It is easy to forget sometimes that for an “Underground” railway, Crossrail will spend a considerable amount of time on the surface. We have covered the North-Eastern arm of Crossrail on various occasions. The most recent of these was to look at the Crossrail launch plan. The western section out to Reading has its own issues and, of course, there was the official decision to extend Crossrail to Reading. What often gets overlooked, however, is the three short surface sections on the branch to Abbey Wood. This article attempts to do something to rectify this by looking at the two surface stations that are being built on this branch.

Not just a new underground railway

The perception of Crossrail is generally of a new underground railway across London connecting existing lines outside the central area to form a cross London railway. This is largely true and accurate but two of the surface sections on the Abbey Wood branch provide a contrast to this with one completely new station and one completely rebuilt station (including new additional platforms). As a result, there is considerable Crossrail station construction activity here and, of course, because it is on the surface, it can actually be easily seen.

Abbey Wood Branch Map

The Abbey Wood Branch showing tunnelled and open sections

Custom House

The first station that we will look at is Custom House. This is the only completely new surface station on Crossrail. There is an adjacent DLR station of the same name, but the two stations will be treated as two entirely separate entities with an Out of Station Interchange (OSI).

custom house station architects impression - entrance barriers_127365

Entrance to station showing ticket gates and Excel on the right

It is very logical to have Custom House station on the surface. Firstly, the land was available as the North Woolwich end of the North London Line had closed a few years earlier – the area now being served by new nearby DLR services. Secondly, there is the rather obvious fact that even the most frequent of London’s commuters are not Morlocks yet – people usually begin their journeys at surface level so where possible it makes sense to have the station there. Thirdly, Crossrail utilises the existing but disused Connaught Tunnel under the Royal Docks and it is easier to link into this on the surface than attempt a sub-surface connection. Fourthly, and no doubt crucially, it is generally hundreds of millions of pounds cheaper to build on the surface than to do so underground.

Not a cheapskate station

A visit to the vicinity of the Custom House Crossrail station site makes one very aware that building it is far from a minor task. It will be much more substantial than the former station it will replace. Crossrail’s general ethos of doing more than the minimum is evident here and the station is clearly intend to cater for considerable future potential growth.

viewed from DLR platform

Custom House under construction as viewed from the DLR eastbound platform

Custom House Portal

Immediately to the west of Custom House station is the eastern portal for the Abbey Wood branch to enter the central underground section of Crossrail. The tunnel entrance will probably be visible from the platform. Before work could begin on the portal, the DLR track needed to be slewed over to make space. With this going on at one end and the refurbishment of the Connaught tunnel at the other end, worksite space was at a premium and it clearly didn’t make sense to start building the station unnecessarily early. Construction of the portal appears to be complete although, not surprisingly, there is not yet any track there. It was at these portals that Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) Jessica and Ellie completed their second short drive.

Tunnel Portal

Tunnel portal just to the west of Custom House station

What is not known is whether there will be any crossovers located on the ramp leading up from the portal. Although there are no indications at present that there will be, a full crossover here could potentially be very useful in the event of a problem in the Connaught tunnel or the Crossrail tunnel under the Thames as it would enable trains to terminate at Custom House. Potential issues with putting a crossover on a ramp so close to the tunnel portal may, however, have limited options here.

Ramp to tunnel portal

Ramp immediately to the west of Custom House station leading to tunnel entrance and exit

The provision of a crossover somewhere in the vicinity of Custom House could be considered important as currently there will be only two crossovers located between Paddington and the eastern portals. One will be in central London at Fisher Street in Holborn and the other at Whitechapel.

Whitechapel Crossover

The next crossover to the east would appear to be at Whitechapel.

Custom House station

A visit to the site makes you fully appreciate the size of this station. Given that this will probably not be anywhere near the busiest station on Crossrail – indeed probably the quietest of the new stations – it makes one aware of the sheer scale of Crossrail stations in general. At around 250m long the platforms contrast dramatically with the adjacent DLR platforms (themselves 90m in length). The station building will also be on two levels. This is partly determined by the restricted width of the site but also at least in part because the island platform clearly cannot have direct street access. It thus makes sense for the station to host many of its facilities above the platforms, given that passengers are going to have to arrive that way anyway.

Forcing passengers to go up above street level to access the station is not entirely a disadvantage. On the north size there is the busy Victoria Dock Road so it makes sense to have the one of the station entrances on the north side of this road and have passengers cross the road at the same level. On the south side beyond the DLR station is the entrance to the Excel Conference Centre which is also at high level.

Flatpack Construction

Much has been made by Crossrail of the design and construction of Custom House station. It has been designed to be precast off site. This is claimed to speed up the process. It is probably a measure of the sheer size of the station that despite this it still appears to be a major job to put the station together on site. There is even a purpose built crane gantry in use to assist in this – the Crossrail equivalent of the flatpack Allen hex key so you can put the parts together. One is tempted to wonder whether somewhere, in the site office, an IKEA-esque instruction sheet can be found (as well as the inevitable spare dowel).

gantry and ibis hotel

Gantry for station construction. Note also the proximity to the station of the Ibis hotel

This construction method did have one other advantage from Crossrail’s perspective – the construction of Custom House station was out to competitive tender and the tender was won by a firm in the East Midlands and largely constructed using local materials. From the organisation’s perspective, this helped them to emphasise that the construction of Crossrail was of benefit to the whole country.

No platform edge doors

One decision that may be regarded as curious is the decision not to install Platform Edge Doors at either Custom House or Abbey Wood. Both these stations are on the section of Crossrail where trains will run under full ATO and no passenger carrying manually driven trains will ever call there.

In the case of Custom House the platforms do not appear to be particularly wide and they will be expected to handle the crowds who go to various events at the Excel Arena. One could argue that over a period of a year platform interface incidents are far less lightly to happen at Custom House or Abbey Wood as they may not normally be the busiest stations on the line, but overcrowding caused by disruption is always a possibility. The only saving grace would appear to be that, because these two stations are only on one of the two branches, some service could still be run on the other (Shenfield) branch.

The lack of platform edge doors at Custom House and Abbey Wood would also appear to preclude any possibility of running fully automatic trains without a member of staff on board between Paddington and Abbey Wood. Whilst Crossrail has absolutely no plans to run the trains without a driver in the cab, despite it being technically possible to do so, this could be seen as a missed opportunity – especially when considering the ability to have additional trains in service at short notice to deal with dispersing large crowds departing from Excel.


Custom House Crossrail station seems to be one of the few stations where regeneration may not happen on the scale it does elsewhere. It will service the Excel centre which is already a success and is currently served by the DLR. Otherwise the area is low rise residential. Notable though is the Ibis hotel, which is not one of the chain’s budget hotels. This is very close by and one suspects that Crossrail was a major factor in the decision to locate it here. After all, Excel on its own is not going to give high bedroom occupancy rates. Given the proximity of both Excel and Central London via Crossrail one suspects this area may well become popular with the hotel chains.

Abbey Wood

Abbey Wood station is one of only two existing stations that will have newly-built Crossrail platforms. The other is Shenfield where work on construction of a new bay platform (platform 6) and other substantial work is due to begin in the near future.

Abbey Wood station today

Abbey Wood station today

It is probably fair to say that a lot of activity has been going on in the general area of Abbey Wood since the start of Crossrail construction but it was reported less, or read less, because Abbey Wood and the surrounding area is not a place most people visit in the normal course of events.


Like Custom House there is a portal nearby, although not as close. It is located abound 2km to the west of Abbey Wood station. Initially activity in the area related to the two slurry Tunnel Boring Machines. These needed an even larger supporting site than the other machines since the slurry added to assist in tunnelling has to be retrieved from the waste soil for reuse. This site was located between Plumstead and Abbey Wood national rail stations and was originally intended to be only for temporary use.

Plumstead Portal

Plumstead portal located approximately 2km to the west of Abbey Wood station


What subsequently transpired was a realisation that there was a need for some stabling sidings at the the Abbey Wood end of the line. This was because there is an aspiration to eliminate disruption due to engineering works on the sections of Crossrail not under Network Rails control. This in turn meant that it became vital that “engineering hours” (night time when trains don’t run) was maximised.


A further consideration was the need for a centralised depot to support Crossrail non-train maintenance. This would have to have an enormous stock of spare and replacement parts if Crossrail was to be kept in tip top condition and the Plumstead worksite seemed the obvious place to put it.


Despite the firm desire to stick to the original plan and certainly avoid anything that hints of “specification creep”, there is a third major change taking place at Abbey Wood. The plans as submitted to parliament and referenced in the Crossrail Act involved Crossrail trains terminating at platforms 2 and 3 at Abbey Wood. As platforms 1/2 and 3/4 would have been island platforms, this would have resulted in a very convenient cross-platform interchange for at least 50% of the time for passengers commencing their journey from further out in Kent and changing at Abbey Wood. Assuming Crossrail used the platforms alternately this convenient interchange would rise to 100% of the time on the inward journey if passengers were prepared to wait for the second departing train if necessary.

These plans, which involved some grade separation between Crossrail and National Rail, were then changed to have the Network Rail and Crossrail tracks side by side which avoided the need to for one line to cross the other. This, at the time, was generally viewed with disappointment as it was seen primarily as a cost saving measure that inconvenienced the passengers. It would appear though that the primary motivation was to keep Crossrail tracks free from being affected by any work that might take place on Network Rail tracks and could potentially force the adjacent Crossrail line to close.

Large amounts of work

The work at Abbey Wood does not just involve the station. The existing track from next to the Plumstead portal to Abbey Wood and beyond needs to be slewed over to provide space for new Crossrail track. In theory existing track could have been left in situ but that would have meant that Crossrail would have inherited part-used Network Rail specification track and formations which almost certainly would have been unacceptable. The linear site involved, on which there is much activity throughout its length, is probably one of the largest on Crossrail.

Slewed track

One of Unravelled’s many photos showing work going on between Plumstead and Abbey Wood

At the station itself there is the usual complex problem of keeping the existing train service running whilst rebuilding it. Crucial to this is the footbridge. At this location it is really essential to have a station footbridge at all times. The alternative route is very lengthy and not very pleasant as it involves an extremely long walk some of which is along the Harrow Manorway, which is an elevated dual carriageway. Consequently the first (and so far only) part of the new station that has actually been built is the new footbridge and subsequently the temporary station has been built around that.

Abbey Wood station footbridge

Looking west at Abbey Wood station with new footbridge

It is clear from the picture above that new platforms will be built for Southeastern services and the existing ones will be upgraded for Crossrail. They are already long enough so don’t need lengthening.

A small area of the planned “urban realm” has been built – basically some high quality paving. It says much about the area as it currently is (the most notable non-Crossrail activity is the car wash) that this good quality paving currently seems completely out of place. It does make it clear though that Abbey Wood is destined for greater things. Already Abbey Wood’s first high rise building is being constructed at a location very close to the station.

Not surprisingly Abbey Wood is due to get a new station building. The architects probably had a tough job. The railway really does divide Abbey Wood into two. There are various footbridges in the vicinity (all being rebuilt) but the main route from one side to the other for non-passengers is the aforementioned brutalist and busy Harrow Manorway. The plans do appear to comprehensively tackle this issue making access to the station from either side of the tracks as easy and as pleasant as possible.

86700_abbey wood station design - architects impression

Artist’s impression of the new station

It is not immediately obvious how interchange is going to be provided with buses. This is important because Abbey Wood is the most local station for the enormous Thamesmead housing estate and many journeys can be expected from there by bus to the station. One CGI image suggests that buses will be diverted to provide a service outside the station. Curiously it appears that on the far side of Harrow Manorway outside the station entrance there will be a new enormous canopy which serves no obvious purpose as there is no bus stop shown. By means of a contrast, there is no canopy on the opposite (station) side of the road.

Brutalist Harrow Manorway

Existing bus stop for station located on Harrow Manorway. Note high rise construction in the background

Not glam doesn’t mean not important

The eastern end of the Abbey Wood branch is certainly not the most glamorous part of Crossrail. This does not mean it isn’t important though. Unlike other sections, here there will be a significant improvement in services as opposed to a minor improvement in services with a significant improvement in potential destinations. For this reason an argument could be made that this is the most important branch of all. It will have 12tph in the peak whereas formerly it had nothing. There are only two surface stations but a lot of money, time and effort appears to have been put into ensuring that these two stations will be both an asset and a showcase for Crossrail. By being very much in public view they also give an opportunity, for those who are interested, to see the enormous amount of work involved in adapting and enhancing either an existing railway or a former railway.

You may never have been to Abbey Wood before, but you may have a reason to now.

Thanks to Unravelled who has taken many of the photos used here. As always he is comprehensively following developments and recording them. His Crossrail photos on the former North London Line (980 of them at the time of writing) can be found here with the oldest appearing first. His Abbey Wood photos (55 of them at the time of writing) can be found here.

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There are 543 comments on this article
  1. alan blue mountains says:

    Intresting, thanks

  2. Southern Heights says:

    You first say Custom House is a completely new station and then almost immediately go on to say that it’s a rebuild. That doesn’t sound right…

    For the rest it’s very nice to see some light being cast over some of the less glamorous parts of the Cross Rail project. Long overdue!

    As someone who has had an annual pilgrimage to Abbey Wood over the last three years I can say the area seems to be benefitting already, lots of development going on!

    My chrystal ball is saying that the Bakerloo line might reach here sometime in the not too distant future as Cross Rail is extended to Dartford… 😉

  3. Anonymous says:

    As regards platform edge doors, I believe there is a reluctance to add them to surface sections because achieving accurate braking and stopping (a must if you need to align up two sets of doors) is a lot harder when the train wheels and rails are exposed in wind and rain. While it appears Custom House station itself is sheltered by the upper deck, plus has two tunneled sections a short distance either side it still is officially a ‘surface station’

    As For Abbey Wood, not having the Crossrail platforms between the SE ones, does have significant implications for any moves to project Crossrail trains further out to Dartford. While it is accepted that the tracks in the Dartford area would have to be expanded to 4, it would have been possible to have got Crossrail & SE to share 2 as far as Slade Green thus minimsing the overall costs of any Extension. Instead we now have the situation where such a move means the introduction of a conflicting flat crossing or spending an awful lot of money quadrupling the SE line (or building a grade separated connection just beyond Abbey Wood.

    One obviousy way round this would be to terminate SE services at Abbey Wood, but I don’t think NR would appreciate the reduction in flexibility that would arise (only having 2 rather than 3 routes to Dartford) should Crossrail take over the whole line beyond Abbey Wood. (which incidentally would kill any chance whatsoever of the Bakerloo taking over the Bexleyheath line)

    While I understand the stance Crossrail are taking it from a construction pint of view it would be helpful if they remembered that outside the core tunnels they are to all intents a standard National Rail service – not a stand alone tube line (whatever TfL might want to think) , and as such keeping things to themselves is not appropriate. Particularly as further extensions beyond Abbey Wood are certainly on the political radar, not to mention the often announced next generation Garden City at Ebsfleet being a viable destination.

  4. Paul says:

    The line diagrams dating from 2007 that I downloaded from ORR’s website a while ago do show a pair of crossovers between Custom House and the westbound portal, and a single trailing crossover east of the station.

    That’s not really concrete evidence due to its age, but suggests the location was intended as a turn back location at that time.

  5. Greg Tingey says:

    because Abbey Wood and the surrounding area is not a place most people visit [Text not germane to following points removed. LBM]
    However …. extension beyond AW … is probably easier with the separate alignment at AW? Because one can at least start any extension without interfering with existing track & services … so any construction can take place without disruption to existing services. I agree that, once you get to Dartford, things get much more complicated, but I was under the impression that Dartford station is going to need a rebuild, anyway, so upping it to 6 platforms for CR1 – & possible further extension to Ebbsfleet / Gravesend is not a “killer” in cost terms, surely?
    I would also assume that a “Garden City” build at Ebbsfleet is to all intents & purposes a non-starter unless extra rail capacity is built in at the same time.
    Or is that too simpleminded & practical of me?

  6. MR Ed says:

    The Copenhagen metro is having platform edge doors fitted to all of its above-ground stations, so make of that what you will.

  7. Jim Cobb says:

    That picture of the Plumstead portal reminds me of Hornby model railway track I had as a kid – bits of trackwork and points strewn on the carpet ground !

    Excellent update – good to see some of the “less interesting” bits

  8. Margret Thatcher says:

    Will the Crossrail trains be dual voltage or will the overhead continue out to Abbey Wood?

  9. Melvyn says:

    One major difference between these stations is how the DLR will have easy interchange with Crossrail at Custom House while at Woolwich the stations are totally separate and involve crossing a major road to get between them.

    I often wondered why Plumstead Station was not relocated to be on Crossrail but I suppose doing this might not be possible given the tunnel location ?

    While Abbey Wood is a forgotten part of London for transport enthusiasts its a place that once only had electric transport being at the end of London Trams and Trolleybuses and on Southerns 3 rd rail network .

    A bus journey from Abbey Wood along the river shows their is massive potential for development of a riverside that is currently neglected or just industrial units but could be so much more …

    Following the example of the Reading Extension how easy or hard will it be to extend Crossrail beyond Abbey Wood if that is decided upon?

    I wonder if these Crossrail Stations will improve the chances of extensions to the DLR given that extension of the DLR from Woolwich Arsenal along the river ( with maybe a proper interchange at Woolwich or Abbey Wood Stations) could open up this riverside which has always suffered from being isolated from much of London.

  10. Melvyn says:

    @MT Crossrail will use overhead electrification to Abbey Wood and is possibly one reason for keeping it seperate from South Eastern network at this stage.

  11. Briantist (in Gigabit internet heaven) says:

    @Pedantic of Purley

    Thanks for the excellent write up. I must admit I have a lot of personal affection for this bit of line, as I used to travel to what was the London Teleport (a satellite uplink station for TV) that is now part of the Crossrail site on the North side of the Thames linking the Connaught with the Woolwich.

    I used traverse the close-down Silvertown Tramway (“train track in the road in the UK!!!”) and wonder had caused the provision of a strange 1970s-styled half-railway.

    It fills me with a strange happiness to see it all being reconnected.

    I’m hoping for a write-up on the Maryland to Harold Wood showing all the Crossrail 1 work. Oh yeah, there doesn’t seem to be any yet.

  12. Flippy says:

    The top-down artists impression of Abbey Wood seems to show three lines emerging on the eastern side of the station….. or is it going to be like the ELL/NLL link at Highbury & Islington?


  13. Alan Griffiths says:

    Melvyn @ 24 February 2015 at 18:26

    ” DLR will have easy interchange with Crossrail at Custom House”

    That could have been provided by across-the platform interchange, which wouldn’t have been very expensive, but doesn’t appear to have ever been considered. DLR passengers from stations Prince Regent to Beckton will have a significant time penalty to change to Crossrail at Custom House.

  14. Alan Griffiths says:

    Southern Heights @ 24 February 2015 at 15:05

    “You first say Custom House is a completely new station and then almost immediately go on to say that it’s a rebuild. That doesn’t sound right…”

    The north London line station had separate, short platforms with two track between. I think it is accurate to describe Custom House as a new station built on the site of a former station.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’m delighted to see Crossrail moving outwards. I’m still bewildered as to why it’s terminating at Abbey Wood initially. There are sidings are Slade Green and Dartford so either would be a natural terminus for the initial developent. An extension to Ebbsfleet for international services will also pick up Greenhithe for Bluewater.

    I know I’m a crayonista but I don’t think it’s a bad proposal. Bluewater’s owners would throw money at the project to get a better train service.

  16. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I’m hoping for a write-up on the Maryland to Harold Wood showing all the Crossrail 1 work. Oh yeah, there doesn’t seem to be any yet.

    I think this is deliberate. The idea is that everything is completed shortly before the opening date for maximum impact. So as we progress the forthcoming schemes started will be the smaller ones – platform extensions, ticket office rebuild, makeover. I think that the only really big station rebuild yet to get started is Ealing Broadway and they have until 2019 to get that done.

    Alan Griffiths,

    Again I suspect that not having true cross-platform interchange is deliberate due to the mismatch of sizes of the trains. If only a third of the people got off a full Crossrail train that would amount to a full DLR train. Far safer to make the route longer (and unfortunately not step-free for the majority of passengers) so that there is a buffer zone. This also makes it possible to close entry to the platform to stop it getting too crowded.

    A further reason could be the desire to keep this completely operationally separate from the DLR. Like at Abbey Wood they don’t want to have to close Crossrail because the DLR wants do some work that would impact on Crossrail if sharing an island platform.

    This has been discussed before but as our railways get busier it is more or less inevitable that really convenient interchanges are going to slowly disappear in order to safely handle the volumes of people involved.

    Re: Beyond Abbey Wood

    On the subject of extending beyond Abbey Wood, which I was careful not to mention, I will merely say that it appears highly unlikely Crossrail or TfL would want this unless they have segregated track at least as far as Dartford. As there would probably not be intermediate stations to Dartford keeping everything completely separate at Abbey Wood does seem to have its merits in the event that it is extended one day. We have discussed extension beyond Abbey Wood on numerous occasions so I hope we don’t just have a repetition of the usual facts and opinions.

  17. Kingstoncommuter says:

    “The work at Abbey Wood does not just involved the station”, should probably say ” involve”. Sorry for being picky, very interesting article ☺.

    [Corrected. Thanks. PoP]

  18. Anonymous says:

    Apologies PoP. As someone who lives south of London and is new to this website, I haven’t read much about Crossrail.

    [No need to apologise. Actually I wrote the comment before reading yours so it wasn’t you that prompted me to make it. Anyway it was more in anticipation of what I am pretty sure will happen if we don’t do something to curtail the worst excesses. PoP]

  19. Melvyn says:

    Inside this article in last Friday’s Evening Standard of a joint article by BORIS and Geirge Osborne is an announcement re a new zone classification for Abbey Wood – see

  20. Pablo Diablo says:

    I would disagree with the comment on Regeneration at Custom House – arguably it will be on a scale similar to everywhere else; Newham have significant plans for redevelopment of the area North of Victoria Dock Road, and indeed the design and location of the northern entrance has been designed with early versions of that in mind. More details are in the ‘Canning Town and Custom House’ SPD which can be found on their website…just at the moment most of the development focus has been the Custom House bit!

  21. Anonymous says:

    I think that the only really big station rebuild yet to get started is Ealing Broadway and they have until 2019 to get that done.

    A poster has recently appeared in the station announcing the rebuild is to start later this year.

  22. Anonymous says:

    At Abbey Wood there is a walkway under Harrow Manor Way from the bus stop, as well as a staircase down to Gayton Road, adding a lift/slope to make it wheel chair accessible won’t be a significant tast – I think at the moment it is impossible for someone in a wheelchair to reach the Harrow Manor Way stops.

    Although the simple solution is just to put in a pedestrian crossing – many people jump over or walk around the barriers anyway – the whole layout is of its time, better demolish it quickly before some lists it.

  23. ngh says:

    Extension beyond Abbey Wood…

    Extension to Dartford was costed at £100m for infrastructure in the 2050 report last summer.

    Edgepedia’s good summary comment on the safeguarded route:

    Minutes of the House of Lords committee discussion on safeguarding and costs of going to Gravesend (Hoo Jn):
    (use the previous / next buttons at the bottom of that page too)

  24. Ian J says:

    @Greg T: I would also assume that a “Garden City” build at Ebbsfleet is to all intents & purposes a non-starter unless extra rail capacity is built in at the same time.

    Isn’t there spare capacity on HS1?

    @Melvyn: a new zone classification for Abbey Wood
    – and a second of the new housing zones is Thamesmead, for which Abbey Wood will be the railhead.

  25. Anomnibus says:

    @Ian J:

    HS1 is a two-track railway and there’s a finite limit to how many 140 mph trains you can throw at it before they start interfering with the more lucrative 186 mph inter-city ones. Forcing most of Kent to rely on this one piece of ill-suited infrastructure is a temporary kludge at best, not a permanent solution. It’s not just roads where the vehicles increase to use up any new capacity: It’s true of almost all new infrastructure.

    The use of the “Ebbsfleet” name is also a little misleading: a major chunk of the new housing will actually be in an old chalk quarry near Bluewater, with smaller sections reaching out into the Ebbsfleet area. If Crossrail is extended to Gravesend as originally planned, most of the new residents will be using Greenhithe or Swanscombe, not Ebbsfleet International.

    HS1 Domestic services only get you to St. Pancras. Crossrail hits pretty much all the key Central Activity Zones in London, with no further interchange required.

  26. The Other Paul says:

    Another great article, thanks PoP.

    I don’t have anything else useful and on-topic to say so I’m going to step away from the keyboard now.

  27. Ian J says:

    @anomnibus: yes, there is a finite limit to the number of trains you can run on HS1, but what is that limit and has it been reached yet? And is there scope to increase the length of the trains that do run, if and when new stock is bought?

    Incidentally, the speed limit from Ebbsfleet to St Pancras is 230 km/h, so the speed differential between domestic and international services on this stretch need only be 5 km/h (I understand at present SouthEastern chooses to run at 200 km/h in normal service, but the Class 395s can do 225 km/h).

    It’s not just roads where the vehicles increase to use up any new capacity: It’s true of almost all new infrastructure

    I assume you mean “where demand increases to use up any new capacity”, since, unlike with a road, the number of vehicles on a railway is entirely within the control of the railway operator. In this case, the increase in the supply of fast railway capacity with the opening of HS1 is leading to housing development which takes advantage of this capacity. To then claim that the existence of this development then demands yet more rail capacity be added is to lock yourself into a never-ending cycle of construction. There is no such thing as a “permanent solution” to transport demand.

    Dragging all this back on topic: the post shows very well how this branch of Crossrail is stimulating development before it is even open. There will be plenty of demand from Abbey Wood station alone, let along further down the line. Christian Wolmar couldn’t have been more wrong when he said that Abbey Wood was “pretty much in the middle of nowhere with no bus connections and little local passenger traffic” – and this is the self-proclaimed greatest transport expert in Britain and a wannabe mayor!

  28. Fandroid says:

    Another informative article PoP.

    Concerning the issue of numbers transferring at Custom House, my understanding is that Newham council wanted escalators but Crossrail resisted it.

    A tiny typo: 2nd para after the heading ‘Custom House Station’ the word ‘size’ should be ‘side’.

  29. ngh says:

    Abbey Wood: Harrow Manor way is also the boundary between Greenwich and Bexley councils which might explain differences between what is happening on the East and the West sides.

  30. Greg Tingey says:

    Ian J
    There MAY be “spare capacity” on HS1, but not at the St Pancras platforms.
    See also Anomnibus’ comments on useful destinations – precisely.

    Of course, Excel itself has grown a lot – I was there over the August holiday for a conference … & if you are at the esat end of the halls, Prince Regent is the DLR stop you want, not Custom House.
    From memory, the Crossrail station almost extends to Prince Regent – does anyone know it there are plans to “double-end” the CR1 station, with connections at both ends?
    Might be a very good idea.

  31. @Pablo Diablo,

    I based the regeneration comments about Custom House on a number of factors. The first was that, unlike at many other Crossrail sites, there is precious little to see that gives you that feeling. The second is that because of Excel you are not only limited by how much can be done but also would have thought that this would be enough to have triggered the most advantageous schemes. The third is that I got the impression there was wall-to-wall low rise houses around. Most are probably now in private ownership and that does not make development easy. I am pleased to hear Newham are planning something but I suspect this is going to start after Crossrail opens rather than be an integral part of the regeneration. Serial regeneration not parallel regeneration.


    And notice that Thamesmead (nearest station: Abbey Wood) was also on that list. I have to say that the impression one gets is that Abbey Wood is just crying out for redevelopment.

    @Ian J,

    Somewhat disappointing to read this from a future mayoral candidate. On my visit I was surprised by how busy the station was off-peak. No crowds but a steady unending trickle of people (a bit like St Johns) and quite a few getting on each train. As above it is important not to forget this is the station for Thamesmead. You can either visit Abbey Wood and get the abiding impression it is a dump or you can use your imagination and imagine what it could be like in five or ten years time – at least there wont be many protests when you want to knock something down. The Daily Telegraph* property pages on Saturday thought that if you were looking for a cheap (in London context) property and wanted a good investment then Abbey Wood is the place to go to. If it is good enough for Telegraph readers…


    I was made aware of this last night. Apparently Crossrail was keen to cut costs and cut out the escalator provision at Custom House. Not surprisingly Newham took exception to this and employed a transport consultant (you might be able to deduce which one) to argue their case and back it up with facts and figures. The upshot of it was that Crossrail backed down and they were able to absorb the costs because of other savings made elsewhere. I do find the notion of building an enormous new Crossrail station and not providing escalators – especially at a station that will in some way be iconic due to its proximity to Excel – quite strange.

    There is no sign of any escalator provision, even passive, at Abbey Wood, and I do wonder if this was a bit of a mistake given the level of interchange expected. There are lifts already in use, sort of. Still at least at Abbey Wood there is the fairly simple option of adding a second overbridge complete with escalators at a future date should such a provision be considered desirable. At Custom House I suspect it was more a case of now or never.

    * I hasten to add that I do not buy the Daily Telegraph. I do some shopping in Waitrose on a Saturday to get it free for Mrs Pedantic.

  32. Pedantic of Purley says:


    From memory, the Crossrail station almost extends to Prince Regent

    You might have thought that during construction but the work at Prince Regent was for the tunnel portal not the Crossrail station. The Crossrail station extends well beyond the east of the DLR. Indeed I suspect there will not be much plain track (not in the station) before the start of the ramp down to the Connaught Tunnel.

  33. Anomnibus says:

    @Ian J:

    My point is that HS1 is already set to carry more trains from other destinations. It’s become the lazy, catch-all “solution” for Kent’s rail infrastructure problems: every problem is apparently ‘solved’ by just throwing more trains up HS1. Fast trains to Hastings? HS1! Fast trains to Ramsgate? HS1! You name it, if it’s in Kent, HS1 is the proposed answer to its transport woes in the related RUS.

    As long as we ignore history, we will be doomed to repeat it. I draw the reader’s attention to the reason why Dartford has no less than three separate lines leading to it from London. The Catford Loop was also originally meant as a ‘fast’ or ‘relief’ line, which is why it runs through so much greenery. (The housing estates south of Catford didn’t appear until well into the 1920s. Between Catford and Bromley, it was open countryside.)

    Are we really going to repeat the same mistake with HS1? If this line is going to be used for commuter services, we need to be thinking about four-tracking the thing now, not after developers have already hemmed it in with new housing developments.


    Yes, four-tracking railways, or road widening schemes become popular and lead to more traffic, but isn’t that the whole point? Who wants to build expensive infrastructure that there is no demand for? And, believe me, Kent has a lot of suppressed demand for transport infrastructure. I’ve ranted on that topic at length, so I’ll stop now.

    Not improving infrastructure is like not improving or enlarging a factory. It’s a formula for failure, given how important good communications, both physical and otherwise, is to any economy.


    As for Mr. Wolmar:

    Grrrahhh! Railfan Hulk think Wolmar only ‘greatest’ transport correspondent in own byline. Railfan Hulk smash! Railfan Hulk prefer Roger Ford.

    But Railfan Hulk also think Wolmar still better than Boris. Railfan Hulk confused. Railfan Hulk brain hurt.

  34. ngh says:

    Re PoP, – Abbey Wood Escalators

    There is no sign of any escalator provision, even passive, at Abbey Wood, and I do wonder if this was a bit of a mistake given the level of interchange expected. There are lifts already in use, sort of. Still at least at Abbey Wood there is the fairly simple option of adding a second overbridge complete with escalators at a future date should such a provision be considered desirable.

    Hedging their bets on extension beyond Abbey Wood? In which case a fair bit of interchange would take place further out (maximising chance of getting a seat) so what is being built should be adequate or if extension doesn’t take place you could add a second over-bridge later, either way you have deferred expenditure.

    The NR crystal ball gazing market studies a couple of years ago suggested that Abbey Wood CR Branch loading would only be about 50% of train capacity in peak hour of course more development may /will have been planned in the interim/future.

  35. timbeau says:

    “Harrow Manor way is also the boundary between Greenwich and Bexley councils”

    According to Google, Street map, and the Ordnance Survey, the boundary actually follows Wilton Road and Felixstowe Road, (the two ground-level roads aligned with each other shown on the artist’s aerial-view impression, which according to old maps were connected by a level crossing before the Harrow Manorway Flyover replaced them, and formed the LCC/Kent boundary). This means that part of Abbey Wood station, including the new entrance building, is actually in the London Borough of Bexley. The arrival of Crossrail will therefore reduce the number of London boroughs not having a TfL-rail- (or tram)-served station to just one.

  36. Jonathan Roberts says:

    @Fandroid, @PoP
    Fandroid – well remembered! I briefed PoP quickly about the matter, last night.

    Just to summarise the saga of the yes-no-yes escalator scheme at Custom House Crossrail. Escalators were proposed up to and including RIBA design Stage E (detailed design, approximating to Network Rail’s GRIP 3-4), and were mentioned in documentation and evidence.

    Before RIBA Stage F (production information, bill of quantities etc), value engineering was sought across the Crossrail project, to meet the Treasury targeted cost reductions. Escalators were sacrificed at Custom House along with other savings there, and many savings at other stations.

    Newham Council considered the matter on 21 February 2012 ( link here, see item 7: ). The Council decided to require a yearly review of the case for an escalator, for at least five years once Crossrail opened, as a planning condition.

    Crossrail eventually decided to appeal this condition and another element. A case would have been heard before a planning inspector in Autumn 2012. A QC was hired by Newham Council. Documents for the appeal, by all relevant parties, were required to be submitted by 20 September 2012. JRC was employed to provide the expert technical evidence in support of the Council’s position.

    This work ( ) established that Crossrail’s technical case for not proceeding with escalators was flawed in evidential and operational terms, not least with people with reduced mobility (PRM) then relying on an inadequate lift provision. 3 out of 4 PRM would have happily used escalators, based on live surveys at Custom House DLR station. The worst situation would arise when significant events were being held in the evening at ExCel, clashing with the railway’s evening peak period.

    The planning appeal was deferred, to allow discussions between the parties to proceed. Eventually Crossrail reached an agreement with Newham Council to withdraw its appeal and to commit to providing escalators from the start (cost savings were achieved elsewhere to balance the budget), in return for the Council withdrawing its planning condition about an escalator review. The planning condition was varied on 19 March 2013, in item 7 here: .

