There are probably Southern commuters who would claim that nothing Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR – Southern’s parent company) said or did would surprise them. Many industry insiders would probably agree. When rumours spread rapidly about a proposal to completely revise the Thameslink timetable, however, there were various shades of disbelief.

The rumours centred on a proposed Thameslink service to Rainham (Kent) via Greenwich. Without any background context this just seemed like a barmy idea – one that not even a mad LR crayonista in a state of psychosis could come up with. The proposal, now officially published however, is about much more than that.

This is not to say that the proposals aren’t still controversial. A Thameslink timetable consultation was a complete surprise because as far as everyone else was concerned the whole thing was pretty much finalised. True, it was an open secret that the 2018 timetable didn’t actually work, but this was thought to be resolvable with a few minor tweaks or the judicious removal of the odd train. September 2016, by generally accepted industry norms, would seem to be far too late to start consulting on major timetable alterations due for implementation on Sunday 13th May 2018.

It seems incredible that the Department for Transport fully consulted on what was thought to be the definitive Thameslink 2018 timetable (give or take the aforementioned minor tweaks) and awarded the Thameslink franchise on that basis, yet we now have major changes being put forward. More remarkable still, the whole basis of having the large Thameslink franchise was so that it would be self-contained and one operator, as much as possible, would be in overall control. If accepted, these new proposals would make Thameslink so interdependent on SouthEastern that the future influence of SouthEastern on Thameslink performance would be comparable with that of Great Northern. So maybe the franchise should have been bigger still or, as some MPs argue, it has already got too big and shouldn’t be taking over every railway on which it runs a significant number of services.

We are getting ahead of ourselves, however, and so first we should step back and take a look at what the proposals contain.

There ain’t nothing quite like it

It has been said many times that Thameslink, currently run by GTR, is a franchise like no other. To begin with, it is a franchise where the DfT keeps all the revenue. The unwritten objective for the train operator is therefore not the usual one of maximising profit by getting as much revenue as possible for as little expenditure as possible. It is to keep the DfT happy so that they continue to pay the management fee.

For better or for worse, it seems that a completely unexpected – and largely unpredicted – consequence of this is that GTR is thinking more long term than other non-TfL-sponsored train operators. As a result it isn’t going to be panicked into doing something just because there is a loss of revenue – provided, of course, that what they are doing doesn’t upset the DfT.

Not content with doing one thing at a time

One would have thought that with the guards dispute on Southern and the controversial proposals for ticket office revision covering all of GTR that the company would be desperate not to get involved with another controversy. Not a bit of it! Indeed it is telling that the head of GTR, Charles Horton, is due to give a lecture next May entitled “Everything had to be done at once” Clearly the softly, softly approach is not on GTR’s agenda.

Reading the document itself, it is clear that at its heart lies a fundamental problem. The aforementioned fact that the 2018 Thameslink timetable, in its current form, won’t work. More importantly though, the consultation seems to admit that in its present form simple tweaks won’t work. As far as GTR seem concerned, it can’t be made to work. Facing up to this fundamental truth has thus led to some pretty drastic decision making.

Getting into the details

It is interesting to note that up until now all the doom-merchants have claimed that Thameslink will be a disaster because of the problems of running 24tph through the core. If the rhetoric of GTR is to be believed though, this is probably the least of their problems – a potential problem, certainly, but one that has been long recognised. The necessary measures have thus already been taken to make sure that it does not become an issue once a full service through the core is run.

So what is the bigger problem GTR anticipate? Here, those looking for something exciting and new to read about are about to be mildly disappointed. For we are back to familiar topics at LR Towers – dwell times, reactionary delay and Windmill Bridge Junction. Indeed on Southern territory this junction must be the railway operational equivalent of Mornington Crescent, because it seems the final answer to everything.

GTR have clearly looked at the fundamental reason why there is a problem and have come to the none-too-startling conclusion that it is the complex junctions in the Southern metro area. They also seem well aware that in the past few years a delay on Southern territory has tended to set off a bit of a chain reaction, meaning the overall consequential delay tends to be around three times the initial delay.

Awareness of the systemwide problems caused by complex junctions is nothing new. TfL Rail are well aware of it and for many years have argued for a more TfL-style of railway on the Southern network – i.e. fewer, more self-contained routes. Indeed much of the Turn South London Orange proposal was about sorting out junctions.

Sorting out junctions, however, is rarely an exercise without consequence. What was really necessary to solve, or at least reduce, the junction problem to manageable levels was thus an organisation willing to take the flak and actually do something about this – despite the inevitable initial unpopularity. Until now no TOC in their right mind would do such a thing. Far better to keep one’s head down, not upset the fare-paying punters and quietly collect those large delay payments from Network Rail when the cause of a delay can be attributed to them. Call them maverick, mad or brave. Call them forward thinking and full of willingness to take the initiative. Whatever your preference, GTR seem to be the first organisation willing to face up to this.

(Evenly) spaced out

On a much more positive note, and something that would likely get the approval of Sir Herbert Walker (of original Southern Railway fame), GTR have recognised that, both north and south of the river, the current timetable is a complete mess when it comes to regularly spaced trains. This is not something that can be resolved by tweaks and tends to involve tearing the timetable up and starting again. It does seem that the proposals would produce a far superior timetable in this respect and this is again something that is greatly desired by TfL, who want to see a “turn up and go” railway.

Maybe even Redhill users will be happy

The consultation states:

Frequent all-day, evenly spaced service of six trains per hour every 10 minutes is proposed between Redhill and London.

The service today from Redhill has gaps varying between 10 and 20 minutes. It is a major town with a large catchment area and it really deserves a decent service, such as the proposed train every 10 minutes in the off-peak period. It is hard to see how this could have been achieved without a major timetable rewrite.

Whilst Redhill maybe a particularly bad example of a major station with an erratic service, it is one of many examples that can be found. A solution to providing a regular interval service at most stations is not going to possible by just tinkering with the timetable we currently have.

It is not only the regularity that will be better if the proposals are accepted. GTR seem to be striving to provide a better service by increasing the frequency. It has to be said that this includes lines that will never even cover their marginal costs, such as the line to Epsom Downs (which goes up from 1 train per hour [tph] to 2tph). South of the river a very welcome proposal is 4tph off-peak on the Catford loop line – something campaigners have wanted for many years. North of the river there are similar proposed improvements, such as 2tph off-peak to Kings Lynn (once work is completed at Ely North Junction) though it has to be said that this is not a new proposal and was due to happen anyway.

Better service in the evening and at weekends

Another TfL aspiration being pursued is the extension of the normal off-peak services late into the evening and at weekends, although it is conceded in this consultation that there may have to be a reduced service on Sunday mornings to allow time for maintenance. Indeed the “be more like TfL than TfL” approach may be an attempt to fight off a TfL takeover in future so that Govia can get another bite of the cherry once the present franchise expires.

Facing reality

Refreshingly, GTR are also fully facing up to the reality of extended dwell time (for the most part). As trains get more crowded then station dwell times can get disproportionally large. It is not just the number of people wanting to get on, but how crowded the train is already, as well as such aggravating factors as a long train and a short platform. So it is a pleasure to see that reality has hit home at GTR and they now propose a one minute dwell time at busy times at stations such as South Croydon and Purley Oaks – not especially busy but the train is already crowded and the eight car platforms mean that on 10-car trains the last two carriages are not accessible.

In a similar manner the proposals also support having increased turnaround time. This would rectify a much criticised issue with previous timetables, where most industry experts regarded the turnaround times as far too tight to allow a service to be operated reliably.

Passenger numbers by Terminal and Thameslink

Dwell times are only going to get worse as demand increases. The consultation appears to confirm the fact that, despite all the current disruption, passenger numbers are rising on GTR.

Let down by Network Rail

Another reality GTR are facing up to is that some of the infrastructure needed to run the previously proposed 2018 timetable is not going to be present in time for implementation. Probably worst of all is the fact that a terminating platform to be built at Stevenage simply will not be ready by December 2018. GTR’s proposed solution is to run trains to Watton-at-Stone and provide a replacement bus service from there or Hertford North to Stevenage. This must produce one of the railway’s quietest terminating stations. Watton-at-Stone, the village where Sir Nigel Gresley died, has fewer than 1000 households and its long-closed railway station only reopened in 1982.


Another disappointment is that there will not be an eight car terminating platform at Reigate by the time the timetable comes into force. The consultation proposes the options of having 4-car trains combine with another train at Redhill or a more frequent shuttle service. The shuttle service would run up to three trains an hour which, when combined with the Great Western Reading-Redhill service, would give a surprisingly good service of 6tph between Redhill and Reigate.

Windmill Bridge Junction

More controversially, GTR believe that the originally proposed throughput of trains through Windmill Bridge Junction (just north of East Croydon) is simply not reliably workable. This would appear to be in contrast to their beliefs when pressing for a more intensive 2015 timetable. For that timetable – the notorious one that produced an unreliable evening peak from London Bridge – it has been suggested that it was at GTR’s insistence that the service into London Bridge was as intense as it was. Network Rail were arguing for slightly fewer trains – not because they thought it theoretically wouldn’t work, but because they thought it would make the service more reliable. Maybe the lesson has been learnt or perhaps it is a case of once bitten, twice shy. Either way, GTR have decided that not only must train routes be modified to minimise conflict at Windmill Bridge Junction, but the service through Windmill Bridge Junction must also be reduced slightly. This fits in well with another objective which is to reduce (or eliminate) trains terminating at East Croydon in the peak.

The problem is that once you reduce the number of trains through Windmill Junction you potentially reduce the number of trains to London. You don’t want to reduce the terminating trains at Victoria and London Bridge because it is not easy to usefully replace them with something else. That leaves Thameslink, which was proposed to have 16tph between London Bridge and East Croydon.

Terminal capacity in London issues

Here it starts getting complicated. Conventional wisdom states that you don’t want to run any Thameslink trains via London Bridge onto SouthEastern tracks because the approaches to Charing Cross and Cannon Street are as full as the termini themselves. So by running from Thameslink to SouthEastern destinations you don’t gain capacity because you lose a path into Cannon Street or Charing Cross. The critical problem seems to be Lewisham station and junction which have severely limited capacity.

New route proposals

GTR are proposing that a proposed Thameslink service to Maidstone East via Elephant & Castle in the peaks be replaced with an all day service to Maidstone East via London Bridge. GTR are convinced that there is capacity on the main line through Grove Park (not via Lewisham). The removal of this service via Elephant & Castle offers a lot of other opportunities for service via Elephant & Castle and GTR is quick to capitalise on this.

Much more controversially they propose a service to Rainham (Kent). The document on the proposals in Kent doesn’t even include the route on the detailed diagram but they do have the route to Maidstone East. It is almost as if they don’t want to draw too much attention to the proposal.

The route to Rainham can’t go via Lewisham and the line through St Johns and Grove Park is full up, so the proposal is to go via Greenwich. GTR argues that this has a lot to commend it as they are convinced that, with their service to Charing Cross permanently severed, many people on the Greenwich line want to travel on Thameslink to Blackfriars and beyond. Furthermore, they point to the rising demand from the Medway towns that is not being met.

The solution of going to Rainham via Greenwich looks clever but has been treated with deep skepticism and concern. The objections basically fall into three categories:

  • There isn’t the demand
  • Operationally it is a nightmare
  • Long term, you have reduced capacity from East Croydon to London Bridge

One could add that there are also a couple of other concerns. One is that after going to the trouble of building the Bermondsey Diveunder the number of Thameslink trains fully taking advantage of it has gone down from 18tph originally to 16tph and now to 12tph. The other great concern is its impact on the business case for the work to sort out Windmill Bridge.

The first issue with demand on any proposed Thameslink service via Greenwich is that GTR’s predictions aren’t believed. They claim they take Crossrail into account and that people will change at Abbey Wood, but one wonders if the fact that TfL fares are cheaper has been factored in. Not only that but it would also be quicker to get to Farringdon via Crossrail at Abbey Wood, so one wonders how many through passengers (beyond London Bridge) would actually be on the train. The service would appear to be too slow for passengers from further out because it stops at too many stations. Stated benefits of satisfying a future demand from the south east to the rebuilt Brent Cross shopping centre from 2021 onwards seem rather far fetched with Bluewater much closer and Stratford easily accessible from Abbey Wood via Crossrail (admittedly with a change of train at Whitechapel). Coming to that, by 2021 there may even be a brand new shopping centre near East Croydon.

Confidence in how well this option was thought out also take a dent when one reads that:

These trains are not able to call at Woolwich Dockyard due to short platforms being unable to accommodate 12 carriage trains.

This seems to either be a highly inaccurate statement or, incredibly, Thameslink class 700 trains have not been provided with Selective Door Operation – which would seem to be almost unbelievable.

The stuff of nightmares

Probably the biggest criticism is that by introducing a Thameslink route via Greenwich one introduces an operational nightmare. Still, based on past history, the mere fact that a Thameslink route is an operating nightmare seems to be no bar to insisting on its introduction (or, more strictly speaking, retention). It is almost as if the imp of the perverse first made sure that the Wimbledon loop remained part of Thameslink and then, not content with his efforts, decided to add running trains via Greenwich to the toxic mix.

It almost beggars belief that having spent millions of pounds and years of construction effort segregating the Cannon Street, Thameslink and Charing Cross flows there is now a proposal to undo some of the good work and have Thameslink services interworked with the Cannon Street services via a flat junction. Worse still, one of the critical track sections involved is only a shade longer than 12-cars. This means trains will probably slow down to a crawl – or stop altogether – before crossing over a crucial junction.

Untangling the tracks

or maybe not

Currently semi-fast trains do not run via Greenwich. There is a reason for this. It comes back to dwell time and the fact that it only takes a minute or so dwell time (in addition to time lost stopping and accelerating again) for the all-stations trains to be holding back a following semi-fast.

Dwell time on Greenwich route

Indeed a Network Rail paper highlights this very real difficulty. The issue of dwell time (or berth time) is looked at in considerable detail on the Greenwich line. In the worst case in 2014, the accumulated dwell time for stations from Abbey Wood to London Bridge via Greenwich was around 790 seconds – that’s over 13 minutes. It is not that much better off-peak. If the slow train ran every ten minutes, which is what they do on this line in the off-peak, then the “semi-fast” needs to make an awful lot of stops if it is going to not be held back by the previous slow train.

It gets worse. The ATO (automatic train operation) section of Thameslink apparently has its handover position (where trains go from being manually driven to being driven under ATO) just about at the point where the Thameslink trains would turn off for Greenwich. This has not been catered for in the complex signalling or the arrangements to switch between ATO and manual driving.

What also does not really appear to have been taken into account is that, with ATO overlay and replacement of Networker trains with modern stock, in a few years time you could probably run the extra Rainham trains into Cannon Street – no Thameslink involved. This, and possibly other factors, may well appear in the much anticipated Network Rail long term study for Kent. One hopes this document surfaces before the end of the GTR consultation in order to see what the alternatives are.

Above all, the proposed route to Greenwich produces yet another interface. It means that yet another train service has to be running well for Thameslink to work properly. It is true that Thameslink already interfaces with SouthEastern at Herne Hill, but the SouthEastern route to Victoria is relatively reliable and not problematic.

SouthEastern’s gain, Southern’s loss

A long term issue with Thameslink going via Greenwich is that it reduces long term capacity on Southern services. If you take away Thameslink routes into London Bridge from Southern territory and replace them with ones from SouthEastern territory then you have either lost that route on Southern or you need to take up a terminating platform at London Bridge to replace it. In the latter case this reduces the opportunity in future for more Southern trains to run to London Bridge terminating platforms as there will be none spare.

Likely to be of far greater concern to some is how this will affect the business case for rebuilding Windmill Bridge junction. If you can’t send the trains to London because there is no capacity, there is not much point in spending money to remove the operating constraints at Windmill Bridge Junction. There’s equally little point in eight platforms at East Croydon.

There is a counterargument which is that if the proposals show various mitigations (such as terminating at Selhurst) to deal with lack of capacity at Windmill Bridge junction then that shows that the work at Windmill Bridge is desperately needed in any case, just to improve the current situation and it will be even more vital if there is any suggestion of an improved service through East Croydon.

Probably at the back of a lot of people’s minds is the issue that once you have introduced a service and have had it established for a few years it becomes extremely difficult to withdraw it. So in ten years time it could be a case that the paths through the Thameslink core for the Rainham trains via Greenwich could be far better used for other services, but that it becomes very difficult to implement those future proposals.

A necessary risk?

It is easy to criticise the Rainham via Greenwich proposal. One suspects that GTR have taken the attitude that, even with this issue, the timetable is much more workable overall and produces a better result. They also have a fundamental problem – if not Rainham via Greenwich then where? It may not be ideal but it could be that, in their analysis, it is the least-worst option.

End of round one

The first round of consultation is due to end in December 2016. This means that GTR will have their work cut out in 2017. In the early days of the original Southern Railway during the 1920s the company introduced electrification, colour light signalling and major track layout changes in the space of a few years. Not since then has so much different activity been undertaken south of the river in such a short space of time. It looks though like GTR have an insatiable desire to be remembered as a franchise that changed the nature of the railway. Whether others will welcome that change is, of course, another matter.

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There are 760 comments on this article
  1. Fromthemurkydepths says:

    I wrote a post about the Greenwich line proposal here:

    The consultation document is very odd and almost looks like it was cobbled together at the last minute. There’s points in there that seem unbelievable but given the number of errors who knows if they are correct?

    For example, not stopping at Woolwich Dockyard due to short platforms, as mentioned above. That’s with SDO equipped 700s!

    Then it states Thameslink will not stop at Erith and Belvedere, and those stations will see ‘up to’ 4 trains an hour. They currently have 6 off-peak, had more in the peaks before re-building work, and are seeing mass housing growth. 2000 homes imminent in Erith. Bexley Council has designated Belvedere as its main housing growth area in the next 15 years – even above Thamesmead – and claims 10k homes will be built.

    Growth figures at the station were 9% last year at Erith and 11% at Belvedere, and as both are not barriered or always open that is likely an underestimation.

    Yet Thameslink will call at all other stations except those AND cause a reduction in services?

    But everyone will use Crossrail right? Hmmm. With the awkward non-same-platform interchange at Abbey Wood why not just stay on SE Metro if going to the City. There’s barely anything in it once changing is considered.

    And presumably it means the end of Gillingham to Charing Cross via Lewisham semi-fasts, meaning the whole line loses a connection to SW Trains at Waterloo East and the West End. If that does go then other stations like Charlton see 8 trains an hour off-peak and 10 in the peaks drop to 6. Just a week after early plans were revealed for the 5000 home plans at Charlton Riverside.

    This all raises another question. Just how closely are transport planners looking at housebuilding plans? Maybe worth a future post. I’d love to hear people views.

    Greenwich Council will see the second highest number of homes over the next decade out of 32 London Councils according to the London Plan. Bexley sees less but they are almost all clustered around Slade Green, Belvedere and Erith.

    If anyone has the misfortune to look at planning application attached transport plans they often have a minimal mention of rail. Lots on roads and Highways, and a fair bit with TfL if they run services (tube etc) but suburban rail? Not much at all.

  2. Fromthemurkydepths says:

    Ah, I also wanted to add that could the ‘up to’ 4 tph on the Greenwich line instead of 6 be because Cannon Street capacity is permanently reduced due to Thameslink?

    If no more homes were to be built that could probably suffice with Crossrail coming very soon. But when you look at the housing plans at just about every station its a long shot. To name just some further up the line there’s 4-5k at Charlton Riverside, 2k at Woolwich Dockyard, many thousands at Deptford etc.

  3. Anon E. Mouse says:

    A very good write-up about the hotly-anticipated (in some circles at least) timetable consultation. I read virtually the entire report at the weekend and noted that there were a number of interesting implications (some of which are quite a distance from London and therefore not within the remit of this site).
    Without trying to criticize the quality of this article, I did spot a slight typo: Under the section New Route Proposals the sentence:

    “The other great concern its impact on the business case for the work to sort out Windmill Bridge.”

    should read as:

    “The other great concern is its impact on the business case for the work to sort out Windmill Bridge.”

    [Yes I am terrible at missing out words. The proofreaders pick most of my errors up but somehow this one got through. Now corrected. PoP]

  4. ngh says:

    Woolwich Dockyard & SDO.
    One of the numerous items spewing out from the GTR random reason generator that does not match underlying facts as the 700s have SDO and CSDE using the same Tracklink system as 387s/377s (and very similar to the one on SWT Windsor lines made by the same firm with the 458 and 450s equipped and also the soon to be delivered 707s). Not stopping at Woolwich Dockyard is purely about keeping the service semi fast as any stops west of Abbey Wood create a further advantage for Crossrail. I also suspect fromthemurkydepths is correct that GTR haven’t looked at planning proposals etc. (NR do hence it will be interesting to see the Kent Study…). [A good dose of all 12 car into Cannon Street would be good start…]

    The demand levels for Thameslink core services are about the same on the via New Cross Gate Metro (stopping) corridor as the Greenwich Corridor according to the data in the consultation so why didn’t GTR propose a Crystal Palace stopping TL service (which could them have been rerouted once Windmill Bridge Jn etc gets sorted.), this would also compensate for the new proposal of not calling any TL services at New Cross Gate which isn’t highly publicised (no surprise). The only logical reason is effectively an ORCATS raid especially on the beyond Z6 fares (and even potentially 25% of the CR Abbey Wood ones) with GTR needing to maximise revenue for DfT to avoid getting penalised on management fees and to hell with the long term consequences. (Indeed this may have been what Clare Perry was insinuating in her pre-“resignation” speech).

    GTR shouldn’t really be allowed to consult without NR’s”Kent” study proposal being on the table too.

    Reigate (and Redhill) will end up being retimetabled again when Reigate 12 car and longer term Redhill South Jn get rebuilt and resignalled) so the Reigate 6tph may be temporary!

  5. Mark says:

    Disappointed to see only 2tph on the Wimbledon Loop. I understand the capacity constraints through the core – but would it be possible to have 4tph on the Wimbledon Loop with services alternating between Blackfriars / Bedford terminators?

    There is already insufficient capacity on this route (e.g. at Herne Hill), so it’s a shame to see the new timetable failing to offer any improvement.

  6. John B says:

    St Mary Cray (or Swanley) will be celebrating fast trains to London Bridge and I guess everyone on the Bat and Ball line will change there, so you’ll be injecting near empty trains into Bickley.

    Not sure that coupling Thameslink into both the Grove Park and Swanley fast lines all day is a good idea, it does make the diveunder less useful

  7. Jordan D says:

    Here’s one: GN are proclaiming 4tph throughout the day on GN Route 5 (WGC Metro service) on page 71 of their consultation – a headline increase of 1tph during the weekdays and 2tph on a weekend.

    Yet looking at their comparison Excel – which is currently for weekdays – they appear to reducing service to 2TPH at some stations, which includes Hadley Wood in Zone 6. This is now scheduled as 1 train every 30mins instead of 1 every 20mins currently. None of which is even asterisked on the consultation document as “not every train calls” (or similar).

  8. Al__S says:

    The 700s are certainly equipped with SDO- the Cambridge – Maidstone East (changed from Tattenham Corner as part of all this rearrangement and to remove Thameslink from Southern Metro) will use it at the Up platforms at Foxton and Shepreth- the Down platforms are being extended to avoid the rear of trains hanging across roads (in the case of Foxton, the A10).

    With the consultation, whilst it’s sort of good to see the official acceptance that the 2tph to Kings Lynn will be delayed, it’s also good to see that the additional service will terminate at Ely in the interim. Currently Cambridge-Ely is served by 3tph off peak, but these are all within about 15 minutes. An additional off peak service, especially on Saturdays, in the opposite half of the timetable fits with the objective you mention of spacing services more evenly.

    There’s disquiet that some stations south of Stevenage will lose direct services to stations between there and Peterborough. The change time appears to be about 23 minutes. But presumably this has been looked at and the numbers affected are low- much as with the Stevenage-Watton at Stone bus link.

  9. ngh says:

    Re Anon E. Mouse,

    PoP and I are pondering a second article including look more in depth at the implication hidden between the lines in white ink especially as there is too much in the consultation for just one article.
    [Typos, there will always be some and finding them is welcomed. In mitigation PoP did write most of it during the night, I reviewed on the mobile so wasn’t that through (as the on train wi-fi in Austria in non existent even on almost new trains and 3G patchy) but LBM managed to capture a number.]

  10. Fromthemurkydepths says:

    I’ve read through the article again and there’s the impression that Southeastern and the Greenwich line benefit. But this isn’t the case in terms of frequencies based on what I’ve read and been told.

    The long term pattern on the line has been 6 trains an hour off-peak which are all-stoppers and 2 semi-fasts. In the peaks that went up to about 10 and 8.

    Remove the 2 Southeastern semi-fasts (I’ve been told by GTR staff this is planned) and service numbers are roughly the same (6 SE and 2 Thameslink) with some slightly different service patterns. But the document say only 4 SE trains an hour. Add in the 2 Thameslink and at best stations like Woolwich Arsenal and Charlton get 6 an hour instead of 8 now, and at worst some like Erith get 4 an hour instead of 6 off-peak as now. If its also 4 in the peak that’s a halving of frequencies before Thameslink all kicked off isn’t it?

  11. Bluesman says:

    Re ngh & 2nd article

    Probably a good idea as another titbit is that London Bridge metro services via Forest Hill will be re-routed to West Croydon, thus duplicating the Overground. In the peaks there will be a 20% service reduction to London Bridge!

  12. Pedantic of Purley says:


    The problem is that we don’t know exactly what would happen if this consultation was not accepted i.e. what the current state of play is. So for a really valid comparison we need to know what would have been come 2018 if this had not been published. What went on before the Thameslink Programme commenced is sort of irrelevant.

    So we have the problem can’t make a proper comparison because all we can do is rely on what GTR tells us the changes would have been.

  13. ngh says:

    Re Mark,

    Not covered in the article is the Wimbledon loop getting another 2tph doing Blackfriars – Wimbledon Loop – London Bridge and vice versa. The knock on effects are quite interesting when looking at the rest of SN metro and what it allows especially with Windmill Bridge re-routing. The other welcome Metro proposal is the return is of the direct Crystal Palace – East Croydon services withdrawn in 2008 which also help ameliorate the reduction in stopping Thameslink services at Norwood Junction (at least GTR seem to want to stop more at Norwood Jn (NWD) post rebuild which sorts the platform capacity issues). Indeed the Norwood Jn rebuild should sort some of the Windmill Bridge Jn issues so might it be worth holding off on some of the changes till late 2019… (oops I forgot GTR need to get the revenue in for GTR earlier than that!)

  14. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @PoP – your reference to “operating nightmares” got me. It’s rare that LR articles make me laugh but that paragraph raised a chuckle. The thought that an imp is resident in the GTR timetable planning department seems all too plausible.

    When I first read the full consultation document one key thought lodged in my head. It was “this is about doing TfL-esque stuff before TfL can claim it for themselves”. It does look rather like the DfT are forcing these changes through albeit with GTR in the driving seat so they can go “oh look TfL aren’t the only people who can introduce new trains, more frequent services and run a management contract form of franchise”. Obviously there isn’t a further infrastructure shopping list here after the Thameslink works are done although with TfL there probably would be in order to squeeze more service volume of the network.

    One of the things I find most surprising is the Stevenage platform issue. GTR have been really rather “blunt” about Network Rail’s failure here. I was left wondering if this was GTR’s frustration boiling over or a DfT endorsed side swipe at NR or simply an attempt at embarrassing NR into action. It’s rare to see such remarks in a public consultation because the usual stance about a “partner’s” problems is much more measured and diplomatic.

    And as for even headways well yes and no. Isn’t the n/b Gatwick Express service being shunted to a x10/x20 headway under these proposals? You also have the ludicrous position that people making local trips on the ECML from the Peterborough service to stops south of Stevenage will have a 23 minutes wait compared to a through service today. That’s ridiculous – how to kill off local service usage in one easy lesson. People will drive. I know there are always compromises and conflicts but there are some aspects in these proposals that look puzzling. Oh and cynical comment – isn’t it *lovely* how Epsom does *so* well out of these proposals and how much emphasis there is about it in the consultation? One might think that an important politician represented Epsom in Parliament. 😛

  15. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    Comparison – Unless you happen to have the original detailed franchise agreement proposals 😉

    I suspect bit of excel this evening…

  16. Malcolm says:

    About the Watton wagon, could it be that it could save money – if one fewer train is required (or maybe even if it isn’t), then the bus hire costs could well be less than the train operating costs (savings which convert into GTR Brownie points). In which case it’s extra cheeky of GTR to be rude about Network Rail.

  17. Jon says:

    I wonder if part of the desire to run to Rainham (or at least a fortuitous consequence) is that you descope the Southeastern franchise of trains that run deep into Medway.

    That presumably then makes a transfer of the Southeastern metro to TfL in the future much simpler as (apart from small trespasses into Dartford / Sevenoaks, etc) it would be entirely within the London boroughs.

    I understand that the Thameslink service will call at principal stations between Dartford and Charlton inclusive and then at all stations west of Charlton. The documentation does not make this clear, but I suspect that this is because the Cannon Street service will fall to 4tph. The Thameslink service will then top-up stations such as Greenwich and Maze Hill to their current 6tph via London Bridge.

    What isn’t stated is that there would almost certainly still be a Charing Cross service via Woolwich Arsenal and Blackheath. Stations on the line (other than Deptford to Westcombe Park) were promised a return of the Charing Cross service in due course. We don’t know whether this service would be semi-fast, stopping, or vary depending on the time of day. It would be useful to know the calling patterns of this service, and the fact that Southeastern services are missing from this consultation makes it very hard to understand the full picture of services on the Greenwich and North Kent lines.

  18. lawyerboy says:


    I agree that this looks like DfT making the best of a management contract (as with DOO). But it makes you wonder who now is the great proponent of franchising? The TOCs would seem to be happy to take management contracts. The public doesn’t care (or if it does, wants ‘renationalisation’). I doubt NR prefers franchising. I had always thought it was DfT who were the keepers of the faith. If they are getting a better deal from management contracts, perhaps the end of this ludicrous system is conceivable. (As Graham H would point out, it was always intended to be temporary…)

  19. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    “Obviously there isn’t a further infrastructure shopping list here after the Thameslink works are done although with TfL there probably would be in order to squeeze more service volume of the network.”

    NR have a list that is already well advanced so it is shame that GTR ignore it.

    Stevenage requires signalling and electrification changes with NR already upgrading some of the BR era ECML equipment with F+F series 1 to improve reliability so a big rebuild in the Stevenage area is on the cards not as simple as it might appear.

    Epsom etc. changes are also about removing trains from Windmill Bridge Jn also see new Sutton – LBG/BKR services and removing the Palace – West Croydon direct link.

  20. Captain Deltic says:

    Congratulations on a masterly analysis. But as a long standing ’24tph through the Central Core’ Doom Merchant can I challenge the comment that steps have been taken to make sure it doesn’t become an issue? The issue is not the central core but presenting the 24tph each way at the approaches on time and in the right sequence.

    As a regular Great Northern user, last year I started recording station dwell times on my trips to London. I gave up after a couple of months because there was no pattern. On one journey the dwell times could vary between 45 sec and over a minute. Only on one all stations stopper did the driver achieve 45 seconds at every station, Add in the long standing regulation issues at Woolmer Green and it is going to require a revolution in driving standards and regulation at Kings Cross box to get southbound trains hitting Canal Tunnels junction on time. Similarly, I imagine, Thameslink St Pancras-Bedford services.

    Yes, ‘isolated’ TMS is being provided at three Bridges and the two North of the Thames boxes, but all that does is show the signaller operating strategies which can then then implemented manually.

    Then there is the factor that everyone seems to be ignoring. What happens when a passenger in a wheelchair turns up at City Thameslink? With all trains required to be RVAR/TSI PRM compliant from 1 January 2020 and stations accessible, disabled travellers will be expecting to turn-up and go. ‘Who puts the ramp down ?’ doesn’t seem to be on the check list for single manning proposals.

    So, technically, 24tph is not an issue, but operationally it is a different matter.

  21. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Captain Deltic,

    That’s exactly how I see it. I was thinking more of the people (including one professor) claiming that 24tph was fundamentally a problem due to dwell times etc.

  22. Giovanni says:

    @Bluesman 10.40

    I also find it rather astonishing that the “Sydenham” line from LB to East Croydon is being diverted to West Croydon. Like you say, most of that route option is delivered by Overground, plus there is therefore zero direct trains to East Croydon for Gatwick passengers, on top of which the other alternative of using New Cross Gate is seemingly taken away too. It either means more passengers buying zone 1 tickets for changing at LB, or getting off to change at Norwood Jcn which really does not seem like an ideal interchange with its narrow platforms and lack of disabled access.

    This must be one of the most significant route losses proposed.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Aren’t the Core platforms being provided with level boarding? Not an issue on the ELL Core with its 16tph

  24. Giovanni says:

    Small typo:
    “They also seem well aware that in the past few years a delay on Southern *tends* has tended to set off a bit of a chain reaction, meaning the overall consequential delay tends to be around three times the initial delay.”

    Should be “trains”?

    [I am guessing it should have been territory so I am changing it to that. PoP]

  25. Mark says:

    RE ngh

    Thanks for pointing that out – I hadn’t spotted it. Shame that it is only proposed as operating during the peaks, and not daytime / evenings / weekends. The route really deserves a turn up and go service throughout the day.

    It’s also not clear if the northbound trains from Wimbledon will run to London Bridge or Blackfriars – the headings for SN3.11 and SN3.12 don’t match the detailed list of calling points for each service. If it’s running into London Bridge, it will be doubly useless, as it creates a potentially more confusing service pattern.

  26. Anon E. Mouse says:


    I agree that there is a lot that can be said about the implications and as such, I do hope this article gets a sequel.

  27. JimmyHop says:

    @bluesman, ngh

    Would definitely appreciate an additional article on the 2018 proposals and the impact to the Sydenham line.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Checking the inner suburban GN services, Alexander Palace looks like it’ll lose the Kings Cross trains in the peaks, however all slow trains stop there (ten per hour off peak), but Harringay & Hornsey have six trains per hour, so something isn’t stopping there, either the Welwyn Garden City trains (four trains per hour), or a mixture of the Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City will be mixed skip stop.

  29. T33 says:

    “maybe even Redhill passengers will be happy” NO!

    Having said that GTR are coming to meet with us this evening and some gem may come out from that which we haven’t understood from first reading

    One question crosses my mind – If Windmill Bridge is such a problem why didn’t they divert the Cat/Tatt’s to East Grinstead rather than Greenwich to replace the Victoria services, so that East Grinstead’s service then doesn’t cross half the flat crossings of Windmill Bridge trying to get to Victoria. Why is this option never pursued?

  30. Tim says:

    Finally 4tph on Catford Loop – though wonder how the freight paths have been diverted – overnight?

    And presumably the GTR Maidstone East proposal will mean an end to the SE Victoria/Maidstone East service currently running over the Loop…

    Also the ‘extra capacity through Grove Park’ (!) will mean the final nail in the coffin of the Bromley North branch (unless SE can be persuaded to run the 466’s 4tph) – far better as I suggested a couple of years ago to rip the whole thing up and replace with a guided busway – which would have added benefit of reducing bus traffic through Grove Park road junction – currently a major source of congestion imho.

  31. Tim says:


    …also the permanent withdrawal of Thameslink services running over the Chatham Main from P4 Beckenham Junction via Herne Hill will displace pax (presumably onto the Catford Loop stations) from what is now a (very) well used service…

  32. Verulamius says:

    Is the Luton- Maidstone service going to run on the fast or slows between the dive down and Chislehurst? The connections at the dive down are for the Cannon Street lines (slow) but I suppose the trains could access the fast after the Lewisham lines once the tracks are less congested?

  33. Keith Knight says:

    It has already been pointed out that the Govia plan without any SE input is bizarre especially as SET are a Govia company. Left hand and right hand seemingly not part of the same body!

    Living in Gravesend, naturally I have views on the proposed changes which may, inevitably, be at variance with the needs of those living between Dartford and Central London. Gravesend has the advantage of the Javelin services (2 from central Gravesend and 4 from Ebbsfleet). The use of these, even with the enhanced cost of fares, has transformed travel and the number of people using these services to Central London has increased enormously even with the need to use the underground to the West End. As a result, the town has an alternative to the tedious, virtually all stations crawl to London Bridge and beyond now proposed.

    Dartford, however, is less fortunate and it will be interesting to see the reaction of Jeremy Kite (the Council Leader) to the fact that, unless the SE Kent plan has some surprises, his town will be severely compromised in travel to Central London. The long standing issues of “defects” in the 3 main routes to London are, of course, well known and we have all suffered by crawling from, at best, Slade Green inwards behind a late-running stopping train.
    To avoid the conflicts and congestion at Dartford, the only obvious solution is to “convert” the current 2tph service from Gravesend to Charing Cross to a limited stop service; this, however, is plainly to the detriment of some intermediate stations along the Dartford Loop as I assume that extra trains along that already crowded route are a non-starter.

  34. Golden* says:

    @T33: I’ve heard that it may be an issue with 12/10 car services fouling junctions when held at a red signal in the Windmill Bridge area due to insufficient signal spacing

  35. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Keith Knight,

    I recall a rather amusing surmise by a Network Rail bod who imagined that the timetable planner from SouthEastern and the timetable planner from Govia got together in a pub. The SE guy said he had a problem with too few trains running via Greenwich, the Govia guy said he had too many trains at Windmill Bridge Junction, out came the crayons and viola!

  36. Man of Kent says:


    My thinking is in line with yours, in that the Rainham service is designed to remove the last Metro route from Southeastern that couldn’t reasonably be transferred to TfL.

    But there are other implications of the proposal –
    – Slade Green depot only need supply trains to TfL Metro
    – Gillingham depot is possibly handed over to Thameslink (though its current role in maintaining all the 466s, including in particular those that run Sheerness branch trains and historically, the Medway Valley line, would require alternative rolling stock on these lines).
    – Grove Park may become a main-line only depot.
    – Gillingham’s train crew base would end up being split between two operators.

    So it is not just the infrastructure that needs to be considered, but staff working patterns.

  37. Alan Burkitt-Gray says:

    “The critical problem seems to be Lewisham station and junction which have severely limited capacity.”

    Can I ask a naive question, as someone who has been using Lewisham station for 40-odd years (and used to live in a house overlooked by platform 4)?

    Why do so many trains cross over at Lewisham? In other words, why don’t the trains coming in from Blackheath on platform 3 head through St John’s towards Cannon Street, while the trains coming into platform 1 head to Victoria or Charing Cross? And vice-versa for trains going out of London?

    Many times I’ve sat on a Blackheath train at a red light on the way into Lewisham of an evening, waiting for a train to head out of Lewisham platform 1 towards St John’s, New Cross, etc. And, equally, many times in a mornings a train waits at platform 3 for another service crossing to or from platform 1 or 2.

    Surely, unless I’m missing something obvious, it would be easier just to miss such conflicts entirely. But I’m not a transport person, so maybe I am missing something.

    Is there some demographic research that says people on the Blackheath line need to go to Victoria or Charing Cross, and people from Sidcup are inevitably destined to Cannon Street?

  38. Jordan D says:

    @ Anonymous (20 September 2016 at 12:58) – plan is currently (per the consultation) for all WGC slows to call AAP then fast to FPK, and miss out Harringay & Hornsey in Peak into London.

  39. Nameless says:

    “out came the crayons and viola!”
    Crayonistate chamber music – what a charming concept.

  40. ngh says:

    Re Golden*

    It is indeed, with at least 4 separate fouling issues especially around Cottage Jn (see Sussex articles part 7, 9 &13 + comments).

    Re Tim,

    Given the peak only via Sydenham Hill TL services that expire in 2018 are currently some of the most crowded in the UK (after DfT finally bothered to count pax on them after slipping through the net for years) one hopes SE are going to take them back and operate Blackfriars – Beckenham Jn services as they did before the temporary transfer to Thameslink in 2009 and that they won’t be forgotten.

    Re T33,

    Indeed the Redhill journey times increase again but Redhill line users have to realise the compensation for being on the slow route is more services and fast Redhill – London services are a distant memory (as is the school run and in the City office by 9am that so many hark back to).

  41. Jon says:

    @Alan Burkitt-Gray

    I’ve wondered the same. I think the answer must be partly “because it has been that way for some time and people would complain if it changed”.

    There are a couple of geographical reasons though:

    – Trains through Blackheath which have come from Charlton (rather than Kidbrooke) would normally be targeting Charing Cross because the bulk of the service on the North Kent Line is already heading towards Cannon Street via Greenwich. The service via Blackheath and Lewisham is effectively their only means of heading towards Charing Cross.

    – Conversely, trains from Sidcup, Orpington and Hayes which head through Lewisham station are biased towards Cannon Street because they could more easily reach Charing Cross through by-passing Lewisham and heading directly from Hither Green or Ladywell to London Bridge.

    I’m less sure about the Victoria service. The Victoria to Dartford service has to go some way or another, and perhaps it was thought that the Bexleyheath line had greater need of the uplift from 4tph to 6tph that the Victoria service provides. I think it has served Sidcup in the past.

  42. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Re Cap’n Deltic’s passenger in a wheelchair at City Thameslink.

    They will simply go to the middle part of the platform, where there will be a ‘hump’ to give level access to the middle two coaches of the Class 700, and roll on without staff assistance. What the hump will look like can be seen on the part built platform 5 at London Bridge.

    What the same passenger does when he/she gets to Welwyn Garden City*, and the staff haven’t been told to expect them, is a different question.

    * or the outer suburban station of your choice.

  43. ngh says:

    Re Alan B-G,

    There is now a large demographic of “Blackheath” line users for Victoria given the number of decades this service has been running! Hence changing it unless there is an increase in frequency to mitigate the change on trains won’t be popular.

    Also remember that lots of the Sidcups* (to CST) and Hayes* (to CHX) etc avoid Lewisham where as the Blackheaths can’t avoid Lewisham. Many of the Greenwich and Sidcup line Cannon Street services are in fact the same trains running the loop services due to capacity issue at Dartford.

    *Many users probably happy not to have lots of extra passengers from Lewisham boarding!

  44. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Conversely, trains from Sidcup, Orpington and Hayes which head through Lewisham station are biased towards Cannon Street because they could more easily reach Charing Cross through by-passing Lewisham and heading directly from Hither Green or Ladywell to London Bridge.

    In the case of Hayes – not any more. Even if they call at Lewisham they go to Charing Cross. There are a few exceptions in the peaks but these are single digit numbers in each direction per day. Basically they want Hayes trains to call at Lewisham because there is a demand for that and they should ideally go to Charing Cross in the off-peak because that is where most people want to go – and there are a surprising number of trains that now run off-peak to Cannon St so there isn’t really much spare capacity there anyway.

  45. Alan Burkitt-Gray says:

    “The service via Blackheath and Lewisham is effectively their only means of heading towards Charing Cross.”

    Until London Bridge is fully rebuilt from early 2018, when they could change there.

    “I’m less sure about the Victoria service. The Victoria to Dartford service has to go some way or another, and perhaps it was thought that the Bexleyheath line had greater need of the uplift from 4tph to 6tph that the Victoria service provides. I think it has served Sidcup in the past.”

    For a long time it was a relatively infrequent service — mainly rush hours, when I lived in Lewisham in the mid-late 1990s. It has increased over the years, especially since 2000 (when there was a fast service from Victoria via Lewisham and Blackheath for all the millions going to the Millennium Dome).

    But that’s no reason the pattern can’t be changed if the benefit is more frequent services, at the cost of a change or two — that, after all, is what most Tube passengers do, because they have a real turn-up-and-go service.

    (Back in the 1970s there were a few morning trains from the Blackheath line to Blackfriars and Holborn Viaduct, and back again in the evening rush. I’d love that now, but I’m keeping my crayons in the drawer.)

  46. Guano says:

    The timetable that is being consulted on appears to add a layer of complexity (and thus unreliability) by adding services to south-eastern territory. Is there any big change that simplifies, to compensate for this?

    What alternatives would there be if there were not the newly proposed services into south-eastern territory?

  47. SP says:

    Watton at Stone may be a quiet stop but try getting a (free) parking space in the morning. With the local council wanting to build houses prolifically in the area in the next 10 years or so WAS is lined up to be one of the places – because of the train line – that they build on. It’s a commuter village into London, so more trains to SVG aren’t important in the grand scheme of things (says a London commuter). But the plans also have a removal of a train from the morning rush hour from a growing village (30% increase in usage since 09/10 based on ORR data), but with more trains during the day – that doesn’t make sense.

  48. Mack says:

    It might be worth noting that the Rainham Thameslink service is that it’s trying to fix a problem the article has ignored completely (i can’t believe the informed writer team didn’t know about it).

    The simple fact is the rebuild is reducing the peak Cannon Street service as they cannot fit enough trains in to provide the same tph as today due to no inward paths. These have traditionally come via Elephant & Castle reversing outside Blackfriars. So come 2018 these will not be able to run as Cannon Street services will see a decrease in tph. NR hasn’t got a solution to this.

    And this is where we come to an important point that’s also missing from this article. It’s not a just a GTR suggestion but a joint GTR/SE consultation, hence why it makes it clear it’s visiting SE locations with SE management team attending! The consultation is SE/GTR looking at providing better capacity using the stock it’s planning to have in December 2018 (with SE 377/1) and targeting the increase in capacity where the big growth is.

    The current NR proposed timetable doesn’t work, GTR franchise award timetable doesn’t work so another alternative has been proposed. It’s worth noting that TL is doing the opposite of Crossrail. Crossrail has its timetable planned first then infrastructure built around that. The DfT green light the BR scheme with infrastructure changes first, then ordered the trains and is now trying to build a timetable around those limits. That’s why the timetable doesn’t work!

  49. Anonymously says:

    Why can’t the Watton-at-Stone trains (1 tph off-peak, IIRC) continue to do what they do now and terminate at Letchworth??? Are train paths on the slow lines through Stevenage and Hitchin and over the flyover really that sparse?

  50. Phil says:

    [This message has been slightly modified for tone by Malcolm]
    Re Fromthemurkydepths

    You seem to have skipped certain key sections of the consultations.

    The size of the Thameslink train fleet is fixed (by the DfT). The more stations a train stops at, the longer it takes to get to its destinations. The longer a train takes to complete an entire trip, the larger the fleet needs to be (as does the number of drivers and the stabling / servicing requirements.

    The primary reason Hertford N trains will be replaced by buses between Walton-at-Stone and Stevenage is because with only 25 trains in the fleet, there are not enough trains to keep up the promised service frequency into Moorgate if trains also have to go up to Letchworth to terminate. More trains or completion of the planned bay platforms at Stevenage is needed to resolve this.

    So to call at Erith etc you either have to convince the DfT to cough up for extra class 700 trains or knock out station calls elsewhere.
    Re Mark

    The reason the Wimbledon loop is stuck at 2tPH is because of a lack of train paths at the critical junctions of Herne Hill, Tulse Hill and to a lesser extent Streatham and Sutton.

    Wimbledon loop users had the chance of a regular interval 4TPH service around 5 years ago – but they created such a stink about being required to change trains at Blackfriars for the onward hop to City Thameslink that the SOS for Transport told NR in no uncertain terms that through Thameslink trains had to continue – which limits them to 2tph precisely because the junction conflicts still exist. Yes they may get a further 2 TPH from London Bridge or Blackfriars – but junction constraints will probably prevent this from linking up nicely with the retained Thameslink services to give a regular 15minute interval service.

    The lessons
    (1) You cannot simply ‘add’ extra train services if paths do not exist
    (2) Commuters HATE having their established services mucked around with
    (3) Critical junctions don’t become any less of a problem because of shiny new trains or re branding exercises.
    Re T33

    E Grinstead users might actually value their Victoria services. Please think back to the reaction of Wimbledon loop passengers when they heard about proposals to require them to alight Blackfriars instead of taking them one station further on and be under no illusions exactly the same is likely to happen elsewhere – particularly as Victora is not ‘one stop on’ from London bridge (as City Thameslink is from Blackfriars)

  51. Phil says:

    Re Mack

    Crossrail might well have a timetable – but there are plenty of people (both inside the industry and other who have retired) with intimate knowledge of the GWML who say it won’t work

    TfL might be very good at producing timetables for their all stops Overground / Underground services – but they have very little understanding of the requirements of heavy freights or 100MPH fast trains with which Crossrail will intermingle west of Paddington. All sorts of clever tricks have had to be applied (including skip stopping leaving adjacent stations with no direct service) to try and make it work – none of which featured in Crossrails early claims about what the timetable / service pattern would be like.

