous price-tag. (Oh, and maybe a bit of concern for the planet, too).

    410. Greg Tingey says:

      [Snip. Not a route I want to go down. It will just get emotive and be short on facts. PoP]

      Quite frankly, the aborted semi-proposal of the late 40’s early 50’s, that Heathrow was too close to London, let’s use “Blackbushe” was a better proposal then & a better proposal now, too. With – loop-rail-link to both Paddington & Waterloo, the internal transportation would be easy.

    411. Mark Townend says:

      The Thames Valley west of London including parts of west London would suffer economically from losing Heathrow. An airport 30 or 40 miles further away across the centre of the capital and at the end of a no doubt expensive high speed shuttle link would be a poor substitute, and an orbital road journey half way round the M25 would be no easier. Heathrow’s ability to easily serve a wide area of south west England easily would be lost, perhaps creating a market for another airport somewhere in the west Thames Valley, maybe further out, or make Gatwick, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham more attractive to residents of Oxford, Swindon, Reading. Then I thought about a long runway at Didcot, on the power station site and Milton industrial estate . . .

    412. Anonymous2 says:

      Precisely, moving the UK’s main airport to a location on the far side of London from most of the population makes no sense for anyone based west of Central London. Calvert could be ideal (HS2, East-West Rail). Crayons down now…

    413. Malcolm says:

      @Mark, you make some good points there. We’re clearly not going to solve What-to-do-about-Heathrow in a few asides (or at all, I suspect). I wasn’t really trying to push my choice anyway, just suggesting that an estuary solution is not-unreasonable for a MAYOR OF LONDON to push (or waffle) for, and that Mike was not being very realistic in suggesting that the space on HS2 could help.

    414. Long Branch Mike (Les Canadiens) says:


      Thank you for the UK internal air travel breakdown. Regarding flights twixt London & Manchester, oft times we have taken these as part of our trans-Atlantic flights at Heathrow, although I try for direct flights or the WCML train for the internal segment as much as possible. These LHX-MAN flights seemed to be hourly IIRC, at least a few years ago when we last used then. Hopefully there are fewer now.

    415. Walthamstow Writer says:

      An interesting remark on Twitter earlier in response to someone drawing a more detailed map of that orbital metro idea – it was referred to as “the zombie orbital” and was an idea that the commenter, a former City Hall staffer, thought was dead in 2003. That poses some interesting questions as to quite what is going on with this plan and whether it’s a random selection of old ideas leavened with Boris favourites like the Estuary Airport and roads in tunnels or a more reasoned analytical approach to devising potential solutions. I have a horrible feeling it is the former and if we have a change of Mayor in 2016 then we face the prospect of a new Mayor going “I’m cancelling all that Boris nonsense [1]” and we face another 3-6 years of inaction.

      While reading a bit more of the transport document I am rather surprised to see references to the Welwyn Viaduct (thought that had been knocked on the head long ago) and Northampton apparently being served by East Coast main line services! Err??

      [1] from my POV a fair amount of Boris nonsense does have to be cancelled but you can’t stop everything because it takes *so* long to get anything started that we’d end up almost a decade of inaction if the next Mayor does nothing for 3 years while they contemplate their own plans.

    416. Greg Tingey says:

      UNLESS, perhaps if C Wolmayor gets elected & just says – we already have plans for Xtal Palace Tram – off you go!
      ( + others, too? X-river? ) ??

    417. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

      Yes Greg

      Heathrow was notoriously fog prone, and diversions to Blackbushe were quite common

    418. Caspar Lucas says:

      Mark Townend 18.11 and Anonymous 18.22: I was wondering if the (to me, looking in from the West Midlands) rather obvious geographical issue with a Thames Estuary airport would be mentioned in responses to Malcolm 16.38! Whereas Heathrow has effectively a 360 degree passenger dispersal zone – albeit with a major spike to the east-nor’-east – an estuary airport would have to push a far greater proportion of its (presumably larger) footfall into a relatively narrow westward corridor.

      It also strikes me that the agglomeration benefits and additional capacity of the estuary airport would result in it acquiring at least some international/intercontinental routes that currently use regional airports.

      Coupled with the location issue, this would presumably have the effects of: (a) exacerbating the different economic prospects of the south east on the one hand and the English regions on the other due to the relative ease of access to and from the country’s prime international gateway; (b) exacerbating existing issues of surface transport through and around London as air passengers to and from the regions occupy capacity that could otherwise be used for intra-London/south east journeys and (c) as a direct result necessitate the construction of higher capacity (and cost) transport solutions.

      Next to that vision of the future, WRAtH plus the HS2 link with Heathrow (either via Crossrail at Old Oak Common or by a direct high speed rail link) start to look distinctly attractive as a means of opening up the regions to international travel, both inbound and out. Note that as of today there are virtually no decent quality direct surface public transport options from any of Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted to any significant urban centres apart from London.

      Of course, the intriguing prospect for reshaping the UK’s economy that seems to have slipped through our fingers is expansion of Birmingham airport to cater for a similar capacity to present-day Heathrow – a major hub airport located at the hub of the high speed rail network, within 45 minutes’ travel time of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds (and indeed many other places). I can’t help suspecting that political uncertainty over HS2 influenced the Davies Commission’s decision not to pursue the West Midlands option seriously at this stage…

      Or maybe I’m overstating the importance of access to international gateways in economic development?

    419. Malcolm says:

      I agree about the dispersal zone business. That is an inevitable consequence of the noise dispersal. All other options, from Gatwick to Blackbushe to Didcot to Calvert to Birmingham, subject almost as many residents (different ones, of course) to the daily purgatory currently undergone by Hillingdonians and Felthamites (and possibly worsened and widened in due course by the new runways). (Thames Estuary does similarly harm people in parts of north Kent, but far fewer because most of the noise is over the sea).

    420. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Caspar Lucas – I can only assume that direct rail access to all three airports with wider regional access to Stansted and Gatwick and frequent coach services to all 3 airports from across the country plus a frequent network of coach connections between the airports themselves (and Luton) doesn’t constitute “decent quality direct surface public transport options”. Heathrow is obviously weak in terms of wider rail links. It strikes me that transport links into any airport are often difficult because of the vastly differing demands and highly peaked travel periods.

      I was looking at Changi Airport’s (Singapore) info earlier. Now OK it serves a city state which is nowhere near as developed as London but it is recognised as a major world airport. It has no direct trains to the city centre – you have to change two stops down the line to another MRT service. There are no main line rail services to Singapore anymore. There is one bus service into the centre of Singapore (route 36). The mainstay of transport links is taxis and shuttle buses – provided they can be bothered to run them. I was once refused a ticket and forced to ask a taxi at 3 times the cost. I think Heathrow does spectacularly better than that even if you were to argue Changi’s not the best comparison in the world.