    There are some broader issues which arise from this exercise, about the adequacy of present and future PRM provision across the rail and tube networks. As populations get older, and more people anticipate rail and tube to be accessible, the previously funded scale of facilities may need to be expanded. It isn’t just the disabled or infirm, it relates to all forms of reduced mobility, eg baggage, young children. There is some discussion of those issues in the JRC report. However, that goes beyond the immediate topic of the surface Crossrail stations.

  37. Briantist (@work) says:

    @Pedantic of Purley
    “I think this is deliberate. The idea is that everything is completed shortly before the opening date for maximum impact. So as we progress the forthcoming schemes started will be the smaller ones – platform extensions, ticket office rebuild, makeover. …”

    Yes, I agree with you about the matter of impact. I can see that fixing up a station (deep clean, new wiring) could be done quite quickly (in days, rather than years).

    However the need to make some stations step-free – say Maryland – must involve some considerable works. And these are likely to have knock-on effects such as new kerbs and pavements on the roads outside.

    I suppose that the Overgrounding of the lines put stations like Bruce Grove in the forefront of deep-clean and new-signs territory for 2015?


    Maryland (MYL): Ramp for train access: No, Ramp for train access: No
    Forest Gate (FOG) Ramp for train access: No, Ramp for train access: No
    Manor Park (MNP) Step free access coverage No, Step free access to ticket hall area only.
    Ilford (IFD) Step free access coverage: No,
    Seven Kings (SVK) Ramp for train access No, Step free access coverage No
    Goodmayes (GMY) Ramp for train access No, Step free access coverage No, There are steps to all platforms
    Gidea Park (GDP) Ramp for train access No, Step free access coverage No, There are steps to all platforms
    Harold Wood (HRO) Ramp for train access No, Step free access coverage No, There are steps to all platforms.


    Brentwood (BRE) Ramp for train access No, Step free access coverage Yes, There are lifts available to platforms 1, 2 and 3. Step-free access to platform 4 is via the car park.
    Chadwell Heath (CTH) Ramp for train access Yes, Step free access coverage Yes Please note that the lifts at this station are only operational during station manned hours.
    Romford (RMF) Ramp for train access Yes, Step free access coverage Yes Note – the ramps leading from the subway to the platforms are fairly steep.
    Shenfield (SNF) Ramp for train access Yes Step free access coverage Yes

  38. IslandDweller says:

    Another great article – thanks.
    I’m still surprised that they didn’t grab the opportunity to add a station for City airport, which the line passes on the way to Woolwich. Actually, I’m more surprised that the owners of LCY don’t seem to have lobbied or put any money into the pot for such a station. British Airways happily sell tickets that “connect” through Heathrow and City (passengers have to make their own way between airports) and that transfer could have been made so easy. A missed opportunity for a relatively small cost saving. ‘Twas ever thus I suppose.

  39. RIBA is the Royal Institute of British Architects

  40. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Island Dweller,

    I think Anomnibus covered this somewhere else. Basically the actual passenger numbers aren’t that great and you already have the DLR located right by the airport. I would add that as Crossrail won’t be that near (and never could have been, realistically) so even if you put a station there it wouldn’t be used much and many people would use the DLR in preference. DLR passengers can get to Abbey Wood from City Airport with a change at Woolwich Arsenal and if they want to go further (e.g. Dartford) they are probably already on the correct train. They can also get to the city (it is after all the airport for the city – clue in name) direct via the DLR to Bank and Monument.

    Having said all that I am sure Terry Morgan said there was passive provision if someone else wanted to stump up the cash and do the work (or words to that effect). Isn’t that where a massive Chinese development is planned? I think the idea as reported on the BBC local news about a year ago was that the hope was the Chinese would invest and paying for (or building) the Crossrail station would be a planning requirement.

  41. Alan Griffiths says:

    Briantist (@work) 25 February 2015 at 13:38

    “However the need to make some stations step-free – say Maryland – must involve some considerable works. And these are likely to have knock-on effects such as new kerbs and pavements on the roads outside. ”

    There are sketches of proposed works outside Maryland station, which involve creating a T-junction in place of the roundabout.

  42. Alan Griffiths says:

    Briantist (@work) 25 February 2015 at 13:38

    Almost the first item you’ll see on the Crossrail website

    is work to begin at Harold Wood station

  43. MikeP says:

    Just a quick off-topic HS1 comment – have a gander on the twitter hashtag #southeastern to see the effect of reduced lengths on some trains resulting from this January’s enhanced service out into the sticks. The overcrowding isn’t pleasant, and the peasants are understandably very revolting, given the premium fares they’re paying. So whilst the capacity in terms of paths may be there, the stock availability just isn’t.
    Or it’s misallocated.

  44. Josh says:

    Custom House is still rather clinical. If it is to be the gateway to the UK’s premier exhibition venue, it needs some kitschy theming. Stick a bit of bunting up there.

  45. LO Ben says:

    If it’s anything like the DLR station, the moment you step out of the station during an exhibition, you’ll be assaulted by various hawkers and PR babes trying to grab hold of people on their way to whichever trade show is currently using ExCel. They’ll bring their own bunting, banners, inflateable alligators and whatnot.

  46. Greg Tingey says:

    The CON-ference I went to was much better … we had vast numbers of people in Steampunk kit ……

  47. Westcoaster says:

    I sometimes wonder if there is a connection between Kent County Council being opposed to TFL operating the lines to Dartford, and Crossrail going beyond Abbey Wood.
    On a different tangent, possibly because of the third rail, there would be conflicting demands at Abbey Wood if the NR and Crossrail lines crossed each other, when there were engineering works.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Why no mention of the Western section?

  49. Greg Tingey says:

    Because most of those stations will not be getting complete rebuilds.
    Reading has been covered in a separate article …
    The only ex-GW station that seems to be getting a really extensive makeover is Ealing Broadway, inside the GLA area, at any rate.
    I think Maidenhead will see quite a lot of cumulative “minor” alterations, which will add up, though.

  50. Anonyminibus says:

    I really would like to know what the passive provision for Silvertown station actually consists of. With the railway on the surface, where could they put it without blocking roads ? As for it being too far away to serve the airport; at Leonard Street it is about half the distance as between, for example, Bank and Monument stations. Half of the route, from the airport entrance to the corner of Leonard street and Newland Street is open land where a walkway could be provided.

    Surely people in this area must be disappointed that not only are they not getting any benefit from Crossrail, but the neighbourhood is now divided by a Berlin style wall. What is that going to look like covered in graffiti ? If this section of Crossrail could have been forced into cut and cover creating an new boulevard it would have been a great stimulus to regeneration. A station, although expensive would also have fitted in much better.

    Are there any plans for the listed station building at North Woolwich ? The museum only closed a few years ago and it already has trees growing out of it.

  51. Herned says:

    I have to agree about the chosen solution in Silvertown, it is pretty amazing that they have essentially walled in the tracks along there. I wonder how much extra ~800m of cut and cover between the two tunnels would have cost, certainly a lot less than coming back and doing it later!

  52. Fromthemurkydepths says:

    Good to see this covered. Ive been covering the Abbey Wood branch on my blog for a while. There are some renders around showing the flyover and it has a pedestrian crossing shown, which makes sense. The road is wide enough to have one bus lane and bus stops either side, as it has had for quite a few years. The latest post looks at Harrow Manorway plus the 3k homes just announced near the station last week, and possible 14k in future –

    Also see for a ton of recent updates and photographs covering years of work.

    Though Abbey Wood is far from great now, I feel obliged to defend it. It was a good place until relatively recently. Greenwich council have neglected the area to a vast extent since the 90s. Its a real shame and hopefully crossrail is the turning point.

  53. Fromthemurkydepths says:

    Ahhh rubbish tablet. My blog’s url is and the other is

    When I’m not on this thing I will answer some other points raised.

  54. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:

    @Anonyminibus & Herned:

    The DLR station already split the area in half. Granted, it didn’t have a whacking great concrete wall running alongside it, but there was already a railway here.

    The reason for not going cut-and-cover is simple: building the station at Custom House would have required a massive concrete box, because stations, along with all their associated features, are rather wider than plain railway. This would have involved shutting down the adjacent road entirely, and the DLR as well, given the alignment needed to access the tunnels at either end of the site. This would have greatly increased the cost of the station. Both the Ibis Hotel, and the ExCel centre nearby, would likely have demanded compensation for the massive disruption all this would cause.

    The wall’s size suggests it may have been chosen to provide some noise mitigation, both during and after the construction work. (Again, note the proximity to the hotel.)

  55. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:

    Before anyone points out that the new station isn’t all that big, and appears to be squeezed quite nicely into the space available for it, note that the soft centre of the station itself would have to be enrobed in a delicious, crispy coating of reinforced concrete if it were built below ground level—there’s the small matter of keeping the water and mud out.

    That requires access for all the machinery and equipment needed to build it, and would likely involve driving lots of noisy piling into the ground to make it safe to pour said concrete shell. All of this is outside the present station’s footprint: i.e. you need space for the container, not just the station. Then you have to provide the passageways, entrances, get passengers up to the surface, and provide the necessary interchange facilities. The footbridge leading to ExCel (and across the road) is quite high up, so that’s a lift or two, and probably a few escalators too.

    The Treasury explicitly demanded that Crossrail pare their project to the bone before they’d consider paying anything towards it. This is what that process looks like.

  56. I’m confused. I thought Anonyminibus & Herned were talking about City Airport and the line south of the Connaught tunnel. I don’t think anyone has a problem with the wall at Custom House.

    All I will add is that the comparison with the Berlin Wall is probably appropriate. The significant thing about that is that it got knocked down when it wasn’t needed anymore. It was the same at King George V DLR station. There was a massive wall that didn’t last for long – in fact as soon as they started building the Woolwich Arsenal extension. I suspect if the area around City Airport gets redeveloped the roads will be moved, put underground, whatever. Personally, I don’t see this wall as a big deal.

  57. Anonyminibus says:

    Yes we were talking about the line South of Connaught tunnel – not Custom House.

  58. Herned says:


    No, the wall is not a huge issue in itself, although it could hardly be considered a sensitive solution. The railway is a much bigger barrier, I imagine it won’t be long until someone decides that there is more money to be made from building flats than refining sugar

  59. Melvyn says:


    This site often breaks down major projects into manageable bits and this bit is about the often overlooked sections in Eaśt and South East London .

    Those who think Crossrail creates a barrier well the railway here has always been a barrier it’s just people in the past did not insist on Berlin walls to seperate them from a railway but enjoyed the sounds, smells and sites instead. It it will interesting to see the reaction to walls being built next to HS2 on the insistence of a vocal minority , many of whom won’t even see them !

  60. Fromthemurkydepths says:

    It is a shame Wolmar said that – shows ignorance. Abbey Wood already has about 3.2m entries and exits a year, and is a major bus interchange. It will undoubtedly see more, but Harrow Manorway approach will be unlikely to cope with new developments and shops lining the road, with a big Sainsburys superstore opening this spring. This brings more traffic lights too. It is mentioned in the housing zones plan but theres a lack of detail except cycle lanes. As the main approach from Thamesmead it needs work to bring the benefits to Thamesmead, which really could do with an LO extension from Barking riverside to Abbey Wood, part funded through large scale redevelopment plans.

  61. straphan says:

    I think the decision not to build a station at Silvertown was the right call. There aren’t that many people living or working out there, and those who do already have the DLR. Unless you raze all the industrial units and make the place look like a suburb of Hong Kong (would 20-storey blocks be allowed so close to the airport?) that would be a very quiet station…

  62. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:

    @Herned, et al:

    My apologies, I misunderstood.

    I do suspect that the massive walls may be for noise mitigation purposes though. The usual option is palisade fencing, but that does nothing for noisy construction equipment.

  63. Saintsman says:

    Silvertown. I have not needed to travel on this section of NLL since my cousin moved. The station then shut in 2006 – if memory serves. The NSE station was on a curve, with a single narrow platform. With a very limited building straight onto Connaught Road which had a narrow pavement.

    A Crossrail station would need a much bigger footprint. Had always assumed that any new station would be to the east opposite the Tate & Lyle refinery. By using Saville Road would give a much shorter transfer through the DLR station into City Airport (than that from old site). Such a plan would likely need to wait for funding for the industrial estate to be redevelopment. Grabbing land by rerouting Factory Road would then get enough space for the stations public realm.

    Does anyone have the final passive provision for this potential station?

  64. Anomnibus says:


    Given the proximity of the existing DLR network to this site, I’m not sure there’s a particularly strong case for building a station here. You really would need a major redevelopment of the entire area to justify this, and even then, it’s hard to see why you couldn’t just use the DLR. After all, the Woolwich DLR terminus will be two stations further west from Crossrail’s one Abbey Wood, so the latter will likely be very full by the time it gets even this far. (Don’t forget, there’s also a Crossrail station in Woolwich itself.)

    Crossrail will likely reduce the pressure on the Woolwich DLR branch because it’ll be closer to Dartford, and therefore quicker to reach from Kent. Most people heading for London’s main centres of employment and / or entertainment will use this service over the smaller DLR. That means the DLR shouldn’t be quite as packed with commuters, though it’ll still be popular.

    The further west you go on this line, the less incentive there is to use the DLR’s access to Bank – i.e. few will take the DLR to Bank from Charlton as the mainline route to Cannon Street would get them to the City more quickly.

  65. ngh says:

    Re Anomnibus,

    Walls – I thought all the concrete walls in the dock area were there for flood protection reasons? The ground level is a little low and it is outside the Thames Barrier coverage area and has several weak points including lock gates…
    (also see DLR concrete walls along the City Airport – King George V stretch.)

    The ground level at the Plumstead portal being suitably high so this isn’t an issue…

  66. Ratty says:

    LBM – those tours are for 16-24 olds to get them interested in careers in civil engineering. I think it would be selfish for those not in that age group to fill the limited places purely for their own gratification.

  67. @Ratty

    Well spotted, I was distracted by the big crunchy machines and didn’t read closely enough.

    Indeed if there are any LR readers 24 or younger, or any issue of LR readers of that age, get thee to a Crossrail site…

  68. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:


    That would make me wonder what all the big developers expect to happen if such a flood occurs. Why protect the infrastructure, but not the offices and homes it serves?

    A railway is of no use to anybody if the routes to the stations are inaccessible. And I’d be very, very angry if the apartment I’d just bought for £millions turned out to have such a serious damp problem.

  69. Graham Feakins says:

    Silvertown – Have a look at the series of photos from this link spanning from way back when to c.2013:

  70. MT says:

    I am curious whether any LR readers are able to give a definitive answer on the purpose of the Berlin Wall in Silvertown. Having visited the Thames Barrier some years ago I have a dim recollection that the flood defences along the banks of the Thames downstream of the barrier are supposed to give equivalent protection to that of the barrier for a considerable distance to the East (hence other infrastructure, such as the barrier across Barking Creek). I remember leaving with an impression that the site of the barrier was chosen due to geography, rather than at the limit of what’s worth protecting in London.

    Equally, I have seen documents on the subject of these walls that state that along with noise containment and incursion prevention, their purpose is for flood protection. Assuming the facts are indeed as I understand them, I was wondering whether the flood protection referred to is perhaps in the opposite sense (i.e. to prevent flooding of the local area in the event of a breach in either of the tunnels).

    Can anyone authoritatively confirm or deny?

    Also, although the walls look awful at present, the exterior of the Northern wall (that facing the residential area) is due to receive decorative panels which should alleviate some of the visual impact.

  71. Anomnibus says:


    You have to remember that this new railway will open up easy access to this area from deepest, darkest South London and Kent. The wall is to keep them from seeing how the better half lives, protecting the gentle, innocent lambs of the Eloi north Londoners from the sight of the Morlocks their southern counterparts.

    The ‘flooding’ thing is just a bit of misdirection to stop the savage, yet noble, south Londoners and Kentish folk from feeling slighted. Some day, they will be integrated into the rest of England, but for now, it’s all for their own protection you understand. Some of these people have never even heard of humus, let alone artisanal bread.

  72. Alan Griffiths says:

    E16 Concrete walls have been built on:
    DLR, for noise protection of the resident neighbours
    Crossrail: to protect trains from road crashes (as well as to protect resident neighbours from noise)

  73. Melvyn says:

    @ Anonimubus

    Be careful not to get your humus mixed up see –

  74. Fandroid says:

    Interesting comment about a breach of the Crossrail Thames tunnel. If the ‘overlooked surface sections’ are low enough to allow water to pass through, that would send a massive amount of water deep into central London and possibly back through Stratford too. Tunnels are astoundingly resilient things, as demonstrated by the 2005 bombings and the various fires in the channel tunnel, so it has a really low likelihood of happening . If there were a deliberate attempt to flood London this way then the breach would have to be done around high tide. The barrier and its associated estuary walls are there to protect against a combined high tide and storm surge, so timing would be everything!

  75. Greg Tingey says:

    That’s nothing
    Look up the stats for the fire in Summit |Tunnel, Littleborough (near Todmorden) on the old Manchester & Leeds (L&YR) line, 20/12/1984.
    Or pictures
    Temperatures reached 1500C.

  76. Rational Plan says:

    I’m not sure how adequate the flood defences in the Royal Docks are considered these days. I know from looking at the planning applications for the Minocco Wharf development. That they required the importation of fill for the Southern half of the site to raise it above a certain height, before construction could begin.

    It might just be a toughening of the standards and an expectation of those 1 in 100 year floods to come more frequently.

  77. Chris C says:

    I’ve just noticed that The 15 Billion £ Railway is being shown again on BBC2.

    The Connaught Tunnel episode is being shown tonight (Sun 1st March) at 19.00

  78. Fromthemurkydepths says:

    I wonder how many passengers from zone 5/6 and Kent they are expecting to switch onto Crossrail. It makes complete sense if working at Canary Wharf but more marginal for the City.

    Abbey Wood to London Bridge is currently 23 mins on the semi fasts and 27 to cannon Street. In 2018 SE should have less congestion at London Bridge to make journeys quicker, or at least ensure trains do it in that time regularly, unlike now. That 27 mins has a bit of slack too with a minute or two wait at all stations. Abbey Wood to Liverpool Street is going to be about 18 minutes.

    Would someone arriving at abbey wood, where they’d almost certainly already have a seat, get off and cross the awkward bridge with lots of steps now easy platform change has gone, and then wait 5 mins for a Crossrail train with longitudinal seats so less pleasant? The change could add on 10 mins, mean giving up a nice seat alongside the window and more hassle, with little improvement in journey time to the City.

    Of course those for the west end or canary wharf would change, but an entirely anecdotal observation has seen that many are going to the City. I’m just not sure SE trains will empty en-masse at Abbey Wood in 2018. Nor will the vast majority of the many passengers at Abbey Wood naturally choose Crossrail given its 12 trains an hour verses 10 for SE services. Most will but perhaps not as many as may be expected.

    Of course, every SE service could become all stoppers, which would increase numbers changing. Probably needed with population growth and building plans near Erith, Maze Hill, Deptford etc.

  79. ngh says:

    Re Fromthemurkydepths

    I think it depends where in the “City”
    If their office is is a long walk from walk from London Bridge or Cannon Street. There may be 2 better options in 2018:
    Moorgate – Liverpool Street -Aldgate (possibly Farringdon?) areas, Crossrail will be fairly attractive and hopefully a very high reliability (indeed a choice of services for resilience many be a big plus).
    Crossrail may encourage more development around Whitechapel too

    Blackfriars – Temple – Holborn (Farringdon?) Changing at London Bridge for for Thameslink. this may be fairly attractive if SE service reliability improves after the works.

    There is plenty of building work going on in the city and in the surrounding areas with higher density office space being created (density defined as more workers / plot area i.e. higher buildings and/or plot amalgamation so the amount of useful space / plot area increases) so pressure on existing service may increase.

    Asymmetric traveling patterns may occur i.e. Passengers using SE for 1 journey regularly and CR for journey in the opposite direction. I.e. if it is harder to get on a train at Cannon St in the evening (as lot of passengers just doing the 1 stop to London Bridge might lead to more use of Crossrail as it is easier to get on.

    I think no one actually knows what will happen as there are so many permutations and it probably isn’t worth refreshing the modelling work regularly as the could be so many new developments completed between now and 2018/9.

  80. This does raise the issue of whether Abbey Wood will be adequate, in terms of ease of changing, to achieve its purpose. I do understand that escalators are incredibly expensive an cost an awful lot to run. Nevertheless I fear a chicken and egg situation where people are reluctant to change at Abbey Wood because of the stairs involved and the authorities are reluctant to put in escalators because not enough people change there to justify it.

  81. Anomnibus says:


    In my defence, I would like to point out to the members of the jury that the noble savages of Kent probably don’t know the difference between hummus and humus either. (As a South Londoner and Kent person myself, I would also like to claim autocorrect in mitigation, m’lud!)


    Abbey Wood will see 12 tph. The adjacent North Kent routes tend to get about 8, so the chances are, most would get a seat, even if it does mean getting a short breath of fresh air.

    Also, this is Kent: Most of the people interchanging at Abbey Wood would just stare blankly at these ‘moving staircases’ for an hour or so, before demanding a one-legged man be hired full time to show them just how such new-fangled machines are to be used.

  82. Flare says:

    @Fromthemurkydepths there are plenty of people on the Southeastern services who are standing who would like to jump onto an empty train at Abbey Wood for a quicker journey especially if as ngh says they work around Bank, Liverpool St, Moorgate. At Finsbury Park, I’ve seen people get off their Great Northern trains to descend the spiral staircases and board Victoria line trains rather than the cross-platform interchange at Highbury&Islington as it is easier to get on a Victoria line train at FP.

  83. fromthemurkydepths says:

    Anomnibus – North Kent SE is 8 off-peak. In the peaks it was about 10 before the timetable changes in January when some were cut, and I presume it will go back to what it was after 2018. How hard would it be to increase frequencies on the Greenwich line without additional major signalling work when London Bridge is ‘rationalised’ and none go to Charing Cross? Probably not worth it in the near future, though with rapid population growth along the line who knows how long capacity will suffice. Though of course Crossrail has lots of scope to expand first.

  84. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Your comment raises loads of issues. It was clear from the outset that the Thameslink Programme was going to have loads of knock-on effects and the Greenwich line is a classic example of this.

    As far as I can see, in the peaks there are 6 all-stations trains per hour in the morning peak on the line and 2 limited stop ones from Gravesend.

    The problem with increasing this number is not so much the signalling itself but the limited capacity at Cannon St due to constraints just outside the station and the restrictive three platforms available for Cannon Street trains (in and out) at London. Bridge. This limits capacity to around 24tph but with a bit of tweaking Network Rail get around 25tph out of it. Cannon Street station itself could probably handle 30tph (about the same as Charing Cross but with the advantage of an extra platform) quite easily.

    So the problem in essence after 2018 is that Greenwich trains can’t go to Charing Cross so every extra train, which must go to Cannon St, means one fewer train to or from Cannon Street that could serve another line. There may be a tiny amount of wriggle room with some other trains being able to serve Charing Cross instead but basically it is going to be very hard to provide additional trains to Greenwich.

    Having said the above, it might be worth noting that South Eastern basically runs on a 20 minute suburban cycle in the morning peaks (it is actually 22 minutes in the less intensive but more spread out evening peak). This has fallen apart to some extent with the need to very carefully tailor the timetable during the Thameslink Programme. So logically after 2018 one could expect 6tph all stations and 3tph semi-fast from Gravesend but whether or not that would be the case is impossible to tell.

    I note there is a lot of redevelopment in the area as you regularly report on your blog and one wonders whether in fact Crossrail will have no effect on North Kent passenger numbers west of Woolwich Arsenal. This could be because the usage of Crossrail is accounted for by all the extra developments in Woolwich and people changing trains at Abbey Wood from further afield and these numbers are simply replaced on the North Kent by developments further in. I hope that makes sense.

    My suspicion is that you will have longer new trains (ultimately all 12-car in the peaks) fitted with SDO to overcome the Woolwich Dockyard issue but no more than 9tph.

    A consequence of all this is that one can expect a maximum of only 16tph to run to/from Cannon St via St Johns which is a woefully low usage of this track which serves areas of great demand. Extending the East London Line from New Cross in future then doesn’t seem so outrageous after all.

  85. Greg Tingey says:

    Of course, every SE service could become all stoppers, Even the half-hourly, not-quite-so-desperatel;y-slow skip-stop trains to Gillingham?
    I’ve just noticed an horrendous misprint-set in table 200, btw – look at the departure times for the supposedly “high-speed” departures from St P. Somefinks gorn ‘orribly worng there …..

  86. timbeau says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with table 200. Can you be more specific?

  87. Greg Tingey says:

    Look at the departure times for the “high-speed” trains in T 200 12 Jan – 15 May from KXStP …. for M-F….
    Sample: Page 23:
    08.37 / 11.25 / 11.55 & then P 24: 09.37 / 12.22 / 12.52 etc ….
    The Stratford & Ebbsfleet times are wrong too, but it corrects @ Gravesend, oops.

    I don’t know it this cock-up occurs eleswhere, because I only found it by accident.
    Note: My copy is a downloaded version from the NR web-site, that I keep on this machine, as it’s usually easier to use than individual TOC websites.
    I also don’t know if this has now been corrected (!)

  88. Rational Plan says:

    @ Pedantic. The only problem with extending the Overground anywhere, is can Canada Water and the Jubilee line cope with more transfers. At what point do they have to skip Canada Water and force people to change onto Crossrail at Whitechapel.

    At some point. they will either need to provide direct commuter service to Canary Wharf or yet another crossriver tube/crossrail/dlr link.

  89. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Rational Plan,

    I tend to agree that Jubilee Line capacity from Canada Water inwards is a major issue with no real solution on the horizon. We know they want to run 36tph on the Jubilee by around 2020 (34tph fall back position if that proves not possible) but we also know that will only absorb increased demand that would have built up between now and then.

    The issue then is to what extent you put off doing other things just because the Jubilee Line can’t cope at Canada Water. It will be interesting to see if Crossrail does much to help this situation without “coercion” (e.g. non-stopping ELL trains, at least northbound, at Canada Water).

  90. timbeau says:

    The timetable is correct, albeit highly misleading: those trains do indeed take three hours to get from Ebbsfleet to Gravesend. Tables 194 and 212 reveal all – take your Sandwiches! .

  91. Rational Plan says:

    @ Pedantic. Well Crossrail will help with flows from the North.

    The only problem is that Crossrail serves the Northern Part of the estate, while growth on Canary Wharf and the rest of the Dogs is concentrated to the South of the Jubilee line.

    But if sufficiently large numbers do switch from the North then it does create more space for those going Eastbound on the Jubilee line. In which case it ‘just’ a problem of interchange capacity in the station.

    I suspect one of the branches of the Overground (Clapham and or New Cross probably) will omit Canada Water and Surrey Quays in the Peaks. It would be better than telling a train load of people just before Canada Water that the train is not stopping due to platform crowding. Imagine the near riot inside!

    In the future a new cross river link will be needed and a relatively cheap option would be to build a two platform 12 car stub station under South Dock on the Dogs, that may handle 12 trains an hour from the South. But if I was a transport planner I’d rather such an obvious valuable station spot (under South Dock) was kept for some future theoretical cross rail line that ran East West across the city.

    Oh well if London continues to grow, even with Crossrail 2 and Bakerloo extensions the limits to easy capacity expansion will be over. There will be more demand for infrastructure spending than current politicians or civil servants can imagine.

  92. Malcolm says:

    Ratioal Plan says “In the future a new cross river link will be needed and a relatively cheap option would be to build a two platform 12 car stub station under South Dock on the Dogs, that may handle 12 trains an hour from the South.”

    Err, where in the south exactly? Where and how could such trains get through/across the New Cross +- Gate area to/from somewhere useful? Without financially going well outside the limits of “relatively cheap”?

  93. James Bunting says:

    @ Greg Tingey 0852

    I would like to respond at the risk of being moderated for being off topic.

    Timings such as those you have pointed out, whilst technically correct, should have been edited out of the table as they are of no benefit to anyone This is assuming that there is at least one volunteer covering that table. Volunteers who do the sub-editing had a difficult time on the last edition because of the lack of a Working Timetable to work against (it was not available online until after the submission deadline). In addition, Network Rail have not yet advised volunteers of a set of standards against which to work, leading to an inconsistency of presentation between all tables. Hopefully the planned forum of those involved, when it materialises, will help establish this.

    Having just submitted my tables (Not 200) for some of the SouthEastern and Thameslink networks I am aware that the information in one table has an effect on what is shown in another. However, there is currently no apparent method of making the link between them.

  94. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – Don’t go there – you know you’ll be surrounded by a host of crayonistas,many clutching banners inscribed with the achievement of arms of Hayes (azure ,two DLR sets rampant proper armed and langued sable), others the achievement of the Bakerloo extension (tenne, a 38ts gules displaying the headcode for Elephant).

  95. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:

    @Graham H:

    Could it not be used as part of the BML2 project? Granted, it means wiping out a fair chunk of Croydon’s Tramlink, but it’s only a toy train, so clearly it has to give way to grown-ups with proper crayons.

    >> runs away <<

  96. Graham H says:

    @Anomnibus – Fullmarks for working in a reference to BML2 – Mornington Crescent!

  97. timbeau says:

    Why not tell rival the Haykerlite and the BML2 factions, who both want to use the Mid-Kent Line, that they will have to share? Thus BML2 would run to Lewisham, Elephant, and Central London, or conversely the Bakerloo would run to Elmers End and Uckfield to Lewes. A “solution” equally (un)acceptable to both sides: Lewisham passengers won’t be able to get on, because it will be already full of East Sussexmen with their legs crossed………….

    The mid-Kent Line works: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (see also W&C, NCL etc, etc)

  98. Rational Plan says:

    Well I was a bit vague, but I was not suggesting it could be done for £20 quid and 200 Rothmans. I just meant cheap, as in comparison to a full blown tube or crossrail line.

    As to the location, west of Trundley’s Road, there is some space to widen the lines to allow a tunnel entrance. If the area has been redeveloped by then (likely) then for the greater good 20 or so houses on the east side could be purchased and demolished to widen the line for a tunnel entrance.

    All the way to Eastern side of the Dock that is just under 3km, call it 2 miles.

    So thats what £200 million a mile of tunneling plus a station. Lets put that at £500 million to be generous so call it a Billion, hopefully less.

    it’s a lot of money but it could allow at least 8 car trains direct to Canary Wharf from the South, without trying some very expensive or impossible rebuilds on the Overground line North of Surrey Quays.

    The biggest demand for the Overground is from the South to the Wharf. Not only could you run longer trains to West Croydon, but would probably have the train capacity to Sutton. If they think it’s technically possible to insert more extend the Overground towards Grove Park and through Lewisham, then surely it would be better if these were full length trains that fanned out throught out SE Kent lines, where ever there was the spare space. I’m sure people would wait for half hourly or 15 minute services direct to the Wharf.

  99. Malcolm says:

    @James Bunting

    Volunteers? Why volunteers?

    (Permissible answer: “Why not?”).

  100. James Bunting says:

    @ Malcolm

    The answer is in two parts. One is, indeed, why not. The sub editors are likely to be people who have a detailed knowledge of operations on a particular line or area. They also have an interest in timetables and how the railways use them. The other is more mundane, they don’t get paid in money just in the satisfaction that they are helping to make the National Railway Timetable a better thing. As has been demonstrated by Greg Tingey, there may be occasions where there has some way to go.

  101. timbeau says:

    @James Bunting
    A similar anomaly occurs in table 18, where some trains take 26 minutes to get from Gainsborough to Doncaster, and others take 115. The table doesn’t mention that the latter run, not by the direct non-stop route, but via Sheffield – and it is almost always quicker to change at Retford for Doncaster. Simple solution would be to include the Lincoln – Doncaster services in table 30 (Lincoln – Sheffield) and have table 18 only cover Lincoln – Sleaford – Peterborough

    Someone has had the sense to omit the lone through Peterborough-Doncaster service over the Joint Line from table 26 – its 137-minute timing being rather leisurely compared with the 48 to 63 minutes over the ECML!)

    Likewise the 1302 Newark-Lincoln – Peterborough (113 minutes, compared with 27-33 minutes over Stoke summit)

  102. Greg Tingey says:

    I followed timbeau’s sarcastic advice & the correct timings are shewn in T’s 194/212 as he suggested …
    Even so, I wonder how many people have fallen for it, so far?

    Err … I have proposed a “solution” to the Haykerloo/Bromley N/New Cross interlinked problems on the “Hayes” thread ….
    Oh dear.

  103. timbeau says:

    Given it’s a direct train and therefore technically a valid route from Ebbsfleet from Gravesend, could you have a break of journey at the seaside (a Sandwich break?) I wonder?

  104. Jim Cobb says:

    IanVisits has a video showing a Range Rover Evoque driving through the Crossrail tunnels and exiting to one of the surface sections. Not sure which bits of tunnel and surface, but it isn’t the Paddington exit –

  105. Greg Tingey says:

    IS it a genuine Crossrail tunnel, though?
    Given the convenient “decking” the car appears to be running on?

  106. Disappointed Kitten says:

    I agree with IslandDweller about the lack of connection to London City Airport. Sure, it’s a small airport, and it has lower passenger numbers – but a rapid direct rail link to Heathrow would surely increase demand if it became feasible to run it as part of a Heathrow hub. If low demand were the reason for not building an airport station, then by the same token, there is no case for building a station at Custom House at all – as this article admits, “probably the quietest of the new stations”.

    But the real reason is cost and convenience. A City Airport station would probably have to be underground and be a complex construction – and as this article points out, “it is generally hundreds of millions of pounds cheaper to build on the surface than to do so underground”.

    So, yes, a missed opportunity, although one we can perhaps understand.

  107. Edgepedia says:

    I’m thinking the end of the Rover Evoque advert was shot at the Plumstead portal. Compare the skyscraper in the background at 1:21 with the one in this street view.

    Don’t know where the beginning was shot though.

  108. timbeau says:

    I think you’re right – here’s another view looking roughly along the alignment of the portal frhttps:[email protected],0.102186,3a,15y,272.31h,94.64t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s3s3Gbj4rOOKe78Ri1Cm4xw!2e0

    Logically, then, we should assume it went in at Custom House

  109. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:


    We’ve covered this topic elsewhere. Heathrow and Gatwick can justify rail access because they deal with huge numbers of passengers daily. Heathrow alone crushes the will to live out of over 6 million people every month.

    City Airport only serves about 250000 passengers per month. That’s barely 8000 per day, and you can’t assume they’ll all use the new station: many will continue to use the DLR, or other forms of transport. To put that into context, Victoria station’s Underground stations alone deal with well over 230000 passengers every day.