    So in a sense Thameslink and Crossrail (west of Paddington) are facing not dissimilar issues…….

  52. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Mack – I have a copy of a draft timetable for Crossrail from the 1990s. Let’s just say that what’s being planned now (based on the recent TfL consultation on access rights) is a bit different. I think the simple point here is that things change and demand moves and will no doubt move again – partly in response to the transport links offered but also all the traditional thinks like housing availability, school choice and employment. Nothing’s set in stone. We also know that some of the service levels TfL would now like to run on Crossrail are in excess of what was envisaged in the governing legislation and agreements.

    Picking up on your (and PoP’s) “timetable doesn’t work” point – can someone explain why we have had so many failed timetables? I’ll take complexity as a given but surely we are talking about skilled and knowledgeable people doing the planning? They must surely be aware of the considerable constraints they are dealing with at multiple points on the network? I’m asking because I *don’t* understand all those constraints because my knowledge level of the S London is fairly poor.

    One other comment – if this is a joint GTR / South Eastern consultation why do there appear to be so many questions about the future SE service patterns and service levels? Surely they should be all put in the public domain so people understand the choices they face? I see the Kent consultation summary shows the TL peak service to Beckenham Junc (BJ) as not run by Thameslink but it says nothing else. Although South Eastern are advertising the consultation and they say some SE routes are affected there is scant reference to South Eastern or their services in GTR’s consultation. That doesn’t add up to me – it just leaves questions. Heck if Ngh doesn’t know what’s happening to that peak service to BJ then no one does!

  53. Malcolm says:

    Mack says “It’s worth noting that TL is doing the opposite of Crossrail. ”

    This is a bit of a caricature. Neither Crossrail nor Thameslink had every detail of the final timetable established before the infrastructure is improved. But both of them had outlines worked out beforehand, otherwise it would have been impossible to design the infrastructure.

    What may be accurate is that the final Crossrail timetable is likely to be closer to the outline plans than the Thameslink one turns out to be. Exactly where the blame for this discrepancy should lie is a matter of opinion (I favour PoP’s gremlin). But there are plenty of substantial differences between the two projects, so caparisons could well be odorous.

  54. Greg Tingey says:

    This is not to say that the proposals aren’t still controversial.
    More like utterly Barmy & well-past-Upney might be more like it … the proposals to, effectively negate a large chunk of the very expensive & complicated civil-engineering work, still in progress looks very dubious – more directed & detailed criticism to follow.

    If the proposed timetable is not going to work, isn’t it a bit late to realise this now, even with a year or so to completion? “forward planning” – however, I may be jumping the gun. The decisions or worry or reluctance regarding Windmill Bridge do strike a chord – see the previous articles in these pages, I suppose. Yet I think PoP is entirely correct in highlighting the, err “difficulties” with the proposed Rainham service.
    When you add in the ATO complications …
    I’m beginning to wonder if this daft proposal has been deliberately “flown” simply so that it can be shot down, & then GTR don’t have to run so many trains AT ALL.
    Or is that overly cynical, even for me?

  55. Greg Tingey says:

    ngh @ 10.31, 20/09/16
    I’d welcome a second article, because, so far the only reason I can see for these “proposals” is to ensure that they are rejected – by the travelling public & the politicians, which suggests something sinister to me.
    That, coupled with the numerous errors, omissions, inconsistencies, etc in the original report makes me wonder what is really going on.
    [Modified for tone. LBM]

  56. Greg Tingey says:

    Serious typo there … the correct term for a “guided busway” is: TRAM …

  57. Jon says:


    It isn’t really appropriate to consider the consultation in its current form a “joint GTR/SE consultation”.

    Whilst it covers some stations which are currently in Southeastern territory, the consultation only talks about one service which is to operate over those stations. Without further details from Southeastern as to which services they will operate alongside the Thameslink service, it is very difficult to understand how the Greenwich line will be affected overall.

    This absence of information contributes to some of the surprise people are experiencing about the proposals. It is prima facie odd, for example, to omit Erith station (850,000 uses and growing) but call at Stone Crossing (165,000 uses and static). This is probably explainable by the fact that the Thameslink train will be Stone Crossing’s primary or only service whereas Erith will have more Southeastern calls. But without that extra detail the current consultation is almost useless for this line.

  58. Malcolm says:

    I am finding myself a bit bemused by this talk of “timetables that are predicted not to work”. We can all imagine what this might mean, but I am a little concerned that we may each be imagining slightly different things. Is there someone who knows about today’s timetable planning process, who can enlighten us about which stage of elaboration these non-working timetables have been taken to, and how subjective (or not) the “it won’t work” opinion might be?

  59. Timbeau says:

    Wasn’t there a mass exodus of experienced timetable planners when the operation moved to Milton Keynes? I seem to recall Barry Doe writing about this in the context of the numerous and repeated mistakes I’m the National Rail published timetable.

    Does Kings Lynn REALLY merit two direct trains an hour to London? There are plenty of much larger places at a similar distance with a much inferior service to that.

    Wimbledon Loop to London Bridge services are nothing new: they have run(in the peaks) since at least the early 1980s.

    The curious statement that the Rainham via Greenwich services will provide new connections with Crossrail at Abbey Wood. What connections will they provide that the existing Greenwich Line services, and the existing semi-fasts via Woolwich and Lewisham would not.
    Well, I suppose the new direct service from City TL and Blackfriars to Abbey Wood might provide a useful connection for passengers wanting to go to Custom House, Whitechapel or Liverpool Street, but only if they had a really pressing need to avoid Farringdon!

    It would be useful to see a diagram showing exactly how these Thameslink to Greenwich (and return) trains would thread their way through the layout in Bermondsey, and how many flat crossings would be involved. And I’m not sure yet another City service (to add to the two they already have) will mollify those Greenwich residents who had their direct Waterloo/Charing Cross services sneakily filched from them without any consultation. (Clearly no influential politicians represented Greenwich at the crucial time)

  60. Tim says:

    @Anonymously re Hitchin flyover – I imagine that the problem remains further down the line with lack of paths over the Welwyn Viaduct and the risk of ‘bunching’ on the 2 track section from stopping GN services ex Kings X if further slow services are introduced at Stevenage(?) The Grand Central services I travel on most weeks – especially northbound – are frequently held up just north of WGC due to this…

    I know it’s heresy 😉 – but the tram idea won’t happen as has been done to death before on here, not least because there is nowhere for it to go. My comment was more snark about the supposed capacity increase through Grove Park when we’ve been told that it is full for years, and any capacity that new TL services gobble up would appear to finally preclude any remote possibility of resumption of through services from Bromley North.

    (said remote possibility hinted at, but dismissed, back in 2014 in response to a petition)

  61. fromthemurkydepths says:

    “The service via Blackheath and Lewisham is effectively their only means of heading towards Charing Cross.”

    Until London Bridge is fully rebuilt from early 2018, when they could change there.

    That’s true, but it does also cut Blackheath and Lewisham connections for those past Charlton. There is the DLR from Greenwich to Lewisham though but its already a tad busy. Are the fares the same for a train from say Woolwich Arsenal to Lewisham as they are from Woolwich Arsenal to Greenwich then DLR to Lewisham?

    The oyster fare finder doesn’t show a difference but it’s not been too reliable for me recently with fares. Wouldn’t be an issue if TfL takeover but if not…

  62. fromthemurkydepths says:

    Phil – “So to call at Erith etc you either have to convince the DfT to cough up for extra class 700 trains or knock out station calls elsewhere.”

    With annual growth at 9% and 850k users, plus massive housebuilding plans in the vicinity, calling at Erith makes much more sense than some of the shacks past Dartford with less than 100k annual users which are not seeing passenger rises nor big housing plans. Belvedere is over 900k users and saw 11% growth last year.

    Those small stations in Kent can then be served by other Medway trains running through the Sidcup and Belxeyheath line that currently sail through.

  63. T33 says:

    NGH – Redhill is a decrease in services by destinations served not an increase. In fact in actual trains numbers it is about the same just destinations have changed.
    No more Brighton, Chichester, Southampton, Portsmouth or Bognor trains at weekend or evenings, but hurrah Bedford and Peterborough.
    Longer Journey times, same number of trains and 2,000 new houses just round the corner from the station = not good (but I’m only guessing there)

  64. Greg Tingey says:

    Several other commentators have noted the other serious disconnect here:
    That between housing growth, both actual & planned & the reverse happening to train services. Couple that with apparent removals of any improvement in services elsewhere, also remarked on …
    And one should, surely posit the question:
    “What has all the money spent on the rebuilding of London Bridge & its approaches been FOR, if we (The paying, travelling public) get no actual improvement at all?”

    If/when the implications of all this sink in to the people of S London / Surrey / Kent, then I predict loud serious waves of annoyance being noted.

    [Snip! Please email directly if you have a question. LBM]

  65. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm -there are reasonably sophisticated pieces of software – Railsys is the most popular; NR has its own version – which are designed to test the robustness of any given timetable. They have their faults; one of the principal and principle faults of Railsys is that you have to calibrate the model with data from allegedly similar situations. That has always struck me as telling it the answer you want…. Mind you,some of its rivals are worse; at least Railsys linked trains into complete diagrams. The software that DfT allowed to be used for the initial TLK timetable modelling- and which was used to estimate the number of sets required – did no such things. Rather, it assumed that trains left their termini no more than 1 minute after arriving.[This was a major issue for the risk evaluation for the banks funding the stock – it became essential toensure that the lawyers held the manufacturers harmless against being be sued because their trains couldn’t deliver a wholly impossible timetable… Good business for their advisers such as I, but a waste indirectly of taxpayers’money].

    To note such software is not the same as writing the timetable – a concept that I could never din into the very thick skulls of the senior management in the firms for whom I worked. At best, Railsys and similar could help you identify pinchpoints in the tracklayout or timetable as specified but it did not write the timetable for you. The problem said management had was that Railsys was grunt work which someone with good GCSEs in maths and the right cast of mind could pick up quickly,but they firmly believed it was serious work that required maths graduates (it didn’t, they got bored and left after a year). It also meant that the work was low margin and needed a high volume to make it pay; that volume didn’t exist and yet they wanted us to pay graduate salaries. Not a good business model. Now, actually writing timetables is an art ( and a fairly black one at that) and commands high salaries; the supply of adepts is less than the demand…

  66. Anonymously says:

    @Phil….I think you’re confusing two different classes of trains! The 313s that are presently used on the Hertford loop line are due to be replaced by 717s, which are a *completely separate order* from the 700s that are destined for the TL services (which….at the time of writing(!)….are not currently planned to include the Hertford loop line). Twenty-five fixed-formation six-car 717 units are due to replace 44 three-car 313 units (equivalent to 22 six-car units when coupled together). I fully realise that most services down to Moorgate (in the off-peak) are operated with three-car formations…..but aren’t the planned number of units enough? And if not, since this fleet is completely separate from the TL DfT-determined order, can’t GTR just add a couple more units to the order, if their finances permit?

    @timbeau….’Does Kings Lynn REALLY merit two direct trains an hour to London?’

    I think you should rephrase the question as: ‘Does King’s Lynn and the intermediate stations (Waterbeach/Ely etc.) really merit two direct trains an hour to *Cambridge* that then travel onto London?’ The answer (for a whole host of reasons that are too off-topic to discuss fully here) is an unequivocal YES! If you don’t believe me, just travel on the hourly four-car service that currently ventures into the Fens north of Cambridge, and get back to me 😉….

    @Tim…That doesn’t make sense, though, since AFAIK no extra services are planned north of Hertford (unless they are planning to extend *all* of the Hertford terminators to Watton-at-Stone?). Does the existing one tph off-peak using the slow lines between Stevenage and Hitchin currently cause a major problem with bunching further back at Welwyn?

    Also, does the current track and signal layout at Watton-at-Stone allow for train reversal? If not, wouldn’t it make more sense just to spend money on the extra infrastructure required at Stevenage to terminate there instead of wasting a considerable sum on a (temporary!!!) arrangement at Watton?

  67. Anonymous says:

    Jordan D – thanks for the clarification re Hornsey and Harringay.

    The current peak timetable of 12 tph has a departure every 5 minutes irrespective of the destination, so if we assume they do the same with 10 tph, then its every 6 minutes, so a possible departure schedule might be 00, 12, 24, 30, 42, 54 to Hertford North and 06, 18, 36, 48 to WGC.

  68. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Anonymously: Re King’s Lynn. The question needs to be reworded to: “does the line to King’s Lynn require additional passenger capacity in peak and/or off peak hours?” (answer, probably).

    Then the supplementary question is “how does one achieve that increase in capacity in the most cost effective manner?” (answer, lengthening the existing trains)

  69. Anonymously says:

    Also, now I come to think of it, if trains to both Welwyn AND Hertford are due to stop at Hornsey and Harringey (albeit varying depending on the time of day), does this mean that the stations will be rebuilt to serve both lines (see earlier LR article on this issue: If not, then why bother going to all that trouble to segregate these services between Finsbury Park and Ally Pally?

    The mind really does boggle😕….

  70. Sad Fat Dad says:

    @Malcolm. This is not the place to do a treatise on the science of timetabling (and it is a science, not an art, black or otherwise!). The subject could easily fill a couple of textbooks.

    The problem of timetables not working is probably summed up by stating that a timetable for a congested network has many interrelationships and is thus a series of assumptions and compromises. The most typical compromises are between calling patterns and journey time.

    In my experience, all timetables at this stage of development work in theory. However either the compromises are unpalatable (cf Wimbledon loop terminating at Blackfriars), or not all of the assumptions hold true when put together on an operational railway with passengers.

    I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what compromises have been accepted by DfT that allows Abellio to offer the improvements in frequency and journey time proposed for the new Anglia franchise, given the network over there is effectively at capacity now. I rather fear that some passengers are going to be annoyed. But that’s another subject.

  71. Anonymously says:

    @SFD…..Is lengthening the trains (with all the associated infrastructure requirements e.g. platform extensions) more cost-effective than re-jigging Ely North junction and extending an existing terminating Cambridge service north to KL to give 2tph? Answers on a postcard to LR please…..

    (If money were no object, I would suggest increasing both frequency AND train length. But given the choice, I (and, I suspect, most Fen line users) would opt for increased frequency every time.)

  72. Latecomer says:

    Re Captain Deltic on dwell times. From a driver perspective there can be no rhyme or reason, it might be one rucksack protruding from door on a lazy Sunday or a party of people travelling together funnelling into one door, or the driver needing to contact the signaller (unbeknown to passengers), but it has been mentioned oft and in a way I am heartened to think that the reality of what occurs is now being factored in.

    I suspect WW may be right in thinking that GTR are trying to get ahead of the ‘orangisation’ of the inners (I know that isn’t a word but I also rather like that my spell checker tried to correct it to ‘Orangutan’). My head spins at a lot of what was put forward in the article – I really don’t know how you do it just in a night, but I do know that if we are to realistically solve the problems the expensive options of ironing out flat junctions (that doesn’t sound right), there is so much more that can be done at the coal face… I mean the Platform Train Interface. You may get the odd quick door close press and it would suit most of us most of the time, but not now we have trial by CCTV. At some point we are going to have to ‘blame the passenger’ (controversial) and ask for a change in behaviour, costly behaviour, dwelling behaviour, or at least help modify it by various means. Beyond that, where possible more turnbacks (things work reasonably efficiently when we have to do Shadwell shunts on the ELL), not possible everywhere I know, but some places maybe. Above all, factor in that things go wrong, perhaps GTR have finally twigged this?

    Nevertheless it’s pretty darned remarkable that a company in crisis at the lowest ebb in terms of both customer and industrial relations can presume they have the mantle. Under this union bashing government maybe they do? I’m confused, on the one hand I see some learning (why not consult those of us who know – drivers and passengers alike?), on the other hand I see a form of rebranding. What colour do we get when green and orange mix? The answer is clear as mud surely?

  73. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Anonymously : yes, much cheaper, because you missed all the level crossing works required for a doubling of frequency, that aren’t required for a doubling of train length. Also Ely N Jn is a lot, lot more than a ‘rejigging’. Finally extending an ‘existing’ service north from Cambridge still needs more units, indeed the same number as extending the existing train. It also needs more drivers, which extending the existing doesn’t.

    No postcard required!

  74. Timbeau says:

    Cambridge to Ely I can just about believe gets that busy, especially as there are connections east and west at Ely to much larger cities. But not north of Ely surely?

    On the other side of the fens is a much larger city, for which an irregular shuttle connection to the main line, run by single car 153s, is deemed sufficient.

  75. Timbeau says:

    Doubling of train length may not be possible without beefing up the power supply. This is why, (even during the Olympic sailing events there), Weymouth has only ever had 5 car trains since electrification. Both electrification schemes were made under Network South East’s brief reign. Were similar economies made at both ends of the empire?

  76. Graham H says:

    @SFD – science perhaps, but you can tell who has written a timetable by their style…

  77. Mack,

    I can’t believe that you thought we didn’t know about either the reduction of capacity at Cannon St or the way trains used the west curve at Borough Market Junction to “sneak out” during the morning peak (and to a lesser extent “sneak in” in the evening peak). We could easily write an article on just that topic if we had the time.

    It is a topic that I will talk about or write about at any opportunity and both ngh and myself probably think far too much about. And I am sure at one stage Graham Feakins could list the various routeing taken by trains to get back to their depot without going via London Bridge.

    Not only that, but as stated in the article and as ngh loves to point out, with ERTMS and ATO you could probably get back up to pre-Thameslink levels without resorting to such devious manoeuvres.


    Critical junctions don’t become any less of a problem because of shiny new trains

    Well sorry to disagree but actually they do. Shiny new trains inevitably have better acceleration and so are able to get back to line speed once they have cleared the junction that much faster.

    Graham H,

    As if to verify your point, I once had an interview for being a timetable clerk but was turned down because I was a maths graduate. They explained to me that I would find the work boring and not a challenge. It seems that you filled in the gaps in the grand plan and modified it as necessary to try and make it work. What baffled me was how you became someone higher up who designed the basic skeleton of the timetable in the first place.

    It seemed to me that you needed dull, reliable, methodical plodders to do the detailed work and people with inspiration and problem solving ability to do the overall design. My fear was that the latter were selected from the former.

    It is a bit like the classical military problem. You need people who obey orders and don’t think too much to carry out the plan but you need free-spirits with inventiveness and original thought (not least to try to achieve the vital element of surprise) to make the plan in the first place. But the latter have been too indoctrinated by their experience of being the former.

  78. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Timbeau – the line north of Ely is surprisingly busy at peak and shoulder peak. Much of NW Norfolk appears to railhead to Downham Market and Maggy Rd / Watlington. Off peak less so.

    Power supply – needs beefing up whether the extra 4 cars are run as a seperate train or on the back of another train. Either way, it is being done.

    Graham H: re the art/science of timetabling. Quite. The same can be said about many technical disciplines. To quote Captain Deltic’s alter ego:
    “Engineers design, Designers style”.

  79. Re: Timetabling and timetable verification

    I am sure I have stated much of this before but, yes, as pointed out, to a large extent verification is a plodders task which can methodically be done either manually or with software based on certain standard criteria which you have to presume is correct.

    What is much more difficult is devising the timetable in the first place.

    To take an analogy. If I ask you to find by yourself (simple calculator allowed) a prime number between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 you would be struggling for a long time and it would probably take you weeks unless you knew of various tricks to find likely ones then test for them.

    On the other hand, once you claim you have found one I could test to see whether it really was a prime number in a matter of minutes. Not only that, I could write a simple set of instructions which means that any reasonably intelligent person could perform a series of basic tests to see if it was a prime number.

    Devising a timetable is still a bit of a black art though there must be software around to fill in the bits. For example how do you decide where to start and on what basis? East Croydon platforms 1 & 2? The Wimbledon Loop (full of very unpleasant constraints)? Windmill Bridge Junction? Maybe if you are GTR you need to start at North Kent Junction where the Greenwich Line branches off from the main line. No computer can really answer this question.

    You also have to consider what you are optimising for. Is it best use of rolling stock, best use of crew, maximising passenger capacity or maximising passenger convenience (e.g. turn up and go, minimising the need to change trains, as fast as possible)?

    It is definitely a black art on National Rail. On London Underground it is more systematic but even there one finds various challenges such as how to organise train paths north of Baker Street on the Metropolitan line or timetabling over the many flat junctions on the Circle line when the frequencies of different branches and not always in harmony with each other.

    Once you have devised a timetable others such as roster clerks will pore over it and demand tweaks to minimise crewing needs and rolling stock allocators to make sure that trains visit a depot every so often and that it is run with a suitable sufficient but minimal amount of stock.

  80. hilltopper says:

    @ngh What would such a Crystal Palace service do? Terminate at the unused platforms there (IIRC there are a couple of platforms which don’t see regular use)? Presumably they’d have to join the TL fast lines on a flat junction immediately north of New Cross Gate?

    On the surface it sounds like a sensible idea, but they don’t seem to want to have any TL services stopping along the Sydenham corridor. Anything from CYP would have to do so, I think.

  81. Graham Feakins says:

    May I remind everyone that, if sufficiently concerned, they should reply to the consultation (in addition to any comment here). There is an interactive version here:

    Almost every question is couched in terms of “Do you agree with the proposal to….. . Yes/No – Any further comments on this proposal?”, so there is plenty of opportunity for comment.

    Anyone can respond, including Network Rail, who are themselves deemed to be stakeholders for the purposes of the consultation.

  82. hilltopper says:


    “Does Kings Lynn REALLY merit two direct trains an hour to London? There are plenty of much larger places at a similar distance with a much inferior service to that.”

    Yes. Not because Kings Lynn itself is a thriving metropolis, but because it’s the only station for miles around. East of Lynn, there’s nothing with a direct service to London north of Norwich (which is 40 miles further east). To the west, the next place is Peterborough, 30 miles away. Lynn serves a very large area, which although not densely populated overall, really does add up.

    Compare North Norfolk to even the least-well-served bits of East Kent, a similar distance from London, it’s night and day.

  83. Malcolm says:

    Moderators are considering a ban on comments which fall into the following template:

    PLACE_A deserves/does not deserve a train service of N1 tph because PLACE_B has only/more than/less than N2 tph and it is nearer to/further from/the same distance from London, and it has a bigger/smaller/the same population.

    This is because such discussions always seem to result in nowhere-leading wrangles about how comparable PLACE_A and PLACE_B really are, and everyone seems to come out of the discussion with the same opinion on the matter as when they went in.

    For now, it’s not an absolute ban, but a request to please look as hard as you can for alternative approaches to these matters.

  84. T33 says:

    @Phil East Grinstead Customers might value their Victoria services – well you should see the screaming going on at Earlswood and Salfords because of losing Victoria services and at Reigate for loss of London Bridge services. Interesting because at each station which are mixed between Victoria and LBG as destinations, it is unfortunately the larger group of passengers at each station that are losing their services. Remember when I refer to Redhill I tend to mean the line rather than just the station

    @Timbeau I don’t have the exact details of timing of the Thameslink trains to Greenwich at Bermondsey but they are timetabled to cross in each direction at exactly the same time (should be good for photos if it works)

    @POP To answer your question where do you start the timetable from, well apparently it is built from the flat crossing just south of Blackfriars

  85. Malcolm says:

    Anonymously asks ” If not, then why bother going to all that trouble to segregate these services between Finsbury Park and Ally Pally?”

    Without attempting to redo the article and subsequent comments from 2013, the “trouble gone to” between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace was primarily to provide three passenger-train-useable tracks in each direction over that stretch. A sort of optional secondary benefit might be segregation, but the desirability of that is compromised a bit by the Hornsey-and-Harringay issues and complicated questions about which of Moorgate or Thameslink (or Kings Cross) trains should connect to from particular stations. The tertiary issue of a possible TfL takeover (of exactly what?) seems to have retreated into the far background.

  86. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Thank you for that bit of info. And now the question, which I suppose must be rhetorical, is …

    If Thameslink had 18tph running via London Bridge as originally planned and if the Wimbledon Loop terminated at Blackfriars as originally planned, would it have been necessary to build the timetable from the flat crossing just south of Blackfriars?

  87. Malcolm says:

    T33 refers to trains crossing at Bermondsey in each direction at the same time.

    This is of course attempted at every intensively worked flat junction on double track in the world. There is no surprise here, though there may be scepticism as to whether it can actually be achieved reliably.

  88. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Before ngh says it, I will point out that though this is attempted at every intensively worked flat junction it can never be totally successful because flat junctions affect each other.

    So you can do it at flat junction A but when you come to nearby flat junction B you find that you cannot do it so successfully without messing up the working of flat junction A.

    Unfortunately flat junction C is close to both flat junction A and flat junction B forming a triangle of flat junctions (think of Aldgate) and so the ability to optimise for all three is severely compromised and normally impossible to achieve.

  89. John Elliott says:

    hilltopper @ 22:51: There are two unused platform faces at Crystal Palace (7&8), but one’s on the same track as the current platform 6. So with the current building arrangements there’d only be room for one extra east-facing bay. Adding a second would require cutting platform 6 back to be the same width as platform 5.

  90. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcom 2349 – The TfL Board paper on suburban rail services actually confirms that TfL are looking to take over the local services out of Moorgate. This is presumably because they consider they have a reasonable working relationship with Herts CC plus taking over new stock post 2021 has its attractions. I doubt GTR will do a great deal with the stations which all need a fair amount of TLC and effort spent on them to get them to anything approaching a decent standard and also capable of gating properly. I know they have some franchise commitments on stations but IIRC it’s not to the scale that TfL would undertake.

  91. Anonymously says:

    @SFD…..Why would level crossing work be required in an area as rural as the Fens to enable a doubling of frequency? We’re not exactly talking about a heavily built-up area with tons of road traffic! The only problematic crossing I can think of is the A10 crossing near Littleport; and I’d much rather the money was spent to replace the much busier A10 crossing further south at Foxton!

    You may well be right about the cost-effectiveness of train lengthening vs. increasing service frequency….all I’ll suggest is for you to try selling that to the Fen Line Users’ Association (who have been campaigning on this issue for years), and see how far you get 😉.

    @timbeau….I was wondering how long it would take for you to mention Lincoln 😜. Cambridge is now very much a major commuting destination in its own right, and with fewer people able to afford a home (rented or owned) in the immediate vicinity, the settlements on the line north of Ely are going to become increasingly important dormitory towns for commuting there (which takes c. 50 mins from KL, IIRC). Plus, as hilltopper mentions, thanks to the closures of the 50s and 60s, the whole line now acts as an extended railhead for north-east Cambridgeshire, south-east Lincolnshire, and the western half of Norfolk!

  92. Anonymously says:

    @WW…..Amen and Hallelujah to that! 😁

  93. Malcolm says:

    WW: Oh, so my tertiary issue is not so background as I thought. Regardless, I don’t think that the now-proposed stopping pattern of trains at Hornsey and Harringay makes the work already done on this stretch unnecessary or misdirected, although it clearly confuses things a touch.

  94. Greg Tingey says:

    Simple: Re-open the M&GN ( or parts of it at least) – says he who has covered a large slice of it, for ancient family reasons ….
    Malcolm @ 23.56
    Ask Chingford-line users, when(frequently) the Clapton Jn screws up because the Stansted’s are running late …

  95. Malcolm says:

    Anonymously: I don’t know anything about the level crossings in question. But the fact that the area is “rural” (by which I take it you mean it has a low population density) does not necessarily mean that the roads will be quiet, because it also has a low road density. Therefore the traffic levels on each road may well be similar to what you might find anywhere in the South-East of England.

    Certainly when I’ve driven in the area (typically to avoid the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge) all the roads have seemed quite busy.

  96. ngh says:

    Re Hilltopper & John Elliot and others,

    1. The Crystal Palace suggestion is a suggested temporary destination till Windmill Bridge gets sorted when it can go back to East Croydon and beyond. It retains the TL services to “Southern” rather than “SE” destination, till after the Windmill Bridge works (when some where like Reigate may be the best solution rather than CAT/TAT).

    2. London Overground only normally use P5 with the other bay (P3) only normally being used for 2x of the 4x Southern AM peak PIXC busters to London Bridge (the other 2 start at Streatham Hill) and the first and last LO services of the day. P4 could (and is used in emergencies today) also be used to turn services (some overlap issues but these reduce post 2018 with fewer via HerneHill TL services).

    3. Operationally the idea is to replace current 2tph PIXC busters (4tp2h in am peak (7-9am)) with an all day stopping service from Crystal Palace to New Cross Gate which then swaps to the Sussex (Thameslink) fasts near Bricklayers Arms Jn. The gaps are there for the paths on the slow lines via New Cross Gate anyway! All grade separated or same direction swap to adjacent tracks with no conflicting moves…

    4. Post Windmill Bridge works just reinstate the Southern PIXC busters which are far more useful than 5 car LO services for capacity.

    5. the main reason GTR don’t want via TL New Cross Gate stoppers is that is isn’t big potential revenue generator as Rainham and DfT want revenue so it needs to grab revenue preferably from another franchise. (SE will have been refranchised by the time the changes happen…)

    Re Graham H,

    So I’m not the only one who suspected (post quick spreadsheet model) TL may be a few 700s short of what it really needed to run the 2014-2016 proposed services… (without some heroic operating assumptions)

  97. ngh says:

    To clarify the Palace suggestion: no infrastructure works required.

  98. Malcolm says:

    Greg: There’s a big gap between explaining the desire (railheadwise) for 2tph on an existing line, and any kind of re-opening (given that nostalgic reasons seldom furnish much cash).

    On the flat junctions, I was referring to the planned timetable. What happens in practice may well often be a different matter.

  99. Southeastern Passenger says:

    Perhaps one of the better lessons learnt from previous consultations is to include context for their decisions to try to avoid a repeat of the Wimbledon Loop campaign.

    For example the graph showing predicted core demand (even if people disagree with the figures) to explain which services have been chosen to run through. They quietly ignore the ranking of Orpington – Beckenham Junction – Herne Hill to meet the desired outcome, with all other mentions of Beckenham Junction in the main document relating to the Southern service giving no indication of the core withdrawal let alone a question relating to it.

    On the Watton-at-Stone – Stevenage issue they show a reasonable case, along with graphs showing how quickly the route will end up beyond capacity (again) even at 14tph let alone 12tph. Looking at proposed frequencies and current runtime the 25 units will be heavily utilised with these proposals, the Harringay/Hornsey skipping complexity may be to help achieve the 14tph high peak. Even off peak when unit numbers aren’t such an issue, it would probably require a lot of timetable fiddling as I’d expect the 2018 timetable to be designed utilising the separation of the service groups. OpenTrainTimes shows the lines as bi-di with a convenient enough cross over for the Watton-at-Stone termination.

    It’s not clear the exact measurement used for the peak core demand graph, maybe people in a single hour or people in the 2 hour window referred to as ‘high peak’. What it does suggest unsurprisingly that several routes will still be over capacity.

    On the less positive side the proposed new services via London Bridge as others have commented seem a bit strange. The Maidstone East via London Bridge seems like the runt in the group. The total high peak demand is relatively small and much smaller than via Bromley. 1000 people is less than a 8-car class 700s worth! The proposed service skips St Mary Cray (1.8 million annual journeys) as it doesn’t have time, then calls at only 5 stations all with lower usages. Is there any good reason for running it at 2tph off peak?

  100. ngh says:

    Epsom / Epsom Downs improved services and conspiracy theories over the new SoS:
    All the proposed improved services were in the franchise Train Service Requirements (TSR) so nothing new and no conspiracy. (One of the main issues is currently no stock to run the service today)

    Southern operated London Bridge – Sutton – Wimbledon was also in the TSR so the only new addition was the Wimbledon – Tulse Hill -Blackfriars and separately NR reckoned (Sussex Route Study) that there was Wimbledon – Tulse Hill (- London Bridge) capacity post 2018 anyway and then are 4tph fewer TL services between Tulse Hill and Blackfriars so plenty of opportunity to make it work (and fewer conflicts at Tulse Hill than currently!).

  101. ngh says:

    Re SE passenger,

    I smell an ORCATS raid on SE ticket revenue…
    [for LBM: ORCATS = Operational Research Computerised Allocation of Tickets to Services].
    The other reason it is that is is far easier for TL to run than SE (via either route to Blackfriars)

    The current via Sydenham Hill peak only TL services are certainly rammed (as noted previously in LR discussion) but as with stopping via New Cross Gate services the ticket revenues will be lower than service that goes much further out…
    This service effectively becomes SE’s successor’s problem in 2018 which is one reason why SE is getting circa 36x 377s from Southern for 2018.

  102. Malcolm says:

    ngh (and others) say “DfT want revenue”.

    This competition stuff confuses me a bit, but if the southeastern franchise is made that much less profitable (or more loss-making) because Thameslink have pinched some of its traffic, then doesn’t that just mean that it will be refranchised for a correspondingly lower premium (or higher subsidy), resulting in the total cash to/from DfT being about the same? Or is it a case of better cash in the bank today and let the future take care of itself (as something is sure to have changed by then anyway)?

  103. Malcolm says:

    Orcats raid: spelling out what the abbreviation stands for is probably insufficient here.

    What I understand by an orcats raid is artificially contriving services to get an “unfairly large” allocation of revenue, by exploiting weaknesses in the ORCATS algorithms. In other words, not just pinching real passengers from another franchise (for that you have to go to the trouble of actually carrying the pinched passengers), but so organising the timetables and services so that you get paid for carrying more passengers than actually rode on your trains.

    I may have got it wrong though.

  104. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm,

    It think your last sentence has it.
    DfT get the revenue from GTR till mid 2021 (+ potential extension period). GTR will be a gross (e.g. including NR grant allocation) contributor to DfT coffers. Hence the incentive for Govia (and DfT) so it performs in line with expectations even if they have to do things to get there.
    The new SE franchise or components if split to TfL + other will still need subsidy on a net basis so squeezing hard bargain with TfL who then actually go and attempt to collect more revenue is probably what they hope. Longer trains and more passengers is probably the hope for the remainder of SE.

    (It will be entertaining if TfL decide not to go for SE Metro in the end.)

    Also see numerous previous discussions for Graham H’s rule x. The new longer distance service always gets chosen for a path in preference to new shorter distance ones due to revenue.

  105. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm 0143,

    Exactly GTR as a minority service provider at the stations in question grabbing revenue from other operators when they won’t actually carry the same proportion of passengers. hence the semi fast Rainham services and to an extent Maidstone East to London Terminals ticket revenues.

    [My 0129 comment was reply to your 0129 comment]

  106. Malcolm says:

    Example of an orcats raid: I run a service timed to depart somewhere hourly at xx03. Competitor’s hourly train departs at xx00, and he runs a big expensive 12-car train. I can get away with one of Chiltern’s bubble cars, because for some strange reason there never seem to be many passengers riding on my train. Nevertheless, we share the revenue 50-50.

  107. Timbeau says:

    East Coast tried to game the ORCATS system as well, by trying to match any increase in open access services on their patch with more paths for their own trains.

  108. Latecomer says:

    @NGH 21 Sept 01:00 Point 3) Regarding extra Crystal Palace services, how many extra paths are there on the slow lines capacity wise realistically? Does this factor in the 2 extra LO services they are wanting to push through the ELL or are those going to originate elsewhere? I must admit that every time I drive the limited Battersea Park service I’m struck by just how many new apartments have been built in close proximity to the station and wonder if there would be a demand for a couple of rush hour services originating from there. That said, although more paths up from Crystal Palace might cause additional delay from late running services there is good reason to alleviate the heaving platforms from Forest Hill upwards. I often wondered whether the two extra ELL services should be brought up from Crystal Palace platform 3 for this very reason.

    On another note, aside from the first and last LO services using platform 3 it serves a very useful purpose during times of disruption to West Croydon services. Provided we get the call before Sydenham it is easy to divert there and pick up a return working at the booked time without blocking any other services. There is a lot to be said for having a bay platform free to enable this, these events happen more regularly than you might think, so if platform 3 does get used more by Southern then maybe platform 6 should be reinstated?

  109. Greg Tingey says:

    (One of the main issues is currently no stock to run the service today)
    Or in the future, either, according to many writers, because DfT didn’t “allow” a big enough stock-order, or so it seems?
    The new longer distance service always gets chosen for a path in preference to new shorter distance ones due to revenue. – hence the perpetual annoyance of Chingford-line passengers, as referred to by me, further back up, as the Stansted’s seem unable to keep time on up services, even with the none-too-fast scheduling.
    [ Though I suspect all the LC’s between Broxbourne & Northumberland Pk don’t help – coming in from Stansted last month, mid-evening, it was quite noticeable that we were delayed more than once & brought to a stand at one point, because, as I realised the NR “signal” operators were not getting the barriers down soon enough. ]
    But I suspect that might be a topic for a n other article:
    “Level Crossings in the London Area – Crossing them out.”

  110. Jordan D says:

    Re TfL & wanting control of Moorgate GN services (Walthamstow Writer, 21 September 2016 at 00:04 and Malcolm, 20 September 2016 at 23:49): in a way this goes back to the point I made further upthread at 20 September 2016 at 10:31 regarding Hadley Wood: we have a zone 6 station seeing a real fall in services (50% reduction during the daytime) within the TfL zonal boundary – something I can’t imagine they would be let to pass?

  111. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – it’s funny you should mention the “Chiltern bubble car” raid – would be franchisees used exactly the same example when the whole privatisation arrangements were being set up. A complacent DfT official responded that no regulator would ever allow such a thing. Would they? [ORCATS raids are certainly as old as the programme itself – in BR days, the Eastern Region,for some reason, seemed to attract a lot of these -Peterborough and Colchester were perpetual targets that usually ended up with JKW banging the IC and NSE MDs’ heads together.]

    @timbeau – gaming ORCATS was/is an essential part of most bids these days.

    @ngh – yes, I’d assumed that the defect in the original TLK specimen timetable was what is is causing the stock shortage (because it formed the basis of the order) but I haven’t tracked the changes through since the build commenced.

    @PoP/ngh/SFD – my own experience with running timetable teams as part of a wider operation is exactly as you describe. The numbers of clever timetablers who rise from the ranks of the PBI can probably be numbered on the fingers of one hand. The timetable construction process certainly has always started – at least with the timetables I have seen being created – with the selection of the critical points, then building a framework round them to meet the commercial side’s basic requirements, then – and this where the junior team members get going – heavy tweaking to meet the commercial side’s less important aspirations. The art of the activity lies in the careful selection of those critical points and the ability to spot interesting opportunities within the framework constraints.

    @Malcolm – I am absolutely sure the moderators are right to consider banning the” A is more worthy than B” contributions. The reasons for traffic levels at any point are pretty diverse (not just population) and without wishing to be rude, I shouldn’t think any of the contributors here (me included) has the detailed local knowledge to identify all the factors involved, let alone assess their relative weight.

    The whole discussion just shows how impossible it is to satisfy everyone’s wishes – hence the unpleasant cries of “I’m more important than you”. The miracle is that anyone ever manages to change any timetable at all.

  112. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Anonymously: this is also not the place for a treatise on Level Crossing Risk, which is also worth a couple of textbooks.

    Needless to say, if you double the train service on a relatively lightly used line, you broadly double the risk of an incident at a level crossing. Therefore you must demonstrate that you are doing everything ‘reasonably practical’ to bring that risk back to where it was, and preferably better. Otherwise when there is an incident (and there will be), the man (or woman) from the ORR or BTP will be asking you some questions with a tape recorder running.

    There are over 60 Level Crossings between Cambridge and Kings Lynn, most of them for farm access, and incidents on them are frighteningly frequent. Roughly once or twice a year some sort of vehicle will end up being struck by a train on that stretch.

    Greg – your Stansted train may have been delayed by Level Crossings being lowered later than needed – almost certainly because of a car or pedestrian not obeying the lights. However it is more likely that you simply caught up the train in front. The timetable is designed that way as a compromise between journey time to Stansted and frequency of calls south of Cheshunt.

  113. ngh says:

    Re Graham,

    Have noticed that the am peak Littlehampton TL service have gone from 5 to 4 so an extra unit squeezed there! All the TSGN franchise stock is worked extra hard with SN 377s at about 96% availability required.

    I suspect I’ll bite the bullet later and have good hard analysis on spreadsheet and paper…

  114. Graham H says:

    @ngh – signs of the pips squeaking! If the order remained as it was at the time the build went out to tender, there was already an assumption of something like 95% availability in relation to the “short” fleet. Look forward to your analysis

  115. Twopenny Tube says:

    4th paragraph ” … make Thameslink so interdependent on SouthEastern …”
    I would have thought ‘interdependent with’ or ‘dependent on’ to avoid ambiguity. In the context of setting up the background and explaining the issues that are covered in the piece (great article and interesting discussion as ever) this is significant.

  116. Mark Townend says:

    Couple of things.

    Running a few Thameslink services to and from the SE division rather than all SC is made a little easier by the Bermondsey grade separation, as the layout will allow up trains from the New Cross slow lines to join the TL pair without conflict with trains heading for Croydon. However, weaving some of those trains right across all the SE inner services to and from the Greenwich line to get to parts of Kent seems highly counterintuitive and against the whole spirit of the project . It will be essential that TL will be given regulating priority for these moves in order to avoid traffic backing up through the core, so this idea seems to be introducing significant additional ‘performance pollution’ risk to the SE inners.

    The Stevenage issue. The additional bay project was dropped or deferred after the major projects review following the Kings Cross Christmas overruns a while back. I understood in that major triage exercise NR simply felt they and the industry couldn’t resource it. Something had to give. With increased traffic it isn’t possible to continue the historical practice of to terminating some trains on one of the existing slow line platforms at Stevenage, although there is a very simple fix to run all the Hertford terminators through to Letchworth to reverse in the offline siding there, a mere 11 minutes or so running time in one direction from Stevenage with no fast line conflict now the Hitchin flyover exists. In a perfect world that could be done out and back within 30 minutes, meaning one additional unit could do the job for a half hourly service, but in reality movements in and out of the sidings and contingency probably mean two units would be required. Two 6-car units added to the Siemens GN order at say a total of £15 million would be good value compared to the infrastructure work I think, and would also preserve connectivity between the North Herts towns and Hertford. There is really no major issue slotting the Hertford trains into the slow line flow between Stevenage and Hitchin, the proposed short terminating at Watton-at Stone is purely a rolling stock constraint.

  117. Hilltopper says:

    @John Elliott

    The main issue with bringing Crystal Palace P7 back in to use is the lack of lifts. Looks fixable to my untrained eye, though – plenty of room at the western end.

    @Graham Feakins (& others)

    I’m considering responding to the consultation, but there’s no point in asking for stuff which is unfeasible or strays in to crayonista territory.

    Given the major changes to service patterns around E & W Croydon, is it worth suggesting to GTR that additional TL services call at Norwood Junction, to at least give people the shortest possible connection time if their service has now been rerouted to or from the “wrong” Croydon? Or is there some capacity reason that only 2TPH TL is possible at Norwood Jct?

  118. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Jordan D 0828 – I strongly suspect that there won’t be a service reduction at Hadley Wood. Clearly the station comparison spreadsheet shows a reduction but nothing else in the consultation material mentions this. There is no reduction in trains elsewhere on the WGC stopping service and I can’t think why Hadley Wood mysteriously would warrant a reduction when the “sleepy hollow” of Oakleigh Park gets an increase. The main consultation document clearly shows service GN5 at 4 tph all day, every day with no caveats shown for Hadley Wood. I suspect the spreadsheet is wrong and no one checked it or if they did they didn’t go a good enough check and double check before publication.

  119. Tim Burns says:

    One thing about the consultation document was the use of “route ids”. As the network is complex to the occasional visitor, shame these will not see the light of day on the front of a train and/or platform indicator come 2018.

  120. Verulamius says:

    I note in the stations spreadsheet that St Albans gets 16ph trains into London during the morning rush hour, but only 14ph back from London during the evening. It would appear that whilst 4ph are terminating at St Albans during the morning and off peak, it would be only 2ph during the evening peak as Harpenden gets 12ph.

    Another aspect is that Radlett and Esltree have different evening peak numbers over the three hour period.

    This suggests 8ph slow/semi fast to St Albans in the evening peak and thus only 6 fast (which would be a reduction from the current 7 fast).

    So I am not sure how accurate the spreadsheet is.

  121. Sykobee says:

    It would be nice to see a network diagram showing the gains/losses on different lines, to different destinations. It does seem like the southern network is going to see even fewer services (either from Southern or TL) with the new plans, but the longer TL trains could make up for that in passenger capacity.

    Once the ramifications of these suggestions get into the public domain – which requires some clear explanations of the impact at specific stations – I can imagine a lot of protest. And this will lead to political pressure (all those Conservative Surrey Commuter Towns that could be losing out) that could mess things up even more (like the political pressure on the Wimbledoom Loop service screwed things up).

  122. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Skyobee – with my usual warning about not being that conversant with today’s services the sense I get from the consultation documents is similar to yours. Southern seems to see frequency reductions, there is a switch from Victoria to London Bridge / TL Core in terms of emphasis, several routes seem to see longer journey times. From an outsider’s point of view (given I barely use these services) some of that seems counter intuitive if you look at the broad sweep of external influences – rising demand, people wanting faster journeys and more frequent trains. Obviously some places *do* get those things but several do not. Obviously GTR have to have something in place for 2018 but it all feels a little “back to front” as I’ve suggested above. Quite a lot of compromise in those bits of the network where there is no stated (well not in this consultation) desire to push for infrastructure improvement / more rolling stock to unlock some of the problems.

    I also wonder if the much discussed remodelling at East Croydon happens how the proposed service structure and frequencies could cope with it. Cutting back on services that will already see reductions doesn’t feel very “saleable” to the mass of South London, Surrey and Sussex commuters.

  123. DJL says:

    The consultation and article both mention the allday increase in Catford Loop services to 4tph. This includes the high peak.
    Unless I’m missing something there are currently more than this during high peak
    The current timetable ( ) shows that in the morning there are trains arriving at Elephant & Castle, having come off the Catford Loop (all calling at least at Catford itself) at 0813 (Sevenoaks, slow), 0825 (Orpington, semi-fast), 0835 (Sevenoaks, semi-fast), 0848 (Bromley South, semi-fast), 0854 (Sevenoaks, semi-fast), 0914 (Bromley South, Slow)
    I make that 6 trains in 1h 1m
    Looking at the Sevenoaks trains alone, these currently appear to be roughly every 20 mins during the high peak.
    The story in the evening is similar.

    Have I missed a reference somewhere to peak extras?

  124. Verulamius says:


    The problem that we have for the Kent Lines is that we do not know what trains are planned to be run by Southeastern. Hence there are likely to be trains from Beckenham Junction via Sydenham Hill to Blackfriars replacing the existing Thameslink trains. Similarly there may be addition SE trains via Catford, although they might go to Victoria rather than Blackfriars?

  125. Jordan D says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer 21 September 2016 at 12:01: I’ve done a double check and it seems Brookmans Park and Welham Green are similarly consigned (to Hadley Wood) to have only 2 tph (down from 3tph) during the daytime under the proposals.

    Seems these three stations are consigned to a certain low grade status -in which case there is a deliberate degradation in service proposed, rather than sheer incompetence in completing the spreadsheet.

  126. Anonymously says:

    @Mark Townend…..Thank you for that explanation of the Stevenage conundrum. It confirms my suspicion that there is nothing substantial to prevent continuing the existing practice of terminating Hertford loop trains at Letchworth, other than seemingly a lack of rolling stock (which still baffles me…..have GTR knowingly under-ordered enough 717s to replace the Welwyn and Hertford services as they are presently constituted?).

    @SFD…..I see your point. However, the push to increase the service frequency is now so strong that I see nothing but the bare minimum (closing off some farm crossings wherever possible and installing warning lights on the others?) being done to mitigate the risk. Otherwise, why not eliminate the risk completely… completely closing the line north of Ely?😈

  127. Malcolm says:

    Anonymously: No amount of “strong pressure” should cause railway operators to break the law. And if SFD’s summary is correct, doubling the frequency without adequate crossing risk mitigation would be simply illegal.

    (Deciding to take your ball home because you don’t like the rules, and closing the line, would probably also be illegal, but under some different law altogether).