    421. Ian J says:

      @LBM: Increased use of HS1/Chunnel

      The transport report does include the suggestion of a second rail Channel Tunnel in its “uncosted” musings. I think this is the first time I have seen this particular fantasy mentioned, even by a crayonista – normally second Channel Tunnel musings centre around adding a road tunnel.

      One interesting way of reading the document is to think about what isn’t included. If a proposal can’t make it into a report that includes extra Channel Tunnels, an estuary airport, the “zombie orbital”/”R25″/”rail bagel”, Haykerloo, the Inner Ringway Circular Tunnel and other such fantasy schemes, it really seems dead. So unless I’ve missed it, that means:

      – the Hammersmith road tunnel is dead (not included in the shortlist of possible road schemes, and “mini-tunnels” and flyunders seem the fashion now)
      – Cable cars are dead
      – DLR to Catford/Dagenham Dock/Bromley/anywhere is dead
      – Tramlink to Crystal Palace (or anywhere except Sutton) is dead

      That’s a few Mayoral manifesto commitments casually cast aside but I doubt the media will notice.

    422. Ian J says:

      @WW: I’m minded to consider it a chimera which is playing the typical role “of new shiny bauble” in these plans

      I agree, but if it means that the Goblin extension gets built with at least passive provision made for longer and more frequent trains crossing the river in the future, it will have served some kind of purpose.

      Sometimes ideas that kick around for a long time do actually happen when the time is right – the Overground orbit of London is a case in point. The real skill is in distinguishing the zombies that refuse to die from the good ideas that are just waiting for their moment (or their champion). Ken Livingstone was better at this than Boris Johnson, I think.

    423. Caspar Lucas says:

      WW 00.15. I wrote: “as of today there are virtually no decent quality direct surface public transport options from any of Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted to any significant urban centres apart from London”. The last eight words are crucial!

      My proposition is centred around the economic prospects of the regions, and hence relates particularly to inward investment (presumably represented by business travellers from abroad who may have little familiarity with the UK transport systems) reaching urban centres outside London. I was therefore not considering inter-airport transport and there is a debate to be had about whether, in this context, coach travel is “decent quality”.

    424. ngh says:

      Re ian j 0102

      I don’t regard the report as comprehensive it very much has a quick back of the envelope feel to it in order to get projects or the need for something on the radar screen so that detailed costings could be done. In a similar way to the recent funding package for detailed CR 2 costings.

      The classic case being Brixton high level and interchange costed at 25m in the report when there is discussion on the curent overground thread of costs north of 100m based on detailed tfl work.

    425. timbeau says:

      “no decent quality direct surface public transport options from any of Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted to any significant urban centres apart from London”
      I’m not sure what you consider to be a significant urban centre, but
      – Luton has direct trains to Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield etc.
      – Stansted has direct trains to Cambridge, Peterborough, Leicester, Birmingham etc
      – Gatwick has direct trains to Reading, Southampton, Brighton, Eastbourne etc.

      none of which go via London.

      However, from Heathrow Central, the furthest you can get by rail in the direction away from London is Terminal 5!

    426. timbeau says:

      just occurred to me, even City Airport has trains going away from central London, albeit only as far as Woolwich (change for the North Kent Line)

    427. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Ian J – I agree that Ken seems to have been better prepared than Boris in terms of getting schemes up and running. I suspect Ken always had a list of things he wanted to do given his long involvement with London government. Boris didn’t have the same municipal govt experience nor did he have an overt plan to build things. His plan was to stop doing stuff which is why we’re not much further forward 6 years later – Crossrail and ELL Phase 2 being the notable exceptions.

      If the GOBLIN extension is designed for a future extension under the Thames it’s going to have to descend a long way down in order to get into the right position for a tunnel. Unless TfL specify superior performance characteristics for the new GOBLIN stock then it’s going to be a line that descends and descends on the Riverside peninsula with presumably an underground terminus station. If the new trains were to have superior climbing capability then a different design of alignment would presumably be feasible.

      I think the Hammersmith road tunnel was comprehensively rubbished because of the problems with portals. The change in political control in H&F has also helped make it disappear. However I do detect a sketch in the Transport Document that looks rather like one used for the Hammersmith scheme! I suspect that the Crystal Palace Tramlink extension is *not* dead and is tied in with the plan by the Chinese developer to build some monstrosity at Crystal Palace park. I expect City Hall is trying to extract funding for Tramlink from the developer and keeping things quiet now allows the negotiations to proceed. I rather expect there will be announcement later this year (Autumn Statement) or Spring next year (Budget). It is also suggested that Barking Riverside funding will be confirmed in the Autumn Statement – TfL’s forward plan for authority papers for that project are linked to such an assumption.

    428. Anonymice says:

      @WW 09:42
      Agree with your judgment that a cross-Thames rail tunnel near Barking Riverside would require a longish ramp on the northern side.

      Also depends if you want to design for freight to use it or not (there might be some advantages for local Thameside industry access and for more strategic connections). So something between 1 in 35 if passenger only or for freight 1 in 50 – that’s the ruling gradient on HS1 cross-Thames tunnel nearby at Purfleet-Ebbsfleet where freight trains are allowed. You should then be able to work out the minimum practical length for an Overground tunnel approach, and then try to optimise its location with a station well placed to serve the Riverside development.

      If you were Treasury, would you authorise extra spend on a deep-level Overground approach to a Riverside station close to a tunnel mouth, compared to a surface railway, if you hadn’t yet been asked to consider a cross-Thames tunnel and a business case demonstrated? In Graham H’s words “no I thought not”! Therefore that would point to a surface-level or shallow-level station carefully located to be central within the development but yet allowing a long approach descent to a tunnel mouth. I’ll leave you to work that one out.

    429. THC says:

      @ Ian J – 1 August, 0102

      Hammersmith Flyunder is not dead, merely sleeping. 😉

      Following the change of political control in H&F in May, and subsequent alterations to the housing mix from the original proposal, the scheme is the subject of a bid to the LEP Growth Fund to pay for a second-stage feasibility study. The Flyunder is not a TfL-sponsored scheme (although in principle support has been given) so its exclusion from the LIP 2050 consultation draft is no surprise.


    430. Southern Heights says:

      DG has quite an interesting timeline (a bit too colourful perhaps) of the LIP 2050, it really shows how Crayonista the whole thing is…

    431. Anomnibus says:


      Re. Heathrow access: Spot on.