    Spending over £100 million+ on a brand new station that will only serve a few thousand passengers per day makes absolutely no financial sense for now. However, if City Airport were to be closed and replaced by lots more new buildings, then you’d have a case.


    I think you’re right about the Plumstead portal.

    (Was I the only one who was disappointed that this new ‘off-roader’ can handle strategically placed ramps and props in a shiny new tunnel, but has to be driven around London itself on the back of a truck? Are London’s roads really that bad now?)

  110. straphan says:

    @Disappointed Kitten: You mean you would expect international travellers to:
    – Go through immigrations and baggage reclaim at Heathrow (1.5 hours at least if you are not an EU citizen!)
    – Lug your bags down to the station and buy an Oyster Card for about £10
    – Spend the better part of an hour in a pretty crowded train to go across London
    – Go through the whole tedious process of checking in again at London City

    Who on Earth would prefer doing that to just changing flights at Heathrow?

  111. Latecomer says:

    Just a few points to note in relation to Custom House station. There have been a number of large capacity hotels in the area for quite a number of years. In addition to the Ibis mentioned in the article there are at least three large hotels on the Royal Dock side of the station (off Western Gateway), all within 300 metres of the station. Heading eastwards there are a further four in the vicinity of Connaught Bridge and then there are several others on the south side of the docks, albeit these are pushing walking distance to the station. Nevertheless there are something in the region of ten hotels less than a mile from the station. Aside from the very large exhibitions held, Excel does appear to generate enough footfall with people requiring overnight stays, for there to be a variety of accommodation options available.

    Just less than a mile to the east of Custom House, Newham Council has it’s massive new offices which now houses the majority of the the council workforce as well as delivering most of the key local services. Of course there is also City Airport which is expanding the number of flights it operates and this February saw a 33% increase in passengers above the same period last year. In the absence of a direct rail link between City Airport and Custom House station I would envisage some kind of regular shuttle service between the airport and the station as I would imagine quite a few arrivals would be heading for Canary Wharf just one stop away, and others on to the City (via Liverpool Street) just 3 stops away. Those air passengers who require overnight accommodation may well choose to base themselves at hotels in the immediate vicinity of Custom House station for very easy access to the twin financial centres served by Crossrail in just 3 minutes and 10 minutes respectively.

  112. straphan says:


    In the absence of a direct rail link between City Airport and Custom House station I would envisage some kind of regular shuttle service between the airport and the station

    The 473 bus already provides a 10-minute frequency service between Prince Regent DLR and London City Airport. I imagine it will be subject to a short detour towards Custom House when Crossrail is built.

  113. Fandroid says:

    I have landed at London City Airport on early evening flights recently. One surprise is how low the numbers are that head for the dlr. The airport is really very constrained in capacity. Small planes, short runway, steep takeoff and approach to the west. It’s never going to be more than a niche transport facility. The dlr serves it well and is more than sufficient to meet future demand.

  114. c says:

    City is great for the ex-EU split airport connections to ensure you get your luggage back at Heathrow and can go home, dropping the final leg. Long may it exist…

  115. Latecomer says:

    It may be niche but it is expanding. Larger aircraft have been especially configured to cope with steeper approaches and take offs and I believe that some new stands are under construction to limit the need for planes to taxi back along the runway and therefore allow for more flights than is currently possible. the DLR is adequate in terms of capacity but I think with the ‘niche’ being mainly, though not exclusively business, there is a still a strong case for passengers preferring the convenience of Cross rail and therefore potentially choosing their hotels adjacent to Custom House than the airport itself.

    There is a large development to be built around Albert Dock focussed on finance and business with links to China and I believe there are further residential develoments proposed for the vicinity of Millennium Mills which will increase the numbers of people living, working or visiting the area considerably.

  116. Latecomer says:

    Apologies for some of the autocorrect errors in the post above.

  117. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:


    I don’t think the nearby hotels mind laying on conventional airport shuttle services given the numbers involved. The Woolwich Free Ferry aside, there’s not much traffic flowing through the area, so the roads are more than up to this task. The limitations on tall buildings due to the nearby airport make it unlikely that the population density in this area will ever be high enough to cause serious traffic congestion.

    Nobody rents an office building and then wastes a big chunk of it on a big meeting room that’ll be empty for most of the year. Many hotels therefore host smaller conferences on their own premises, so it’s not just ExCeL that people come there for. Annual shareholder meetings; training courses for large businesses; regular meetings for national-level managers at multinationals, and so on, all need to be catered for, and London has no shortage of major national and multinational businesses.

    (The above is also why there are major hotels close to Heathrow and Gatwick too. Nobody goes to those hotels for a relaxing two-week break, unless they have a particular fascination with airports or the A4.)

  118. Graham Feakins says:

    @Latecomer – “It may be niche but it is expanding. Larger aircraft have been especially configured to cope with steeper approaches and take offs … but I think with the ‘niche’ being mainly, though not exclusively business, there is a still a strong case for passengers preferring the convenience of Cross rail” – There is also a strong case for NOT funnelling more, indeed all, incoming City flights, present and future as proposed, over the likes of my house and area at comparatively low level in Herne Hill. It’s bad enough with the noise (and pollution) of normal incoming flights to Heathrow crossing in the area at right angles to the City inbound flights.

    The blight of aircraft flying over heavily-populated districts of London needs to be addressed sooner rather than later and increasing the number of aircraft at City is not a solution, so any Crossrail proposal needs to take into account that the airport traffic may not be there to any significant extent in the future.

  119. IslandDweller says:

    @GrahamFeakins. If you want to tackle aircraft noise and pollution over London, you’d close Heathrow. That’s the major issue, not small (and relatively quiet) planes using LCY.

  120. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:

    @Graham Feakins:

    There is passive provision for a new station on Crossrail nearby to serve a high-rise redevelopment of the area… should that ever happen. Given LCY’s plans for expansion, however, I don’t see this happening any time soon, and it’s clear that Crossrail Ltd. don’t either, which is why they’ve done the bare minimum necessary.

    As long as London City Airport exists, the benefits of a Crossrail station nearby are effectively nil. If the locals want a station here, they’ll be best served by demanding the closure of their local airport.

    As for aircraft noise: short of a major technological breakthrough in aircraft technology, there’s very little more that can be done about this, other than relocating airports. This is one of the reasons I’m in favour of relocating Heathrow. I don’t particularly care where it’s relocated to—Didcot, or the Thames Estuary, a major expansion of Stanstead, whatever—but whichever option you choose, you’re going to face a lot of resistance.

  121. The Other Paul says:

    @Pedantic of Purley
    @Rational Plan
    Forgive me for this off-topic question, but why would a 16tph 5 car Overground cause problems for a 36tph 7 car Jubilee line at Canada Water? Surely the problem is more interchange capacity at the station itself?

  122. Pedantic of Purley says:

    The Other Paul,

    Size of train is irrelevant. Available capacity is. A lot of people want to get off the 5-car train. They then want to board the Jubilee Line train but there is very little space. If the Jubilee Line train was empty I am sure there would be no problem. The Jubilee Line trains could be Crossrail size and there could be 36tph but if they are all full up it doesn’t help.

    As discussed before, if the problem was interchange capacity you could run both the interchange escalators in the same direction and force the few people going against the flow to interchange via the ticket office using different escalators. They don’t and it is generally believed that this is because they want the escalators to be a deliberate throttle to stop Jubilee Line platforms getting too crowded.

  123. straphan says:

    @Anomnibus: I thought the main reasons for the existence of hotels near airports is that (a) some people’s flights either arrive late or leave early, so that if they live further afield they cannot travel to/from the airport overnight and hence need a hotel; (b) they provide a convenient place to dump a planeload of people whose plane got diverted or could not take off for whatever reason (weather/fault/lack of crew).

    @The Other Paul: The Jubilee line is and will remain the main conduit for people travelling on mainline trains terminating at Waterloo and London Bridge/Cannon St/Charing Cross (or living on the southern bit of the Northern line) and heading towards Canary Wharf. By the time those trains reach Canada Water they are already full and pretty serious queues of people often build up at the Jubilee eastbound platforms at London Bridge and Canada Water in the am peak.

  124. Pedantic of Purley says:

    pretty serious queues of people often build up at the Jubilee eastbound platforms at London Bridge

    whereas the queues that build up on the westbound platform are more light-hearted?

  125. timbeau says:

    “I thought the main reasons for the existence of hotels near airports is……. ”

    maybe so, but given that they are there, they are also available for conferences etc. Remember too that if your conference has a large number of international delegates, a venue near their point of arrival into the country is quite convenient.

  126. Alan Griffiths says:

    Anomnibus (Lewisham People’s Front [Catford Branch]) @ 7 March 2015 at 22:37

    “As long as London City Airport exists, the benefits of a Crossrail station nearby are effectively nil. If the locals want a station here, they’ll be best served by demanding the closure of their local airport.”

    That’s a nonsense argument. The case for building the Woolwich Arsenal branch of the Docklands Light Railway consisted of a combination of local and City Airport passengers. A Crossrail station at Silvertown would rely on similar logic.

  127. Herned says:

    Quick question re Custom House station, it appears that the pillars for the floors above the platform are right on the platform edge. Is that right or just how the photos are taken?

  128. Pedantic of Purley says:


    It is an optical illusion but, as I found with my photos (not published), very difficult to take a photo from the DLR platform that doesn’t give this impression.

    The sketch heading the article is probably a better indication. In this picture recently taken by Ruku and in our photo pool the impression is still given but the positioning of the scaffolding tower should make it clear that there is, in fact, quite a wide gap between the platform edge and the pillars.

  129. Herned says:

    Cheers PoP

  130. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:

    @Alan Griffiths:

    The DLR’s extension to Woolwich was always intended as the terminus for this particular branch, and was to provide yet another substitute for a proper river crossing. The site for the tunnelling work was in place long before the extension under the river was finally green-lit.

    The people of that part of Kent are likely to be far more interested in getting to Stansted Airport, not London City, which doesn’t handle a lot of RyanAir or easyJet flights.

  131. MikeP says:

    @GF The westbound approach to LCY comes over Dartford at just over 13Km out, and you’re just under 11Km out (says Google maps), so height must be about the same. Hardly notice them at all – the most aeronautical disturbance here is police helicopters, followed by general & military helicopters along the Thames and vintage stuff going to/from the weekend events.
    Compared with what I suffered in Epsom with the early morning traffic from the Far East waiting to be allowed into LHR waking me up between 05:00 and 06:00, it’s absolutely nothing. I find the engine noise from the stuff that uses LCY much, much quieter – as advertised!!

  132. Mike says:

    Herned, PoP – shows the Custom House platform width more clearly.

  133. dvd says:

    Seems that the Abbey Wood lifts are not fit for purpose. Or is this typical of station lifts ? (Being claustrophobic I try avoid lifts when possible, especially small ones, so have no experience of what station lifts are like).

  134. Rational Plan says:

    Canary Wharf is a very high density employment zone and now is rapidly becoming a high rise residential zone as well.

    New rail lines have been built to improve access and carry the demand for extra commuters. So the overground has improved access to SE London, an important hinterland for the Wharf, but the improved capacity does not actually go directly to these sources of high demand it relies on transfers to other lines to get people there. Which is a problem when those lines are fairly full to begin with.

    I have been accused of Crimes of promoting Crayonism in regards to Docklands but I wonder why people think Crossrail 1 is the end of the matter. With the Dogs predicted to have an extra 100,000 workers, how are they all going to get there? Crossrail, DLR and the Jubilee won’t be enough.

    It will probably involve a new station under South Dock and head West to at least the West End or it could be the site of a new commuter rail station for direct services in South and SE London. There are many options ranging from a billion or so to many billions for a full scale cross london crossrail line. But as the Wharf is part of the City in commercial terms and is therefore one of the cornerstones of power of the British State, it has real pull. Something will be built.

  135. The Other Paul says:

    @PoP @straphan @Rational Plan
    So “the problem” isn’t really the existence of the ELL/LO or the Canada Water interchange per se, but the number of people wanting to get to the Isle of Dogs in the first place. If the ELL wasn’t there you’d just have a worse problem at London Bridge with the same people heading to “The Dogs” that way.

    Here’s a wild idea: The Dangleway is suffering a bit from being, well, a bit of a waste of space and money. At Alton Towers they manage to have a similar-ish dangleway with an intermediate stop and a change of direction… so… maybe one could extend the cables across to the IoD. The cables could run over the West India docks between the skyscrapers and away from any residential property. A station could be constructed somewhere around the West of the Wharf, maybe “at height” if that’s appropriate. Then you veer it South West across the Thames and Greenland dock to a new terminus at Surrey Quays.

    Cost of the original dangleway was what.. £60m all-in? What I’ve just described would quadruple its length with two new stations – one potentially at height – and need some major surgery at Greenwich peninsula, but that’d all be what, £250m maybe? A lot of money to you and me, but barely the cost of the Croxley Link and a lot cheaper and quicker to build than any underground option.

    I’ll put my wacky crayons away again now, I promise.

  136. dvd,

    On my visit I thought the lifts looked woefully inadequate. It certainly appeared that you were exposed to the elements when waiting for a member of staff to arrive. Unfortunately as I had no legitimate need for using one I felt I could have hardly tried them out. Normally I would do – except that usually when a station has a major refurbish the lifts are the last thing that come into use. I am sure a lot of this is temporary. If it doesn’t get sorted out I am sure questions will be asked – not least by Crossrail who are paying for this.

    Rational Plan,

    My money is on a developer wanting a new station at Wood Wharf and even being prepared to pay for it in order to rival nearby Canary Wharf. This would, of course, be on one of the multitude of proposed Crossrail 3 lines.

    I suspect that if, in addition to what we already have, the original proposal of a “Canaryloo” (or Waterloo & Canary) line running non-stop between Waterloo and Canary Wharf had been built then it would be well used and the Jubilee Line would be operating at less than crush capacity. Of course the Jubilee Line extension was developed from this original proposal with the Canary Wharf developer putting in a sum roughly equivalent to the cost of the original two-station line. This injection of private cash is what prompted Mrs M Thatcher to prioritise the Jubilee Line above, well, just about any other public transport scheme. In the event the Jubilee Line extension got built, the developer went bust and Mrs T never saw a penny of the promised cash.

    Canaryloo would only need two stations plus two decent lengths of single bore tunnel and a couple of crossover tunnels as well as the usual paraphernalia of trains, signalling etc. There would be plenty of opportunities for extension. Also a serious possibility of developer cash to build it. Siting a depot would be an issue though and it would distract from Crossrail 2.

  137. Melvyn says:

    @POP Wood Wharf is next stage of Canary Wharf development !

    As for BORIS dangle way well a new section rising into a new skyscraper could serve an alpine themed restaurant on 30-40 floor …. Be just like Switzerland all year round !

    I was at Canary Wharf today and can report that work appears to be underway at western end of above station development on pedestrian bridges across North dock with lift shaft and new section of dockside walk which will link to West India Dock DLR station and nearby development . While towards opposite end of station a new link next to road off wharf from current development ( subway from Waitrose towards Costa Coffee I reckon ) to new station development is being built with work on a covered way between the two .

  138. Rational Plan says:

    @ Pedantic a core section of any route could be Canary Wharf – London Bridge – Waterloo as an express link. After that it could expand in any direction as part of a crossrail line, either as a super grand project or just merely really expensive one.

    Such as going east to the Dome ( and potential links to LTS or any SE Kent lines) and west to Victoria (down to South London lines or West as an express to Earls Court and Hammersmith or North West to Kensington and Marylebone).

    As for a depot site, there is large amount of industrial and warehouse land down by Charlton riverside!

    In theory a short express tube could work, in practice any such scheme would soon be overtaken by other stakeholders and the line would grow in scope, length and cost.

    Once you become a viable infrastructure project everyone jumps in and adds their own desires onto to it.

  139. Graham H says:

    I see we have had a serious crayonista invasion (many of whom are protesting that they are merely peaceloving tourists) complete with the usual handwaving estimates of useage and costs (or in some cases no estimates at all). Some even believe that a cable car is a useful high capacity urban transport system. Come on chaps,we can do better than this.

  140. Rational Plan says:

    @ Graham H, yes it is speculation but unless London stops growing, then new lines will need to be built to serve areas of employment and housing growth.

    It is clear that expansion of existing lines is running into diminishing returns, the deep tube project buys time into the 2030’s (maybe) and most rail lines will run out of capacity in the next 20 to 30 years.

    Either London strangles itself or it builds. Alternatively the British body politic turns against London and deliberately strangles it of population growth, in an attempt to ‘Rebalance Britain’.

    As we both know, planning 20 to 30 years ahead is almost impossible in this country, but that is the time scale needed to be thought about, especially with the glacial pace of planning, consultation , construction and more importantly political support building required for large infrastructure projects to happen.

    I think we have got better at it. And we are certainly seeing some mega projects I don’t think anyone would see built in this country. But maybe it is the British state adapting to the reality of rapid population growth in the Uk compared to it’s decades of steady state levels.

    (To watch further is the weakening of council powers to reject large scale housing projects, One Black Swan event to consider, the collapse of Greenbelt controls).

    As to future lines in London, look at the growth hot spots and the local rail lines and think how all those people are supposed to get to these new office towers or high rise flats.

    There are no cheap schemes, just different degrees of expensive. Short lines may be cheaper and provide spot relief to congestion hot spots, but if history has taught me anything it won’t be long before everyone else leaps aboard the slowly moving wagon tuning their instruments suggesting extensions and diversions ‘to improve the BCR’ or ‘better serve London’ or hit ‘several different transport objectives at once’. Before you know it you’ve got Crossrail 3 on your hands with all the London establishment behind you sent in to fight the treasury. Success will depend on the political winds of the time.

  141. Graham H says:

    @Rational Plan – difficult to disagree with any of that (how could I given my career path?) but we have had a good go at the problem in relation to the Mayor’s 2050 Plan – and without resort to crayonism – a major act of self restraint on the part of contributors! I think one of the main conclusions there was that the Thamesside corridor in particular seemed to have been ignored in the Plan despite the intended scale of developments there. You will see the resonance of that!

  142. timbeau says:

    @The Other Paul
    “Cost of the original dangleway was what.. £60m all-in? What I’ve just described [extension to Canary Wharf and Surrey Quays] would cost £250m maybe? ”

    This sounds rather like the proposals to extend the Drain, when it would be cheaper to start again. It would (presumably cost about £60m just to build a second, independent, dangleway between Canada Water and Canary Wharf.

    @rational Plan
    “Crossrail, DLR and the Jubilee won’t be enough. ” “SE London is an important hinterland for the Wharf, but the improved capacity does not actually go directly to these sources of high demand it relies on transfers to other lines to get people there. ”
    So why send all these SE Londononers into central London to come out again on a “Canaryloo” If you’re going to build a new tunnel to help SE Londoners get to the IoD, why not extend one that’s already got a foothold there? A tunnel from Abbey Wood to Grove Park (for Bromley North!) would be no longer than one from Waterloo to the IoD, and with intermediate stations at Bexleyheath and Sidcup would give direct access to Docklands to much of SE London without having to muck about in central London.

  143. Graham H says:

    @timbeau/TheOther Paul – and deploying a cable car as a weapon of mass transit beggars belief anyway. The best Swiss ones I have used can clear a queue of a couple of hundred skiers in maybe, 20 minutes (even allowing for the fact that commuters are less bulky than skiers and don’t have a lot of attached clutter, the general point is clear).

  144. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau / Graham H – at risk of having my felt tip pens confiscated there appear to be two (re-)emerging issues in recent posts. South London access across the Thames to Docklands / East London and a perceived missed opportunity in the Thames Gateway corridor given the expected large scale housing / economic development. If we accept a premise that Stratford and Docklands will probably merge into one large economic centre than a new line serving S / SE London with a tunnel under the Thames into Docklands and then to Stratford, Barking and the Thames Gateway corridor may be a useful addition to London’s infrastructure. I accept it would not help in serving Zone 1 but it could facilitate a number of positive developments / links to other areas of planned / prospective growth. I accept we have touched on some of this before and elements are in the 2050 Plan but it looks to me like a high capacity new link is probably needed if development and population scales up as expected.

  145. Graham H says:

    @WW – I wouldn’t dissent from that at all; indeed, it’s clear that the ELL is at some stage going to be even more overloaded than it is now and with little prospect of expanding its capacity except at enormous cost, we will then be into new line territory. [Note: nothing in this post constitutes any invitation to any third party whatsoever to use, rent, or otherwise acquire crayons, coloured pencils …. zzzz]

    BTW just for amusement, in the days when I was employed as a sort of professional ueber-crayonista (well before the Wharf took off on its present scale), the perception in NSE was that we were going to run out of terminal capacity on the east side of the capital, even with CrossRail. Fenchurch Street was a particularly difficult case. At the time, I pondered the scope for providing a new station off the LTS underneath the Wharf, with the added attraction of a relatively cheap extension of any run out tunnels along the South bank, perhaps over one of the Dartford loops. Nicknamed the Docklands U-bend in the office, of course, but at the time we had other priorities and these days I would prefer it to have its own routeing rather than “borrow” the LTS. There, that’s enough crayonism before lunch.

  146. Anonymous says:


    Why single out the Institute of Directors to get special transport links?

  147. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – “great minds think alike etc etc” 🙂 Just goes to show there are few genuinely new ideas when it comes to transport links in London. I am quite intrigued as to how C2C are going to run their planned “every 3 mins Metro service” in the peaks. That seems an ambitious target for long trains on a very busy route with multiple stops within Greater London and a constrained terminal. I suspect that C2C probably won’t want extra stops east of Barking where new developments are planned so that leaves us with needing something else for that area. We already have the planned Riverside GOBLIN extension but there is pressure to add stations to that line although I detect some resistance to doing that (unfortunately). I wonder if the 2050 Plans will be further iterated to start firming up a programme of investment projects which can be planned to ensure safeguarding and then a pipeline of design work, legal approvals, procurement, build and operate which keeps the market place working and competition viable to keep costs down?

  148. Graham H says:

    @WW – 🙂 indeed… The other problem with the LTS is that it’s a couple of miles too far away from the river for much of its route. Nor do I rate GOBLIN extension, however, useful, as big enough or pervasive enough to handle the likely planned extra demand.

  149. timbeau says:

    @anon 1254
    It was not I who coined that abbreviation – it was also used in the post to which I was responding. It is a nice circular coincidence that the most prominent building on the peninsula is ultimately named after the same species as the peninsula itself.

  150. Alan Griffiths says:

    Anomnibus (Lewisham People’s Front [Catford Branch]) @ 10 March 2015 at 15:1

    I think you’ve entirely missed my point about local and City Airport passengers together making the case for the Woolwich DLR Branch (I’ve been away for a few days and just read your comment).

    Local = living near the stations beyond Canning Town.

  151. Malcolm says:

    Timbeau says “the most prominent building on the peninsula is ultimately named after the same species as the peninsula itself”

    The country after which the said most prominent building is named is ‘originating from a Saint-Lawrence Iroquoian word kanata (or canada) for “settlement”, “village”, or “land”.’ (From Wikipedia).

    Perhaps you were thinking of the name popularly used for the building, which name actually belongs nowadays to the district in which the building is set (and its several railway stations, to bring us slightly on topic).

  152. AlisonW says:

    PoP’s “Canaryloo” would seem to be demanding an intermediate station somewhere. Bank, maybe?

    But seriously, there must come a point when it is no longer possible to find a route for a tunnel in an approximation of a straight line. London is now building so high that, like trees, foundations are going down sufficiently far that any reasonably-routed tunnel would be distant from the surface.

    PS. I travelled the length of the GOBLIN again last Saturday. Each time I do I note the “clearance” available below the multitude of overbridges and tunnels. I can’t see that it will ever be cost-effective to string any knitting by raising them. Might it be more practical to drop the level of the line (re-raising it at stations)?

  153. timbeau says:

    @Malcolm: I stand corrected.

    Warum heißt Kanada, Kanada…? Weil keiner da ist!

  154. timbeau says:

    “Each time I do I note the “clearance” available below the multitude of overbridges and tunnels. I can’t see that it will ever be cost-effective to string any knitting by raising them. Might it be more practical to drop the level of the line”

    I’m sure that will be done at some locations, most likely in tunnels, although it is not as simple as just digging down – the floor also has a structural purpose in keeping the sides apart, and that will have to be replaced at a lower level. I understand that at some locations clearances can be reduced by having short “neutral” sections under the bridges. Not always possible, for example where trains are likely to be accelerating, or brought to a stand. Neutral sections are needed anyway to isolate sections fed from different substations, so it would make sense to put them where reduced clearances make them desirable.
    The switchback up envisage might use a lot of energy.

  155. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – there have been works to the GOBLIN over many years to deal with clearance issues. Several bridges have been replaced or modified to improve clearances. There was also an £18m project to improve clearances on the line for larger freight containers but also for electrification.

    I found this quote from a transcript of an old Transport Committee session. The words are from a GOBLIN user group rep.

    “The fact is that £35 million was allocated by the DfT and Network Rail for what was known as gauge enhancement. That is to run the larger containers through. On checking with the consultants who were doing that work, they said, “In actual fact, all the clearances have now been done for your 25kv electrification”. This was part of the deal. Then we asked about the signalling. “Oh yes, all of your signalling has been immunised for 25kv operation because it runs so near to so many other electrified rail lines. ” Therefore a substantial part of the work is done. ”

    Now that may be a slightly simplistic statement from that time (no criticism meant btw) as the conversation went on to say that NR had to do its GRIP work to properly define the scope and it’s possible one or two things might be found from that. However we have been through at least two blockades on the line so far to deal with problems and ease things for the future. There are still suggestions another blockade will be needed to string the wires but I think we need evidence from NR that it can get its electrification machinery to work properly – Great Western experience is not wonderful so far.

  156. Ian J says:

    @AlisonW: With overbridges, the practice on the other ongoing electrification schemes in the North and GWML has been not so much to raise them as to demolish the bridge and then rebuild them – the advantage being that you can crane in a prefabricated bridge deck in a weekend possession, whereas lowering the track involves lengthy closures of the railway. Sometimes with tunnels you can squeeze in some extra height by installing slab track instead of ballast.

  157. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:

    @Alan Griffiths:

    I understood your point. I just don’t agree that there’s sufficient demand. Because of the need to allow aircraft to approach and take off from the airport, many of the areas surrounding it are limited in their potential for population density, and it’s population density that makes the case for a heavy rail metro. Unless you can close that airport, the best case one could probably make is for a new north-south DLR axis, but not much more than that. You really do need to be able to guarantee a lot of passengers per train to justify interrupting every other passenger’s journey with a new station.

    Note, too, that if Crossrail 1 is (as is hoped) extended further into darkest Kent, it will be absolutely rammed before it even crosses the Thames. TfL aren’t idiots: they know full well that Kent’s lack of cross-river and decent orbital connections means it has massive latent demand. Far more than many here seem to appreciate.

    No one project can possibly be enough to cope, which is why Crossrail 1’s extension beyond Abbey Wood is unlikely to happen soon. Stopping short at Abbey Wood was a good tactical move. Once some additional infrastructure is ready to roll, extending Crossrail further into Kent will make more sense.

    This is why I’m in favour of a new north-south railway along the lines suggested by others here and linking the SE directly with Docklands, without bothering with Zone 1. A more grid-like approach would be far more resilient anyway.

  158. AlisonW says:

    Ian J: Oh, I agree that bridge replacement is logistically easier (albeit as if not more expensive) but there are some major roads in play. Not only the A1 in Holloway (where there is also a station) but nearly all the others would have serious local effects if closed for any period. I’m not sure how long it takes to remove and replace a bridge (or build a raised platform bridge so you can keep some traffic flowing whilst knocking out underneath) but this doesn’t seem simpler.

    And there are a *lot* of bridges…

  159. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – the A1 bridge at Upper Holloway is already being worked on by TfL. I’ve no idea if it is being replaced or merely refurbished but I go back to my early point that the GOBLIN has already had clearance works done to it years ago. This work recognised the demands for bigger freight *and* electrification works. There were certainly bridges that were replaced or modified in Waltham Forest and we’ve had the weak bridge fully replaced on Palmerston Road and that took 2 years but that was largely because it was a sudden failure rather than a planned piece of work. Other bridges on the route have been replaced or strengthened in recent months near / at South Tottenham so I’d contend that Network Rail are well aware they have asset health / degredation as well as clearance issues to resolve on the GOBLIN and that the electrification scheme is factored in and has been for several years. What to you looks like a tight clearance may actually be perfectly OK and is not an issue at all. We shall wait and see what Network Rail propose to do and how they propose to do it.

    In a recent Twitter session London Overground were very reluctant to confirm that there will be a blockade of the GOBLIN to get the wires strung up but I’d not be surprised if we got one. After all there is a lot of recent experience of handling blockades on the Overground and while not popular with passengers I do think they are preferable if they allow Network Rail and its contractors to get an awful lot of work done within a defined and controlled time period rather than having years of disruption. I’d actually be more concerned about getting electrification structures installed on the long viaduct structures east of Walthamstow Queens Road than about getting wires strung under bridges in Crouch End and Holloway.

    The emerging issue with the GOBLIN is the disconnect between completion of electrification and new trains being available. That time period might be a year or so but clearly it depends on who wins the rolling stock contract and whether the supplier faces a “type approval” hurdle or can utilise a type that already has or will have network sign off before being needed in London. You hardly need to be a genius to imagine the political furore being whipped up by the usual suspects about nice wires being in place but 2 car diesel passenger trains running underneath them and passengers being even more crushed inside than they currently are! It’ll be even more galling if electric freights can run but passenger trains do not. I should just add that London Overground did come back to me on Twitter to confirm the *possibility* of a timing disconnect so I am not just speculating for the fun of it and note the word “possibility”. We have many months ahead of us when things can and probably will change.

  160. timbeau says:

    There is bound to be a disconnect between the infrastructure and rolling stock availability – the rolling stock is useless until the infrastructure is ready, but the opposite is not true – you can run diesels under the wires, but the rolling stock has to be stored somewhere if the wires are not ready. Unless you can time both projects precisely there will be a time when something is waiting.
    A classic example of that was the ECML electrification, where the MarkIV coaches were not becoming available as fast as the electric locomotives that were to haul them – so some HST sets were modified to work with them instead.

  161. ngh says:

    Re WW & Timbeau,

    There should be some units available albeit not in good nick, the question is whether TfL would want to take them on short term lease. Just 4x 4car units could make a big difference units so all the 172s could be doubled up on the remaining services.

  162. ngh says:

    And back on main Crossrail theme:

    Heard a rumour that initially when introduced on the (non-Crossrail) Liverpool Street – Shenfield services the 345s will have 7 coaches so they fit in all platforms at Liverpool Street till the “short” ones are lengthened.

  163. timbeau says:

    Does the 345 design allow two cars to be removed?

    (I recall recent discussion about the impossibility of converting classes 313 or 319 (or indeed any existing ac type) to 2-car formations for use on the Marlow branch).

  164. Alan Griffiths says:

    Anomnibus (Lewisham People’s Front [Catford Branch]) @ 16 March 2015 at 01:35

    I still think you and I have misunderstandings, as well as disagreements.
    I’ve not been writing about the case for a future station on Crossrail, close to the former Silvertown North London Line station. I’ve been writing about the case that was made for the Woolwich branch of the DLR, before its route and station sites were agreed.
    I also think closing City Airport would be silly. Its an important part of attracting private sector investment, there’s very little local criticism and concerns about overflying can and should be dealt with elsewhere.

  165. ngh says:

    Re Timbeau,

    Not sure but a rumour from a good source. If you design the units so no critical equipment is on those cars it shouldn’t be a problem (It think aventra is meant to have options from 2-12cars (inc DEMU, battery etc.). The 508 were shortened and the 4th cars ended up in some of the SWT 455s so it can be done if designed that way.

    The 345s have to have the capability to take another 2 cars in each 9 car unit to extend to 11car.

  166. Greg Tingey says:

    AS far as I can see, the only weak underbridge left is the one actually crossing the Lea canal – the one over the original river course looks new.
    As for “new” trains, by the time the knitting is strung, won’t there be a few surplus 315’s from Greater Anglia &/or Crossrail available by then ??

  167. @Anomnibus, Alan Griffiths

    It seems this City Airport/Crossrail discussion hath run its course, so I am ending it.


  168. timbeau says:

    “If you design the units so no critical equipment is on those cars it shouldn’t be a problem ”
    That’s my point: note the subjunctive in your statement.

    The order was placed over a year ago and no doubt the offered design was fairly well set in stone long before that. It is therefore not a hypothetical question of whether they could be (or could have been) designed that way, but a factual question of whether they actually were. Given the reluctance of Crossrail to succumb to mission creep on the civil engineering side I doubt that a redesign would be acceptable on the rolling stock.

  169. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – hadn’t considered surplus 315s but that’s an option. Probably released from the Shenfield line when Crossrail’s 345s enter service given the West Anglia new trains are from the same batch as those for the GOBLIN.

  170. Alan Griffiths says:

    Long Branch Mike

    16 March 2015 at 17:48

    @Anomnibus, Alan Griffiths

    Fine by me; I was getting bored with it

    [LOL. LBM]

  171. lmm says:

    @Graham H how would Long Term Support help a railway to pass through central London?

  172. Ian J says:

    A bigger problem for Goblin electrification than the bridges might be the delays in Network Rail’s electrification projects elsewhere (which they seem desperate to avoid conceding before May), meaning there just aren’t the engineers or equipment to string the wires up. It would be funny if TfL ended up leasing Vivarail’s converted D Stock to provide extra capacity in the mean time.

  173. @lmm

    LTS is the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, the commuter line operated by c2c between Fenchurch Street station and the northern Thames Gateway area of southern Essex. It is also known as the Essex Thameside Route by Network Rail.

  174. Greg Tingey says:

    Ian J
    A 3-car Vivarail D-stock train would be a great improvement on the GOBLIN in the Westbound AM rush … 185-190 passengers per 64-seat coach at present (!)

  175. ngh says:

    Re Greg

    And a 4 car Vivarail even better!?

    I get the feeling GOBLIN services will quickly fill with what ever is given to it including 4car EMUs…

  176. CdBrux says:

    It would also be politically helpful that the London area gets some of the Vivarail D stock, should that project be viable, to show it’s not just the rest of the country getting second hand London cast-offs. But drifting away from the topic?