  128. Malcolm says:

    Not having enough rolling stock to meet all of passengers’ aspirations is an extremely widespread problem over most or all of the British network. I cannot say whether or not the problem is much worse on the future Thameslink system which we are discussing compared to anywhere else.

    But as I see it, the bustitution proposed is a creative response to this pressure. Far better to have all available trains constructively employed carrying people round north London rather than taking a couple of shoppers and a lot of fresh air on a long trundle to Letchworth and back.

    Yes, ideally every line should have enough trains and crew to fulfil the prescribed timetable, and then some. But the sad fact is that on most lines (perhaps all), these trains and staff are in short supply – so everywhere has to make the best possible use of what they’ve got.

  129. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – you may have missed the point, which is that DfT seem to have *knowingly* underresourced the franchise, whilst pretending otherwise – as usual. It’s very simple -either cut the trains or cut the timetable. Anything else comes close to defrauding the taxpayer (and the passenger) who have been asked/forced to brass up for something that cannot exist.

  130. Ed says:

    Does anyone ‘in the know’ have any idea when a Southeastern service consultation will begin? It’s very hard to comment without knowing what SE changes will occur.

    *cynical alert* Maybe they don’t want people to see SE plans as it shows a cut in services? And then who would support these Thameslink plans?

  131. Malcolm says:

    Graham: You are right that my post does not address any seeming deliberate under-resourcing of the franchise. That was not my objective.

    My point was rather that given such under-resourcing (regardless of why it has happened), the Watton bus is a creative response to it.

    I hope that the under-resourcing is put right somehow. But until and unless it is rectified, someone has to run a service of some kind. And that service should be the best that can be managed. Anything else is playing into the hands of the villains (if that’s what they are) by giving them an opportunity to say “there would have been enough trains if they had been properly deployed”.

  132. Anon E. Mouse says:

    In the section describing Thameslink service patterns it says at one point:

    Thameslink Metro Routes TL8 and TL9 combine to provide four trains per hour (daily) between Central London, Catford, Bromley South and Bickley. During peak times these services may be supplemented by Southeastern Metro services providing six trains per hour.

  133. 100andthirty says:

    Graham H…”The new longer distance service always gets chosen for a path in preference to new shorter distance ones due to revenue.”

    Surely this is the best argument for the TfL takeover.. ..the shorter services get a seat at the table to argue their corner rather than simply being trumped by the revenue.

  134. Graham H says:

    @130 – if you wish. But be careful what you do wish for: in general, short distance services come with disproportionately high costs because (a) time-based costs are proportionately higher in relation to revenue earned, and (b) asset costs are also proportionately higher partly due to the usual greater asset complexity and intensity required to operate them (eg more stations and signalling per km) and partly because more assets tend to spend their time idle and not earning (more time spent proportionately at termini and peakier services).

    In the Board we had a bet on as to the point at which this penny would drop with DfT and whether that point would coincide with some revived London authority’s growing desire to take on the inners. I think I would be winning now…

  135. ngh says:

    Re hilltopper,

    The main issue with P7 or 8 (what ever people like to call it, I suspect NR use 8) at Palace would be the 3 new points and the new interlocking. The lift is pretty quick, cheap and easy in comparison. The stairs were refurbed with the rest of the station and are still fully lit etc. for emergency evacuation purposes. Though you shouldn’t need another platform to do what I’m suggesting any way as the extra 2TPH LO and 2tph TL would be circa 15 mins apart so shouldn’t cause any issues with P3 occupation so P7 should be moot.

    Re 130,
    One last attempt at grabbing any capacity for Long distance services…

    Re Anon E. Mouse, Verulamus and DJL,
    The detail on peak extra is often very scant in this “consultation”

    Re Malcolm and Graham H,
    Under resourcing. The number of cars ordered went from 1200 (not clear what the 8/12 car split was) to 1160 (60x 12car 55x 8 car) to 1140 (55×12 car 60x 8car). Graham presumably meant not enough 8car units with 55x?

    Re Sykobee,

    I’m pondering some spider maps I started a while ago before the original consultation start date.

    Re Ed WW Jordan and others,

    I’m cynical on the consultation especially the disappearance on the interactive bit which both presumably showed the cuts far to easily and didn’t show everything especially peak services thus making cuts appear even bigger than in reality hence it being kicked into the long grass…

    Re Hilltopper,
    Norwood Junction – see Sussex part 13 there is very limited opportunity to stop any thing on the fasts especially in the up direction till Norwood Junction is rebuilt without gridlocking cottage junction etc. the proposed – East Croydon Palaces are very clever in that they path the odd slow line train from Cottage Jn in between the fasts and are probably need to run immediately after a stopping TL service to enable it to stop. (Asymmetric service pattern don’t go down well)

  136. Malcolm says:

    Graham: those points about the higher cost of shorter-distance services are telling. But surely this is not too relevant to consideration of possible TfL takeovers. TfL do not have any choice about which category they try to take, since the longer-distance services obviously extend well outside the area. TfL can only either take over the inner services, or nothing.

    Or am I missing your point again?

  137. ap says:

    Given the comments about this perhaps being an attempt to beat Tfl to things,
    I notice that Londonist has published a story today about a “new” Tfl map showing their Overground aspirations.

    It would appear to include trains to Welwyn Garden City, Letchworth, Gravesend, Sevenoaks and even Dorking but no services into Kings Cross or Blackfriars. The map is dated July 2016.

  138. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm- no,TfL has no real choice; I was addressing 130’s point about “giving the short distance routes a seat at the table”. But not now , of course, the same table as the longer distance stuff, so the cross-subsidy implicit within a “mixed” franchise like most of the ex-NSE ones is removed.

  139. Mark Townend says:

    @Anonymously, 21 September 2016 at 15:05

    To limit the amount of extra rolling stock a routine Letchworth extension of the Hertford loopers would require, a third platform at the First Garden City might be considered. Letchworth station and the nearby road overbridge (‘Bridge Road’) were built in 1904 with a four platform double island layout in mind so a new track and face around the back of the down side island should be possible. This could allow the existing down platform to become a centre loop for quick turnback towards London, as with the other two platforms as well more flexibly handling other starting and terminating workings associated with the carriage sidings nearby (allowing a ready-loaded starting service to be launched immediately behind a preceding up fast for example). Such a feature could be of use as a peak short bounceback facility for Thameslink core trains, conflict free as it is with respect to the ECML fast lines by dint of the Down Cambridge Flyover at Hitchin. The Stevenage turnback by contrast, would only be of use for Hertford loop trains reversing there. A centre platform fast turnback facility at Letchworth also represents a much more flexible and lower risk alternative to attempting to perform such manouevres on one of the running lines at Letchworth or one of the the other branch stations, or worse still, across the fast lines at a station on the ECML itself.

    For the Hertford Loop service, a quicker turnback facility at Letchworth should be able to reduce the out and back journey time from Stevenage to comfortably within 30 minutes, thus allowing only a single additional unit to maintain the half hourly service.

    For the Wooton-at-Stone turnback proposal, I reckon the trains will have to go nearly all the way to Langley Junction to reverse over the trailing crossover just before the the down branch underpass beneath the main line (known as Langley South Jn). This is used for the peak reversing movements that currently take place in Stevenage’s down slow platform #4. Thoughts of a (temporary perhaps) Stevenage south parkway platform (‘Stevenage Road’) come to mind at the reversing point, also near the GSK complex. With trains terminating there a shuttle bus need only run a much shorter to the mainline station, perhaps combined somehow with a GSK – town centre link.

  140. Mark Townend says:

    @ap, 21 September 2016 at 18:17

    Note the map includes almost all radial main and branch lines except those used by GTR along the Blackfriars corridor and through the central ‘core’. The MML is omitted in its entirety as is Kings Cross to Finsbury Park and all routes south of Windmill Bridge to East Croydon and beyond. Chiltern Railways routes are notable by their absence but, mystifyingly, the map includes the entire Sutton – Wimbledon loop from Tulse Hill.

  141. Malcolm says:

    Mark: Someone has already indicated that both tracks at Watton are signaled bi-directionally, so the obvious way of turning, given that there should be no other trains around at the time, is just to return to Hertford North on the same track. Using a crossover anywhere between the two stations, or if there is none, then return into the Hertford platform that you just left.

  142. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Jordan D – OK you win in terms of checking more comprehensively than I did. I am still utterly bemused as to what GTR could possibly gain from removing trains *at off peak* times when the general headline on the GN inners is to provide a “metro style” service all the time. Cutting off peak trains from their current level makes no sense whatsoever given there are no obvious fleet savings from chopping, say, 3-4 mins each way if that from the round trip time? Surely if the line can run an all stoppers service in the peaks to those stops it can do so off peak? The usual lunacy on the railway is that headways widen in the peaks because of having to cram in so many other peak only trains to other places.

    Even if you accept that GTR don’t want to advertise the cuts too heavily they have usually managed to make at least one statement somewhere about changes and their impact. There’s nothing on the GN inners expect the Harringay / Hornsey peak issue and I confess I really don’t understand that at all given all the money spent to add extra tracks.

    As there is an E Mail address to which you can submit questions about the consultation I’ve just drafted and sent an E mail asking a few clarificatory questions including one about the GN inners. Let’s see if it gets an answer!

  143. Mark Townend says:

    @Mark Townend, 21 September 2016 at 19:12

    1st para, 2nd sent. should read:

    This could allow the existing down platform to become a centre loop facility for quick turnback towards London and, with the other two platforms, be able to handle other starting and terminating workings associated with the carriage sidings more flexibly (e.g. allowing a ready-loaded starting service to be launched immediately behind a preceding up fast or an unloading terminating service to be overtaken),

  144. Mark Townend says:


    Good point. The current London North Eastern Route Sectional Appendix agrees with that. I forgot this area has been resignalled recently in conjunction with ETCS testing activity (The site is known as ENIF, the ETCS National Integration Facility) . There is a new facing crossover at Molewood Jn, just short of Watton approaching from Hertford, and a trailing crossover at Bragbury Jn just over 2 miles beyond Watton heading to Stevenage. These are in addition to the trailing crossover that remains at Langley South Jn. The sectional appendix also shows an additional facing crossover south of the platforms at Hertford East, not shown in decade old aerial photography.

  145. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Anonymously: even doing the relatively simple work you suggest to the LCs costs more than the entire annual revenue of the line north of Ely. Unfortunately it’s not all that simple, as there are some Automatic Half Barrier crossings on busy roads which would have to be converted to full barriers at £3m each. As a result the business case for doubling the frequency is atrocious. The case for doubling train length somewhat better.

  146. quinlet says:

    @Graham H
    The shorter distance inner suburban services may be more expensive to run, as you suggest, but, at the same time, fares per km are higher and the loadings tend to be much less one-directional peaky. There are fewer units (if any) which are used just for one morning and one evening trip each day and so the resources are used much more productively.

  147. ngh says:

    Re Mark T @1932,

    Wimbledon loop, Southern even before the current consultation would have operated services there in the peak again in the future (just in slightly different form of Blackfriars – Tulse Hill – Wimbledon – Sutton – Tulse Hill – London Bridge if the consultation proposal is confirmed).

    The map is very out of date / incomplete and also shows a lack of TfL knowledge south of the river hence plenty of scepticism from lots of parties as to TfL’s expertise (especially when the mayor offered help and step in with TSGN):
    1. Blackfriars – Herne Hill – Bromley South (- Orpington) was always due to return to SE so will be an extra service that is their problem if they want to take over, presumably along with the 2tph extra peak Catford Loop SE services mentioned in the consultation
    2. 100+ Southern Metro services in each direction through East Croydon on weekdays with more possibly added with the resumption of Palace – East Croydon direct services that were diverted to West C. to enable London Overground ELL to start. What they “forgot” at the time was it altered the balance of services / movements thought the Windmill Bridge complex which the proposal in the consultation is to reverse!!!

    I suspect DfT won’t allow TfL to cherry pick because they didn’t know so TfL will have some scope and cost creep on take over vs current expectations. (see Romford – Upminster)

  148. ngh says:

    Original high res version of the TfL map:

  149. Graham H says:

    @quinlet – some of what you say is true in part but just think of the earning power of an hour’s worth an inner train and the same for an outer. Although some – stress some – inner fares /km are higher, that inner travels more slowly than an outer – more stops, more congestion, so it earns less per minute. It is,however, not so much the relative earning power of inners and outers but their relative cost that makes the difference. Inners and outers have much the same turnround times, for example, but for the inners that proportion of -wasted – time and therefore capital is higher. Inners consume more assets (eg closer signal spacing, more S&C work/km, more stations/km). Put this factor together with slower trains and you see that the inners are hit by a double whammy – in lay terms, they have to work that much harder to generate revenue proportionate to their costs.

    Read that problem across to LU/LO relativities and, as you would expect, running a tube train is even further along the scale.

  150. Anonymous says:

    Interesting article. An idly curious question: which station have you used to illustrate it please? The old London Bridge? Brighton?

  151. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – I note the interesting new station near Norbury called “Thornton East” 😉

    @ Graham H – while not disagreeing with your basic points it is interesting that DfT are removing the £23m pa grant they pay specifically for the old North London Railways lines in the Overground network. Their view is that the routes should be financially self supporting in around 2018 or so. More likely that DfT consider that TfL will be rolling in so much money post Crossrail opening that there will some “flex” in the budget to cross subsidise.

  152. Ian J says:

    @Malcolm: given such under-resourcing (regardless of why it has happened), the Watton bus is a creative response to it.

    The more Macchiavellan interpretation would be that proposing a line closure (the first with no rail-based substitute since privatisation?) in a marginal constituency is a creative way of ensuring that either the DfT stump up more money for rolling stock or Network Rail are told to rearrange their work programme.

    Re: costs being higher for shorter distance services: yes, but then TfL’s willingness to sustain higher costs is likely to be higher than DfT’s, because the Mayor’s remit includes things like housing and economic regeneration that would benefit from better short distance services (and it helps that some of the property value uplift from better services flows through to the Mayor via taxation, land revenues etc).

    Or to put it another way, should the network be run to maximise revenue, or to maximise public benefit?

    @WW: In principle the Overground has the long-term advantage of peak flows in both directions which of course is more efficient than classic ‘out-and-back’ suburban services into a terminus where the peak trains leave all but empty. The same applies to the central bits of the Underground, which has broken even (at least) on operating costs for longer than any suburban franchise.

  153. Anonymously says:

    From the looks of things, I think the photo is of Brighton station?

    @SFD/Malcolm…Please note I am not suggesting that *nothing* is done to mitigate level crossing risk. I’m just suggesting that it is kept in proportion to the improvement proposed (in this case, increased train service frequency from 1 tph to 2 tph) and the type of risk that is being mitigated against (level crossing ‘incidents’, including lethal and non-lethal ones). And in any case, NR are planning to address level crossings in Cambs on the Fen line (although seemingly not in Norfolk), as detailed here:

    And even if the revenue is as low as you say it is, it is definitely going to rise rapidly in the next few years as the line attracts more commuter traffic to Cambridge and London (

    For an idea with such a poor business case as you say, it seems to have a lot of momentum! Are you privy to some insider information that the Fen Users Line Association and others don’t seem to know about, or are you just expressing your own personal opinion?

  154. Anonymously says:

    @Malcolm…Ian J has just made a very good point that I was going to add regarding Watton-at-Stone to Stevenage ‘bustitution’. What appears to you to be a ‘creative’ response appears to others (myself included) to be a perfect example of running down a service at best, and (arguably) closure-by-stealth at worst.

    The numbers affected might be small, but they have every right to feel deeply alarmed by the proposals, and what they mean for the future of services between Hertford and Stevenage/Letchworth (particularly if TfL decide not to take these over, despite what the map shows).

  155. Anonymously says:

    ‘Or to put it another way, should the network be run to maximise revenue, or to maximise public benefit?’

    In that one sentence, you have brilliantly summarised the unsolvable conundrum faced by railway operators, Graham Hs (aka DfT civil servants) and politicians since the late 1940s!

  156. Timbeau says:

    The presence of a 313 in Southern colours puts the picture somewhere on the south coast, and I’m pretty sure that’s Brighton

    Separating operation of ishort and long distance services. This was tried, for example on what is now Greater Anglia. Having them all under one operator’s control allows the operators to act in a more integrated way – for example making extra stops in a long distance service to cover for a cancellation on the inner suburban route, or holding connections between inners and outers.
    But in practice the operators always seem to prioritise the long distance services. Separating ownership would give each service group it’s own voice in such situations.

  157. Ian J says:

    @anonymously: the unsolvable conundrum

    I’m not sure that it is that unsolvable: all that is required is that the process for planning services factors in social and economic benefits as well as revenue and costs. TfL has a well-developed methodology for this: the DfT, I’m not so sure…

  158. Old Buccaneer says:

    The Unsolvable Conundrum per anonymously & Ian J
    1 ‘Parliamentary’ trains and the obligation to be a “universal carrier” of goods injected a public benefit element to railway regulation very early.
    2 it’s a question of profit or operating surplus not revenue.

    On Watton, there seems to be a considerable loss of benefit, not least access to King’s Cross without a change of mode. But it may be that people wishing to make that journey drive to Stevenage (aka “Silkingrad”) in the first place.

  159. Timbeau says:

    @old buccaneer

    Watton at Stone will still have access to Kings Cross without a change of mode, as it always has done, by changing trains at Finsbury Park (or indeed Highbury & Islington)

    (Is via Stevenage even a permitted route?)

  160. Old Buccaneer says:

    @Timbeau sorry yes I was thinking of access to King’s Cross on a fast train. I don’t know about the fares.

  161. ngh says:

    The ultimate conclusion of DfT thinking is that everyone moves to Brighton etc so they can pay more rail fares and London become ghost city at night!

  162. Graham H says:

    @ngh -quite wrong… the ultimate DfT thought is likely to be “if only everybody stayed at home and teleworked, we wouldn’t need all this boring and expensive transport kit”.

  163. Captain Deltic says:

    @Graham H As in the railway civil engineer’s plaint ‘I could maintain perfect track condition if the operators did not insist on running trains on it’.

  164. Captain Deltic says:

    This from a transport consultant chum on exploiting the Watton- St Evenage sur Beane bus.
    “One thought about the possible cut between Hertford North and Stevenage. If there is funding to put on a bus, perhaps hourly all week, why keep it as a purely railway bus? Why not use the support to create an all-week 390, operating on bus ticketing but also carrying rail ticket holders Hertford – Watton-at-Stone – Stevenage? Running time Stevenage – Hertford North at present is about 40 minutes, running via Gresley Way and Six Hills Way in Stevenage. Times Stevenage rail station to Lister Hospital and Hertford North station to bus station are 8 and 5 minutes respectively. Thus It needs two buses on circuit to run an hourly service but they would just suffice to run Hertford bus station to Lister Hospital. Times could be reduced by running via Shephall Way in Stevenage instead but still serve parts of Poplars. [Presumably switching some other Stevenage route to go round Gresley Way for the very few trips that the current 390 does?] Thus East Herts would gain a valuable bus service and GTR would not need to run trains to turn at Watton-at-Stone.

  165. Malcolm says:

    Captain Deltic: As you will certainly realise, talk like that about using “train money” to provide a bus service is most alarming, maybe almost treasonous-sounding. The feeling is that the gulf between passenger train running costs – anywhere – and the bus equivalent is a taboo subject. Who knows where it will lead?

    While I still see this Watton bus idea as creative, I also accept that it is ominous. I don’t really think that closure (by stealth or otherwise) is on the cards, but who knows?

    Your chum may be mistaken about the bus making Watton trains unnecessary, however, as the current proposal steers well clear of upsetting Watton-London commuters (who, like any other London commuters, would not go quietly).

  166. Graham H says:

    @Captain Deltic – in BR-speak, the p/way engineers were the enemy of the real civils – “those chaps with the track just spoil a perfect embankment” etc
    @CD (2nd) – that sounds awfully like the arguments ministers put forward for bus substitution on a grander scale

  167. Pincinator says:

    One small observation – there may be one too many suches here: “as well as such aggravating factors such as a long train and a short platform.” [There was. Fixed now.]

  168. Alan Griffiths says:

    I think I understood the argument for a service from Woolwich via Blackfriars. Can’t for the life of me understand the case for it running east of Dartford.

  169. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm/Captain Deltic – the conundrum for policy makers is how to distinguish “railway buses” from “local authority buses”,both financially (eventually) and functionally. Either the railway bus replicates the railway service or it gets – increasingly – diverted, as in the scheme mentioned by Cap’n Deltic, and begins to look more and more like a normal LA-supported (or even commercial) bus service -maybe even duplicates (oh horror) a commercial or LA-subsidised bus service. The more it does this, the more the relevant local authority shrugs its shoulders and says why should we subsidise anything when DfT will do it for us – and the more enraged DfT gets about LA dumping on them. (Not to mention Mr Souter getting angry about DfT-subsised competition).

    One is reminded of the chaotic situation that used to obtain in Austria before the various state -owned bus operators were combined, in which some valleys had parallel post, railway and private bus operations (and in one extreme case, trains also) , usually, this being Austria,leaving within a fewminutes of each other.

    And, in these days of increasing cuts to LA-funded bus services, the voters get puzzled/cross as to why one type of bus service merits subsidy when others do not.
    But – on the other hand, the DfT bus service may actually be better in some respects (eg visits village centres) than the train service (remote stations), albeit, slower. More, the LA service is usually the result of some careful planning and analysis oflocal conditions;the DfT version can hardly be so, for obvious reasons (and in any case, why should DfT set up a national planning service for all local transport)

    There isn’t a glib answer to this conundrum. Pragmatism doesn’t leave a convenient line in the sand, which is one reason why Ministers didn’t pursue bus substituion in the late ’80s, despite intense pressure from No 10 and the then SoS’s personal favour. [Fortunatelyfor the rail network, he delegated the selection of substitution routes to David Mitchell, who hated the idea. We duly sat down with him and the map of the railway system, and went through the more obvious loss=-makers. For each one, Mitchell’s answer was “no, too marginal (politically)”, “no, that’s in old Binky Smither’s patch – can’t subject him to the riot of a closure case”, “no,my aunt lives there” etc.. until the list had been whittled down to Sleaford-Spalding. The Board got the message and nothing ever happened (apart from TilburyTown to Tilbury Riverside).

  170. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Following on from what Alan said, I think I’ve come to a conclusion about the proposed Luton-Rainham service. Now I would first like to point out that I don’t have any local knowledge but in my opinion, if it’s to be run at all, I reckon that it should be curtailed at Gravesend. Because the service is proposed to be a “stopper”, I don’t think there would be big demand for it from the Medway towns in comparison to the High-speed services to St. Pancras and the fast trains to Victoria. By terminating at Gravesend, they cut down on the running time of the service which should then give them the time necessary to serve Erith and Belvedere (and maybe even Woolwich Dockyard).

  171. Ed says:

    Another thought on suburban services costing more- is that still the case when fare evasion is cracked down on? Levels are very high on services taken over at around 15-20%. SE Metro is no different. If they get that down to 2% on SE that’s a lot of revenue that is currently slipping through SE fingers. Currently you can travel on a lot of journeys without ever needing to pay – no barriers, few staff and no on-board staff to check.

    If 80% of freeloaders have to then pay (and they will as road transport is so slow), plus you add in newcomers attracted by a safer and well publicied service + then add in more capacity off-peak and associated house building (which TfL are much better at planning with transport) then a lot of the additional costs of suburban routes can be reduced?

  172. Graham H says:

    Ed – I think you are confusing revenue with costs. Perhaps you meant cash surplus/shortfall -the difference between revenue and costs? More cash in doesn’t reduce the cost, merely the difference.

    I must say, I don’t recognise the 15-20% evasion figure – do you have a source? [The figure that most operators quote publicly tends to be 5%; spot checks in SE-land used to yield a figure close to that, admittedly 20 years ago].

    Getting existing punters to pay up is, I agree,costless, but conveying more punters isn’t.

    I will try and locate my NSE route studies to see if I can dig out some more precise figures, but off the cuff, the different pro rata costs of assets consumed by inners and outers is likely to be in excess of 20%. (A quick back of envelope estimate based on SWT suggests the difference is likely to be something in excess of 1/3.) One reason why the asset consumption issue is so important numerically is that assets (infrastructure, stock) account for approximately 70% of all railway costs.

  173. JimH says:

    @Anon E. Mouse
    The only good reason I can see for Rainham to Luton is the Rainham to Abbey Wood leg. If this is quick enough, then it becomes an attractive way to get from North and East Kent onto Crossrail.

    My commute is from beyond the Medway towns into Canary Wharf, and a reasonable route onto Crossrail looks more enticing than the current options:

    * (Not-very) High-speed (at a price premium) to Stratford International, the patchy interchange to Stratford National, then Jubilee or DLR.
    * South Eastern mainline to Cannon Street then DLR from Bank, again interchange is not great and DLR is slow.
    * South Eastern mainline to London Bridge then Jubilee line, good interchange but not available as a route until 2018.

  174. Al says:

    Re: Bustitution

    The best current example (off patch) must be Barlaston, Wedgwood and Norton Bridge, which are still technically open but haven’t had a train stop for years. London Midland contribute to a couple of different bus services to Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford. Although Norton Bridge has a “good” reason for no trains (no footbridge to get on/off the platforms), the others are a victim of the line being too busy to stop any trains there. Would that argument wash in the South East?

  175. Anon E. Mouse says:

    You make a good point about Crossrail. However, there is a possibility that Southeastern might be able to cater for that flow. (At this moment in time, we don’t know what services Southeastern are planning to run come Dec 2018 but they may want to run more trains via Abbey Wood because of Crossrail.)

  176. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Just to add to what I said at 12:13, it’s worth pointing out that in the report, the service in question is treated as a metro service (i.e. stopping at most stations with excuses as to why they can’t stop at the others) and looks like it replaces the current Cannon St. to Dartford via Greenwich services. I would have said that Gravesend is quite far enough for a metro service to go (especially when you consider that the further out the service originates, the harder it will be to board at Greenwich and Deptford).

  177. JimH says:

    @Anon E. Mouse

    South Eastern already run metro service from Gillingham via Gravesend and Swanley, I assume this is because of the Gillingham depot.

    They’re certainly not the optimal way to travel from Gillingham to a London terminus!

  178. Anon E. Mouse says:

    I am aware of the existing Gillingham-London via Dartford services and I hasten to point out that they are semi-fast (usually) which means that (in principle) they would be a better way of getting from the Medway towns to Crossrail (in terms of journey time) than the proposed Thameslink service. However, this would only be the case if these services actually go via Abbey Wood (hence my comment about what Southeastern might plan to do in 2018).

  179. Anonymously says:

    @Ian J…..If only it were so. Railway policy in this country since Beeching seems to have been incredibly confused, often swinging between the two extremes depending on whoever happens to be in charge and whether they get their way or not (as Graham H will perhaps attest to, given his experiences with Nicholas Ridley and co.). IMHO, BRB came closest to balancing the two following sectorisation (particularly in the NSE area), before John Major’s government scuttled it through privatisation 😖.

  180. MJ24 says:

    The through service along the Hertford loop to Stevenage is of benefit to people living further south than Hertford or Watton-at-Stone, particularly those who use the 5 Hertford Loop stations in the London Borough of Enfield and who wish to travel to destinations in the North and East of the country. For example, the 09.47 from Gordon Hill northwards will get you to Peterborough in 1 hour and 11 minutes with a cross platform change at Stevenage at a cost of £18. The 09.49 southwards from Gordon Hill will get you to Peterborough in 1 hour and 50 minutes via Finsbury Park at a cost of £29.30 with stairs and crowds to negotiate at Finsbury Park.

    True connections at Stevenage into some services are less than sympathetic eg connections at Stevenage into Virgin East Coast’s hourly Leeds services allow only 3 minutes, while some London-bound services just miss the hourly Hertford loop connection. The proposal for half-hourly services to Stevenage makes avoiding London more attractive and could encourage greater use, but a bus transfer for passengers with luggage rules this out on time and convenience grounds. If the Stevenage bay platform is only delayed and not cancelled, would keeping a couple of 313 units in use to run a Hertford-Letchworth shuttle for a couple of years be worth the maintenance cost of sweating these 40year old assets a little more?

  181. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ MJ24 – Part of GTR’s contention is that with the revised GN faster services there are no longer the paths to allow a local service between Watton at Stone and Letchworth Garden City. It isn’t just the lack of a platform being built at Stevenage by 2018 but their words in the consultation provide two arguments. Whether it is true I really have no idea. I didn’t think there was that much extra service volume being run to Peterborough / Cambridge / Kings Lynn that would absorb a lot of local line paths north of Stevenage.

  182. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – I don’t have any fare evasion numbers for S Eastern but what has been quite telling is that in “before and after” comparisons made by TfL the fraud levels have been around the 15% level under TOC control and in the low single figures under TfL control. I don’t know how that is measured, calculated and over what time period and area but such levels of evasion are really *very* high indeed. Back when I had to be interested in LU Fraud models and the evasion rates you were certainly right to be concerned if you’d got to the wrong side of 5% never mind knocking on the door of 15%. Just checked the recent Board paper – old Silverlink Metro was 12.6% and West Anglia 14.5% prior to TfL takeover. Those are pretty abysmal numbers and if South Eastern is in similar shape then someone isn’t doing their job properly or they are not measuring properly in specific parts of their network. 5% across all of S Eastern might be tolerable but not if it hides pockets of far worse rates. Any skilled revenue protection manager should know the “hot spots” on their network.

  183. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Walthamstow Writer,

    I didn’t think there was that much extra service volume being run to Peterborough / Cambridge / Kings Lynn that would absorb a lot of local line paths north of Stevenage

    But how could you know? The signalling blocks might be few and far between. There are some bad cases. I suspect one of the worse is Dorking – Horsham which seems to have capacity for only one or two trains an hour. I believe there were quite a few bad examples on Chiltern in times gone by.

  184. quinlet says:

    The differential usage figures for Freedom Pass pre and post the transfer of the West Anglia and Shenfield services to TfL and the introduction of better gating and reduced fare evasions would more or less bear out the previous estimate of 15% fare evasion, too.

  185. Graham H says:

    @WW – I don’t know how these things are done now; in NSE days, we organised surprise sealing of stations and flooded them with ticket inspectors. For reasons I couldn’t possibly explain to some of the contributors to this thread without causing outrage, we tended to concentrate such efforts on the SE Inners. The results usually came in around the 5% mark or less. Then there was overriding and its more sophisticated sibling, the “polo or bookend”, but for controlling these we relied on TTIs; the numbers of these tended to be lower and concentrated mainly in the outers. It’s certainly possible that ticketless travel rates have risen substantially since privatisation – contrary to popular belief, many TOCs are quite happy to rely on the guaranteed cash flow from seasons (a result of whatever banking covenants they may have, I suspect) and view the effort involved in policing off peak seriously as not worth the candle. Maybe they are being paid too much?

    @Anonymously – oddly, that sort of balance you describe wasn’t so much the result of the format of the PSO of the day, but more a process of continuous ear-stroking by ministers and officials. Although some ministers took a right wing view of rail subsidies, they tended to be in a transient minority and even the fanatics never doubted that service quality was important. What I think has changed since has been the reliance on contract-driven management instead of less rigid, more pragmatic approach by both industry and their regulators. The resulting reliance on measurable outcomes has – as in so many areas of public life -led to regulators and specifiers deliberately ignoring those things that cannot be measured or are very difficult to measure, however much they may be cherished by the users. In the national rail field, such very different things as ride quality and service presentation and customer handling ( many things that are *not* considered at all) get subsumed in a generalised customer satisfaction measure -and where ranking against other TOCs is as important as any absolute achievement. How regulators love their benchmarking and how different from the TfL approach…

  186. Greg Tingey says:

    Fraud/ticketless travel in SE land
    High – I remember being at “Elephant” over 4 years back now, on one of my last “counting” exercises & they had a full check in operation.
    The number of penalty fares issued was staggering , & a couple of arrests as well!
    The permanently open-gates + often-unmanned stations is practically an invitation to do without a ticket …..

    Call up “Open Train Timess”, go to “Maps” & look at the signal/block-spacing along that route
    Here for a start then Here too which should tell you something about line-capacity.

  187. Mark Townend says:

    @Pedantic of Purley, 22 September 2016 at 17:33

    “But how could you know? The signalling blocks might be few and far between. There are some bad cases. . . Dorking – Horsham . . . Chiltern in times gone by.”

    Not on the ECML in the Stevenage area, where full 4-aspect colour light signalling applies on all four lines and there are plans for even higher capacity ETCS. With only two stations, both major as far as suburban services are concerned, there is little stopping pattern or journey time variation for most trains between Langley Junction and Cambridge Branch Junction, and the down flyover at Hitchin avoids any interaction with the fast lines in either direction, so there’s no reason this section shouldn’t be able to support up to 14 or more tph in each direction with the same stopping pattern. There is a possibility that with the overall plan envisaged, the Hertford Loop trains happen to present at Langley Jn at a time when there’s a large flight of closely running slow line services, difficult to find a convenient path between, but it seems very unlikely that such a ‘traffic wall’ could persist throughout a 30 minute operating cycle, so it should be possible to retime Hertford – Letchworth services to avoid it.

    Cutting Hertford Loop GN services back from Stevenage smacks of a kind of anti Croxley link, where a London focused metro style railway, instead of being extended to a busy outer suburban Intercity hub is being snipped back from one. Perhaps DfT through their GTR proxy are angling for a contribution from Herts CC as they did in Watford, to purchase an extra train and pay to improvements to the Letchworth turnback.

  188. Malcolm says:

    Mark’s speculation about angling for a contribution has a certain logic to it, though I suspect that they might be angling in a rather empty pond, what with the state of local authority funding in general.

    But I doubt if the angled-for money, should it arrive, would be used at Letchworth. Until the planned Stevenage turnback is built (if it ever is), then the money, if it comes, will surely pay for one or more trains only. It seems most unlikely to me that work at Letchworth could have any sort of BCR – there would be costs, but no visible benefit.

  189. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Here for a start then Here too which should tell you something about line-capacity

    That tells me there are a lot of signals on a section of bi-directional track. Looking at a diagram like that tells you next to nothing. The stations involved could be one mile or one hundred miles apart.

    Mark Townend,

    I am hesitant to disagree with you but let’s say I am not at all convinced. It is a standard in signalling practice (not always adhered to) that you don’t mix aspect signals. So the idea is that a driver is consistently running on four, three or two aspect signals and they don’t change en-route. So the mere fact that there are four aspect colour light signals present tells you next to nothing for certain though it is certainly indicative of close headways.

  190. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Graham H,

    I never knew but guessed that working out the portion of ticketless travel was done in such a manner.

    It does seem to only really cater for truly ticketless travel though. The person travelling on an out of date but otherwise legitimate ticket may not be spotted by the TTIs and I suspect the occasional railcard may be out of date and inspection of the railcard is not asked for or the fact it is out of date is not spotted. Similarly, expertly tampered tickets may be undetected.

    Other forms of ticketless travel fraud may well not be picked up by such a method e.g. 5 year old travelling and parents claim they are only 4 years old.

    My non-expert experience was that unless you wanted to spend quite a few seconds checking a ticket then realistically you could only decide to focus on one thing (e.g. date, validity, needs supporting railcard. If dealing with a lot of people at a station exit then just ensuring that any tickets that should be collected were done so was enough of a challenge.

  191. Greg Tingey says:

    The stations involved could be one mile or one hundred miles apart.
    Consult the GBTT where mileages between stations are given (!)

    From KGX in the down direction: ( distance to next station, given in brackets )
    Welwyn GC 20.25 ( 1.75 )
    Welwyn N 22 ( 3 )
    Knebworth 25 ( 2.5 )
    Stevenage 27.5 (4.25 )
    Hitchin 31.75 ( to Letch: 3, to Arlesey: 5.25 )
    ( Letchworth – 34.75 )
    Arlesey 37 ( 4 )
    Biggleswade 41 ( 3 )
    Sandy 44 ( 7.5 )
    St Neots 51.5 ( 7.25 )
    Huntingdon 58.75 ( & 17.5 to Peterboro’ )

  192. Greg,

    Well, if I really cared at all about the answer and I had a GBTT to hand I might have done so. But I was just trying to point out that looking at existing train frequency is no reliable guide to establishing what the line capacity is. All you can presume is that it is at least equal to the service timetabled over it – but of course there are occasions when it isn’t. There are also occasions when it probably isn’t but we don’t know because some of the paths are rarely used freight paths.

  193. MikeP says:

    Oh, GH, how very true.
    I so well remember the solicitor who drew up our directors’ service agreement (or “contract”) telling us this was the divorce agreement – if all went well (it didn’t) it would be left in the drawer and never referred to. But it seems contracts these day, rather than being the “backstop” are used to define the entire relationship. Crazy.
    And then measurement. I only needed to spend a few months as an elected member (in the mid-90’s) to realise that what was being measured was what was easy to measure, rather than what was important. And that’s before we enter the territory of “turn a measure into a target and it becomes useless as either”

  194. Toby says:

    Coming up to London Bridge is any preference given to certain trains, eg destined for the core or ATO?

    The Watford DC lines seem to be comparable to pretty much everything considered here, though simpler. I’m interested in why TfL already has the line. I see that TfL took over everything Silverlink had, but why did they (rather than the long distance operator at Euston) have it?

  195. Anonymous says:

    Toby, maybe it’s because TFL already run the majority of the services on that line. Thus, making perfect sense for it to takeover the whole show.

  196. ngh says:

    Stevenage area ECML capacity issues.

    ORR have granted more long distance paths including new extras (including from 2019) before NR have done the capacity improvements…

    But it will probably resolve themselves in early CP6 with Huntingdon area 4 tracking and other similar schemes. Flighting through Huntingdon at the moment causes lots of knock on issues for huge distances in either direction.

    I suspect lots of the ECML works will be aligned with ETCS installation on the ECML hence holding fire on installing new interlocking that would only be binned after a couple of years.

  197. Graham H says:

    @Toby – whilst there was /is a clear technical and operational distinction between the non-DC and the DC services, the Watford DC and NLL lines are run with the same stock, the same technology, out of the same depot, and both fall conveniently within the zonal fares structure.So transferring the NLL to TfL – a long -standing political aspiration of successive London authorities – pretty well automatically brought the DC with it. The only plausible alternative would have been to transfer the Watford orphan to the Bakerloo – something TfL considered up to about 2004. Amalgamating it into any longer -distance operator would have had no technical or commercial advantages, if anything, rather the opposite. It has always been a commercially weak service and I imagine DfT were glad to see the back of it.

  198. Man of Kent says:

    Not scientific, but having used a few trains between Hertford North and Stevenage, loadings would barely justify a Ford Transit, never mind a fully-fledged bus.

    390 is a commercial service with no Herts CC subsidy.

  199. Graham H says:

    @Man of Kent – “390 is a commercial service with no Herts CC subsidy.” Which neatly illustrates the difficulty – how could one justify setting up a subsidised “Railway 390” in competition with the commercial one, or even tweaking the commercial one to make it uncommercial? And on what basis would DfT take a decision to do that when Herts hasn’t seen fit to do so?

  200. Anonymously says:

    @Man of Kent….But that rather misses the point, and as you state yourself, is completely anecdotal and doesn’t take time of day, direction of travel etc. into account. Loadings at the end of any long-distance stopping service (particularly when paralleled by a faster service to the same destination) are by their very nature going to be very light. The point is that a group of people (who knows what the total number is, taking into account local commuters e.g. schoolchildren as well as those who are travelling to Stevenage to change onto other services as mentioned above?) are going to be seriously inconvenienced due to a set of circumstances and decisions that were (and perhaps still are) completely avoidable!

  201. Ian J says:

    the conundrum for policy makers is how to distinguish “railway buses” from “local authority buses”,both financially (eventually) and functionally

    Less of a conundrum if one local or regional authority specifies and funds the local rail and bus services – it shows how much easier things are within London. Or most of Europe outside the UK.

    A more hopeful precedent for Stevenage would be the arrangement Chiltern has come to with the operator of the Park and Ride bus to cover journeys between Oxford Parkway and Oxford station until the railway is open.

    @WW: old Silverlink Metro was 12.6% and West Anglia 14.5% prior to TfL takeover

    Presumably the same profit implications between inner and outer suburban services apply to targeting fare evasion – it will be more profitable to decrease fare evasion on the outer suburban routes because the costs are fairly fixed but the fares are higher so the revenue available is greater. Hence outer suburban stations getting gated long before the inner suburban ones on many franchises.

  202. Ian J says:

    No need for anecdote on passenger numbers between Hertford North and Stevenage, they are right there in the document:

    This will, on average affect 1,100 passengers per day

  203. Graham H says:

    @IanJ – I couldn’t agree more but that would require a revolution in the way in which local government is financed – unlikely, alas. The problem with what might seem to be the “logical” or “natural” solution – aka the Local Option – is that government funds to local government is distributed by formula (so much for each of a number of factors such as population, sheep, or whatever) and applied indifferently across the whole country. More sheep=more grant. Unfortunately for the rail industry, no one has found any objective factors (eg track miles, route miles) which replicate the pattern of subsidised services, so giving the rail industry subsidies to local government would automatically lead to many local authorities (eg Surrey) receiving money they didn’t need and others (eg Cumbria and Lincolnshire,noteably) receiving much less than they needed. The result would be a wave of railway closures blamed on the lack of government funding – something politicians have shied away from for the obvious reasons. If anything the passage pf time and the privatisation of the railway system have made it more difficult by exacerbating the differences between the needy and unneedy areas.

    We struggled hard in the ’80s to find a way of jinking the local finance system with exactly the intention you suggest but the closest we would come was to distinguish between different classes of local authority – MRG was the outcome of that. I believe I have described before an internal DTp exercise we undertook to see if we could get the railway out of grant, with a combination of pricing up selected elements within NSE and OPS (eg Alphaline), and devolution to Wales, Scotland and the Mets. This disposed of much of the subsidised network but we were left with an irreducible “fringe” (ie mainly the West Country, the rural North and Lincolnshire).There was no obvious underlying factor common to all these areas which we could use to give them enough money. Regional government might have helped but the dichotomy between the SE and the rest of the country would have remained, alas.

  204. timbeau says:

    TfL did not take over everything Silverlink had – the services to Northampton, the Abbey Flyer, and the Marston Vale line to Bedford are now part of London Midland.

    The “dc” Watford lines were simply the latest example of London Transport/TfL taking over the local service whilst leaving the services to the Home Counties and beyond to National Rail or its predecessors. This is also why C2C does not appear on the mayor’s radar – the local services have already been taken over by the District Line, back in the 1930s. A similar arrangement, but in reverse, explains Chiltern – where British Rail took over operation of the longer-distance services of the Metropolitan Railway in 1960.

    @Graham H
    “This disposed of much of the subsidised network but we were left with an irreducible “fringe” (ie mainly the West Country, the rural North and Lincolnshire)”
    The rump of lines left open in Lincolnshire is difficult to explain – busy lines like Peterborough – Boston – Grimsby went, but relative backwaters like Grantham-Sleaford-Skegness were kept.

  205. glbotu says:

    Re: Hadley Wood, Brookmans Park and Welham Green Skip-Stopping

    This is just a thought, but could reducing the service to these stations have something to do with the increasing frequency (or even the timing) of the Cambridge stopping service.

    The Cambridge (and Peterborough) stopping services run 1tph, calling at Welwyn GC, Hatfield and Potters Bar, running on the slow lines, before crossing over onto the fast lines South of Potters Bar (normally). Could it be that to ensure that the GN Inners get out of the way of the Thameslink trains, the 4tph have to go fast for a certain amount of time. While Hadley Wood isn’t interfering, it could be that the stopper needs to get to Potters Bar at a certain time, such that the 4 min saving or so could be worth it to not hold up a Thameslink train over Digswell viaduct.

  206. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    “For each one, Mitchell’s answer was “no, …………. until the list had been whittled down to Sleaford-Spalding. ”
    A line on which very little saving would be made by withdrawing the passenger service anyway.
    Peterborough and Spalding is quite a busy section – (indeed, getting back on topic, extension of the GN electric service to Spalding has been suggested!) and if you are running a shuttle as far as Spalding, extending it to Sleaford would be a marginal cost, especially as you could make no economies by closing any intermediate stations (there are none) and the line would have to remain open anyway for the a large volume of freight traffic over the “Joint Line”. (The passenger loadings are anyway probably higher than revenue statistics would suggest because it is the preferred route for those in the know travelling between Lincoln and London, because of the better connections available at Peterborough compared with Newark).

  207. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – indeed, the whole exercise was pretty futile for that reason. I also agree that the joint line has seen increasing use over the last 30 years or so and probably wouldn’t be a candidate now. Even in 1986 it was pretty much a token sacrificial lamb.

    It illustrates why the Beeching era closures never achieved the claimed savings because so much shared infrastructure remained in use after the passenger service closed; it also illustrates why most recent closures have been triggered by a major infrastructure renewal rather than just because the passenger service was loss making. [To note, NR’s programme of Integrated Control centres will further strengthen this jointness of costs]

  208. Walthamstow Writer says:

    For those musing about fare evasion surveys it might be instructive to pop over to the “Hopper ticket” thread and see the recent post by Matt Dickinson. He links to a copy of the TfL Ticketing and Revenue update which shows the results, by line, of a LU fares evasion survey earlier in 2016. It shows the different forms of fraud that were detected. While accepting that PoP was commenting as a “non expert” I would expect a properly trained Revenue Inspector to pick up on all the points queried by PoP. They are trained to spot all these things. A standard ticket collector or “security guard” acting as a form of ticket inspector would, I agree, struggle to spot anything remotely complex by way of fraud. Doing a visual ticket check as people flood past you is pretty much impossible – I’ve done it more than once so I know. Doing an on train ticket check or a fully controlled revenue block is really quite different because there is the time and resource to allow more scrutiny.

    @ PoP – re signal sections. The smart answer to your “how would you know?” is “I would ask on London Reconnections and a suitable answer would no doubt be provided from someone with access to the facts”. 🙂 One of the joys of this place is that someone almost always does know! The other way to get an idea, and I accept no more than that, is to look at Realtime Trains for a peak period and look at how many trains pass a given point. That gives a reasonable hint as to the capacity but is obviously not definitive or an absolute worst case.

  209. John B says:

    The change to paper ticket layout must make their job harder. Its hard enough as a customer to read the new smaller fonts, you’d need to be eagle-eyed as a ticket inspector to spot problems now. It really was a poorly thought-out change.

  210. Mark Townend says:

    @Malcolm, 22 September 2016 at 19:40

    “. . . I doubt if the angled-for money, should it arrive, would be used at Letchworth. Until the planned Stevenage turnback is built (if it ever is), then the money, if it comes, will surely pay for one or more trains only. It seems most unlikely to me that work at Letchworth could have any sort of BCR – there would be costs, but no visible benefit.

    I’m not suggesting it would definitely add up to a business case, but my suggestion was that if an extra turnback platform was available at Letchworth then the out and back run from Stevenage might be comfortably contained within 30 minutes, which suggests that a half hourly service could be accomplished with only one addition train. With the current shunt moves via the carriage sidings A&D road, 30 minutes out and back is impossible so more than one additional train and crew would be required, probably with a fairly lengthy layover that would block access to the sidings for its duration. A quick turnback platfrom at Letchworth could also have some value for peak bounce backs of other TL services and for starting and terminating services going to and from the sidings without extended loading activity impacting on other trains. Letchworth is in a unique position in being the only place north of WGC near the ECML proper where such turnbacks can take place without conflict with the fast lines, due to the Hitchin flyover. The proposed Stevenage bay as envisaged cannot provide such functionality for main line trains, only for Hertford Loop services.

    I agree the simplest way round the impasse is to buy two more GN trains and use the current reversing method at Letchworth. At the unit price of the current GN order, that would cost in the order of £16m plus ongoing operating expense.

  211. Anonymously says:

    @Ian J….Assuming that figure is accurate, then it is quite small in the grand scheme of SE rail travel (where we talk of tens to hundreds of thousands passenger movements per day!). I just hope those 1100 can get themselves organised into a room with GTR management, so they know upfront just how much this will inconvenience them 😉.

    @Mark Townend…..That Hitchin flyover is really starting to prove it’s worth! Pity it couldn’t have been built much earlier (e.g. in the 70s at the time of the Great Northern electrification).