      This is why I support the TESTRAD proposal for an estuarine airport: the notion that Heathrow is particularly accessible from the West is nonsense at best: it’s actually much easier to get to Gatwick than Heathrow from that direction if travelling by rail. The only advantage Heathrow’s current location offers is accessibility by road.

      Heathrow’s effects on the M25, M4 and M40 aren’t particularly beneficial: it’s brutal on traffic congestion and pollution, and it’s not helped by the fact that both the radial motorways just peter out with an apologetic little cough as they enter Zone 1. (A legacy of ditching the old Ringways project, though that should not have been an excuse for doing such a half-arsed bodge-job on what was left.)

      Worst of all, it means many businesses living on the M4 and M40 west of the M25 are actually suffering, not benefiting, from Heathrow’s impact on their logistics and commuting patterns. Not everyone on the M4 or M40 needs to travel by air every single day.

      Thing is, we’ve had LEVs on our roads for years now, while ZEVs are also on the rise. Couple with another enabling technology, the self-driving vehicle (‘SDV’), and we’re ripe for some serious disruption to the automobile industry. For one thing, ZEVs radically change the economics of building road tunnels by cutting ventilation requirements right down. Add SDV technology to the mix and you can build smaller roads and tunnels, because you have much more efficient use of road space.

      Rail and other modes also have their place in the mix, but we also need to learn the lessons taught us by Gatwick’s location on the Brighton Main Line, and Heathrow’s location at a major junction between the M4, M25 and M40: should airports have (mostly) segregated transport infrastructure, or should we rely on expanding what’s already there?

      Airports, like most major infrastructure projects, are expected to last many decades. It makes little sense to plan for yesterday’s transport use cases when we can clearly see tomorrow’s. Especially when it’ll probably take at least ten years just to get construction started on a new airport.

    432. timbeau says:

      @Southern heights, re DG’s timeline

      2030 looks interesting:
      – Southern rail access to Heathrow Airport complete
      – Estuary Airport replaces Heathrow

    433. Graham H says:

      @timbeau – they are different 2030s perhaps, or a good example of Schrodinger’s cat?

    434. Mark Townend says:

      @Anomnibus, 1 August 2014 at 12:49

      Your description of western access to Heathrow, rather than being only a case for an estuary relocation, is surely also an excellent case for better western rail access to Heathrow – there’s an acronym for that! If Reading, Oxford, Basingstoke and perhaps High Wycombe and Woking/Guildford rail links could gain a significant share of local and regional traffic towards the airport including travel to work journeys, that might relieve regional road traffic sufficiently to make Heathrow less of a capacity handicap for the local and trunk roads in its vicinity, and that in turn could make local bus journeys into and around the airport more reliable and more attractive.

    435. Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel) says:

      This seems to be running in tandem with the current Study in Sussex pat 4 thread.

      More appropriate here.

      @ Mark T

      You mention Wycombe. Is it true that the Bourne End – Wycombe gap which I thought was once protected is now (and recently) irretrievably lost ??

    436. Caspar Lucas says:

      timbeau 09.12:
      I excluded Luton on the grounds, as I understand it from previous comments on this site, that local geography prevents it growing to become (one of) the UK’s major hub airport(s). Similar – albeit more obvious! – for London City.

      My list of significant urban centres contains the, er, major urban centres of Great Britain: Strathclyde, Edinburgh, Tyne & Wear, West Yorkshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, West Midlands, Greater Bristol and of course Greater London. Reading and Southampton are on the third tier (London obviously occupies the first tier on its own). Eastbourne is not high on the list.

      WRAtH/GWML plus Crossrail/HS2 provides the arriving passenger at Heathrow with at most a 2-stage rail journey (local+long distance) to every one of the above. I am afraid I do not count Stansted’s current rail link to Birmingham as being in the “decent quality” bracket.

    437. timbeau says:


      Gatwick already has similar two-stage links to many of those urban centres, either using Thameslink from KX/StP (or Luton!), or via Reading (Merseyside and Strathclyde are the exceptions).

      So, either direct or via Clapham Junction or London Bridge, does most of southern England. Neither Crossrail nor Wrath nor HS2 will make much difference to them.

      I listed Eastbourne (it could have been Hastings) merely as one end of the Sussex coast conurbation, not as a major centre in its own right.

    438. Mark Townend says:

      @Castlebar (Pedantic of Arundel), 1 August 2014 at 13:51

      I think to all intents and purposes the old route is now lost, particularly to a heavy rail link. That is why I drew up this:

      I know it would be enormously expensive, but might be justified in broader economic terms as part of a package of transport measures that could save Heathrow for the Thames Valley AND relieve local and trunk road congestion in the vicinity.

    439. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

      @ Mark T

      Never one to encourage any crayonistic tendencies, I have to admit that your map is excellent and a triangular junction north of Wooburn (just to serve Marlow??) is something that I have never considered. But your map is a brilliant job. “Gert Lush” as they would say in Bristol. (And Filton)

      It is unfortunate that I think your map is too sensible and avant garde to be taken seriously.

      Now Mrs C wants to go to the garden centre, so I suspect I shall be off line until after dark. So do not take any further lack of communication as a sign of rudeness, nor not wishing to develop your idea which deserves more study.

    440. Southern Heights says:

      @timbeau: I thought that was funny too. As I’m confined to bed/couch today due to flu, I’ve taken to reading the entire document, it strikes me that in the last phase of the document’s production, it was politicised by inserting “Boris Island” references in the appropriate places. The sentence construction sometimes seems a bit odd.

      If Boris Island really was so central to the whole plan you would have thought that it would be taken more seriously, but a lot of the transport options are very Zone 1 centric, nothing really about links to the Medway Towns where you could logically expect most of the labour 0 hours slave force to live.

      @Anomnibus: Heathrow was certainly there before the M25… The existence of the M4/M40 probably owes in part to the existence of Heathrow, not the other way around.
      Moving the Airport to Boris Island simply shifts the bottle necks to M25/A2/M2/A282/A229, what to do about that is left unspoken too….

    441. Malcolm says:

      The confused and confusing position of the Estuary airport in the document should not surprise us. The document has to be consistent with the strong advocacy of the airport which is TfL’s official position (not just Boris’). And at the same time it has to be consistent with the obvious fact of life that there is a significant chance that these arguments may not be accepted by government, and London may well have to live with one of the other solutions.
      Hence the muddle, including some inconsistencies commented on in the discussion above, and probably others we have not yet found.

    442. Greg Tingey says:

      A part-developer-funded tram extension to Xtal Pal, could, of course, go further (North or NW), which would also require people to keep quiet about it …

      I THINK that Bourne-End Wycombe is still possible, just not on all the way on the original alignment – which puts costs up, of course. As does Mr Townend’s excellent idea – much too practical, in fact.

      Southern Heights
      Your point about simply moving the congestion to the other side of London is well-taken.
      I really wonder, if we really want & need a major international long-haul “hub” airport ( & it appears that we do, or so it seems) then closeness to central London is almost irrelevant.
      Which brings us back to Brummagem international, or re-re-siting at Blackbushe, with appropriate links. Since it’s quite close to the Guildford-Reading line, so a general sort-out of the existing junctions, with approach rails to a new airport would NOT be difficult & would provide convenient connections to the rest of the country.
      Ditto a re-vamped Birmingham, linked to HS2.
      And close bloody Heathrow (please?)

    443. Malcolm says:

      @Greg If Heathrow is to close, then the equivalent capacity must be found elsewhere. No way can a new airport with at least 2 runways be built anywhere in inland England, there would just be too many protests, as there would be if 2 or more runways were added to any existing airport. (There may be an outside chance for Stansted). Remember Cublington?

      No, it’s keep Heathrow (by far the most likely) with/without runways being added there (and/or at Gatwick). Or build in the Thames Estuary. Nothing else is remotely possible.

    444. timbeau says:

      There is no doubt that Heathrow blights a large part of west London, but it is so much an integral part of west London’s infrastructure now that it would probably be cheaper and less disruptive to relocate Hounslow to the Thames estuary instead.

    445. Anomnibus says:

      @Southern Heights:

      I agree that there are issues with the road infrastructure, but given that Kent and Essex really do need some additional river crossings, it’s not as if the work won’t need to be done anyway at some point. This way, you can save some money by recycling the spoil from the tunnels to help build the artificial islands.

      This was, in fact, one of the main features of the TESTRAD proposal: that the airport itself is effectively built from the spoil created by other nearby projects constructed around the same time. Remember, there’ll be a need to replace the Thames Barrier at Woolwich around this time too. This particular proposal was all about addressing multiple birds with one stone.

      (Note: there are other, more recent, marketing-led proposals – yes, Foster + Partners, I’m looking at you – that have also been branded “Boris Island” by a particularly ignorant media. None of them have received any money from the GLA, and rightly so, in my view.)

      The main advantage with the estuary location is that you effectively have a clean slate and a lot more space to work with. The Heathrow site is far more constrained and limited in scope for future expansion. Once you have a third runway, where does it go next?

      Consider that Amsterdam’s Schiphol (AMS) airport already has six runways (5 long, 1 short). If Heathrow wants to compete, that’s the kind of monster it’s facing.

      While Heathrow probably still has a couple of decades of useful life left, nothing lasts forever, and Heathrow’s situation is particularly untenable long-term due to the constrained location: adding even more runways would require spectacularly expensive engineering.

      By then, SDV and ZEV technologies are expected to be standard features on road vehicles. Which changes everything, yet again: Even the concept of private ownership of motor vehicles may be on its way out by that time. And that changes a lot of the economics of roadbuilding and car usage. It’s going to be a massive cultural wrench.

      This change could actually work to Heathrow’s benefit in terms of access, but it doesn’t solve its key problem of runway capacity.

    446. Southern Heights says:

      @Greg: Maybe move it to be on the S&C? It would give a good reason to increase the services on that line and provide local employment opportunities.

      If it is a hub for changing planes then a two coach DMU once an hour should do it….

    447. Anomnibus says:


      Terminal buildings are just boxes. Like most modern buildings, they’re almost trivial to repurpose. Exhibition halls would be one option, but conversion into shopping malls and even museums – e.g. the London Transport Museum could be moved to T5, which has sufficient additional space to allow some exhibits stored in Acton Depot to be put on permanent display. With all the open land nearby, a short ‘museum branch’ (possibly linked to the Piccadilly Line for logistical purposes) could be included too.

      In fact, Heathrow’s key advantage as a redevelopment opportunity is precisely the fact that it already has the Piccadilly and heavy rail stations serving it. Remember how building the DLR was necessary before all the big developers would invest in the area? That’s not a problem with Heathrow: it has / will have direct links right into the West End, the City, and even Docklands and, er, Abbey Wood, right out of the box.

      Throw in the proposals for Old Oak Common and HS2, and Heathrow is a developer’s wet dream. I’m not kidding.

    448. ML says:

      @Caspar Lucas
      Remember that while Birmingham International may be 45 mins from St Pancras (once HS2 is finished), it is far longer from the vast majority of the SE population, who don’t all live at St Pancras. The catchment poulation within 60 minutes of Heathrow (or Gatwick) is far far greater than that for Birmingham – which is why Birmingham isn’t plausible as a replacement London hub airport.

    449. Caspar Lucas says:

      ML 17.28:
      Point accepted (although I think you mean Euston rather than St Pancras). But I didn’t suggest that Birmingham should or even could be a *London* hub airport; I was musing on its potential as a *national* hub airport, specifically aimed at spreading economic development more evenly across the country than is currently the case. With that goal, ease of access *from* the airport *to* major urban centres (as the drivers of the economy) scores more highly than access to the airport from domestic properties. In any case, as pointed out by Malcolm 16.50, Heathrow would remain under this scenario. But anyway, as alluded to in my original post, this kind of thing requires long-term nationwide integrated strategic planning with a specific aim of upsetting the established order: difficult in any country let alone the UK, where the governmental system has opposed such things for hundreds of years.

      timbeau 14.27:
      Again, points accepted, but I would argue that just because a rail option (such as Gatwick-Reading-Manchester or Stansted-Birmingham) exists it doesn’t automatically follow that it is of sufficient quality – a concept which includes journey time among many other factors – to act as a corridor of inward investment; I further suggest that WRAtH/electric GWML and Crossrail/HS2 would achieve this quality.

      It’s got a bit lost in the discussion, but my original point was to agree with other posters that a Thames Estuary airport would worsen access to and from the UK’s principal international gateway for most of the country and as a result would both concentrate economic development in the south east (in contravention of stated policy) and ratchet up the challenges of providing transport infrastructure in London because intra-London/south east travellers would be competing for capacity on exactly the same corridors as air passengers from around Britain. TESTRAD’s map of indicative access routes illustrates this problem perfectly: all rail routes go straight through central London.

      I conclude therefore that retaining Heathrow – coupled with WRAtH, Crossrail and HS2 – is preferable, with developments at Birmingham as a very interesting but undoubtedly left-field alternative.

    450. Long Branch Mike (Aerodromes!) says:

      I agree with Caspar Lucas his analysis.

      I’d like to add that the advent of the Airbus a380 double decker airliner, and the possible trend of stacking increasing numbers of passengers into aircraft (especially if fuel prices go up) may also affect airport requirements.

      That is, if the same number, but larger, airliners are used on long haul flights, there might be much less need for additional runway(s), but increased need for rail capacity to and from (London) airports.

    451. timbeau says:

      This trend has been going on for a long time – and is why Heathrow now needs five terminals (arguably seven since T5 has two satellites) to serve the same number of runways it had when there was only one.

    452. Theban says:

      An estuarine airport is suddenly within reach of continental Europe with Lille being under an hour. It’s not something the various proposals have yet discussed but the catchment area for a Thames estuary airport is not just the UK. So the question is, are links to population centres necessary to serve those population centres, or are they necessary to underpin the attractiveness of a hub airport because they don’t give the same answer.

      If we want an airport simply for UK residents to come and go then Heathrow is probably the right choice. If we want the European hub airport then the Thames Estuary plus a second Channel tunnel is the choice.

    453. AlisonW says:

      Luton airport are planning on realigning their current runway (I’m under takeoff path, and they still have night flights.) Can’t recall who (Arup?) showed some plans for a four-runway monster replacement.

      As regards redeveloping Heathrow the track record isn’t too hot elsewhere: Oslo closed Fornebu (replaced by Gardermoen, which I flew out from on its first day of operation) almost 15 years ago. Removal of the old infrastructure is still going on – concrete runs deep.

    454. Greg Tingey says:

      ALison W
      Then there’s the ongoing saga of Berlin’s airport-replacement(s), working slowly down the line …..

    455. Caspar Lucas says:

      Theban 02.26
      Correct me if I am wrong, but basing an estuary airport on that reasoning seems to be an argument for the UK spending tens of billions to achieve the predictable consequences of worsening the economic prospects of its own regions (see my previous posts) and getting into a three-way tussle with Charles de Gaulle and Schiphol to serve – or, as I might put it, direct inward investment towards – Lille, Brussels and their respective hinterlands.

      However big, grand and attractive an estuary airport is, one thing it will not achieve is removal of either Charles de Gaulle or Schiphol as hub airports in their own right. It will be very difficult to capture catchment from them any nearer to Paris or Amsterdam, and any further into the continent Frankfurt becomes a competitor too.

      In relation to Heathrow, you mention UK residents coming and going, but don’t refer to inward investment as a result of travellers from abroad entering the UK. I see this as symptomatic of a perennial issue with public debate on transport planning: it is hard enough for people to assess the direct effects on oneself (“how will I get to the airport?”) but consideration of the effects on other people to the indirect benefit of oneself is almost entirely sidelined. We see exactly the same in the HS2 debate.

    456. ML says:

      @Caspar Lucas
      Whatever you call the hub, all the analysis shows that a successful hub needs a large local catchment. In the UK, that means ensuring the London metropolitan area is in the catchment area. If the UK does not have a London hub, this won’t enable Birmingham to work as a hub. Birmingham won’t have a sufficient local catchment. Instead, the UK will use Amsterdam or Frankfurt as its hub, which will have implications for UK competitiveness.

    457. Malcolm says:

      While I agree with what ML says about Birmingham not being able to take the place of London as a hub (for lack of local catchment), there is a much bigger reason why it cannot. The amount of demolition to give Birmingham the extra two (at least) runways would be enormous, and the whole of the West Midlands would not stand for the extra noise.

    458. Anon says:

      Given London’s skies are congested (Thames Estuary Airport will close Stansted and City for ATC reasons, as well as Heathrow for getting-the-airlines-to-move reasons), is it worth a 12-digit figure to create a capacious hub funneling most of London’s air traffic into one place in order to generate even more agglomeration traffic? It’s like turning up the heat on a hob when the water in the saucepan is already boiling away merrily…

      London’s Airports as a whole, and Heathrow as a single airport, are only threatened by Schiphol and CDG in paranoia land – people want to fly to London, not Amsterdam, and London can lose ~25% of its air passenger traffic and still be beating Paris (and everywhere that isn’t NYC). Heathrow is Europe’s busiest airport, and a major hub. It also grew faster in 2012-13 (3.3%) than Schiphol (3%) and CDG (1.1%). And that’s ignoring Gatwick (OK, Orly in Paris is doing well – growing at a similar absolute rate, not too far behind on the passenger numbers – despite a well-sited and well-connected hub also serving the city), which is doing very well despite not being a bona fide hub (of course, Gatwick’s success owes a lot to the lack of capacity at Heathrow and it functioning as overspill. Don’t know why Orly is doing much better than CDG though, given that CDG has runway space!)

      The bigger, UK Plc, view also needs to look at what will happen in the provinces. You get nonsense like the Estuary Airport promoters pushing “more space for domestic flights” as a key benefit over Heathrow R3/Gatwick R2? Their document was talking about places like EMA, Cardiff, etc that make no sense for domestic flights with Heathrow, esp with the links at OOC and Reading. I could understand smaller Scottish airports being pushed out of London’s hub due to capacity being at a premium being a bad thing, and maybe Newcastle and Newquay are far enough away for connecting flights, but it was about places like Manchester and Liverpool and Leeds/Bradford not losing them, and others like Cardiff and EMA being able to regain them. Which is only useful if the airport is much harder to get to along the surface from those places than the other alternatives .

      Linked in with that – will Northern and Scottish cities retain their links to Schiphol if they can get to the megahub easily and quickly with frequent planes? Will Manchester keep its Dubai and Trans-atlantic flights if there’s the world’s largest and busiest airport with frequent sub-90 minutes onward connections (air and land) to large parts of its catchment?

      And is it worth annoying the Dutch (and probably the whole rest of the EU) hamstringing Schiphol by stealing a lot of its catchment (eg the North and Scotland, as well as the area around Lille) and having a hub in a place where people want to go in droves, rather than somewhere where few people want to go (no offense, Amsterdam), but is a great place to change planes? CDG will fare a bit better, but also will be under-threat. Heathrow is already competing very successfully with both, despite having no spare runway capacity for growth currently.

    459. Graham H says:

      @Anon – I think you are right to raise this issue; at the risk of repeating what I’ve just said on a parallel thread (there’s a terrible tendency for thread convergence these days, I find!), it may well be that the days of hub and spoke are coming to an end at least for major generators of air traffic such as the UK. As volumes increase, it becomes easier to justify a many-to-many pattern rather than the one-to-many pattern of hub and spoke. Also some of the hubs are getting very large indeed and, at least so far as the interchanging punter is concerned, have become simply a cluster of moderately close airports (eg LHR is quite close to being three airports so far as the punter is concerned). These giants are increasingly difficult to place, even setting aside the pollution and congestion they generate.

      Maybe, just maybe, we shall in future see more of a grid pattern of air routes – the air equivalent of Germany rather than France in rail terms. If so, it would greatly ease the access problems by spreading the load, especially where growing air traffic conflicts with growing commuter traffic, as in London. Perhaps the Davis Commission is too narrow in scope and starts from the wrong premise?

    460. Dan says:


      Luton are not planning to realign the runways any time soon. They have permission to extend the taxiway, increase the number of aircraft stands, increase the parking, increase the terminal space and double the approach road. No one could justify paying for a runway realignment for the minor incremental benefit it would give.

    461. Fandroid says:

      Airports like Schiphol, Frankfurt, Paris, Düsseldorf etc will all retain their direct links to UK airports like Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow because the former serve large populations and are the best choice for business travellers from those parts of the UK north of London. The business travellers won’t want the painful time-wasting of a transfer at Heathrow (or Borispolder), and without them the business case for a very frequent service from the UK hub to the UK cities starts to crumble at the edges. KLM and Lufthansa in particular provide some very useful links. They won’t shift their operations just because Boris says so.

    462. AlisonW says:

      Dan: they made a lot of noise last year about doing so, primarily (iirc) to do with also lengthening it. Can’t find the details now though (of course!) though I’m reading through their “airspace change proposal” document at the moment.

    463. Greg Tingey says:

      Deliberately posted here, rather than on the “other” 2050 thread ….
      As someone very familiar with this beautiful building, I still think it’s shame & a waste

    464. Anomnibus says:

      @Greg Tingey:

      I’m not sure what else they can do. Many of these older office buildings simply aren’t fit for today’s business needs. The alternative would have been demolition, so at least 55 Broadway has a future.

      And I’ve already advocated in the past for more emphasis on local living rather than long-distance commuting. This will be an apartment building that has its own Underground station in its basement! That’s a hell of a selling point.

    465. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Greg – as someone who’s worked in 55 Broadway and Albany House it will be sad to see the HQ of the Underground become poncy shops and outrageously priced flats. I am just glad I had the foresight to arrange to go in with my camera on a Saturday before I left LU so I could snap various aspects of the interior plus the view from the 10th floor. I even had a firm of architects want to use my winter morning’s view of the London Skyline from 55 for a Christmas Card.

      @ Anomnibus – while I understand your point about “modern” buildings and technology and I’ll readily accept lots of 55 Broadway falls short of the ideal it is still somewhere that had / has a lot of character and locating people close together makes meetings etc simple and efficient. I’ve seen what the future looks like having been to Palestra, Pier Walk and the old LU Canary Wharf / Tube Lines Westferry offices and if you enjoy working somewhere where every floor is nigh on identical and resembles a chicken coup with no room for storage and bizarre rules about personal conduct, use of facilities and “hot desking” then you’re very welcome to it. Personally I like wood panelled meeting rooms, creaking floor boards and art deco reception areas! Still it’s not my concern any more but I can still be a bit nostalgic.

      There is no way on earth that TfL would ever have been allowed to demolish 55 Broadway. I recognise that the property developers are enjoying progressively smashing Victoria and Victoria St to bits for the umpteenth time over the last 50-70 years but I am not sure yet more glass blocks are what is needed. I await with dread to see what will happen to New Scotland Yard once the Met move out. Now NSY has little architectural merit but I do wonder what will be put up in its place.

    466. Anomnibus says:

      @Walthamstow Writer:

      I’m merely pointing out that there’s no way to predict the demands and needs of future tenants generations in advance. Every building—every man-made artefact, come to that—is, literally, “of its time”. That 55 Broadway survived this long serving its original purpose is a testament to the quality of its design and architecture. Many office buildings have a far shorter lifespan, and face a very ignominious end.

      (A fair chunk of Croydon springs rapidly to mind. I wish it hadn’t; it’s put me right off my supper.)

      That LU believe 55 Broadway can be recycled as an apartment building is, again, a testament to the high quality of its design. Few such buildings get a second chance.

      I can’t see what else LUL are supposed to do. They’re running a public transport network, not a rival to the Beamish Living Museum.

      [Demolition wishes expunged. LBM]

      That said, I think 55 Broadway does fall under the “keep it” category. It is a beautiful piece of architecture, and there really isn’t much (if anything) quite like it, so its preservation makes sense if it’s viable to do so.

      And it’ll be a damn cool place to live.

    467. Anomnibus says:

      @Walthamstow Writer (again):

      [non-sequitor opinions on offices snipped. LBM]

      So, believe me, I do sympathise with your views on the loss of 55 Broadway as an LU office. I remember seeing a documentary about it a while ago and thinking it looked like the kind of office I could actually work in myself. Just walking in through the main entrance would have put a smile on my face. I can’t remember ever feeling that way about any modern glass box.

    468. Greg Tingey says:

      During the “winter” months a semi-professional railway group/organisation meets there, in the “lecture hall”/meeting/board room on floor 7.
      I think we’ll be moving to Borough (or possibly Southwark) after this season, which will be a pity.

    469. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Anomnibus – I know you take a rather “blunt” view about old things simply being demolished when they don’t fit your view of what is necessary but I must disagree with your assertion that TfL is simply running a transport network. Whether it likes it or not it is the current custodian of a large slice of London’s history and heritage. It is also a public sector, accountable organisation. Despite the current fervour for all things “make money, let’s get into bed with the private sector” that custodian role means it *must* look after places like 55 Broadway, the LT Museum, old trains and buses, historic stations etc etc. I am sure at some point someone in the “make money” camp will propose demolishing or wrecking some part of the transport heritage on the TfL network. We’ve been here before with past attempts to privatise property management and development on the LT network. What goes around, comes around if you wait long enough.

      We may lack the imagination and money to do anything architecturally exciting these days but thankfully some people in the past did and we must look after that heritage. You’ll be saying we should replace Arnos Grove or Sudbury Town stations with portacabins next!

      Unfortunately I missed the exhibition about the proposals because TfL can’t be bothered to fix links to press releases on their website despite me asking them to do so. I actually think it will be quite a struggle for the architects and development parties to create viable apartments in 55 Broadway. I can see things like the windows and the plumbing being very hard to deal with. The plan to demolish the old Wing over Station and Albany House buildings are interesting given there is a residential block just beside those buildings.

    470. @Walthamstow Writer, Anomnibus

      I wish I could find a reference to it but TfL has various basic legal duties. I think they are actually quite few – something like five of them. I am sure that one of them is to preserve heritage. If, for instance, it tried to divest itself of the exhibits at Covent Garden or Acton or sell off its historical document collection I am pretty sure it would be up before the courts straightaway. I seem to remember being told something like that on a tour around Acton.

      TfL also has to be very careful what alters with regard to existing heritage. The saga of Brunel’s Thames Tunnel and the problems caused there ought to highlight the fact that TfL just can’t ride roughshod over heritage stuff. I think I read somewhere that directors are nowadays very careful to ensure this is respected because they are the ones who would have to explain what happened to the judge.

    471. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ PoP – you are correct that there is a heritage related duty. It was “passed through” together with additional obligations on the Infracos (via the PPP Contract) to stop them ripping stuff out and throwing it away without the Museum having first call on items identified for disposal. Under Tim O’Toole’s tenure there was a renewed emphasis on showing off heritage features and stripping out excess clutter such as Photo Me and chocolate machines. He also introduced a much more thorough design review process to stop “cheap” schemes being put through. I note with interest that TfL / LU are now boasting about the return of Photo Me machines! You couldn’t make it up.

    472. Anomnibus says:

      @WW & PoP:

      Warning: Wall of text follows, for which I can only apologise, but I’m not sure I can say this much more succinctly…

      It’s clearly not coming across in my posts, but I really do not have anything against preservation and conservation activities. My problem with mere physical preservation is that it is no longer always the best form of preservation.

      Sometimes, yes, keeping a physical building or artefact remains the best option. “Living” museums, like that at Beamish, can also provide that oft-missing element that helps us truly get a feel for history: context. Beamish have even gone to the expense of physically dismantling a building, transporting all its components to the museum’s own land, then reassembling them. (Some heritage railways have undertaken similar re-siting projects, but not on the same scale.)

      But this is obviously a very expensive form of preservation, and the need to go to such lengths is now much less than it once was.

      Today, I can walk into the centre of Rome with an iPad, hold it up in front before me with the camera aimed at the ruins of the Colosseum, and see how it used to look, in complete context. I can pan left and right and see all the buildings that once surrounded it, minus today’s traffic roundabout! Rome’s entire historic cityscape will even rise and fall as I slide the timeline pointer back and forth. I can see the Palatine Hill and even the Circus Maximus nearby, all as they originally looked, all in blazing, glorious colour.

      This is something the ruins that stand here today can barely hint at, let alone show. Until very recently, we had to rely on paintings, artists’ impressions, and even painstaking, hand-built models to get an idea of how the area actually looked. Yet even these can only show us but a single snapshot in time.

      Virtual preservation is increasingly overtaking physical preservation in providing contextual information in a way nothing else can match. Future variations of the technology used for Google Glass means tourists could literally push a button and see how St. Pauls used to dominate London’s entire skyline well into the 20th century in a way it doesn’t today, rather than merely listening to a canned voiceover. They can see the massive traffic congestion in the days of the horse and cart, and understand why the Metropolitan Railway was built as a result. They can wind back and forth through London’s own timeline to see how it grew, how it evolved, how it was burned down and rebuilt, how electricity was introduced, the role of the rivers in the city’s history, and how the railways changed its very character.

      Understanding history is not, and never has been, merely about kings and dates, or looking at knackered old bits of wall.

      Understanding history means understanding context.

      55 Broadway passes this context test because the building itself is that context. The building’s historical significance lies not in what was surrounding it at the time, but in the building itself: its architecture, and both its physical and operational connection with the Underground network below.

      One would hope that, prior to its conversion, the building’s interior is painstakingly scanned and recorded to preserve it, in virtual form, for posterity.


      I would argue in favour of a National Heritage Council that would buy any structure that is Listed and take over its ongoing maintenance and upkeep on behalf of the taxpayers of the country. Like the BBC, it could have a ‘commercial’ arm that sells merchandise and provides (paid-for) access to the sites for tourism purposes, the revenues from which would be ploughed back into maintaining all those buildings.

      By concentrating most of our preservation and conservation resources in a single entity, rather than forcing individuals and businesses to hire expensive consultants and contractors instead, the costs of preservation would be reduced. It also releases individuals and businesses from the burden of having to play museum curator on top of running their business. This National Heritage Council would also be involved in virtual preservation projects (“Virtual Listing”?) where possible as well.

      The availability of virtual preservation also means that they need not be quite so precious about retaining every square inch of a building’s interior if it proves more sensible to convert it into apartments, as long as any irreplaceable elements are carefully removed and placed into suitable storage (or relocated) prior to the conversion work.

      While I’m not against retaining old buildings and artefacts, I do feel we’ve fallen into the old trap of concentrating on the buildings analogous to the “kings and dates” of old, and losing sight of the bigger contextual picture. Without context, history is just a boring list of names and numbers.

      History should be more than just the ‘what’ and the ‘where’: it needs to explain the ‘how’ and the ‘why’. Without that, we’re missing half the lessons history is there to teach us. We’re moving into an era when buildings alone are no longer able to tell us the full story. The 1800s and 1900s weren’t about building cathedrals and other monuments, but about building systems.

      Come 2050, parts of the Northern Line will be 160 years old, while the original stretch of the Metropolitan Railway to Farringdon will be rapidly approaching 200. Is there a case to be made for Listing infrastructure too? And if so, how do we, as a nation, handle the preservation of artefacts that are literally the size of a city?

    473. Pedantic of Purley says:


      I get your point but my point is that when you argue your case to the judge about your opinions on conservation he is unlikely to be swayed and say that as far as the law is concerned TfL has failed to preserve X in a proper way as required by law and is then going to hand down a large fine to the directors.

    474. Theban says:

      There are many cities around the world which have been neglectful of their heritage, and not a few who have gone out of their way to knock it down and build something “modern” (at the time) in its place.

      If you look though, most cities and towns which are see as attractive destinations to visit or to set up business in, have preserved a lot of heritage. Coventry is often seen as an unattractive destination: it lost most of its heritage in the Baedecker Raids. In contrast, Bath isn’t too dissimilar in size but is seen as a popular place to visit and a premium location.

      Heritage has an economic value which is easy to miss.

      It’s also wrong to suggest that we aren’t still adding to the heritage. The rework of St Pancras station is going to be long-lasting. The glass-roofed section of Kings Cross will be preserved long-term. I suspect Canary Wharf Jubilee Line station will be listed and outlast any of the above ground buildings. Although it has lain idle, nobody has seriously suggested not preserving the former Eurostar terminal at Waterloo – or rather the roof. Heritage builds up over centuries and millennia so the vast majority of buildings are likely to be ephemeral or transitory but there are also constant additions.

      To answer your question, yes, much of the original Metropolitan should be listed and preserved. But there’s more. I think it’s important to preserve many of the Modernist a Metro Land stations. Stations like Chiswick Park and Southgate. You say you want history which tells a story. Stations like that don’t just have architectural merit, but they reinforce the story of the development of Suburbia.

      Although you seem anti-buildings they for the reference points in understanding the past. Rotherhithe is a good example of an area which has lost so much of its heritage that it is hard to understand now without considerable effort. The a Fighting Temeraire is one of the most famous English paintings but how many people know that the was broken in Rotherhithe or can envisage how busy the foreshore once was?

      Over the course of 30 years London changes enormously. It’s one of the most dynamic and constantly evolving cities in the world. But among that change, some buildings are either a significant cut above their peers and/or are emblematic of their time. 55 Broadway is both, I believe, and I believe it is important that it is retained.

    475. Graham Feakins says:

      55 Broadway – Maybe WW or another can answer this one (if not, I’ll enquire of a friend) but I understood that TfL enjoys only a small, peppercorn Westminster ‘rating value’ on Broadway, so long as its main function is connected with London Underground. This was a deal agreed (and persuaded) by the original London Combine(UndergrounD) when the building was erected.

      Accordingly, I query the wisdom and consequent ongoing expense of moving all staff and facilities from Broadway to somewhere else considerably more expensive.

      So far, I view the decision to vacate Broadway as a crass misjudgement on many levels.

    476. Malcolm says:

      @Graham F. If there is such a deal in place, then it has presumably been taken into account by both sides in the planning permission / change of use discussion. So it could be that moving out is financially a win-win situation for Tfl and Westminster Council, and thus, indirectly, for the taxpayer.

      Having said which, money is not everything, and you could still be right about other reasons for staying.

    477. @Theban at 04:02

      Very well stated summary of the numerous cultural, historical, and business advantages and benefits of conserving heritage properties.

    478. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ GF – I am afraid I cannot confirm the rating arrangement. Your comment is the first I’ve heard of such a possible arrangement dating back into history. I do feel that leaving 55 Broadway, for all its perceived weaknesses, is simply a wrong decision. There’s no way back once the place is converted but should LU really be headquartered at Stratford?

    479. Anomnibus says:

      At the risk of repeating myself… [Yes, you are repeating yourself, again. LR is not a platform for promoting personal views or opinions, especially when only tenuously related to London transport. This time it wasn’t even related to transport. Snip! LBM]

    480. Greg Tingey says:

      Well, for both our sakes …
      but should LU really be headquartered at Stratford?
      Err, *cough* Maybe they will then do something about the utterly crap transport to the inner suburbs of Walthamstow & Chingford to Stratford & speed up the Stratford – Tottie Hale service ???? And the unbelievable bus loadings & ridiculous slowness of said buses between Leyton & points north?

      At the risk of being snipped dare I mention the H*** F*** curve?

    481. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Greg – it won’t make the slightest difference. You know that because I have set out many, many times on this blog TfL’s thinking about the Hall Farm curve. It is not in any plans for the T Hale – Stratford line which means no funding, no planning, no action. The location of HQ offices is not a factor in any TfL business case for rail investment as you understand perfectly well.

    482. timbeau says:

      Perhaps TfL HQ should be in Bromley – or maybe, in order to be completely impartial, Manchester…………

      (idea inspired by the discovery that East Coast’s Customer Relations department is in Plymouth – not the best place from which to keep in touch with day to day operations)

    483. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista Popular Front) says:

      What curve is that, Greg??

    484. Greg Tingey says:

      C-bar (etc)
      Hall Farm Jn (as was) to Lea Bridge Jn (as was)
      If re-instated, post CR1 being up-&-running, it would permit a 10-min frequency Chingford service, half following classic route to LST, the other half going via Lea Bridge (hopefully re-opened by then) to terminal platform on N side of Stratford, where there is JUST room to insert a point & lead …. [ anyone wanting LST just gets on first train, anyway…]
      Relieves vast road congestion between “Crooked Billet” roundabout/flyunder & Stratford along Chingford Rd / Hoe St / Leyton High Rd.
      As WW hints there is “No demand” & “Not enough flow” to justify this – or so TfL keep telling us. Reconstruction & re-opening was authorised in one of the very last BR bills/acts before privatisation – now lapsed, of course.

    485. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista Popular Front) says:

      @ Greg

      Thank you

      I’m not familiar with that part of London, so that was interesting to me.

      I am fully familiar with the “no demand” mantra. It was used extensively 40 years ago re WLL

    486. Theban says:


      Perhaps TfL HQ should be in Bromley – or maybe, in order to be completely impartial, Manchester…………

      Said in jest perhaps but there is some merit in the suggestion. Maybe their location should be democratised and when we vote for the Mayor we could also vote where TFL headquarters should be for the next five years.

      Right now I would vote for them taking premises on the old Chase Farm Hospital estate. The transport links are pretty poor.

    487. Walthamstow Writer says:

      @ Theban – I appreciate we’re talking somewhat jokingly about “pass the parcel” HQ locations but TfL staff have to work at and travel between offices all over London. On a bad day you can spend hours just getting between meetings no matter how good the transport is. A particularly awkward trip is 55 Broadway to High Holborn (former Metronet offices). I suspect TfL staff have now worn a groove in the pavements from Temple Tube to Holborn.

      If you want to exert some influence then move the location of the Mayor and London Assembly every year or so. All of the politicians would then get to experience the delights or woes of Sutton or Barnet or Kingston or deepest Barking and Dagenham. After all there’s a town hall and council offices in every borough so I’m sure they can squeeze in some more politicians and meetings. 😉

    488. timbeau says:

      “A particularly awkward trip is 55 Broadway to High Holborn ”
      I used to regularly make the trip between DTI buildings in the same areas. Of course, until 1952 there was a direct rail connection between High Holborn and Westminster – the hole it left has never been fully plugged

    489. Greg Tingey says:

      Whereas, the second-best one can do now is the number 11 – which still doesn’t go to High Holborn.

    490. Graham H says:

      Quicker on foot if you start from 55 Broadway?

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