  177. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ CDBrux – while I fully accept the GOBLIN has chronic overloading problems in the peak I cannot see some politicians tolerating the use of converted D stock DMUs. They already deplore the use of any diesel trains in London and they strongly supported electrification on the GOBLIN. I can foresee a row if converted ex LU diesels were to be deployed even temporarily. I appreciate that ignores the passengers on the line but who said politicians remain singularly focused? TfL is necessarily a “political” organisation and I expect the political pressure to come bearing down on it to get new electric trains delivered ASAP and certainly in time for the wires going live on the GOBLIN. Whether that’s realistic or not is beside the point if you want to do the politics.

    The other context is to ask “where are all the GOBLIN’s passengers coming from?” I have yet to see a considered analysis that identifies what is pushing the demand levels. There are all the traditional things such as service quality, fares etc but I think something else is going on. Are things like more frequent Vic Line trains and more demand on the rest of the Overground causing problems? If so there are more pressures due in future with 36tph on the Vic, 5 cars on Overground and the West Anglia lines appearing on the tube map! There may be developments that are also pushing demand but we seem to have a position where 4 car EMUs every 15 mins is the answer and that’s it. I’d love to know what TfL have considered when reaching that conclusion. While I have no expectation that off peak EMUs will fill to capacity I do think that the peaks will come under strain within 15 months of the trains coming into service.

  178. @CdBrux

    Vivarail D stock may be viable for a number of lines around London, so not drifting off topic. Thanks for checking.

    But should commentators have an argument for or against Vivarail D stock on any particular line (such as power supply, gauge clearances, overhead &c), please try to find the appropriate article thread to post the comment (ie GOBLIN, Crossrail, ELL &c).

  179. Milton Clevedon says:

    Further demand on GOBLIN will be expected if an Overground-Overground interchange is built between Seven Sisters and South Tottenham. That is being proposed in Local Authority replies to various consultation papers, for example concerning the Anglia Route Study, well ahead of Crossrail 2.

    Reality is that east-west links across North London are not great by either road or public transport, for example with road congestion on routes serving the fast-growing Lea Valley. Better transport links are required for the Upper Lee Valley growth proposals. GOBLIN also offers a fairly direct line to Barking, to connect with the District Line and c2c for Thames Gateway developments.

    More interchanges may be provided or promoted, for example Wanstead Park could be renamed ‘Forest Gate Overground’ (change for Crossrail), or at any rate shown on the tube map alongside Crossrail from 31 May, even if it is most likely to stay an OSI….

  180. tog says:

    Given their traction arrangements, maybe Vivarail should describe their D-Trains as diesel-electric hybrids (serial hybrids at that) rather than simply DMUs. The comparative modernity may help offset the “second hand” tag.

  181. timbeau says:

    Such diesel-electric hybrids are far from a new idea of course – from the humble Class 08 shunter to the latest Vossloh Class 68s on Chiltern to the Blue Pullmans, HSTs and Voyagers.

  182. Ian J says:

    A non-line-specific objection to use of the D-trains in London would be that Vivarail propose blocking off two doors per side and replacing longitudinal with transverse seats – so standing capacity would be poor as would dwell times (which weren’t great to start with because of the single-leaf doors).

  183. Greg Tingey says:

    “where are all the GOBLIN’s passengers coming from?” They have always been there, but the so-called “service” provided in the last days of BR & even worse unser Silverplonk, oops “silverlink”, was dire, that only the deperate used it.
    Now we have relatively new, comfy-seated (that topic again!) trains, which you can be reasonably certain will appear every 15 minutes.
    From personal observation, Westbound the trains fill up all the way to Blackhorse Rd (though they may easily be at 150% capacity @ Barking) & then more traffic picks up twords Gospel Oak. Eastbound PM peak is a mirror-image of this – you should see the narrow platform at Blackhorse Rd @ approx 17.30 from a Westboubd train – really crowded.

    There is ( I think) an OSI between Seven SIsters & S Tottenham – very quick if you know the dodge through the “alley” opposite S tootenham station entrance.

    Ian J
    Given the dwell times on GOBLIN, I don’t think your objection holds water.
    Aslo, ever seen a photograph of the interior of the old “O” & “P” stocks on the sub-surface lines? with a mixture of transvesre/longitudonal seats?
    Try this:
    Second picture down – admittedly of “Q” stock – note the clerestory – but you get the idea?

  184. timbeau says:

    @ian J
    Vivarail propose blocking off two doors per side and replacing longitudinal with transverse seats

    Vivarail have proposed various layouts – blocking off doors would only be done for some of them, and longitudinal seats would certainly be an option. See the “City Rail” variant in the table here

    (nb, despite the captions, both illustrations are of the country rail option)
    And the Class 172s currently operating the Goblin have transverse seats

  185. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – I know the BR / Silverlink era was far from wonderful (I did sometimes use the line) but I’m not sure I agree that the patronage was always there although I know what point you’re trying to convey. There must be factors beyond suppressed demand which are pushing the demand on the line. I have stepped off a train at the e/b BH Road platform in the PM peak so have some knowledge about how busy it is. It’s not even easy getting up the stairs given the people pouring down them.

  186. straphan says:

    @CdBrux: given politicians are making significant noises about wanting to free the North of the scourge of Pacers as soon as feasible, I expect they will want Northern to get as many D-trains as possible. Having said that, as much respect as I have for Mr Shooter and Co., I doubt these trains will end up being qualitatively much better than a Pacer…

  187. Rational Plan says:

    I suspect that much of the growth seen on the Overground can be attributed to London’s soaring population.

    The amount of suppressed demand is much greater than in the past, so any improvements that create a half decent service will soon be swamped.

    Considering the growth on these lines I wonder if they should not be planning on 6 car trains for the Goblin line.

  188. Theban says:

    Why can’t stock be cascaded from the rest of the country into London Eg the Pacers? It seems instinctively wrong – and politically risky – that the SE always gets new stock.

  189. Graham H says:

    @Theban – very simple,really: 80% of people who work in London’s CAZ come by rail, everywhere else, around <10%. (In Pacerland, about 2 %). In any case,where would you like to use the Pacers in the SE? Replace the Salisbury 9 cars with 3 car Pacer sets, perhaps?

  190. timbeau says:

    The Northern Rail invitation to bid rules out rebuilt trains as well as Pacers, so that’s the D-trains scuppered.
    As for cascading Pacers to the south east, there are very few diesel lines left in the region, and even fewer that could use such a small vehicle. A few possibilities are the Aylesbury- Risborough line, or the Thames valley branches (Castlebar,Windsor, Marlow, Henley). But a fleet of five units (plus a spare) would be inefficient to maintain, compared with drawing from the pool of 165s already used by the operators of those lines.
    It’s not all a one-way traffic – for example both Connex SouthEeastern and Silverlink used class 508s surplus to Merseyrail’s requirements, and the original Gatwick Express vehicles were mark 2s displaced from the Midland Main Line by HSTs.

  191. Rational Plan says:

    @timbaeu. I think someone on Rail forum pointed out it only specifies 120 new trains for the franchise, not for old trains to replaced by new. There is still plenty of scope for the Vivarail proposals at Northern.

  192. ngh says:

    Re Rational Plan,

    Agreed always read anything from DfT carefully and between the lines!

    Northern have 119 Pacer units but some are 3 car so net 124 units on a 2 car basis.

    So theoretically a similar replacement (new units likely to be longer but similar seating due to larger disabled toilets and other features.

    An lots being electrified (with all the ex Thameslink 319 apparently heading that way) so it sounds good theoretically…

    Northern have 18x Class 153 single car DMUs which won’t be usable post 2020 PRM-TSI and 7x class 155 which like the 155 apparently have structural issues so man not be worth refurbishing.

    Lots of exisitng services far shorter than needed for the number of passengers

    More services.

    Lots of service swaps with EMT and TPE (who both effectively loose out on stock)

    Thus the Vivarail units are an ideal replacement for the single car 153 units are also a potential issue for Greater Anglia, EMT, FGW (who also have a pacer issue probably indirectly solved by displaced 165).

    So 70x 153 and 7 x155 potentially need replacement which is very similar to the maximum number of 75x Vivarail ex D stock units (+ Chilterns Cl121 on the Aylesbury shuttle + Greenford Shuttle etc).

    Giving The GOBLIN passenger a choice of being able to get on train or potentially not for at least and 18 month period till electrification most would probably welcome some of the viva rail stock. The recent NR connectivity study (Anglia as a case study) has implications for unit requirement so on branches as well.

  193. timbeau says:

    @Rational Plan
    As you say, at least 280 vehicles (32 class 153/155 and 248 Pacers) would need replacing, and only a minimum or 120 brand new ones are specified in the franchise documents. That leaves 150 which could be D-trains – which is conveniently 75 2-car units!

  194. straphan says:

    @Theban: there is no point in transferring diesel trains to a railway that is largely electrified. Furthermore, ticket prices Oop Norf are cheaper than Down Sarf – meaning the business case for new trains Oop Norf is that bit more difficult to put together.

  195. Caspar Lucas says:

    timbeau 15.55
    I think that analysis omits existing diesel units displaced by electrification, the potential cascade of ScotRail units (Abellio’s rolling stock plan for the franchise is now in the public domain) and the other possible cascade of Sprinters from the south west once the 165s and 166s have been (partially) displaced by electrics. And no doubt there are other permutations!

  196. Greg Tingey says:

    Having travelled between York & Harrogate, via an extended pub-stop in Knaresborough on Pacers, & one or two other place, unfortunately. I can certainly suspect that D-trains would be better.
    They have bogies & effectively longer wheelbases, which give them a better ride.
    I think that the new tray-mounted diesel units might easily be better too …

  197. Malcolm says:

    WW asks “where are all the GOBLIN’s passengers coming from?”

    Yes, suppressed demand, increased population, and so forth. But those factors might apply anywhere, not just between Gospel Oak and Barking. What is special about this corridor?

    My proposed answer is “nothing”. If a decent rail service was suddenly introduced between Stanmore and Hackney, Hounslow and Edgware, Sydenham and Dartford, or any other pair of places, then people would use it. Just as raindrops coalesce on grains of dust, never mind where they are.

  198. Saintsman says:

    Silvertown – I often read that there is passive provision for a station. However, if you look at the safeguarding documents on Crossrail site sheets 31 and 32 (Pages 35-6) are relevant.

    Then the old NSE station site IS protected but this is NOT suitable for Crossrail. As you move toward North Woolwich then the track gradient becomes too great for platforms as it drops into tunnel. To get a suitable station footprint then you are likely to need to slew the tracks and grab land from Factory Road – which realistically means the need to redevelop the Tate & Lyle site.
    I DO NOT propose that a station should be built here for the foreseeable future. DLR serves City Airport well. Current potential footfall is just not there. However if there is a mega redevelopment of the waterfront, then Crossrail could be an important addition to the transport mix.
    I’ve looked for other sources and cannot find official safeguarding that would allow a Crossrail station to be built. There seems to be a myth that it has, but which seems to have been overtaken by events. Am I wrong? Does anyone have anything official to show sufficient safeguarding?

  199. Kingstoncommuter says:

    Are the D-trains being converted into walk through carriages (with doors like most mainline stock) because otherwise people in the north will get a bit of a nasty shock when they realise there’s a gap between each carriage…

  200. timbeau says:

    @Kingston commuter
    It would seem so
    see “6”

  201. Alan Griffiths says:

    The Crossrail website

    now has notes against every station from Maryland (not Marylands) to Shenfield.
    Most are to the same formula, to the extent that Seven Kings is described as Forest Gate, and show the same start 04/03/2015 and end 31/12/2018 dates. I suppose we should expect more detail later.
    Unfortunately the notes for Stratford station have been pinned to the location of Stratford International station; no Crossrail work expected there.

  202. Melvyn says:

    @ Theban given how how old PEP stock is moving pacers into london would give London newer trains ….

    What is really needed is someone to bang head together in D(a) FT and agree to extension of 3rd rail where it releases DMUs for use elsewhere . The sight of DMUs in the new London Bridge is a nonsense made worse give the size of the trains all for a few miles at the country end of the route .

    As for DMUs used on GWR out of Paddington these were built to a larger gauge to suit larger gauge of this railway and will move to South West branches of the network .
    To move these trains up north would need gauge enhancement of the type discussed on Bakerloo Line thread …. Boring …

  203. Pedantic of Purley says:


    “A few country miles at the end of the route” (Hurst Green – Uckfield) is in fact around 25 miles. Whereas the section from London Bridge to Hurst Green that is electrified is actually shorter. I crudely estimate it at around 22 miles but no doubt someone has a link to the appropriate Network Rail pages and will give a more accurate figure.

    Electrification of this line is a big decision and I can understand the hesitation just to be sure of not making the wrong decision (AC/DC) or an inappropriate mix of single and double track.

  204. timbeau says:

    A/most spot on: Hurst Green is 25 miles from Uckfield and 21 1/4 miles from London Bridge according to the NRT.

  205. ngh says:

    Re PoP and Timbeau,

    The electrified section goes 15 chains further than Hurst Green that so 21.44miles…

    My gut feeling is that re double some of the 4 single section would be more beneficial for network wide reliability than electrification alone

  206. Malcolm says:

    ngh says “re doubling some of the 4 single section would be more beneficial for network wide reliability than electrification alone

    Obviously true. But what may not be known is whether the benefit (for reliability and perhaps other benefits too) is worth the cost.

    Although there might be some synergy, making re-doubling and electrification done together cost slightly less than done separately, this may not be very great. So really there are two almost independent questions: “re-double or not?” and “electrify or not?”. The reasons, and possible benefits, are probably rather different for the two improvements, and the timescales could also perhaps be different.

  207. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm.

    Exactly trying to quantify the benefits is like trying to hit a moving target, the benefit may well increase post Thameslink going fully live but would the proposed East Croydon and Windmill Bridge Junction improvements reduce some of the potential benefits again???

  208. ngh says:

    And back on topic…

    Crossrail starting the tender process fro the additional sidings at Plumstead
    (Not included in the original Crossrail Act)

    8 passenger and 3 maintenance train sidings

    Appears to have access to the Crossrail lines in both directions (reversal for Abbey Wood Direction)

    Presumably it might remove the need for the provision of the stabling at Hoo Jn in the original safeguarding?

  209. LO Ben says:

    In theory, a CR1 station would be great in the event of a redevelopment of the Silvertown area – just as long as none of the people want to be able to get on a train. If we’re predicting that Crossrail will be full as soon as it opens and we haven’t even got the much discussed extension to Dartford/Bluewater/Ebbsfleet Garden City yet, I’d be very tentative about trying to serve any kind of major new destination in Docklands.

    As to the GOB, I think it could make for a very nice thesis for somebody who studies these things. From what I’ve seen and the conversations I’ve had, the upgrade of the line has done two things. It has effectively opened up that whole area of north-east London for jobs. Before, if you liked in Harringay or Walthamstow, a job in Barking wasn’t really a credible option to commute. Now, as long as you don’t mind the crush, it’s an easy trip. Secondly, for those who already did make the trip, it’s saved them a considerable amount of money and time – nobody’s getting on the Victoria Line and changing at King’s Cross for the Hammersmith & City Line to Barking

  210. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:

    @LO Ben:

    Crossrail’s Abbey Wood branch won’t be rammed: the North Kent line it interchanges with lacks the capacity to fill it up.

    There will be 15 trains per hour from Abbey Wood through central London; the service from Dartford, on the other hand, will be rather less than that, and many will prefer to continue on to Woolwich for the DLR, or even stay on the train all the way to Cannon Street or Charing Cross instead.

  211. straphan says:

    @ngh: I saw these sidings in documentation as far back as 2012: I think they are there to provide a track maintenance depot in the east (to cut down dead mileage and in case of works in the central tunnel) plus some stabling, as they found there was not enough space at Ilford plus it took too long to get from Ilford to Abbey Wood.

  212. Graham H says:

    Just for amusement, this morning’s Times ( a former newspaper) has the following headline “Crossrail noise covered up Hatton Garden jewel theft”. Even HMT hadn’t thought of that objection to the project. Now.let’s see, suppose we have a £200m theft every two years and the project life /appraisal horizon is 35 years….

  213. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Graham H,

    A good headline but I suspect it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Neither of the remaining TBMs are currently active. (Elizabeth is due to restart today.)

    Given the amount of construction work going on it is probably quite difficult to specifically pin it down to Crossrail construction work.

  214. ngh says:

    Re Graham H

    And the Telegraph suggesting the Kingsway utility duct fire (the adjacent Kingsway Tram tunnel being a regular LR favourite) might have been started deliberately to cause distraction as well.

    The inevitable Hollywood version will no doubt feature the get away vehicles being driven away through the Crossrail Tunnels like a recent car advert!

  215. Chris Patrick says:

    Work appears to have started at West Ealing.

    It is interesting to note that the existing platforms are numbered 3 & 4 but there are no platforms 1 & 2.

    Presumably the re-instated bay platform (for the Greenford shuttle) will be platform 5.

  216. Graham H says:

    @ngh – 🙂

    @PoP – I didn’t read the accompanying article as the Times on line isn’t free and I’m d****d if I’ll pay over good cash to Murdoch.

    @Chris Patrick – perhaps these were on the Main Line once?

  217. Castlebar says:

    @ GH 09:25

    When the Hatton Garden thieves opened my “strongbox”, they felt so sorry for me that they appear to have put stuff in it.

    @ Chris Patrick

    I remember platforms 1 & 2 at West Ealing. There were many photos taken from ‘Jacobs Ladder’ in steam days showing these very clearly. The only platform hardly ever in photographs is the old Platform 4 which was the other side of the (Drayton Bridge Road) road bridge until recent years. I never saw platform 1 used even then.

  218. Castlebar says:

    @ Chris Patrick pt 2

    West Ealing was once a major station, certainly on par with Ealing Broadway until the latter eclipsed it by being the terminus of two electric railways. But until about the 1920s, the station had a fast morning train (to the City I think) which used platform 2. A photo exists somewhere, and it shows a London bound train at platform 2, the photo being dated “early 1920s, possibly 1923′

    Even in the early 1950s, when there was both a coal yard and a goods yard (as well as the Co-Op Milk dock being used daily) West Ealing was staffed with 2 porters, (not that they ever did anything except shoo us off the platforms)

  219. Chris Patrick says:


    It appears that the milk dock area will be the Greenford branch platform – cross platform for Paddington.

    (I’m aware that changing platform numbers is difficult as the numbers are often related to the signalling. This is why Stratford’s numbers are from from easy to understand/follow.)

  220. Castlebar says:

    @ C P

    Yes, the old milk dock are will become the Greenford line terminus.

    The milk dock was only ever used by the Co-Op as United Dairies used Wood Lane on the WLL where it connected with the junction for the GWR Birmingham line. The milk trains were invariably hauled by a 47xx class and we were occasionally allowed onto the footplate. When the empties had left, they always hosed down the entire milk dock area for about half an hour (no water meters then) but even so, the who area always stank of rancid milk. There was a massive GWR lever frame signal box just to the north of the milk dock

  221. Graham H says:

    @Castlebar – indeed, my 1922 Bradshaw shows not one, but seven through trains from the GW, stopping at West Ealing and then going on to LST. Not sure precisely where the engine release road was at Paddington although in Another Place, someone found a picture of a Met loco quietly reposing amongst the Castles and Kings. I believe the through service disappeared with the War.

    Wasn’t that milk dock shunted by a 57xx once the 47xx had dropped off its load? Again,memory may be failing but I remember that 57xx spending a fair amount of time blocking the relief lines as it worked the dock. Unthinkable now.

  222. Castlebar says:

    @ GH

    My memory was that the 57xx worked the coal sidings and/or the goods yard (which was mostly timber, I think, in the ’50s)

    I was there regularly and cannot remember the pannier shunting milks. Of course it had to cross all lines to get to the coal yard which was south west of the station, so all the main line traffic had to be stopped while this was going on. I really don’t think a third engine working there would have happened. Don’t forget that the timber yard was also within the Drayton Green/West Ealing curve and very occasionally that did require another engine. But all these movements were directly in front of West Ealing Box

  223. Graham H says:

    @Castlebar – of course, it was the yard, now you mention it! A better place for cabbing was in the apex of the junction at OOC, where freights were often held in the down relief loop.

  224. Castlebar says:


    The 57xx blocking the relief lines was only the loose coupled coal working that had to access the coal yard, and it blocked the relief whilst it was awaiting the mains to clear. Then it pulled the coal trucks across without a brake van into the headshunt south of the main line, half way towards Hanwell station

  225. Castlebar says:

    @ GH

    and a final thought……….

    The milk dock was worked from a spur off the chord SW of Drayton Green. I think the crossover by Drayton Green Halt was to turn the 47xx on the triangle

  226. Fandroid says:

    The bit in the Times about the Hatton Garden robbery explained that there wasn’t necessarily any actual Crossrail construction noise, but the article writer thought the security staff would have put any funny sounds down to that reason. I’m not sure how high that sort of excuse comes in the usual list – before or after ‘the dog ate my homework’ ? Having dabbled in a bit of tunnelling myself, it is quite surprising how much sound does carry underground, so anyone working around that vault might well have been habituated to lots of funny noises coming from Crossrail and elsewhere.

  227. Ed says:

    LO Ben – Agree about the effect of the revamped goblin on employment and leisure across East and north London, which would be magnified if it went to Abbey Wood via Thamesmead. Massively better connections between the two sides of London and the area of Kent and Essex bordering London. Many more job opportunities would open up too for areas like Beckton and Erith, and sustain existing business as the employment pool and customers increase.

  228. Graham Feakins says:

    @Fandroid – Not forgetting of course the nearby Central Line tunnels. The point was that the jewellers and residents were sent a letter by Crossrail to explain that there may be noise within their properties from the work involved. If the security folk were simply on the road outside as reported, then it is most unlikely that they would have heard anything untoward bar the alarm. If inside, then who would be able to distinguish between a ‘Crossrail noise’ and noise from something else possibly being worked upon nearby?

  229. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ed – if the GOBLIN is ever extended under the river then I expect the demand would be phenomenal. This is simply because it will serve several areas with massive amounts of housing (trip generation potential) even on the extended bit never mind the existing route. In some ways I dread to think how overwhelmed 4 or 5 car trains would be. I certainly couldn’t see a 15 minute headway being remotely adequate. We then get into some very serious questions about what sort of service would be required on the line and what ramifications there would be west of Barking.

  230. timbeau says:

    ” For those who already did make the trip, it’s saved them a considerable amount of money and time – nobody’s getting on the Victoria Line and changing at King’s Cross for the Hammersmith & City Line to Barking”

    But the Goblin didn’t suddenly materialise just because TfL found some orange crayons a few years ago – bits of it have been there for 150 years and all of it for 120. Surely many (most) of those few who already made the trip didn’t go via Kings Cross but endured the ancient BR-era diesels that used to frequent the line (well, not very frequent). Notwithstanding the poor reliability, it would have been a very bad day when the journey via KX would have been much quicker.

  231. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I believe the recent line history shows that reasonable growth started during Silverlink’s days but frequency was the problem then. TfL paid for supplementary peak journeys and also for the Winter Sunday service – yep there used to be no Sunday service when it got cold and dark! However I think the inevitable boost came from the usual Overground things of

    a) being on the tube map / tube car line diagrams
    b) having Oyster PAYG and TfL fares applying. Used to be on non zonal fares with an interchange premium because of summated fares.
    c) new trains and better daily daytime frequencies.
    d) greater service reliability

    In and of themselves the above are nothing very revolutionary but in combination with population growth and sustained economic activity they’ve resulted in growth.

    I can’t claim to have counted where people get on and off in detail but there is a very significant peak volume of boarders / alighters at Blackhorse Road and many come off the Vic Line. My sense of things is that a lot of those people are headed to Leyton and Leytonstone with some carryover to Wanstead Park and beyond. At the west end then clearly an awful lot people use Gospel Oak for obvious reasons. However the other surprise is Upper Holloway which throws up lots of people in the peaks. Clearly Harringay Green Lanes and South Tottenham have significant catchment areas and bus interchange but the numbers aren’t as big as at Blackhorse Road (in my limited experience). There is also quite a lot of development in bits of North London which are creating demand flows for building workers and then later users of those homes / schools / health facilities.

  232. straphan says:

    @WW: Indeed. LOROL recorded something like a 35% increase in ridership in the first year after the takeover of the Overground network. As you say, lots of this had to do with Oyster acceptance – I found it absolutely ridiculous at the time that a railway line that effectively served as a North London orbital tube did not accept Oyster.

  233. Melvyn says:

    Given that Hatton Garden is west of Farringdon on completed section of Crossrail tunnelling I doubt if noise of TBMs east of Farringdon which is also north of Hatton Garden would have even been heard . Robbery would surely have been timed for when TBM from West passed by !

    As for GOBLIN its main problem is a number of stations are badly located while good locations for stations have often lost their station like next to Tufnell Park Underground or former station at St Ann’s Road .

  234. timbeau says:

    How many security guards do you think know exactly where the Crossrail work is going on at the moment?

  235. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – anyone can find out where the TBMs are working. It’s on Crossrail’s website plus there’s a press release every few weeks about the latest development!

    @ Melvyn – for a railway with “badly located stations” the GOBLIN has lasted a very long time and is now busier than ever. Just because it doesn’t connect perfectly with another line nearby doesn’t make it useless.

  236. timbeau says:

    Not everyone is as interested in the project as you and I are. Being able to find out is not the same as having the urge to do so.

  237. Pablo_Diablo says:

    Without wanting to totally hijack this thread for the purposes of assisting a future script writer on the Hollywood Blockbuster Hatton Garden Robbery film, while the suggestion that the Holborn fire was part of a grand plan (somebody has been watching Die Hard too many times) I would be interested to know if the Crossrail letter was fake. Not hard to grab a logo from their website and make a convincing looking ‘official’ letter warning about noises which would be believable in light of the works, and would through anybody that did hear noises off the scent..

    Back on the rails … the impact of LO is an interesting topic – I was talking to senior people at Hackney that were putting much of the increase in popularity of the Borough down to the arrival of the Orange Line literally putting them on the map (tube map, that is). They have always had good housing stock, but once people felt it had good connections too, it suddenly became more popular, hence the growth of the past 5 years or so.

  238. Melvyn says:

    @ WW And much of its existence GOBLIN was under used with many not knowing where the trains went to and from . It was only since when the line became part of the Overground and shown on tube maps that use has soared as can be seen by the fact TFL thought 2 carriage trains were sufficient when it ordered existing ones .

  239. Greg Tingey says:

    Maybe, maybe not…
    Lots of people knew perfectly well that it was there, but refused to use it, unless desperate, simply because the “service” was so taotally unreliable.

    Incidentally, I find this “We don’t believe it’s there unless it’s on the Tube-Map” trope totally unbelievable.
    I mean, now do people in Sarf-Lunnon manage?

  240. Anonymous says:

    @Greg Tingey
    “I mean, now (sic) do people in Sarf-Lunnon manage?”

    With great difficulty!

  241. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Melvyn – that’s not born out by the facts I’m afraid. The GOBLIN user group will tell you that ridership was growing even in BR days and then continued under Silverlink. Greg is correct in saying the biggest problem was unreliability – people don’t mind half hourly services *provided* the train turns up and runs on time. Under BR and Silverlink that was not guaranteed because the trains were clapped out cast offs and there was no requirement from government or LT to do anything about it. I did use the line under Silverlink’s control – not brilliant but better than closure.

    I would argue that what the Overground and tube map things did was raise awareness for *some* commuters but more importantly for discretionary off peak travellers. Providing a x15 headway is just good enough for people not to worry unduly about waiting times. The new trains were obviously an improvement on the class 150s but even the old trains weren’t carrying fresh air all day long! They were busy.

    I do get ever so slightly annoyed with politicians who think that putting an orange line on a map is somehow transformative. It isn’t. It is money, effort and professionalism that deliver good services together with someone deciding that a better service *must* be specified and then delivered. We really should get away from “magic wand waving” as it creates a whole load of incorrect assumptions and expectations.

  242. Castlebar says:

    Greg, you said: – “Incidentally, I find this “We don’t believe it’s there unless it’s on the Tube-Map” trope totally unbelievable”.

    Sorry, I very rarely disagree with you, but I do believe it.

    Many people resident in West Ealing and Hanwell DO NOT BELIEVE these places have stations.

  243. Castlebar says:

    …………and I am reminded of a person who lives only 200 yards from South Greenford station, but has never used it (in over 20 years) because “as it isn’t on the Tube map, I don’t know where it goes”

  244. Ed says:

    There’s plenty of people who don’t know trains get you from central London to Greenwich in 7 minutes, so use the DLR that takes 2-3 times as long. Same with getting to Charlton for the football. Going North Greenwich tube then a very long walk or waiting for overcrowded, slow buses to Charlton instead of the train from Cannon Street, Charing Cross or London Bridge. I’ve heard this many, many times as people out of London or north of the Thames only look at the tube map.

  245. Ed says:

    I meant many rely heavily on the tube map for trips to south of the Thames, not all of course!

  246. Castlebar says:

    @ Ed

    Why on Earth would anyone want to go to Charlton for the football?

    …….when you can watch Brentford instead.

    But Aha! Brentford isn’t on the tube map either, although Boston Manor, the wrong side of the M4 is barely a mile away.

  247. Caspar Lucas says:

    I rather suspect that the “as it isn’t on the Tube map, I don’t know where it goes” feeling is conflated (perhaps subconsciously) with trope of “British [mainline] trains are expensive/dirty/late/cancelled/dangerous/run by incompetents/full of undesirables” which somehow doesn’t apply to those trains whose routes happen to be drawn on the Tube map. Hence no desire to find out where it does go.

    And as if on cue, today’s Metro headline referred to “the wrong kind of heat” (at least it did here in the West Midlands).

  248. Malcolm says:

    The answer to whether or not people know about trains which are not shown on the tube map is obviously “some do, some don’t”. Anecdotal evidence clearly shows that. We may not know whether it’s 20 or 80 per cent, but it probably does not really matter, there are better things to spend survey money on.

  249. John U.K. says:

    “on the map, off the map”

    Isn’t it about time that the London Connections (if that be the correct name) map which shows both “heavy” rail and Overground and UndergrounD was as widely available as the folding tube map, even if, to show every thing clearly, it had to be larger but folded still to pocket size?

  250. Herned says:

    The thing with the tube map is that it is so simple and straightforward. To go somewhere you just have to check you are on the right colour line going in the right direction, confident that the train will stop at every station along the way (I don’t think the foibles of the Metropolitan line are relevant here).

    The London Connections/Oyster Rail/High Frequency maps don’t show individual services, which adds a level of complexity on it’s own. Then there are fast and semi fast trains, generally to destinations off the edge of the map. For the example of Charlton above, do you go to Charing Cross or Cannon Street? What is the destination to look out for? It all takes a lot more thought and no doubt worry to the occasional visitor and it’s not surprising lots choose the perceived safe option and ignore the railways

  251. Anomnibus says:


    I suspect most people do tend to assume that each city’s official “metro” map covers the whole city. They do so for almost every other city; it seems to be mainly London that feels it is ever so special. That the colourful spaghetti of lines on the iconic Underground map primarily serves north London isn’t something that hits you instantly. The eye tends to be drawn to the lines, colours, and shapes of the map, rather than its geographical extent.

    In other cities where portions of mainline railways are included on such maps, they are usually only shown up to a very limited extent. For instance, the “FRx” lines shown on Rome’s metro maps are almost all parts of long-distance mainlines. Only the ‘metro’ services are actually shown on the metro maps though, as if these were part of the metro network. However, few countries were insane enough to build a ring of over 13 major termini around a single city. Not even Paris went that far.

    If you were to try the same approach with south London’s rail network, the map would look horrifyingly complicated, because the lines separate rapidly into a myriad routes and branches well before they reach the edge of Greater London itself. The poor graphic designer would have a nervous breakdown just trying to come up with enough combinations of stripes, stippling, tartans, chequerboard patterns, polka dots, and so on to give each one its own visual identity.

    Beck’s design is inherently limited by its reliance on colour coding. New York City’s network is even more complex than London’s and it’s clear that the Beck approach is struggling to show their network clearly and readably.

  252. Southern Heights says:

    This is again something where moving suburban services to London Overground could help, marking it as Overground would associate it with Underground . As could the production of a map showing actual routes followed and maybe (shock horror) a re-introduction of route numbers?

  253. Herned says:

    Or perhaps TfL not being so territorially-minded in the first place and admitting there are other rail services in London!

    A spider map like bus stops have would help, and also route numbers. If people can cope with them on buses then surely trains isn’t too complicated

  254. Lazare says:

    @ Anomnibus

    “However, few countries were insane enough to build a ring of over 13 major termini around a single city. Not even Paris went that far.”

    Paris did have a good go at it, though. Until the sixties there were 10 main line termini: St Lazare, Nord, Est, Bastille, Lyon, Austerlitz, Orsay, Luxembourg, Montparnasse and Invalides.

    Orsay and Invalides were linked by a new tunnel to form the core of RER Ligne C (The redundant Gare D’Orsay eventually was converted into the Musee D’Orsay).

    The line into Luxembourg was extended north, initially to Chatelet and then to Gare du Nord, forming Ligne B.

    The line into Bastille was diverted via Nation and Gare de Lyon to form the eastern end of Ligne A. Bastille station was knocked down and is now the site of Paris’ second opera house, whilst the redundant viaduct was turned into a linear park, long before New York’s High Line.

  255. PeterR says:

    It isn’t just lines to south London that people unfamiliar with London’s railways miss. I met someone ‘from up North’ going from Kings Cross to Blackfriars about to take the Circle Line who had no idea in was just three station via Thameslink.

  256. timbeau says:

    When I moved from Putney some north London friends assumed I was moving further from central London and/or would find it harder to get into London. My new flat was 100 yards from Clapham Junction station.

    Two of the things that put people off national rail services in London are the lack of a working knowledge of the network (and an associated assumption that you need to know the “right” terminus when in fact the London Bridge/Waterloo East/Clapham Junction connections join everything up – at least until the current temporary situation which makes the Cannon Street/Charing Cross question referred to above rather more important), and the assumption that you need to know, or at least look up, a timetable.

  257. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – I very much agree with you about people lacking a working knowledge of where national rail services go. The obsession with operator, not function, seems to stem from the way in which the Reithian/Uthwatt nationalised industries were conceived and presented and has been reinforced by DfT’ s insistence that there is no such thing as a national rail network, only individual private operators (who are themselves encouraged to shift route identities around when a franchise is transferred – no marks at all to c2c,for example). TfL have tamely followed suit by presenting LOROL and DLR as operators not routes. The offence appears to be about to be repeated with CrossRail(s). LOROL is especially silly as it has zero resemblance to a “system”

    Probably the only way forward – bearing in mind anomnibus’ point about the difficulty of producing enough colours for comprehensive maps and also the difficulty of presenting a very large number of services as part of a single system, is to number the things by function- we do it for buses,why not trains? It happens in many other cities with complex multi-operator multi-functional networks, so why not here?

    For example, S-Bahn routes (to include CrossRails, LOROL and all other national rail local services) numbered in an S series (E perhaps if you are a Brexit supporter),tubes in a U series and so on. Common branding, common ticketing but many operators …

  258. Kingstoncommuter says:

    As a resident of south London I find it very difficult to be live that people find the railways down here confusing. Well I can understand people from outside london, but not knowing your nearest train station completeley baffles me. I mean if you’re buying a house you’d think where the nearest train station is would at least cross your mind….
    To be honest if I’m going anywhere in London that I haven’t been before I just use the tfl journey planner, no real need to look at maps and no need to get confused.

  259. Kingstoncommuter says:

    @graham H
    The overground map clearly shows where has a direct service to where, the only confusion might be that some clapham junction trains terminate at willesden junction (and the dalston terminators). I mean it is pretty obvious from the map that you can’t get a direct train from Crystal Palace to Camden Road.

  260. Graham H says:

    @kingstoncommuter – yes, of course, all those of us who take the time and trouble to sus out the local train and bus routes don’t need we? But many do.

    And of course, we all know that thelocal LOROL route goes to a specific place but there’s absolutely no merit in marking all LOROL routes as the same any more than there’s any merit in showing all tube routes as the same. The point is that we are trying to promote the idea that London has a system – for sure, most of us use only a small – and that the same – part of it daily, but when we do need to move out of that daily commute, we need to know where the system goes. If we can be shown that the system covers our needs,then that has succeeded. If I am merely shown an undifferentiated partial network of orange or turquoise, I am merely being shown who operates what- and so far as that is concerned “Frankly my dear,I don’tgive a damn”.

  261. Greg Tingey says:

    Grham H
    and has been reinforced by DfT’ s insistence that there is no such thing as a national rail network, only individual private operators
    I didn’t realise that it was that bad, i.e. that DfT were deliberately emphasising this, rather than doing nothing.
    [Snip for politeness. LBM] are they simply being “economical with the truth”??
    If there is “No national network” then why does the old BR double-arrow symbol still exist, & a national timetable, even if only in electronic form, or through ticketing, covering more than one operator?
    [ Though separate tickets may be cheaper, of course ]
    Is this a political carry-over from the Major/Thatcher years that has simply never been corrected, or something else?
    More of a “national” question than a “London” one, of course, but it is relevant to us, here in the capital, of course.

  262. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – I’m a tad surprised that you are as scathing as you are about how services are presented to the public. While the TOCs have separate identities this is not much different from the Network South East (NSE) route level branding that effectively moved across to some of the nascent TOCs. Apart from headcodes on some SR routes being removed there is scarcely any difference today from how British Rail presented its services to the public. If we had legions of people looking lost on the rail network unable to travel I could perhaps understand the criticism but we don’t. We appear to have the opposite – far too many people using the system. You have often commented about how busy SWT services are at times when this might not be expected. Perhaps the more “local” focus of the TOC identities makes them more accessible for passengers? Quite a lot of rail travel is essentially local in its nature isn’t it? (barring Inter City routes).

    I can see both sides of the argument here – there are a decent number of people who travel without any difficulty given current information provision and there are also others who are somewhat confused or clueless about what transport services exist both locally and more widely. I am not sure that having super duper maps, route codes, orange lines on a map or some other “trick” are the “magic bullets” for pulling people on to the rail network.

  263. Alan Griffiths says:

    Result (to email furthering my comments on 22 March above)

    Apr 13 at 2:55 PM

    To alangriffiths …………

    Crossrail ref: CRL-00-135983

    Dear Mr Griffiths,

    Thank you for your email regarding website errors on the Crossrail website.

    These have now been rectified, we apologise for an inconvenience they may have caused.

    Kind regards,

    …………….. Community Relations Assistant
    25 Canada Square | Canary Wharf | London | E14 LQ
    020 3229 9100 | Helpdesk (24hr) 0345 602 3813

  264. Graham H says:

    @WW – I suppose at the back of my mind here has been the vociferous complaints from those living in S London about the multiplicity and confusing nature of the routes available to them. A clearer presentation of the system and better factual information in their hands should answer many of their points.

    Whilst i agree that many of the TOC brandings have their roots in NSE days (c2c a dishonourable exception as was FCC), it was certainly not NSE’s intention to allow the TOCs’ identity to take precedencen- a difficult issue but one where Stagecoach and Arriva show what can be done. Privatisation, however, has been a game changer and the travelling public is presented with something that isn’t- doesn’t operate like – a system. In that context, LOROL, LU, and CrossRail look like just another three extra TOCs and yet the functional distinction between them, although of great interest here, isn’t important to the travelling public.

    Perhaps the best way of putting what I wanted to say is to stand the “S London” argument on its head. S London is “disbenefitted by not having a tube service and therefore is “invisible”; should we now be applying the same argument to areas that have no CrossRail or LOROL?

  265. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – I think we need to agree to differ. If Crossrail remains named as Crossrail and not some daft name bequeathed by the outgoing Mayor then I think people will easily cope with where it runs given the long standing promotion of the name linked to project info. There will be a bit of a learning curve for people in aligning train destinations with intermediate stops given the CR service branches and has intermediate termini.

    As to South London then I can only speak as an occasional user of the rail network there. Do I understand all the ins and outs of the service patterns? – no. However I am not terribly clear about the ins and outs of Chiltern or FGW or Thameslink’s detailed service patterns or frequencies either. You learn the routes you use and put in a bit more effort if venturing further afield – well that’s what I do. Now I have a brain that can absorb and retain spatial and network info so I may have a bit of an advantage over some people. However I think several posters on this group would easily outwit me in terms of National Rail services across Greater London and that’s down to a mix of using the routes, their own interests in rail and their ability to retain complex info.

    Same for the buses although I have an advantage in that I broadly know what routes run where. However if you dropped me in a suburban road in Penge I might struggle to tell you instantly what bus route was closest and which direction was served by each side of the road. Not so in Waltham Forest – again it’s familiarity.

    Could the info and marketing of rail services be better? – definitely. Does presenting a mass of rail lines as a single network meet everyone’s needs? – doubtful. Are people *really* phased by the way the DLR or Overground services are presented? – I don’t think so. I accept I’m probably a lone voice here but I don’t think there is one perfect solution given the differing levels of knowledge held by actual / potential passengers. I think you need to tailor information provision and make it accessible to different groups in different ways that meets their needs.

  266. Graham H says:

    @WW – perhaps I’m just being bureaucratically tidy! (I agree with you that we are so lucky that Boris never fell for the Horace Cutler touch and renamed CrossRail1* – but when – and we all commit the sin in these columns — we start talking about CR3, 4 and so on, we are beginning to think of them as functionally different to other lines such as TLK). Hey Ho!

    *This does not constitute an invitation to start thinking of a new name now…

  267. timbeau says:

    “Do I understand all the ins and outs of the service patterns? – no. However I am not terribly clear about the ins and outs of Chiltern or FGW or Thameslink’s detailed service patterns or frequencies either.”
    Not service patterns or frequencies, but it is much easier to separate out the northern routes into individual services. (All FGW services go to/from Paddington, all GN services go to/from Kings Cross/Moorgate through Finsbury Park, etc). It is the sheer complexity of the Southern and South Eastern networks, with some stations (e.g Greenwich, Forest Hill, Balham), served by only one terminus but others (e.g Lewisham, Orpington, East Croydon, Epsom) having trains from three, four or even five termini,, that makes it seem so daunting.

    Because the Southern network, unlike the Tube, was largely developed by four competing Victorian-era companies, each was more concerned with getting direct routes to their own (multiple) termini rather than providing good interchanges. (As a former resident of the Ealing/Acton area I realise that there are other small pockets of London where similar problems exist). The result is that simplification to a smaller number of higher frequency services would rule out a lot of the existing opportunities unless interchanges were improved. For example, all services through North Dulwich continued to Sutton via Mitcham Junction, and all services on the Gipsy Hill and Norbury routes ran from Victoria, you would reduce a lot of junction conflicts and could run many more services, but London Bridge passengers for the Gipsy Hill and Norbury lines, and Victoria passengers for Mitcham Junction etc, would not be able to make such journeys unless new interchange stations were built where the lines cross over each other.

  268. Graham H says:

    @WW -I may have missed a trick in replying to your point (painting the shed is a marvellous opportunity for reflexion…). The logic of your argument would seem to imply that the last time anyone tried to unify the presentation of the commuter network – ie the Frank Pick era – he was wasting his time. No need for Beck’s map or the roundel?

  269. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – I made no reference to the tube map. You can look at the tube map and while it shows (part of) a (entire London rail) network it also shows umpteen line identities (names and colours) but not much about service patterns. Not very different from the Tube and Rail services map which people seem not to favour either despite it attempting to show what terminals are served by NR services. I like a nice ordered network map as much as the next transport loony but given how many people struggle with maps I am not convinced that a map with colours, service patterns and service codes (a la S Bahn) will be the cure all for all transport network non comprehension. You may simply be presenting too much information for people to absorb. Perhaps I’ve just managed to cope with too many different variants of signage, branding and wayfinding across the world to have alighted upon a favourite solution to these age old problems?

  270. RichardB says:

    @ Graham H as a long term resident of southern London I confess what made it much easier to navigate was the Kondon Connections map. If for the moment we treat the different line colours allocated to the TOCs as repsentatuve of a Tube line with multiple branches as I do there is no problem. After all a number of the lines on the Tube map have multiple branches, Northern, Piccadilly, Metropolitan, Central and District and they are not so very difficult to navigate despite using the same colours for all their branches.

    I think the real problem is the complexity of the London Connections network means it is not easy to differentiate all routes without making the map excessively busy which is why I am hesitant about your proposal to adopt the S Bahn approach to differentiate routes. It is the same if you insert all the additional icons for accessibility or those stations equipped with toilet facilities on the same map. You really need a number of maps showing the additional information as TfL has done for toilets and theatre locations. You of course could try the Vignelli approach as was done for the New York subway map (although disliked by many) but whilst I have seen a equivalent Vignelli map based on the Tube network I have never seen one for London Connections and I suspect that his technique would not translate well to such a complex network without causing an optical maze which be the antithesis of his approach although it would be interesting to see it from an artistic viewpoint!

  271. Graham H says:

    @RichardB – I agree with you actually (and with WW) the network is – perhaps – too complex to map satisfactorily, tho’ that’s a counsel of despair. I suppose the question is “Is complexity a deterrent to travel”. If it isn’t, then we can all go home and leave matters as they are; if it is, then the next set of questions start with (a) is there anything we can do to simplify its presentation, (b) is there anything we can do to improve connectivity or simplify the network, and then (c) should we in some sense replace the complex network with something simple eg a high frequency tube. I guess I show my colours in thinking that the last of these is a a bizarre reaction before you have exhausted the scope for a and b.

  272. Malcolm says:

    Graham H: I agree entirely : simplifying the network might be good, but doing it just to make the maps tidier would be bizarre. (That’s not exactly what you said, but it’s one of the messages I got from it).

    But then, like so many of your comments, it made me think again You said “Is complexity a deterrent to travel?”, and what you said next appeared to assume that a “deterrent to travel” is a Bad Thing, and should be combatted by one or other of the solutions you go on to list.

    But why do we think that? If Jo Bloggs misses out on a trip to the National Gallery because it’s all too difficult to work out, and decides to look at the pictures on-line, and as a result his/her seat is available for Gunter Braun to go and watch the Changing of the Guard, then what’s wrong with that?

    Of course, if we were shareholders in a transport system run to make a profit, then any “deterrent to travel” should be ruthlessly hunted down. But we are not.

    Sometimes, perhaps, we ought to step back and think “what is transport for?”.

  273. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – you are right – it is easy in present company to assume more travel is a Good Thing. On the other hand, to assume otherwise is pretty controversial: is my trip to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition more or less valuable than snook’s trip to work*? Sorry, don’t have a glib answer…

    *Cf the Duke of Wellington’s complaint that railways made it easier for the lower classes+ to move about

    + I suspect by lower, he meant anyone who wasn’t an aristocrat.

  274. timbeau says:

    Two of the four former southern companies’ networks (LSWR and SER) are simple branched networks, albeit the SER has two London termini. In practice the former LCDR network is relatively straightforward, although the Catford Loop and the resultant crossing over between Victoria- Catford and Blackfriars – Herne Hill routes adds a slight complexity in the Loughborough Junction area. There are two factors which make any attempt to map the southern network look like multicoloured spaghetti. One is the linkage between the LCDR and SER routes. Whilst Victoria to Orpington is a minor incursion, the Nunhead – Lewisham link makes serious inroads of the ex-LCDR into South Eastern territory (or vice versa).
    The second is even more intractable – even if you ignore the SER, LCDR and LSWR networks, the Southern (ex-LBSC) network on its own looks like a mass of spaghetti. The LCDR routes’ penetration right across “Brighton” territory through Dulwich and Penge (with no interchange except at Beckenham Junction) doesn’t help, and of course the curious historical anomaly that is the Herne Hill- Tulse Hill link causes even more overlap, with a service that runs via LCDR tracks to Tulse Hill, then LBSCR tracks to Streatham, and LBSC/LSW joint tracks thence to Wimbledon – and is not operated by any of their natural successors (southeastern, Southern, SWT).
    Indeed, Thameslink and Overground have added to the complexity, as it is now necessary for a map of the “Brighton” nertwork to differentiate not just London Bridge and Victoria services but also services to Blackfriars (via the Forest Hill line or via Tulse Hill) and to the East London Line.
    Most of these also have two or three different intermediate routings (the extreme is, I think, Sutton to London Bridge which can be via Wimbledon, Mitcham Junction, Norbury, Crystal Palace or Forest Hill!)

  275. Alan Griffiths,

    I had in fact pointed out these errors to Crossrail helpdesk a while back after reading your original comment. I had found one or two more but they have already been corrected. I got a very nice reply from someone at Crossrail I had dealings with elsewhere but never met – quite surprising because I used my real name and my personal email address and he picked up on these. The errors were quickly corrected. They do seem anxious to correct any errors so a polite email is generally worthwhile and usually they do their best to answer queries from the general public – now if only the Thameslink Programme was like that!

    Graham H,

    Well I think the original Crossrail should remain Crossrail but I rather like Jonathan’s idea in his part 5 2050 article about the Albert Line (so for South West – North East journeys you have the Victoria and Albert Lines).

  276. Graham H says:


  277. Kingstoncommuter says:

    It will be interesting to dee how the general public refer to crossrail when it is open. People might call it the tube or just a train. Saying “catch Crossrail to Farringdon” doesn’t really have the same ring to it as using “the tube” or “the train”

  278. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ 1956 / Kingston Commuter – I’m pretty certain people will refer to Crossrail. It’s clear it’s going to be called Crossrail – just look at the blanked over signs at Tottenham Court Road. I also expect all the wayfinding, publicity, social media, timetables, website info, in car diagrams on all connecting routes etc etc will refer to Crossrail. People will follow that lead and I think there will be genuine interest in Crossrail when it opens and that a great many people will travel on it out of curiosity initially – just to see what £16bn buys you. The conversation that follows that will ensure the Crossrail name carries on in popular consciousness. TfL are generally pretty good at managing branding except where things have attracted the “Boris” monicker.

    It’s noteworthy that a Twitter account for “TfL Rail” already exists prior to the TfL takeover of the Shenfield local services. As we get nearer to 2018 I imagine there will be some clever switchover between the Crossrail project identity and the nascent Crossrail operating company (which will morph out of TfL Rail).

  279. ChrisMitch says:

    I hope people add a definite article – catch ‘the Crossrail’, similarly to catch ‘the Piccadilly’ – makes it sound more ‘London’.

  280. timbeau says:

    But contrariwise, people don’t give most other operators or lines the definite article
    Thameslink; Eurostar; Virgin; South West Trains; Scotrail (but “the Caledonian Sleeper”, “the TGV”).

  281. ChrisMitch says:

    Most of the TOCs are too transient for people to care which current operator is running them. Also, how many people have any affection for South West Trains or Virgin? Contrast with the different ‘personalities’ ascribed to the various tube lines.

  282. Anonymous says:

    Can I be the first to suggest that Crossrail 2 should be called the ‘A Line’ from now?

  283. Graham H says:

    @Anonymous – No, you can’t – you will be condemned as I have been for beginning the process of overcomplication. Lettering RER-type lines -tush.

  284. Malcolm says:

    Related question: what is meant (colloquially rather than technically or officially) when someone says “He goes to work by train?”. When I were a lad, that would imply a “real” train, not by “tube”/”underground”. Nowadays, could that phrase include Overground? And/or Crossrail?

  285. AlisonW says:

    Actually, timbeau, precisely because it only goes to (effectively) two places – Paris and Brussels – most people I know _do_ refer to “The Eurostar”.

    The interesting one, in many ways, is that I note many tourists (esp foreign) refer to (LU) lines purely by colour and not by name. “It will all end in tears” though is where the whole ‘naming of lines’ issue is heading.

  286. Anonymous says:

    Yes, and it results in a blank look and the response “which line is that? ” from us, the substantial colourblind minority.

  287. Southern Heights says:

    @Graham H: Even worse, it could be A1 – Abbey Wood to Heathrow and 1B – Shenfield to Reading!

  288. Pincinator says:

    @Graham H on 18/04: It seems to me that the presentation of the DLR makes sense if you consider it as more akin to the Northern line than multiple lines – it has a similar length and number of branches, and also the possibility of it switching destinations at will.

    The Overground and DLR are both qualitatively different travel experiences to the tube, and should be differentiated as such rather than just bundled in as tube lines (for example, neither of them are in a tube for the most part!).

    As for splitting them up into lines, there are very few places on the Overground route where multiple routes can be taken – “get the Overground from Gospel Oak to Whitechapel” only has one (sensible) interpretation, whereas “Get the tube from Baker Street to Monument” has quite a few options, so the specific lines become handy differentiators which would be quite unnecessary on DLR or Overground.

  289. RichM says:

    If you were going to give Crossrail a proper name, although it does what it says on the tin, wouldn’t now be a good time to do it. Forget about a few signs at TCR they’re easily replaced. There must be a few decent candidates already: Brunel, Elizabeth, Churchill.

    As for using line names, won’t people still continue to talk on their mobile phones saying: “I’m on the train / tube” .

  290. Anonymous says:

    Great Eastern & Western Joint?
    Grapeline (because its purple)…

    I’ll get my coat….

  291. timbeau says:

    “As for splitting them up into lines, there are very few places on the Overground route where multiple routes can be taken ”
    More to the point, surely, is that there are an increasing number of station pairs on the Overground which cannot be done without changing – the Overground is already at least as complex as the DLR, and the West Anglia group will make it even more so. Your example “Overground from Gospel Oak to Whitechapel” implies a direct journey, which is not possible. There are enough people confused by the Northern Line – I was even advised by an LU person once to “change at Tottenham Court Road for the Northern Line to Kings Cross!”

    “The Overground and DLR are both qualitatively different travel experiences to the tube, (for example, neither of them are in a tube for the most part!). ”
    Everything you say is also true of the “Surface Lines” of the Underground – there is indeed more Tube on the Overground than on the Met (a short tunnel near Croxley) and the other SSL lines have none at all! The DLR has even more tube than the Overground.
    The Paris Metro has sixteen metro lines and five RER lines. Is it really too hard for Londoners to cope with sixteen tube/Overground lines* plus DLR, Crossrail and Thameslink?
    *eleven existing tube lines plus WatEus, NLL/WLL, ELL/SLL, Goblin, Anglia group

  292. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ RichM – I fear that Boris will insist on giving Crossrail a name before he leaves office. I certainly don’t want it named with any of the names you list and the two with royal / political connotations have allegedly been suggested by Mr Johnson. Yuk. I’d just like Crossrail to be called Crossrail given how many decades that name has been around – it’s fitting that the actual service should also use that name.

  293. timbeau says:

    What else would it be but Borisrail?

  294. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – surely the answer to your “can Londoners cope with …?” question is “yes, some can”. The other side of that answer is that some cannot. I fear that will always be true regardless of what mapping / naming / identity convention is employed simply because of the different skill / knowledge / experience levels individuals possess.

    As someone who has the ability to develop “expert” levels of knowledge [1] (it’s happened in several different jobs) I’ve noticed that a fair number of people can’t cope with an expert’s explanation. What may be breezingly easy to me just isn’t for some people even if it is just explaining how a map relates to where they’re physically located and want to go to (e.g. directing people from a tube ticket hall to a local bus stop during a tube strike). I’ve learnt that I have to slow down, not use abbreviations or codes, employ short sentences etc. Even if we use numbers and colours to separately identify every rail service / line in London there will still be people who cannot understand it. It will actually be *too* complicated.

    Try explaining to people who are used to the Tube that they can catch a bus (help he said bus!) instead (again during strike action) and look at the abject horror on their faces. “But why can’t I go to station x?” “It’s closed but station y is 5 minutes walk away” “But why can’t I go to station x?” “You could go to station y and get bus zz” “But why can’t I go to station x?” I have actually had a conversation like that with someone on the day of a tube strike. The person simply couldn’t cope with being forced outside of their comfort zone (regular route to work). Some people simply give up when faced with alternatives that appear to be complex. I can see the same happening if we code and number every rail service. I’m not saying that should stop a change per se as some would find the codes and numbers easier and reassuring. It’s all about what size of the market you are aiming at and if you are aiming to meet the needs of everyone or just a proportion of people and I’m not focusing here on people with obvious disabilities who need recognised alternative forms of communication / information.

    [1] not sure how I do it but I seem able to absorb and retain huge quantities of information and then be able to apply it to a range of questions / scenarios.

  295. ChrisMitch says:

    But, equally, providing a separate identity for each route would make it *easier* for some people to understand, and it won’t be any more difficult than the current system for those who can’t even cope with a schematic route map.
    I’m good with maps, but I always get (slightly) confused on the DLR – which I use very infrequently – because of the multiplicity of branches, and because I don’t know off the top of my head which terminus links with the destination I’m aiming for.

  296. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Chris Mitch – to be fair I did acknowledge that a numbering / ID scheme would be easier for some people.

    DLR can, of course, run to almost any service pattern because of the flexibility at several of the junctions. Hence you can get Lewisham to Woolwich trains or Tower Gateway to Lewisham during engineering works. All these variants would need coding too. The only combinations that don’t work, without a reversal, are Lewisham or Bank or Tower Gateway (or intermediate turning points on those routes) to Stratford International.

  297. Greg Tingey says:


    Londoners ( & Berliners) will give “it” the name they want

    [Rest of comment deleted as inappropriate or irrelevant. PoP]

  298. Briantist (in theee, four, gee purgatory) says:

    I can’t be the only one to notice that businesses don’t spend a decade building a brand name only to change it to something else when the product or service launches?

    The only question, if there is one, is if it gets called “Crossrail 1” before the signs all get made?

    And, nothing the questions above, no where in the current branding is it called “the Crossrail”, it is always just “Crossrail”. The underground line names are all because they are in the form “the QQC line”. As far as I know the branding guidelines forbid the use of ” the Crossrail Line”!

  299. Briantist (in theee, four, gee purgatory) says:

    Also, I note that TfL systems pump out subnames for the Overground lines that are in the form “One End to Another”, or ” Highbury and Islington to Clapham Junction Via Wherever ” and not the Historical BR names popular here.

    This is also the convention used for signage and electronic displays.

    Might be long-winded, but it easier to grasp than cute abstractions.

  300. Briantist,

    Indeed, because the rules in the TfL style guide are supposed to be meticulously followed.

    (Look up “London Overground” on the ‘L’ page to see the exact rules.)

  301. timbeau says:

    “I can’t be the only one to notice that businesses don’t spend a decade building a brand name only to change it to something else when the product or service launches?”

    There are many projects which are known by codenames until launch. CDW27 became Mondeo, for example.

    In public transport, the French do it all the time – EOLE became RER Line E and the Meteor project became Metro Line 14. And whatever happened to the Fleet Line?

    Transmanche Link became Eurotunnel, Le Shuttle, and Eurostar

  302. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Briantist – to be fair the preceding discussion does distinguish between what TfL puts on signs and what name(s) people may use in everyday discussion once Crossrail has opened. It’s irrelevant as to what a Style Guide says if the public decide to use some other name. Organisations can only try to persuade people as to names – I think the fact that the very long standing line names for parts of the Overground have persisted despite TfL’s naming conventions shows that it’s hard to override decades of colloquial usage. We shall see what happens with (the) Crossrail (1). 😉

  303. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Oh dear the TfL Style Guide just broke – this is a direct quote from a TfL Tweet just posted.

    “Following completion of the East London line, the first five-carriage train made its debut on @LDNOverground North London line today.” Oh and some relevant to LR news to boot!

  304. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Walthamstow Writer,

    Ha. Ha. I bet the style guide writers didn’t take twitter into account and the need for brevity being more important than corporate consistency.

  305. Greg Tingey says:

    Indeed – what is This called ?
    Or this, for that matter ?

    Didn’t FCC try to “kill” the Thamelsink name, when they first took that route over – & failed miserably ?

  306. Graham H says:

    @pincinator – I fear that I have never suggested bundling the DLR and the Overground in to the tube -indeed I don’t think it would be at all a useful thing to do presentationally. They have very different functions – which was the point I made -and should be distinguished accordingly. My further point was both the Overground and DLR were currently presented as a mass of undifferentiated routes, which wasn’t very helpful for the less frequent user, any more than showing the London bus network as a mass of undifferentiated red lines would be. [In fact, the DLR does number its routes – it simply doesn’t advertise them.]

    Opinions clearly differ on the wisdom of route numbering for TfL rail services, however, and I wouldn’t wish to labour any particular solution. Identifying specific routes in ways which doesn’t tie them to a particular operator is, however, something which I feel is sorely neglected.

  307. AlisonW says:

    If we are going to argue about names may I note that I think both Crossrail and Thameslink are misnamed.

    “Thameslink” suggests it should link places _along_ the Thames – rather like the ‘Crossrail 1’ (sic) route, and

    “Crossrail” tells me it should _cross_ something, maybe a waterway?

    Swap their names!

  308. Alan Griffiths says:

    Briantist (in theee, four, gee purgatory) @ 21 April 2015 at 11:13

    “businesses don’t spend a decade building a brand name only to change it to something else when the product or service launches?”

    Building developers do.

  309. Ian J says:

    @Graham H: is my trip to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition more or less valuable than snook’s trip to work*? Sorry, don’t have a glib answer

    Well, the commercially driven unsubsidised Southern Railway introduced cheap day returns, so they must have recognised that
    – off-peak travel is less valuable to passengers than peak travel (which lets them make money)
    – but increasing off-peak travel is the best way of increasing revenue without also increasing costs
    …so the market answered your question for you in a way that seems as good as any.

    @timbeau: I’ve definitely heard “the Eurostar” too – but “the Virgin” would be open to too much misinterpretation, religious or otherwise.

    Transmanche Link became Eurotunnel, Le Shuttle, and Eurostar

    Not quite – TML were the contractors who built the tunnel for its owners, who were always known as Eurotunnel (and the two had many public fights). The shuttle trains gained a French definite article before launch, and what was known during development as the Transmanche Super Train did become Eurostar. I remember Alan Williams pouring scorn on the name and opining that it would never catch on with the public…

    The various Overground names do remind me of how Frank Pick’s Underground spent years referring to the Edgware-Morden Line before hitting on the Northern Line. Maybe Twitter will force some shorter “line” names (note to LOROL tweeters: traditional Underground usage of “car” not “carriage” saves you 5 characters).

    The subsurface lines are themselves simplified by TfL – the Wimbleware is not given a separate identity, and the Met fast trains aren’t indicated on the Tube map. You can’t get a train from Richmond to Edgware Road, for example, whatever the map implies.

    The RER in Paris uses letter plus number for its branches, then spoils the simplicity by giving every calling pattern an impenetrable 4-letter “nom de mission”.

    Incidentally anyone pining for the good old days of BR’s branding should remember that they allowed Thameslink’s managers to paint their trains like this:

    @Alison W: Clearly the next big new line should be either Thamescross or Linkrail.

  310. Graham H says:

    @Ian J – I had in mind the purpose of subsidy. The commercial offering of any individual TOC is conditional on a whole variety of factors ranging from the way in which it allocates costs to the way in which it is financed. For example,if it is assumed that the purpose of some railway is tomove the commuters, then you will allocate costs accordingly and off-peak travel (for whatever purpose,note) becomes marginal; if the purpose is to provide an all-day service, then the peak becomes marginal. The position is rarely as clear cut as that however.

    Apropos the TLK livery – surely that appeared once the sectors were given their marching orders? As I recall, each subsector was allowed to introduce its own branding once it was clear that that the sectors were to be abolished. Ministers encouraged this,of course, and there was a certain amount of politicking between the TOC managers who believed they were politically savvy (none of them was, of course) and the department. The only control over rebranding was the purse strings; this prevented,for example, West Coast relaunching itself before its sale to Virgin.*

    *We had one particularly entertaining – at least for those of us who were mere spectators – WC board meeting at which the relaunch was squashed. The then GroupMD InterCity was (as he told mein advance) to have it out with WC management on their poor financial performance,which had been stuck at £400m income cash for three years despite the increase in train miles and fares (the same criticism can,of course, be made today with more devastating effect and consequences);halfway through the slash and burn attack, the WC MD thought he might lighten the mood by introducing the new branding,whose uniforms were immediately propelled in on a rack. The temperature then sank rapidly towards -273,the rack was propelled back again out of sight, and the slashing and burning continued..

  311. timbeau says:

    @Alan Griffiths
    ““businesses don’t spend a decade building a brand name only to change it to something else when the product or service launches?””
    It is reported that Wonga are considering scrapping their existing brand. Other names have sometimes been changed close to launch because of trade mark conflicts, or because of unfortunate meanings in foreign languages (Nova, Pajero), or because the name has acquired an unfortunate association (for example Lancias are marketed as Chryslers in the UK – poor market research in my view: Lancia is a much more glamorous brand (Fulvia, Stratos, Montecarlo, Delta Integrale) than Chrysler (rebadged Hillmans, forgettable American imports, and the ridiculous retro cross between a Morris Minor, a London Taxi and the Ant Hill Mob’s car from Wacky Races that was the PT Cruiser)

    @Alison W
    ““Crossrail” tells me it should _cross_ something, maybe a waterway?”
    Crossrail’s route crosses the Thames in twice as many places as Thameslink does!

  312. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – and sometimes the marketing “experts” simply don’t think… Arriva started to brand their Spanish bus subsidiary Arriva Espana until it was pointed out to them that this was the Francoist salute. The buses are now run by Arriva Norte.

  313. answer=42 says:


    I think that you’ll find that the Nova and Pajero stories are urban myths – check them out on Snopes. But an Italian battery company, no relation to the former UK electricity company PowerGen, really used to have the website

    Back to transport. It’s interesting how ‘Le Shuttle’ had to have an English language brand-name to mean ‘a means of transport that goes back and forth rapidly’. In French a ‘shuttle’ is ‘une navette’, literally a ferry. Hardly appropriate. But, of course, the English language word ‘shuttle’ derives from weaving.

  314. Castlebar says:

    @ GH

    I am advised (& I hope Stimarco can confirm) that an Italian power company was once intending to use “gen.italia”

  315. timbeau says:

    The powergen problem – the singer Susan Boyle once launched the “Susan Album Party”, which was fine until they omitted the spaces to make a hashtag. Others in that league include Who Represents, and Pen Island.

    The Vauxhall Nova was badged as the Opel Corsa elsewhere, but the change was the other way round – Corsa was the original name, but it was changed in the UK, possibly to avoid suggestions of coarseness, or possibly corsets, in the UK.

    According to Snopes, although the origin of the name of the Mitsubishi Starion is shrouded in mystery, it implies there is less doubt about the Pajero.
    Pajero is the Spanish name of a wild cat native to Patagonia, as well as a Latin American term of abuse (whether because of any habits of said cat, or some other reason, I don’t know). The model is marketed under the alternative name of Montero in Latin America, and as the Shogun in the UK

  316. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – the version I heard of the pajero tale was that in Castilian Spanish it meant hay maker (cf paille in French) but by the time you reached central America it had degraded to peasant and by Uruguay it became jerk.

    BTW Are car names generated by Japlish-programmed software – I write having recently followed a Legacy for some miles… [Sometime soon, I expect to see a Datsun Nice or a Chrysler 4×4 named Survivalist]?

  317. answer=42 says:

    The supposed problem was not with the Vauxhall Nova but the Chevrolet Nova – GM register the same brand names across the globe and then sometimes use them for unrelated models. ‘No va’ supposedly means ‘doesn’t go’ but only if your Spanish is as bad as mine.

    surely it would be a Nissan Nice these days but I do remember the Nissan Cedric. According to Wikipedia, its replacement model is the Nissan Fuga, which is beyond fiction.

  318. Anonymous says:

    The Rolls Royce Silver Shadow was originally going to be the Silver Mist. It was quickly discovered that this would be an unfortunate name in Germany.

    As far as Thameslink is concerned, FCC couldn’t shift it. I think they gave up when their customers started to insert the letter r in “Capital”

    How about Vexedline?

  319. Anonymous says:

    It looks like PoP hasn’t looked at this thread for a while….

  320. timbeau says:

    “Silver Mist”
    The Toyota MR2, when pronounced in French : emm-air-deux : has similar connotations. Citroen chose rather better with the DS (de’esse) and ID (ide’e)

    Another urban myth surrounds the naming of Shell’s North Sea oilfields, which are named after seabirds – Auk, Brent, Cormorant, Dunlin, Eider, Fulmar, Guillemot etc. Apparently there is no truth in the suggestion that they were to have been A-UK, B-UK, C-UK etc until someone realised what the sixth one would be called.

  321. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Anon 14:40

    Wrong. We had a moderators meeting on Sunday and and the general consensus was that if you go off topic on something harmless and non-contentious and we already have loads of comments then we wouldn’t come down as hard as we might do at other times. This is on the basis that after 300 comments it is only the dedicated ones amongst your reading them anyway. What we are still anxious to avoid is any dilution of quality in the first 50 or 100 comments as these are the ones that are more likely to be read by causal visitors to this site.

    John Bull may provide an update sometime about moderation.

    By the way, what about the washing powder ad that showed three pictures? From left to right these were : Dirty washing, washing being cleaned with brand X, clean washing. Unfortunately it didn’t quite convey the message intended in countries where they read from right to left.

    Also the humanitarian aid that included baby food which was left untouched. It seemed that the tins of meat had pictures of meat and the tins of vegetables had pictures of vegetables so when the potential beneficiaries (who couldn’t read English) saw pictures of babies …

  322. timbeau says:

    Getting a little more back on topic, it has always been a popular and rather unsubtle tool of satire (or headline writers) to muck around with transport company names – such as
    “Thiefrow” (from the alleged dishonesty of the baggage handlers),
    Lose ’em, Smash’em and Turnover (London, Chatham & Dover)
    Late & Never Early (LNER)
    Mucky, Slow & Late (MS&LR) – later to become the GCR (which has now “Gone Completely”)
    Great Way Round or (depending on your loyalties) God’s Wonderful Railway
    Mersey Docks & Harbour Board (and Little Lambs Eat Ivy)
    Ford Fiasco, Ford Concertina
    Thamestink (especially when the Fleet outfall overflowed into it)
    Shareholders Will Triumph (and Stuff the Weary Traveller)
    WAGoN (a comment on the quality of the rolling stock)
    Discreet Line (from a tendency for it to go into hiding when you want to use it)

    and off course the easy target of replacing an R with an F (e.g British Fail, Failtrack, Network Fail, and no doubt CrossFail the first time something goes wrong on that line)

  323. RichardB says:

    @ timbeau I seem to recall another term for the Nanchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire (M S & L) which was the “Money Sunk and Lost” which was I believe a rueful comment on the company’s investment in the London Extension.

  324. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I trust you have copyrighted “CrossFail” and will ruthlessly pursue your ownership of this phrase in the event of future misuse. 🙂

  325. Ronnie MB says:

    At the risk of being ticked off or worse for pursuing thread drift, my own favourites are:

    the Midland and Great Northern Joint, which was known as the Muddle and Go Nowhere and is now referred to with misty eyes as the Missed and Greatly Needed; and

    the Oxford Worcester and Wolverhampton, which LTC Rolt records was called the Old Worse and Worse.

  326. Anonymous says:

    As this has been allowed to drift let’s not forget the Somerset and Dorset (S&D) – Slow and Dirty.

  327. RayK says:

    Clearly we have the basis for a whole new article on misunderstood acronyms. Of course we will need to work to some sort of standard e.g. Misunderstandings first. It much more fun to have to guess the original than to have it served up first.

  328. Greg Tingey says:

    Gas Works Railway, please (!) If only because of the amazing self-puffery that the GW indulged in.
    LTCR was “merely” repeating a well-known trope about the OWW, which nearly brought the GW down, before it was amalgamated-in. Nothing to do with the services, IIRC, but to do with the OWW’s management practices. See also “Clinker”.
    Slow, Mouldy & Jolting – Stratford & Midland Junction.
    “Dirt-track” for Railtrack
    Notwonk Fail ….
    And several alterations for UndergrounD lines, some of which are very rude indeed.

  329. Southern Heights says:

    Ford sell the Ka in the Netherlands and Belgium under the same name, you don’t see them very much as it’s slang for bum in Dutch…

  330. Melvyn says:

    Re name for Crossrail well using Tube best practice it could be the Readfield Abbey Line

  331. Melvyn says:

    It seems Southern already publish a network map that breaks its network down into services see –

    So it can be done but for completeness South Eastern and South West Trains services need to be added using similar system to show line running details for South London similar to Tube map for North London with inclusions from the south shown north of the river line Northern Line is shown in far south London !

  332. Graham H says:

    @Greg T – and not forgetting the buses – who could forget the “Fleaside” amendment, or the longitudinal seats accommodating 5 fats?

  333. timbeau says:

    The Southern map is a good effort but the Metro services become a bit of an undifferentiated mass of purple spaghetti. For example, it suggests that there is a direct service between Beckenham Junction and Clapham Junction, which there is not. Of the apparently three direct services from West Croydon to London Bridge (via Forest Hill, Gipsy Hill, Norbury) only two of those are possible without changing.

    The southern TOCs do not help themselves by giving undue emphasis to the ultimate destination, and subordinating the route – the “xx.xx to Dartford/Sutton/Guildford” gives little guidance to passengers for intermediate stations (via Sidcup, Bexleyheath or Woolwich? via Forest Hill, Crystal Palace, Norbury, or Wimbledon? via Woking, Cobham, or Epsom?) and is misleading for passengers for the stated ultimate destinations who would be better served by, respectively, trains to Gillingham, Dorking, and Portsmouth.

    Line names which do not give undue emphasis to the country terminus would help, especially where two or more services go to that terminus – imagine for a moment if the Tube had no line names – at King’s Cross an “Uxbridge” train could be going via Wembley Park, or via Acton Town! Likewise at Mile End the “Ealing Broadway” trains. Would passengers at Barking wanting Hammersmith realise that the “Hammersmith” train is not the quickest way (and of course vice versa).

    Thinking of intermediate stations as merely an irrelevant detail in the important business of getting from terminus to terminus is at its most ludicrous when SWT announce cancellations or other alterations to their roundabout services at Waterloo – “the xx.xx from London Waterloo will now arrive at platform Y”. Waterloo is the one station you can be quite sure no-one has started from who will still be on the train. But is it a Kingston loop or a Hounslow loop? and did it go out via Richmond or back via Richmond?

  334. Anonymous says:

    @Graham H – and the safety notice on tube doors “OBSTRUCT THE DOORS CAUSE DELAY AND ANGER US”

  335. Fandroid says:

    Going back to the earlier debate. While the media has seen it all as ‘Boris taking charge of London’s railways’, there’s a huge scale between no control and full control. I wonder if TfL is taking too blinkered a view and (somewhat understandably) concentrating on its own directly controlled services (and concessions). Oyster’s expansion to include all London Rail was a TfL triumph. It needs to continue in the same ‘Transport Authority’ mode and do the same with its information services. That is, see the uniform promotion of all Oyster compatible transport services as one of its major responsibilities. Putting the central parts of Thameslink, Charing Cross to London Bridge and Finsbury Park to Moorgate on the Central London Tube map would be a useful (and very inexpensive) start. After that they could consider a full London Metro services map based on the Tube, most of the Overground, and all other stations connected by 4tph or better. The ‘London’s Rail and Tube Services’ map covers everything but gives no clue as to the quality (in terms of intensity ) of the services. The individual DLR and Overground (and Tube!) network maps have been made redundant by Oyster. Really, it’s only their operations staff who need to know those individual networks! We need a new suite of maps based on accessibility, frequency and (though I regret having to say this) the brand under which each service runs. The latter is necessary to reassure strangers that they are not getting on entirely the wrong sort of train.

  336. @Graham H

    “who could forget the “Fleaside” amendment, or the longitudinal seats accommodating 5 fats?”

    Do tell! I didn’t forget – I never knew them in the first place…

  337. @RayK

    I have been keeping a list of such amusing (as well as technical and agency) acronyms & abbreviations pertaining to London and its hinterland from LR commentators over the years, and shall look at what I can do to put together something presentable.

  338. Graham H says:

    @LBM – In preparation for sale, London Buses was split into a number of divisions, one of which was Leaside, whose logo was a swan. At least one DMS ran round with a letter F etched in front of the name, and the swan carefully altered to resemble the eponymous infestation. the 5 fats came from altering the “3 SEATS” notice that was posted above the longitudinal bench seats…

  339. Herned says:

    @ Fandroid

    You are describing the ‘High frequency services map’ which TfL produced and was used at stations regularly. It showed lines with more than 4tph with a bolder outline. TfL don’t seem to offer this any more, and a brief internet search doesn’t find it, but it really did exist!

  340. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Fandroid – I am pulling something together for LR on recent meetings about ticketing developments but one snippet from Shashi Verma of TfL is relevant to your post above and hopefully won’t distract from my wider scibblings. He mentioned the lengthy time it took to get Oyster extended to National Rail. It was very clear from his tone at the TC meeting that it was an immensely frustrating process that involved some tough political strong arm tactics plus lots of TfL money. More frustrating still is that TfL paid for the works and the TOCs pulled in an estimated £100m revenue windfall from the extension of Oyster PAYG. That is one illustration of some of the nonsenses that go on where one side holds out because it knows there’s a political imperative that will force open the other side’s “piggy bank”.

    While I don’t disagree with your basic concept I don’t think it’s right that the financial side of things is so hopelessly lopsided and, to be fair, that is not solely TfL’s issue – it is also something for the DfT, Treasury and the TOCs too. Everyone should make appropriate investment and spending decisions – for example to delivery the consistent information provision you cite.

  341. Fandroid says:

    Thanks WW. The whole Oyster to National Rail story would be a good one if anybody had full access to the figures. It’s actually something that would appeal to one C Wolmar. My thoughts are that TfL could just get on with providing the information for London’s transport users, without asking permission from anybody. The downside would be that some (possibly all) London TOCs would refuse to post the information on their stations. However, TfL now control a huge number of sites, so any lack of cooperation from TOCs wouldn’t matter a great deal.

  342. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Walthamstow Writer,

    More frustrating still is that TfL paid for the works and the TOCs pulled in an estimated £100m revenue windfall from the extension of Oyster PAYG. That is one illustration of some of the nonsenses that go on where one side holds out because it knows there’s a political imperative that will force open the other side’s “piggy bank”.

    The way I heard it from the same person it was nothing like that at all. The TOCs held out because they feared a loss in revenue. I don’t think anyone doubts that that this was the reason behind their reluctance. Of course, what happened is revenue went up but had the TOCs realised this they would have jumped at Oyster. There was no sense in holding out just to get TfL to eventually pay for the kit.

    As an example, look at Oyster extension ‘tickets’ for season ‘tickets’. This was a nonsense demanded by the TOCs because they feared a loss of revenue. What actually happened when Oyster was introduced was that the TOCs picked up ten times the amount of revenue for these that they did before. Virtually none came from ridiculous TOC-inspired pre-loaded extension ticket requirement and virtually all because people found it easy to legitimately make a journey beyond the zones on their season ticket and pay for it – before Oyster it was a nightmare to do so and inevitably people either didn’t make the journey or didn’t pay for it.

    All very relevant in the Peter Hendy interview where he compares the attitude of TOCs to paying for your journey and the attitude of TfL. I notice that only yesterday did Souteastern remove the £10 admin fee for ticket refunds. That will reduce the number of jibes that Mr Hendy can have at Southeastern’s expense by one. His “When I buy something at Marks & Spencer and find I have bought the wrong product they don’t fine me for taking it back” generally gets a laugh.

  343. Malcolm says:

    @Fandroid: “…just get on with… , without asking permission from anybody”

    A nice idea. And there may be some baby steps in that direction which could be taken. But any major scheme to use and propagate what TOCs might see as “their” data, which would inevitably mean spending some public money, would mean that TfL would be laying themselves open to legal challenge. Probably best to continue with whatever arm-twisting is already happening. And of course with other forms of political pressure, such as taking opportunities like Sir Peter Hendy’s recent interview to draw attention to the TfL/TOC rivalry.

  344. Fandroid says:

    @Malcolm. I don’t think that any there is any TOC-owned data needed for TfL to take on the whole transport information thing for London. Timetables are public. The stations and lines are public knowledge. Anyway ‘Open Data’ is all the rage as even ATOC has discovered that they can get a huge amount of work done for nothing especially by App developers- think of realtimetrains and similar stuff now being used by TOC staff for their own information! Sensible passenger-oriented branding is another issue entirely, and I suspect that old prejudices and vested interests will die hard there.

  345. Melvyn says:

    @POP re Southeastern removes £10 admin charge for ticket refunds.

    While TFL charge £5 for an Oyster card yet Southern Key card is issued for free – life’s not all bad South of the river ….!

  346. Melvyn says:

    It seems news of the transfer of services to TFL is beginning to reach the local press see –

    Regarding transfer of services to Crossrail next month.

  347. Malcolm says:

    @Fandroid. I wasn’t thinking of the “static” data; yes timetables and such like are public and can probably be published by anyone. But I imagine that the TOCs would prefer to put their own spin on any delay or variation information, such as prominent indication of someone else’s fault, and a discreet silence when there is no-one else to blame but themselves.
    I am speculating here; but there must be some reason why TfL are not currently acting as information provider and dispenser for the whole London area; I rather doubt that it is because the idea has not occurred to them.

  348. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – well here is the direct quote from the Transport Committee transcript.

    It was four years of solid negotiation to persuade the train companies and the DfT that Oyster, pay as you go, is a good thing. That is despite the fact that the evidence that it is a good thing was mounting every day with customers using it.

    The result of putting Oyster on National Rail is that train company revenue has gone up by more than £100 million per year. This is a figure that the train companies will acknowledge as well. Did that mean that we had a completely smooth and easy ride introducing contactless? No, because we had the same debate all over again. That is the problem that we face every day. That there is such a high degree of reticence to doing the right thing for customers and adopting more in technology that makes life easier, but it is very difficult to make any progress as soon as you step outside London.

    Seems different things are being said to different people or different attitudes are being ascribed to third parties. I’ll leave it that as here is not really the place to get into a “he said, they said” interminable argument.

  349. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm – train running info is shared via an open data feed. How else can the Real Time Trains website exist and show the running performance of each train on the network? OK that may not display the precise minute by minute *explanation* of a delay but the train running info is there. It is also worth saying that TfL do use an extract of National Rail service information to populate the National Rail Status Page on the TfL website. You are linked through from the TfL page to the National Rail website if you ask for more detail for a TOC specific service issue. I don’t think they’ve yet got the Status Map to work properly though. Therefore TfL do try to provide NR info but they’re reliant on what other parties generate.

  350. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Walthamstow Writer,

    I don’t think there is any inconsistency. TOCs are more scared of losing their existing revenue than being excited about something that may produce future revenue benefits (but may reduce revenue). TfL are focused on keeping London moving and, to a certain extent, revenue is not their primary concern. TfL are also in for the long term unlike a franchisee who may have to hand over to a new successful bidder in a few years time. The TOCs acknowledge the increase in revenue due to Oyster but were originally worried that it would go the other way.

    It is a long time since I have been in the industry but I suspect it is partly down to a “this is the way we do things on the/this railway” mentality. Also aversion to changing something that is believed to work well – even if it actually doesn’t.

    Getting almost back on topic, I am starting to become aware of just how significant the difference between LU practice and Network Rail/TOC practice on all manner of things and the challenges that Crossrail faces to mould these two philosophies into a common Crossrail practice. Fares structure (including refunds and revenue protection) will be just one of those factors.

  351. Melvyn says:

    @ POP TFL are on for long term while franchise holder may hand over to a new bidder …

    This could become an issue in the future if say Govia who run new TSGN network have to hand over to another company which would mean their Key cards which are being introduced on Southern but planned for whole TSGN network need to be replaced by a successors cards .

    The above demonstrates that the DFT needs to ensure ITSO systems are compatible or we need to go back to Network Southeast which could be the equivalent to Rail North (!) bringing all Londons lines back together into a single network controlled by London Mayor and Home Counties ?

    It’s worth remembering how Chris Green had plans for both Crossrail and Thameslink and full electrification of NSE and in his recent book he wrote it as if NSE is like Sleeping Beauty awaiting a Transport Secretary to wake it up !

  352. Ronnie MB says:

    By using DaFT (Department for Transport) first, I hope I can just about squeeze in some Government Departments: the Lord Chancellor’s Department was, of course, Elsie Dee; had the MAFF not been forced into a shotgun marriage with the Environment mob, it was already tipped to be renamed Dora; and I was always disappointed that Doo-Wop never caught on as a nickname for the Department for Work and Pensions!

    In a transparent attempt to get back on track, how could I have forgotten We Are Going Nowhere, on which I travelled hopefully (and occasionally even arrived) for some years. I think that TOC was owned by Prison Rail.

  353. Malcolm says:

    @WW to quote Ben Goldacre “I think you’ll find it’s a Little Bit More Complicated than that”. See, for instance the conclusions of an ORR review on the matter, published in 2012. Such data is available, but is licensed, and neither TfL nor anyone else can use it without the agreement of its owners.

    Recent developments may have changed the situation, of course, but I still doubt if Fandroid’s “publish and be damned” solution is appropriate for a public body such as TfL to use data over which some private companies claim some rights (whatever we may think of the merits of their claim).

  354. timbeau says:

    To Ronnie MB’s list can be added the Department of Stealth and Total Obscurity (Health & Social Security). After Health became a separate department the rest moved to a new headquarters, immediately christened the DoSS House.

  355. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:

    (Someone called? Ah! Sorry for the late response…)

    @Castlebar and Answer=42:

    I suspect you’re referring to these folks. Yes, they did (very briefly) have the URL posted by Answer=42, but it’s worth noting that Italians wouldn’t automatically read “powergenitalia” as we would: Humans learn to recognise entire words as a single shape, so the “italia” part would jump out to native Italians before the rest, effectively splitting the URL correctly in their minds before they had a chance to think dirty.

    Powergen Italia Srl. is a small company that makes chargers for traction batteries of the sort used in machines like forklift trucks. They’ve been around since the 1940s, while the much shorter-lived PowerGen Plc existed only from 1989 to around 2007. This is really little more than a ‘foreign words are funny’ thing.

  356. Anomnibus,

    As with the German word “damit” which natives will always read as “da mit” but English schoolboys never do.

  357. Malc says:

    @Fandroid there is plenty of data there TOCs have that they wouldn’t want TfL seeing. One obvious one is revenue allocation percentages between the TOCs. There’s also gate data.

  358. Ian J says:

    @Malcolm: Thanks for the link to the ORR review. The response from TfL’s Vernon Everitt is a beautiful example of the difference in culture between TfL and the TOCs. He starts by saying that:

    We believe that only a total liberalisation of transport information, whether held by National Rail Enquiries or others, is sufficient in order to deliver improved information services for the customers who pay for transport through fares and taxes.

    Then he really puts the knife in:

    For example, an application could notify customers when they are due a refund as a result of service disruption, increasing operator costs and creating a material adverse impact on the operator concerned despite the benefits this would bring to customers and businesses. The interests of the customers should be at the heart of the Code yet the material adverse impact test puts the interests of the rail industry ahead of those of the customer.

    And he makes it clear that TfL would like more access to NRE data:

    NRE have recently offered to make more of their information on service disruption available via our own systems. This is welcome. However, this offer was made with various terms and conditions attached which, given our open data policy, we cannot accept. For example, restrictions are placed on advertising on the host website and we are prevented from syndicating the disruption information to other parties. We provide data to NRE on an open access basis with no such terms and conditions.

    …hence presumably why TfL link through to the National Rail website instead of publishing the full disruption information themselves.

  359. Greg Tingey says:

    PoP 19.05, 23rd April
    … the apparent fear of the TOC’s (especially SWT) of loss-of-revenue on introduction of Oyster?

    [snips PoP]
    Or is that a wonderful 20-20 hindsight vision?

    Later: but were originally worried that it would go the other way.
    Yes, but WHY? What prompted them to believe this & on what evidence was this (as it turned out) entirely false supposition based?

    and a discreet silence when there is no-one else to blame but themselves.
    Indeed, TfL themseleves do this … normally on the tube, there’s the unending stream of “announcements” … until they screw up – upon which it goes ‘orribly quiet … which is, of course, a dead give-away, oops.

    Ian J
    In other words, TfL, at least in some areas have woken up to the “Information Age” but others still want to hug the information to themselves & keep it “secret”.
    The previously-mentione Real-Time Trains site is so valuable, once you’ve got a handle on it … I’m surprised that TfL don’t just put that data up & stuff the TOC’s

  360. Kit Green says: shows that data is from Network Rail and therefore is not from TOC sources.

  361. timbeau says:

    @Ian J
    “creating a material adverse impact on the operator concerned despite the benefits this would bring to customers and businesses. The interests of the customers should be at the heart of the Code yet the material adverse impact test puts the interests of the rail industry ahead of those of the customer.”
    This drives other factors as well: for example any extra capacity on the ECML or available rolling stock was immediately earmarked by East Coast for yet more services on the London-Edinburgh axis in order to preserve or enhance their proportion of the total service on that route against the open-access operators (and hence their share of the revenue apportionment), rather than to improve services on routes where they had a monopoly.
    There is of course no financial point in providing anything other than the most basic service if you have a captive monopoly, as nothing you do, or fail to do, can either increase or reduce your market share.

  362. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – I think there is a wider point here. The TOCs are effectively locked in to a contractual set of assumptions about revenue, costs, the economy etc. This then relates to their ability to earn a return although they do have some “levers” to pull about costs and revenue. Anything that pops along that will affect those assumptions almost has to be resisted because it’s affecting what they signed up to. Therefore if Oyster PAYG comes along it potentially impacts several things :-

    1) the cost of retailing. That might go up or come down depending what assumptions are made.
    2) the total amount of revenue. Will it go up or will it fall?
    3) the TOCs share of revenue. Will apportionment levels change?
    4) staff costs if extra training is needed to handle Oyster PAYG.
    5) commercial confidentiality around data generated by this new ticket product.

    I’m sure there are loads of others too. As with the “Moderation of Competition” provisions on the WCML I expect the TOCs are almost “obliged” to object to changes so that they cannot be accused of wantonly changing the basis on which they contracted with the DfT.

    There is obviously a wider, almost philosophical, question about whether having a default “we object” stance is the right way to approach developments that are likely to be good for passengers. Clearly TfL don’t think this is right but let’s not kid ourselves here – TfL don’t embrace change with their eyes closed. They fight their corner too – as you would expect given they’re custodians of vast sums of public money. To not do so would leave them open to all sorts of challenge.

    Where we’ve ended up is that Oyster PAYG is a popular product – partly because it is flexible and convenient and partly because the pricing structure has actively pushed people to use it. We have seen this happenly more overtly in the last two years at the TOCs’ request to help them reduce the volume of paper ticket sales. Ironic eh? However there were never any guarantees that PAYG would be a rip roaring success so scepticism was always likely in the beginning. What is harder to accept is that once the technology is shown to work and to be accepted by passengers that the arguments still carry on! Of course the “boot is on the other foot” now with the TOCs being required to implement ITSO based card technology and TfL not being especially keen about that given its view that ITSO is “old hat” and that Contactless Payment is the way forward.

    I do think PoP is correct when he cites Crossrail as being potentially really very complicated in ticketing terms. I know the ticketing philosophy has been under discussion for years and I assume something’s been settled to allow the equipment to be procured. However quite how you deal with fares out west where FGW and Crossrail will serve the same stations beyond the zones I’m not clear. Do you have two sets of refund provisions, two sets of handling “delay” related refunds etc? I guess we may have this already where Southern and Overground share tracks but it’s probably not ideal from the passenger’s perspective. The impetus behind fare setting is very different for TfL when put beside FGW who are essentially an Inter City operator taking commercial revenue risk. I expect FGW will be the fare setter outside the zonal area and I don’t expect Crossrail to offer bargain fares as a result. There will almost certainly have to be strict limits on where Mayoral / borough funded concessions apply too.

  363. Graham H says:

    @WW -and wider yet because with each TOC locked into a contractual framework at a particular point in time, changing the contractual obligations for one then often has knock-on effects on many others, who signed up for their contract at different times and on different assuptions. Since few contracts conveniently expire together (and many are deliberately offset indeed) the only way of moving the entire system is to buyout the assumptions – and guess who has to do that…

    More generally, the TOCs are hardly to blame for their approach – they have been hired to do something specific, amongst which pleasing the customer is usually low down the list, if quantified at all. Were they to splash out on pleasing their customers they would be breaking the underlying business model assumptions and their ever-watchful bankers would be round with a stick PDQ, closely followed by the shareholders. Do tigers eat meat?

  364. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Walthamstow Writer,

    I guess we may have this already where Southern and Overground share tracks but it’s probably not ideal from the passenger’s perspective.

    I am pretty sure London Overground is delay criterion is the national standard i.e. half-hour. This then differs from London Underground (15 minutes). The question is: what standard would be applied to Crossrail? My guess is that it would have to be half an hour but this would introduce its own inconsistencies.

  365. timbeau says:

    “However quite how you deal with fares out west where FGW and Crossrail will serve the same stations beyond the zones I’m not clear. Do you have two sets of refund provisions, two sets of handling “delay” related refunds etc? I guess we may have this already where Southern and Overground share tracks but it’s probably not ideal from the passenger’s perspective. ”

    This is nothing new – there are plenty of services on which Oyster can be used for some journeys but not others, with duplicate refund arrangements, conditions of travel etc. Thameslink has lived with Oyster only being available in the middle since it was introduced. It will not even be a new phenomenon out west – Oyster is already usable on local services between H&H and Paddington, and that won’t change when the trains, and the Oyster availability, are extended further east.
    Even if Oyster readers appear all the way out to Reading, paper tickets will still be accepted on Crossrail.

    Oyster at Reading would cause SWT to get hot under the collar though, as it is not currently accepted on their Reading route beyond Feltham. It would undoubtedly be a headache if you could touch in at Reading and touch out at, say Feltham or Twickenham, but not at intermediate stations like Ascot or Staines. (There is, as far as I am aware, no existing route where a train passes out of Oysterland and back in again, although there are some “fastest routes” between Oyster stations which go out of zone, for example Amersham to West Ruislip via Aylesbury, Feltham to Surbiton via Weybridge, or Ewell East to Ewell West via Epsom)

  366. timbeau,

    No-one is suggesting this is anything new. The point we are trying to make is that difficult decisions will have to be made on the philosophy of operating Crossrail. Is it presented as a user-friendly tube line or a London Overground line which is, to some extent, less user friendly to fit into the parameters of a TOC-based railway (which at the end of the day is what it is)?

    As one member of the Crossrail staff recently put it: the trouble is that TfL think it is a souped-up Victoria Line and the DfT regard it as a cut-down HS2 line.

  367. timbeau says:

    The closest analogue is probably Thameslink, although the key cross-City infrastructure for that route was built 150 years ago, and has needed just a little bit of uprading since it re-opened thirty years ago! Hopefully we won’t have to wait until 2165 to build Crossrail 2.

  368. Anomnibus (Lewisham People's Front [Catford Branch]) says:


    I don’t think we will have to wait that long for CR2 to get off the drawing board, but it does seem that London is going to struggle to get more than one major rail infrastructure project off the ground at a time.

    [Snip PoP]

  369. timbeau,

    I think you are totally missing the point. The closest analogue to Crossrail in terms of the train service provided is Thameslink. We are talking about the customer care model. On that basis one very much hopes that, based on past performance, Thameslink is at the other extreme.

  370. Fandroid says:

    Let’s hope that TfL succeed in applying their customer care model to the whole of Crossrail. I suggest that they can argue (very) strongly that their model works, and has a proven record of bringing in the customers and the revenue. All arguments against are based on the fact that existing (artificially constructed) contractual barriers may be disrupted. Someone somewhere needs to see that the railways have only one function, to satisfy customers at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. All other considerations are means to that end, not ends in themselves.

  371. Malcolm says:

    @Fandroid The trouble is that the directors of the private companies which hold franchises are obliged, whatever their personal views, to put shareholder profits first. So if one model satisfies customers better, but another gives better dividends, then the dividends must take precedence. (It’s more complex than that really, because they must also stay within the law, and within franchise agreements, of course).

    I quite agree that the interests of the public and of passengers are better served by the TfL model. But that is not a co-incidence; it happens mainly because TfL has. and is allowed to have, different objectives.

  372. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ timbeau – I was thinking more of the customer service aspects as PoP suggested. Clearly there are differences by TOC and there have been oddities like Thameslink plus, I imagine, where we’ve had long standing interavailable ticketing at LT / TfL prices.

    I had not considered the SWT angle at Reading but that does add an interesting dimension. Having checked fares then the FGW fare is much more expensive than taking SWT which throws up a conundrum as to how Oyster might work if it were valid via both routes. When you consider somewhere like Turnham Green then its fares to Reading are similar via either route (via Richmond on SWT or FGW via Ealing Broadway). I assume you could use the pink validator touch via Richmond to pay a lower fare *if* Oyster was extended over SWT to Reading. I personally doubt it will be as DfT have “done the deal” about the SEFT extension of ITSO smartcard ticketing on SWT and into Greater London (as Southern have done with the Key and C2C with their ITSO smartcard).

    If, by some miracle, Oyster was extended on the SWT Reading route then some very strange issues arise given the vast differences in price between SWT and FGW from Zone 1 / London Terminals. You’d have to somehow quarantine the SWT platforms at Reading with their own gates or special validators so anyone coming that way pays the right fare and doesn’t use FGW or Crossrail and then sneak a “discount” validator touch at Reading. I’m musing obviously so there’s no need for a massive debate about an unlikely scenario 😉

    It’ll also be interesting to see if Oyster retailing facilities are provided at locations other than the Crossrail stations themselves in places like Maidenhead and Reading. Slough already has several Oyster Ticket Stops by virtue of route 81 running into the town.

  373. Herned says:

    Perhaps it would be possible to charge the higher fare from Reading based on how quickly you get from Reading to Paddington/London? Faster attracting a premium price, then an equal price could be set for Crossrail/SWT which will always take longer. This assumes people won’t sit by the barriers at Paddington for 15 minutes to get the discount!

  374. Malcolm says:

    @herned Interesting notion, but you would also get the lower price if you touched in sufficiently early for a fast train. Which might suit the passenger, but not the operating company. Doubt if the timetable could be programmed into the gates.

  375. Herned says:


    Fair point…hadn’t thought of that. But as Crossrail/SWT will take at least twice as long as a fast train then you would have to be hanging about for a while to get the discount, and in that time you might as well be on the train. You would be guaranteed a seat as well, which definitely isn’t likely on a fast train

  376. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Malcolm: I thought the prime imperative of any director was to maximise their salary? If not then they are not proper capitalists… At least that seems to be the he over-riding philosophy these days… 😉

  377. MikeP says:

    @GH – “Since few contracts conveniently expire together (and many are deliberately offset indeed)” Wasn’t the final nail in the coffin of this DfT’s realisation after the West Coast fiasco that it didn’t have, and could never gain, the capacity to properly evaluate and award more than one franchise renewal per annum, if that ?

  378. Graham H says:

    @MikeP – I should think so!

    @Southern heights – Malcolm’s point might be put more strongly – it is directors’ legal duty to put shareholders’ interests first.

  379. MikeP says:

    It has to be a pretty weird business where the shareholders’ interests aren’t served by providing competitive customer service.
    At least, in any market where the customers can vote with their feet (or wallets). Oh, hang on.

  380. ChrisMitch says:

    “It has to be a pretty weird business where the shareholders’ interests aren’t served by providing competitive customer service.”

    That is the problem caused by short-term strategising imposed by the franchising process. Adding new ticketing options (or whatever) may turn out to be more profitable in the long term, but just impose costs in the short term. TOCs have no incentive to plan for 10 years into the future.

  381. Malcolm says:

    MikeP says “It has to be a pretty weird business where the shareholders’ interests aren’t served by providing competitive customer service.”

    I have noticed the “oh hang on” bit of your post, which is of course rather important.

    But one could also look carefully at the word “competitive”. To maximise profits, the service provided has to be good enough but emphatically not too good. Any management consultant will tell you that service which is too good is just wasting the shareholders’ money.

    (The level of good enough is typically set by the competitive environment, possibly also influenced by any relevant regulatory standards).

    “Quality assurance” is not about maximising quality. It is about providing a consistent, controlled, deliberately chosen level of quality.

  382. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm- and, of course, TOC managers, or at least their franchise bid teams, do actually sit down and calculate the optimum financial balance between the cost of good performance and the cost of penalties. Even better (?),some TOCs, because of the way in which penalties were allocated between Railtrack and the TOC, made a living out of performance payments from RT – Connex, notoriously.

  383. Fandroid says:

    My comments were based on the fact that just about all railway passenger business is controlled at the top level by a public body of some sort. TOCs are just contractors. Franchise terms (in both senses of the word) are entirely in the hands of DfT.

    The debate about fares from Reading is good fun. As well as the problem concerning the SWT/FGW difference, there’s the one concerning non-validity of off-peak tickets on fast down trains from Paddington in the evening peak.

  384. Greg Tingey says:

    Someone somewhere needs to see that the railways have only one function, to satisfy customers at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.
    Wasn’t there a comment, recently, that suggested that D(a)fT were denying that there is any such thing as a national rail system?
    And, as others seem to have mentioned, the TOC’s ( & ROSCOS) are Companies, under the various Companies Acts – it is their legal bounden duty to make a profit (for their shareholders) first – before any other considerations can be taken into account.

  385. Dr Richards Beeching says:

    @ Fandroid

    I am unaware of any company that has ever been set up to benefit its customers more beneficially than it benefits its (1) directors, then (2) its shareholders. Please correct me if you know of one, but having read through hundreds of company “Memoranda & Articles.”, I’ve not seen it yet.

  386. timbeau says:

    @Dr Richards Beeching
    “I am unaware of any company that has ever been set up to benefit its customers more beneficially than it benefits its (1) directors, then (2) its shareholders”.

    Have you never heard of the Rochdale Pioneers? There are also companies set up by, and 100% owned by, the Government primarily to provide an essential service that cannot, for one reason or another, be provided by a shareholder-owned private company, such as the Post Office, Network Rail, LOROL.

    In an case, you have (1) and (2) back to front. There are, doubtless, many company directors with their snouts in the trough, but the directors are appointed by the shareholders to run the company for the benefit of the shareholders, and directors ignore that at their peril.

    Of course, if the customers are also the shareholders, the company was indeed set up for their benefit. In today’s press:

    Note that he donates his salary to charity.

  387. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – surely LOROL is the privately owned company with MTR and DB as co-owners? Nothing to do with the UK Government at all. And, yes, I appreciate the irony of who owns MTR and DB but nonetheless their business is still a limited liability company for the purposes of providing Overground rail services to TfL.

  388. Graham H says:

    @WW – or possibly more complex than that? What happens with the other main line franchises is that there is a continuing company – say LT&S Ltd – whose control is vested for the duration of the franchise in another company owned by the franchiseeand formed for the purposes of controlling the framchised company – rather like two clutch plates coming together, legally. If you didn’t have that continuing company running along “underneath” the structure, you would have to re-vest the entire business every time it was re-franchised.

    So on that basis, LOROL was a publicly-owned company whose control has been temporarily given to a consortium of the private sector, who has presumably set up a JV for the purposes of taking that control. Very much like DOR taking control of ECML in fact.

  389. Latecomer says:

    Several articles that have reported the GLA approval of the £1.7 billion Royal Albert Dock scheme focussed on Chinese businesses have reported that a contribution to an upgrade of the DLR and Custom House Crossrail station have formed part of the deal. Presumably the upgrade of the station will be delivered for day one of the Crossrail service running to Custom House because construction of the business district should be completed at approximately the same time:

  390. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    Sorry, LOROL was not the best example as the conecssion has now been awarded to a commercial venture. However, TfL and LUL are examples of companies set up to provide a service rather than make money.

  391. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – again, the position may be more complex. When we set up LUL (and LBL) as companies rather than statutory corporations (mr Ridley was very keen on that ), they had no objectives written into their Mem and Arts (Ridley keen on that,too). It was for their shareholders to set their objectives but since he had insisted that LRT (which was a statutory corporation) had no objectives either, its wholly-owned companies had none, too. [Had they been in the private sector, it would have been different, of course].

    Not sure that TfL is a company either but a statutory corporation with objectives set out in that statute.

  392. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – TfL control a company called Transport Trading Limited under which a massive plethora of other companies exist. These include London Underground Limited, various bits of Tube Lines, Victoria Coach Station, bits of PFI businesses bought out etc. You will also note the continued existence of the Infraco nominee businesses – BCV and SSL. Before I left LU I had to sign off various contractual payments etc to those businesses every period.

  393. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – Meant to add – you will note the lack of a company structure underneath Rail for London Limited in the TTL structure diagram. I understand the point you make about the “continuing company” structure in respect of rail franchises but I’d have thought that was “North London Railway” which was surely what National Express “bought” from the Government when Silverlink took over?

    Recognising Wiki may have some inaccuracies here is the list.

  394. Graham H says:

    @WW – interesting. Without seeing the franchise paperwork, it’s difficult to be sure what is happening here. I agree that NLR is likely to be the continuing company (although what has been done in the case of the non-NLR inners is not clear – some sort of continuing entity which isn’t the shell for the outers would also be necessary.) I would be surprised if “NLR” is owned by Tfl/TTL, any more than DfT “own” it, it’s merely the franchising process which has been delegated. The “ownership” – or at least the control – is vested in the franchisee for the time being. Quite where this leaves LOROL in all this is not obvious, unless it’s the continuing entity which has replaced NLR and the inners -maybe that’s why it doesn’t appear on the TTL organigram, although my recollection is that LOROL was formed well before it took on any franchised operations.

    You would (not) be surprised at the way in which companies survived in BR days. The Pullman Car Co was the most striking and its disposal caused great difficulty between OPRAF (who wanted the brand without the company, possibly becausethey had no powers to control such an entity) and the College of Arms who would not agree that the achievement of arms could be separated from control of the company. As the Board’s universal director,I had to endure a ghastly lunch with Stirling Herald (Garter having syndicated the advice to his Scottish oppo) , who charged us £1440 a day (this in 1995) for not much advice and some very grumpy and camp behaviour in relation to the antimaccassars on the train on which he had just come down -the display of the Board’s arms was wrong apparently. [In the end,nothing was done and I had the Pullman grant of arms nicely framed for my meeting room…]

  395. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – the concession agreement does not appear to have been published by TfL. There is a Board Paper that gives some details of the transfer for West Anglia Inners and Crossrail from May 2015. There are also statutory instruments that remove these routes from the franchising provisions. The TfL paper suggests this removal is irrevocable which is something I had not appreciated.
    Crossrail SI –
    West Anglia SI –

    The Crossrail SI is interesting as it includes the route through the tunnels but does not cover the Liverpool St (Surface) – Shenfield route where there will still be TfL procured services. Back in 2009 there was also a SI that exempted Crossrail and bits of the Overground network from various aspects of Railways Act provisions including the closure process. Apparently a special process applies for TfL services.

    The above is all a bit technical and legalese but shows that these services are beyond the DfT’s grasp once they move across (based on a quick read of the provisions).

  396. Chris Patrick says:


    The documents suggests the stations on the West Anglia routes will transfer with 125 leases.

  397. Graham H says:

    @WW – it would seem from the Board paper that you have kindly circulated that LOROL is indeed the continuing entity which employs the staff and holds the rights and assets, subleased from TfL in the case of stations (despite being absent from the organigram!). For example, para 3.6 refers; however – in 5.5 we are told that the leases are to be held by RfL. So – a mystery.

  398. Graham H says:

    @WW – I have now had time to have a quick look at the SIs exempting the CR routes from the national franchising process. They are interesting on two counts: they rest on the concept of a “route”, which so far as I can tell, has no statutory definition. This is all very well so long as everything about CR is of a collaborative nature but – as those of us who managed the LRT Act know only too well – in an adversarial situation,these things matter. For example, Padd-Reading is not a route on which all the franchised services are being transferred – not even all the services on the Relief Lines. The other interesting point is that there is no mention of the Ealing-Greenford shuttle (Romford-Upminster is there, by contrast). I think this is just sloppy drafting,but call me old-fashioned…

  399. Mike says:

    WW: The Schedule in the Crossrail SI includes London Liverpool Street station to Shenfield station (via Whitechapel station); London Liverpool Street station to Abbey Wood station (via Whitechapel station).

    GH: Why should Ealing-Greenford be included?

  400. Castlebar says:

    Ealing Bdy – Greenford or West Ealing – Greenford??

  401. Chris Patrick says:

    The service become Greenford – West Ealing next year and still operated by First Great Western.

  402. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – Although I’ve not gone back to the original legislation I was a bit surprised to see routes mentioned in the SIs. I agree with you that if the term “routes” is undefined then the drafting is somewhat sloppy. I was surprised, given the future service pattern out of Paddington, that the Paddington – Reading route is in the Schedule given FGW services will still run. I suppose the drafters would fall back to who operates what services in terms of exclusion from Railways Act provisions. Could get messy if anyone decided to formally close the Paddington – Reading route [1] as different closure processes would apply in respect of FGW and Crossrail (TfL) services! West Ealing – Greenford is not subject to any transfer as it remains in the FGW franchise and won’t be moving to TfL control.

    @ Mike – my point about the Crossrail routes is that the Crossrail TOC takes over the *surface* route (NOT via Whitechapel) in about 4 weeks time. I would have expected the SI to carve out the surface *and* tunnelled routes given that TfL will be responsible for the stopping service on both routes. As already recorded here there will still be a peak hours only service into Liverpool St (surface) even when the full Crossrail route is open. Given how the SI works for the Paddington – Reading service then I’d expect a similar stance to be adopted for Liverpool St – Shenfield where there will still be fast / semi fast trains run by Abellio Greater Anglia serving some of the intermediate stops served by Crossrail. I’m just surprised there seems to be a gap in the provisions.

    [1] yes I know that is extremely unlikely before anyone says so!

  403. Out of curiosity, the UK Parliament defines SIs thus (my paraphrasing):

    Statutory Instruments (Sis) are a form of Parliamentary legislation which allow the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act. They are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation. SI can be made in a variety of forms, most commonly Orders in Council, regulations, rules and orders. The form to be adopted is usually set out in the enabling Act.

  404. Fandroid says:

    @Greg & @Dr Richards Beeching. My point was very simple. Notwithstanding the obligations of directors of private companies to their shareholders, TOCs etc are merely contractors, bound by the terms of their contracts with their clients, ie DfT and TfL in our little geographical patch. Once they sign those contracts, they are legally obliged to comply with them. If the contract terms clash with their obligations to shareholders, well they can refuse to sign and have no contract (& no income!) or they can sign and then be sacked by their shareholders. Ultimately, DfT and TfL are the paymasters of the pipers and should call the tunes (which may or may not include good customer service).

  405. Malcolm says:

    @Fandroid Yes but. I doubt if a contract between a TOC and the organisation awarding the franchise would include anything as vague as the phrase “good customer service”. (If it did, it would then be left to courts, in the last resort, to determine what was meant).

    The contract could include something more measurable (95% of customer complaints resolved within 14 days, or something like that), but if it did, the TOC would be expected to strive to meet the criterion, and not go expensively beyond it. (And, as we have seen in the context of running particular trains, the TOC might still find it more profitable to fail in certain respects, accepting whatever penalty is specified for such a failure, which might be less than the cost of meeting the criterion).

    Reference to “paymaster” is somewhat misleading, because only some franchises require subsidy; others involve a premium payment. But the direction of money flow makes no difference to the TOC’s obligations, which remain whatever is set out in the contract.

  406. Fandroid says:

    @Malcolm. What you suppose TOCs may do in trading off penalties against reduced costs could be a tricky one if they were expecting to bid for new/renewed franchises. A reputation for inferior performance against customer-related measures may not look clever when bids are being appraised. As for not expecting a TOC to go beyond a measure, it’s up to the client to specify exactly what they want, and set the terms to ensure that they (and the passengers) get it.

    I wonder if DfT did actually once believe that the wonder-boys (& girls) of private enterprise would automatically provide superior public service, just as John Major obviously believed. 20 years later, they seem to have belatedly understood that might not be the case. TfL seemed to have automatically believed the opposite from the start of their existence!

  407. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – Of course, TOC contracts (and indeed many PSO contracts throughout the continent) do have specific metrics for customer satisfaction; these are usually survey-based.

    Your point is about Paymaster is well made; even for those TOCs which pay all their costs and pay a premium,the franchise terms rule OK.

  408. timbeau says:

    A company may have a contract with another company or the franchisor, but it is still beholden to its shareholders as to whether enter into contracts, or indeed whether to exercise any break-of-contract clauses if the terms become too onerous – see national Express walking away from the East Coast route.

  409. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Fandroid – trying to get an organisation to decide “exactly what it wants” is a nightmare in itself. You then have the further nightmare of getting lawyers to write it down in a way that makes a modicum of sense and then making sure bidders / winning supplier have the same understanding. Having managed a PPP contract for a long time it was, at times, a fraught process. I’ve reached the conclusion that the whole contracting process, regardless of contract form, is a great big game from start to finish. Obviously some people have a “nice” game with little or no nonsense but others really have a “game” with all the tricks and interpretations being deployed. Clearly you can’t spend substantial sums of money without a contract in place but there are always “ways out” for contractors, their shareholders and their bankers / financiers.

    As for whether the private sector is some sort of “saviour” then it depends entirely on what you want to do. There are some activities that the private sector do immensely well and where competition exists the consumer can benefit. Whether that holds true in imperfect markets like public transport where there are benefits and costs for both the consumer and other parties is perhaps more debateable. There are also genuine questions to be asked as to whether competiton for a contract or “on the road / track” competition or no competition at all is the right answer to deliver a service which may be profitable at some times but not at others despite being “socially necessary”. I don’t suggest we initiate this debate here as we’ll never reach a conclusion!

  410. Fandroid says:

    I’ll admit to having strayed away from the point of the topic, and the discussion about who will dictate the way things work on the outer fringes of the Crossrail route to Reading. I’m not as outright ‘public good/private bad’ as my previous arguments may have indicated! Some TOCs try hard to give good customer service. Others don’t. I have no reason to say that FGW are one of the bad guys. My only real experience with them is on the Basingstoke-Reading shuttle (which is fine) and the long distance services (which also seem fine), not the other Thames Valley routes.

    TfL seem to focus on customer service, within the financial constraints they are under. TOCs have that serious shareholder obligation plus worries about bids (both past and future) to distract them.

  411. timbeau says:

    Interesting article on the public/private divide, and how Victorian values saw universal provision of utilities as benefitting everyone. Cholera is no respecter of class, so the only way the upper classes could be sure to avoid it is to ensure that everyone had clean water. A literate working class provides a better skill set in the workforce. Public transport means you can employ more people without having them all live on your estate. You lose state benefits if you don’t apply for seven jobs a day – try doing that without the Internet!
    But as service transitions from a luxury to an essential, state control and/or subsidy (if not ownership) becomes necessary to ensure that no-one is deprived of these essential services.

  412. Long Branch Mike (Welcome to Malcolm the new Moderator) says:

    Crossrail Archaeology Lecture Series – London’s Railways: 175 years of re-use and adaptation
    Wednesday, 6 May 2015 from 18:00 to 19:00 (BST)

    “The construction of Crossrail through the heart of London is resulting in one of the most extensive archaeological programmes ever undertaken in the UK.

    “The project gives archaeologists an exceptional opportunity to reveal the layer cake of history that is hidden below the city’s streets. We are now nearing the end of our planned archaeological programme and are currently undertaking a large-scale excavation at Liverpool Street which has uncovered over 15,000 unique finds including over 2,000 skeletons from the Bethlehem burial ground and a roman road.

    “To compliment our current excavation, we will be holding a series of archaeology lectures on a number of topics related to the successful Crossrail archaeology programme.

    “The lectures will be held at City of London School for Girls. There are 170 tickets available for each lecture. We will be releasing tickets on a fortnightly basis.

  413. timbeau says:


    Pity Crossrail don’t know the difference between “compliment” and “complement”

  414. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps they do. It depends what they say.

  415. Ed says:

    A good post today on the bexleyisbonkers blog about the Abbey Wood to Woolwich section, and the large amount of work recently done around Plumstead. Track is down, fencing is going in and it looks like piling for mast bases also installed. See here for article and photos:

  416. Eddie says:

    Abbey Wood station demolition pegged in to begin 16th May. Much has gone as can be seen here, with further details:

    It also shows that installation of the overhead power lines should have begun yesterday.

  417. Castlebar says:

    Now that LibDem parliamentary seats such as Frome and Chippenham have turned blue, expect fact-free calls (“demands”) for further Crossrail extensions westwards.

  418. timbeau says:

    Won’t happen unless there’s a by-election in the offing. But with a majority of just 12 anything could happen.

  419. Castlebar says:

    Hi timbeau,

    Sorry to be thick, but I don’t understand your comment

  420. Paying Guest says:

    Afraid I don’t understand your original proposition as we haven’t seen a major change in the political complexion here in the ‘near west’. Last week 6 out of 7 Wiltshire constituencies were Conservative; now it is 7. The situation in Somerset/Bath is similar.

  421. Castlebar says:

    @ P.G.

    Rather than get into an off topic political fight, the seats I referred to, (Somerton &) Frome, and Chippenham both lost their LibDem MPs to the Conservatives. I am very familiar with the former, and there is already hope of a better direct rail service to London. Similarly, Devizes is another place I am familiar with, had a near 19% swing from the LibDems, This was not untypical of the “near west”.

    You will soon see/hear demands from better rail access to London from Somerton/Frome & Devizes. When the Crossrail excitement permeates this far west, there will be “calls/demands” as I stated yesterday.

    I am not discussing “Bath” and never intended to, and so I am ending my contribution to this discussion here.

  422. timbeau says:

    My point was that pork-barrel offers like those you suggest will be timed to still be fresh in the memory of the electors when they are next in the polling booth. The flurry of recent carrots won’t be seen again for a while. Is it a coincidence that the expected completion dates for Crossrail, Thameslink, and the Croxley Link are all less than eighteen months before the next election? Or that direct services from London to certain marginal constituencies were promised in 2009, cancelled in late 2010, and now scheduled to start in late 2019?

    The most egregious example is probably the announcement of the go-ahead to build the Humber Bridge in 1966. It was – of course! – purely coincidence that there was a by-election in Hull North that year which the government had to win to keep its majority in parliament – having already seen it halved the previous year by the surprise loss of a byelection in a supposedly safe seat.

  423. Paying Guest says:

    Thank you for that clarification. My point was simply that much of the catchment area for stations in the area was already held by Conservative MPs and there had not been any clamour for the extension of Crossrail from them up to now; why should the new girl suddenly raise the issue?

  424. ngh says:

    Re Timbeau and Paying Guest,

    Further additional (above current CP5 plans) SW* electrification was included in the Manifesto so the benefits of this (the usual “sparks” effects – faster journey times etc.) would appear to be the local gain that will be publicised for via Bedwyn & Westbury (and beyond – Exeter?). CR will only be of interest for those changing for an intermediate stop or change inward of Reading (e.g. Slough or Heathrow).
    It was mentioned in the same paragraph as Norwich in 90 mins and Ipswich in 60mins – though both of these look dubious if you read NRs Anglia route study draft as timing improvements like that contrast with the very obvious need to increase capacity.

    *Also promising additional Anglia Electrification in the same sentence but no idea what the target is there? (Goblin already approved) Unless there is big freight target (Stowmarket – Ely – Peterborough to get Freight of the GEML) or small infill inc Thames Gateway and others? or possibly short passenger branch electrification á la Windermere?

  425. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Is it a coincidence that the expected completion dates for Crossrail, Thameslink, and the Croxley Link are all less than eighteen months before the next election?

    Simple answer is yes. I don’t think there is much electoral gain to be achieved by delaying Croxley Rail Link and the reasons for the delay are well documented. And I am sure when the Conservative Party brought in fixed election terms they weren’t checking their rail calendar and carefully choosing dates. At the time, with the other two projects in an early stage, there would be just as much reason to pick an election date well away from the opening dates in case they got delayed.

    It was – of course! – purely coincidence that there was a by-election in Hull North that year which the government had to win to keep its majority in parliament – having already seen it halved the previous year by the surprise loss of a byelection in a supposedly safe seat.

    The well documented case of the Humber Bridge is generally acknowledged by all as the most blatant example of authorising a project to get approval at the polls. Because the example is so well known and so well documented it is the reason politicians are probably very careful to avoid this accusation in future. We even have a period of purdah now as a further safeguard.

    In any case your argument has a bit of a counterexample. The Bank Station Upgrade is going to have the tail end of full closure just as the next election is due to take place. That must be an unfortunate co-incidence though (as far as the current government is concerned) and I doubt if it has occurred to many people at this stage.

  426. Rational Plan says:

    Well Crossrail itself suffered due to Political considerations. It could have started construction up to two years earlier, but Gordon Brown kept it delayed in reviews so it could be part of His 100 first days, when he became Prime Minister. A whole raft of projects and policies were kept in abeyance for their ‘News Grid’ to help launch his changeover and an eventual election victory. Well that was the plan anyway.

  427. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ NGH – interesting that there were promises of more electrification as if it is a magic cure to all known rail ills. It would be helpful if even one major electrification scheme achieved completion on time but that prospect looks more remote by the week. I have a dreadful feeling that we will see several proposed schemes implode under the weight of scrutiny of Network Rail by ORR, the DfT and Treasury. That must make the prospect of even more electrification so remote as to be pointless in the context of this term of government and quite possibly the next one.

  428. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    I can’t see any completing on time but if it proves popular with passengers they may be willing to be more tolerant to delays and cost increases. Electrification usually brings a host of other improvements most not directly linked to electrification.
    The timetable change on Sunday brings a massive ramp up of electric services on the recently electrified Manchester – Liverpool Route will provide an interesting test bed for the current round of wiring projects. It 6 months late and well over budget but it it is popular with passengers it will be harder to stop other schemes particularly if they are in areas that have been marginals or traditionally haven’t had high levels of support for the current party in government.

    The schemes will also provide a continuous stream of good news photo opportunites for SoSs and Ministers from now until beyond the next election. the key will be to make sure new schemes keep getting added to the pipeline.

    It will be interesting to see what is in the updated Electrification RUS when it finally emerges (18months late, not too dissimilar to many schemes).

  429. Greg Tingey says:

    [Old, oft-stated accusations snipped here]

    And if the “total ban on extending 3rd rail” holds.
    Smacks of ideological purity @ the expense of pragmatism, to me.
    ( See also history of the Wirral electrification. )

  430. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ NGH – I agree with your basic points about other benefits and also photo ops for politicians. However if they can’t get Great Western done properly then it really pose serious questions about the Midland Main Line, “Electric Spine” and the “Northern Power House” narrative espoused by Mr Osborne. Transpennine Electrification and the proposed Hull wiring are rather key to that latter narrative and that’s already vanished beyond 2020 which is useless politically given the hyperbole earlier this year.

    I strongly support more electrification schemes and the attendant benefits that flow from them but it is worrying, even with the need to develop knowledge and expertise in Network Rail, that schemes are progressing so slowly. It must raise a question mark about how well / quickly the GOBLIN will actually be electrified and then linked into other bits of the network (already split into two phases).

  431. Graham H says:

    @ngh -“but it it is popular with passengers [and so?] it will be harder to stop other schemes particularly if they are in areas that have been marginals or traditionally haven’t had high levels of support for the current party in government”. History doesn’t support your contentions: for example, GWML electrification has always been popular but the fact that other earlier schemes have proved popular, doesn’t mean that GW has advanced one jot; the problem is that popularity doesn’t affect the business case (see the recent exchanges between the DfT Perm Sec and his SoS on the subject of Pacer replacement). After the Humber Bridge debacle, politicians have generally been rather wary of blatant favouritism,maybejust some tweaking at the margins. And I can’t think of any cases of “reverse pork-barrel” politics at all – on the contrary, rewarding one’s supporters at the expense of one’s opponents is well established over the centuries (eg William the Conqueror) . Only marginals benefit from bribery…

  432. Castlebar says:

    @ GH

    You have again reminded me of the “Heart of Wales” line that ran through 7 marginals, and co-incidentally carried 7 regular “customers”

    [Can we please stick to facts not hyperbole? It was 7 season ticket holders. PoP]

  433. timbeau says:

    “interesting that there were promises of more electrification as if it is a magic cure to all known rail ills”

    Wires down, conductor rails displaced, iced up conductor rails, power failure stosp all trains instead of just one: what’s not to like?

  434. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – now now that’s not what I meant. Electrification has its benefits but it may not be the right answer for some places. Instead of a random collection of ever expanding political promises I’d rather see a proper policy or strategy that set out what the Government want to achieve and that they’ll commit to deliver it and fund it. Even better I’d like political consensus about an electrification strategy which might just give Network Rail and ORR some long term clarity. They could then concentrate on getting the costs of the work down by establishing long term training programmes for staff, invest in the right kit and get really good procurement strategies in place to get good long term prices for equipment. A more sensible rolling stock strategy would be a byproduct of the electrification strategy. I know I’m being far too sensible for the real world but indulge me. 😉

  435. Melvyn says:

    Patrick McGlocklin remains in post so at least he will be business as usual for top job , his juniors are yet to be announced .

    While Boris will attend some cabinet meetings but holds no official cabinet post but will allow him to try to progress Crossrail 2 .

    As for electrification there is a shortage of DMUs and with deadline for Passengers with Reduced Mobility fast approaching then either lines will need to be electrified or new DMUs ordered something that does not make financial sense !

  436. Ian J says:

    @PoP: The well documented case of the Humber Bridge is generally acknowledged by all as the most blatant example of authorising a project to get approval at the polls. Because the example is so well known and so well documented it is the reason politicians are probably very careful to avoid this accusation in future. We even have a period of purdah now as a further safeguard.

    Well, to a point – there was also the order of Class 365s in 1992 which kept the York train factory open (the local Conservative MP had a majority of 147). It didn’t save either the MP or, in the long term, the factory.

    Purdah doesn’t apply to by-elections (as in the Humber Bridge example), and with a small majority we might see some interesting promises made if any MPs die or resign. And to some extent purdah just shifts the politicking to the period before it starts instead of the election campaign – hence the scramble this time round to get the Croxley Link signed off before purdah began (and it worked: Tory MP returned with increased majority).

    Hastings is no longer so marginal, so it will be interesting to see whether the government’s enthusiasm for sending HS2 services there continues.

    @Graham H: the problem is that popularity doesn’t affect the business case (see the recent exchanges between the DfT Perm Sec and his SoS on the subject of Pacer replacement).

    But popularity does affect the likelihood of the project going ahead – if a project is popular enough, the politicians will ignore the lack of a business case – see the actual outcome on Pacer replacement.

  437. ngh says:

    Marginals – Boundary changes are likely to happen in this parliament so some marginals will become relatively safe and some new marginals will be created.
    Based on the 2013 review large metropolitan areas (in England), Scotland and Wales are likely lose the most MPs with a reduction to 600.

    Re Ian J
    “But popularity does affect the likelihood of the project going ahead – if a project is popular enough, the politicians will ignore the lack of a business case – see the actual outcome on Pacer replacement.”

    Agree if you actually have to do something it sometimes makes sense to go for more than the bare minimum at that point. It wouldn’t be hard to argue that Pacers damage the perception of the rail industry in the North, South Wales and the South West*. It would be interesting to know what the boundaries for the BCR calculations were.

    * thus tarnishing the massive upgrade and /or new rolling stock going on in those areas. TfL with LO have been very careful about the total perception and may be elements with in the government & DfT have taken note.

  438. Graham H says:

    @IanJ – Actually,if the popularity of a project freed politicians from business cases, the Pacers would have gone years and years ago, GOBLIN would have been electrified in the early ’90s, and so on. The significance of the Pacer exchange is that, even now,when the disability pistol is pointed at the vehicles, and their replacement would be one of the most popular single rail projects in the country,politicians have had to recognise the weakness of the business case very publicly. Given the amount of cross-party support for their replacement, it will be interesting to see whether McLoughlin (Melvyn,please note the correct spelling) is hauled over the coals by the PAC for his exchange with Rutnam or – my guess – the project is condemned on other grounds such as the failure to electrify even more country branch lines. [Don’t get me wrong, like WW, I am a great supporter of electrification but I share his views on the lack of a coherent strategy].

    I agree that there have been other cases of pork barrel approvals such as 365s, but the Humber Bridge was easily the most spectacular and probably the most wasteful exampl, although Concorde probably ran it close.

    @Castlebar -Indeed. In a blackly amusing way, once the 1987 Act permitting the Board to run “guaranteed” bus services had been passed, Ministers and officials were bullied by the then Deputy Secretary Transport Industries into trying to devise a programme for implementing the Act. This comprised (Sir) David Mitchell (whose heart was about as far from the matter as one could imagine) and myself sitting down with the map from the back of the GBTT, with the Minister looking at the branch line network and saying “Well we can’t do that one because it’s marginal, or that one because it goes through Snook’s constituency, and he wouldn’t like it” and so on. Bythe end of the processing – accompanied by a certain amount of gentlemanly giggling on the part of the participants – we concluded solemnly that there was not a single line that could be closed without repercussions. The said Deputy Secretary was fobbed off with Tilbury Town-Tilbury Riverside “as a trial” and at least,so far as Ministers and every other official was concerned, honour was satisfied.

  439. Quinlet says:

    @IanJ, ngh
    Aren’t you all assuming that pacer replacement will go ahead just becasue an announcement was made that it was to be part of the tender documents. With the need for further austerity (£12bn extra savings to be found) what is the prospect for the need to find further savings from the Northern franchise and, oh dear, we can’t afford to replace the pacers after all.

  440. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – with ref to your “map exercise” I suspect it would be even harder these days as there are far more people who would be upset given rail patronage has increased significantly and MPs would be more alert to the electoral damage in the affected constituencies. Also all the promises about rail improvements would be rendered null and void if a closures programme was to emerge.

    I suspect “organisational tinkering” is the thing that will emerge over the next couple of years with all the risks that brings in terms of distracted management teams in various parts of the rail industry. I feel the bus industry may be facing some “interesting times” – will Greater Manchester really get powers to regulate its buses? I also think that post May 2016 might bring some horrors to London depending on who wins City Hall. Deregulated buses in London anyone? Easy way to cut fares (in the short term) and reduce TfL’s spending which will certainly be on the agenda of some Mayoral candidates.

  441. IanJ,

    Point noted but I was not really suggesting otherwise. The thing about the Humber Bridge was that it was so blatant and there has to be at least a pretence of rational decision making.

    At some point it is very hard to argue what was a reasonable decision to make or was suckering up to a group with disproportionate influence. And in some cases we are back to the “should those being disadvantaged be given more consideration than the benefitees?” argument – and if so how much? This can muddy the waters. We also have the issue of a decision that probably would have been made anyway but was brought forward for electioneering purposes. One can be cynical but one can also argue that the electorate has a right to know where the party in government stands on these issues and, if nothing else, making a decision before the election provides clarity.

    Deciding what will go down well with voters and implementing it is nothing wrong in itself. This is at the heart of democracy. If it is a long term decision then the government will not know how critical the relevant seats will be in a future general election.

  442. ngh says:

    Re Quinlet,

    The cost of modifying them to be TSI-PRM compliant* probably means it might be easier to buy new especially as that leaves a suitably sized pool of DMUs for the lines that don’t eventually get electrified in the 2040s. The cost of D -Stock conversion option doesn’t look that cheap either…


  443. Graham H says:

    @WW -I very much agree that a whiff of closures would wipe out all the “good spin” generated by recent investment. Besides the increased patronage argument, I believe that the opponents of future closures will be more sophisticated in their arguments than was the case in the ’60s and ’70s. In that sense,Settle-Carlisle was a turning point: the objectors really began to get to grips with the economic aspects in quantifiable ways, in a manner that had eluded them in the days of the Beeching mass closures. And that is good,of course,in that the wider and more informed the discussion of the issues, the better.

    @ngh – yes, the specimen updated Pacers don’t look cheap, do they?And then there’s the loss of capacity through putting in such things as compliant loos (probably equivalent to a consequent 10% increase in the total UK mainline fleet, but proportionately much more for shorter trains of the kind run with Pacers).

  444. ngh says:

    Re Graham H,

    Is it possible that they knew the pacer analysis was based on a relatively simple analysis 1 old pacer = 1 new pacer i.e. not including seat loss etc. but that in the real world and with a lot more time and better data to do the calculations the result would be different (i.e. not possible with in the franchising timetable and elections)?

    Also the problems with the old Northern franchise being “no growth” but experiencing reasonable growth there are Lewisham (post Jan 2015) style issues of passengers left behind already to deal with for several years, so operationally it might have been known that refurbed pacers were a non starter but impossible to prove in the time-scale. (i.e. having to go from single to double units on services or swapping the types of units on services). apparently George won’t use his local station because he hates pacers on the route so Treasury sign off might have been fairly easy 😉

    Southeastern appear to be as unloved as Northern were so may be they need to get a few minister passengers on side?

  445. Quinlet says:

    I note the DfT’s comments on the requirement for all rail vehicles to be fully accessible by 2020:
    “While an accessible rail fleet will be achieved by 1 January 2020, it is likely that a small number of trains will not fully comply with the PRM TSI or RVAR by that time. It’s inevitable that some exemptions will remain necessary and we are working with the rail industry and DPTAC to keep these to a minimum.”
    I think that might be a suitable let out clause for pacers.

  446. Castlebar says:

    @ Quinlet

    At least with a ramp you can easily get a wheelchair onto the Class 121 working the Aylesbury-Risborough shuttle. Let us hope this one gets “overlooked”

  447. ngh says:

    Re Castlebar,

    EWR services instead of the shuttle before then???

    Re Quinlet

    “not fully comply” suggests a number of minor issues such as fixed arm rests not movable ones at double seats or grab handles at slightly the wrong heights. See DfT exemptions for 319s for minor exemptions?:

    The pacer probably fits into the multiple major issues bracket as you can’t easily (2 helpers needed) get a wheel chair on as there is a internal step just inside where the bus doors fold when opened at the same point as a sharp 90degree turn for the wheel chair is needed.

  448. Graham H says:

    @ngh – that has a certain plausibility, yes! The problem with any business case for Pacer replacement (and I have not been privy to the internal DfT case, I fear) is that the case will be radically different to that made when they were bought in the first place. That rested on the assumption that the cost savings from replacing first generation dmus with Pacers would be achieved far quicker than the alternative of closing the rural network. These days, pacers are quite cheap to lease and run, or so my spies tell me, and any replacement won’t achieve the same scale of saving, let alone with the same speed as at the time they were bought.

    @Quinlet – difficult to imagine the scale of the outcry were Ministers to use that loophole to keep on the pacer fleet….

  449. Greg Tingey says:

    “Reverse Pork-Barrel”??
    I wonder if the Whitby closures were a case of one such?
    Informed opinions, anyone, or better still some facts.

    You are implying that a government might be publicly inconsistent & face in opposite dirctions, simultaneously?
    { By introducing bus regulation in Machester & nuking it in London )
    How dare you suggest such a thing?
    Really, (realistically?) I would have thought, given the known catastrophe/disaster/decline in service (delete as appropriate) in bus services nationwide, where deregulation has reigned … that extending it to London would be a political non-starter.
    There are quite a few tory London MP’s, after all ….

    Graham H
    But, we are all assuming that Pacer-replacement will see an immediate increase in both passenger numbers & satisfaction (are we not)?
    Surely this factors in to the costings/bcr figures, in a favourable manner?

    I really object when I repeat a public-domain known fact, to be accused of an “Exaggerated accusation”.
    Thank you.

  450. timbeau says:

    ” Deregulated buses in London anyone? Easy way to cut fares (in the short term) and reduce TfL’s spending which will certainly be on the agenda of some Mayoral candidates.”
    Too many voters of all political persuasions use buses for any mayor to risk that, and the MLAs would certainly give a rough ride to any mayor who tried it.

  451. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau / Greg – well I am indulging in a tiny bit of mischief but have you seen who the Conservative Party candidates currently are for the Mayoralty? I also fear that other parties will get in a mess over how they approach the Mayoral elections. I completely take your point about opposition but in 16 years we have never had an Assembly that was able to overturn anything the Mayor wanted to do. I doubt that will change. It all depends on how radical an agenda is put forward and even if primary legislation is needed to deregulate London then the Government would be likely to agree (IMO). It could all be voted through in one parliamentary session. I don’t believe the Manchester promise will be fulfilled simply because there are far too many cross boundary issues to be dealt with and I think reality will collide with aspiration and reality will win out – it’s all too difficult to resolve.

    I hope we won’t see regime change so far as London’s buses are concerned but there’s an easy “slash excessive subsidy” argument to be made by someone who thinks that’s a vote winner. Ditto for “reforming” (that lovely word) TfL and its operations. I understand there are plenty of political people who want to see that happen and it’ll be easy to do with a new face at City Hall. I doubt it’ll be in any manifestos though.

  452. MikeP says:

    Even worse than purdah (for any projects in the start-up phase) is the months following a general election while the mandarins await the new responsible (sic) minister to be appointed and then for the budget proposal to filter to the top of their red box. The two together made a project I was involved with come to a shuddering halt for 6 months. And there wasn’t even a change of governing party. Still, at least the logos and powerpoint templates had got done before that happened.

  453. Graham H says:

    @Greg T – as I say, I don’t know what went into the Pacer replacement case in detail. I would be surprised if there was a “quality elasticity ” factor – these things are notoriously difficult to measure, especially if you stick with the PDFH [Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook. M]. It probably isn’t necessary to invoke further growth in volume at this stage – many Pacer operated services are beyond full and standing already…

  454. Malcolm says:

    Graham says “ It probably isn’t necessary to invoke further growth in volume at this stage – many Pacer operated services are beyond full and standing already…

    It may not be necessary for the purpose of a yes/no decision on Pacer replacement. But if the answer is “yes”, then the decision about how many Pacer replacements to acquire ought surely to be informed by, among other things, estimates of future traffic growth.

  455. Rational Plan says:

    I remember reading a Simon Jenkins article on the Manchester devolution deal. The fiercest battle was with DFT where the issue of Manchester getting control of it buses became an ‘almost theological issue’ with much dirty behind scenes fighting and taking direct intervention from Osborne. I suspect they will continue the fight.

  456. Melvyn says:

    While complaints were made about why the north should get old London cast offs it seems that passengers who now benefit from 4 carriage class 319 trains which have been repainted and upgraded find these ” new trains” far better than the packed 2 car trains they replaced . In fact way back when Network Southeast was created passengers thought they had new trains when in reality it was the same trains that had been refurbished and repainted!

    Whether the same reaction is received when D78s become 278s we will have to wait to see .

    As for Pacers it seems electrification of GWR will allow cascade of more modern DMUs to the south west which could replace all their pacers .

    While plans in Scotland to use shortened HSTs in place of DMUs for long distance internal services is likely to release more modern DMUs to move south to allow more pacers to be removed.

    However , as I have said on other posts removal of diesel islands in a sea of electric lines makes more sense than buying new DMUs and we have recent trial of battery powered train and train-tram or like Manchester trams or light rail options for lines with lower usage.

  457. RayK says:

    And battery powered trains could be used with ‘strategic electrification’ to serve longer routes by putting the juice where it is most needed such as for acceleration and perhaps long or steep uphill sections.

  458. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Melvyn – the problem the rail industry has is that there is a DMU shortage now but won’t have one come 2020. We will then have a surplus of DMUs – probably over and above what could sensibly be deployed to relieve overcrowding in regional conurbations. This is one of the problems that piling on more new DMUs or more electrification gives you. I am not an industry expert but I suspect there is a massive tangle of contracts and issues with the TOCs, franchise contracts and with the ROSCOs which will not be easy to navigate in order to scrap / redeploy / add more DMUs never mind the already planned EMU additions to certain fleets. We also need to consider the implications in Wales with their planned electrification and whatever the final decision is to use cascaded or buy new EMUs for South Wales services.

  459. RayK says:

    @WW ‘We will then have a surplus of DMUs – probably over and above what could sensibly be deployed to relieve overcrowding in regional conurbations.’
    I notice that you say probably. In the event that current growth rates continue the surplus may well not last long. The D78/278’s may also have a shorter life than new DMU’s. This is partly what potentially makes them a good stopgap in addition to their being available sooner. Though it will be interesting to see if they end up being used longer than currently forecast.

  460. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Returning to the issue of Crossrail surface stations TfL have just released Tube and Rail Panel papers for the May 2015 meeting. It includes a paper and presentation on making Crossrail stations accessible. There are images showing how various surface stations will have lifts added.

  461. Graham H says:

    @Melvyn – “In fact way back when Network Southeast was created passengers thought they had new trains when in reality it was the same trains that had been refurbished and repainted!” Untrue, I’m afraid; we did extensive before and after research, for obvious reasons, and it showed that with the slam door stock, even an ex-works vehicle was perceived as dirty and old. (Relatively few air-door stock was refurbished during NSE’s existence and so there was insufficient info to support your assertion,I fear)

    @Malcolm – “future growth” builds are anathema to the Treasury, however desirable and in fact,in the case of ex-RR services, increasing volume usually leads to increasing losses because the services are inherently loss-making. This makes the business case “mission impossible” – why invest to make greater losses? As I noted previously,the case for the Pacers and Sprinters was made on the basis of being cheaper to operate than the cl 1xx units; that can’t be done for the Pacer replacements now. The disability regulations are the best hope…

    @Ray K -maybe one day, someone will invent a battery which is both light and powerful, but just now, the problem of lugging a battery round for long distances and then recharging the same quickly hasn’t been cracked. Any serious speed performance drains the power PDQ – remember the speed/power relationship is one of those tiresome non-linear things! Cf the electric car…

  462. Ian J says:

    On Pacer replacement: the business case may not have been released, but it is a matter of public record that it shows a benefit:cost ratio of 0.35 over 30 years and 0.12 over the life of the Northern franchise. As Puttnam points out in his letter, even if you make pretty heroic assumptions about capacity growth, reputational damage from using Pacers, costs of adaption to disability standards, etc, you still aren’t going to get anywhere near the BCR that would justify funding a transport project in London, say*. Expect a critical National Audit Office report in a few years time that gets ignored by everyone as it is in no-one’s political interest to oppose better trains for the North.

    A government U-turn on this is unlikely as the government would need to abort the tendering process and start again if they wanted to allow bidders to use Pacers. Given the precedent of the WCML debacle, they would need to refund bidders’ costs for the current procurement and the political fallout would be enormous. More likely the £250 million will just be reallocated from a more deserving project.

    So it just goes as an interesting reflection that a) politics is still (rightly) primary in a democracy, b) complain long enough and in large enough numbers and you will get something eventually, and c) the complaints about the North being neglected for spending in favour of London are baloney.

    *One big exception: a number of the Crossrail surface station accessibility projects @WW linked to have CBRs below 1 but are being done on broader social inclusion grounds. Phew, back on topic…

  463. Graham H says:

    @Ian J – Indeed,the Pacer problem is very similar to the remaining slamdoor replacement problem in the ’90s where the business case was negative and the situation was saved by the safety issues in that instance. [Not sure I agree with your thesis b, however – were it true a number of things distinctly off-topic,such as the reintroduction of hanging,would have happened years ago,simply on the basis of public opinion].

  464. Kingstoncommuter says:

    @Graham H
    “Not sure I agree with your thesis b, however”
    Although I am very happy when people’s views are listened to, there are some things best left to those in charge to decide ( yes Sutton loop I’m looking at you! )

  465. Greg Tingey says:

    Unfortunately, you may be correct – however, like the “Fares Fair” vs LB Bromley tussle, I suspect that any “victory” by the more rabid right-wing would be a very Pyrrhic victory, to be overturned at the next rotation of Fortuna’s wheel.

    Slight problem with battery-supplemented electric trains.
    THIS Oops, as they say.

  466. Graham H says:

    @Kingstoncommuter – How could I possibly disagree with your formulation? (After all, someone has to run the asylum whilst the lunatics strut their thing….)

  467. RayK says:

    @Graham H 20:54
    ‘the problem of lugging a battery round for long distances and then recharging the same quickly hasn’t been cracked.’
    Agreed. This was not what I was advocating. I suggested using partial electrification for the power intensive parts of a journey such as for acceleration from a station. The battery would then be sufficient for the maintenance of speed over a greater distance.

  468. timbeau says:

    That wasn’t a battery-supplemented train of course. The same thing has happened at Drayton Park at least once, and also at Sandling. The Westway flyover and the footbridge near South Acton have probably collected a few errant pantographs too.

  469. ngh says:

    Battery solutions I would suggest almost there:

    Bombardier recently trialled with 379013 on Anglia services and there is plenty of press coverage of that.

    The fairly new (4yo) CAF built trams in Seville are battery operated through part of the city centre near the world heritage sites with recharging taking place at tram stops via the pantograph (for 24s of a 30s stop).

    I suspect the main issues will be cost as new (or newish) stock will probably be needed and non electrified branches that aren’t too long (and aren’t being electrified).

  470. Caspar Lucas says:

    Looks like my attempt at a nearly-fact-based contribution to the “what replaces Pacers?” debate was made six weeks too early on the wrong thread!

    Actually I think I may have slightly underestimated the number of existing diesel units available for Northern franchise bidders to throw into their calculations.

    The points which the bidders will of course be crunching as we read and write include:
    – how many additional units/vehicles are required to provide the service enhancements in the ITT?
    – how many cascaded electric units/vehicles will be brought into the franchise (given that the North West electrification will not be complete on the start date)?
    – how many diesel units/vehicles will they in turn displace within the franchise?
    – what is the right quantity/configuration of new units (all that is specified is that there must be at least 120 vehicles)?

    In relation to D stock, I think I’m right in observing that both Ministers who have not been entirely enthusiastic remain on their respective watches. And – pedant corner – the artist’s impressions on the Vivarail website show the converted units to be Class 230 (“Class 278” being the nomenclature used by another proponent of D Stock reuse, which has since disappeared from view).

  471. Caspar Lucas says:

    Timbeau/Greg: In the old pre-HS1 days, there were infrequent but nonetheless repeated cases of London-bound Eurostars losing pantographs at the first overbridge in Kent.

  472. timbeau says:

    I did mention the potential of Sandling Tunnel as a place for collecting pantographs

  473. Alan Griffiths says:

    They have been laying track near the Plumstead portal

  474. Pincinator says:

    As the timetables for the new Overground sections have been released, when should we expect the timetables (and map additions!) for TfL Rail to come out, outlining what we can expect after the 31st of May?
    I am asking the general population here as I suspect you will have experience of typical lead times on such things.

  475. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Pincinator – Howard Smith of TfL was explaining “TfL Rail” to London Travelwatch yesterday. They tweeted the highlights of the session. One comment related to fares and ticketing info being confirmed “shortly” so I’d guess sometime in the next week or so. There’s been no “promotion” by TfL about the extra Overground timetables being available – they were just simply posted. It’s only interested parties who have been posting about them here and elsewhere. TfL seem to be slowly resuming press release and consultation activity so I’d say more active promotion of West Anglia Overground and TfL Rail was imminent.

  476. Paying Guest says:

    Does anyone know why simple detectors and warning systems are not used at pantograph-strike hotspots? They are fairly common in the approach to low road bridges and seem to prevent quite a few bridge collisions.

  477. timbeau says:

    The simplest detector for an overheight vehicle is a beam across the road, which may cause damage to the errant vehicle, but will take the hit instead of the bridge it protects. An out of gauge pantograph will sustain just as much damage hitting a physical detector as it would the next overbridge.
    Whether the panto remains raised because the driver forgot to lower it, or because whatever secures it in the lowered position has failed I would expect there is a warning in the cab (maybe only when the unit detects it is also connected to the dc supply?) Whether the driver remembers, has time to, or is able to rectify the situation before it hits something is another matter, especially when the change is done on the fly – : if a Eurostar driver doing 100mph as he left the Channel Tunnel found the pan didn’t drop, he would have less than half a mile to do anything about it before the pan sprang up at the end of the ohle just before entering Sandling Tunnel.

  478. timbeau says:

    Meant to add – a pantograph is a relatively flimsy thing ad is not going to do a huge amount of damage to an overhead structure.

  479. Graham Feakins says:

    Mechanisms exist for an overheight pantograph, i.e. one that has risen above the maximum height of the overhead wire, to be retracted immediately. I do not know whether Eurostar trains or the Class 319’s have such equipment.

  480. Slugabed says:

    In the days of slam-door stock with openable windows,West Norwood (Westbound) platform had an angled plank fixed in such a way at it eased projecting heads back in the window before the train got as far as a narrow overbridge’s abutment.
    Perhaps something similar could be used for pantographs?

  481. timbeau says:

    I remember that plank at West Norwood!

    Problem with your proposal is that pantographs are spring-loaded (to bear against the contact wire), so they would just spring back up again and scrape themselves off on the next bridge instead.

  482. Pincinator says:

    @WW thanks – as it’s only 18 days until the changeover I thought it couldn’t be too long. However, with Forest Gate in the state it’s in, I feel the main effect of TfL Rail will be a change of (new) staff tabards…

  483. ngh says:

    West Norwood the plank is still there and has had lick of paint and some warning signs since the end of the slam door era.

    Pantograph – aren’t some modern ones kept aloft by the compressed air supply so there is the potential to bring them down automatically if you could link it to the train management system and balises for the location sensing. Not sure if something similar isn’t in place for switching off the HV main circuit breaker on approach to neutral sections? ? ?

  484. Ian J says:

    @Graham H: Complaining long enough and in large enough numbers doesn’t necessarily have much to do with public opinion as a whole. Many in the non-Pacer-using majority would presumably rather have their money spent on something else, but don’t care anything like as much as the Pacer users. See also the Sutton loop, Scottish sleepers etc.

    @kingstonuser: Although I am very happy when people’s views are listened to, there are some things best left to those in charge to decide ( yes Sutton loop I’m looking at you! )

    Those in charge, the transport ministers, did decide – and made the wrong decision, in my view.

  485. Greg Tingey says:

    Re. a/the “changeover” ….
    Trying to get “Network Rail” on the web , or a full timetable download, or anything at all, actually, has become a very bad joke. [ Yes, I know the individual TOC’s tt’s are available ]
    I just tried it again & I get this:
    ( Again )
    For a major industry & provider of information, this is a disgrace – what’s (not) happening?
    After all, it is now less than 4 days to the chamgeover & the timetables are not available – to whom would a complaint be best directed?
    Mcloughlin &/or his department ( i.e. DfT)?

  486. Paying Guest says:

    “The simplest detector for an overheight vehicle is a beam across the road, which may cause damage to the errant vehicle, but will take the hit instead of the bridge it protects. An out of gauge pantograph will sustain just as much damage hitting a physical detector as it would the next overbridge”.

    The type of detector I had in mind uses a beam, but not one likely to damage the vehicle. The beam is projected across the road and detected on the far side. If the beam is broken a large flashing sign some 50m ahead alerts the driver to the out of gauge condition. The utility of such a system clearly depends on the distance available between detector and obstacle. A good example can be seen on the A429 just north of M4 Jn 17 to protect the Kingsway bridge on the GWML. The detectors are some 2.5km (northbound) and 1.5km (southbound) before the bridge.

    As stopping distance increases with the square of speed, availability of suitable detection locations would be crucial to the viability of such a system.

  487. John Elliott says:

    Graham Feakins @ 20:41 – I remember reading about a fault on the 319s when they were new, which involved automatic retraction of overheight pantographs.

    If a particular fault condition was reset when they were running on DC and the “Lower pantograph / select DC” button wasn’t immediately pressed, the pantograph would be raised. Either it would hit a bridge, or it would reach the maximum height and automatically retract — but then not go up again until it was manually reset, which couldn’t be done under the wires. In the latter case, nothing would appear to be wrong until the 319 reached Farringdon and the driver found he couldn’t put the pantograph up.

  488. timbeau says:

    @Paying Guest
    yes, I’ve seen those detectors. Here’s one (mounted on the signpost under the sign itself)

    But a train has a much longer stopping distance than a lorry. It might work at Acton, where there is nearly a mile between the end of the wires and the first bridge. It might work at Blackfriars, where the distance is much shorter (the wires end under the roof at City TL) but the speeds are very slow. I doubt that either Westway or Sandling, where the distances are a few feet and the change is done on the fly, would be effective. Indeed in both places the driver would be past the bridge/tunnel mouth before the pantograph, mounted on the roof some distance behind him, reached the end of the OHLE and popped up.

  489. Paying Guest says:

    My point exactly – we can’t alter the fact that v squared = u squared +2as universally applies, so if u is much higher and a much lower then s will be inconveniently large. The other issue is when should the pantograph be lowered as opposed to the OHLE ending. The accuracy of those beam detectors would enable detection of a pantograph still in contact with the wire as opposed to lowered into the stowed position. This could be of advantage if the lowering point is well before the end of the wire.

  490. APB says:

    I was curious about the role, if any , Crossrail 1 might play in freight movements across or through London.

    After all its a fully modern 25K electrified railway with few awkward flat junctions and certainly ( in the tunneled sections ) not many nearby residents to disturb at night, so why not run freight through it at night after all the Crossrail trains have ceased running? The Crossrail PR office told me that freight would only feature on the surface sections , not through the tunnels , but didn’t explain why. Is it a loading gauge or gradient issue that prevents this happening?

    To a layman it seems the revenue from freight operators might come in useful.

  491. Southern Heights says:

    @APB: Probably because they are not designed for having diesel trains going through them. A class 92 could run, but I believe the overhead wires will run out at Oxford, so you’d either need to have a loco change or go to Wales (once the wires go up there).

    The access to them would also be awkward as Abbey Wood is not easily accessible from the Tonbridge – Ashford line.

  492. Graham H says:

    @APB – There are a few good reasons why no freight:

    – The tunnel sections are full of passenger trains
    – freight trains passing literally just beyond the noses of passengers on the platform pose a safety hazard, besides being extraordinarily noisy
    – freight trains have very different performance characteristics to passenger trains (much slower to accelerate and decelerate) and would therefore use up line capacity enormously
    – freight trains are often not presented to the mainline system at the correct time and so tend to run “out of course” – there are plenty of unused freight slots around therefore at any one time, and on a full passenger railway, that would be extremely wasteful (and would also require enough recessing points to hold freight trains that arrived at the wrong time.)

    In short, CrossRail is designed as a passenger railway pure and simple and had it been intended otherwise, it would have been a very different animal. Although it shares some open air trackage with freight, that has all turned off at Acton Wells. On the open air sections, the various constraints I describe don’t apply (so much).

  493. Chris C says:

    Were the tunnels built to be able to take those large containers that I normally see on freight trains?

    Square container in a round tube?

    No doubt someone will be along to say ‘just build smaller containers’ …

  494. Castlebar says:

    @ Chris C

    The containers are international, and are therefore constructed to an international, uniform scale around the world. The tunnels were there first, but were initially only designed to the scale of carrying a Victorian stage coach, lifted on to a flat bed truck on rails.

    However, in the USA, I understand some tunnels have been enlarged whereas for other diagrams and routings it has been found far cheaper to divert the traffic to tunnel free routes. After all, a container can be here in the UK this month, back in China next month and BNSF’d across the Rockies by July,

  495. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    To be fair to APB, he did suggest running freight at night when there are no passenger trains. And I assume there will be platform edge doors, so “running past the noses of passengers” wouldn’t be an issue

    Unless there are loading gauge restrictions (more likely to be at platform level than overhead) I don’t see any reason in principle why an electric freight train couldn’t run through.

    They will share infrastructure east of Stratford as well as west of Acton, and any electric loco could work through (although a 92 would be necessary if going beyond Abbey Wood).

    The wires will not run out at Oxford if the “electric spine” is completed. (And Wales does still have some industry!) And there are also proposals to connect Crossrail to the WCML, which is electrified all the way to Glasgow (and soon Stirling!).

    But I don’t think it’s very likely. Any overnight down time will be prioritised for maintenance work

  496. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – there’s no reason “in principle” but even with electric traction, starting and stopping a 1500 tonne freight is a very different kettle of fish to starting and stopping an all/most axle driven emu. And, as you say, night time (assuming that CR is not eventually included in the night tube) is likely to be taken up with maintenance.. But nothing will deal with the racket created by a freight train in a confined tunnel space.

    Yes, the traffic from Wales and Bristol could make it all the way electrically (or could it? – there would be a lot of last milery there) , but a fair proportion of what comes up the GW is aggregates via the Berks and Hants – not electrified – and that starts from resolutely diesel territory, alas.

  497. timbeau says:

    Mention of electric freights (not) running through Crossrail made me wonder. I appreciate it would not be a good idea on a regular basis, but will there be an absolute prohibition on diesels in the Crossrail Tunnels? Even for maintenance, emergency pushouts etc if the power is off? What arrangements will be in place for such contingencies?

    (I seem to recall a diesel loco of some kind did make a foray into the Northern City once)

  498. Margret Thatcher says:

    But could some kind of freight tunnel running underneath the North London Line for freight be of some use? Paralleling HS1 of course.

  499. timbeau says:

    “But could some kind of freight tunnel running underneath the North London Line be of some use?”

    Of course it would. All it needs is money.

  500. Malcolm says:

    Timbeau says “… emergency pushouts etc if the power is off?

    I suspect the response to power failure in central Crossrail will be similar to that on other tube lines, i.e.

    1) Get the power on again
    2) If that fails, try harder
    3) If that fails too, and 60 minutes has passed, then walk the passengers out

    (I’m ready to be corrected if someone knows different).

  501. Graham H says:

    @Margret Thatcher – an NLR tunnel is possible, as timbeau says, at a price, but the point surely is that because of the railway geography of the UK, a lot of freight presently heads for London and the NLR which doesn’t really need to come anywhere near the capital at all if there were “rail bypasses” much further out. Of course, there are flows such as the aggregates traffic from the West Country which are specifically travelling to London, but much of the freight round the NLR is going much further afield – for example, from Felixstowe to the Midlands. East-West and Electric Spine should help if fully extended, but will require, presumably, modification to the access charging regime to make it more attractive to lug the freight the longer way round. (This is by no means impossible, as provided for in the relevant EU regulations, but expect a howl of anger from the freight operators, of course). These measures are inevitably cheaper than building a tunnel!

  502. Pedantic of Purley says:


    One advantage of Crossrail may be, I stress may be (I will try and ask), that the walkways will be suitable for passenger use. Given that the images we have seen of a future Crossrail train has no centre door at the front I am presuming this has to be the case.

    Another advantage is that the trains will be air-conditioned, which is obviously no advantage if the power is off, but does mean you should start with a cooler interior. A further advantage is that there is no possibility of the passengers being in danger from the power coming on and passengers being in contact with it in the event of an evacuation.

  503. timbeau says:

    “there is no possibility of the passengers being in danger from the power coming on and passengers being in contact with it in the event of an evacuation.”

    They’d have to be pretty tall to come into contact with the OHLE.

  504. Greg Tingey says:

    Someone managed it at IIRC Camden Road last year or the year before, didn’t they?

  505. timbeau says:

    I assume you are referring to this incident, or one like it

    I would assume that the emergency evacuation route from a Crossrail train, whether in a tunnel or otherwise, will not be an escape hatch in the ceiling!

  506. Graham Feakins says:

    @Greg & timbeau – As PoP pointed out to me some time ago: “The City and South London Railway byelaws originally stated that anyone caught riding on the roof of the train was liable to a fine” but clearly all eventualities have to be catered for…

  507. Kingstoncommuter says:

    On the subject of train surfing, on the Wikipedia page for class 376 train it says “The cab front is also smooth and ‘step free’ to reduce the problem of ‘train surfing’ in South London.”

    Is this actually a regular problem? I’ve heard of trains being cancelled or delayed because someone was hit by a train, but never because someone was on top of the train.

  508. ngh says:

    Re Kingstoncommuter 18 May 2015 at 10:18
    It used to be a problem with connexSoutheastern’s 465s & 466s in the late 1990s and early 2000s and the 465s &466s cabs were modified (sloping buffer cowlings with “no Step labels” and removal of hand rail under windscreen) to make it far harder hang on the back.

  509. Graham H says:

    @Kingstoncommuter – there was even a craze in the ’90s for train surfing on the roof -and given the intelligence of the people who went in for it, surfing under 25kv was not uncommon, with the expected results. Our engineers briefly toyed with the idea of erecting portals at popular places just to knock them off the rooves. Darwinian selection rules OK?

  510. Southern Heights says:

    @Graham H: In Indonesia they have done just that…

  511. Graham H says:

    @Southern Heights – that tells us a lot about Indonesia … Maybe I won’t visit it any time soon.

  512. Kingstoncommuter says:

    @Graham H and ngh
    So not really too much of an issue now, I’d like to say it was because people are more sensible now but when I see adults having to be told to stand behind the yellow line every day or people being told to wait for the next train because there is no space and that they are blocking the doors I do wonder…

  513. Slugabed says:

    Ah,Yellow lines….Facetiously,how am I supposed to board the train if I have to stay behind the Yellow Line “at all times”?
    More seriously,In the neck of the woods where I seem to do the most NR travelling,the Yellow Lines were drawn with slam-door stock in mind,and so (now) unnecessarily deprive us of platform capacity and can be justifiably ignored…unless it seems (as I found at New Cross Gate recently) there are several men in hi-vis with megaphones literally screaming at customers to stay behind the (slam-door width) yellow lines even when there was no train in sight….bad treatment of passengers in my book…

  514. timbeau says:

    As I walked along the platform at Blackfriars TL station this morning (not to catch a train, but simply to cross the river out of the rain!) a member of staff waved at me to stay behind the yellow line – which I would have done had he and the three colleagues he was chatting to not been obstructing the entire width of the platform except the bit between the yellow line and the platform edge!

  515. Pedantic of Purley says:

    At least they now have a yellow line. I wrote to FCC some years ago when the platforms were very new pointing out there was not much point in having automated messages with endless exhortations to stand behind the yellow line when there weren’t actually any yellow lines to stand behind.

  516. Southern Heights says:

    And of course on platform 2 at London Bridge at the moment, it’s the only place you can walk….

  517. Melvyn says:

    @ Slugabed Yellow lines are also to protect passengers from fast trains passing through stations . With stations like Barking having both fast passenger trains as well as freight trains passing through .

    As for freight trains on Crossrail well freight trains that cross London use North London and GOBLIN lines with Network Rail looking to bring forward electrification of Dudding Hill Line at Acton linking NLL to GWR to aid electric freight trains .

    Longer term the East West rail project and upgrade to rail link from Felixstowe will help divert freight trains away from London and allow more Overground services on NLL , Goblin etc.

  518. Slugabed says:

    Melvyn…yes,in fact I seem to recall the first yellow lines being put on “fast” platforms of the GW shortly after the introduction of 125mph HSTs.
    But without wishing to ignite a H&S culture debate (again) railways managed for about 150 years without yellow lines,and I resent(ed) being shouted at for making and abiding by my own risk assessment.

  519. Malcolm says:

    It is part of the railway’s duty of care to make the risk of accidents “as low as reasonably possible”. If the railway management reasonably believes that the teams of “behind the yellow line” shouters, and the repeated spoken instructions do actually contribute significantly to passenger safety, then they are obliged to take these measures, and neither our personal dislike of the shouting, or the long history of shout-free railways should have any bearing on the matter.

    The only possible grounds for ceasing these measures would be if someone could show that they do not work, that for one reason or another they do not make the railways safer. And that would probably require a serious and expensive study.

    Just showing that people do not like them is not sufficient.

  520. Slugabed says:

    I feel a reductio ad absurdum moment coming on…I’ll let it lie.
    Malcolm,your analysis is,of course,entirely correct.
    Last time I went through NXG the shouty men weren’t there….

  521. Malcolm says:

    Last night I saw upon the stair,
    A shouty man who wasn’t there,
    He wasn’t there again today
    Oh, how I wish he’d go away…

    William Hughes Mearns (1875–1965) (adapted)

  522. Slugabed says:

    Malcolm….yes indeed.
    Does his absence today mean that last night he wasn’t necessary,or that today they are running an unsafe railway…..?

  523. Greg Tingey says:

    There used to be lots of “shouty men” at Reading, when it was run by FGW.
    Last time I was there, after the change-over to NR control … they had all vanished.

    IIRC, offically, the yellow line is for when a train is in motion through ( & of course approaching/leaving) a platform. It should ( note “should”) not apply when no trains are around, or of course, when stationary in platform …..

  524. Paul says:

    The relevant railway group standards only actually requires platform yellow lines where either passenger trains pass at more than 100 mph, or freight trains pass at greater than 60 mph, (unless the latter only have passenger train characteristics – such as mail trains).

    It follows that probably a vast proportion of yellow lines on NR infrastructure , e.g. in any terminal platforms, or on slow speed routes such as at Blackfriars, are not required by the safety authority, but are applied over enthusiastically by the station owner.

  525. Ian J says:

    I once read that the painted lines on Underground platforms (which are closer to the edge than on National Rail) are more psychologically driven than by any calculation of an inherently safe distance to stand. The idea is to discourage people from standing too close to the edge, but not to be so far back from the edge that you create a zone clear of waiting passengers that is wide enough for others to be tempted to walk along.

  526. Anonymous says:

    The bus stops on Harrow Manor way will be staying after the upgrade to the 1960s flyover, there are going to be bus stops on the opposite side of the carraigeway as well, with pedestrian crossings already in place to allow both sides to enter the station under the canopy. Finally, since your photo, there has been 3 or 4 further high rises (a hotel and some residential buildings) started and nearing completion, in addition a brand new Sainsbury has been built opening in July and a disused industrial site converted for more residential building. In short, Crossrail has already brought the Abbey Wood area out of the state you describe above and into a modern well connected suburb of London.

  527. Alan Griffiths says:

    Two staff with their new Uniforms spotted at Forest Gate about 20:30 on Sunday 31st May 2015

  528. Amongst the many excellent photos of Custom House and the surrounding area that Unravelled has just posted I would like to point out this one which clearly shows the crossovers in the ramp from the tunnel portal to the west of Custom House station.

  529. RayK says:

    I just came across this recent article on the New Scientist website.
    Attention grabbing headline. The article seems to me to state the obvious. I haven’t yet read through the paper from which the article is taken/extrapolated. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that TfL already do work in this area.

  530. Ian Sergeant says:


    The crux of the article seems to be that, given that a journey from many places on the route will be quicker to work, people will live further away from work and match their current commute. My inference is that being out of town makes people more likely to drive. A long way from what the headline says, and indeed the NS summary doesn’t match the abstract.

  531. Mark Townend says:

    @Ian Sergeant, 13 September 2015 at 15:21

    As stated in the article the study didn’t look at capacity of the links. Also they didn’t consider construction costs as, particularly on Underground lines, additional stations are very costly in comparison to plain tunnel. Crossrail of course is very clever in this respect with their two for the price of one strategy in the form of two entrances for each station. They don’t consider the operating cost issue where more stops extend journey times so for a given frequency more rolling stock and train crew is required. Lastly, they don’t acknowledge that transport and planning authorities DO consider and implement improvements to local networks when trunk service changes are proposed.

    If local bus services feed a new or significantly improved fast commuter route then they would likely be considered for improvement by an authority such as TfL, or their commercial operator outside London and it’s likely improvements would be viable with additional commuter traffic raising passenger volume and underpinning more frequent local service and earlier and later operating hours. Assuming those same buses also serve local traffic centres such as shopping and employment zones then that more attractive service could attract more purely local bus journeys in addition to those connecting with rail, perhaps offsetting to some extent any increase in car journeys to the station. In a similar vein, where applicable, car parking and access roads would be improved if large increases in volume were expected.

    On Crossrail much of the journey time saving for many people will come from avoiding interchange, or making different interchanges to get to a final destination. The suburban leg on the GWML for instance will get only a little faster, but not by a significant factor in itself. Greater frequency and shiny new trains with plenty of capacity for the peak will be the major attractors of new custom.

    In short they’re saying better services on major arteries attract more custom and at either end they’ve got to distribute. The conclusion that rail services should, therefore, have more stops to slow them down is clearly nonsense. Rail is more efficient with longer spacing between stops. With less attractive longer distance commuter services you would run the risk that people from further afield would be encouraged to drive from their suburban homes further to the edge of the high-frequency tube network and then park all over the residential roads in the vicinity. That does nothing to improve traffic conditions, neither where they live nor in the closer suburban neighbourhoods they circulate around and park in to get on the tube.

  532. quinlet says:

    The study makes huge (and quite unwarranted) assumptions, notably that encouraging more people to take the underground for longer journeys “is likely to result in more people driving to the station”. This is nonsensical in two ways: first, to draw the conclusions that they reach, you have to make an assumption about just how many people will drive to the station; and, second, you have to assume that they will not be driving in that area for their journeys to work at present. The latter is clearly untrue because this is concluded on the basis that these people have transferred from car journeys to work to rail journeys to work because of faster rail trips.

    Rather than a theoretical study, Martin Mogridge (now sadly deceased) worked on actual journey patterns in London during the 1970s and 1980s. He found that for door-to-door journeys to work in London, the average speed where the main mode was car was the same as the average speed where the main mode was rail, and that this had remained the same over many years. From this he produced what became known as the Mogridge contention. This went that there is a constant churn of people changing journey patterns (new jobs, new homes, etc) and that, all other things being equal, there is an equilibrium so that as many people switched from rail to road as vice versa. If investment resulted in faster road journeys over any corridor, more people would switch from rail to road than vice-versa to take advantage of higher average speeds. But each person switching would produce an extra car (or just less than one in reality) and this would, in turn, produce extra congestion which would slow down traffic and reduce average speeds until it reached the previous equilibrium.

    Investing to produce faster rail speeds, however (either faster trains or more frequent services or new services) would not have the same effect. While it would produce more people switching from road to rail than vice versa, the amount that every additional rail passenger slows down rail travel in general is very much smaller so that a new equilibrium at a higher average journey speed would be produced.

    His overall conclusion was that the only way to increase average speeds for road journeys, in a congested city, was to increase average speeds for rail journeys. And that seems to hold true still.

  533. Malcolm says:

    quinlet: Martin Mogridge’s conclusions strike me as extremely plausible, more so than those in the article, at least as described here.

    Do you happen to have a web reference, or a book or report title, for Mogridge’s study?

  534. Mark Townend says:

    @Malcolm, 13 September 2015 at 17:26

    The Lewis–Mogridge Position

    Related to Braess’s paradox

  535. quinlet says:

    Thank you Mark, that’s the best link I could find. I have to say that I found Martin most convincing when he explained this to me first hand. It also went to one of the more useful conclusions of the Mayor’s Roads Task Force which was that the only way we stand any sort of chance of doing anything to reduce congestion on the roads of London is to get as many people as possible using other modes, notably public transport, walking and cycling.

  536. Greg Tingey says:

    Not sure where to post this, but thanks to C Wolmar & “Ian visits” …
    THIS piece on apparent confusion, lack of central planning & mixed objectives makes interesting reading.
    Ostensibly, it’s about “Where should Heathrow Express have its new depot” but there are lots of entanglements along the way.

    [We’ll let this one pass, but in general, links, even to transport related articles, which are not relevant to anything under recent discussion, are not encouraged here. Malcolm]

  537. Greg Tingey says:

    Would it be more appropriate in one of the “Old Oak Common” threads?
    It is talking about serious engineering works for carriage & servicing sidings & facilities, after all.

  538. Malcolm says:

    No point in moving it now. My comment was meant to discourage anyone from being too ready to put in a link to something they have come across. Of course our readers /are/ interested in all aspects of transport, but we /are not/ a general transport chat site. PoP has sometimes suggested that “if you are wondering where to put something (on LR) then the answer is probably nowhere”. I agree.

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