  212. Malcolm says:

    Anonymously: 1100 people will need quite a big room! But of course they will not be the same 1100 every day. Apart from a few people with jobs in Stevenage, they will not be commuters. I guess some people shopping etc in Stevenage (once a week at most), and a varied collection of travellers from Palmers Green, Hertford or stops inbetween making longer trips “up north” (including Cambridge).

    (But speculation of travel purpose could be a bit pointless, the one time in my life that I have ever been asked my journey purpose on a train survey was en route to my grandmother’s funeral – most people get no more than two of those).

  213. timbeau says:

    “The proposed Stevenage bay as envisaged cannot provide such functionality for main line trains, only for Hertford Loop services.”
    As I understand it, the bay at Stevenage will be on the down side. From Google Earth it looks possible to provide a connection between the Down Hertford and Up Slow, south of the underpass at Langley Junction, which would allow trains from the bay to return towards Welwyn route without crossing the fast lines on the flat. Whether there is a BCR for doing so is doubtful though – any train on the Welwyn route would be better turned back at Welwyn, before hitting the Digswell bottleneck.
    With all ECML trains likely to be electric (or electro-diesel) in the near future, a tunnel carrying the fast lines under the Mimram valley might become practical (cost determined by the trade-off between tunnel length and gradient required to lose and gain the requisite height not to break the surface at the bottom of the valley)

  214. Mark Townend says:


    The Langley Junction main line turnback connection would be possible I agree, perhaps at a reasonable cost. The angle of intersection suggests a fairly wide curve would be needed starting just south of the Old Knebworth Lane underbridge, then describing about a 350m radius through some small business premises adjacent to the Odyssey Health club and a couple of that club’s game courts, then straightening up and running across a field parallel with the B197 and climbing with the rising ground level to join the up slow just at the end of the embankment as the main line alignment dives into the cutting leading to Knebworth station. About 1km of new single track alignment with fairly minimal earthworks and no public roads to cross. There is what looks like a private unpaved access from the B197 across to the golf club on the west side of the main line via an underbridge. That would need stopping up, diverting or bridging.

  215. A Cam' 'Cruiser' says:

    Discovered this morning (23/9), that Govia’s brand new Cl 387s for the GN route fast services to Cambridge will not be allowed to run at their maximum speed of 110mph. Why? Because Network Rail is worried about effect on overhead line.

    This came as a surprise as 1. Virgin all-electric services do not have a problem under this same wire and 2. the ‘387 pantograph is already passed for 110mph elsewhere, so I’m told.

    This is quite important as getting services through the Welwyn two-track bottleneck as quickly and safely as possible is vital. This will be truer still when Thameslink services begin. Do hope Network Rail sort this out well before then.

  216. Graham H says:

    @A Cam Cruiser – “This is quite important as getting services through the Welwyn two-track bottleneck as quickly and safely as possible is vital.” Yes, but the practical difference between 110 and 125 is a matter of about 3 extra seconds per mile.It would show up in the modelling but wouldn’t register in the Working Time table

  217. Anon E. Mouse says:

    @Graham H
    I assume you meant:
    …the practical difference between 100 and 110…
    since those are the speeds we actually need to compare.

  218. Graham H says:

    @Anonymously – sorry, yes: the difference is even less per mile.

  219. ngh says:

    Re Anon E Mouse

    Effectively it doesn’t matter as the difference is the same:
    3.27s (100 vs 110) or 3.93 (110 vs 125)

    Hence it would only make the smallest increment (30s) difference to WTT over a distance of 10miles.

    The 1980s cheap ECML wiring job is responsible for the 100mph multi-pantograph limit till it gets upgraded to have significant elements of Series 1 which has started.

  220. Anonymously says:

    @A Cam Cruiser…..What effects are they worried about? Is it to do with power supply?

    @Mark Townend/timbeau….What you describe is virtually pointless without first addressing the Digswell bottleneck. And, even then, the business case for it (which would just allow the current Welwyn terminators to serve Welwyn North/Knebworth and terminate at Stevenage) wouldn’t stack up, I suspect. It would though be one way of getting this fabled terminating platform built!

  221. ngh says:

    Re anonymously,

    Mainly contact wire oscillation and the risk of bringing the wires down especially with the 3rd pantograph of the a 12car set which would also have a very poor contact and arc badly.

    IEP partly gets round it by having the 2 pantographs 190m apart vs up to 3 at 75-85m spacing depending on which way round the units are.

    The lack of juice is being sorted as well including upgrades to Autotransformers but isn’t the issue in this case.

  222. Anonymously says:

    @ngh….That surprises me a little, since I thought the electrification on the relevant lines was done fairly robustly (well, at least in comparison to what was later done north of Peterborough….)?

    110mph would be nice, but the current 100mph (90mph north of Hitchin, curves excepted) seems fine for now, until the wiring can be upgraded.

  223. ngh says:

    Headspans on 4 track sections is robust???

    Plenty of other less than ideal OHLE south of P’boro too.

  224. Tunnel Bore says:

    Class 700s are already using SDO in service to stop at Balcombe in the down direction. PIS turns a lovely bright red in the last four coaches to tell passengers to move forward if they want to alight.

  225. Timbeau says:

    (Langley) Agreed- a paper exercise to see why the proposed turn back is in fact only going to serve the Hertford line.

    The 100mph limit on 387s will presumably apply not just through the bottleneck at Digswell, but it will mean they will find it harder to mix it with the 125mph HSTs, 225s, and the new 80x types.

  226. ngh says:

    re Timbeau,

    Just for the time being till the OHLE upgrades get done.
    The acceleration on the 387s especially at higher speeds is significantly better then all the others currently in service which ofsets the top speed issue and still an improvement on the current GN EMUs.

  227. Ian J says:

    @Anonymously: quite small in the scheme of things, but more than a fifth of the local MP’s majority (not that they would all live on the constituency).

  228. Whoosh says:

    A few things:

    Class 387s – the original pantographs are ‘out of gauge’ for the GN routes apparently. So they are being changed for class 365 style ones. And that design has only ever been passed for 100mph.

    Watton-at-Stone – Up line is bi-directional so will support terminating trains.
    The Down line has signalling in the Up direction for test trains only.

    Much as a change of layout with an extra platform at Letchworth would be useful, there are no plans for this. Stevenage, on the other hand, has had plans drawn up.

    ECML is four aspect signalling on the fasts, THREE aspect signalling on the slows.

    More trains are going to be running running between Stevenage and Hitchin, in fact at Hitchin the Slows will have 8tph for a short distance (2tph Peterborough-Horsham, 2tph Cambridge to Brighton, 2tph Cambridge to Maidstone East, and (for the short distance after/before access to/from the fast lines 2tph Kings Lynn/Ely to Kings Cross. Adding another 2tph from Moorgate would be stretching things I think, especially as if they terminated at Letchworth they would need ‘tipping-out’ before going to the sidings. When leaving the sidings, they would block both Up and Down lines whilst doing so.

    A separate bay platform at Stevenage is the way forward, but a bus will have to do until it’s built, unpopular though this may be.

  229. Mark Townend says:


    Thanks for the signalling info. Three aspects on the slows makes sense. They should be spaced at the same intervals as the four aspects on the fasts but for a lower maximum permitted speed. The headway at the respective design speeds would be broadly similar.

    I found the “Stevenage Central Framework”, a local authority masterplan document published in 2015, here:

    This suggests putting the station at the heart of the town with a new east- west axis of development bisecting the railway and relocation of the bus station nearby to create an integrated transport hub.

    This fairly recent news article is from June 2016:

    and includes the following statement “. . . confirmation from Network Rail of £18.8m for a new fifth platform at Stevenage Station in 2020 has proved a significant step forward for a new train station”

    It was the tipping out issue at Letchworth as well the time taken for the siding reversal manouevre that prompted my additional platform suggestion. Even with the quicker turnround facility however, running that far would require at least one extra train for a half hourly service.

  230. Anonymously says:


    ‘A separate bay platform at Stevenage is the way forward, but a bus will have to do until it’s built, unpopular though this may be.’

    The real danger of this approach is that when the time comes (after one/two/three+ years?) to build the new platform, someone will turn around and say, “We no longer have to do this….there are so few passengers using the replacement bus service [everyone else having long since switched to other modes of transport] that it is no longer worthwhile or cost-effective to spend money on this scheme. Instead, we’ll propose permanent withdrawal of passenger services between Watton-at-Stone and Stevenage, and the existing commercial bus service can take up the remaining slack.”

    Recent railway history is littered with examples both in this country and abroad where this ‘closure-by-stealth’ has happened (intentional or otherwise). My own personal favourite is the post-war fate of the Northern Heights Ally Pally branch (and to a lesser extent the Mill Hill-Edgware branch), for reasons too off-topic to discuss in detail here.

  231. Graham Feakins says:

    @Whoosh – “Class 387s – the original pantographs are ‘out of gauge’ for the GN routes apparently. So they are being changed for class 365 style ones. And that design has only ever been passed for 100mph.”

    That made me smile because, and I don’t doubt going on past experience of such things and therefore assuming is true (PoP et al bound to tell me off for making such an assumption), then why hasn’t anyone tried to get the Class 365 ones passed for 110mph, or is there an inherent problem with them, or even solve the out of gauge problem anyway? After all, does nobody think of future proofing? Oops, that might be fiction.

    To put that another way around, would ngh’s recent comments on wire oscillation with two or three pantographs be avoided with Class 365s tested and cleared for 110mph? On the other hand, from what you say, I guess that it’s the width of the Class 387 pantographs that are deemed to be out of gauge. Can nobody cope with a modification in the workshop should that be the only barrier?

    I recall that Roger Ford recently discussed related problems in ‘Modern Railways’, comparing the East Coast main line wiring with the GWR burden. In fact, I compared it when reading it at the time with Southern’s problems with the RMT union regarding who should close the doors, bearing in mind that identical trains are being run on the same routes by a different organisation but same owner, with the drivers (mainly) content that they close the doors themselves.

  232. ngh says:

    Re Graham F and Whoosh,

    They are both variants of the Brecknell-Wills High Speed pantograph developed by BR, just with different heads, aerofoils (or not), uplift force and damper settings. There are 2 main family variants 100mph (most late BR EMUs and 100mph EMUs from Bombardier /Siemens / Hitachi / CAF) and 140mph (Class 90, 91, Pendolino, 387, 350 (110mph), 395s, 800s)

    The issues is on the Hitchin to near Cambridge route (which those with long memories will remember Graham H had electrified as a turnback siding with the budget of what he found down the back of the DfT sofa) rather than ECML proper.

    To deal with multi-pantograph issue at higher speeds the 387s, 350s (110mph variant), 395s and 800s have pantographs with knuckle aerofoils, higher uplift forces (the issue on Hitchin – Cambridge / Kings Lynn) and stiffer damper settings (also possibly an issue on Hitchin – Cambridge / Kings Lynn). Replacing the contact wire tensioning equipment should solve most of the issues.

    Traditional UK OHLE has contact wire tension between 8.9 and 13.2KN but the new series 1 (GWML) & Series 2 electrification is at 16.2KN with heavier section contact wire to provide far better damping of the wire oscillation. (Multipantograph to 140mph+).

    By “out of gauge” I suspect the contact wire gets a bit to near metal over bridges due to the greater uplift forces…

  233. Whoosh says:

    Yes, signal spacing is the same on slow and fasts. Slow lines are 75mph, fasts 125mph.

    It’s rumoured to be the Anglia part of Network Rail that have issues with Class 387’s original pantographs, that do look wider than 365’s.

    Someone early on in the discussion questioned whether GTR were serious with their suggestion of Luton to Rainham, and that maybe they were deliberately wanting it to be rejected.
    They have advertised for Qualified and Trainee Drivers at Gillingham, which suggests they are serious!

  234. Malcolm says:

    Anonymously refers to the danger of the replacement bus leading, eventurally, to service withdrawl.

    I agree that this is a danger which should be taken seriously. I also agree that it would not be fruitful, here, to go into the details of the Northern Heights issues, though I agree that they do seem to be a close parallel, and they are not far away either.

    But it might be helpful to note one big difference. The year is now 2016: then it was about 1952. The world has moved on, and any withdrawl of passenger service (‘temporary’ or otherwise) is most unlikely to be followed by total line closure and selling off the land, such as happened at Muswell Hill (or, also nearby) at Gamlingay. The worst plausible fate is so-called mothballing (as with, say, Winslow). In fact it is most unlikely even to go that far, what with the usefulness of the line as a test track and as a diversionary route when a cow is struck in Wood Green tunnel (say).

    A further point would be that the likelihood of a closure case being successfully pursued (low anyway) is unlikely to differ much depending on whether the service proposed for closure is a train service carrying say 1100 passengers per day, or a replacement bus carrying say 110 passengers per day.

  235. timbeau says:

    Is the extra width of the 387 pantographs necessary because of the greater sway at higher speeds? (a narrower pantograph being more prone to de-wiring),

    @Mark Townend
    “This suggests putting the station at the heart of the town ”
    deja vu – the station was moved about a mile south in 1973 to be nearer the centre of the new town. Has the centre moved again?

  236. ML says:

    I did wonder whether the question posed in the consultation document about the trade off between 14 tph into Moorgate and a bus from Watton-at-Stone to Stevenage versus 12 tph into Moorgate and trains to Stevenage is the wrong question or at least posed in the wrong way. In the long term, the trends shown in the document (if borne out) would mean that the benefit from crowding relief from 14 tph would far outweigh the benefit of trains continuing to Stevenage for a smaller number of passengers. But the Stevenage turnback problem isn’t a long term issue. Although the turnback has been delayed, if it can be delivered for 2020, perhaps the alternative is 12 tph into Moorgate to 2020 and then a timetable change to 14 tph into Moorgate from 2020 once the turnback is delivered. The negative then isn’t the crowding from only 12 tph long term, but only the crowding from only 12 tph from 2018 to 2020 – a much smaller issue, and one which the consultation document avoids by concentrating on the long term problem. Introduction of higher capacity trains from 2018, all 6 carriages long, will itself improve capacity into Moorgate significantly from 2018.

  237. ML says:

    On the Southern side, I can see the logic of splitting/joining trains to/from Caterham/Tattenham Corner to reduce the number of paths required, which means they can’t be part of the Thameslink. However, it seems they will still run non-stop from E Croydon to London Bridge, which presumably puts them on the fast lines, so doesn’t that mean more crossing moves as they approach London Bridge to cross from the fast lines to the terminal platform lines?

    Similarly, the newly all day Epsom to London Bridge trains will run non-stop from Norwood Junction to London Bridge, which again presumably puts them on the fast lines, so doesn’t that again mean more crossing moves as they approach London Bridge to cross from the fast lines to the terminal platform lines?

    It seems odd unnecessarily to create crossing moves to thread paths from Rainham into Thameslink and at the same time create more crossing moves to get the (Caterham/TC and) Epsom trains off the Thameslink lines in the approach to London Bridge, when the Thameslink paths could be linked to the Epsom trains (as was in the plans many iterations ago). I’m probably missing something.

  238. Timbeau says:

    As the Forest Hill line is paired by direction switching between fast and slow can be done without conflict with the other direction. And the slow lines are connected to the terminal platforms, on the down direction via the diveunder.

  239. Mark Townend says:


    Indeed, and they can switch between fasts and slows at, or north of, New Cross Gate to avoid conflict with Overground.

  240. Mark Townend says:


    Neither the town nor the station is moving. The way I read the framework is that the council wishes to create a new pedestrian friendly east – west development spine across the town that crosses the railway at the existing station site, also to be improved. They want to move the bus station closer to the railway too, for easier interchange and to group transport services together into an easily understandable hub. It is hoped through such better integration and improved quality that more people will be encouraged to use public transport in preference to their cars. The station is felt to be rather isolated across inhospitable fast roads and car parks today, and the town centre is mostly focused on the north south ‘Queensway’ axis, parallel with the railway and about 400m away.

  241. Anonymously says:

    @Malcolm….I’m glad you share my concerns. The only point I would add is that the purpose of any future hypothetical service withdrawal would be to avoid additional expenditure on new infrastructure (in this case, the Stevenage terminating platform), rather than to save on running costs and losses (which would be minimal in this instance…..the loop line between Hertford and Stevenage is far too useful to dismantle or even mothball completely; indeed, it owes its very existence to that perennial, expensive-to-solve problem at Welwyn!). Again, history is littered with examples of additional infrastructure costs being used as an excuse to close lines (e.g. Horsted Keynes to Ardingly).

  242. Malcolm says:

    Anonymously: we seem to be broadly agreed. It does seem to me that economical and efficient provision of this service really does require the planned new Stevenage platform – I am not convinced by the arguments for the Letchworth trundle, with or without a new platform there. So it should be both or neither – either build the platform and resume/retain the service, or do neither. The “neither” option would be a hard sell, both locally and from the strategic point of view that it would seem in rather daft contrast to an otherwise (gradually) expanding network of railways in the South-East region.

  243. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Not explicitly stated but implied from the earlier comments …

    There isn’t really an issue as long as you can timetable it OK. You time it in the up direction so that there is an empty slow train path which London Overground occupied as far as New Cross Gate but is now vacant. In reverse (down direction) it is the same idea. You time so that the down fast reaches New Cross Gate approximately when the London Overground is departing so that you can take advantage of the empty slow path between London Bridge and New Cross Gate.

  244. Anonymously says:

    @Malcolm…I’m open minded about the merits of terminating at Letchworth vs. terminating at Stevenage. If sufficient rolling stock was available, I’m sure GTR would opt to continue the existing practice (well, at least until this fabled new platform is built), rather than suffer the opprobrium that is heading their way. Anyhow, I sincerely hope this bustitution proposal doesn’t make it into the final timetable, as it would set a worrying precedent that I’m willing to bet some at the DfT would gladly take advantage of…..

    I forgot another way of withdrawing the service whilst avoiding the hoo-ha of a closure proposal….our old favourite, the Parliamentary Train! Perhaps a weekly 6am Letchworth to Hertford North service will be a future one sought out by all those travel buffs who like travelling on these services? 😉

  245. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Speaking of Parlimentary Trains, the report does actually say:

    A very limited train service will operate beyond Watton-at-Stone to Stevenage or Letchworth Garden City during early mornings, late evenings and Sundays.

  246. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ML 1218 – I’m not quibbling with the logic of your argument about relative benefit / disbenefit while we wait for the platform at Stevenage to be constructed. One thing that I suspect may undo the “smaller” element of crowding between 2018 and 2020 is what happens to the GN service in 2018 plus Crossrail. There will be new trains. There will be a higher frequency service daily. There will be a relatively convenient interchange to Crossrail at Moorgate.

    While I expect GTR have tried to model these three things in their forecasts I suspect reality will be that the GN locals see a surge in demand that overwhelms the extra capacity pretty quickly. We have seen all too readily what happens on the Overground when you do something similar. The ridiculous [1] thing is that three major positive things will happen at the same time which are likely to open the floodgates. Therefore any ability for the route to be able “to cope” with a lower service level for 2 years to retain a train service to Letchworth is probably illusory and GTR would find themselves in a pickle before 2020.

    [1] having three positive things happen at once would never normally warrant the term “ridiculous”.

  247. Purley Dweller says:

    I would have thought that the building of a platform to be open in 2020 would have to be underway in late 2018 anyway. Therefore funding will be settled well before the patronage drops.

  248. ngh says:

    Re Timbeau,

    Extra sway – exactly and also reduced risk of bringing the wires down in general. It the wires didn’t lift so much (because of lower tension) it shouldn’t be an issue having wider head.

    Re WW,

    GTR modelling* 😆
    Agreed on 3 positives, but I suspect GTR* have no intention of doing anything further as regards Moorgate services, it will be for their successor in 2021 (or 22 if DfT choose to extend, especially if services are being devolved to TfL I can see the rump surviving longer to let the dust settle especially if TL and the long distance remain of GN are split from the remain of SN + GatEx, you wouldn’t do all the splitting at once if you were sane).

    I suspect the Southern ECML + branches getting ETCS will open up the opportunities for Moorgate to be lifted above the current 15tph theoretical (14 proposed in timetable) max given the post accident signalling arrangements so it may well be for TfL post take over to order the extra stock, do bit of digging at Moorgate** and write a new safety case based on the new signalling system and slightly longer over runs created. Hence why should TSGN bother…

    ** Plenty of spraycrete contractors available post CR, Bank, Victoria, Super Sewer before CR2 ramps up fully.

  249. Al__S says:

    re ngh
    “do bit of digging at Moorgate** and write a new safety case based on the new signalling system and slightly longer over runs created”

    Crikey, careful now, that’s the sort of talk that gets crayons out of boxes as people start eyeing up southern/southeastern routes to pair the lines to. But what tunnels/foundations are beyond the end of the NCL tubes? Obviously a through service (to more than one branch) would allow much higher frequency, but the expense would be huge and the south end routes would have their trains limited in length by the NCL platforms

  250. Graham H says:

    @Al–S 🙂 Yes, costs, huge, benefits slight (probably less than the price of a largest box of the fabled products of Herrn Faeber-Castell), even for just the platform extensions that I think is what ngh meant. Amongst other things, you wouldn’t have to dig far to encounter CrossRail.

  251. Malcolm says:

    Yes, it is nice (naughty, but nice) to talk about Moorgate. Before discussion gets shut down, I think that ngh’s plan may have a little mileage. More and better pedestrian access to the platforms can perhaps be provided, and if platforms and overruns are to be lengthened, then the “obvious” way to do it is at the north end: the south is just too cluttered. However, lengthening might have to be coupled with something similar at Essex Road etc, and the costs start to mount.

    The benefits side may be tricky too: today GN traffic is managing without Thameslink which is soon to be added. And Crossrail 2 is also slated to provide relief – though admittedly not for a while.

  252. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm- as a moderator, you should know better….

  253. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Actually… Why have two overruns? You could have a single overrun for both lines with a loose point that would be set depending on which terminating train overran.

    After all, if an overrun were to occur, modern H&S regulations would probable evacuate the whole station and stop all trains running into it…

  254. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm,
    I wasn’t suggesting “digging” far, starting with removing the remains of the tunnel shield, traction substation and other electrical equipment would be huge head start. Just 20metres of actual overrun track would make huge difference with new signalling.
    (About 2m and 5m currently).

    Platform lengthening is whole different game.

  255. ngh says:

    Re SH (LR),

    Oh dear, if you dig much further than I suggest you’ll find some Crossrail escalator tunnels which is the point at which the moderators shears come out as the line between CAD file and crayons has been crossed.

    Re Malcolm,

    Platform lengthening – In cab signalling, ATO and SDO would radically reduce the amount of work required to get to 7 car…

  256. Malcolm says:

    ngh: Ah, that’s clearer.
    Graham: yes, a change of millinery is pending…

  257. Anon E. Mouse says:

    @SH(LR), ngh

    The other problem with building a single overrun for the two separate lines is that the terminating platforms are actually staggered which I found out recently when I decided to check the line out having never actually travelled on it.

  258. Malcolm says:

    Anon E. Mouse: a bit browser-dependent, but that’s a wonderful use of italic letters.

  259. Whoosh says:

    I believe Moorgate was 15mph at the time of the crash in 1975. It’s 10mph over the crossovers and into the station now. With in-cab signalling, I would think an easy return (or an increase if it was always 10mph) to 15mph is possible, as there would be a continuous check on a train’s speed, and an intervention possible at any time, as opposed to four train-stops spread out as currently.
    With a 33% increase in speed, the throughput of the junction would be greater, stepping-back of drivers could be introduced, and an automatic changeover of power supply at Drayton Park, would all contribute towards more trains being able to be run as tens of seconds would be saved per train.

    You won’t get much faster than 15mph for as apart from a straight run in the Up direction into platform 9, there are some tight curves outside Moorgate on the scissors crossover.

    All stations from Watton-at-Stone to Moorgate (except Alexandra Palace and Finsbury Park) are six car platforms, as well as Brookmans Park and Welham Green. Drayton Park has crossovers at both ends of the station.
    More trains running, and without space-wasting intermediate cabs, are the answer for the foreseeable future. No-one has money to clean the tunnels, nevermind extend them through water-seeping ground for an extra two carriages of platform space.

  260. ngh says:

    Re Anon E Mouse,

    As you can’t actually do it that is a very theoretical and academic other problem…

    Re Whoosh,

    I was expecting a return to 15mph and may be 20mph at a push with a new set of scissors. (see Walthamstow Central article from summer 2015). 20mph being far more useful for departing services but every little helps.
    As the new units are fixed 6 car a 7th car lengthening could be possibility (which it isn’t really today with 3 car units and hypothetical mix of 4 and 3 would never really working in practice with splitting and joining but is more practical with fixed full length units) if the back set of doors don’t open at Old Street etc.

    Improved train detection will allow the junction to be verified as cleared far sooner and route setting for conflicting moves to happen far quicker too.

    The speed (distance / time) over junctions (or a track section) isn’t what matters but pace (time /distance) with the 100 vs 110 mph discussions above. The relative times take to travel the distance of the relatively common 400m 4 aspect suburban signal spacing:
    5mph – 180s
    10mph – 90s
    15 mph – 60s
    20mph – 45s
    25mph – 36s

    The value in improvements has effectively disappeared above 20mph for terminating platforms but 10 to 15 or 20 is very worthwhile.

  261. Anon E. Mouse says:

    I know it’s only academic, I was just stating it for the record. Plus, as Malcolm pointed out, it was a good excuse for creative use of italics 😉

  262. Graham H says:

    @ngh – an extremely helpful tabulation! (And one I wish I had had many years ago…)

  263. Greg Tingey says:

    Graham H
    H A Ivatt demonstrated a similar table, showing it at the International Railway Congress of 1895.
    Said diagram is reproduced in H A V Bullied’s book “The Aspinall Era” on p129.
    It showed the distance which would be lost or gained by changing from one speed ( in 10 mph increments ) to the next.

  264. Graham H says:

    @GregT – sadly, despite my great age, I wasn’t at the 1895 congress…. (although my great grandfather might have been!)

  265. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @ngh: Ah! A little bit of digging! I hadn’t quite realised that the CrossRail escalators were that close (nor that the over-run was that short!).

    @Anon E. Mouse: Staggered? Never noticed it and I’ve used the station multiple times!

  266. Timbeau says:


    H A V Bulleid (if I can persuade the spell checker to get his name right).

    Son of the Southern Railway locomotive engineer O V S Bulleid.

  267. Anon E. Mouse says:

    It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it but if you stand near the bottom of the escalators, you’ll notice that the connecting passage there links into the end of Plat.10 and the middle of Plat.9

  268. Jordan D says:

    Someone will be a long to correct me – but am I right in thinking that none of the GN platforms are being extended for the 12 car TL trains (other than work already done at FPK)?

    Seems very odd if that is the case.

  269. Greg Tingey says:

    H A V B was also author of “Master Builders of Steam”, most of whom he knew, personally, either as family, ot through those connections;
    HA Ivatt ( His grandfather). H N Gresley ( met several times ), O VS Bullied ( His father ) G J Churchward, W Stanier ( met more than once), & H G Ivatt ( His cousin )
    Died aged over 100, in 2009.
    Also a historian of the cinema, especially the silent era.

  270. Whoosh says:

    12 car GN platforms:

    All stations Peterborough to Stevenage (except little used 8 car bay at Huntingdon);

    Cambridge (platforms 1,7, &8), Royston, Letchworth;

    Finsbury Park.

    If you look at the stopping patterns of Cambridge to Brighton, and Peterborough to Horsham trains, that’s where they stop.

    Cambridge to Maidstone East will be 8 car units.

  271. Whoosh says:

    *Should’ve said Finsbury Park (except eight car Platform 8)!

    For the purists out there!

  272. Ianno says:

    Cambridge North will also have 3x 12 car platforms (when built)

  273. Rogmi says:

    @Mark and others
    Whilst an increase from 2 to 4 tph on the Wimbledon loop would be welcome, I would personally be happy if they at least ran the 2 tph that are timetabled! The service on the loop is often appalling due to the many and frequent cancellations. It is quite common for two consecutive trains to be cancelled, sometimes three or more, leaving gaps of 1½+hours. Late running trains are often turned short at Wimbledon meaning that Tooting, Haydons Road and Wimbledon may get a bit better service but at the expense of the rest of the line.

    It is often easier for me to get a bus than risk relying on whether a train is running or not by the time I get to a station. Even though an app may show a train is running, it will often disappear at the last minute or just remain stuck on the platform describer before eventually being cleared ten minutes after the train was due to have arrived.

    Other than staff shortages, many of the cancellations are caused by reasons way beyond the loop – overhead wires down somewhere, problems on the Brighton line, etc. Terminating the loop service at Blackfriars as originally proposed and better relieving staff allocation would, in theory at least, have prevented many of these cancellations.

  274. Pedantic of Purley says:


    We have been through this before but others have suggested that in the event of disruption the first service the controllers will look at cancelling is the Wimbledon loop one as it is by far the most difficult to regulate (loads of conflicting junctions, no easy place to turn short and no layover before it comes back to London). If they had two platforms at Wimbledon they could think of terminating short there but they haven’t . Another factor is they are only eight car trains not twelve.

    More back on topic, I would suggest that the second service in the sights of controllers when cancellations are needed would be the one to Rainham if it ever happens. This would be especially true in the peak where it risks affecting or being affected by SouthEastern services at North Kent junction.

    I know some strongly disagree with me but I really think continuation of the Wimbeldon loop is a case of “beware what you wish for”.

  275. Jordan D says:

    Somewhat ridiculous to get fixed formation new 12 car trains and then not have them serve any stations FPK-SVG. WGC at least should have had platform extensions done, as somewhere to short terminate the trains. Can’t imagine they want to SDO a 12 car at WGC each day?

  276. Mark Townend says:

    Some ‘loop’ routes work well, but successful ones seem to reverse at the other end at a conventional terminal where a slug of ‘invisible’ recovery time can be inserted into layover to allow small perturbations to be corrected in the next cycle. A loop plugged into a crosstown core merely replays the outbound delays directly back to the inbound sequence with little opportunity for recovery unless some random through station on the loop is given an excessive dwell time, subjecting local through passengers to a very ‘visible’ and irritating timetabled wait. In the case of Wimbledon, complexity of the junctions and conflicts en route add to the uncertainty, and although there are various conventional turnbacks used on the MML, they’re on the other side of the core so they can’t help correct the passage of a train from the south that had accumulated problems on it’s last run through the core from the north. For these factors I think the loop should have been discounted as a candidate core route south of the Thames, at least as it is configured today. It could be reconfigured as two branches beyond Streatham as far as Thameslink is concerned however, one going to Sutton and the other to Wimbledon where each could have a more conventional turnback where some recovery margin could be incorporated.

    In order to compensate the people of the the ‘loop proper’ for lost service between Sutton and Wimbledon, a vastly improved central London service could be offered instead by joining the line to Crossrail 2 to take all those core trains currently envisaged to terminate at Wimbledon. The CR2 Sutton branch would terminate in a new pair of dedicated bays at the west end of Sutton station. It would be worth investigating the opportunities for developing the Head Post Office site on Grove Road to help achieve this, or a deep box could be excavated on the site of the current ramp and junction, with access by new passageways from the west end of the Epsom line platforms and a new street entrance onto Bridge Road. Capacity released in the Epsom line platforms at Sutton might be used for additional longer distance services from the Horsham and Guildford directions.

    Crayons locked away now!

  277. I would like to remind all commentators to please use full station names, not the three letter station codes. We have many non-railway professional readers and we endeavour to have an online magazine, and comments, that are understood by all. LBM

  278. Anon E. Mouse says:

    @Mark Townend
    The problems with that idea are that XR2 is many years away and the rebuilding of Sutton station would be expensive and potentially very awkward. I think a simpler solution would be to run the loop with extensions of Southern services that would otherwise terminate at Sutton (with a few minutes layover included) and divert the proposed TL12 service somewhere else (Beckenham Junction, for example).

  279. timbeau says:

    @Mark Townend
    It won’t be possible to provide much layover time at Wimbledon if you are terminating services from both directions in the single platform there. Short of evicting the trams upstairs or waiting for the remodelling of Crossrail 2, I don’t see a way of squaring that circle.
    An out and back loop from |London Bridge, with the Thameslink services taking over something else currently running via North Dulwich, would be easier to manage operationally – but politics may tell against it.

    In any case, the operator’s favourite way of recovering from disruptions may turn out to be terminating Loop services at Blackfriars, where they can wait for their path back.

  280. Anon E. Mouse says:

    A thought just hit me on account of timbeau’s line “In any case, the operator’s favourite way of recovering from disruptions may turn out to be terminating Loop services at Blackfriars”. If nothing else is done about the loop and it proves to be a bit of a headache for efficient running then they could potentially restructure the timetable to terminate some of the loop services at Blackfriars off-peak instead of the Sevenoaks services. It’s not a perfect solution and it does nothing about peak hours but it does at least put slightly more resilience into the timetable.

  281. Tim says:


    “recovering from [the inevitable!] disruptions”

    …so, at least officially, the ‘people of the loop’ are kept happy until 2018 when it all cocks up and TL are forced to do a(nother) timetable change…”we (and NR) told you so…”

  282. ngh says:

    Re Phil,

    Already mentioned in the Last Guards thread yesterday, LR may cover it in more detail…

  283. Malcolm says:

    Hmm, that solution would seem to attract all the opprobrium of (part) retreating from a promise to run loop services through the core, without adding much resilience (because most disruptions start in peak hours). So worst of both worlds.

  284. ngh says:

    Re Rogmi, Mark T, Timbeau, Tim, Anon E Mouse,

    The proposed service pattern for the loop makes quite a lot of sense as it reduces conflicting moves at Tulse Hill compared to today (-4tph TL each way via but not stopping at Herne Hill & Crystal Palace which is the worst move and really helps) and minimises the increase in them at Streatham South Jn. despite adding 2tph each way round the loop which is quite an achievement for South London! So post 2018 there should be fewer issues overall effecting the loop.
    Streatham could become a very popular station to change at.

    The proposed TL12 to Beckenham Junction doesn’t help because it has the potential to make Tulse Hill more prone to delays and disruption again.

  285. ngh says:

    I’m changing my previous view on the first services to be cancelled/altered etc. in the event of Thameslink core issues from Wimbledon loopers to the proposed Gravesend via Greenwich services.

  286. ngh says:

    Re Jordan,

    Lack of 12 car station calls from Finsbury park to Stevenage etc.
    Thameslink will be proving the semi-fast service on the GN routes with some residual GN semi-fasts (from Kings Cross) and GN the all stations (Moorgate) so why would any of the stations need 12car (Welwyn is a sensible option if the were more cash around).

    The 29x 387s heading to GN also have SDO which should help with some of the peak semi fasts if needed.

  287. Anon E. Mouse says:


    I would have said more in my comment at 18:35 but I was in a bit of a rush as my dinner was ready! What I should have added was that my idea was only intended as a quick-fix solution if it comes to it. I still ultimately think the best course of action is to sever the loop somehow (as mentioned in my comment at 15:01).


    Just to clarify, I wasn’t actually saying that Thameslink services should go to Beckenham Junction, it was merely the first example that came to mind. (Also, TL to Beckenham J. makes more sense via Kent House than via Crystal Palace because of fewer conflicts.)

  288. Mark Townend says:

    @timbeau, 27 September 2016 at 17:39

    If the Sutton line was emerging from undergound to the west of Wimbledon station along with the rest of CR2, then neither platforms #9 or #10 would be required as a through heavy rail facilities. Hence a substantial extension of the island at the east end could provide two terminal platforms for Thameslink and two platforms at the other end for Tramlink.

    How to build it all?
    1. Split the loop, terminating the service from Wimbledon at a temporary turnback at West Sutton, and the Mitcham Junction trains in the Epsom Downs platforms #3, #4.
    2. Now build the new bays at the west of Sutton station.
    3. Once new Sutton platforms complete, restore Wimbledon TL trains to terminate at Sutton.
    4. Build CR2 incorporating Wimbledon changes.
    5. Transfer Sutton line to CR2, truncate TL at Wimbledon.

  289. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Mark T – look at last year’s consultation for Crossrail 2 at Wimbledon and you’ll see why what you suggest isn’t st all straightforward. The tunnel portal is to the east of Wimbeldon, and the number of tracks and grade separation necessary to also get to and from the proposed depot means that any terminal platforms from the Haydons Road direction would be a long, long way from the station.

    There would then be the issue of having grade separation for the Sutton line west of the station in roughly the same place as the grade separation required to get the ‘up’ Crossrail 2 line from one side of the SWML to the other.

    And finally, it would sever the connection from the Haydons Road direction to the SWML, used four times daily for freight and more occasionally for charters etc.

  290. c says:

    How about Potters Bar, Hatfield, Welwyns GC and North – don’t they comprise the semis out of Kings Cross?

    I understood they’d be part of Thameslink – 1tph from each of Peterborough and Cambridge as today (or rejigged) ?

    Will all Cambridge TL trains be extended to Cambridge North?

  291. ngh says:

    Re C,

    There are also the semi-semi-fast 8 car TL services that take over from the current 4 car Cambridge stoppers (or “Cambridge local” in GTR language). 4car because some platforms are too short on the Hitchin – Cambridge section but SDO and platform lengthening will sort that, those services will stop at Potters Bar, Hatfield, Welwyns GC and North as they currently do. There will also be residual Peterborough semi-fasts from Kings Cross (presumably using the remaining 365s).

  292. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Tim 1839 – I don’t think anyone who uses Thameslink could ever be described as “happy”. Better to say they’ll remain as miserable in 2018 as they are now. I expect that if any hint of a proposal to scrap the Loop service into the core will results in MPs Stephen Hammond, Chuka Umunna, Siobhain McDonagh, Helen Hayes, Paul Scully, Tom Brake, Rosena Allin-Khan and possibly even Harriet Harman all mounting the barricades to “protect” the rail service for their constituents. I doubt anyone is brave enough to actually sit down and explain the facts and the consequences of the different service pattern options to these MPs so they could at least get past the irrational “must have a through train, must have a through train” logic which grips Thameslink passengers.

    Personally I’d rather have higher frequency and changing than low frequency and a direct train but I’ve been used to high frequency services in Tyne and Wear and London so it’s what I’m used to. I just really struggle with the “direct train” mantra in a complex and relatively integrated transport system as we have in London.

  293. Malcolm says:

    WW: I basically agree. But your north-Londoner notions are showing somewhat. For historical reasons (that’s what they are used to), south-Londoners are much more into through trains. Of course there are plenty of exceptions, doubtless, and it may be difficult to survey scientifically, but that seems to me to be a useful general rule.

  294. Verulamius says:


    The Thameslink proposals for GN services are two per hour 8 car trains Cambridge to Maidstone , these will be stopping at Hatfield, Potters Bar, Welwyn Garden City, etc. and stations to Cambridge. There will also be two per hour 8 car trains, peak only, Sevenoaks to Welwyn Garden City stopping.

    In addition there will be the 12 car Peterborough Horsham and Cambridge Brighton trains. These are fast Finsbury Park to Stevenage and both routes will be 2 per hour.

    So no through trains from Welwyn Garden City to Peterborough.

  295. Ian J says:

    @C: Will all Cambridge TL trains be extended to Cambridge North?

    The map on p.12 of the full consultation document shows the 12 car Cambridge-Brightons starting from Cambridge North, but not the 8 car Maidstone stoppers.

  296. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I’m changing my previous view on the first services to be cancelled/altered etc. in the event of Thameslink core issues from Wimbledon loopers to the proposed Gravesend via Greenwich services.

    Yes, but why? A conclusion without reasoning gets us nowhere.


    ngh and others including myself think that the Thameslink fleet will be much harder worked off-peak than originally envisaged so they will already be “tight” with their stock. There has to be some maintenance done.

    To me it seems appalling that they will have a new station in a very successful high tech science park and it won’t have as good a service as it could have. The Watton-at-Stone situation seems to suggest how desperate it is. I do hate this cutting down of fleet size. Having spent billions on upgrading the route it does seem to be spoiling the ship for a hap’worth of tar – albeit probably a £50 million hap’worth of tar.

  297. Mark Townend says:

    @Sad Fat Dad, 27 September 2016 at 20:05

    Good points about the impracticability of extension of platfroms #9 and #10 but from the documentation I read that work would not be necessary because:

    1. While not in bored tunnel, the new subsurface alignments for the CR2 platform tracks are next to but clear of the existing station complex, and built under the Centre Court shopping centre.

    2. Tramlink will be moved to a new street level terminus above heavy rail to the west of Wimbledon Bridge.

    These factors suggest both #9 and #10 could become available in their entirety once again for Thameslink trains, whether running through or terminating.

    To the west of Wimbledon station the two CR2 lines will have to remain in a subsurface trench for a few hundred metres until the up CR2 passes under the Sutton branch and all four lines of the main line, and the down CR2 also passes under the Sutton line. That inherent grade separation offers the opportunity of a ramp connection between the two routes. Connections between #9 and #10 and the main line can remain as they are to cater for freight, departmental and excursion movements.

    With the Thameslink platforms remaining broadly as they are, whether the services terminate or not should have no impact on access to the CR2 depot and stabling facilities envisaged to the east of Wimbledon, between the station and the portal.

  298. Phil says:

    I see many commentators are suggesting modifications to the Wimbledon loop. Perhaps they are forgetting three key points:-

    (1) NR, GTR, etc would love nothing better than to remove the loop from Thameslink – so comments like “they should” are going after the wrong people.

    (2) Wimbledon loop users are politically savvy and created enough political pressure that the then SOS specifically said (without consulting NR first by the way!) back in 2013 was DIRECTING – (note, not suggesting, recommending, advising) he specifically said that Wimbledon Loop services MUST remain as part of the Thameslink franchise come what may. People also need to remember that NR is firmly part of the Government and has to dance to the DfTs tune (however ridiculous, sub-optimal or illogical said tune might be) and the same is true if franchised TOCs. Transport professionals, planners and commentators to this website can say what they like – the die is cast and people should stop wasting their time pretending otherwise.

    (3) It would be nice to think that Wimbledon loop users will learn in time that they have made a mistake and that the inevitable terminating short will make them think again about the insistence on being part of Thameslink. However given they seem to have ignored that when clamoring to keep Thameslink services, the reality is they will just whinge to their MPs / SOS who will simply vent their anger at NR / the TOC for providing a bad service as none of the politicians will have the guts to tell voters “you bought this on yourselves”

  299. Verulamius says:

    My understanding on Cambridge North trains is that it is due to see 4 GTR trains an hour (two fast Kings Cross to Kings Lynn/Ely and the two Cambridge to Brighton) plus probably the Cambridge/Standsted to Norwich and Birmingham trains. The Cambridge Maidstone trains are currently due to terminate at Cambridge City (is this the right name for the existing station?)

  300. Old Buccaneer says:

    Malcolm @ 23:25 27.9.16: a wild generalisation about those who live South of the Thames in the Khanate. South East Londoners have a metro type service with multiple central destinations; South West Londoners have the poorly placed Waterloo, with connections via Shanks’ pony, Bakerloo, ‘Waterloo & Wharf’ & Unmentionable lines; I could go on.

    South London also has a virtual orbital road, little more than a collection of road signs; the North Circular, in contrast, sweeps majestically from Hanger Lane to the M 11.

    Travel habits & expectations are only partly a function of geography. And many Londoners, North and South, arrived here in adult life, with habits & expectations mostly formed.

    Most of the “linking” being done by Thameslink seems not to be in South London, where substitution appears to be the order of the day. Those who call it ‘Crossrail 0.x’ may have a point, particularly as an allusion to the passengers’ feelings.

  301. c says:

    Thanks all for the responses.

    I didn’t realise SDO would still be needed in between Letchworth and Cambridge, for the slower trains. That line through Royston will certainly be busy now (going from 4 to 6tph?)

    Will Cambridge North have services to Liverpool Street? Or maybe just the peak ones which extend beyond Cambridge?

  302. Malcolm says:

    Old Buccaneer: Correct that I indulged in a wild generalisation. Discussion of north/south contrasts rarely leads anywhere helpful in these pages anyway.

    But I do find it interesting that so many of the comments here are about issues on the Great Northern line – of course the timetable proposals under discussion do affect that line, but they also affect many others.

  303. Mark Townend says:

    To determine this problem politically there needs to be more precision in defining the audience or constituency. Who are the ‘people of the loop’ that have been made so many promises to? I suspect most people who use the loop trains for journeys to and through the core do so from stations including and north of Sutton and Wimbledon. Anecdotally most travelling from stations between Sutton and Wimbledon tend to change to faster London services at the first major junction they encounter. If that really is the case, the majority of customers on the trains then could be adequately served by a two branch configuration terminating at Wimbledon and Sutton, with the potential benefits to core reliability that conventional termini with layovers could bring compared to the loop configuration. The Thameslink MML inners need to terminate somewhere in the south clearly and although there are a number of flat conflicts on the routes, all candidate inner suburban routes in the south have at least some flat conflict, so Sutton and Wimbledon are not exceptionally poor in this respect, if re-imagined as two conventional branch termini. It is the loop form that is the current route’s most significant flaw.

    If the loop was discontinued and truncated as suggested, and a new terminus built at Sutton, the stations between Sutton and Wimbledon would need a replacement train service for their local journeys but, more importantly politically, they would also need to retain a central London service at least as good if not better than that they receive today via Thameslink. After Crossrail 2 these stations might instead get a Waterloo service using some of the slow capacity released by CR2 via Clapham Junction. That would be a reasonable offer, maybe politically acceptable in being faster to central London than the tortuous route to Blackfriars and beyond via Herne Hill, but multiple central London stations and connections to northern termini would be lost.

    A much more palatable , indeed highly desirable offer would be a 6TPH+ Crossrail 2 service with direct trains to Clapham Junction, Chelsea, Victoria, the West End, the northern intercity and HS termini and north London. This would be “Sutton’s tube”, and could transform the attractiveness of the string of stations between there and Wimbledon. A walk or bus to one of these for central London could become a significantly more compelling prospect than going to Morden to catch the Northern Line.

    A project to upgrade this railway and provide a new independent terminus in Sutton would be popular I am sure, and might be a better investment of transport budget than the local Tramlink scheme. More attractive service on the line could help to relieve peak road traffic on nearby main roads to Morden and Wimbledon which might allow existing bus services to cope.

    The Wimbledon and Sutton Railway is a modern railway built for electric operations in the 1930s. Today it is a rather quiet backwater with infrequent service and a long journey time to central London. Crossrail 2 offers a unique opportunity to transform it to the higher density near-Metro type operation it always had the potential to be. In current plans there are many Crossrail 2 trains envisaged to terminate at Wimbledon. These are just itching to go somewhere useful, just like the CR1 Paddington terminators from the east. Running them to Sutton could avoid the need for (or reduce the size of) a dedicated reversing facility at Wimbledon and avoid any tipping out timing issues in the very busy CR2 platfroms there (although I accept that can also be managed by a CR1 Paddington type arrangement).

    Go Sutton tube!

  304. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Wouldn’t you actually want the two branches to overlap? Then there is no break to be covered by bus…

    Of course the people in the bit where it overlaps would get a super service but then you can’t have everything…

  305. Anon E. Mouse says:

    @Mark Townend
    While I have to admit that your idea is interesting and has some logic to it, the problem remains that XR2 is still a long way away. (Who knows how long it will be before it gets built?)

    You mentioned that the routes most significant flaw is (as we all know) the loop format. Perhaps the simplest and most politically palatable solution is to provide reversal facilities at Sutton so that all TL trains that arrive there can terminate and head back the way they came. The key advantage to this is that you remove the loop without anyone losing their through service. The only problem is where exactly to provide these reversal facilities?

  306. Anonymous of Croydon says:

    Mark T

    Don’t forget that the Thamelink “there must be a through service” lobby” will also be looking at Carshalton, Hackbridge and to a lesser extent Mitcham Junction. I was at the Tom Brake Southern meeting in the summer and tried pushing at the “you MPs and Sutton Council have made the service worse” angle. Tom got my point, but it never got a serious airing because of the furious noise about Southern in general (which takes us to another topic and one I will not go down).

  307. timbeau says:

    @Anon E Mouse

    “provide reversal facilities at Sutton so that all TL trains that arrive there can terminate and head back the way they came. The key advantage to this is that you remove the loop without anyone losing their through service.”

    But the half way round the loop point is not Sutton but St Helier, so everyone between there and West Sutton would have a longer journey or need to change at Sutton.

    “Wouldn’t you actually want the two branches to overlap? Then there is no break to be covered by bus…”
    As I understood it, the break (between Sutton and Wimbledon) would be served by Mark’s proposal to extend terminating XR2 trains beyond Wimbledon to Sutton

    @Anon of Croydon
    Carshalton etc would, on this proposal, still have their service through the core as the Sutton branch of the former loop.

    @Old Bucaneer
    “wild generalisation about those who live South of the Thames in the Khanate. South East Londoners have a metro type service with multiple central destinations; South West Londoners have the poorly placed Waterloo, with connections via Shanks’ pony, Bakerloo, ‘Waterloo & Wharf’ & Unmentionable lines; I could go on. ”

    Moreover, the Southern NR lines are much better interconnected than the northern ones, witness the numbers changing at Clapham Junction, Waterloo East and London Bridge. For example, although Waterloo is not particularly well-placed, it is relatively easy to travel from SWT stations to Victoria, London Bridge or Charing Cross (or even City Thameslink!) without ever going near a Tube train.

  308. ngh says:

    Re C,

    SDO only till the platforms are sorted won’t be cheap/ easy which is why they haven’t be done up till now…

  309. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Phil – your “suggestion” that we all, effectively, shut up because a politician said something at a point in time is all too redolent of other attitudes that are all too prevalent at the moment. It’s fine that you point out the past but so what? If we adopted that attitude we’d make no progress or change anything because every idea would be “off limits”. It’s as much a fact that the Thameslink loop service is useless because of the “we must have a through service” brigade (whoever they are) as GTR being a pretty below par train operator and NR’s infrastructure regularly falling over somewhere. Last time I looked we were allowed to discuss options and ideas (within bounds) and that must surely include options for the Wimbledon loop as much as anywhere else.

    @ Malcolm – based on what I’ve seen elsewhere there is a fair degree of concern about what Thameslink means for the GN route. My impression is the GN service pattern is pretty long established so people have their preferences and I’m not shocked to see lots of questions and comment given the pretty fundamental changes being proposed. I have seen virulent (not an understatement) remarks about the class 700s and how much of a step down in quality they will represent on the GN so I suspect GTR will not be getting much positive comment!

  310. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Mark T – I quite like the CR2 to Sutton idea and breaking the loop service. Anything which allows an improvement has to be better than a parlously operated 30 minute headway service. However it is worth harking back to the dismissal by the CR2 team / sponsors of multiple service options onto bits of Thameslink or South Central. I can’t see a change away from concentrating on South Western being contemplated given a “final” service / route structure is due to be announced in October this year.

    The other thing is whether there will be enough capacity for the Sutton – Waterloo alternative. Again that looks decent in terms of a x10 min frequency. I also wonder what approach DfT will take to SWT devolution and how a “CR2 TOC” fits in. Will the DfT really cut the SWT franchise in half with all London locals going to a TfL contracted TOC and will TfL then split its operation into Waterloo and CR2 bits? I see the draft South Western franchise contract doesn’t give very much away other than allowing for an accounting separation of Greater London services and for the SoS to designate whatever he might want to designate – twas ever thus!

  311. ngh says:

    There will also be peak extra semi fast GNs from Kings Cross to Peterborough though I’m not sure on the calling pattern.

    Also worth noting that GN will have an extra 10x 4 car 387s compared to the originally planned 377/5 quota cascaded and this should help non TL capacity including the Cambridge North extensions.

    GTR also apparently bid on the assumption of using some 4 car 377/5s during the middle of the night for TL services. Everyone’s original assumptions were propably around cost as the reason but it now looks like GTR understood how stretched the 700 stock would be hence using other stock to allow larger maintenence and cleaning “windows”.
    GTR are apparently having some robust discussions with Siemens as the labour required to clean the 700s in a given time span is significantly higher than specified…

  312. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm,

    GN is simple enough for enough people to have got a handle on all the GN proposals, I suspect this isn’t the case south of the river yet due to the higher complexity…

  313. Anon E. Mouse says:

    “But the half way round the loop point is not Sutton but St Helier, so everyone between there and West Sutton would have a longer journey or need to change at Sutton.”

    I suppose that’s a good point, however, Sutton is by far and away the most logical place to split the loop if it is to be split at all.

  314. Graham Feakins says:

    May I remind everyone discussing the Wimbledon loop that it was not the politicians per se who kicked up the fuss. The DfT themselves gave every opportunity for everyone to do so, e.g. in their May 2012 Consultation on the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise:

    “7.21 Many stakeholders are aware that Network Rail has recommended, in both the South London and London and South East Route Utilisation Strategies, that Wimbledon loop services should start and terminate at Blackfriars. Network Rail wishes to see trains presented to the Thameslink core punctually, and it sees the crossing moves that the Wimbledon loop trains have to make south of Blackfriars as potential conflicts with other trains, and thus a threat to punctuality. At peak times, from December 2018, it will be possible for up to 16 trains per hour to approach Blackfriars from the south route via Elephant & Castle, but for no more than eight of these to proceed through the Thameslink core. The other eight must terminate in the new platforms on the west side of Blackfriars station. All these trains will approach Blackfriars either from the Denmark Hill direction (including Catford loop trains) or from Herne Hill (including Wimbledon loop trains). The question to be decided is which six or eight trains (depending on whether 16 or 18 approach from London Bridge) go through the Thameslink core and which terminate. Trains that use these routes today come from Sutton, Wimbledon, Ashford (via Maidstone East), Rochester, Sevenoaks, Orpington, Beckenham Junction and Kent House. We are seeking respondents’ views on which of these service groups should run through the Thameslink core and which should terminate at Blackfriars.

    Q.18 What services that run via Elephant & Castle do respondents think should run via the Thameslink core route?”

    It follows that most folk thought it eminently sensible to run 4tph off the Wimbledon loop through the core, plus 4tph off the Catford loop through, thereby effectively retaining the status quo but with the desired additional 2tph on the Catford loop.

    So far as I am aware, there was never any significant call for the other services (e.g. Rochester, Beckenham Junction and Kent House), most of which terminated at Blackfriars anyway, to run through at the time. There are three, well spaced-apart locations between Loughborough Junction and before Blackfriars where crossing moves can be and are made between Wimbledon loop (via Herne Hill) and Catford loop (via Denmark Hill) services.

    So where’s the problem everyone is moaning about?

  315. Anon E. Mouse says:

    @Graham Feakins
    “So where’s the problem everyone is moaning about?”

    The loop itself, of course. I don’t think anyone’s said anything about the Loughborough J. to Blackfriars section (on this comment thread at least).

  316. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham F – I’d have thought a useless 2 tph each way round the loop was enough of an issue? Nothing you quoted points out the apparent choice of having a better frequency round the loop – to “Metro” standard – and increased reliability by terminating at Blackfriars. Some of the trains mentioned in 2012 no longer feature in the new proposals and one, Maidstone, is shuffled through London Bridge instead. I’m sorry for being infected with “North London-itis” (tm Malcolm) but I think a 2 tph service is shockingly bad within Greater London and surely the good folk of Sutton and Merton boroughs deserve something rather better [1]? And actually the good folk of everywhere else in London who might to travel to that bit of South London deserve better too. The DfT might be content to specify such shockingly poor services but they’re not really to the standard that a world class city with a growing population and declining use of private transport needs.

    [1] and exactly the same arguments apply with respect to Overground services to Enfield Town / Cheshunt and the stoppers on the West Anglia main line. At least we are getting a partial improvement on the latter and I await the day [2] when TfL get round to announcing they’ve secured some extra off peak paths to bolster the Overground service.
    [2] although I’m not holding my breath as I think DfT have “done a dirty” on TfL with the higher frequencies on the Anglia franchise and the implications on train paths.

  317. Malcolm says:

    Alongside all this talk of “splitting the loop”, I would just like to put forward certain abstract advantages of a loop system rather than an out-and-back. Fully acknowledging that it any given case (such as the Wimbledon one under discussion) these advantages may be overcome by loop-snags, such as the difficulty of regulation.

    One “line” is normally expected to serve a sector-shaped piece of city, wider at the outskirts than near the centre. A loop is the obvious way to do this, helping to ensure that no point is more than walking distance away from a station. It can make certain “orbital” journeys possible. A loop also avoids the waste of time changing ends or turning out, thus facilitating more efficient use of trains and crews. It is also more resilient against total blockage, since in theory every point on it can be served from either direction.

  318. Anonymous of Croydon says:

    Two trains per hour is shockingly few, but the trade off has traditionally been that the service is faster. My 2tph Purley Oaks to Victoria semi fast in the rush hours is scheduled for 25 mins from zone six. Try that on the Central Line or the Piccadily line. I know my train times, and leave work or home at the right time to get those trains.

    Off course if I am at West Sutton the speed issue doesn’t really happen, not least because the service is so round the houses. But it is worth remembering what the traditional bargain was.

  319. Anonymous of Croydon says:

    And as far as Hackbridge and Carshalton were concerned my point was not to forget them in favour of the St Helier line when trying to understand why MPs and Councils wanted certain things done.

  320. Walthamstow Writer says:

    I have had a reply from GTR to the questions I asked about some aspects of the Thameslink consultation proposals. Qs and As pasted below. Note I have *not* gone back to GTR on these and I recognise the answers raise more questions so don’t shoot the messenger! Answers in italics.

    1. Is it correct that the GN5 off peak service will not offer a 4 tph service at Hadley Wood, Brookmans Park and Welham Green? Your main document says 4 tph, the station comparator shows 2 tph? If you planning a reduced off peak service then I think it is incumbent on you to say so clearly in the text of the consultation document and also to explain why.

    Thank you – the document has been corrected for Brookmans Park and Welham Green but Hadley Wood will be corrected on the next version along with an explanation of passenger demand.

    This rather suggests Hadley Wood may only get 2 tph. There are no updates on the documents accessible via Thameslink’s website.

    2. Is the peak hour Beckenham Junction to Bedford line via Sydenham Hill service being abolished completely or will it be part replaced by a South Eastern service into a Central London terminal?

    This will be replaced by a Southeastern service going as far as Bedford. This route will no longer be part of the Thameslink network. This will be clarified in the next version of the document.

    Completely bamboozled by this. I assume they probably meant to say Blackfriars as it implies 26tph through the core in the peak.

    3. Are you able to say what the full combined train frequency will be on the Greenwich line? It is not at all clear whether the proposed Thameslink service to Rainham (Kent) is additional or if it replaces existing South Eastern services and if so what services it does replace.

    The proposed Thameslink service will replace 2 of the 6 current Southeastern services to provide greater connectivity.

    While I understand this is a very large scale set of changes it is very difficult in places to genuinely understand what the end state of service will be across all relevant operators. Therefore it is near impossible to give a considered view of your plans when the full impact is not clear.

    Where possible we have tried to include details of other operators however as you know the future Southeastern franchise is currently in the process of being tendered by the DfT. We appreciate that without a full timetable it is not easy to check individual travel plans but these will come in phase 2 (late spring/early summer 2017) for comments.

    I find it interesting that GTR appear to know my knowledge about the South Eastern franchising process! “as you know”. 🙂 Psychic powers or what? 😛

  321. Malcolm says:

    WW: I’d join up with your manifesto for “4 trains per hour minimum” at every [1] station in greater London, and I don’t think it’s an unreasonable goal, nor is it particularly North-Londonish (as you point out).

    [1] (I like the footnote concept.) The exceptions would be stations like Sudbury and Harrow Road, which are only used for exotic and specialised purposes, and do not really count.

  322. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon of Croydon – thanks for the comment and I understand “the bargain” and it’s fine if you have structured your life round that level of service and are content with it. I just wonder if it works for other people who may have radically different expectations to you but may well be forced to live on the outer edges of London with pretty hopeless train services. I guess if the service is super reliable then you cope but I’d go “mad” (understatement) if I only had a x30 frequency and the actual service quality was diabolical (as it has been for many for months on Southern and Thameslink). I’d also question if we are not hitting the point at which “the bargain” is becoming untenable because of burgeoning demand on the network and having to reconsider service structures in order to properly cater for demand.

    I’m more than happy to trade a slightly longer journey time for a vastly higher frequency – in fact we have the reverse on the Vic Line. Vastly higher frequency and a faster service than before. I know that’s not presently deliverable south of the Thames on NR services but I’d argue very strongly that there is a case for those sorts of services. We just don’t have anyone in power who agrees. Please note no crayons have emerged during the typing of this reply so no one needs to start a redesign process!

  323. Malcolm says:

    The other small crumb of comfort available to people living in Enfield Town (and possibly Purley Oaks too, though I don’t know that one so well) was (once upon a time) the off-peak tram (later trolleybus later bus) to a railhead such as Wood Green from which frequent trains to town were (and still are) available. I think that would have been the traditional approach for trips to the Science Museum or whatever. (Typically not much use for commuting, but then you must know your trains instead).

    I suspect this fall-back method may have gone completely out of use, due to road congestion. (Putting another spin on the words “later” in the above).

  324. Anonymously says:

    Few points:

    – Re. South London ‘addiction’ to through services. I suspect part of the reason for this is an understandable aversion to losing a very prized seat when forced to change onto an already packed, standing-room-only service during one’s journey. North Londoners might laugh out loud at this thought, but for various reasons people south of the river have got used to direct (albeit infrequent) services to various London termini, and may need some convincing as to the benefits of a different service pattern.

    – Re. Wimble-loop. I think this issue may not be as settled as others seem to think. As we’ve seen with the Neverending Heathrow Saga, politicians can be persuaded to change their minds and potentially break previously made promises if the case for doing so becomes too great to ignore. If the service on there continues to be as poor as people say, then we may reach that point soon once the whole GTR mess is sorted out first.

    – Re. Splitting the loop and transferring Wimbledon to Sutton to CR2. This was something I suggested a year ago on another thread…..and was promptly shot down in flames at the time! I think there is a lot of merit to this idea, but the associated expense and complications of building new terminal platforms at Sutton might make it difficult to implement. Plus, as others have mentioned, it’s going to be years/decades before we see it built (if at all).
    Incidentally, the original promoters of the Wimbledon and Sutton Railway intended it to be connected to the District line at Wimbledon (and possibly to the Northern line at Morden), but these plans were blocked by the Southern Railway. Perhaps it’s time (tongue firmly planted in cheek) to revisit these ideas? 😇

    – @Verulamius…..Cambridge station has always been known as just plain-old Cambridge (or, if you want to be pedantic, Cambridge GER, during the period when the GNR had its own station building and platforms next-door). AFAIK, there are no plans to change its name when Cambridge North opens. And even if there were, given the station’s less-than-central location, renaming it ‘Cambridge City’ would be a tad misleading 😉 (a better name for it IMHO would be ‘Cambridge Hills Road’).

  325. Timbeau says:

    @anon e mouse

    Sutton is probably the very worst place to terminate loop services as trains can only lay over there on the through line to Epsom.

  326. Anonymously says:

    @WW…..’This will be replaced by a Southeastern service going as far as Bedford.”

    ??? This one answer alone makes me suspect that the person who replied to you doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about, and so I would take its contents with a huge pinch of sodium chloride 😉……

  327. Phil says:

    Re Walthamstow Writer:-

    Its not a case people should ‘shut up about it’ (as regards the Wimbledon loop) – but any comments should reflect realities. Thus its fine to flag up ideas, etc provided they also recognize that NR have been overruled for the time being by the DfT and any suggestions commentators may make on here are extremely unlikely to happen – however good they may be.

    Also its worth noting that if the service come 2018 is still unreliable then NR might have more clout to say to ministers “You really need to leave service planning to the professionals” – even if its politically awkward. At present the ‘Thameslink project’ is not finished and as such ministers, etc can tell NR it will all be fine once the project is completed.

    As to how strong emotions run with regular commuters from the Loop over its retention in the post 2018 Thameslink service pattern, doing a Google search brings up plenty of evidence of effective campaigning by the residents of the area. Any attempt to go back on the promise the SOS made would soon see the campaigning resume.

  328. Malcolm says:

    Anonymously: ‘Cambridge as near to the city as you’re going to get’? No, it wouldn’t fit on the nameboards.

    Mind you, the days when your ultimate destination had 9 chances out of 10 of being within the historic centre (Parkers Piece to Magdalene Bridge) have long gone. Chances are you’ve got a long taxi/bus/cycle ride to wherever you’re going, the whole place has puffed up like a scopperdiddle, it’s no longer a town, more like a small nation.

  329. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Which is exactly why I mentioned “providing reversal facilities at Sutton” earlier. Even something as simple as a reversal siding might be enough (if a little sub-optimal). Also, if necessary, services via Mitcham could be extended to Epsom to make use of the sidings there.

  330. Graham Feakins says:

    I kept my earlier comment as short as I could but in response to subsequent comments, note that the Catford loop train service is also still generally 2tph and it’s proposed to increase that to 4tph.

    For the Wimbledon loop itself (outwards from Streatham) it is proposed to increase that in each direction by 2tph (at least during the peaks), thus providing 4tph on each ‘side’ of the loop itself by running extra trains starting at Blackfriars, then Streatham – Wimbledon – Sutton – Streatham – London Bridge and back. ngh has already alluded to this above, so I thought that it had been taken on board (but clearly not).

    Tulse Hill and Streatham therefore stand to become more important interchange stations should one want the ‘other side’ of the loop or a better connection towards London Bridge/Blackfriars if not originally on a direct service. See e.g. a London Connections map if unclear.

  331. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anonymously – well yes I’m not placing *too much* weight on the response. Obviously it’s not of massive importance to me but given we were getting nowhere on here debating the GN local services for example I thought it was easier to ask those who are supposed to know. Ditto on the other points where there was uncertainty.

    @ Graham F – perfectly fair comment about the Catford loop improvement but it’s not 4 tph *daily* from early to late is it? Why skimp on a Sunday when we know plenty of people want to travel? If you run it people will turn up to use it.

    As for that Southern extra then OK but why peaks only? If you can run it at the most constrained times of the day then why not offer it at least M-S off peak to start with? I can’t imagine people between London Bridge and Tulse Hill being sniffy about 6 tph. It’s the lack of ambition that gets me. This would be a “no brainer” for TfL although they’re not going to be speccing anything on Thameslink. There is plenty of evidence that the Overground service concept works – 4 tph, reliable timetable, new trains, staffed and refurbed stns. Ditto on the Underground where Sundays are almost as busy as weekdays now and the service levels are somewhat different for obvious reasons (discussed here before). And yet I read comments on rail forums where TfL are viewed as the “Great Satan” destroying the National Rail network as we know it. Apart from their bizarre non use of the “flying arrows” NR symbol I’ve yet to understand what is so evil in running frequent, attractive and affordable rail services and continuing to invest to run more service volume. Strikes me as ideal but then I’ve got that funny Northern “infection”. 😉

  332. Mark Townend says:

    Timbeau, 28 September 2016 at 22:40
    “Sutton is probably the very worst place to terminate loop services as trains can only lay over there on the through line to Epsom”.

    Terminating Thameslink trains from Wimbledon at Sutton would require some kind of additional dedicated facility for them I agree, hence my suggestion for development of the head post office site, or a deeper station box a little further west with an additional street entrance onto Bridge Road and connecting passageways to the west ends of the Epsom platforms. The idea would be that the new terminal platforms would be built early and used by ‘split loop’ Thameslink services initially, then be transferred to CR2 when that project is ready to take over the Sutton branch.

    The other half of the ‘split loop’ service via Mitcham Junction could operate in and out of the Epsom Downs platforms at Sutton, and a Tunbridge Wells style turnback siding might be added out on the branch to accomodate a layover while a branch train passes through.

  333. Anonymously says:


    “And yet I read comments on rail forums where TfL are viewed as the “Great Satan” destroying the National Rail network as we know it.”

    Really? Why? They seem to make a rather better job of it than the unholy DfT/franchisee/NR alliance!

    “Apart from their bizarre non-use of the ‘flying-arrows’ NR symbol….”

    Not really all that bizarre if you consider that TfL see their LOROL services as their ‘own’, and not part of the NR franchising system. Why would you use the NR symbol if no NR services actually serve that station*? It is as illogical as slapping a Tube roundel all over a station not served by the Tube!

    *I’m purposely avoiding the weird anomaly that existed until 1994 on the Wimbledon branch, where East Putney, Southfields and Wimbledon Park stations were owned and operated by BR, but not served by any BR trains.

  334. Timbeau says:


    The Overground remains part of the National Rail network – trains comply with NR standards, infrastructure maintained by Network Rail (except the ELL which, for historical reasons, is owned by TfL), trains on the NR register and numbered accordongly, timetables appear in the GBTT and national rail website, stations obliged to sell full range of NR tickets. This last reason alone is sufficient requirement for them to display the “electric swastika”, to distinguish from LUL stations which do not have that facility.

  335. Anonymously says:


    ‘Puffed up like a scopperdiddle’? Is that a Roald Dahl word, or an invention of your own? 😉 Yes, Cambridge has grown a lot, but if you think it’s a small nation, what do you call London? A continent? 😛

  336. Anonymously says:

    @timbeau…..So what? Railway affeccionados might care, but I’ve yet to read or hear about a single member of the general public who has been confused or inconvenienced by this. I’m still impressed that the double-arrow has managed to survive at all, given that the organisation it represents (BR) no longer exists. Even NSE in their later years kept their use of the double-arrow to the absolute minimum (e.g. none of their newer rolling stock such as the Networkers had it on their exterior).

  337. Anonymously says:

    Plus what about those NR stations (mainly rural ones) that don’t have a ticket office? Should the double-arrow symbol be removed from them, since they (depending on their ticket machine) don’t have a full range of tickets available from them?

  338. Graham Feakins says:

    @WW – Just for clarification, Southern used to run 6tph daily on the London Bridge – Peckham Rye – Tulse Hill stretch but the ‘extra’ 2tph peeled off at Tulse Hill to go via Crystal Palace and Norwood Junction to terminate at various periods at Sanderstead, East Croydon itself and Smitham – a service still missed. During the peaks there were 8tph, with the extras running to Sutton and sometimes as far as Guildford. The track from Peckham Rye via Streatham wasn’t called “The Portsmouth Line” by NR and its predecessors for nothing. Much of it can be run quite fast (60mph) but the intermediate stations of course hinder much of that.

    Those via East Croydon services were taken off because of, guess what, congestion in the East Croydon area (‘official’ reason given to the public) but mainly because the paths were required for the then new Milton Keynes service (not publicly explained as such).

    So far as I can see from the latest Consultation (TL8 + TL9) there will be 4tph on the Catford loop “Daily” (not just e.g. peak hours) – that to me includes Sundays.

    cf: “Thameslink Metro Routes TL8 and TL9 combine to provide four trains per hour (daily) between Central London, Catford, Bromley South and Bickley. During peak times these services may be supplemented by Southeastern Metro services providing six trains per hour. During Monday to Saturday daytimes only Route TL9 will operate north of London Blackfriars to and from Kentish Town.”

  339. Graham Feakins says:

    P.S. “New all day train services are proposed to be introduced between Kentish Town – Central London (via Elephant & Castle) – Catford – Bromley South – Orpington. During Monday to Friday peak periods these trains will be extended to and from Luton. This is in addition to the current train services between London Blackfriars – Elephant & Castle – Catford – Bromley South – Swanley – Sevenoaks. During peak periods these trains will be extended to and from Welwyn Garden City. The two routes combine between London Blackfriars and Bickley to provide 4tph on the Catford Loop route at all times of the day, doubling the frequency of Thameslink train services.”

  340. Graham Feakins says:

    @WW – BTW my quote just above was from page 14 of the Consultation.

    You ask: “As for that Southern extra then OK but why peaks only? If you can run it at the most constrained times of the day then why not offer it at least M-S off peak to start with? I can’t imagine people between London Bridge and Tulse Hill being sniffy about 6 tph. It’s the lack of ambition that gets me.”

    Well, the answer is that, on the route London Bridge via Tulse Hill, some off-peak services make way for peak services going somewhere else. So, for example, those via Crystal Palace to East Croydon services didn’t run in the peaks because their paths were taken as far as Tulse Hill to boost the services via Streatham to Sutton and beyond! So, even today, one might have in fact say 4tph running to Sutton during the peak and at least one West Croydon via Tulse Hill service omitted. Indeed, in the olden days, the service to East Croydon didn’t even commence until near the end of the morning peak! It ceased again during the evening peak for the same reason and continued afterwards.

    Also, how does one explain the London Bridge via Tulse Hill & Selhurst service to West Croydon, which runs Mons-Sats, but runs to East Croydon (and oft to Caterham) on Sundays?

    However, when I worked in Croydon, there was an excellent Thameslink train to Bedford that left East Croydon at 18.16 and ran non-stop to Tulse Hill and Herne Hill and then non-stop to Blackfriars, thereby enabling many local connections to be made at the two Hill stations. It was very popular, too, as folk going home learned about it. Not only that but passengers to/from Gatwick found the rail link(when running) directly into that part of London very useful, rather than having to go into a London terminus and out again, simply by a change at East Croydon.

    I hope that this provides some useful background.

  341. Ian J says:


    The District Line proposal for the Wimbledon and Sutton included express running north of Wimbledon on additional tracks. (No, I’m not suggesting it should be done now).

    One advantage of a loop from a private railway company point of view is that they mark out a lot of “territory” to be served by a single company, and as you say the Southern Railway was very defensive of its territory.

    Oh, and how about calling the original Cambridge station “Cambridge Parkway”? 🙂

    @ngh: GTR also apparently bid on the assumption of using some 4 car 377/5s during the middle of the night for TL services

    That’s interesting – so the lineside signalling will still get some use after the core goes ATO in the daytime.

    @Phil: Transport ministers come and go almost as frequently as the Wimbledon loop. No one minister’s promise binds any future minister. The views of the Department might not be the same as those of their minister and the DfT might give the same advice to successive ministers and get a different decision from each.

  342. Mike says:

    Cambridge Hauptbahnhof?

    English needs a word like that, often mistranslated as Central Station – which Cambridge ain’t! Main or Head don’t sound right, but Chief Station (cf post offices) could work.

  343. Anonymous of Croydon says:


    I am annoyed about the poor service Southern are providing. My comments were prefaced with “traditionally”: I do wonder if the bargain is breaking down now.

    Getting a seat has rarely been easy at East Croydon, though often possible further south, either immediately on getting on or at East Croydon when some people alight. Having to change and being virtually guaranteed not to get a seat at East Croydon will not go down well.

  344. Greg Tingey says:

    I have seen virulent (not an understatement) remarks about the class 700s and how much of a step down in quality they will represent …
    Well-justified IMHO. [ Seat-spacing & seat lack-of-comfort particularly ]
    The internal arrangements might be suitable for an inner-suburban journey, but contemplating Cambridge – Brighton in one gives me the shudders.

    May I remind everyone discussing the Wimbledon loop that it was not the politicians per se who kicked up the fuss.
    Which |I don’t understand _ AIUI, the locals were offered a better service, with greater reliability at the price of “No throughs” & rejected it.
    To which (IMHO) the correct response to future complainants should be: “You have got what you wished for” – [ And – “now, do you want to change your mind?” ]

  345. Greg Tingey says:

    21.54 @ 28/9
    Those answers are disturbing vague, aren’t they?
    Deliberate, or simple ignorance? Worrying that the people supposedly managing this profound change do not appear to “know their brief”.

    Anonymously & Malcolm
    Much as it goes against the grain to admit it, the old GWR had the right idea for station-naming, for location vs main station.
    They called their large station: “General” as in Reading & Cardiff ( & I think other places – Bodmin (?))

  346. Graham H says:

    @Anonymously/WW – the double arrow was “stolen” from BR by the Franchising Director in 1995 to be used as “a symbol that franchised services called there”, not to do with the range of tickets sold – a regulatory matter. [The transfer left BR bereft of a corporate trade mark, for which I revived the lion and wheel rising from a wreathed crown; this became an immediate hit with Board members and looked very good embossed on decent quality notepaper, as it did on the range of the Board’s giftware. …hhmmm]. Salmon’s attempt to swipe the Pullman Company coat of arms as “a symbol of a quality train service” met with much sterner opposition,however, in the form of Garter King of Arms].

  347. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon of Croydon & others
    On the subject of service frequency & reliability.
    Again, a valuable resource here is any version of G T Moody’s book “Southern Electric”, in various editions, mine being from 1967, which has service-frequency ( peak & off-peak) diagrams as appendices.
    Very informative & also a useful comparator against the self-puffed-up posturings of all & any of “Southern”, Thameslink & the DfT.
    The figures I find “amusing” are those for Loughboro’ Jn – Holbon Viaduct, remembering that the trains had to reverse at HV & that this was done on, admitedly colour-light signalling, but with relatively small areas covered & without TPWS or ATO or anything …..
    22 trains in the AM peak & 20 in the PM & yet it is “claimed” that ATO is essential in the core to get to 24 tph. Similar numbers are visible for Cannon St ( 26/31) & Charing Cross (30/30).

  348. Ian J says:

    @Mike: In Great Western-land the term “General” was used (eg. Reading General) but it has died out everywhere except Wrexham (an example of a town where the Central station is not the main one). In a parallel universe we might have Croydon General and Croydon Central instead of East Croydon and West Croydon.

  349. Greg Tingey says:

    Oops, hit “send” too soon.

    May I suggest that, certainly sarf of river, that people should be complaining, loud & long to the abovementioned bodies as to why they are getting, after all this time of disruption & money spent, they are getting no better a service than that of 55-60 years ago ?@

  350. Timbeau says:

    @ Ian j

    Cambridge Parkway for the existing station?

    Have you ever tried to park there?

    “Parkway” is the modern equivalent of “Road” or “Junction” – usually meaning “not actually anywhere near the settlement in the name, but if you want to get any closer this is where you need to get off the train”

  351. Graham H says:

    @timbeau 🙂 Of course, if you spent half the year living in Trumpington Street, then the railway station *did* seem to be off the end of the universe (there was a theory that Audley End was nearer), but that was then…

  352. Moosealot says:

    @timbeau, GH
    Given the speed of traffic on Hills Road and Station Road, comparing them to a car park is possibly optimistic. I recall my better-off fellows once taking a taxi to the station from Trumpington St, and walking myself (park a bicycle at the station? ha!) and beating them by enough time to have queued up and purchased a ticket before their taxi got to the station.

  353. Pedantic of Purley says:


    22 trains in the AM peak & 20 in the PM & yet it is “claimed” that ATO is essential in the core to get to 24 tph. Similar numbers are visible for Cannon St ( 26/31) & Charing Cross (30/30).

    You do love going over old ground. Just the fact that signalling safety standards are higher and fewer derogations permitted would be enough to explain this away. Dwell time is the other main factor. Gradients on Thameslink are not insignificant (double meaning intended).

    May I suggest that, certainly sarf of river, that people should be complaining, loud & long to the abovementioned bodies as to why they are getting, after all this time of disruption & money spent, they are getting no better a service than that of 55-60 years ago

    I would refute that. In the peak it is clearly a challenge to run just as good a service and the peak is much longer nowadays. Off-peak, things are generally much better.

    Perhaps an overall read of G T Moody’s book without being especially selective would make you see things in a different light.

    Oh, and this is also an issue you keep mentioning.

  354. Malcolm says:

    To add to PoP’s points, I would mention in-flight opening of slam doors and associated passenger descent before the train had stopped. And, while notstalgia is not what it was, we are not going back to those days.

  355. Graham H says:

    @Moosealot – Cabs were for when you had a steamer trunk with you… There was also (at least in my day), the “secret express bus” to town – an unadvertised half-cab with “City centre 6d” on a slip board – non-stop to Regent St and a short stroll through Fitzwilliam (now gated -off, alas), much nicer than the Hills Road ; difficult to use in the reverse direction, as there was no timetable.

  356. ap says:

    @Ian J

    At one time there actually was a Croydon Central station as well as East and West Croydon…

  357. ngh says:

    Re Greg, PoP and Malcolm,

    Many trains are now also longer so take longer to clear junctions etc.

    And we aren’t going back to detonator placers half way down the Up direction through platforms at London Bridge as part of the normal signalling usage!

  358. Malcolm says:

    Wrexham General: if it followed the example of Edenbridge, the slightly more out-of-town station would just be called “Wrexham” (or Wrecsam). This would however, like Edenbridge, be daft (though it might bring us back to near-London).

  359. Greg Tingey says:

    PoP & Malcolm
    Like you, I’m well-aware of the factors that mitigate against reproducing those “classic” figures under today’s safety regime & with longer trains, too.
    But, the point I didn’t think I needed to make was that these figures are readily avaialble to “ordinary” members of the public, journos & politicians.
    It only needs one of the above to raise a very public hue-&-cry over this, for some very bad publicity to emerge, especially given our own comments on timetable padding & slowing down of services.
    I also wonder, even with TPWS, if terminal-approaches could be faster, if only by inserting “staggered” speed-control grids, so that one could enter a 12-coach platform at, say 20 or 25 mph, but you must be down to 5 mph 2 coach-lengths from the buffers ( ?? )

    Will agree with PoP that off-peak it is mostly improved ….

  360. Anonymously says:

    @Graham H…..”A symbol that franchised services go there.” So are LOROL services ‘franchised’ then, in that sense? If not (and from what I’ve read on here in the past I see no reason to believe that they are), then I see no reason why TfL should be forced to use the double-arrow at stations served only by the Overground.

    Incidentally, do you happen to know why NSE minimised their use of the double-arrow in the early nineties, preferring to use the triple-colour rhombus on their rolling stock, running-in name boards, publications etc?

    Lastly, your comment on steamer trunks makes me wonder if we ought to get together one of these days to compare and contrast our uni experiences 😌. By the time I arrived there (2000), this secret bus you mentioned had long gone. And if you thought the station was off the end of the universe, I can’t begin to imagine what you thought of Girton….

    @Mooselot…..In my experience, taxis often avoid the Hills Road log jam by using Tenison Road. Plus you may not have seen the brand-new multi-storey cycle park at the station!

    @Malcolm….Ah, those were the days 😉. I wonder how many passenger injuries or fatalities there were per year in the London area due to slam door ‘incidents’? Even as a child, they appeared to me to be potentially very dangerous if used incorrectly.

  361. Malcolm says:

    Greg: Ah, that shifts the focus slightly. We seem to be agreed that the historical figures cannot readily be reproduced, but you are concerned that others might notice, and “raise a hue and cry”. Well, I suppose they might, but most of the general public, I find, are rather unconcerned about historical issues. There is plenty of public dissatisfaction with train services, but most of it is (rightly in my view) concentrated on contrasting what IS achieved now with what COULD BE (in their opinion) achieved now. What WAS achieved then is seen as a bit of an irrelevance (“before my time, mate”).

  362. Malcolm says:

    The main current usefulness of the double-arrow symbol, I reckon, is on road signs. Outside London, it helps drivers and pedestrians to find the railway station, just like an aeroplane symbol helps them to find the airport.

    Within London, the “round thing” is now so overused (e.g. on taxis of all things!) that a symbol which means “here be trains” would be quite useful. Nobody cares who runs the trains, let alone whether it is a franchise or some other arrangement. But “corporate pride” and “branding” will probably get in the way of anything sensible.

  363. Kate says:

    I do think Cambridge station should be renamed. With two stations, anyone hearing a train was calling at Cambridge would assume that meant both stations not just the station which isn’t Cambridge North. Cambridge General was half-suggested by someone and it isn’t a bad choice.

    As to location, Cambridge is certainly one of the destinations where Plus Bus tickets make a lot of sense although if I do want Trumpington St which got a few mentions (and I often do) then I quite like the somewhat out of the way walking route via Coe Fen.

  364. Kate says:

    “Like you, I’m well-aware of the factors that mitigate against reproducing those “classic” figures under today’s safety regime & with longer trains, too.
    But, the point I didn’t think I needed to make was that these figures are readily avaialble to “ordinary” members of the public, journos & politicians.
    It only needs one of the above to raise a very public hue-&-cry over this, for some very bad publicity to emerge, especially given our own comments on timetable padding & slowing down of services.”

    The better acceleration / deceleration performance ought to offset signalling changes so I do think it is relevant to compare present journey times with better historic times. A major reason for the degradation has come up here with the attitude that a turn up and go service should be preferred to a faster, less frequent service. All those extra stops required for turn up and go have a terrible impact on overall system performance.

  365. Balthazar says:

    Anonomously 12.31: InterCity also dispensed with the double arrow (from rolling stock at least) in the swallow era. I always assumed it was the sectors’ management wishing to assert their (quasi-)independence and distance themselves from the days of “bad old BR” even though they were still part of it. No doubt there are other explanations abroad.

  366. Balthazar says:

    Re: Kate “A major reason for the degradation has come up here with the attitude that a turn up and go service should be preferred to a faster, less frequent service.” Is that attitude wrong? If not, then the “degradation” is actually the reality of providing a rail service in today’s world.

    Similarly, recent developments/societal expectations have introduced a host of adjustments to the baseline of what operating a passenger railway involves – maintaining powered doors in operating condition, making arrangements for carrying passengers in wheelchairs, emptying controlled emission toilet tanks and meeting the cost of providing free-to-use wi-fi being four examples.

  367. timbeau says:

    “So are LOROL services ‘franchised’ then, in that sense? ”
    No, they are a “concession” (as is Merseyrail) – a system not envisaged by the privatisation planners. (What about the halfway-house of the management-style contracts such as DOR and TSGN?)
    The only real difference is who carries the financial risk, so why should it make a difference to the NR branding?

    And yes, you can buy a ticket from an unstaffed NR station to any other station on the NR network – from a TTI or online.

  368. Nameless says:

    How about Cambridge City?

  369. Mark Townend says:


    An interesting observation about TPWS in terminal platforms. I am sure it would be feasible to have a a series of speed traps along such a platform each decreasing in trip speed as the buffer stop is approached and calculated to always effect an emergency stop short of the stop. Effectively that’s how ‘Moorgate controls’ work using mechanical trainstops on LUL. A problem on NR would be the amount and cost of the equipment, it’s reliability (important as loops, being not inherently failsafe, are proved active in the approach signal circuits), and maintenance access concerns. ETCS offers more hope in this respect however when introduced standalone or as a colour light overlay Thameslink style. With less and much more resilient track equipment, fitted trains will be able to work out a far more precise continuous safe speed envelope so speed of entry at the ramp ends could be rather quicker if the throat pointwork would allow it. With the speed through terminal throat areas and other junctions being so critical to capacity and performance, this is one area where ETCS could offer significant and realistic benefits.

  370. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Greg, Mark Townend

    this is one area where ETCS could offer significant and realistic benefits.

    As in “one of many” not as in “the one area”.

  371. Greg Tingey says:

    Talking of the way it used to be done, look very closely ate the opening sequence of this ( 1962 it says, but I thin a couple of years later ) …
    And the way the trains roll into Liverpool St E side & the doors opening (!)
    Also of interest for other outdated practices ….

  372. 100andthirty says:

    Mark Townend……I can’t speak for Moorgate but the typical LU speed trap is a single train stop which will lower if the systems detects the train speed is below 10mph. The Speed Trap TPWS is also designed to do the same thing. However, on LU the driver can generally see the train stop lower so will know the train won’t be tripped. There is no such comfort with TPWS as far as I know.


  373. Londoner in Scotland says:

    Franchisees are required to display the double arrow at stations and it must be shown on tickets valid on a franchised train service. (I’m not sure what happens with print at home ones). However, franchisees may not display the double arrow on their rolling stock. Copyright in the double arrow rests with the Secretary of State.

  374. Mark Townend says:

    @Pedantic of Purley, 29 September 2016 at 15:00

    I agree it is “one of many”, but terminal throat throughput could be a particularly compelling investment criteria at congested city terminals where other capacity measures might be eyewateringly expensive. Another advantage of ETCS in the perfomance arena is the effect of temporary speed restrictions. It’s obvious these slow trains down, adding to journey time, but it’s not so widely understood they can also sap capacity on conventionally signalled lines as convoys of trains must still be spaced according to the fixed signal blocks calculated at the normal speed braking distance (although there is some leeway using colour lights , driving on double yellows for example). Trains running through such speed restrictions are therefore further apart in time than at the normal speed. ETCS, where specified with much shorter blocks as in the Thameslink core, will have more blocks between following trains at normal speed, and with this increased granularity the system can allow trains to ‘close up’ on each other to a greater extent when running at a lower speed than normal. Therefore under ETCS, temporary speed restrictions impact throughput to a smaller degree than under conventional signals.

  375. Londoner in Scotland says:

    With respect to earlier comments about platform extensions on the GN line, Welwyn Garden City is the main constraint. The platforms are islands between the slow and loop lines. The flyover is immediately to the south of the station. Directly to the north is a large road bridge over the line followed by the carriage sidings, including the washing machine.

    Platform extensions on the down side, in particular, would be astonishingly expensive. Extensive track alterations would be needed on both sides.

  376. ngh says:

    TPWS into terminals:
    Many TOCs (inc. GTR) also tell the drivers a lower speed limit than NR sets the loops at into terminals so the TOC shouldn’t get any triggering at all. This also happens to sap more capacity see London Bridge Jan 2015 as an example…

    Re PoP, Mark T,

    Agree on the “one of many” but ETCS is not a universal cure for capacity issues. I’m not sure how good the NR analysis is on ETCS and real multiple junction optimisation in south London to create paths is. I know one modelling exercise suggested a 2tph drop in capacity as soon a multiple flat junctions were modelled as an overall system.

  377. Mark Townend says:


    Introduced after the tragic endwall collision at the station, ‘Moorgate controls’ had a series of trainstops arranged at intervals along the platform, each with its own timer triggered by the berth track circuit occupancy. Such elaborate measures were unnecessary at many stations with nice long overrun tunnels, or friction bufferstops etc on surface sections.

  378. Malcolm says:

    I agree with Londoner in Scotland that platform extensions at Welwyn Garden City would be expensive, and would require track alterations. But I could make just a small quibble about the relevance of the flyover. The bridge bit of it is adequately further south, and even the points on the westmost track seem to be about 120 metres south of the present end of the down platform (but anyway, points might be allowed alongside the platform, provided trains using the relevant one of the tracks would always be out of passenger service).

  379. Timbeau says:


    The flyover at Welwyn is used by southbound trains in service starting at Welwyn. They have to negotiate those points in order to access the flyover from the down slow (westernmost) platform.

    Lengthening the platform further south so that trains cannot use the points makes both the points and the flyover unusable, which in turn means that all trains arriving at Welwyn from the south must either continue through the Digswell bottleneck or cross over the entire four track formation on the flat to return south.

    On another subject, the naming problem facing Cambridge when the new station opens has already arisen at the other end of the Varsity line. They seem to be coping without changing the name of the old station. I’m sure the residents of the junior university city will cope too.

  380. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham F – on the subject of the Catford loop frequencies I agree that parts of the consultation document do say Daily. Unfortunately I referred to the detailed tables on page 21 of the pdf which clearly shows TL9 not running on Sunday. Worse there is a captioned box below the TL9 details proudly saying that TL8 and TL9 provide a 4 tph daily service. Another example of the inconsistency nonsense in this consultation. Did anyone bother to proof read this before it went out? There is so much contradiction, error and lack of clarity that it can’t really stand up to any sort of robust challenge. If DfT and GTR try to rely on the consultation findings with the level of error as there is currently is then they’re at risk of making some wrong decisions.

    On the wider point you’re just saying the network is inadequate and therefore the train service has to “bend” to cope with it. The fact the public aren’t well served is also another case of “hard cheese”. Well if South Londoners are forever prepared to put up with this then little is going to change as it hasn’t really changed for decades as far as I can see.

  381. Phil says:

    Just a thought – some commentators have made reference to “2IPH from X and 2 TPH from Y” giving a 4TPH service. That is fine and dandy if the trains are evenly spaced (i.e. a train once every 15minutes) but the reality is that due to junction conflicts and pathing requirements, the total service pattern is likely to be uneven – with gaps in the service ranging from 5 to 25 minutes in the worst case.

    This is the thing which makes service provision at many South London stations seem worse than it is. Norbury for example probably does have at least 4TPH (the ‘minimum service frequency TfL want) – the problem is that the trains are provided by different services running at non even intervals. As such saying the Wimbledon loop will have 4TPH in the peaks is not particularly helpful – and a 4TPH consistently spaced service to a single destination throughout the day would be better.

    Unfortunately as the bulk of existing users of the loop are City commuters – who only care about keeping their peak hour services to City Thameslink , services round the loop will continue to be sub-optimal.

  382. Graham H says:

    @Anonymously and others – the question of the double arrow versus the sector branding was resolved internally by insisting that the Board’s corporate activities and stations always had to carry thedouble arrow, but stations could also carry the sector branding -as per the notorious door markers on the Drain platform edges. Quite how this would have evolved had the subsectors become established is unclear – I doubt that the InterCity subsectors would have been given or,indeed, wanted much freedom on the matter, but the NSE subsector Directors were mostly keen to do their own thing.

    Why hasn’t the department insisted on the use of the double arrow on the LO services (or the Elizabeth Line, come to that)? I doubt if it has anything to do with the difference between concession and franchise (which is fairly fluid in practice) but may well be either that DfT have agreed with TfL not to push the point or DfT don’t care enough.

    @Kate – a long way round to get to Trumpington St via Coe Fen (unless it was after midnight, you’d arrived on the last train, and you wished to climb in via the ditch at the edge of the fen.)

  383. Greg Tingey says:

    Wlwyn G C
    Try This view ( Zoomable) to see how much space there is or isn’t for platform extensions

  384. Mark Townend says:

    Welwyn GC: The down island might gain about 70 metres at the south end if the first crossover was removed, but that would reduce flexibility so the flyover would only be connected to the outer face track. The north end is more promising. Again the first crossover would have to be removed, allowing a 70m or so extension with ease before the overbridge narrowing. That crossover could be replaced a little further north which would change detailed layout functionality slightly but both platforms would still be able to host northbound departures. Overlaps would need some thought. Similar issues on the up. Room to do it but lots of trackwork and signalling changes, so something to do at the next resignalling or major junction track renewal perhaps.

    A major settlement name with no suffix makes sense as the ‘main’ station name where that facility offers the most connectivity and route choice. More minor stations in the same town can have a directional, local place, or functional suffixes as appropriate. The addition of a suffix such as ‘General’ does no harm for a ‘main’ station but a ‘Central’ (in the city centre for intance) need not be the ‘main’ (if you see what I mean). What I think I mean in short is there’s absolutely no need to consider changing the names of either historic main stations at Cambridge or Oxford!

  385. Malcolm says:

    ngh says “ETCS is not a universal cure for capacity issues.”

    Indeed, but there is of course no cure (universal or otherwise) because as long as demand keeps rising, a desire to raise the capacity of anything at all from x to x+1 will always be expressed.

    But I’m really only quibbling with the wording, because your main point was probably something like “capacity in some places will not be increased at all (or not enough) by introducing ETCS, so other measures will be needed if it is to rise”.

  386. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anonymously / Timbeau – instead of getting tied up in knots over franchises, concessions and management contracts the simpler question is “does the provision of the railway service still have to be contracted to a private sector supplier?” In all cases the answer is “yes”. The only difference with devolution is who is in charge of service specification, procurement and contract management. Mostly it is DfT but with the Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly, Rail North, TfL and Merseyside ITA having devolved responsibilities in defined areas. AIUI the government could, if it wished, reverse devolution and bring all the contracted services back under DfT control. There may be a complication with Crossrail because of its legislation which envisaged TfL being in charge of procuring the service operation.

    While I can understand why TfL likes to assert its own identity I don’t think it’s really right to hide the fact that the NR services it contracts are as much a part of the National Rail network as a train in Manchester or Carlisle or Cardiff.

    [I have deliberately ignored Heathrow Express before anyone goes into smart alec mode]

  387. Malcolm says:

    On naming stations: I would suggest that any station name which can be suffixed to form the name of another station is a potential source of confusion. An example would be the incoming tourists who (Anneka Dote reports) have bought tickets [1] to Liverpool because they thought it was a shortened form of Liverpool Street.

    But combatting this by renaming anything (whether in Oxbridge or anywhere else) would be enormously expensive, and is unlikely to pass any BCR test. Indeed, even renumbering the platforms at Stratford [2] is way over the financial horizon.

    [1] From Paddington, Stansted (historically) , Norwich or Ely – in case this hasn’t been said enough times already.
    [2] Or Stratford-by-bow as it would have to be renamed for these pesky tourists.

  388. Malcolm says:

    It is an oddity that a ticket from Gospel Oak to Norwich exists, but not one from Tufnell Park.

    Indeed, rather dafter, a through ticket from Reading to Norwich (via Paddington and Liverpool Street) exists, using an LU connection, but the subsets Paddington to Norwich or Reading to Liverpool Street are not through-ticketable. [ I seem to be mistaken here, it appears that they are through-ticketable after all. Another prejudice bites the dust. Please ignore this bit! Malcolm]

    Obviously there are practical difficulties (not least the closed ticket offices). But with increasing numbers of tickets being bought online anyway, shouldn’t we be aiming for a truly national ticketing system?

  389. Twopenny Tube says:

    Back in the 60s/70s there was a series in the BR house magazine, “Rail News” called something like “The name is the same” which would have short notes, and possibly one or two comments from relevant employees, about stations with the same name. One or two come to mind immediately, but there must have been a lot of them for the series to run as long as it did.

  390. Anonymously says:

    @Graham H….I was hoping you could shed light on why NSE over time seemed to eliminate the double-arrow from its own trains, signage and literature as far as possible. For example, when the Kent Coast EMUs were repainted into NSE colours, the cab end sides were initially painted with a white double-arrow, but this was.later painted over. Similarly, the initial batch of station name running-in boards had the double-arrow over a variation of the rhomboids, but this was dropped in favour of the triple rhomboid (e.g. on those newly extended 12-car platforms for the Networker). Surely I’m not the only person who noticed this at the time?
    Also, I never knew about this subsectorisation business (beyond giving names to various groups of services e.g. Kent Link)….are you able to provide more details?

    @Nameless…..If you had ever used the station, I doubt you’d be suggesting that name 😛. As I said before, there are no plans to change the station name (whether this remains the case if the fabled ‘Cambridge South/Biomedical Campus/Addenbrooke’s station ever gets built we shall see….). In fact, station name suffixes seem to be going out of fashion wherever there is no longer any pressing need to continue using them (cf Lincoln Central, Leeds City, Hull Paragon, and arguably even Edinburgh Waverley!). As for Oxford Parkway, I preferred its provisional name of ‘Water Eaton Parkway’ (or perhaps ‘Kidlington Parkway’), but there we go.

    @Malcolm…..It is rather unfortunate that there are two ‘Liverpools’ one can catch a train to from Norwich or (at peak times) Ely! They do try to minimise confusion though by listing trains on the destination boards as ‘Lime St Liverpool’. It’d be amusing to find out if anyone has ever been caught out by this….

    @WW…..But why does this matter unless you’re very pedantic about these things? Should East Putney/Southfields/Wimbledon Park be decked out in SWT colours since they are on a NR line, and could theoretically still be served by SWT trains (even though this is highly unlikely to ever happen)? I always found it rather bizarre that they spent a lengthy portion of their existence as BR/NSE stations with no BR/NSE services?

  391. KitGreen says:

    Copyright in the double arrow rests with the Secretary of State.

    Today I noticed a poster at Fareham station that showed a multi coloured double arrow logo on a picture background (no box).
    As copyright holders it seems that the DfT have allowed any style guide to usage to be thrown away. I think it looked awful (much of my career was involved with TV graphics / logos and associated style guides which if ignored always led to suboptimal aesthetic results).

  392. RayL says:

    Earlier in the thread there was discussion regarding the problems of reversing trains from Wimbledon that arrive at Sutton if the loop was split. Where could a reversing siding be put, due to the lack of space around the station?

    Well, there IS space not far away, simply by reinstating the reversing siding just to the west of Wallington Station. Access would be from the west. The train would tip out at Sutton Platform 1, run 1.6 miles up to the siding (say 3 minutes) reverse and present itself at Sutton Platform 2 ready for the return run.

    The current off-peak service between Sutton and West Croydon is six trains an hour in each direction with four gaps of more than 5 mins during the hour in the current schedule. These trains already interleave with the 4 trains per hour Overground service at West Croydon

  393. RayL says:

    Oh for an edit facility! I really shouldn’t have included the word ‘simply’.

  394. Londoner in Scotland says:

    In his excellent book “Behind the Crumbling Edge” (ISBN 1 85776 610 5) Stephen Poole writes “Other schemes we were working on at LMR HQ in 1974 included the BRB proposal that where there were two or more stations in a town or city, one should be designated ‘Main’, so that, for example Manchester Piccadilly would have become Manchester Main….”. I think it is helpful to the public to indicate which is the main station in a town, but otherwise to call stations after the street they are in or a prominent local feature – so Croydon Main and Croydon North End. When Liverpool Street was being rebuilt there was some consideration given to renaming it Bishopsgate, to avoid the Liverpool Lime Street confusion, but the idea did not progress very far.

  395. peezedtee says:

    As another, overseas, example, Brussels Central is not the main station in Brussels. It isn’t even the second most main station in Brussels.

  396. Graham H says:

    @Anonymously -I confess I don’t know why NSE removed the doublearrow from (some of ) its stock – certaily other sectors (and subsectors, especially in Freight) did the same. The NSE “racing slugs” (as they were known internally) never seemed to capture the public imagination in quite the same way as the IC swallow.

    Subsectorisation was the intended completion of the process of undoing the Regions/Businesses matrix and gave subsectors control over “their” infrastructure in the same way as the first round did for the Businesses. Unfortunately for us all, the whole process (known as Organising for Quality – O4Q – sometimes mispronounced, of course) took so long that it was completed just one week before the infrastructure was handed over to Railtrack.

    NSE was divided into ten subsectors (the number varied over time) based on line of route. The subsector directors soon started to work up their own subsector identities although I don’t recall the process getting beyond branding on posters and other marketing material. These were overlaid by the NSE marketing so long as NSE was managed by Chris Green. SWT played around with a design based on a punched ticket in shades of navy blue and eau de nil (still have the mug with that…). I don’t recall what the others did. The internal NSE jest at the expense of LTS was that it was to be branded as the “Route of the White Socks”.

  397. Peter Heather says:

    And to throw in yet another suffix and to bring it back to Greater London, Smitham was renamed only recently as Coulsdon Town (there is a Coulsdon South, not surprisingly to the south of the town). I’m not sure why it was done as the locals knew where Smitham was and I never heard of anyone being confused by the name.

  398. timbeau says:

    “It is rather unfortunate that there are two ‘Liverpools’ one can catch a train to from Norwich ”
    There are two Ashfords and two Gillinghams you can get to from Waterloo. I know at least one person who has bought a ticket to one Ashford and travelled to the other.

    There are direct trains to both Gloucester and Gloucester Road from Paddington. If the “haykerloo” were to happen Paddington would also have trains to both Hayses.

    Patrticularly confusing is Llandudno, where there is another station (Deganwy) between the Junction and Llandudno station itself.

  399. Graham H says:

    I get bemused by this eternal discussion about the need to standardise station names – however hard you try, there will always be anomalies in which the “principal” station, with the most/best/fastest services, isn’t necessarily the one nearest one to the centre – think Southampton, for example – or there is real difficulty in identifying the centre at all, as in the Actons – or there are multiple stations in the same area with similar characteristics: Pontefract, Catford, Gainsborough, for example.

    Better, one might think, to stick with what is well-established. Tidiness comes at the price of confusion sometimes. If it ain’t broke…

  400. Malcolm says:

    Peter Heather says “I’m not sure why it was done”. The Croydon Advertiser was not impressed either. It reported that an FoI request indicated that 34 respondents to a consultation were in favour, and 27 against. That probably says more about “consultations” (which might bring us back slightly on topic too) than it does about Smitham Bottom.

  401. Mark Townend says:

    Ah fond memories of O4Q. . . I recall calling up the Operations Manager at Swindon who as a new Intercity employee had recently dropped the Regional qualifier in his title. I was enquiring about the status of a foot crossing over the Didcot West Curve, part of the Didcot – Swindon resignalling area I was attempting to finalise the scheme plans for. “Oh that’s no longer my responsibility, it’s a freight asset now”, he informed me. “A lorry came to pick up all the files last week”. The files had indeed gone to York to a new freight sector management unit, so I spoke to the contact the former ROM had given me. “We haven’t even started unpacking the boxes yet and have no idea what we’ve got, call me back in a month or two.” There was some irony there in that the scheme itself was largely a freight funded scheme, providing extra capacity to handle imported power station coal through Avonmouth. Another former design engineer colleague was working for the local NSE subsector organisations at the time. He explained to me how his full time job was cataloging individual lamps (bulbs) in signal heads and junction indicators, relays, fuses, transformers etc. in cabinets and relay rooms to determine which subsector owned each and every one. O4Q indeed!

  402. Graham H says:

    @MarkTownend – and if you thought that was fun, then there was the same game played – only more fiercely – when privatisation happened. (The objective then was different,of course: winning was not acquiring liabilities).

    BTW, my favourite O4Q asset was the one piece of track allocated to the Telecoms sector – a siding at Guildford, now, alas, lifted. No one else would take it. As the shadow Franchise Director for LTS, I found myself spending too much time trying to get rid of assets that were unloved – the toughest was a GUV that had sat in the bay at Barking for many years; eventually, we simply told LTS that it was theirs and that was that.

  403. Anonymously says:

    @timbeau…..Well, I have to say I didn’t think of that example since they are served from completely separate parts of the station (some might argue completely different stations). Ditto your Paddington examples. Whereas at Norwich and Ely, it is (theoretically) possible for the Lime Street and Liverpool Street trains to depart one after the other from the same station platform!

    @Graham H……Hmmm, that’s a pity you’re not privy as to the reasons why. Perhaps Chris Green had something to do with it (aiming towards a wholly separate NSE entity shorn of anything to do with BR, perhaps)? I confess that I’m struggling to think of *any* NSE rolling stock that still carried the double-arrow on their exterior at the time of the 1994 break-up.
    I agree InterCity did much the same with their own ‘swallow’ branding, although I’d hesitate to call it iconic. The only ones who seemed prepared to continue using the double-arrow prominently were Regional Railways (AKA all the unprofitable train services nobody else wants to operate).

  404. Anonymously says:

    Incidentally, the practice of qualifying a station’s location by their county still seems to continue on the railways, both on destination boards and on timetables, if there is any possibility of confusion with another location (even if the other settlement doesn’t have a railway station). Thus we have Farnborough (Hants), Alton (Hants), Gillingham (Kent) and Hayes (Kent), although strictly speaking the last of these hasn’t been part of Kent for over 50 years!

  405. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Kit Green – the multi coloured logo is being used in the Rail Delivery Group’s “Britain runs on rail” campaign. I think I’ll finish at this point lest I say too many rude things as the RDG have a spooky ability to track you down and challenge what you say about them. (Don’t ask! – just accept I’ve had it happen).

  406. lmm says:

    Confusion between London Liverpool Street and Liverpool Lime Street was a notorious issue for tourists at Stansted Airport- rumour has it this was part of the reason services to the latter were withdrawn.

    Back where I grew up the train went Ipswich Derby Road, Westerfield, Ipswich. This was accurate to the geography though – the line really does loop out of town and in again.

  407. Graham H says:

    @Anonymously – the IC staff shared your views on the swallow – I still cherish the memory of a 125 I spotted arriving at Kings Cross with a dead pigeon carefully draped over the side of the power car in the swallow position… As for Regional Railways, their previous nom du guerre – Other Provincial Services – tells it all. Subsectorisation in RR,Scotrail apart as a special case, didn’t really advance at ll. RR was more (and I think rightly) focussed on making sense of the random portfolio of markets and assets that they had inherited. The Alpha Line brand was an early fruit of that – and one which,to judge from the performance of its routes over the last 20 years, might well have become a viable commercial entity – of course, if they had succeeded, IC would have taken them over…. perhaps as part of an expanded CrossCountry.

  408. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Peter Heather,

    I’m not sure why it was done as the locals knew where Smitham was and I never heard of anyone being confused by the name

    But, as a local, as I understand it, there never was any such place as Smitham. Its full name was Smitham Bottom – a bottom being the valley. The name was largely out of use and Coulsdon Town made much more sense to emphasise it actually was in Coulsdon Town whereas Coulsdon South isn’t.

    As others are usually quick to point out, the locals will generally know it as their local station whatever you call it – it is for those not local you have to think about what to call it.


    The Croydon Advertiser was not impressed either. It reported that an FoI request indicated that 34 respondents to a consultation were in favour, and 27 against.

    I find that it is strange that it took a FoI request because I am sure the results of the consultation were made public.

  409. Malcolm says:

    Well, if I had been the reporter, and I had thought of the wheeze, I might have made the FoI request to spice up the story. I think the rules do not exclude things which have already been made public.

  410. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H / Anonymously – as you have been discussing “branding” and the run up to privatisation here is Spitting Image’s view based on a bit of a skit of BR’s own advertising in the 80s. Remarkably accurate in some respects as things have turned out – watch out for Mr Branson.

  411. Putters says:

    Well, I’m still confused on the reference to a scopperdiddle, as the only definition I can find refers to a Yorkshire dialect word for a spinning top – certainly nothing that you can inflate …

  412. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Malcolm/PoP: Using an FoI makes it sound as though the authorities were hiding something…. Better headlines….

  413. Malcolm says:

    I encountered it as a Suffolk dialect word meaning something that rushes about. The inflation bit is my invention. What would you use to complete the phrase “blowing up like a ….” ?

  414. timbeau says:

    “even if the other settlement doesn’t have a railway station). Thus we have Farnborough (Hants), Alton (Hants), Gillingham (Kent) and Hayes (Kent), ”

    Gillingham has a namesake (albeit pronounced with a hard “G”) in Dorset. You can get from one to the other by changing at Waterloo – the Waterloo in London, of course, not the one on Merseyside. (Waterloo to Charing Cross can take five hours – changing at Sandhills, Ormskirk, Preston, Glasgow Central, and Partick.

    It used to be possible to see two trains leaving Waterloo together, each headed for a diferent Ashford, although the one leaving the Internatoinal station would only be calling at Ashford to pick up so would not be advertising the fact. And during that era it was also possible to get non-stop trains from Brussels Midi to two different stations, both called Waterloo.

  415. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Alton (Hants) avoids confusion with Olton (W Mids); albeit you have to say the latter in a south Birmingham accent. And I can’t think of many places where you would have people asking for trains to both destinations!

  416. Mark says:

    @graham h,: “the “principal” station, with the most/best/fastest services, isn’t necessarily the one nearest one to the centre – think Southampton, for example”

    I am not sure what you mean about Southampton. If you are looking back to when Terminus station was open – fifty years ago – both it and West/Central station were on the edge of the central area, and which was nearest would depend on which part of the city centre you were going to. If you take the Bargate as being the central point then there’s almost nothing in it according to Google Map’s walking directions.

    Now, with Terminus station long gone, the Central station is clearly the closest to most of the city centre, with walking over the Itchen bridge from Woolston slightly quicker just for the far south eastern area around Ocean Village.

  417. Twopenny Tube says:

    Imm: “Confusion between London Liverpool Street and Liverpool Lime Street was a notorious issue for tourists at Stansted Airport …”
    A similar situation might have existed in the old days for people coming off the ferries at Parkeston Quay (itself an unfortunate victim of modern renaming). I just had a look at the NR journey planner, and passengers for both destinations are now directed to London services.

  418. 100andthirty says:

    I still remember helping, along with other customers, a lady who was trying to get to Hayes. We eventually determined that she wanted Hayes (Middlesex), although she had set off to Hayes (Kent). Sadly she was so confused that she’d got on a train to East Croydon which stopped at neither Hayes station.

  419. KitGreen says:

    I should have put this link in my last comment.

    A lot to wade through if you have a quiet weekend ahead.

    (I will not mention this subject again in this thread. There do seem to be an awful lot of tangents from the commentariat.)

  420. Moosealot says:

    I, too, matriculated in 2000 (Pembroke, Natsci). Haven’t been back that way for a number of years though.

  421. Jonathan Roberts says:

    Merely for the sake of accuracy rather than pedantry, the Gillingham in Dorset has a soft G, it’s the Kentish one which has the hard G! The first is 105¼ miles from Waterloo and generally (hard G) takes 2 hours or a tad less, garnished (soft G) with a trolley as far as and Salisbury, the second is 33¾-35¼ miles depending on the route from Waterloo East and frequently takes 1 hour 20 mins or so on a stopping suburban unit. On the evidence available, I couldn’t comment whether the journey quality has an impact on pronunciation at the further end.

  422. Anonymously says:

    @SFD…..I thought it was to avoid confusion with Alton (Staffs)?


    @Imm….As juicy as that rumour sounds, I think you’ll find the truth was rather more prosaic. The operator at the time split the route at Birmingham (I think at the instigation of the SRA?) in an attempt to improve timekeeping on the route.
    Plus I’m guessing you might be rather advanced in age…..Derby Road station hasn’t included Ipswich in its name since 1879!

  423. Ianno says:

    Birmingham International is forever a source of confusion, with passengers stepping off Pendolinos from Euston thinking they’re in “Birmingham” (even when it’s actually in Solihull)

    A more helpful name would be “Birmingham It’s The Airport & NEC Not The City Centre So Get Back On The Train Parkway”

    I don’t know what actually happened to the West Coast franchise proposal for an actual re-naming?

  424. John U.K. says:

    @Jonathan Roberts – 30 September 2016 at 13:06
    Merely for the sake of accuracy rather than pedantry, the Gillingham in Dorset has a soft G, it’s the Kentish one which has the hard G!

    ????? Having lived in the Medway Towns for a dozen years, in those days Gillingham Kent was th soft ‘G’ – indeed, 16th cent docs use the Jillingham speling – and Dorset the hard ‘G’!!!

  425. Malcolm says:

    Jonathan Roberts: for the sake of further accuracy, timbeau’s description of the g in Gillingham-Dorset and goat as a “hard g” corresponds with the Wikipedia one. However, I think I have also heard some people use the terms the same was round as you do. So in a spirit of linguistic relativity, you are both equally correct, but maybe timbeau is slightly more equally correct.

  426. Nameless says:

    I have both lived there and used the station. I was not necessarily suggesting that any change was necessary but if one was required, the word city was short and clear. The fact that it is nowhere near their ground isn’t likely to confuse many people.

  427. Jonathan Roberts says:

    You may be right in implying it is whether or not individuals interpret a J sound as harder, compared to the alternative! The G(D) phrasing is certainly not a J.

  428. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Here’s a way to think about the pronunciation of Gillingham without going into the whole “hard-G, soft-G” thing: The Dorset one sounds like the gills of a fish while the Kent one sounds like Jack and Jill.

  429. timbeau says:

    Technically, the initial letter of the Kentish* Gillingham is a Voiced palato-alveolar affricate, whilst the one in Dorset is a Voiced velar stop

    *actually Gillingham, being east of the Medway, is fully “of Kent” rather than merely Kent-ish

    Not sure when Parkeston Quay last had a service to Liverpool – the old “North Country Continental” (via the GN/GE Joint and Woodhead lines) was already cut back to Manchester in the 1960s, before being diverted first via Nottingham and later via the North London Line.

  430. Verulamius says:

    At least Gillingham (Kent) is a proposed stop on the Luton Rainham service and thus the pronouciation of the station will be relevant for on train Thameslink announcements.

  431. timbeau says:

    With all the chopping and changing of destinations on Thameslink, it may still be possible at some time in the future to see trains departing from Stevenage in both directions, but both going to Berwick

  432. Nameless says:

    It seems that Parkeston Quay is no more. It is called Harwich International Port. The station is just Harwich International. Trains for the latter have to pass through Dovercourt station before they get to Harwich Town.
    Of course all three are adjacent to that exotic body of water, Arijaba.

  433. Alan Burkitt-Gray says:

    “Merely for the sake of accuracy rather than pedantry, the Gillingham in Dorset has a soft G, it’s the Kentish one which has the hard G!”

    Yet the computerised announcements at Charing Cross now seem to swap between hard and soft with irritating irregularity. “The train at platform 3 is the 1809 to Jillingham calling at … Rochester, Chatham and Ghillingham.”

  434. alanbluemountains says:

    gee we seem to have wandered off topic somewhat

  435. Old Buccaneer says:

    Berwick upon Tweed (BWK) to Berwick (Sussex) (BRK) takes ~9 hours for the princely sum of £147.90 (travelling tomorrow). An expensive mistake. I didn’t check details of the 4 changes but I guess you’ll avoid filling The Slink’s coffers. Vain attempt to drag thread in general direction of the topic, via apportionment (mentioned above).

  436. Timbeau says:


    If that’s the 1150 departure you were looking at, the changes are at Newcastle, Kings Cross, St Pancras low level, and Brighton. So it does include Thameslink
    Two hours later there’s a faster one – 7h30, changing at Newcastle, Kings Cross and Victoria.

    In both cases you would be on a bus until you reach Tyneside

  437. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Alan Burkitt-Gray,

    Yet the computerised announcements at Charing Cross now seem to swap between hard and soft with irritating irregularity.

    Yes I have noticed that. Yet at London Bridge I understand it is always correct. London Bridge is a text-to-speech system. Apparently the first thing they tried when they got it was Gillingham and were relieved when it got it correct. Second thing tried was Greenwich which also came out correct and not as Green Witch as they feared.

  438. I’ll just add that this Charing Cross wrong – London Bridge right has a bit of a history. For years the departure boards at Charing Cross were manually set but those at London Bridge were computer driven from the signal box. It was most noticeable between Christmas and New Year with the (slightly) amended timetable. Additional stops on some trains in place of cancelled trains elsewhere were often omitted at Charing Cross.

  439. lmm says:

    @Nameless Parkeston Quay is indeed no more, but a trace remains in the station code for Harwich International (HPQ).

  440. 3078260061 says:

    Re quoting county names to distinguish stations, South West trains go one better by quoting both Middlesex and Surrey for their Ashford It can be called Surrey on a platform indicator, but once you’re on the train you can see and hear it called Middlesex.

  441. alanbluemountains says:

    OB The UK fares seem pretty steep to me, no wonder they say get a rail pass or two before flying to Britain. I suppose the 9 hour journey makes it better value on a per hour basis.

  442. Old Buccaneer says:

    @alanbluemountains: yep, sticker prices are horrendous but many discounts are available including “advance” tickets & as you say a range of passes.

  443. Anonymous says:

    A couple of months ago I travelled from Gatwick to Hackney off peak with senior rail card and Freedom Pass, price £2.40. Admittedly I wasn’t in a hurry!

  444. Graham Feakins says:

    There again, I very recently made a day return trip on Chiltern Railways to Birmingham Moor Street from Marylebone, Standard Class on a Senior Railcard, that cost me a mere £3.35 each way! That was the cheapest rail fare I have experienced for a journey of such a length for many a decade and it took only just over 1½ hours each way.

    What’s more, it was on one of the most comfortable and smart trains I have been on for a long time in the UK – part of Chiltern’s Silver Train fleet, I understand.

  445. timbeau says:

    @Alan Blue Mountains

    “The UK fares seem pretty steep to me, . I suppose the 9 hour journey makes it better value on a per hour basis.”

    That is the walk-on fare, of course, and it is 400 miles (from the Scottish border to the south coast). Much cheaper advance fares can be available – especially if you split the journey.

    It seems odd to calculate the value of a journey by the hour – people usually pay more for faster trains!

    The journey time is usually nearer six hours – the times quoted for today include a fifty mile amble down the Great North Road (which is single carriageway for the first 30 miles to Alnwick), and a connection allowance at Newcastle. Normally Berwick to Newcastle takes about 45 minutes and the train continues to London.

  446. alanbluemountains says:

    timbeau. The reference to the per hour cost was tongue in cheek over the seemingly long journey time and cost, not forgetting I don’t necessarily have trackwork info for UK. People complain about rail fares here (Australia) but they appear modest compared to some UK fares. And in Australia 400 miles is not a particularly long trip. In my youth I used to drive 480 km each way on a weekend to go to a ball (oh to be young again and have raging hormones)

  447. timbeau says:

    Distance does seem to be no object to Australians. My father’s Australian cousins visited him recently, and were frankly amazed at how long you need to allow to get to places they think of as a short drive away. A 120 mile trip will take a lot longer if the first 30 miles are in London traffic!

    A day trip to somewhere 250 miles away from London is possible if your destination is Newcastle, but many Australians want to visit Captain Cook’s home town of Whitby – which is completely out of the question!

    As a matter of interest, how much would a 400 mile (640km) one way walk-up fare be in Australia?

    (Noting that, to be comparable, the cited journey is not city centre to city centre, but from a market town to a seaside village)

  448. timbeau says:

    @Alan Blue Mountains
    “The UK fares seem pretty steep to me, I suppose the 9 hour journey makes it better value on a per hour basis.”

    It would follow from that suggestion that people would pay more for as slow train than a fast one!

    The journey is about 400 miles – from the Scottish border to the south coast – and the quoted fare was the walk-on fare.

  449. alanbluemountains says:

    timbeau. I think you missed my point. As previously stated it was tongue in cheek about expressing the cost of an expensive and long (time) journey in a way that it sounded better value. In New South Wales (railways run by states) all fares are walk-on no discount for advance purchase. However for slow travel periods ie February, discounts generally apply but this applies to “walk on” fares as well. Other states may differ but not to my knowledge, fares are not my area of expertise I have not had to pay for rail travel for past 18 years.

  450. alanbluemountains says:

    timbeau. Spent some time on net and from Bathurst (239.9km from Sydney) to Broken Hill(1124.8km) a distance of 844.9 km single fare $115.28 economy, $161.39 first class, exchange approx. aud $1=UK Pound 0.59. hope this is enlightening. (would say something about just having to chase kangaroos out of rose garden but that would raise the widely held misconception that they are in streets of Sydney).

  451. Other Malcolm says:

    In a recent Modern railways there was a story about how recently the staff at St Margarets (Essex) managed to put up a map outside the station showing the vicinity of St Margarets (Surrey)!

  452. Timbeau says:

    @other Malcolm.

    I saw that item too. But in fact MR’s geography is not much better, as there is no St Margaret’s station either in Surrey or in Essex. One is a suburb of Hertford, in errm … Hertfordshire. And the other one is in Twickenham, which, before it became part of Greater London was in Middlesex.

  453. Timbeau says:

    Alan blue mountains

    So that’s about £70 for 850 miles. Or, in round numbers, twice the distance for half the price.

  454. alanbluemountains says:

    timbeau. The price pounds 70 is correct, the distance I gave was in km, in miles about 560. That is why I was staggered at the fare. Half the fare for nearly one and a half in distance, that train only runs on mondays. I also came across a mention of a walk on fare from Edinburgh to London at just one pound short of 400 pounds can’t remember where and no details , first class?. I would like to try the dinning car in one of the virgin trains but I hate to think what that would cost together with the first class ticket. We should call it quits I think and let this get back to topic. Was looking forward to meeting some of london reconnects folk last month but had both knees replaced and a bit slow in kicking on so maybe next summer.

  455. Timbeau says:

    It was my geography that was at fault, not my arithmetic. I had assumed, apparently wrongly, that the journey you specified was via Sidney and thus that I needed to add the distances rather than calculate the difference.
    The first class return anytime fare from Edinburgh to London is £283. Add first class sleeper berth supplements of £43 each way and you get £369. But it’s unlikely anyone would ever pay that as off peak fares are valid on the sleeper. (£135 first class return, plus the supplements)

    The highest fare I have managed to find is St Ives to Wick, anytime return 1st class £660. (About 820 miles each way), Although I have found a newspaper report from 2009 reporting £1002 for Newquay to Kyle of Lochalsh, (a slightly shorter distance) that seems to also now “only” be £660. (A first class seven day all line rover is £731)

  456. Timbeau says:

    Oops. I do know how to spell Sydney, even if my autocorrect doesn’t!

  457. Ian J says:

    @PoP: The London Bridge system has until 2018 to learn the difference between Gatwick and Flitwick.

  458. alanbluemountains says:

    Timbeau. It’s ok I know Sidney and he would not take offence, cheers

  459. Kate says:

    “I think it is helpful to the public to indicate which is the main station in a town, but otherwise to call stations after the street they are in or a prominent local feature – so Croydon Main and Croydon North End.

    Croydon is an oddity because West Croydon is the nearer to the shops and (once the rebuild has finished) is next to the more important of the two bus stations. So arguably it should be Croydon Central (formerly West Croydon) and East Croydon.

  460. timbeau says:

    Croydon is not unusual in that respect – the most central station not being the one with the fastest/busiest service. Look at Colchester, Newark, Yeovil, Exeter, Kingston/Surbiton.

    Or indeed London: I’m not sure which is the most central station of all, but I’m pretty sure it is one that has no Inter City services!

  461. Purley Dweller says:


    I thought 283 first Edinburgh to London sounded a bit cheap. On checking it is actually 451 return. 283 is the Standard Anytime. First off peak is still 354.

  462. Londoner in Scotland says:

    @ timbeau

    It is entirely possible to make a day trip from London and Whitby and back by public transport. Train to Scarborough to connect with the half-hourly bus to Whitby. Journey time from London about four and a half hours. There are also railway buses between York and Whitby, on which through ticketing is available.

  463. timbeau says:

    @Purley Dweler

    You’re right – somehow I’d slipped from 1st Class back into 2nd on the NR website’s fare finder

  464. Anonymously says:

    @timbeau…..Since all distances from London are measured from the site of the original Charing Cross (i.e. not the Victorian replica!), now occupied by a statue of Charles I at the end of Whitehall, surely the most central mainline station in London is the one closest to it? No prizes for guessing its name 😉…..
    And you’re completely right that it doesn’t have any InterCity services!

  465. timbeau says:

    @Londoner in Scotland
    A nine hour round trip leaves little time for enough actual sightseeing to be worth the trip.

    Taking the Charles I statue as the centre of London, the nearest station is actually the former Trafalgar Square on the Bakerloo Line, now incorporated into Charing Cross Underground.

  466. Ian Sergeant says:


    If you cut out London and balance it on a pinhead, the pinhead’s closest station is Lambeth North.

  467. Malcolm says:

    Please. We’ve done “where is the centre of London?” many times before, and the answer is always “it depends what you mean”. So let’s not do it again.

  468. Greg Tingey says:

    Londonist did it recently (as a repost)
    Final word ( honest) here:

  469. RogerB says:

    Kate (2 Oct 19:13)
    “I think it is helpful ….. to call stations after …. a prominent local feature”
    Can I propose ‘Cambridge, Botanic Garden’?

  470. Kate says:

    Colchester is a good example but I don’t get Kingston / Surbiton?

  471. Slugabed says:

    Kingston station is on the slow,all stations branch.
    Surbiton is on the mainline and has fast trains.
    Surbiton, when opened in 1838, was originally called “Kingston-on-railway” station (seriously) and was only renamed when the current Kingston station opened with the branch in 1869

  472. timbeau says:


    The station on the London & Southampton Railway opened as plain “Kingston” . It was in open country to the south of the town, not far from the main Portsmouth Road. The suburb that grew round it was a planned development by the entrepreneur Thomas Pooley, and was named by him New Kingston or Kingston-on-Railway, both names being used by the station at different times. At some point the station was renamed Surbiton after the farm that had been there before the New Town was built, and by analogy with the longer-established suburb of Norbiton on the other side of the Hogsmill River. Being on the main line, Surbiton station still has a faster and more frequent service to London than the station in the town centre, and Surbiton is well-connected to the town centre by numerous bus routes, (as well as a new cycle path alongside the Portsmouth Road!)

  473. Greg Tingey says:

    See also back issues of the T-shirts for Kingston Beer Festival – One showed Surbiton station in the year of the 175th (?) anniversary of the line’s opening, & this year, when it showed an LSWR “torpedo” unit for 100 years of electric services through the town

  474. timbeau says:

    @Greg. (and apologies for further digression)
    KBF have done transport-related themes since 2010, but I can’t find one relating to Surbiton station, whose 175th anniversary was last year. .

    2009: Tumbling telephone boxes (20 years, the last one not transport-related)
    2010: Turks River launches (300 years)
    2011: First trolleybuses in Kingston – and indeed London (80 years – Kingston also saw their demise 31 years later)
    2012 (don’t recall – the beer must have been particularly good that year)
    2013: Kingston station (150 years)
    2014: Schneider Trophy win by Kingston-built Sopwith Camel (100 years)
    2015: Kingston’s first horse bus (140 years)
    2016: electric trains at Kingston (100 years) – an anniversary passed unremarked by SWT (perhaps afraid of embarrassment by comparisons with the speed and frequency of the current service)

  475. Verulamius says:

    I have asked GTR whether there is 16 trains an hour in the evening peak back to St Albans from London or 14.

    The consultation document suggests 16 (8 fast 4 slow and 4 semi fast) as there is no difference suggested between morning and evening peak.

    However the station by station spreadsheet for St Albans indicates 14 an hour for the evening peak.

    The lady in customer services I spoke to did not know what was right/wrong but agreed to pass on my query on to the relevant team.

  476. Greg Tingey says:

    I think 2012 might have been the Surbiton-station one, with the usual Three Fish ( Kingston’s Charge of Arms IIRC ) showing an “airsmoothed” passing through …..
    And wasn’t 2008 Trams ??

  477. quinlet says:

    I think, in practice, it’s 14 per hour in the direction of peak flow. The station by station section column appears to refer to evenings after the peak period, rather than the evening peak, while the first two columns appear to relate to both peaks. The difference between 14 and 16, for both the morning and evening peaks is TL4, the Littlehampton service, which seems to run only northbound in the morning and only southbound in the evening peak.

  478. timbeau says:

    If you say so – Google Images isn’t coming up with anything.

  479. Verulamius says:


    My understanding is that it is 16 trains per hour in the morning peak from St Albans in to London, otherwise there would be a reduction from the current peak hour service. So in the morning the Bedford Littlehampton service is both directions (at least through London).

    The consultation document refers to eight peak hour trains between St Albans and East Croydon.

  480. Verulamius says:


    The detailed spreadsheet is the document with reference to 14 trains in the evening peak which does not tie up with the main document.

  481. Steven Taylor says:

    The current Surbiton station was opened in 1845. The original Kingston (1838 to 1845) station was sited a few 100 yards east of the current station, and there is a photograph in existence of the original down platform (Connor and Butler LSWR book).

  482. Purley Dweller says:

    I can’t make the spreadsheet tie up with the other document for Purley at all. There seems to be an element of double counting somewhere.

  483. asl says:

    [Emphatic language snipped. LBM]
    If there is a capacity issue at Windmill Bridge Junction why not just terminate the train at Norwood Jcn or Crystal Palace? Then when Windmill Bridge Junction is fixed you can easily re-extend the service!!! Oh and as any good railway metro service timetabler knows: exclusive services are the key to reliability of service. Don’t mix ‘n’ match your routes.

  484. Sad Fat Dad says:

    @ Verulamius. You can ask them yourself tomorrow (Weds); GTR have a timetable consultation session at St Albans station in the morning.

  485. Ian J says:

    @asl: why not just terminate the train at Norwood Jcn

  486. Verulamius says:

    @Sad Fat Dad

    I spoke with a member of the team at St Albans this morning and he told me the station by station spreadsheet was put together rather quickly and had some errors.

    On his revised version St Albans does have 16 in the high peak (both morning and evening) but only 46 in three hour period. So that probably means only 4 Bedford Littlehampton trains each way.

    The main document should be accurate (although it does have a few typos).

  487. Jordan D says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer (28 September 2016 at 21:54)
    Thanks for obtaining a response from GTR (and apologies for the delay in seeing this). Blimey – Hadley Wood is getting right royally screwed if they are dropping it to 2tph. Wholly unacceptable for a London Zonal Station, and worse because there is often no bus service to even pick up any passenger alternate routing.

    If they are blaming it on low passenger numbers it is entirely because they keep cancelling trains at weekends and leaving passengers with 1tph or often 1t per 90mins.

    @Londoner in Scotland (29 September 2016 at 16:09) and others thereafter
    Re: Welwyn Garden City layout – whilst a 12 car platform may not be possible, there’s definitely room at the north end of the northbound platforms and at both ends of the southbound platforms to extend to 10 cars, which makes a 12 car SDO operational much more feasible and optimal?

  488. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Jordan D – No need for any apologies. I keep looking to see if they have updated the consultation document but only one recorded amendment as of last night. They must be aware that the material they have provided is inconsistent at best and down right wrong at worst. How they can possibly reach any sensible conclusions from responses received from people who have been given inaccurate information I know not. If there are enough errors then it could be enough for people to have the consultation deemed “invalid” meaning they have to start again. I remain of the view that GTR don’t know what they are doing and that would be entirely in line with so much of the operation of this franchise.

  489. Brockley Mike says:

    Having read as much as possible on the proposed new timetable I am left struggling to see any real improvements for day-to-day commuters inside of zone 5 after the multi-million investment and what will be at least 8 years of disruption when finally finished.

    Us poor souls on the Sydenham corridor not only do not get back our previous service level ‘temporarily’ reduced while the works were implemented, but we even seem to be losing peak services off that reduced schedule! (in the meantime, station usage figures show a near doubling of demand over the period). We do not get any direct connectivity to the TL services through the core (even though the consultation highlights the high demand for such) and lose any opportunity to connect at New Cross Gate. Norwood Junction is flagged as an interchange but has zero facilities for disabled people (whereas NXG has just had millions spent providing lift access to all platforms including some that will no longer see any trains stop! On top of all that we lose direct trains to East Croydon and points south.

    I know Wimbledon loop passengers are not going to gain anything, albeit that is seemingly self-inflicted.

    The Catford loop does gain some new services to bring it up to a vaguely acceptable service level at 4 trains per hour, but I would think that could have been achieved independently of the TL 2000 project.

    So are there any benefits for people in zones 1-4 at the end of this 28-year improvement project?

  490. Greg Tingey says:

    I remain of the view that GTR don’t know what they are doing and that would be entirely in line with so much of the operation of this franchise.
    Seconded, with the extra proviso that they (GTR) are merely acting as a sock-puppet for the DfT ( Who also haven’t a clue, IMHO, but that’s just me, perhaps) [smiley]

    Brockley Mike
    Yes, we have all noticed this – the important question is: What happens when the general public & the popular press notice?
    Perceptions matter, as in the case of the Wimbledon loop, as a dire example ….

  491. Anonymous says:

    Brockley Mike – I agree with you. As someone who uses New Cross Gate frequently to travel to Gatwick Airport and Brighton, the proposals are a serious diminution to service and will cause real inconvenience (or cost to travel into London Bridge and out again). I hope enough people will kick up a fuss. I’d just be happy with a similar service to today!

  492. Kate says:

    “Having read as much as possible on the proposed new timetable I am left struggling to see any real improvements for day-to-day commuters inside of zone 5 after the multi-million investment and what will be at least 8 years of disruption when finally finished.”

    The premise going in was that cross-London services deliver better capacity than using terminal platforms. The outcome doesn’t seem to back that up, does it?

    So where does that leave Crossrail 2? Will that be more effective? And, is Crossrail 2 still a priority even if effective or does even more need spending on the Brighton Mainline?

    And if pollution is the Achilles heel of Heathrow expansion, the increasing difficulty of reliably reaching Gatwick by train must be a major issue for expansion of Gatwick.

  493. Kate says:

    Brockley Mike is right to focus on the problems of switching interchange from New Cross Gate to Norwood Junction.

    And that’s part of the issue isn’t it? Because the timetable is only being settled after construction, we are now seeing that some parts of the network have been redeveloped when they aren’t now a priority but needed improvements have been missed. Hopefully someone will realise that the HS2 timetable needs publishing before construction begins to avoid a repetition.

  494. Malcolm says:

    Kate: Although there do seem to be many passengers disappointed (or expecting to be disappointed) by the Thameslink outcome [1], it’s a bit of a leap from that to discredit the whole idea of cross-London services. The extra capacity to be added by Crossrail 2 (assuming – as studies show – that that capacity is needed) could not be provided in any other way – certainly not by building more terminus platforms (there’s just nowhere feasible to build them).

    While spending on lines to Gatwick and Brighton (and the rest of that corridor) is definitely required, it is also definitely in the plans. There is no reason to suppose that such spending could be significantly increased by cancelling, postponing or altering the Crossrail 2 plans.

    [1] Subject to the customary point that there will undoubtedly be some passengers who are glad of the new Thameslink opportunities, but their cries of delight are unlikely to drown out the negative noises coming (understandably) from those whose service is worse.

  495. Graham H says:

    @Kate – we have actually had a concept timetable for HS2 (what we haven’t had – and what will be very controversial when it’s revealed – is the timetable for the classic services) . More generally, it’s quite impossible with something with as many interfaces with other services as TLK, to publish too long in advance a detailed timetable. Everything around it is in a constant state of flux and no one would argue that (as would have been the case here) the entire rail network in the south east should be frozen from the moment the TLK project had been finally settled.

    BTW, the modernisation of the Brighton line is not really linked financially with CR2 – one comes exclusively from NR’s pocket, the other mainly from the Mayor’s. Those two pockets meet, for the purposes of financial control, only at the Treasury, not even within a single department of state.

  496. ngh says:

    Re Brockley Mike,

    I suspect the consultation documents aren’t complete for the South London Metro services but it was so behind they had to publish anyway (I believe it isn’t the Southern half of GTR that is running the consultation which is why the south of the river part looks so disjoined and at first draft stage – they probably didn’t realise the time required to write up very the complicated service pattern*). There is apparently no mention of the am peak extras starting at Streatham Hill /Crystal Palace to London Bridge via Forest Hill – the franchise TSR requires all of them put back after the dive under track is available after Christmas.

    *I suspect they were expecting to relying on input from Southern staff who have been otherwise occupied.

  497. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Brockley Mike – with my cynic’s hat on I’m not massively shocked that the Thameslink project is delivering more for longer distance commuters than inner area ones. It’s never really been about “metro” type services at all. This takes up back to Sir Peter Hendy’s remark that no one really cares very much for inner suburban commuters as their services get in the way of those that make the money for franchisees (and the DfT). That was obviously when Sir Peter had his “TfL hat” on and was arguing for devolution. I agree it’s daft to abandon stops at places like NXG but clearly the accessibility stuff there was something TfL was keen to see even if it was a DfT funded “access for all” scheme. That assets are going to sit there unused – possibly for years – is of no concern to GTR. They aren’t responsible for them. I saw a remark in a London Travelwatch document from someone at TfL about the TOC’s version of “turn up and go” [1] policy of disabled person’s access to rail services. To say it was scathing is an understatement and says that the more TfL do the more the TOCs go in the opposite direction to avoid the cost impacts in the hope that TfL give them funding. The issues at NXG and Norwood Junction (acknowledging all the physical issues with the site) are illustrative of this poor attitude to the travelling public (not everyone who benefits from lifts and level access is necessarily disabled).

    [1] not really “turn up and go” at all. It was “turn up and go but tell us 24 hours in advance just to help us”.

    Clearly there are other infrastructure issues (much discussed here already) on Southern’s network but there’s clearly little push to make things demonstrably better for inner area users.

  498. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Kate – with respect to CR2 we are clearly at an earlyish stage although the service structure and station options are beginning to firm up. There should be a “final” proposition very soon. If we are to learn anything from what seems to be emerging from Thameslink then it is surely the following.

    1. Even with the best laid plans circumstances change and service patterns may need to change to reflect those. I suspect housing development will be the biggest problem for CR2 to cope with as plans for large scale development will inevitably change.

    2. The balance of trains into CR2 and residual inner suburban services to Waterloo will no doubt be a big issue. I can see the issues from Thameslink repeating themselves here.

    3. TfL’s approach to services tends to be “all stations” which will no doubt “bring the pains on” for a section of the commuting public who like their fast / semi-fast trains they have today and may lose in future. I actually think that “row” needs to be had now so it’s clear to people what may well happen in 20 years time. We’re about to have that row with the Shenfield line services too based on some of the tweets to “Twitter session” held yesterday.

    4. No doubt there will be gripes about the train design / seating layout etc. Again better to make it as clear as possible now what is likely to transpire. Get the service concept into people’s heads and force a reaction. No doubt all the capacity calculations etc underpinning the design have assumptions about the nature of the train seating and internal layout.

    5. The future franchise structure – as in who controls and runs what services – will also be crucial. Whereas there is one TOC today on SWML and one on WAML there may be three on SWML (CR2 TOC, Inner Suburban TOC, Long Distance) and 2 on WAML (CR2 TOC, Long Distance TOC). Obviously that’s guesswork on my part but there may be conflicts if there are multiple parties seeking to run services unless you can get and retain good infrastructure separation.

    I don’t see CR2 as being damaging per se but there are risks around what passengers may expect to happen and what will actually transpire.

    And please don’t take any of the above as an invitation to re-run alternative CR2 route structures, alignments, etc etc. Already done to death.

  499. ngh says:

    Re WW @ 1352,


    With people flow issues at Stratford on suspect TfLrail/Crossrail will be encouraging as many as possible to use Maryland etc. if it makes sense in the future as Stratford potentially gets even busier…

  500. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – they can do all the persuading they like but it’s demonstrably clear that trains today are so full people are struggling to board peak trains at stations west of Ilford. I know the class 345s will have more space and will later be longer but how long do we think it will take before that is all gobbled up in the peak? Days? Weeks? I’d be astonished if it took more than 9 weeks for it all to be used up. It was always a busy line but post TfL takeover the usage has seemingly rocketed and we all know what happens when you start service improvements – more and more people are pulled in.

    It was interesting that someone in the recent Twitter session said “Stratford is an accident waiting to happen”. I’ve not seen the place at the height of the peak for a long while but I’ve read many similar comments in different forums. I wonder if someone at TfL is beginning to wonder if an opportunity has not been missed at Stratford to try to bolster capacity even more. Once you get more offices and retail and housing open there are going to be huge problems as you will get more bi-directional commuting placing greater strain on the station.

  501. Si says:


    Re: point 5 of the 13:52 post

    As WAML inners aren’t on TfL’s target list for Overgroundisation, I’d imagine that there would only be two TOCs on the WAML (CR2 concession and Greater Anglia franchise), with CR2 concession running the STAR services.

    Re: Stratford crowding

    Platforms 6-8 in the PM peak is horrendous, and the one-way system (which could probably be done better) just dumps passengers for that island at one end of it (other than the few who sneak their way up). You do well to avoid it – keep up the good work of not adding another person there! 😉

  502. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Really don’t know why we are talking about Stratford but since you are …

    Stratford is horrible in the evening peaks but platform 8 must be one of the most staffed platforms on the entire rail network. I am not sure what accident some people are expecting. I would describe the situation as bad but not out of control.

    I really don’t buy all this “Crossrail won’t cope stuff” if you are going to measure it in days or weeks. As an infrequent visitor to the station it seemed pretty obvious to me that the problem was the large gaps between TfL trains during which three or even four Central line trains disgorged a lot of people on the adjacent platform. Once Crossrail runs a train consistently every 5 minutes (with one or two extras terminating at Gidea Park) then things should get a lot better.

    What you most certainly don’t want to do is have a mixture of stopping patterns that would encourage passengers to remain on the platform for “their” train. Just make sure they want to catch the first train that pulls in. And better still if they abandon the Central line and catch Crossrail all the way for their journey.

    And as I have said before, their journey in all probability won’t be slower due to better acceleration and faster boarding time (wider and more doors per carriage).

    Sometimes I really think people go looking for future problems that aren’t there. Or maybe good news stories aren’t popular.

  503. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – as you are responding to my remarks here are some in return.

    1. I’m not looking for an accident. I shared what a user of the service said to Howard Smith of TfL Rail in a public comms session. The user of the service would have to provide more detail on their concerns.

    2. There is no doubting that patronage on that route is increasing. I was questioning whether the demand trajectory is one which may be using up expected spare capacity on Crossrail. I’m not exactly the first person to express concerns about how quickly Crossrail’s capacity will be used. I believe a former Transport Commissioner is “on the record” about this. Asking questions is not exactly hunting out “bad news”. It’s a legitimate part of debate even if we have strayed somewhat from Thameslink.

    3. Post Crossrail you gain 1 train per hour heading east (compared to the current PM peak service out of Liverpool St – Table 5). Not exactly startling.

    4. Yes there may some reconfiguration of whether people interchange or not but you seem to have skipped past my point about the scale of development at *Stratford* also having an impact on the efficient working of Stratford Station. I’ve also not mentioned further development along the route that will no doubt drive up demand.

    Last time I looked I thought reasoned questioning about the future was permitted discussion on LR. If it no longer is then please let us know.

  504. Kate says:

    “Once you get more offices and retail and housing open there are going to be huge problems as you will get more bi-directional commuting placing greater strain on the station.”

    In interesting point. It is often remarked on LR that bi-directional commuting makes better use of locomotive assets but the corollary is the tension that stations work more effectively with uni-directional tidal flow.

  505. Kate says:

    “What you most certainly don’t want to do is have a mixture of stopping patterns that would encourage passengers to remain on the platform for “their” train. Just make sure they want to catch the first train that pulls in. ”

    But won’t the revised plan for Thameslink cause that problem in the Thameslink core? With the increased diversity of destinations, some of which get relatively infrequent services, there are going to be a lot of people waiting on those platforms.

  506. Graham Feakins says:

    @Kate – At least two years ago, Network Rail at a lecture I attended had already envisaged this problem and they used the Farringdon platforms as an example.

    It was realised that there would be a lot of people waiting on those platforms for different services and so the stated plan was to get the passengers to distribute themselves along the length of each platform by the use of multiple electronic signage from end to end, stating not only where to stand for an 8-car or 12-car service but also to encourage standing back towards the wall whilst awaiting a following service, whilst coupling this with information from the trains themselves as to which are likely to be the more lightly-loaded portions as each train approaches.

    Whether or not all of this will occur in practice, I don’t know but the spirit was willing. One can anticipate, however, a certain melee up and down the platforms as intending passengers try to obey the indicators…

    On the other hand, judging by the, albeit poor, static signage for the Underground in the new London Bridge concourse, where a couple of days ago when there were masses of folk coming from the toilets end of a long corridor at midday, those lavs were either extraordinarily busy or there were many making for the tube who simply didn’t see any sign to use another route (for there were none) and had to turn back. In other words, if folk don’t look at the indicators at all, then all NR’s good intentions will have been to no avail.

  507. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Graham Feakins, Kate,

    At least at Farringdon for part of the length of the platform there is plenty of space to wait although in other places the platforms are really quite narrow. It will be interesting to see where they recommend people change. Blackfriars (liked by some, hated by others) would seem to be one option.

    Bonus point to Graham for steering this more back on topic.

    Wathamstow Writer,

    One of my objections were to the phrase “accident waiting to happen” which is highly non-specific and gives no clue as to what problems there are. It is just emotive language that does not help. I really do not like this emotional clap trap when people don’t explain what they mean or why they mean it. If we descend to that level then I have better things to do with my life than be involved with this website.

    I also take strong objection to “being full up with weeks”. I take your point that other improvements have very quickly been used to the point that trains are just as crowded within weeks. A particularly noticeable one was the 7th car on the Jubilee line. However, the increase in capacity on Crossrail in East London will be huge. I myself have pointed out on many occasions that you don’t actually get many more trains (same at London Bridge) but the trains you do get will be much longer. We are taking about people capacity not the number of trains. It is the number of people you can move that matters.

    It is true that there will be a day in 2019 when all trains go to Liverpool St (High Level) and the next day (or at least a few days later after the customary engineering works) most trains will go on to Paddington and beyond with just a few peak hour trains starting from or terminating at Liverpool St (High Level).

    Notwithstanding the previous paragraph, something that seems to overlooked is that you seem to perceive Crossrail to Shenfield as one day it isn’t there and the next day it is. It ain’t going to be like that.

    It is fairly meaningless to talk about Crossrail being full up within weeks of opening given that we are talking of a period of around two years from the start to the end of the expansion. As I understand it the timetable for the Shenfield service is roughly as follows:

    May 2017: First few 7-car Crossrail trains with longer carriages replace existing 8-car trains on existing timetable.

    May 2017 – May 2019. Gradual increase in introducing new 7-car Crossrail trains so that the entire service is provided by these. Possibly by then the service is entirely all stations but nothing has been said about this one way or another.

    May 2019: Timetable changes and most trains no longer terminate at Liverpool St but continue to Paddington and beyond.

    May 2019 onward. Work starts at Liverpool St to remove one platform and extend three others so they can accommodate 9-car Crossrail trains. Also a programme is started to extend the remaining 7-car trains to 9-car. From previous experience (e.g. East London Line, WCML pendolinos) this will be a gradual process.

    So by December 2019 or maybe even as early as Summer 2019 we can regard the service from Shenfield as fully open. My point is that there really is no “big bang” moment – more like “little whimper” in May 2019 when capacity increases. So as capacity keeps growing it becomes fairly meaningless to talk of it being full within weeks. And in any case, within weeks of what? First train being introduced, all previous rolling stock retired, diversion to Paddington, rolling stock implementation fully complete?

  508. Sad Fat Dad says:

    PoP – Amen to that.

    You can see the same effect closer to home, and closer to now, with the introduction of the Class 700s on Thameslink. Whilst their reliability leaves something to be desired at present, there is no doubt that replacing 8 and 12 car Class 377 s and 387s with 12 car* 700s has effected a notable capacity increase. This has been done gradually over the space of about 3 months, and there are now around 10 in service.

    Whilst a couple of contributors over on RailUK forums may disagree, they are splendid trains, and there has unquestionably been a shift in passengers towards catching the “shiny new trains”. This has in turn freed up capacity on some of the services that continue to be formed of existing stock. Whilst Thameslink can rarely be described as being un-full, it is certainly a little less full than it was.

    * the first 8 car 700s were introduced this week, and one disgraced itself at Blackfriars a few hours ago.

  509. alanbluemountains says:

    Sad Fat Dad. I have seen several references to class 700 being unreliable in service which is not totally unheard of with new classes of train. How ever I can’t find any thing on the internet about faults on 700 class. Can you give me some brief info on what the problems are. Is it a single problem or a series of different faults?.

  510. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @SFD: The mental image produced by your phrase “disgraced itself”, was priceless…

    I got stuck behind a 700 earlier this week between Tulse Hill and Chrystal Palace. They look nice but the grey colour scheme is uninspiring, maybe a touch of blue, say just below the windows would help?

  511. Sad Fat Dad says:

    @alanbluemountains. This is drifting slightly off topic, so to avoid Malcolm’s pruning shears all I will say is that it is mostly a combination of software issues and drivers getting themselves familiar with what is (apparently) a completely new ‘system’ for them to use.

    If you can bear it, and have a couple of days spare, there are several hundred pages of discussion / argument / ranting on the subject here:

  512. alanbluemountains says:

    Sad Fat Dad. thanks alan

  513. timbeau says:

    “Within weeks of opening”

    I think to most people “opening” will mean when trains start running in the core tunnels. December 2018.
    For the Shenfield line, trains through the core will start the following May)

    It will be interesting to see how busy the tunnel section gets when only the Abbey Wood services are running.

  514. Alan Griffiths says:

    Pedantic of Purley 7 October 2016 at 06:17

    “It is fairly meaningless to talk about Crossrail being full up within weeks of opening given that we are talking of a period of around two years from the start to the end of the expansion.”

    An extended masterclass; reminding us all that the pedantry continue to be a vital part of society.

  515. TL driver says:

    Re: Alanbluemountains

    Just to reiterate what SFD has said on Class700s…

    In my opinion they are far superior to anything gone before. They suck people off platforms in to their vast cavernous insides in seconds. They have excellent acceleration (the FLU are quicker than 387s but having driven my first RLU yesterday these are quicker still) are well built and robust and despite many a complaint re availability of sockets/tables are in my opinion just marvellous. I am an optimist (unlike many of my driver colleagues) but a cynic too and I could not see how they would be able to cope with the sheer number of passengers that would need to be moved by 24tph in the core. Well sir, I am a convert. Marvellous trains – did I mention that?

    The problems are (as already mentioned) software based little gremlins that appear and disappear and problems/delays getting those doors open (again software related). I’m sure they will all get ironed out soon enough. They are very unlike any train gone before and some of the older chaps are struggling to get used to them. But they will and all will be fine.

    Marvellous trains. I’ll be interested to see how Bomardiers 345s measure up…

  516. timbeau says:

    @TL driver

    Interesting to see the view from the driver’s seat, so to speak, but all is not quite so rosy for the passenger. I cannot speak from direct experience as the only time I have been on a 700 to date I did not get a seat, but I have tried the mockup of the 707 that was at Waterloo, which I understand to have identical seating. It was immediately apparent that the seats are narrower and firmer than the “ironing boards” on the 455s, or indeed any other train seats I have used, except those on the 378s.
    There was one exception – the seat with a view ahead!

    I was told the seats meet industry standards. Unfortunately, ever since the withdrawal of wartime rationing, the proportion of the population who still meet the industry standard has been diminishing as their physical proportions have expanded.

    I assume FLU and RLU are the two different versions, but which is which? Fairly Long Unit and Really Long Unit perhaps?

    Perhaps, anticipating problems in extreme weather, they are Freezing, Late, Uncomfortable and Roasting, Late, Uncomfortable?

  517. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Timbeau: Full Length and Reduced Length, but I suspect you knew that.

    Don’t believe everything you read about the seats.

    I have been using 700s twice a day for most of the last two months, and find the seats more than adequate. Certainly more comfortable than the 455s, the 376s, anything on LU or LO, most commuter DMUs ‘up north’ and for that matter any Easyjet or BA aircraft (economy). The only issue is shortage of leg room in the face to back seats (I’m 6’4″) but in that respect it is no worse than most other trains, and is just about manageable for me.

    I have heard plenty of passengers stating (unprompted) how much they like the new trains; at the end of the day that’s what actually matters. Let’s hope the bugs get ironed out quickly and they get introduced onto other GTR services ASAP as their superior acceleration and dwell time performance will certainly make the existing and future* timetables be more robust.

    *Do I win £5 for getting us back in topic?

  518. alanbluemountains says:

    Sad Fat Dad. sorry no five pounds but next September when I will be over would gladly buy you and a few others a beer.

  519. Old Buccaneer says:

    Full Length and Reduced Length: that’s 12 car & 8 car in old money. More 70x’s are on the way, I gather: 5-car for SWT on the Windsor line and 6-car for Northern City Line out of Moorgate. Good to hear people like them & let’s hope the “intermittent gremlins” respond to “expelliamus” or the German equivalent!!

  520. Phil says:

    Re Anonymous @ 5 October 2016 at 22:25

    If you read the consultation you will note that the reason for the removal of the New Cross Gate stops is down to a lack of infrastructure capacity, primary in the Croydon area preventing such stops from being included in the timetable. As such, to retain the New Cross Gate stop, please tell us which other stops you would remove to facilitate your desire, bearing mind dwell times must be similar so as to still fit into the available paths. How about Norwood junction….

    Fact – not everyone preferences can be accommodated – its a question of trade offs and minimising the dis-benefits to the majority – not protecting what is of benefit to the minority.

  521. timbeau says:

    @OLd Buccaneer
    “More 70x’s are on the way, I gather: 5-car for SWT on the Windsor line and 6-car for Northern City Line out of Moorgate. ”

    Not strictly speaking both 70xs, as they are to be classes 707 and 717 respectively. (The new Overground units will be 710). The 717 number may be a nice allusion to their class 313 predecessors, but I do wonder at the profligacy with which the Rolling Stock Library is getting through the available numbers in the 7xx series, although there are still at least four 3xx classes still to enter service (331, 345, 385, 397). No news yet as to what class numbers will be allocated to Anglia’s new Aventra and Flirt units.

  522. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – I provided a context and a backdrop to my comments. I am painfully aware of the introduction phases of the class 345s having read through the relevant agreements and I know the phases for Crossrail’s service buildup. I understand the point you make but I don’t agree. Demand is continuing to build and I assume will continue to do so unless we have an economic downturn and then all bets are off on a whole load of issues to do with London’s transport. I don’t consider the move of thousands of TfL staff to Stratford as “gradual” – that’s a substantive change likely to take place over a matter of weeks as they occupy the new buildings. Ditto new housing at Stratford and elsewhere. And as you have condemned the use of “ill defined” social media related comment I trust that is new policy and will be applied consistently for everyone and across all articles. I will leave it there.

  523. Graham H says:

    @OB – Raus, presumably.

    @WW – and not just in the 7xx range; the profligacy with loco numbers is equally bad. Seen a 54 recently? Or 63 etc?

  524. Slugabed says:

    “Verschwind! ” I suspect may do the trick…accompanies by nose-holding and turning thrice anti-clockwise with eyes shut.
    This was how such things were done in Austria…things may be done differently “further North”!

  525. Purley Dweller says:

    There are 3 trains I can use to get home that are 700s. I try to get them. Mind you 12 coaches is serious over provision and most people get a bay of 4 to themselves! I find them no less comfortable than 387s or the lateright 377s. I can’t believe how fast the doors are. I timed 7 seconds from wheel stop to doors open on one occasion. They can easily be in and out of Merstham and Coulsdon South in less than 30 seconds. The doors are also really wide.

  526. Graham H says:

    @slugabed – remember the old dictum – in Prussia, everything which is not permitted is forbidden, in Britain everything which is not forbidden is permitted, in Austria everything which is forbidden is permitted. Servus as we old K-k civil servants used to say…

  527. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    “the profligacy with loco numbers is equally bad. Seen a 54 recently? Or 63 etc?”

    The loco number range was fairly well used, and below class 60 most of the gaps can be explained as originally intended for what became subclasses – e.g 18 and 19 for the Class 17/2 and 17/3 “Clayton” variants with Rolls Royce engines and Crompton Parkinson electrical gear. 54 was probably reserved for one of the many flavours of what in the end were all classified as “47” – remember that their Sulzer engines had to be de-rated, so in their original state would have been more powerful and therefore have a higher class number.
    From around 1980, it was decreed that carriage numbers and loco numbers should not be duplicated. This resulted in a large number of dmu cars in the 50xxx and 56xxx being renumbered in the 53xxx and 54xxx series, after which class 54 became an impossibility. Likewise, the diesel classes had to skip classes 61-65 inclusive as this was the main number block for emu motor coaches in the BR era

  528. ngh says:

    Re SFD,

    In one (traditional) sense the 700s habit of failing in their first week in service could be regarded as engineering perfection in that they fail just after acceptance and the accumulation of fault free mileage! Unfortunately with the modern habit of supplying and maintaining rolling stock maybe this isn’t quite such an accomplishment.

    Bombardier have apparently been investing lots in a new hardware and software testing environment so perhaps the have anticipated such issues with the next generation of stock better than Siemens especially as the previous generation of Electrostars were more complex beasts in terms of hardware – software interaction* than Siemens Desiros and Bombardier having a smaller generational gap to jump.

    Siemens seem to have had a recent string of issues on rolling stock contracts pre the 700s with issues not being resolved for years (recent Velaros especially the multi-voltage units including the new Eurostar Stock being several years behind).
    One wonders if Siemens railway heritage built up from various suppliers heritage** to supply modules is beginning to catch up with it where modules are suddenly far more integrated and with more software than before. Siemens had centralised specialist production far more than others manufacturers such as Bombardier or Alstom who have or had far more multi sourcing options who are possibly more used to integration issues.

    *e.g. Electric door actuation vs Desiro’s pneumatic; SDO, CSDE and bodyside DOO cameras; telemetry to depot and far more complex computer systems (e.g ASEA heritage) etc…

    Siemens (VT)
    Some of the West German AEG rail assets
    Brown Boveri Austria
    Kraus Maffei
    Simmering Graz Pauker

  529. ngh says:

    Re Timbeau,

    707 enables SWT to keep using the old southern region 4 digit unit number system internally…

  530. timbeau says:

    So would 701. (or indeed 702 or 703)

  531. Greg Tingey says:

    As I’ve said before, a reversion to the old SR usage of three-letter codes for EMU’s would be a great improvement (!)

  532. Graham H says:

    @timbeau -and I understand that we have been forced into the 7xx s because of various blocks of freight wagon numbers. All of which suggests very poor forward planning indeed by the rolling stock library managers.

  533. Brockley Mike says:

    @ Phil, 8th Oct 18.55:

    ‘As such, to retain the New Cross Gate stop, please tell us which other stops you would remove to facilitate your desire, bearing mind dwell times must be similar so as to still fit into the available paths. How about Norwood junction….

    Fact – not everyone preferences can be accommodated – its a question of trade offs and minimising the dis-benefits to the majority – not protecting what is of benefit to the minority’.

    Actually I would say there was a case for stopping at New Cross Gate in lieu of Norwood Junction (assuming the timetable can’t accommodate both). That would provide connectivity with, for example, more Overground trains and would be a suitable connection for those needing lifts to change platforms. It would also provide 12 off-peak connections per hour to the Thameslink core for Sydenham line passengers rather than the 4 per hour in the current plan (ie those via London Bridge).

    In terms of dis-benefits, I would have thought that the first step in constructing the new timetable would be to reinstate the services cut ‘temporarily’ prior to the TL works, and only then assessing the relative balance of new services in the timetable. To not do so merely reinforces the case to transfer metro services to TfL urgently, as Southern / Govia clearly have lost all focus on that market.

  534. Purley Dweller says:

    I would tend to agree with Brockley Mike that to give the greatest benefit TL trains should stop at New Cross Gate rather than Norwood Junction if they can’t do both. This gives better overground access from south of Croydon and better core access from North of Norwood. Norwood Junction will get fast London trains using the ones from Epsom and connections from the south via East Croydon and the Coulsdon to Victoria trains. The Sydenham corridor needs a stopping train to East Croydon though – maybe one could terminate at South Croydon, Sanderstead or Purley. As it stands there don’t appear to be any extra trains than now using cottage junction so it should be timetablable (I haven’t modelled it myself – I gave up trying at Welwyn which I think is the key to the whole thing. Get that right and you’re sorted!)

  535. ngh says:

    Re Purley Dweller and Brockley Mike,

    1. New Cross Gate – Norwood Junction isn’t a both vs equally weighted either /or as you seem to assume:
    a) have and will have fewer trains (2tph or 4tph if Palace LO goes to 6tph) at Norwood Junction compared to New Cross so it is easier to stop services at Norwood Junction
    b) have more platforms in the down direction at Norwood Junction usable by fast trains and post proposed rebuild by 2020-ish (See Sussex part 13 article) lots more capacity to stop up fast services at Norwood Junction.
    New Cross Gate /Norwood Junction isn’t necessarily an either / or.
    c) Post 2020 the only reason not to stop Thameslink at New Cross Gate will just be down to issues at New Cross Gate.

    2. Withdrawing the Thameslink Norwood Junction stops reduces /removes the Crystal Palace – East Croydon link which has already got worse over the years (paging Graham F) and currently requires a Norwood Junction Change with the Norwwod Junction link provided by Thameslink which is better used than the Thameslink LO connection at New Cross Gate…
    Thameslink stopping at New Cross Gate instead is not a substitute.

  536. Brockley Mike says:

    I can see that it might be easier to choose NJ as the stopping location ahead of New Cross Gate (NXG) due to platform capacity (albeit of no-use to those needing lift access – even after 2020 as I understand it). In which case that strengthens the case to restore the reduced service of Southern trains on the Sydenham corridor to London Bridge, to improve TL interchange opportunities there instead of at NXG.

    Regarding your comment:

    ‘Withdrawing the Thameslink Norwood Junction stops reduces /removes the Crystal Palace – East Croydon link which has already got worse over the years (paging Graham F) and currently requires a Norwood Junction Change with the Norwwod Junction link provided by Thameslink which is better used than the Thameslink LO connection at New Cross Gate…

    Thameslink stopping at New Cross Gate instead is not a substitute’.

    However it is seemingly ok to lose the Sydenham corridor direct services to East Croydon?

    Regarding demand for TL connectivity on this route, the consultation has this to say:

    Analysis has also revealed that passengers travelling from stations between Norwood Junction and New Cross Gate (shown as the Sydenham route on the graph), in many cases travel beyond London Bridge to stations such as London Charing Cross, London Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, London St Pancras International and beyond. Whilst this route ranked third in terms of passengers travelling to Thameslink stations London Overground are expected to operate additional services to meet this demand’.

    So the Sydenham corridor ranks third in terms of demand for TL connectivity and yet somehow LO services are going to serve this demand, even though they go nowhere near any TL stopping stations north of Norwood Junction (but could of course really help meet that demand if they did stop at NXG)!

  537. ngh says:

    Re Brockley Mike,

    Agree the frequency on the corridor needs improving I note that they don’t mention the Streatham Hill / Crystal Palace – London Bridge am peak PIxC busters in the consultation.

    Thameslink services on the Forest Hill corridor stopping services would be really sensible but as I noted several hundred comments ago it doesn’t bring in the revenue (either real or accountancy trick) that longer distance services would do such as GTR’s infamous Gravesend proposal so GTR won’t be interestedas they need get the revenue in for DfT.

  538. JanH says:

    Re the proposed cuts at Brookmans Park, Welham Green and Hadley Wood (and expanding on the post made by glbotu in the same vein):

    Just guessing here and not having looked much further than this article and the comments – maybe this is intended for the benefit of the “slow” outer suburban service (currently 1 tph Peterborough and Cambridge each, planned to be 2 tph Cambridge in the future)?

    At the moment, with the Moorgate service running every 20 min, this is just enough time for a slow outer service (calling at Potters Bar, Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City) to depart Finsbury Park just in front of the stopper and get almost to Welwyn before starting to catch up with the preceding inner service. However since the outer services run on a 30-min pattern, in practice this only works for one train each hour, with the other train having to run on the fast line between Finsbury Park and Potters Bar in order to overtake the Moorgate stopper.

    Now as far as I’ve gathered, there’s been a desire to eliminate those weaving movements in order to free up some fast line capacity, meaning to keep the other tph on the slow line all the way to/from Welwyn as well. Moving the inner suburbans to a 15-min pattern eliminates the basic incompatibility with the 30-min outer suburban service, but at the same time the reduced spacing between stopping trains means the faster trains will start catching up with the stoppers earlier than before. So maybe those stations are skipped twice per hour in order to speed up the stopper so as to avoid having to lengthen running times for the slow outer suburbans instead.
    Apart from the reduced service at those three stations, that would also mean that on at least part of the line the stopping service couldn’t run at a perfectly even 15-min interval and would have to be spaced slightly irregularly.

  539. Graham Feakins says:

    Having been ‘paged’ by ngh re. stopping Thameslink trains serving East Croydon at New Cross Gate v. Norwood Junction, my response is that there is a gap in Southern’s Metro services, in that at least stations and the areas so embraced outwards beyond Tulse Hill/Streatham Hill, viz. West Norwood, Gipsy Hill and Crystal Palace to Norwood Junction, are no longer served by direct trains reaching East Croydon on what was a popular ‘feed route’ not only to/from East Croydon but also Gatwick Airport and beyond. If they get as far as Norwood Junction, the trains use the West Croydon route instead at the moment.

    It is thus important whatever happens to maintain a good connecting service to/from East Croydon at Norwood Junction with the via Crystal Palace route from the south. New Cross Gate cannot meet that purpose in any useful way, so Norwood Junction becomes the preferred choice.

    Those at New Cross Gate who require East Croydon can also travel on the frequent services on the local lines to Norwood Junction and change there for East Croydon and beyond. To have nothing stopping at Norwood Junction for East Croydon, I submit, would be out of the question.

    Stopping at Norwood Junction also facilitates connections to/from West Croydon and beyond to the via East Croydon routes. One must remember that not all rail services are London-centric. Traditionally, East Croydon itself sees as many commuters arriving in the morning peak for work in the town as commuters entering the station departing for London. Of course, much of that depends on office occupancy in the town.

  540. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Jan H – you may well be correct. The point, surely, is that GTR’s consultation material should be accurate and consistent? Even when you ask them the question about what the frequency is at those stns their response is incoherent. And passengers are supposed to entrust their safety to an organisation that can’t cross check and proof read documents nor give people a straight answer? The public deserve to be given accurate information and a clear justification as to why three stns will get a worse service than they currently do.

  541. Purley Dweller says:

    Several commenter have mentioned Crystal Palace to East Croydon as one of the requirements for Norwood Junction stops. This will be filled by the Victoria to Coulsdon services. There is as I said still a need for a half hourly train from the Sydenham corridor to East Croydon. Get that and the Caterham slow to London Bridge via Streatham and Coulsdon to Victoria and then all metro stations north of Croydon are served which is what we need. Just how to get all three services? Could the Milton Keynes service divert to West Croydon to leave room at Cottage Junction and East Croydon?

  542. Alan Griffiths says:

    Purley Dweller 10 October 2016 at 21:59

    ” Could the Milton Keynes service divert to West Croydon to leave room at Cottage Junction and East Croydon? ”

    That wouldn’t be much use to Gatwick Airport passengers.

  543. Sprayerpaint says:

    I have been reading for an hour but only got part way down the list. So apologies if these questions/points have already been covered. Feel free to ignore answering/responding rather than flame me for wanting to get to bed (its after 23:30!)

    1) Why do Kings Lynn/Cambridge fast trains need to go into Kings Cross at all, taking up valuable slots over Welwyn Viaduct and other two-track sections as well as wanting clear platforms cleared of Hertford loop trains at Stevenage and offering no stops for anyone in Hertfordshire or even at Finsbury Park. Why could they not go into Liverpool Street instead? Is that line even more congested? Or is it that GTR will not let Abellio have some of its business?

    2) I do not understand the logic of linking the relatively trouble free Northern services to the trouble-stricken Southern. Any problems on Southern will inevitably become Northern’s after 2018. Is the gain of not having to transfer to the tube for people wanting to get from the north to Farringdon and Blackfriars sufficient motivation? I cannot imagine that many people need a change free train to get from the north to the south coast and vice versa (Gatwick may be an exception)

    3) I do not understand how one platform at St Pancras can handle all the passengers for a succession of services. At peak times there are passengers alighting trains on two suburban platforms at Kings Cross as well as one intercity on the point of travelling within a few minutes of one another north.

    4) How confusing and stressful will it be for passengers leaving London to have to make a choice about whether to go to St Pancras for a train or Kings Cross. Or when there is a problem at St Pancras to then have to go back to Kings Cross. There is also a certain reassurance and stress reduction about Kings Cross being the terminus – you could fall asleep on the way there and on the way home get to sit down straightaway. That won’t be the case at St Pancras

    5) If all the services are moved out of Kings Cross, which has a lot of platforms already unused, yet has recently been refurbished, isn’t this underutilisation inefficient of resources?

    6) Hertford North is 12 minutes from Stevenage and I cannot see bustitution reducing that commute. I also know people working in Enfield who commute from Stevenage and people in Watton at Stone who come up to Stevenage by train to join trains south.

    7) If the services on the Hertford Loop are stopped will is still remain open if there is a problem on the main line?

    I have made a submission on this basis but am planning to meet the managers at Stevenage on Thursday (a very poorly advertised opportunity which station staff seem to know nothing about and customer services could not definitively confirm was happening) so I would welcome any intel before that meeting.

  544. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Sprayerpaint – what follows is largely opinion, not fact so probably not worth throwing at officials from GTR!

    1. I think there is a strong and proven market for fast trains from London to Cambridge. That’s really only achieveable on the ECML. It is far too slow and congested out of Liverpool St plus the only “fast” paths are taken by Stansted Express trains. Disrupt those and you will have the wrath of the airport and airlines after you plus a fair slice of Essex / Herts commuters. As has been said many times the DfT wants oodles of revenue out of the GTR franchise so retaining fast, popular trains is a good way to keep the money rolling in. I also expect passengers would be *very* upset to lose their fast trains. I also expect they will be popular with tourists visiting Cambridge.

    2. Well Bedford line trains have been linked to the Southern network for nearly 30 years. All the project does is build on that core and try to provide a lot more capacity. You can’t send them all to Bedford so linking to the Great Northern route was viewed as the next sensible option. Clearly running the services well, reliably and on time is going to be an enormous challenge hence this consultation to try to get a “workable” pattern of services. Whether “workable” means “what the public wants and needs” is another topic altogether.

    3. Not very familiar with St Pancras LL and certainly not in the peak so can’t comment really. One assumes someone did some clever calculations before they built it but time will tell if the place copes or not. Plenty of other places in the world with intensively worked single platforms with varying destinations – lots of them in Tokyo to take one example. Crossrail will have the same challenge for westbound passengers when it’s fully open in late 2019.

    4. There may well be confusion but regular travellers settle into “patterns” so will know where to go. The saving grace, I suppose, is that the distance between the two is not too far given the Western concourse at KX and you can switch stations under cover if you wish to. If you’re not a regular then you will either make scrupulous arrangements and follow them or you’ll just be in a tizz as usual and just ask someone. That’s my experience of giving assistance to the travelling public. I’ve been left wondering how some people manage to dress and feed themselves never mind get around but they clearly cope somehow. Thankfully we’re all different and not precision set robots.

    Can’t comment on the rest as I’ve no familiarity about KX platform utilisation post 2018 nor the service and usage patterns on the Hertford North branch. If you do manage to get any sense out of the GTR reps about the GN services, including the local services to Moorgate and their stopping patterns / frequencies I’ll be interested to hear what you were told.

  545. Sad Fat Dad says:


    1) yes the Cambridge to Liverpool St route is more congested than to Kings X. And even if it wasn’t, a non stop train would still take 10 minutes longer as the line is notably less straight. It would not be well received in Cambridge.

    2) the logic is only partly that linking the two creates new direct regional links – Welwyn to Croydon, or Royston to Gatwick for example. But mostly, the logic is enabling better distribution within London (a significant majority of commuters arriving at Kings Cross do not work near Kings Cross), and also, with 24 tph, providing (effectively) a new high capacity metro line across London, which will connect with Crossrail. This helps relieve parts of the Northern, Victoria, Jubilee and Circle lines.

    3) easily. Southbound, when the service is slighter out of kilter, St P LL routinely has trains arriving at under 3 minute intervals and works. As per above, many of the passengers who currently use Kings Cross to get home in the evening will already be on the train, having boarded at London Bridge or City Thameslink for example.

    4) the good folk of Sussex, Kent and (for example) Purley have managed with services to 2, 3 or even 4 London termini for over a century. For that matter so have the good folk of Welwyn GC, Hatfield and Potters Bar. It really isn’t difficult.

    5) post 2018, those platforms will soon be refilled with additional longer distance services. See the new East Coast franchise.

    6) fair point

    7) yes, definitely

  546. Greg Tingey says:

    sparayerpaint / WW / SFD
    Which brings us back to the problem of Wilberforce Junction
    I suspect that this, rather than the Welwyn bottleneck is going to be one of the principal sensitive break/trip nodes of the whole thing.
    How & why the “planners” were allowed to get away with a new flat junction at that location baffles me.

    [ NOTE: There is some boring official name for that junction, but as in “The Ladykillers” most of us call it “Wilberforce” … ]

  547. Putters says:

    Re Point 4. Personally I’m not looking forward to this for this very reason. At present I have a train service to St Neots that is basically reliable – due to it being pretty much an out and back route with very little external to perturb it (OLE failures permitting).

    In the future I’ve got a situation where the trains from St Pancras are more likely to be delayed departing due to the complexities south of the river, but is liable to be pushed through in favour of a departure from King’s X due to it being necessary to get it out of the core.

    Unless there’s some seriously good information flows it is pretty much going to be impossible to know which way to head when standing on the main concourse at Kings X waiting for a platform number.

  548. Greg Tingey,

    You have raised the issue of what you call Wliberforce Junction and the fact that it is flat far too often.

    See for example here.

    On one occasion someone, obviously an insider, wrote a detailed response explaining why it was completely impossible for it to be anything other because of canals, other tunnels etc. and why it had to be sited where it was. Unfortunately despite a long search I can no longer find this comment.

    If you raise this again I will delete the comment.

  549. ngh says:

    Re PoP and Greg,

    Quick response as reminder* ( a more in depth response may also available if others want):

    Belle Isle Junction (Wilberforce Jn to Greg) isn’t an issue it is actually a solution to current problems especially as fewer King Cross platforms are fully accessible from the slow lines (the down slow is only directly accessible from P8-11 of which P9-11 have short platforms) with the current Kings Cross throat arrangement. (Might I suggest Greg has a quick look at pages 167 & 168 of the LNE sectional appendix).
    The Thameslink solution to the short platforms issues and fewer accessible platforms from/to the slows is to sent 12cars etc through Thameslink instead and utilise the short platforms less instead (This also allows higher utilisation of the longer P7&8 from the fast lines).
    So quite cunning overall when you look at the detail.

    There is a proposed longer term capacity solution to deal to more (especially intercity) services on the ECML by reinstating a 5th track through the currently unused eastern most Canal and Copenhagen Tunnels till the Holloway Flyover to have 3 fast lines allowing far higher utilisation of the low numbered (but long) platforms (especially P0). ETCS etc. will also bring some changes and improvements especially as the P0 implementation was “ducktape” solution till resignalling.

    *time for an LR FAQs?

  550. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    And to clarify even further for those without a detailed map: Belle Isle Junction is where the two Thameslink tracks split off from the slow Kings Cross lines to descend to the Thameslink station under St Pancras. The junction at St Pancras being a flying junction….

  551. Malcolm says:

    I think for reasons given by PoP, we will decline the offer of more details. There is of course a junction at each end of the canal tunnels line, Belle Isle junction at the north end, and Canal (Tunnels) Junction (sources differ) at the south end. I am not sure which one of them Greg would like to rebaptise, but anyway use of unofficial names is discouraged on this site. (My bete noire is “Northern City Line”, but that misname is at least sanctioned by history). The Canal Tunnels line is built and it is where it is.

  552. Jim says:

    @sprayerpaint: As others have said, the Cambridge/Stansted line into Liverpool St is hopelessly congested, and therefore slow, which is why there has been talk for some time of four-tracking it from Coppermill Junction at least as far as Broxbourne. Also don’t overlook the value of passengers from the Great Northern stations being able to directly access Farringdon, which can only gain in importance as an interchange station when Crossrail appears. It’s a pity that in all the rebuilding the Thameslink and Met/H+C/Circle lines couldn’t have been paired by direction with two island platforms at Farringdon to allow cross-platform interchange from southbound Thameslink to eastbound Underground (and likewise westbound Underground to northbound Thameslink).

  553. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Another thing worth mentioning about Belle Isle Junction is that according to the consultation, no trains to/from King’s X will stop at any stations between there and Welwyn North and as such will stay on the fast lines from Welwyn inwards. The only trains to/from King’s X which will be forced to interact with Belle Isle will be those using Platforms 10 and 11 (the only ones without access to the fast lines) as well as any ’empties’ which cannot get a path on the fast lines.

    Also, it could prove beneficial to replace the existing Dn. Fast to Dn. Slow connection between the Canal and Copenhagen Tunnels with a Dn. Slow to Dn. Fast connection. That way a train leaving Plat. 10/11 needing to join the Dn. Fast could avoid Belle Isle as long as there wasn’t a train approaching King’s X on the Up Slow. Note that if a train was approaching King’s X on the Up Slow then there is a better chance of getting a path across Belle Isle as there could not be an Up TL service at the same time. The train could then join the Dn. Fast at an existing connection in the Holloway Rd. area.

  554. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Correction: Both me and ngh at 12:53 referred to the tunnels between King’s X and Belle Isle as the Canal Tunnels when they are in fact the Gasworks Tunnels. The Canal Tunnels are those that connect the Thameslink core to the ECML.

  555. ngh says:

    Re Anon E. Mouse,

    Opps obviously need some more caffeine today.
    The Gas Work tunnel of course goes under the Canal…

  556. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Anon E. Mouse: The Canal Tunnels are those that connect the Thameslink core to the ECML.

    MML (Midland Mainline) instead of ECML (East Coast Main Line)?

  557. timbeau says:

    @ ngh
    …… do the Canal Tunnels of course.

    “I am not sure which one of them Greg would like to rebaptise”
    It is Belle Isle – the one overlooked by the house of Mrs Wilberforce (the Lady in “The Ladykillers”) – recommended viewing to see how the area has changed (and because it is a good film!) The area was even less deserving of the epithet “Belle” sixty years ago than it is now!

    The point of running trains through London and out the other side is the same as it was in 1988 when the Snow Hill Link first re-opened: getting more trains into London without having to expand the terminals. Redistribution of passengers over several central London stations is a bonus. The direct (no changes) cross-London journey opportunities are very much a fringe benefit for a lucky handful, with the selection of actual pairings more to do with operational convenience than passenger flows.

  558. timbeau says:

    @Southern Heights

    No, Anon E Mouse is right. The Canal Tunnels, complete but not yet in use, will indeed connect the Thameslink core at St pancras Low level to the ECML. They essentially replace the old Hotel Curve and York Road curve, which connected the Widened Lines at the old Kings Cross Metropolitan station to Kings Cross itself, but have been defunct since Moorgate services were diverted via the Northern City Line*, and are too tightly curved for modern stock.

    *as it was known at the time. Malcolm suggests it has another name now, but I don’t know what it is.

    Yes, it is not ideal that Belle Isle/ Wilberforce/ Maiden Lane/whatever you want to call it is a flat junction, but better that than nothing, and there was indeed no room to put in grade separation there. At least it is not a single lead!

  559. Malcolm says:

    timbeau says “and are too tightly curved for modern stock”. I think, at least for the Hotel Curve, “were” might fit better, since it has completely disappeared and is thoroughly filled in and covered over by the rather splendid blister on the side of Kings Cross station. The tunnel which contained the York Road curve still seems to exist, and doesn’t look very tightly curved, but it may be too narrow, it contains no track, and certainly York Road station had a platform which was much too short (and would require access from the fast line).

  560. Old Buccaneer says:

    @timbeau et al:

    In re: “Ladykillers”: I may be over thinking it, but there is also a link between W Wilberforce & Belle Isle: see the ‘John Curwen’ section of:

  561. Anon E. Mouse says:

    @Southern Heights, timbeau
    As an amusing aside, according to my Ian Allen Rail Atlas, the tunnel between the TL core and the MML is called the King’s Cross Tunnel. Somewhat ironic as it no longer directly serves King’s X!

  562. Greg Tingey says:

    PoP & ngh
    Err .. thanks, actually – I had forgotten that – & ngh especially for the extra info.
    “Wilberforce” = Belle Isle, i.e. the junction at the N end of the new link, as overlooked by Mrs’ Wilberforce’s house in “The Ladykillers” ….. ( as I see Timbeau also says )

    The York Rd curve wasn’t very tight, but the now-totally defunct Hotel curve was both tight & steep – watching & listening to an N-2 starting a down suburban out of there was “fun”….
    Clearances in both were not very much & VERY smokey.

    Lastly, tunnels – all very confusing.
    IIRC the new tunnel(s) between KXStP Thameslink & Belle Isle/Wilberforce are called the “Canal Tunnels”
    BUT the those directly N out of King’s Cross are called the “Gasworks” & “Copenhagen” tunnels respectively.

  563. Slugabed says:

    Because the Gasworks Tunnel goes under the canal,whereas the Canal Tunnels go under (the site of) the gasworks…

  564. Ian J says:

    @Malcolm: The tunnel which contained the York Road curve still seems to exist

    I believe that as part of the general Kings Cross rebuild, it had a diverted utility of some kind put into it (a sewer? a large water main?).

  565. timbeau says:

    Thameslink trains will also use Copenhagen Tunnel, as Belle Isle is south thereof.

    It may have been possible for long framed stock to go down the York Road curve but it would only have been able to get back out of the Widened Lines onto the MML!

    Where was the original temporary GNR “Maiden Lane” terminus? The modern thoroughfare of that name seems rather too far from the GN main line.

  566. Slugabed says:

    As far as I can tell,Maiden La temporary station was in the area of erstwhile goods yards just to the north of the canal.After being superceded by King’s Cross,it was used as a potato warehouse and demolished in the late 19thC.
    Maiden Lane is the old name for York Way.

  567. Putters says:

    National Library of Scotland as usual has some lovely maps of the area.

    Never noticed the tunnel coming out of the top of the Copenhagen tunnels though …

  568. Malcolm says:

    And for confusion-avoidance, we should mention the other station called Maiden Lane, which was on the North London line, closed in about 1917.

  569. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Old Buccaneer,

    That was it. Thanks very much.

  570. timbeau says:

    “Maiden Lane is the old name for York Way.”
    That explains it. Thankyou

  571. RichardB says:

    Interestingly enough there is an said to be an acceptance within Network Rail and TfL that a proposal for reopening the old North London line station at Maidens Lane would have a respectable business case given the anticipated demand caused by both the new housing and the the new office developments (such as Google’s proposed headquarters building) on the old Kings Cross railway lands.

    I am not aware of any formal proposal to take this forward but it might be one to watch

  572. Anonymous says:

    Back on topic for a moment, I don’t think it’s been mentioned that the Rainham terminating option only exists following the construction of the new Platform 0 as part of the East Kent resignalling programme.

    Having grown up in Rainham, I was tickled when Class 395 high speed trains began passing through a hand-cut ex-canal tunnel that’s almost 200 years old

  573. Paul S says:

    IanJ 01:29

    What I read was that a water or gas main was diverted into a short isolated section of the Hotel Curve, somewhere between the original junction with the widened lines and the western ticket hall box, which is only a relatively short length in the vicinity of the tube ticket hall.

    But I have also since seen pictures showing the York Road curve is available to road vehicles almost as far as the now removed junction with the widened lines. Apparently NR use it as an access route to an underground power facility of some sort in one of the tunnels that is towards the Southern end but no longer part of the rail network.

    I cannot now link to the pictures, I think the owner has removed them.

  574. lmm says:

    @RichardB That is interesting, especially in contrast with the suggestion to re-open York Road for similar reasons, which came out with a horrible BCR (IIRC something like 0.03?!)

  575. RichardB says:

    @ Imm it is of course possible that the draconian costs of opening a New Tube station on the Piccadilly line would sink any business case. Bear in mind it would have to be built to current standards with escalators and provision for full access for the disabled as although the old station existed in the past any reopening would be considered a new build. In contrast building a new station on the North London line whilst doubtless expensive would be significantly cheaper than a new Tube station as it would be wholly above ground. Nevertheless it will be interesting if pressure grows for its reinstatement. I rather hope it happens but I suspect if it were to happen developers money would be required to kick it off.

  576. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Richard B – hooray if we do actually get an Overground station on the NLL at York Way. Makes a great deal of sense given the enormous scale of development to the south. Let’s hope TfL has been getting a decent slice of developer contributions channelled into Islington Council for use on transport improvements. Given there hasn’t been a single extra bus or bus service laid on in the area since it started to redevelop there must be a decent sum of money accruing as nowt’s been spent.

  577. Sprayerpaint says:

    Thanks to those who commented on my questions.

    I met with the managers today and the response was as follows:

    1) Kings Lynn to KGX confirmed as much faster than to Liverpool Street and unable to stop to help Hertfordshire passenger journeys because at 90-95% occupancy.

    2) Linking with Southern Rail being like moving in with someone with a permanent cold: Less convincing response however this will be managed by segregating GTR from Southern staff and turning round trains at intermediate stations south of river if necessary.

    3) This will depend on encouraging passengers to treat STP like the underground, i.e. getting on the first available train and changing up the line. That sounds unrealistic to me, at least in the first few years.

    4) There will be two GTR trains an hour out of KGX still (my only way to guarantee a seat home I suspect) but signing of alternative departures from STP on KGX departure boards is unlikely because of the risk of passengers rushing around. (In answer to one of my respondents I would say that just because other people are suffering south of river doesn’t mean more should to the north – race to bottom?). Part of justification to switch to STP is to enable track changes at KGX

    5) GTR claims it will not lose its capacity to use platforms at KGX. (9-11 seem not to be liked that much anyway for being too short.)

    6) Managers agree that the loss of SVG to Hertford trains (much, not all of the day) is a reduction in service but blame DFT for cutting the 5th ‘bay’ platform project. It is not clear yet whether there will be much of a rail service at Watton at all and although some acceptance of the need for 5th platform a lot of collateral engineering required for effectively only a few passengers. No support for keeping a few older trains.

    7) Hertford Loop will remain open for emergency use.

    I also asked if they were liaising with other operators to massage timetables and they are.

  578. Hugh.S says:

    Just for the record platforms 9-11 at King’s Cross can take 8 x 20 metre coach trains which is what most of the GN Cambridge and Peterborough trains are in any case.Just a few peak trains are 12 coach trains which have to use the main line platforms 0-8.

  579. Southeastern Passenger says:

    GTR have now added details on the Top 6 destinations for individual stations including predicted demand for the core. To be consistent with the rest of the consultation this has been done in a haphazard fashion. The only station in the Kent Thameslink route section is Otford on both the Thameslink and Southern consultation pages. I tried to check the Gatwick Express version, but found all routes just have a PDF icon and no clickable link.

    They have mostly worked out that Cambridge’s meet the manager was on Wednesday not Monday (apart from the Gatwick Express page which is still incorrect). All three still refer to London Canon Street which is at least an easy mistake to make.

    In the main consultation document itself they’ve had another swing at the titles for SN3.11 and SN3.12. Previously these read “London Blackfriars – Peckham Rye – Tulse Hill – Streatham – Wimbledon – Sutton” and “London Bridge– Tulse Hill – Mitcham Eastfields – Sutton” respectively. Now SN3.11 has Herne Hill instead of Tulse Hill and SN3.12 has Peckham Rye instead of Tulse Hill. In both cases they’ve replaced a station in the stop list with another one so it hasn’t made the situation worse. However, SN3.11 doesn’t stop at Peckham Rye or Wimbledon and SN3.12 doesn’t stop at Mitcham Eastfields which was probably what they were meant to be fixing…

    On a more positive note GN5 has been updated to show 2tph off-peak for Hadley Wood and 2tph (presumably just off peak too though not explicitly stated) at Welham Green and Brookmans Park. No explanation is provided for why, but suspect the guesses given here are broadly right. Hopefully not many people have responded from those stations based on 4tph off peak rather than 2tph.

  580. Greg Tingey says:

    SE passenger
    Indeed, that level of apparent total lack …
    [Snip! Repeated axe grinding, which we’ve discussed previously at least a few times. LBM]

  581. Anonymous says:

    Yes I noticed the slapdash appearance of the graphs, and although some of the explanatory notes are badly written, the data itself is reasonably interesting… for instance I didn’t realise the significance of Cambridge over London from the stations between Royston and Ely, nor the relative insignificance of Liverpool Street compared to King’s Cross when compared to the roughly 50/50 split of flows between many Brighton Main Line stations and London Bridge/Victoria.

    The other comment I’d add is that it would be good to see East and West Croydon separated out where the option of travelling to either station is available; one wonders whether doing this would work against their proposals to simplify the South London Metro network, or perhaps I’m just being cynical?

  582. Purley Dweller says:

    The graphs are very interesting. The fact that local journeys to the next station appear so often in the top six (in the Croydon and Redhill graphs at least). Not so surprising to me was the number of local stations with Reigate as a popular destination. I reckon that is mostly accounted for on my regular training where about 200+ students get off at Redhill and stuff themselves on a connection! That’s about 40000 journeys a year.

  583. timbeau says:

    “nor the relative insignificance of Liverpool Street compared to King’s Cross”

    The KX service is much faster and more frequent than the LSt one these days – mainly because the Stansted service has taken the slots the Cambridge fast trains used to have. I would guess, also, that the City is a less important destination for Cambridge residents than it may have been in the past, as Cambridge is itself a much bigger centre of employment than it was fifty years ago (all those science parks etc).

  584. Verulamius says:

    The station by station comparison spreadsheet has also been updated. For St Albans this now shows 46 in the three hour peak and 16 in the high peak both in the morning and evening.

    This agrees with the information provided at the St Albans meeting earlier this month. It would appear that there are only 4 trains on the Littlehamptons (in both directions in both peaks) rather than 6 in the three hour peak.

    So this is a more significant increase in trains in the evening, as currently there are fewer trains in the evening peak compared with the morning.

  585. ngh says:

    Re sprayerpaint et al.

    As 700s on test runs don’t seem to be able to make it all the way to Cambridge without losing their 3rd rail shoes to inappropriately placed track side items may be the only way to run reliable Thameslink services is to turn the units early before they get to far north on the GN routes 😉

  586. T33 says:

    Purley Dweller – the graphs would be much more useful if they group line destinations such as “trains via Clapham Junction & Victoria”, “trains via London Bridge” as there is never going to be a direct train to many destinations from say Earlswood but the indication of how many passengers need Victoria trains and how many Thameslink would be useful.

    However providing useful information is not the goal. For example suddenly the normal is 2 trains per hour to London Bridge from Redhill that take 41 minutes which is the temporary timetable when 2 London Bridge services were diverted via Tulse Hill for 4 years and the journey time extended from 34 to 41 minutes. So it falsely makes the new plan look like an improvement.

    I have to ask if it is right to allow a consultation to have such misleading quotes that does not show the true changes in patterns proposed that most people won’t notice.

  587. Greg Tingey says:

    So is the collection of “inaccuracies” in the “consultation” document deliberate or accidental?
    Either way it does not look good, but the important point is not that the commentariat here notice such things, but do the supposedly-responsible politicians & voters & fare-paying putative passengers

  588. Anonymous of Croydon says:

    The 50/50 splits south of East Croydon between London Bridge services and Victoria ones are useful as they show the outcry that would happen if people were expected to change at East Croydon instead of having direct trains as now. Actually I think the splits are not quite so even as Victoria services also transport those changing at Clapham Junction (and the charts show how important South West London via Clapham Junction is.) Nevertheless my argument remains- expect pain if interchange is forced on those who do not have to do so at the moment.

  589. Brockley Mike says:

    Re Anonymous 16th Oct:

    ‘The other comment I’d add is that it would be good to see East and West Croydon separated out where the option of travelling to either station is available; one wonders whether doing this would work against their proposals to simplify the South London Metro network, or perhaps I’m just being cynical?’

    I was looking at the TfL map showing their proposals for when they take over local routes and noted that all Sydenham corridor trains from London Bridge will go to East Croydon (after 2021?) – ie no more LBG to Victoria via Crystal Palace and no more LBG to West Croydon.

    That seems to undo the current Southern plans in this regard completely – whereby they are taking everything away from East Croydon and sending them to West Croydon instead!

    The outcome of this consultation will therefore have a life of about 2 or 3 years seemingly (on the Sydenham corridor at least), before being completely changed again. That does not seem terribly well joined up thinking to my mind?

  590. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Brockley Mike – I think no one should be thinking any of TfL’s plans are “set in stone”. We have no indication yet from the DfT about South Eastern never mind subsequent franchises. I don’t expect we will get the go ahead for devolution on 4 networks / routes in one go. I expect each one will be decided separately.

    We also have no sense, yet, as to TfL’s timeline for implementing any of their plans nor where the funding will come from. I think it is way too early to make any assumptions about service patterns that might end up being implemented regardless of what TfL have published. TfL will have an enormous job on their hands shifting opinion. We know just from the tiny amount of opinion on here that views are very split and also very strongly held. I also suspect the more “aggressive” frequencies being suggested require some level of capital investment and that will take years to implement.

    If we assume Southern is devolved to TfL it will be the next Mayoralty before anything happens and we could have a different party in charge with a very different view about where money will be spent and on what. There will also be a not insignificant issue around comparative fare levels by that time. Implementing TfL fares on devolved TOCs will be unaffordable – the scale of fare reduction will be too great and that’s before we get to the point that TfL’s fares will have to increase, probably substantially. That could have severe ramifications for TfL’s services – demand and revenue. An awful lot can change by 2020 and beyond so I’d treat any radical service changes with appropriate scepticism.

  591. Brockley Mike says:

    @WW – yes I agree – all of that makes sense. What makes less sense is that one can only really comment on what is put out there in the public domain – and with lots of updates now to the Govia consultation (after I have commented on it to them) plus the likelihood of major change just a few years later via TfL – albeit not necessarily the changes they are advertising to make their case – it is hard to know what to say ultimately!

  592. Timbeau says:


    Implementing TfL fares on devolved TOCs is absolutely essential, as soon as possible. It is simply not acceptable that south London pays more than north for equivalent journeys. And don’t forget that the higher TOC fare only gets you to a handful of stations on the edge of Zone 1. To get to somewhere more central you not only have to switch to the Tube, but pay an even higher fare.

    As they claim 97℅ of fare revenue goes back to the railway, it is not hard to conclude how a 3% reduction in fares could be achieved immediately.

  593. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Brockley Mike – you can only ever comment on what is current and that’s the GTR consultation for all of its flaws. TfL’s prospectus is a long way off (comparatively) and with little certainty. I think it is clear from the SoS’s remarks to the Transport Select Cttee that he has no appetite for removing Govia from running the GTR contract. Why would he? – it looks as if GTR are winning the industrial relations issues and therefore achieving the govt’s objectives.

    @ Timbeau – to be fair I was not arguing as to the rights and wrongs of fare policies for rail users south of the Thames. I understand why S Londoners have every right to feel aggrieved. I was speculating a little as to the risks that exist come 2020 for the next Mayoralty. While I understand why people are attracted to the idea of a fares freeze I remain deeply sceptical as to the ramifications for TfL’s budget and for service quality and investment. I’d never argue TfL couldn’t be more efficient – of course it could. However 4 years of a freeze when we now have a number of dangerous issues affecting the costs of imports will become increasingly damaging. Remember all the arguments about TfL vs the Labour candidate’s “fares freeze numbers” and how TfL’s pessimistic inflation assumptions were a major factor in the difference? I wouldn’t be shocked to find that those TfL assumptions end up being largely reflected in reality. That means hundreds of millions of pounds difference in the budget.

    I have long been of the view, for over 30 years, that an investment led strategy for public transport coupled with inflation or just over inflation fare rises is far, far more sensible than operating with massive fares subsidies to the exclusion of funding many other good things. I saw the former in action when Tyne and Wear PTE achieved an integrated bus and metro network and had rising patronage over many years up to 1986 when bus deregulation hit and destroyed a lot of the good work. Tyne and Wear’s model was not perfect but it broadly worked and gave decent service levels and good links.

    On your very final point I don’t see much prospect of the current policy of contracting out railway service operation to private companies changing any time soon. After all not even TfL can get round that and their contractors will all be earning some level of profit.

  594. timbeau says:

    Just to take up your final point, on a franchise model the risk lies with the operator and they charge (bid) accordingly. On a concession model the risk lies with the government (local or central) and so the contractors can bid lower. Only if the risk actually occurs does someone have to pay.

    That is why LO now charge TfL fares, not TOC fares.

    Actually, most of the few remaining TOC services in London north of the Thames/A4 corridor also charge TfL rates, (The only exceptions now being, I believe, north of Finsbury Park and north of West Hampstead Thameslink)

  595. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – except that TfL’s role in the LO operations is technically as franchisor on behalf of the SoS. The trouble is that the whole terminology has become thoroughly confused thanks to the different models used in different parts of the UK. It’s far better not to use terms such as franchisee but talk in terms of the way risk is/isn’t transferred.

  596. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Timbeau – LO charge ‘TfL’ fares as that is what is in their contract, ie that TfL set the fares. Other TOCs set fares as per what is in their contract with their specifier, usually DfT, and is controlled by regulation.

    It has nothing to do with the balance of risk in the franchise. See GTR.

  597. Brockley Mike says:

    @WW: ‘TfL’s prospectus is a long way off (comparatively) and with little certainty’.

    is that the case though as the map I was looking at when commenting on TfL proposed services came from the document submitted a week or so ago to Government by the Mayor / TfL – from TfL’s website:

    ‘In October 2016 we presented a business case on rail devolution to the Secretary of State for Transport’

    If that has ‘little certainty’ would that not be a little misleading from a business case perspective – ie if the proposals were merely ‘indicative’ rather than firm plans backed up by a detailed business case?

    It seems not unreasonable at the very least for the proposals to be subject to scrutiny / comment on the basis they are serious propositions. As you say, we can only comment on what is current and these seem at the ultra-fresh end of ‘current’

  598. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Warning – “pedant mode” has been set.

    To be completely, strictly correct the Mayor mandates the fares that are set on TfL contracted services. TfL “do the legwork” to frame a package and negotiate with the TOCs but within the policy framework set by the Mayor. The Mayor issues a Mayoral Decision and a Direction to require TfL to implement (revised) fares. Even with all of that TfL is itself constrained by DfT decisions over fare setting responsibities at Watford and Shenfield where TOC fares are charged even if you use a TfL service. They will have similar constraints in South Eastern land if devolution happens and I fully expect Reading to be a similar issue for Crossrail fares. We must also remember that there is NOT a single TfL farescale – there are two because of higher fares applying on West Anglia and the Shenfield line. It is also the case that LO – TOC journeys with no tube or DLR or interavailable element are charged on the National Rail farescale.

    I am not sure it is a “fact” that the revenue risk being retained by TfL necessarily creates the financial headroom to allow TfL fares to be charged. I’ve never seen any financial analysis that supports this for any part of the network. The fares that are charged in London are set by Mayoral policy except where there are legal / DfT constraints requiring a divergence from said policy. I agree that bids for a TfL run contract are almost certainly lower than would be the case if the franchisee was asked to hold revenue risk.

    We have yet to really see what happens in London if the economy goes into reverse, ridership falls and TfL *does* have to bear the revenue risk relative to the cost of its contracted services. It has been fortunate to have had only a small blip in patronage in 2007/8 and even then it wasn’t that severe or long lived. We may be in for “interesting times” on the revenue front over the next few years for a whole load of reasons.

  599. Ian J says:

    @Brockley Mike: It seems to me that there are three important things in the latest business case: a) the Mayor has offered to take on devolution on a cost-neutral basis to the DfT (ie no difference in cost for central government, contradicting the confident assertions of some that they would want more money), b) the letter of support from Kent, Surrey and Herts County Councils (Kent’s opposition stymied the last round of devolution proposals) and c) the emphasis on supporting housing construction at a time the economy will need stimulus.

    Establishing these principles as important as the particular projected numbers in a business case.

  600. Southeastern Passenger says:

    To clarify the published document has both a business case and a set of further appendices with more detail on what TfL would like to do.

    The business case relates solely to “Transfer of contracting authority for Southeastern inner suburban rail services” costing £435million over ten years with a BCR of 4.39. The economic case states it includes “the net impact of the reduced fares TfL plans to introduce following the transfer”. It places the saving from revenue risk at around 2% on Southeastern concession revenue. Ian has summed up the plus points for central government well.

    The maps with increased frequencies and different service patterns are in the bits about what TfL would like to do. These seem more like potential ideas of the sort of network TfL want to establish rather than firm proposals. Many need infrastructure interventions to be achieved. Some of these works may be carried out even if no transfer to TfL occurs.

    This reduces the TfL impact on this consultation. A lot of the current proposals are about trying to make the best use of the available infrastructure while having a workable timetable. It would be a bold claim that the 2018 timetable will remain entirely unchanged in terms of routes/calling patterns for a significant period of time.

    Firstly even with the improved modelling, some things may not quite work out as planned. There are a lot of alterations in the document before even considering the changes other operators need to make in response. These revisions would hopefully be quite minor though.

    Secondly future infrastructure changes, such as the potential remodelling of East Croydon and surrounding junctions, would probably lead to further timetable changes. These might easily allow some of the current compromises to be reversed.

  601. timbeau says:

    Article in the current issue of Rail suggesting that ever-increasing inner suburban traffic is tending to make Thameslink more and more inner urban rather than inter-urban.
    Fewer trains going through to the south coast.
    A change from the original 50/50 balance between Midland and GN lines to favour the former, because increasing demand on both routes can be accommodated at KX but not at St Pancras
    Problems of integrating the Thameslink services at Peterborough with Inter City – suggesting that if current practice of holding a local service to give a later running Inter City a clear run to KX is maintained, the local will miss its slot through the Thameslink core and be terminated at Kings Cross – with consequences for stock and crew displacement as well as for passengers for Horsham, East Grinstead or wherever the train was supposed to be going next.

    The conclusion was that Thameslink will end up as a suburban operation – Crossrail 3. Some think it should have been planned that way in the first place.

  602. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I thought it always was the case that there would be a Thameslink 16/8 split in favour of Midland Main Line over East Coast Main Line and that nothing has changed throughout the Thameslink process. I have never even heard it suggested that there should have ever been a 50/50 balance.

    I suspect fewer trains going to the South Coast has more to do with a distinct lack of trains due to DfT pruning the order to an absolute minimum rather than any strategic considerations or response to inner urban commuting.

    We have discussed whether Thameslink should have been a suburban operation before. Basically was history that leant itself to longer distance operation and, with passenger flows established, it would be almost impossible without a major mutiny by passengers to change the nature of the the market it serves. So no repeated discussion please.

  603. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    And with the continued delays* to the 700s programme there isn’t really the opportunity to increased the rolling stock order size (or exercise options) and get it delivered + in service by the key times in 2018.

    *Currently about 7 months behind what the plan was this time last year…

  604. timbeau says:

    Don’t shoot the messenger! The article is in RAIL if anyone wants to follow it up.

  605. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – 7 months late? Someone, somewhere must be feeling some financial pain because of that delay. That isn’t good and must surely be getting to the point of being irrecoverable in the wider context of Thameslink Programme milestones in 2018. Also must surely be causing significant issues re rolling stock cascades and also GTR’s franchise costs (keeping 319s going for longer but perhaps not incurring higher charges for the 700s as expected). I knew there were reliability issues with the 700s but not that scale of delay.

  606. A-mous says:

    The delay to 319s is bad news for Northern presumably… at least they’ll be getting (some of) the ex-GWR diesel fleet soon, ahem.

  607. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    I suspect there is much legal finger pointing with all parties* busy pointing fingers at each other to deflect the blame hence it could be while before we see anything sensible emerge on the subject as there won’t be a single reason so it will take while to apportion, possibly not even resolved till 2019 when the full effects can be calculated?

    Half of the time they have lost will have been padding but they now need to pick up the pace.

    The cascade of the 387s and some 365s to GWR was cancelled and GWR got new 387s instead with GTR retaining the 387s which will have cost a bit so DfT on the GTR contract and they will have to have agreed to that. Cascade of 319s, 317s and 321s is very much behind (the later 2 mostly to Greater Anglia). The extra leasing cost for retained units will be equivalent to 7-8 4car units per year at the moment but then they are hopefully paying less to Cross London trains.

    The interesting thing is why there are 30 “complete” units in Germany / Netherlands many just sitting in sidings and another 200 carbodies completed and being or waiting to be fitted out but such a slow delivery rate. There have been issues transporting them to the UK but it does feel like there are issues with the ability to assemble the complete units (there isn’t enough space in the factory to assemble the cars into units which is done at the test track) and then test the units. The ghosts of Eurostar Siemens Velaro deliveries after the paperwork issues were sorted coming back to haunt in part?

    *Siemens (and its PPP partners aka Cross London Trains and its business sub units)/ Siemens subcontractors and suppliers / GTR / DfT / NR.

  608. Pedantic of Purley says:

    You could say these problems are really down to the DfT who delayed so much in putting in the final confirming order for the Thameslink stock after awarding it to Siemens – a two year delay which is understood to be because of needing to get a financing package together. Obviously the old fashioned method of just buying what is required is no longer in favour.

    Also, the DfT’s obsession with buying the minimum amount of stock they think they can get away with rather than the maximum they could usefully use was bound to lead to problems and route allocation plans based on what they could run with the stock they have available rather than what they could run if stock availability was not an issue. All the more galling because, I believe, that the trains actually work out cheap compared to the cost of other equivalent trains if one ordered them today.

  609. 100andthirty says:

    PoP…I still recall the drawn out delay in starting with the (perhaps unspoken) expectation that the end date wouldn’t be affected.

  610. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – thanks for the extra details. I had no expectation of anyone having determined responsibility and then agreed anything. As you suggest it’ll run and run.

    @ PoP – I suspect DfT has now moved away from PFI / PPPs for train fleets. Most recent awards with new stock have left responsibility with the TOC, ROSCO and manufacturers which, in theory, should work better. We will see how well Abellio and Arriva cope with the huge endeavours they have in Scotland, Anglia and Northern England.

  611. Balthazar says:

    Re: timbeau – ah, the “Industry Insider” column (which once told us that the Keolis/Eurostar bid for East Coast could bring direct ECML-continental services as – and I quote – the IEP trains are designed to European Technical Standards for Interoperability). Sometimes I’m not sure which industry…

  612. 100andthirty says:

    Balthazar – and these are the people who bid for franchises.

    More seriously, with all the new trains on order, many to new designs, there is a lot of pressure on the folk that have to assess compatibility with the infrastructure and the 101 other jobs necessary to get trains into service. This is in addition to all the work the suppliers have to do. As they all depend on consultants and agency people, it’ll be a bit of a bonanza for them!

  613. Sad Fat Dad says:

    I’m not sure the 700s are behind on manufacture, maybe in delivery (a little), but it is more about the customer accepting them. Siemens don’t get paid for each unit until it is accepted, so I should imagine they are taking a significant hit on cash flow if nothing else.

    Nevertheless I understand another 3 enter service in Monday, releasing 8 X 3x7s

  614. Anonymous says:

    @SFD – will they actually have working Passenger Information Screens? Every time I’ve been on a 700 in the last couple of weeks they’ve been resolutely turned off.


  615. ngh says:

    Re SFD,

    And another 2 extra 700 units next Monday.
    The revised plan from when the first unit ended service in summer apparently had more units in service in August than there actually are this week.

    If the units aren’t even in the country then they won’t even have started acceptance tests. The question is then what is happening with the 10-15 units in the UK awaiting acceptance. The pace and time taken seems to be far slow than for current Bombardier units.

    Re Balthazar,

    Interoperability of coffee machines?

  616. Balthazar says:

    Re: 130 – I wasn’t commenting on the bidders, just the observer!

  617. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – who is responsible for providing the drivers to undertake acceptance / reliability mileage accumulation runs? If it’s GTR then surely they are short staffed based on past discussions about the underlying issues in the franchise? If it’s someone else then that’s another party in the melée if they are not doing what they should. The joys of implementing major project programmes!

  618. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Anonymous – the screens are working on about 70% of the units I catch. New software causing issues I gather. When they do work they are, at least, much more accurate than those on the 377s.

  619. MikeP says:

    What is it with on-train PIS’s and their software?? Scrolling some text, taking location information from a (presumably) external source and route information (from the driver ??). Not rocket science. But we have these problems on the 700’s. And the (infamous) seizure-inducing flashing on the Networker ones when the messages got too long. And all-too-frequent random next-station announcements on the Networkers too.

    Is the job always given to this month’s intern with minimal supervision?

  620. timbeau says:

    Networkers seem to tell you all the stations on the route – including the ones it has already passed. (“This is a train to Charing Cross via Lewisham, calling at West Whickham, Eden Park, Elmers End , ………..” it says, as it leaves Waterloo East to cross the Thames)

    SWT’s seem to know where they are, but often not which way they are going: “This train is for Waterloo, the next station is Vauxhall” says your Hampton Court train as it approaches Clapham Junction.

  621. Tim says:


    Re Networkers – do they? The Victoria ones (Orpington / Dartford terminators) always seem to work correctly.

    What I was really surprised by was an occasion a couple of months ago where I got on southbound at Farringdon mid-afternoon to find they were running a stopping Catford Loop service using a new red 387. The PIS on that was working…with the condition that they announced *every* remaining station at every single stop. Slowly.

    “This is a Thameslink service…………Sevenoaks………..calling at *lists torturously slowly every stop…”

    interrupted halfway through by

    “The next station is City Thameslink”…

    rinse and repeat

    The irritating voiceovers lasted the whole journey back to Ravensbourne and probably amounted to >50% of the entire journey.

    By the way, does anyone know when the Catford Loop is getting any 8-car 700s?

  622. timbeau says:

    Networkers – do they?
    I have noticed it on several occasions in the past, but they may have fixed it recently.

    My most recent trips between London Bridge, Waterloo and CX have all been on Electrostars.

  623. Anonymous says:

    Tim, it’s part of making trains accessible that the stopping pattern is announced. Useful if you can’t just read a station name through the window.

  624. Timbeau says:

    But do you need the full works after every station? You presumably got on the train with some idea where it was going. And you only need to know whether the next station is yours or not.
    Repeating the entire stopping pattern is not necessary except at stations where there might be a difference – so junctions, and stations with fast and slow services.

  625. Anonymous says:

    That only works if everyone getting on at non junction intermediate stations knows for sure where the train is going, and this is not the case.

  626. ChrisMitch says:

    Spending the entire distance between stations narrating every stop seems like overkill, and is likely to irritate most of the passengers

  627. Timbeau says:

    Announcements are made on the platform at most stations.

    If it’s so important on NR to announce the complete litany, why isn’t it done on the Tube? “This is a Central Line train to Epping, calling at Ruislip Gardens, South Ruislip, Northolt, Greenford, Perivale, Hanger Lane…………………….”.

    Repeated (mutatis mutandis) at every stop.

  628. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Timbeau: because with the usual exceptions, every tube train stops at every stop on the line it serves. This is very much not the case on NR, Catford Loop included.

  629. Ian J says:

    @SFD: Siemens don’t get paid for each unit until it is accepted, so I should imagine they are taking a significant hit on cash flow if nothing else.

    Getting paid for units in post-June 23 pounds instead of pre-June 23 must hurt…

  630. timbeau says:

    ” every tube train stops at every stop on the line it serves. This is very much not the case on NR, Catford Loop included”

    Which is why I said “except at stations where there might be a difference – so junctions, and stations with both fast and slow services”
    Assuming you are at least going in the right direction, if you are on the wrong train, and about to call at a station (not a junction) only served by slow trains, the best thing to do is stay on the train until a point where you can change to the right train. (Whether you need to change to a fast train or another slow train to a different destination makes no difference)

  631. Malcolm says:

    post-June-23 pounds: Not necessarily. Even supposing the contract was expressed in pounds (as it may well have been), the company may have forward-sold them (or whatever the correct term is). Large companies often transfer risks of currency fluctuations to other agents, in a way that cannot readily be copied by individuals.

  632. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – “hedge”

  633. quinlet says:

    Not all ‘slow’ or ‘fast’ trains always make the same stops. On my line, ‘slow’ trains can serve four different terminii on three distinct routes (including one normally reserved for ‘fast’ trains alone. Irritatingly, although most of the ‘slow’ trains on the main line usually serve the same stations, two peak hour trains miss out just one of these stations (for no seemingly apparent reason). Relying on destination alone would be confusing here as many passengers would have no clear idea as to whether they needed to change or not.

  634. timbeau says:

    “two peak hour trains miss out just one of these stations (for no seemingly apparent reason). Relying on destination alone would be confusing here”

    So announce the skipped stop clearly at the previous station, rather than expect people to play “spot what’s missing” in a long litany repeated at every station, which regular users won’t be listening to anyway because they are so used to it.

    Likewise if you are on a line which enjoys service to four different termini, you only need to be reminded which one it is at the points (pun not intended) where it makes a difference – such as Lewisham.

  635. ngh says:

    Re Ian J, Malcolm, Graham H,

    And Siemens happens to have banking license in Germany, they will most certainly have hedged. Of the other big heavy electrical background conglomerates only GE is probably more financially astute there was a quip up until about 10 years ago the GE was a bank that also sold manufactured goods (which was actually true as well until about 2009 when they dramatically reduced the size of the finance ops).

    Siemens debt credit ratings are significantly higher that any of the other train builders which will certainly have helped secure a lower financing cost for the rolling stock supply and maintain contract for Thameslink that may well have been the deciding factor in them winning it…

  636. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Malcolm: I think we should refer to Pounds as Ounces perhaps?

    My big annoyance with the PIS systems is that they often read out the calling points after the train has left the station, a bit annoying if you wanted to board a slow train and you’ve accidentally jumped on a fast train!

    As the list of calling points can be long, they should give an indication of the train type and destination whilst the doors are open… Most don’t!

  637. Greg Tingey says:

    Or better, a silent, scrolling display that really works……..
    ( Far too many seem prone to glitches )

  638. Malcolm says:

    Greg: Agreed that it would be good for everything to work properly.

    But according to the RNIB, it is predicted that by 2020 the number of people with sight loss [in the UK] will rise to over 2,250,000. Granted, they will not all be travelling on the trains from Blackfriars to Greenwich, but as far as possible, provision should be made. Not at any price – and some would say that the price paid by everyone of irritating over-repetitive announcements is too great. But certainly blind and partially-sighted people should not be forgotten. (And of course, neither should deaf people, which is another reason for getting the visual displays right).

  639. John B says:

    Given the carriages have the scrolling visual displays, the audio ones are really aimed at people with visual problems, who I suspect are very clued up on service patterns because they need to be. So what the audio needs is a a set of clues that makes each announcement unique, “this is the stopping service to Sevenoaks, next stop Ravensbourne”

    There will always be disabled irregular travellers, but I expect they’ve planned their journey very carefully, consulted platform staff etc. I’d hope rail companies could even fund development of phone apps that could monitor real-time train information and GPS to tell you what train you were on.

    We’d not want all passengers distracted with audio messages, when those that need them have other sources of information.

    They could also get rid of the security theatre messages, and the nagging messages from guards about 1st class compartment rules

  640. Greg Tingey says:

    I’m with Roger Ford on “disability provision” in that everything possible should be done to make life as easy as possible for those less physically able as we are.
    But, very importantly, said provisions must not, at any time disadvantage the remaining majority-population.
    And, as previously mentioned … ultra-repetitive ( & loud) “announcements” can all too easily fall into this category.

    John B has the correct way of doing it, incidentally – it’s not as if it was difficult, is it?

  641. timbeau says:

    “Not at any price – and some would say that the price paid by everyone of irritating over-repetitive announcements is too great.”
    Just as one person’s tactile paving is another person’s trip hazard.

    “They could also get rid of the security theatre messages”
    The latest pointless and out-of-touch example is “do not put your feet on the seats”, on a crush-loaded train on which less than half the passengers are able to put any part of their anatomy on a seat.

  642. Malcolm says:

    Greg says ” said provisions must not, at any time disadvantage the remaining majority-population”.

    I do not think it is as hard and fast as that. The majority population should be ready for some disadvantage (if only by paying through taxes or fares for the appropriate provision). But is a matter of judgment and compromise just how much of this disadvantage should be tolerated.

    For myself, I do not find the repetitive announcements especially irritating, they pass harmlessly over my head. But I do acknowledge that some other people get very wound up about them. And improvements of the kind suggested by John B seem as if they might go a long way towards satisfying everyone.

  643. Anonymous says:

    Security messages are required by the DfT.

    Plenty of people need reminding to keep their feet off the seats, sadly.

    What guards are left are under pressure to keep first class for first class ticket holders. Short of spending the entire journey shuttling between the first class sections, PA announcements are the simplest way to do this.

    The PIS systems are possibly not as advanced as some of you might think. They don’t have the functionality to react to whether trains are crowded or stoppers to change the announcements. And asking drivers to fiddle with them on the move is risky or delay inducing at a standstill or another distraction from safe dispatch.

    No technology is perfect. Being irritated is not much to put up with compared to coping with travelling with impaired sight. To some extent this is the price to pay for reducing staff generally.

  644. quinlet says:

    What is a ‘stopping service’ when you have skip stop in operation? John B’s is an easy principle where the service pattern is absolutely regular – no exceptions, but very few (if any) lines out of London have that.

  645. Balthazar says:

    Re: Anon at 20.32 – not sure what you mean by “PIS … don’t have the functionality to react to whether trains are … stoppers” since this would imply an acceptance of incorrect stopping pattern announcements which is most certainly not PRM-TSI* compliant!

    Re: John B – you may disagree with the aim or/and execution, but the whole purpose behind all this is equality, i.e. (among many other things) that the visually impaired do not have to be any more clued-up in advance than anyone else.

    Re: Greg T: at face value your proposal of no disadvantage to the “majority” would seem to rule out, among other things, wheelchair spaces, wheelchair accessible toilets and priority seats (on the grounds that they all reduce seating capacity) as well as – apparently – comprehensive information provision.

    Incidentally I think a perusal of the PRM-TSI/RVAR** will reveal the information to be provided both visually and audibly, including the particular provisions for circular routes and short inter-station duration.

    *Technical Standard for Interoperability for Persons of Reduced Mobility.
    **Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations.
    Regarding compliance, the UK situation is that DfT-approved levels of “targeted compliance” (i.e. not full compliance where benefits are low compared to cost) should be fully implemented before 1st January 2020 with, broadly, PRM-TSI applying to all mainline stock and RVAR to light rail and Underground stock.

  646. Malcolm says:

    Yes, it might be helpful if those commenting on PRM-TSI are taking exception to what the rules say (in which case their argument is essentially with parliament) or the particular ways in which they are being applied.

  647. Mark Townend says:

    @John B, Quintet, etc.

    Skip stop patterns might be differentiated in shorter announcements if unique line IDs could be allocated to them that appear in all timetables & publicity. Route numbers maybe, as used for buses with suffixes for variations, 29B for example, 29X for an express etc, or something like ‘This is a pattern B local to Leafytown… “. A problem with the scrolling display of all station calls is that if you are giving that level of detail visually, it’s discriminatory not to provide it audibly as well. So could we do without the full listing of stops for on board displays? Perhaps if we had unique route IDs we could cope with that, then only route ID and next call need be given by both means.

  648. quinlet says:

    So how is someone unfamiliar with the system going to know what ‘skip stop pattern B’ actually means? Even assuming that it is an entirely regular pattern with no exceptions – which is not usual. I think it would cause huge difficulties not to include all stops on the visual displays and, as a regular traveller I am normally able to let the oral repeats of all the intermediate stations just wash over me. The visual displays are particularly valuable, though, if I doze off and can find out immediately whether I should be alarmed or not. Overall I think that all the ‘cures’ mentioned to avoid the repeated lists of stations are somewhat worse than the ‘disease’.

  649. John B says:

    The visual displays can be ignored, its much harder with the audio ones. You’d not want “calling in pattern B”, but naming an intermediate station that was in one pattern and not the other.

    If TOC are tied by DfT rules, I think its legitimate to criticise the latter. I’m just glad I mostly get fast trains with 1 long leg out of London, and don’t live in “The door buttons are now activated” territory.

  650. Purley Dweller says:

    Activating door buttons doesn’t need any announcement as it has a screeching beep! I’m just glad I don’t travel on virgin often. They’re thank you for travelling announcement is the most vomit inducing insincerity I’ve ever had the misfortune to hear. Bearing in mind I rarely notice announcements at all. They just wash over me on my regular commute and irregular journeys too.

  651. timbeau says:

    “So how is someone unfamiliar with the system going to know what ‘skip stop pattern B’ actually means? ”
    By giving them distinctive identities. Just as the trains that skip most of the stops between Finchley Road and Wembley Park, or Hammersmith and Acton Town, or West Ham and Upminster do. It is so ingrained in the public mind that no-one would ever expect a Met train to stop at West Hampstead, or a C2C to stop at Plaistow. (Or a Gatwick Express as East Croydon, to take an example where the actual tracks are shared)

  652. timbeau says:

    “Plenty of people need reminding to keep their feet off the seats, sadly.”

    Not on a train leaving a central London terminus in the evening peak, when there are often three times as many people as seats, and actually finding floor space for your feet is a challenge. Such an announcement is as pointless as banning ice skating in the Sahara.

    And the more pointless announcements there are, the more the announcements get ignored – including the important ones like “this train will now skip the next five stations” [because getting to the end of the line on time is more important to us than getting everyone home]

  653. 3078260061 says:

    I was interested to see in Balthazar’s post that the PIS regulations have special provision for circular services. South West Trains seem to be oblivious to this aspect. The 458s recently introduced on the Hounslow loop service say & show “This train is for Waterloo” throughout the journey which is positively misleading for half of the time. The older stocks quite properly announce, for example, all stations as far as Hounslow on leaving Waterloo, Queenstown Road to Hounslow at Vauxhall, reducing at each station as far as Kew Bridge, then all stations to Mortlake (via Richmond) at Brentford, and finally all stations to Waterloo from Hounslow onwards. This agrees with the displays on the platforms and with what passengers actually need to know, si it can be done.

  654. Timbeau says:

    The loop trains do sometimes get confused though. We occasionally get enjoined to “mind the gap” at Queenstown Road on a Kingston Loop train on the Up Main Slow – the gap to the nearest platform being three tracks wide at that point.

  655. Anonymous says:

    Balthazar what I mean is that the PIS code gives the system its stopping pattern – it does not care whether that pattern stops everywhere or misses every other stop – it’s just another code. So nuances such as knowing it’s a rush hour train on which it is less likely that feet are on seats is beyond it. However I can unfortunately assure Timbeau that I have seen plenty of feet on seats on rush hour trains, more so as seats start emptying the further it goes and up go the feet.

    As for tube stopping patterns being engrained in the public mind, well maybe if that public is local. I’m a Londonder and what you said about Finchley Road and what have you is totally meaningless to me. What chance for a partially sighted tourist?

  656. Balthazar says:

    Re: Malcolm – personally I find this site useful for checking the requirements and the status of various items of rolling stock as they were several years ago (although I suspect it’s somewhat out of date now; no doubt someone can find the up to date requirements, which in the case of the PRM-TSI were more or less incomprehensible the last time I checked, the UK having done a much better job on its own regulations).

    Re: 3078260061 – but that’s not a *circular* route, is it?!

  657. timbeau says:

    “I’m a Londonder and what you said about Finchley Road and what have you is totally meaningless to me.”

    I think most Londoners are familiar with the fact that Metropolitan Line trains run non-stop between Finchley Road and Wembley Park, and the Piccadilly between Hammersmith and Acton Town, whilst the Jubilee and District provide the respective all stations services. (That there is a fast service between West Ham, Barking and Upminster is less well-known is only because C2C services are not shown on the Tube map). If NR stopping patterns south of the river were as consistent, and clearly differentiated in its publicity, as LU and LO manage, would the incessant announcements still be needed?

    Other than the Glasgow Subway, I know of no actual never-ending circular services in the UK. But out-and-back loops are referred to as “circular” on the NR website.

  658. Tiger Tanaka says:

    I’ve re-read the article and sadly, still cannot understand what Thameslink is trying to do or why it’s not going to work.

    I understand Windmill Bridge junction, there is conflict between the Victoria fasts and the London Bridge Thameslinks, but then there is the South Croydon and Purley junctions as well to factor in that all require trains to cross the up/down fasts and slows to reach. In a previous article (I forget which one) the possibility of pairing lines by direction between Balham Junction and Coulsdon was mooted to avoid conflicts of Thameslink trains entering and leaving the BML. Reading this article again I can’t help thinking that might be an awkward but useful solution.

    Would it not be easier to can the long distance Thameslinks and use the core as an inner suburban London Overground line with a maximum of two branches on either side of the river? I understand the problem of Charing Cross and Cannon Street being full with SE Metros, if we could take those out of the equation for a moment and route Thameslink’s 14tph from the BML in the Charing Cross instead, would this be a better system that the one currently being built?

  659. Timbeau says:

    @Tiger Tanaka

    It might have been a better system, but it’s not what’s being built. So it would not, now, be easier to have anthing more than a minority of Thameslink core services come from anywhere other than the BML.

  660. Graham H says:

    @Tiger Tanaka – given that BML-City traffic represents something like 15-20% of all the franchise’s traffic, there might just be a good reason for those 14 tph…

  661. Anonymous says:

    It might be known by Londoners who use the Met Line and Piccadilly Line Timbeau, but that’s not generally an everyday occurrence if you are using railways or tubes elsewhere in the capital. I know that the vast majority of fast trains from Victoria go fast to Bromley South but I don’t expect someone in Pinner to realise it.

  662. Timbeau says:

    @anon 1726
    Most Londoners are familiar with the Tube map, which makes the different stopping patterns of the Met/Jubilee and Picc/District on those stretches vary clear. So much so that few people realise that the Stanmore branch was just another branch of the Met, and Hounslow and Rayner’s branches of the District.

  663. Graham H says:

    @Anonymous – if you were unfamiliar, you’d check beforehand wouldn’t you?

  664. quinlet says:

    The fact that Met line trains don’t stop between Finchley Road and Wembley Park is something that is true for every Met train. On the Piccadilly it is only true that most trains don’t stop between Hammersmith and Acton Town and particular notice needs to be given on those trains that stop at Turnham Green. Those passengers going to Turnham Green who believe, as you do, that all Piccadilly trains run non-stop between Hammersmith and Acton town may have some needlessly long waits. With few exceptions, the ‘slow’ and ‘fast’ services on National Rail don’t have that degree of certainty or regularity. Look at the Great Western suburban trains, for example. Very difficult here to describe a general rule that has no exceptions. Similarly most of the south London services.

  665. Anonymous says:

    Being familiar with the tube map is one thing, knowing what particular trains do, if one does not regularly use them, is another. Why would one know unless one wanted a destination on the relevant line?

  666. Graham H says:

    So why wouldn’t you check beforehand?

  667. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – you are being too logical. Yes a lot of people may check but plenty do not. Sorry to bring up again my past experience of doing front line customer information but that taught me that people have a hugely varied level of knowledge, often very small, about the transport network or their journeys or even the basic geography of Central London. Plenty of people just find their way from step to step in a journey and do no advance checking. They’ll try to find someone to ask or they’ll just take a punt they’re going the right way. It’s even worse with people using mobile phones – I’ve lost count of the number of people whose phones have clearly told them to get off a bus about three stops too early. Presumably because of mismatched location tracking on their phones. You can see them looking completely lost expecting to see other stops or a station and none are in sight. The other classic is standing at the wrong stop for the direction they wish to travel.

    Coming back to the underlying issue about equality of provision which seems to erk several people here it’s easy to check in advance if English is your first language, you can use a computer and your eyesight and hearing are in decent nick. If you are somehow disadvantaged in any of these ways then it all gets much harder. Sorry if that’s in “egg sucking tuition” territory but many people here are experts / regular travellers / enthusiasts which gives them a knowledge base far, far removed from the average person using trains, tubes and buses.

    All the assertions that “Londoners” (whoever they are) know the service patterns on the tube is not correct in my experience. I had people on my team at LU who knew nothing about tube services other than their regular commutes. My boss, a long served LU man, knew next to nothing about the buses – hardly ever used them. Doing strike cover another LU (office) person who lives locally to E17 had no idea the 20 bus went direct to Loughton from the bus stn upstairs. They were about to send someone via Central London on the tube to get there. I understand why people are “annoyed” about announcements and displays but it’s perfectly clear to me why they are there and who benefits from them – an awful lot of people is the answer.

  668. Balthazar says:

    Re: WW – hear hear. And of course there are a lot of people on the other side of average from LR readers (pesky statistical distributions, eh?).

  669. Graham H says:

    @WW – I ‘m sure you are right (and I freely admit that one of my many faults is the belief that people should behave rationally – a belief so frequently confounded when I deal with my electorate; I will go to the grave a disappointed person*). Whether, however, we should let empathy turn into sympathy is a moral issue not for this forum…

    *Actually, I will return to Tharg to let the High Council know that the vaguely sentient source of protien on the planet won’t offer much resistance to modern farming techniques.

  670. quinlet says:

    Even when unfamiliar passengers do check in advance (and many will) there is a frequent need for reassurance en route. I’ve certainly been on a train from Victoria which left at 1847 to find a frantic passenger who wanted an 1847 from the other side of the station.

  671. John B says:

    If you research your journey beforehand, it reduces cost and journey time at the expense of that research time. I know as an obsessive researcher that winging it, and accepting occasional disasters, might actually be less time overall, though more money. So customer information needs to be available, but it must not be in your face, and in-train announcements often are.

    DfT should set goals for the level of audio distraction on a journey, and endless repetitions of destinations, security theatre and nagging about anti-social behaviour should count against them.

    If I were disabled, I’d be a researcher, because the consequences of any problems are so much more severe. I don’t think railways can handle someone who’s happy-go-lucky and blind or can’t manage stairs.

  672. Alan Griffiths says:

    Graham H 31 October 2016 at 07:37

    ” the belief that people should behave rationally” –

    First step on the road from Enlightenment to dictatorship.

    Restrain yourself!

    Alternatively, first delusion of Economists who think they’re in a branch of mathematics, rather than social psychology.

  673. Nameless says:

    Hush – he’s only a High Council lackey. Come the Revolution……..

  674. Nameless says:

    Never underestimate the lack of forethought by the public. Human beings are often hopeless.

    The very nature of these services means that most non commuting punters will be totally baffled because of their lack of familiarity with stations over the major parts of each route. I fear the only way that the proposed service patterns can be made clear to users will be the introduction of route numbers, with enough suffixes to cover all stopping patterns.

  675. Graham H says:

    @AG – consider the inverse proposition: people should behave irrationally – there, better now?

    @Nameless – L’etat c’est lui. More generally, I very much agree with you about distinguishing individual services – well trodden ground within these portals and a surprising source of disagreement – although as WW implies, even that won’t stop people going astray. The sad point is probably that no matter how sensibly one plans and presents a public (or commercial) service, there will always be those who don’t know what they are doing/don’t know what they don’t know/think they know better/have “views”/or simply rely on winging it. It’s difficult to help these people. Dogs in microwaves time.

    Turning back to the PIS question, where there does seem room for marked improvement is in the range and frequency of security and customer service announcements. Clearly, these are actually left to the guards’ choice (at least in SWland) and many of them are repeated so often throughout a journey as to become meaningless background noise (and therefore counterproductive). At least we have been spared the threat from Anglia (?) a few years ago to install seat back screens – cue endless unwanted announcements about financial services.

    Noise cancelling headphones have a lot to recommend them.

  676. Graham H says:

    @AG – agree entirely with you about economists – one of my first targets come the revolution. [To note, however, even pure mathematicians are not entirely dispute free when talking amongst themselves – it’s simply that no one else can follow them].

  677. timbeau says:

    “I’ve certainly been on a train from Victoria which left at 1847 to find a frantic passenger who wanted an 1847 from the other side of the station.”

    I’ve had a frantic phone call from my best beloved who made the same mistake at Waterloo – which (on the pre 2004 timetable) used to have three trains leaving at xx12. She had compounded the error by making the understandable mistake of baling out at the first opportunity, from where there were no direct trains to her destination, when the semi fast service she had been on would have actually connected further down the line with the fast service following the one she should have been on.

  678. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Nameless: ” I fear the only way that the proposed service patterns can be made clear to users will be the introduction of route numbers, with enough suffixes to cover all stopping patterns.”

    The need for these different stopping patterns should of course be addressed as well! Adding route codes addresses the symptom, but not the cause (paths, loading, etc.).

  679. ngh says:

    Re SH(LR),

    But as GTR have discovered when you get into skip stops and service disruption options there are an 8 digit number of possible service permutations on Thameslink alone for the PIS on the 700s to deal with (and then there is GN, Southern and GatEx within the franchise too!).

    A coding system only work for regular services when everything is working.

  680. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @ngh: Surely the provision of an option to set a destination, via and stops manually would not be beyond the realms of possibility?

    Or am I being too logical?

  681. KitGreen says:

    Surely the provision of an option to set a destination, via and stops manually…
    An ideal job for the Onboard Supervisor.

  682. ngh says:

    Re SHLR and Kit Green,

    Control texts a code to the train to update the PIS with revised stopping patterns.

    Though that means you need to increase not reduce control staff as they have already found out earlier this year…

  683. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Let me guess: The code is list is fixed and hard-coded into the software at both ends? Plus there is no possibility of a local over-ride?

    Sounds to me like some requirements were possibly missed!

    As a wild stab, I would say the code has 3 (or 4) digits? Two indicating an old (South central division) Southern Railway route code and the rest for the stopping pattern?

  684. ngh says:

    Re SHLR,

    I think there are local code lists with the drivers but they only cover the normal timetabled options.

    Given there is an 8 digit number of possible permutations with disruption why would only a 3-4 digit code system be designed???

  685. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Out of curiosity, where does this 8-digit number come from? It’s certainly a lot larger than I would have expected it to be.

  686. Verulamius says:

    This is where pure mathematics comes in. Very roughly, a train can either stop or not at each station (disruptions mean individual stations can be missed out). So an upper estimate should be 2 to the power of the number of stations served. It should be significantly less as some station combinations are impossible.

  687. Timbeau says:

    A more realistic figure would be (number of northern termini) x (number of southern termini) x 2 ^ (number of stops on typical end to end route)

    The number of northern termini is 3. (Cambridge, St Alban’s, etc are treated as simply short W in this calculation)

  688. Malcolm says:

    If we are being really fussy, timbeau’s formula ought to be adjusted for the Hertford loop by counting Peterborough and Cambridge twice, so there are 5 northern terminals in total. Not that it really matters, the point is made that the number of possible journeys x stopping patterns on Thameslink without reversing is, err, quite large. As for the south end, I’m not convinced that we are yet settled down to a firm number of termini at all. What about Bognor Regis? I’m sure that some justification could be found for that one…

  689. NickBxn says:

    Talking of Bognor Regis, those Arundel Valley line trains really do benefit from all of the stations being announced for those who board at every station due to the splitting at Horsham. I really don’t see what the fuss about listing all the stations is about. It’s easy enough to tune out, and useful to be able to tune back in when wondering what the next stop is. The increased complexity of the Thameslink layout will also make this a vital feature. What’s really a bother is when in-train audio listings are drowned out by the platform version, out of sync.

    My other truck is with superfluous verbiage on certain Underground lines in comparison to the sparing and exemplary iBus (Compare “this is a Northern line train terminating at Morden” with what iBus would have as “Northern line… to Morden” – it’s also easier for those who aren’t fluent in english to understand).

  690. Anon E. Mouse says:

    OK, so the very large number comes from considering every possible combination of stopping and not-stopping. It seems to me, though, that designing a system which can take care of every possible eventuality, going well into the millions when a sizeable proportion of them will never be needed, makes for an unnecessarily complicated system.

  691. Graham Feakins says:

    Of course, we could always welcome Mr Branson’s attempt at on board announcements… :

    On the other hand, maybe you would prefer this, as witnessed on Southern suburban:

    and here:

  692. Greg Tingey says:

    Malcom / Nick
    Re Bognor “Regis” there’s always King George V’s reputed last word(s) on the subject. (!)

    It’s easy enough to tune out
    Excuse me, but NO IT ISN’T – that’s the problem. Most people naturally try to listen to human speech, it’s a survival trait, actually.
    Which is why some of us get so annoyed & wound-up about this very sensitive subject. ( OK? )

    Priceless – though “balham” should be pronounced: “Bal-Ham, gateway to ve sarf”
    ( We might omit the bit about the pretty coloured lights though? )

  693. Graham H says:

    @Graham F – 🙂 I’m reminded of one service where the driver gave us an airline style chat: “We’ll be out of here just as soon as the tower has given us clearance and then we’ll reach our cruising altitude of 1.5m. Expected arrival time in Sutton,where the weather on the ground is warm and sunny, is 16.43”. It lightened a dreary day visiting the Crown Agents.

  694. ngh says:

    And remember to add in diversionary routes with stations that might be used for detraining off route (e.g. Victoria SE side with some platform issues for 12 car units though only 8 car are likely to end up there in emergency but still needing to be catered for). The PIS and SDO functions are linked and the coding system will have to know the routing for example if the overnight services Blackfriars -East Croydon services are diverted via Brixton, Clapham Jn, Balham, Selhurst whether it is on the fast or slows incase a 12 car needs to evacuate in an emergency at Wandsworth Common (fast 8 car platforms, slows 10 car)

  695. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham F – while I can see why some may think Mr Southern Guard is being a tad daft he did at least make me laugh. No great harm in that. As for Mr Branson – where’s the bucket?

    @ Greg – Sorry but I really don’t think you are in the majority here. *You* are quite clearly irritated beyond your tolerance levels by announcements but I see little evidence of other people being so when I use buses and trains. I remember when I-Bus launched on buses and people were demanding the announcements be removed and it was the end of civilisation as we know it if they were not. Not a squeak these days about it because people have learned to “tune out” if they’re on a regular trip and know where they’re going. Let’s face it – that’s most of the people, most of the time.

    In fact I suspect that passengers like having the system there – especially if they are heading somewhere new / unfamiliar. There is also a decent amount of evidence from groups representing those who are blind, deaf or with learning difficulties that the system provides really valuable information to allow them to travel independently and with confidence. When you couple this with the other info from I-Bus like “next bus” info on displays / phones / websites then it’s a hugely valuable system.

    The only time I see people being visibly irritated is when drivers or platform staff make announcements that people cannot understand or cannot hear clearly. There seems to be an unconscious recognition that those personal interventions carry more importance about things that might have gone wrong so they need to hear them. I never see the same reaction for the regular recorded stuff.

  696. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    It a Southern driver rather than guard as those announcements were both made on DOO services. Those aren’t his best announcements either!

  697. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – well I may have to adjust my view then if he’s making those announcements on the move. Less serious if he’s doing it while the train is stood still. I gathered from comments under the videos that he has something of a reputation.

  698. IslandDweller says: