In June 2015 we reported that Crossrail was well on the path to becoming a functioning railway in the making rather than a construction project nearing completion. The man whose job it is to create this operational railway is Howard Smith, Operations Director at Crossrail. He was brought in early to ensure that the high standards achieved in construction were reflected in the railway operation. As one of the latest TfL Investment and Programmes Committee papers shows, Smith has clearly been busy.

Back to the basics

Anyone who has had a railway-based conversation with Smith, or who has been to any of his talks, will know that he strives to get a few basics right. He is a strong advocate of ‘turn up and go’ rather than expecting people to remember timetables, as befits a graduate of the London Overground leadership team – the Prussian Military Academy of modern metro services.

Smith has spoken before about the need to keep things simple for the public. He is also not a fan of off-peak services. At talks, he has indicated that in his ideal world operators would provide a fixed interval service (eg quarter-hourly) from the start of the day until the last train. In his eyes, the marginal cost of running a frequent service out of peak hours is not that great and can be justified by the social benefits and increased revenue brought about by a more frequent service.

Of course, anyone can have ideas, but often they are not practical. In Smith’s case, however, evidence of the practicality of his beliefs can be found by looking at London Overground and the East London Line in particular. As it is on the ELL, so it is here and over time it has become clear that he has been working hard behind the scenes to achieve many of the same ideas with the Elizabeth line (without doing anything to jeopardise service reliability).

The timetable is the key

Having the right timetable can make a huge difference to a service in terms of reliability, attractiveness and cost-effectiveness. There are probably many railwaymen who believe you cannot spend too much time getting the timetable right, and the evidence so far seems to be that Smith may well agree with that sentiment.

To use the well-worn adage, sorting out the timetable is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a highly iterative process. To begin with, an initial timetable is produced. This may not be actually be used in anger, but just to show proof of concept. It may be to prove that a particular track layout is operationally workable, for example. As time goes on conditions change, knowledge increases and objectives are modified. In line with this, the timetable also changes. Each time the aim is generally to produce something a bit better and, in particular, to try and eliminate some of the weaknesses of the previous iteration.

The key that unlocks the service to Reading

The first variation on the Elizabeth line operational timetable was necessitated by the agreement to extend it to Reading. Be in no doubt: this did not come about because key decision-makers thought it would be a good idea that would benefit passengers. It happened because there was an issue with the original pre-Reading-electrification proposal for a Great Western diesel shuttle between Reading and Slough. By extending both the overhead lines and the Elizabeth line to Reading this costly shuttle could be eliminated.

The Elizabeth line service beyond Maidenhead to Reading, introduced to obviate the need for the Reading-Slough shuttle, would be paltry – 2tph (trains per hour) throughout the day. No doubt the policy at the time was to get this proposal through by producing an unarguable if unadventurous case. Any improvements could then come later without jeopardising this.

The off-peak weakness

At the outset, it was highly publicised that the Elizabeth line would have a peak service of 24tph with only 10tph going west of Paddington. The off-peak service was hardly mentioned but, slightly implausibly, it looked like there would be 6tph on the Shenfield branch, 8tph on the Abbey Wood branch and only 8tph west of Paddington.

It did not escape the notice of LR Towers that as long as the off-peak service to Shenfield remained at 6tph then any off-peak service provided by the Elizabeth line in central London was either going to be an embarrassingly low 12tph or a rather messy service to run. Clearly, Smith and his team were well ahead of us and had already set the wheels in motion to improve the frequency on the Shenfield branch in the off-peak. This is not so much because the Shenfield branch actually needs a more frequent service, but simply because this determined the maximum frequency that could be run in the central London core. Also highly pertinent was the fact that the Abbey Wood branch would have the same frequency as the Shenfield branch and hence the service provided at the important station at Canary Wharf was dependent on it.

Increasing the off-peak frequency on the Shenfield branch was not simply a matter of just doing it. Crossrail does not ‘own’ the line and there are occasional freight services that cross those tracks via a flat junction. Part of the line is sometimes used by c2c – either for diverted trains or their regular weekend service via Stratford. As such, a case has to be made to the rail regulator if you wish for a guaranteed long-term right to run an enhanced service. This was quietly done and it was established that the Elizabeth line could run 8tph off-peak on the Shenfield line.

What a relief (line)

At some point last year a table appeared on the Crossrail website from which one could deduce the proposed use of the relief lines out of Paddington now that Crossrail was going to Reading. For the uninitiated, most sections of railway, if four-track, have fast and slow lines. The Great Western Railway (GWR), with its history of being different, decided to call their fast lines the “main” and the slow lines the “relief”. To some extent, the terminology is more appropriate as is seems strange to talk about a 100mph speed restriction on the slow lines.

Table of frequency of all Heathrow Express trains and all passenger trains using GW relief line

The table, which is well-hidden on the website, is dated March 2016 but was probably not made available until August of that year. It does seem to be slightly misleading as it appears to only reference consistent service patterns. Not apparent are several one-off services that under existing proposals will also use the relief lines, such as the through train from the Henley-On-Thames branch. These do not fit into any pattern.

What is quickly apparent is that, as far as passenger trains are concerned, the plan at the time was for the relief lines out of Paddington to only be used by:

  • Elizabeth line services
  • A 2tph GWR services semi-fast service from Reading to Paddington – which might conceivably originate from further away e.g. Oxford

    and, possibly

  • 4tph Heathrow Express services

In the context of looking at passenger services running on the Great Western relief line, Heathrow Express is a peculiar case. The trains run non-stop from Heathrow (terminals 2 & 3) and Paddington main line terminus. They run in airport-owned tunnels to get out of Heathrow then join the Great Western lines at Airport Junction. Until recently this junction was only a connection with the main line, but now it is also connected to the relief lines as well.

Heathrow Express Ltd would far rather these services ran on the main line – not the relief – as they do today – but as the trains have a maximum speed of 100mph this would seriously reduce future capacity on the main line. They currently “get away with it” because Crossrail is still a project not an operational railway and the lack of top speed is partially offset by the quicker acceleration that the Heathrow Express electric trains provide when compared to the Great Western Railway diesel sets. This will, of course, all change once the dual-mode IEP trains come into service on Great Western territory.

Moving Heathrow Express onto the relief lines, as Network Rail intimated a few years ago that they would like to do, is, unsurprisingly, not ideal either. 100mph non-stop trains and 90mph stopping trains on the same stretch of track are not a good mix and, inevitably, lead to all sorts of timetabling problems.

In the end it seems that the contractual agreement with Heathrow Express just could not be honoured if Heathrow Express was shifted onto the relief lines and so, for the short term future at least, it will continue to use the main lines.

One doesn’t need to be a genius to think that, rather than have a 2tph semi-fast Great Western service between Paddington and Reading and a 2tph (nearly) all stations Elizabeth line service to Reading, it might be a good idea to combine the services in a co-ordinated way and have a 4tph Elizabeth line service to Reading all day. Furthermore, a precedent has already almost been set for this through the decision to abandon the proposed Reading-Slough shuttles and extend Elizabeth services to Reading instead.

The timetabled frequencies that probably won’t be

Alongside all this, TfL released a highly technical consultation about third party rail operators access to the Central Operating Section of Crossrail. It was a legal formality as much as anything else, but as part of the argument to show why sharing the track with other operators would be impractical, a diagram of the latest iteration of the proposed service was shown.

Frequency diagram from page 8 of Crossrail Central Operating Section consultation

Up until then, Crossrail had been very reluctant to provide specifics of the service that would run when the Elizabeth line was fully open. This diagram thus generated a fair amount of interest.

It is clear that the service offered is not sufficient at this stage to satisfy the aspirations of TfL in general and Howard Smith in particular. Specifically:

  • 2tph to Reading is hardly ‘turn up and go’
  • Terminating trains at Maidenhead do not call at Taplow and Burnham in the off-peak period, but do in the peaks (hardly simple)
  • Not all trains call at Hanwell, West Ealing and Acton Main Line

The last point has two unsatisfactory features. The first is that a passenger cannot be sure when they get on the train that it will stop at their station. This could either be to minimise rolling stock needs or simply be down to an operational need to help co-existence of trains with a mixture of stopping patterns. Two trains per hour in the peak period do not stop at any of these three stations. All other trains stop at one or two of the stations in question but not all three.

The second unsatisfactory feature is that this is known as ‘skip stopping’, whereby alternate trains have a different stopping pattern to maximise usage of the line. This leads to a journey between adjacent stations (Hanwell and West Ealing in this case) not being possible without changing trains.

There is an indication that the frequency diagram is a work in progress as the key includes “stations [at which] only off-peak trains call” – yet there are none on the diagram.

Latest proposals

There are less than two years to go until the Elizabeth line is due to open. It is generally reckoned that the simplest timetable change takes about a year to fully go through the necessary processes. It is crucial to know the planned service for the line when fully in operation in the near future as this could possibly impact the day one service. For example, one does not want to offer a service that cannot be sustained upon full opening of the line.

With this timetable deadline looming, it was a pleasant surprise to see that Crossrail have put forward a paper to the Programmes & Investments committee entitled “Elizabeth Line – Increasing Service Frequency”.

Outline of latest proposed Elizabeth line frequencies

There are three basic improvements proposed.

A better off-peak service

Off-Peak Frequency is to be 20tph between Paddington and Whitechapel and 10tph on each of the Shenfield and Abbey Wood branches.

This seems to be an eminently sensible thing to do and the reasoning behind it is stated in the paper:

5.1 The overall business case for the combined Off Peak 20tph and Peak 24tph recast service pattern demonstrates an exceptionally strong case as it makes better use of the £15bn investment that has been made in the Crossrail project.

The impression given is that Crossrail already have approval from the Rail Regulator for 10tph off-peak on the Shenfield branch. The only problem is that it is not in their specification for the service they have to provide, so Crossrail have to ask the TfL Board (the project sponsor) to mandate that they run 20tph in the off-peak – otherwise they have no authority to do so. This may all seem to be a touch of the ‘Sir Humphreys’ but these things must be done by the book.

To the travelling public, this will be good news. In particular, it could be argued that off-peak frequencies have reached a tipping point where you don’t have to think about them. It will also make the frequency of the Elizabeth line seem typical of a deep-level Tube line, as 24tph peak/20tph off-peak is approximately what the Piccadilly, Bakerloo and Northern line (each central section) operate Mondays to Fridays.

No slow or semi-fast GWR services to Paddington

The second change, which should be no great surprise to anyone who has studied the previously-mentioned Reading-Paddington service interval table, is that TfL are proposing to take over the semi-fast Reading-Paddington 2tph service as well as the 2tph (almost) all stations service which is already part of the plan. This has all sorts of consequences, though. Again, the way the paper reads, this sounds like a done deal – presumably with the DfT. All that is needed, apparently, is for the TfL Board to approve the purchase of four new Crossrail trains to cover the service.

The advertised (almost) all stations running time from Paddington to Reading on the Elizabeth line will be 49 minutes. Any Elizabeth line semi-fast services should do this considerably quicker. Just cutting this down to 45 minutes should mean that only three trains ought to be needed to include this service as part of the Elizabeth line pattern. In fact, the proposal is to purchase four extra trains.

The paper notes that no new stabling area needs to be provided which, presumably, is because provision was made at the outset for more trains than have currently been ordered. The cost of the four trains is not recorded and the need for confidentiality means that it will not be openly discussed at the Programmes & Investment Committee meeting itself. There is also no mention of any payment adjustment as a result of the Great Western franchise losing a revenue stream and that may well also be down to confidentiality.

A more regular service pattern west of Paddington

The paper further notes that a few individual Great Western services that currently use the relief lines in the peak period would need to be withdrawn.

On the Great Western Route, the enhanced Elizabeth line Peak service results in a need to remove five Great Western Franchise services (in both morning and evening Peak) that are specified to operate throughout the Peak on the relief lines between Paddington and Reading with a semi-fast stopping pattern. Great Western Franchise services to Maidenhead, Twyford, Reading and Thames Valley stations will continue to be provided during the Peak period by other trains which operate over the main lines between Paddington and Maidenhead

So Henley-on-Thames and Bourne End (on the Marlow branch) will lose their direct trains and three other semi-fast services that were due to be maintained would now be withdrawn under these proposals. It would appear that this is why the fourth train is needed. The idea is to provide an enhanced stopping pattern to cater for these trains that have been withdrawn from the relief lines. As Crossrail trains will be much longer, it seems that the intention is to realise the dream of providing a better service with fewer trains.

As a consequence, all remaining Great Western services to Paddington will run on the main line – which is probably why Network Rail were so keen to try to move Heathrow Express over to the relief lines.

Subtle changes

If this proposal goes forward then:

  • No Great Western services will run on the Great Western relief lines into Paddington.
  • Great Western services on branch lines into Twyford and Maidenhead will, for the most part at any rate, just be Elizabeth line feeders.
  • At the West Ealing end, the West Ealing – Greenford shuttle will exclusively feed into the Elizabeth line.
  • Under normal (non-engineering work) circumstances, only Elizabeth line trains will call at on the relief line platforms at all stations between Twyford and Acton Main Line.
  • The Elizabeth line will have exclusive use of the track on one of its main branches (Abbey Wood)and almost exclusive use of a second (Shenfield) and third branch (West of Paddington) it will share passenger services with a non-stop airport service that is generally punctual and reliable. The early fears of performance pollution, the odd freight train excepted, seem to have largely been eliminated.
  • The Elizabeth line (née Crossrail) is starting to look a bit like a self-contained railway. In doing so Crossrail 2 is starting to look like a different railway altogether and not really “like Crossrail 1 but bigger”.

If these proposals were to be implemented the Great Western relief line to Reading would have a real Elizabeth line feel to it. The service will be better than to the outer reaches of the Metropolitan line, better even than parts of the Central line. It remains to be seen to what extent TfL will be in control of fares policy over their new domain.

An obvious suggestion is to go one step further and hand over the relief line tracks to Crossrail. This will not happen because they are used by freight and are needed for planned engineering work on the main lines when all traffic (generally on a Sunday) is diverted to the relief lines. Besides, the fact that there are no other users now does not mean that there won’t be in future. It is entirely possible that the Western Rail Access To Heathrow project may lead to another rail company using them.

Add the future of Heathrow Express to the mix

It is also interesting to speculate what will happen in 2023 when the Heathrow Express agreement becomes up for renewal. Heathrow Express will still own the Heathrow rail tunnel, by then used by 4tph on the Elizabeth line, so they will have some bargaining power. Nevertheless, one suspects that there would be a reluctance to let them continue to run onto the main line if it turns out it is possible to accommodate them on the relief lines.

Another possibility is that by 2023 Heathrow Express gets subsumed into the Elizabeth line itself. Perhaps, by introducing intermediate stops, the railway becomes less of a mixed traffic railway and capacity increases as a result. And, maybe, the digital railway will enable an extra 2tph to operate on the relief lines. It is even possible that Kensington & Chelsea get their proposed station at Kensal and that leads to more trains continuing beyond Paddington.

If enhancements to the Elizabeth line service west of Paddington do take place, before long those 14tph originally planned to terminate at Paddington will seem to be very few in number indeed. No wonder Crossrail appeared distinctly non-plussed by the former Transport Secretary of State’s announcement that they were looking to run Crossrail trains from Paddington up the West Coast Main Line.

A better, more regular and more reliable service

The third and final proposed improvement is:

[A] revision of the Peak services operating pattern across the network to provide a regular interval of trains, [presumed to mean from central London] including a train approximately every five minutes proceeding west from Paddington

One of the big advantages of taking over the Great Western 2tph semi-fast service is that this now means that there would be 12tph west of Paddington – exactly half the number east of Paddington. This makes potential operations much neater and also slightly ameliorates the criticism of Crossrail as originally planned – that it is ridiculous to have only 10tph (peak) continuing west from Paddington.

The extra 2tph beyond Paddington now potentially makes it possible to simplify the peak period service and have all trains that travel in from the west of Paddington go down the same eastern branch. Whilst operationally it might be preferable to have these go to Shenfield, it would probably make much more sense to ensure that Heathrow can be reached from Canary Wharf without a change of train. This would suggest that now all trains for destinations west of Paddington will originate from Abbey Wood and all Shenfield trains will terminate at Paddington (Westbourne Park sidings).

By good luck, inclusion of the GWR Reading stopping service means that off-peak the services west of Paddington also amount to the exact capacity of each of the two eastern branches. So, basically, if you are trying to provide a neat service pattern, consistent throughout the day, that the public can easily understand then you are starting from a better place.

As stated in the report:

the more regular service pattern will have a positive effect on operational reliability compared to the Iteration 5 timetable. The precise performance and reliability impact of the proposed timetable is being validated through joint modelling with Network Rail, as part of the timetable development process. Initial results indicate that the performance across the network will improve due to the improvement in the interval of trains

If anything shows that there is more to creating a new railway than providing the infrastructure, then Crossrail’s obsession with the timetable and the results they seem to be achieving as a consequence is surely it.

The glorified Tube line

All of this work may mean that by the time Crossrail transitions to the Elizabeth line, it may well be more like the glorified Tube line some have criticized that name for implying. It will have fewer stations and slightly fewer trains than the Central line, platform edge doors like the Jubilee, some semi-fast services on its most distant branch like the Metropolitan (at least in peak hours), frequencies similar to deep Tube lines and almost exclusive use of track. The main difference is that it is much bigger and extends much further than your average Tube line. All this with the distinctive TfL operating philosophy behind London Overground and the London Underground.

Crossrail may have started off as something different, but since the ‘Elizabeth’ name was announced significant effort has been made to integrate with the Underground’s ‘brand’. It seems that if Smith and his operational team have their way, then by the time it opens that integration may well extend to its service pattern as well.

Cover photo by Alex Nevin-Tylee

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There are 338 comments on this article
  1. THC says:

    Good article, thank you. A couple of points:

    i) A brief mention of RBKC’s proposed Kensal station but no mention of Old Oak/HS2 interchange? Now that Royal Assent has been granted for HS2 Phase 1, surely the latter is certain to proceed, with the likely consequence that the former, in such close proximity, is dead in the water.

    ii) What effects, if any, will western rail access to Heathrow have on the Crossrail service pattern west of Paddington? It’s too early to say for sure, and I’m loth to stray into crayonista territory, but that is a potential evolution for the Heathrow Express services, especially with the potential for HAL funding the infrastructure as a quid pro quo when (if?) the third runway is finally approved.


  2. diamond geezer says:

    Excellent stuff, thanks, and it’s highly reassuring that we appear to be heading for a more regular, frequent and consistent service.

  3. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Thanks for the article.

    One small typo – “over time is has” s/b “over time it has”

    Interesting that you think there’s a “done deal” with the DfT. I don’t think that exists at all. TfL and DfT are, I believe, *joint* sponsors for Crossrail. The past protocol has been that papers go through the TfL Board and then to DfT for sign off. Clearly there will have been discussions but I am sceptical that such a radical change has “gone through on the nod”. Having double checked franchise dates it seems the GWR franchise now runs to April 2019 so retendering has to start soon. This break point in arrangements allows a recast of revenue and train service assumptions and the current retendering of SWT means they can be “kept in line” in respect of any argy bargy over assumed revenues into Reading. So it looks like someone at TfL has been strategically clever in spotting a “once off” opportunity to recast the Western services at a time when the impact can be reflected in a new GWR franchise and not be subject of a separate negotiation with an incumbent TOC and their paymasters. Wonder if the SoS will actually play along or whether he wants Great Western to be another of his “lab rats” for whatever structural change he has up his sleeve next?

    One dimbo question from me – what is happening to freight workings through Stratford? The article suggests early on they will remain with off peak workings as now. In other places I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that the relevant track crossovers are being removed by NR meaning freight through Stratford towards the C2C route will cease to exist. The implication is that other GAML freight also vanishes (don’t ask me where to!). I know more freight is supposed to run via the GOBLIN in future but the proposed 10 or 12 tph Crossrail service on the Shenfield route suggests zero freight workings on or across the slow lines east of Stratford. Are you able to say what is happening?

    I think all the financial aspects are in the exempt part of the paper. Seems ridiculous to put a paper to a Committee with a view to later Board sign off without *all* of the requisite financials being quoted. We can’t see them, of course, but they must be there including the assumed revenue upside. I do, though, await the “pitched fork” crowds demonstrating against the suggested loss of *their* through service from the Thames Valley branches into Paddington. That’s not going to be popular.

  4. A GWR trains user who understands what is really involved says:

    What a great shame TfL do not consider what the passengers want and what the railway is actually used for. For a start the Relief Lines are used by freight trains – presumably TfL want to put hundreds of lorries on the roads every day – you need that many for just the 4,000 tonne freight train which runs daily. Where will they put the freight trains – one path/train every hour off peak, each way (and they can’t run at night)?

    Secondly we passengers want trains with toilets, not the overblown underground trains being served up by Crossrail – late journeys back from a night out in London don’t sit well with a train without toilets although it is easy to forecast what will actually happen.

    Next we want trains which don’t just go to Reading – one of those 2tph will almost certainly continue further west as now. GWR are proposing a good semi-fast service with good branch connections using new, decent quality, trains and that’s what we want – not a land grab by TfL or the awful Crossrail underground trains with bench seats and no toilets which don’t comply with ATOC guidelines for this length of journey.

    And what happens in the event of a line being closed – just shut the railway is presumably TfL’s idea – and upset the journeys of thousands of people. This whole idea is a nonsense dreamt up by people totally detached from any sort of reality or knowledge about traffic flows on the GWML and the wishes of the people who use the trains.

    IF TfL wants some more railway lines it should build it’s own and not steal the ones needed for the real railway mix of traffic and providing the service people really want.

  5. Alan Griffiths says:

    May we travel on interesting timetables.

  6. Anonymous Pedant says:

    Good stuff.
    Two possible errors:
    1) On the diagram “Outline of latest proposed Elizabeth line frequencies” the East and West frequencies don’t add up. Neither do the West side numbers add up to the 12 mentioned in the text. Presumably 4tph terminating at Maidenhead is missing?
    2) East or West? By good luck, inclusion of the GWR Reading stopping service means that off-peak the services west of Reading also amount to the exact capacity of each of the two eastern branches.
    Surely “west TO Reading” or “east OF Reading”? west of Reading would be to Oxford or Newbury and I’m not sure the Crossrail team is admitting to aspirations that far afield as yet?

  7. ngh says:

    Re THC,

    Old Oak Common. The aim is that all 24tph in the core make it to OOC instead of just Paddington in 2026. Kensal may not be as dead as you think especially as NR plans for fast line alterations in the area for CP6 to increase capacity (see NR Route Study).

    Re PoP,

    “the odd freight train excepted, ” Except there are far more than the odd freight train at least 2tph in each direction on both the GWML and GEML and sometimes more.

    Re WW,

    Agree it may not be as done a deal yet. With other Franchises tenders being pushed back GW might get pushed back to especially if DfT wan a cleaned baseline to start of the new franchise with as regards electrification. DfT have been rumoured to be looking at splitting the GWR franchise into:
    a) Devon, Cornwall and some of Somerset local and long distance services from there into Paddington (inc. Sleeper) + Bristol
    b) the rest of GWR as with expected growth it is becoming a very big beast with the financial risk implication that makes it less open and competitive to enough bidders. In this respect Crossrail actually helps reduce the size of GWR slightly and is compatible with DfT’s aims.

  8. Phil says:

    Interesting stuff. I wonder if he will be able to put his mind to extending services beyond Abbey Wood as well given the ‘performance pollution has largely been eliminated’ for the western end. Or is the plan now so neat that any extension would ruin it..

  9. Anonymous says:

    A GWR trains user who understands what is really involved

    On freight paths, I believe existing paths in and out of Acton Yard are protected (hence costly diveunder now in place). Though it is likely that there will be now be no extra capacity for any future uplift in freight paths without major infrastructure enhancements.

    I am interested in your desire to see semi-fast trains continue to push further west than Reading (i.e. Oxford). When I used to travel to Oxfordshire frequently, it was usually much better to travel fast to Reading/Didcot Parkway, and then pick up the stopping service there. Is there really a strong demand for a direct (but very slow) service from places like Radley to Paddington?

    I understand your comments regarding layout/facilities of the 345s. I am a regular District line user and transverse seating has now almost taken its last breath – still one or two D Stock units trundling around, very sad.

  10. Al__S says:

    Obviously it’s been a while since we’ve had an official release from Crossrail 2, but I’m not so sure that the North side of it is proposed to be so different? The last consultation had two firm branches, one entirely for CR2 to New Southgate, whilst the Lea Valley branch would require two new tracks from Tottenham to Broxbourne, shared with a 4tph “Stratford to Angel Road” service with undefined northern terminus (for both CR2 and STAR). It’ll be interesting to see how plans for the South sections evolve.

    With “Elizabeth Line” (lord save us from the bad way this branding has been handled) clearly, as “A GWR trains user who understands what is really involved ” demonstrates, there’s going to be loud opposition to these plans- but will it be representative of current and potential users? Compromises have to be made, because if they weren’t Crossrail would be fully underground (weather proof! Harder to trespass!), separated from everything, at a massive cost. Is the inconvenience to some Thames Valley commuters (who can be assured that “what about the freight trains?” will already have been very carefully considered) worth the massive operational benefits on the rest of the route? Could I load my question any more?

  11. ngh says:

    Re A GWR user…

    “Where will they put the freight trains – one path/train every hour off peak, each way (and they can’t run at night)?”

    It is actually 2tph in either direction in the daytime off peak.

    “They can’t run at night” – Because loads of others already do!
    1900-0000 28 freight trains total
    0000-0700 30 freight trains total

    PoP appears not to have realised quite how busy the GWML is with freight both by trains and tonnage. Just look at the number of West Country quarry trains running into London at max 4800tonnes at 45mph max…

  12. Moosealot says:

    The Heathrow Express services have always used the main lines between Paddington and Airport Junction. The table quoted excludes services *through Reading* that use the main lines, not services that commence at Heathrow that use the main lines.

  13. lawyerboy says:

    Do I correctly understand that this proposal involves removing direct services to London from two stations (Cookham and Furze Platt) in the constituency of Maidenhead, currently represented by the Rt. Hon Theresa May MP?

  14. John B says:

    With Radley/Abingdon getting lots of housing, GWR need to fix the horrid slow trains, and their Didcot pauses and bad connections with the fasts. A shuttle to Didcot means you could get a seat, but you’d need a separate shuttle for the stations nearer Reading, and I bet their passengers would not appreciate the scrum at Reading for the fasts. I guess the 4tph EL will be emptier beyond Maidenhead than the slows/semi-fasts they replace, while all the small station traffic beyond Reading will be squeezing onto the crush-loaded fasts.

  15. Walthamstow Writer,

    I have no idea if it is a done deal or not but I do not believe Crossrail would be going to the TfL board, ultimately, to ask for money to buy new trains if they weren’t at least reasonably confident this proposal would get approved by the DfT.

    I didn’t say I thought there was a done deal, I said that the way the paper reads, this sounds like a done deal.

    Really interesting comment about April 2019 franchising date.

    Also interesting comment about removing points east of Stratford. I was deliberately vague because I could not see how you could run trains 6 minutes apart and still have freight service. I do not think there is any way Howard Smith would move to 10tph if it meant uneven intervals – I think he would rather stick at 8tph and keep the even intervals. Remember he is an ex-freight man so he knows how long it takes freight to clear junctions.

    Removing those points makes the proposal sound more plausible.

    A GWR trains user who understands what is really involved ,

    Despite your moniker it is clear that you don’t.

    I will just correct a few of the more factual errors.

    Next we want trains which don’t just go to Reading – one of those 2tph will almost certainly continue further west as now.

    But that will still happen. Just they will be on the main lines. Without seeing the final timetable it is meaningless to condemn this.

    Crossrail underground trains with bench seats
    I keep trying to kill this myth but it regularly gets resurrected. There will also be transverse seats in the middle of the train. If you prefer these you will quickly learn where to stand on the platform in order to get a seat of your choice.

    presumably TfL want to put hundreds of lorries on the roads every day
    Absolutely not. TfL have a freight strategy. As TfL have to manage the traffic on the roads they will not be at all keen to see freight transfer from rail to road. Also, as Howard Smith is an ex-freight man, I can’t see him being happy with that.

    And what happens in the event of a line being closed – just shut the railway is presumably TfL’s idea
    Er, no, again. TfL are upgrading all platforms on the main and fast lines so that they can use that in case of engineering works or disruption – subject to capacity of course. This upgrade is not cheap. And Network Rail signallers will be able to route GWR trains onto the relief lines. Just it might be very costly in penalty payments if they delay Elizabeth line trains.

    IF TfL wants some more railway lines it should build it’s own and not steal the ones needed for the real railway mix of traffic and providing the service people really want.

    TfL doesn’t want more railway lines for the sake of it. Presumably people from Cornwall and Devon want a fast service between Reading and Paddington without getting held up due to trains stopping on the main line. Until we see what the GWR timetable is we cannot tell if their long distance passengers will be better or worse off.

  16. Andrew M says:

    Reading Station might not have enough terminating capacity. This new plan doubles the original 2tph to 4tph; and Reading will have to accommodate a further 2tph Oxford terminators. Bear in mind that Crossrail trains will be much longer than Thames Turbos: they’ll occupy the entire platform length at Reading, not just an A/B half.

    From an operational and capacity perspective, it seems preferable to have the Oxford trains flow through Reading. Since there’s nowhere else to terminate, they’ll have to go all the way to Paddington (High Level). This is no worse than the Shenfield line having trains which terminate at Liverpool Street High Level.

  17. Moosealot says:

    @GWR User
    My recollection of having commuted from Slough to London was that being able to get on the train would be nice, with being able to breathe having got on the train being a luxury. The quality of the seats is only of passing interest on the basis that any seat is better than no seat. Similarly, a toilet is of little use if you can’t get to it because of all the Persons in Excess of Capacity. Being able to get off the platform at Slough would also be a bonus, but I understand that that has been/will shortly be fixed.

    Bourne End (and Henley) branch commuters heading for the City will have traded an awkward change at Paddington for a much simpler one at Maidenhead (or Twyford) with the chances of a seat all the way to their destination. Those travelling elsewhere might be less ecstatic, but at least the abstraction of a large number of changers at Paddington should make access to the Underground easier there.
    Generally an MP’s majority increases when they are PM or Leader of the Opposition, so if ever there’s a time to do something nasty to a constituency, do it when their MP is PM!

  18. ngh says:

    Re Lawyer boy,

    No GWR is going to kill them in the May 2017 timetable change from when the Maidenhead to Paddington element will be operated by 387 EMUs instead. DMU on the branch.

  19. Paul says:

    As a regular GW lines passenger (M’head/Taplow/Burnham), whilst I welcome the (MTR Crossrail) Elizabeth Line Metro, with all the benefits of manned stations, disabled access, contactless payment etc. It seems like TfL are just being their typical selves, a like it or lump it all stations Sub-Surface ‘Tube’ service seems all but inevitable in the future. I’m in no way convinced this grab of the relief lines is beneficial for GW passengers or Elizabeth Line passengers who may be using connecting GW & XC services at Reading.

    The Didcot – Oxford deferred electrification debacle doesn’t help either. I’m only grateful that the Thames Valley GW 387’s will be 8 or 12 car, and should be able to cope with the passenger growth from ‘sparks effect’.

    “TfL are upgrading all platforms on the main and fast lines so that they can use that in case of engineering works or disruption – subject to capacity of course. This upgrade is not cheap. And Network Rail signallers will be able to route GWR trains onto the relief lines. Just it might be very costly in penalty payments if they delay Elizabeth line trains.” – Not at all the stations (like Burnham or Taplow), the 345 will be using SDO IIRC.

  20. ngh says:

    Re Andrew M and John B.

    Stoppers West of Reading to Didcot will be operated as a through service east of Reading (using 387s with 110mph top speed) to Paddington from later this year probably December TT change at the latest. (Till if / when the wires get to Oxford)

    Live OHLE to Didcot looks like being turned on in September which could match a similar change in September 2016 for greater EMU use on limited services.

  21. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Anonymous Pedant.

    The numbers in and out of Paddington do add up.
    4tph to Heathrow,8 beyond Paddington but not to Heathrow, 12 to Westbourne Park sidings = 24 = 12 to Shenfield, 12 to Abbey Wood.

    Similarly for off-peak.

    In the peak we know there will be 4tph terminating at Heathrow and 8 to at least Hayes & Harlington but not to Heathrow. We presume 4tph continue all the way to Reading. Given the timetable will be recast we cannot say where the others will terminate. It could be Hayes & Harlington, West Drayton or Maidenhead.

    Similar for off-peak but with 6tph not to Heathrow. I suspect Maidenhead is the most likely for the off-peak 2tph with the rest going to Reading.

    The mistake in referring to west of Reading not west of Paddington was quickly corrected but you must have picked up an early version.


    Perhaps “the odd freight train” was too flippant a remark. I am well aware of the amount of freight around Reading. They didn’t build those complex grade separated junctions west of the station for fun.

    Tonnage is irrelevant but I must admit to being shocked to read that they are still running at 45mph maximum. I was expecting 70-75mph which would mean that they would nicely co-exist with a limited stop 90mph passenger train on a not-too-crowded railway. I also presume that the diveunder and other arrangements at Acton mean that they can get up speed before joining the relief line.

    However even at 45mph there is the opportunity to co-exist, relatively peacefully, with a stopping train. It is all about getting the timetable right.

    I do not believe there is anything near 2 freight tph on the “electric lines” east of Stratford. There may be 2 freight paths but how often are they currently used? And more important, given WW’s comments, will those paths exist in future?

  22. GC82 says:

    With Crossrail taking over more GWR services, and electrification postponed (eg to Oxford and the branch lines), does make me wonder what use they are going to make of 45 class 387’s?

  23. Moosealot,

    The Heathrow Express services have always used the main lines between Paddington and Airport Junction

    Well, obviously, because until they extended Airport Junction it wasn’t possible for them to get to the relief lines without crossing on the flat.

    Yes, it does say *through Reading* but, unless something has changed, Heathrow Express will be shunted onto the relief lines now that is possible.


    On the other hand, if the proposed services are better for Maidenhead overall – which I strongly suspect will be the case – the PM won’t be too happy if the SoS for transport gets a bee in his bonnet and won’t co-operate.

    Andrew M,

    it seems preferable to have the Oxford trains flow through Reading. Since there’s nowhere else to terminate…

    They are way, way ahead of you. Yes there is! Both Redhill and Gatwick Airport are very suitable.

  24. Paul,

    “TfL are upgrading all platforms on the main and fast lines so that they can use that in case of engineering works or disruption …”. Not at all the stations (like Burnham or Taplow), the 345 will be using SDO IIRC.

    I don’t understand. I didn’t state they would be extending them. I said they would be upgrading them. That may well be to install SDO and ensure the existing platform is the correct height.

    By the way, DOO is not the nasty cheapo Southern lets-bung-some-cameras-on-the-side-of-the-train variety. Its the full monty, cameras optimally mounted on platform with cab monitors type.

  25. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    Most GWML services are aggregates running at 45mph or 60mph. The heavy trains all run at 45mph to avoid the need for double heading so tonnage is very relevant! There are a few faster container trains at 75mph.

    Most of the GEML services are Felixstowe origination rather than a couple of C2C land originating ones (E.g. Thames Gateway to Bristol containers) that will get rerouted via Goblin if the points are removed.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Lack of toilets is a big issue.

  27. Si says:

    Are the Heathrow Express trains really going to run on the relief lines pre-2023? The table that sparks this notion in the article doesn’t say so – HEx doesn’t run on the “Main Lines through Reading”, so isn’t excluded from the figures (and the track sharing in the Heathrow Tunnel makes HEx always relevant to Liz line timetables). And Airport Junction gained direct access to the relief lines for Crossrail trains to not have to cross onto the mains as Heathrow Connect used to have to do, so its nonsense to suggest that it’s about moving HEx off the mains ASAP.

    Obviously it’s no secret that Network Rail want rid of Heathrow services from the main lines, but they were looking at post-IEP (and shortly after the 2018 Crossrail date) for introduction of 16tph to Reading with 4tph HEx on the fasts (Option A2) and a mid-2020s implementation of 20tph to Reading/Crossrail absorption of HEx (Option A5) in the London and South East RUS and nothing seems to have changed, other than the infrastructure works being delayed a little.

    I don’t think the evidence has been presented to make that claim. I’m not saying it’s not true, but it strikes me that the argument put forward for it is missing something. Certainly I cannot see HEx surviving on the mains post-2023, but I think they will be there in the 3-4 years between Elizabeth line completion and the renewal of the track running rights.

  28. JohnKellett says:

    “The heavy trains all run at 45mph to avoid the need for double heading.”

    That sounds easy enough to fix then…

  29. ngh says:

    Re John Kellet,

    So TfL will pick up the cost for that then???

  30. Paul says:

    Furthermore, I expect the Reading – Heathrow trains (Western Rail Access to Heathrow) will be using the relief lines. Although it’s possible that local WRAtH services will be absorbed into Crossrail, ending up with (for example) Reading-Abbey Wood via Heathrow Airport trains.

  31. Anonymous says:

    One should not underestimate just how protective Heathrow are of their little train set. They are firmly of the belief that the continued existence of a fast, non-stopping, premium rail service to the airport is an important part of their brand etc. I do not think it is by any means a foregone conclusion that HEx will disappear from 2023.

    I think the only thing that will really prompt a change in thinking from Heathrow is that in the period 2019-2023 people vote with their feet and abandon HEx in favour of Crossrail. Again, this is by no means a foregone conclusion. Remember, Crossrail is not serving Terminal 5 and anyone who has travelled through Heathrow will know just how aggressive they are in luring unsuspecting passengers away from the Piccadilly line (they have people selling HEx tickets before you even get to the arrivals hall). I am sure this practice will continue with the arrival of Crossrail. However, if their trains end up carrying fresh air around and they are bleeding money, this may ultimately prompt a re-think.

  32. JohnKellett says:


    A few beefed-up locomotives can’t cost the earth, surely?

  33. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Crossrail is not serving Terminal 5

    Not yet.

  34. Frankie Roberto says:

    Are there any indications of what the Paddington to Heathrow fares will be via the Elizabeth line vs Heathrow Express?

  35. Greg Tingey says:

    The probable flies in the ointment are:(a) The putative agreement between TfL & DfT being upstaged by a minister with doctrinaire ideas about TfL
    However see PoP’s deflation of that one!
    (b) Heathrow Express, who have form for being really awkward people – can we afford to wait until 2023 & let them fade away after that?

    IIRC any E-wards extension from Abbey Wood is likely to be on separate track as far as a rebuilt Dartford, at least ….

    Andrew M
    Reading capacity is going to be a problem until the knitting gets to Oxford, which isn’t going to happen until the station rebuild there …
    Um, err ….

    Correction: “Lack of toilets is a bog issue” (Sorry, couldn’t resist it! )

  36. ngh says:

    Re anonymous,

    I’m just waiting for the moment next year when PPI mis-selling claims come to an end and the claims companies instead switch to help you claim for mis-sold HEx tickets due to agressives sales techniques!

    Re Frankie,

    Rest assured Heathrow want to make the Elizabeth line ticket prices as expensive as possible to protect the premium pricing on HEx from as much competition as possible. DfT and ORR have been helpful to Heathrow in thwarting some previous tactics though.

  37. Sykobee says:

    Re: Heathrow Express vs Crossrail

    It feels to me that Crossrail will make Heathrow a lot more accessible than currently for Londoners, who right now have to traipse all the way to Paddington if they need a fast train there (early flights, etc).

    There seems to be a mindset from those living on the GWML that Paddington is a great location for a terminal and why would anyone want an alternative!?

  38. Anonymous says:

    The stone trains run at 45mph because that’s the limit for the laden wagons. Nothing to do with locomotives

  39. Frankie Roberto says:

    As I understand it, Crossrail will share a gateline with the tube at Paddington (as at all other interchange stations). I’m not sure about Heathrow. Won’t that make it difficult, if not impossible, to charge different fares for Elizabeth line journeys vs tube?

  40. Ianno says:

    I don’t believe there is any proposal to run Heathrow Express on the Relief Lines, because:
    -With up to 12tph skip-stopping Crossrail, plus great big lumbering jumbo arregregate freight trains there is no capacity
    -Even if there was capacity, fitting in between stopping trains to fill capacity to the brim would kill the 15 minute journey time* between Paddington and Heathrow Central, which is protected in the Track Access contract (and Heathrow Airport Ltd wouldn’t be best pleased given I believe they made a minor contribution to the overall cost of Crossrail)
    -The final layout of the approaches to Paddington does not support 4tph in each direction moving between the Relief Lines and the high level station being, in effect, a single lead flat junction across the Westbound Crossrail line, which would be a timetabling, operational and performance nightmare

    I’m afraid to say you’ve used the table to make 2 and 2 equal 7.

    *Trains having to be pretty much flat out on the Main Lines to meet this today.

  41. Paul S says:

    I must admit, having read the board papers just after they were first referred to, I didn’t immediately come away with the thought that they intended to move HEx off the mains.

    I do however tend to the view that it will die a natural death once people transfer to Crossrail in large numbers. Will be interesting to see the eventual steady state after all the planned changes including the effects of WRatH (or whatever it’s now called) eventually…

  42. Fitzoliverj says:

    “Is there really a strong demand for a direct (but very slow) service from places like Radley to Paddington?” I don’t know, but if you’re travelling from Paddington to stations west of Reading it’s often more convenient to get the semi-fast trains which don’t require a change than the faster HST which does. But if the semi-fasts don’t go beyond Reading nobody wanting to travel beyond Reading are going to use them – they’re going to use the HSTs and change. Also (and this may be much less of a problem) semi-fasts travelling on the main line will have to swop to the reliefs west of Reading because Pangbourne doesn’t have main line platforms.

  43. Anonymous Pedant says:

    Personally I think the survival of HEx, even to 2023, is tenuous. There’s only so much demand for a premium service to a few hotels and offices around Paddington.

    Only the very wealthy and the very gullible will fork out £20 each way to get half way to where they want to go when there’s a cheaper service which will take them much closer in a similar time – a few extra stops is quid pro quo time-wise with the interchange at Paddington or waiting for a taxi/in traffic.

  44. Graham H says:

    @Anonymous Pedant -if HEX sales are anything like GATEX, 30-35% of their tickets are sold to air travellers at the point of origin via agents or airlines rather than at Heathrow; it is unlikely that news of TfL’s cheaper, better offer reaches Podunk Illinois, or Wolamboola, so they can afford to carry on selling an overpriced product…

    More generally, several of the comments on this thread suggest that people have not been paying the attention they claim to the Elizabeth spec – no loos, no bench only seating, no through services to Henley, have been in the public domain for years.

  45. Malcolm says:

    Crossrail only takes you “much closer” to certain places. If you actually want Kings Cross, Waterloo or Victoria (among other popular destinations) then Paddington is as good an interchange point as anywhere else on Crossrail, so getting there faster is worth it. Yes there is also a significant fare difference, but (however illogical this is) the hundreds of pounds that you may have paid for your air ticket can make a few pounds train-fare difference (even if you know about it) seem unimportant.

  46. lmm says:


    > They are way, way ahead of you. Yes there is! Both Redhill and Gatwick Airport are very suitable.

    How does that fit with electrification? Are these going to be dual-voltage trains, and if so is there somewhere to put those that fail to make the switchover?

  47. Si says:

    @GrahamH – I thought Henley through services were only killed with electrification of the branch about a year ago. Still old news though. As is the unmentioned-in-this-thread toilets at the central London stations – a very welcome feature that more than mitigates for a lack of toilets in trains.

    @Anonymous Pedant – HEx is part of the airport’s marketing so that, even if it makes a loss (and the high ticket price and duping of tourists means that it probably wouldn’t), they will want the service. Even come 2023 and renewal of the track-access contract, it will not be easy or simple to kill HEx (as others have said) and Heathrow will fight to keep the flagship premium service running.

  48. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ F Roberto – No one knows what the fares to Heathrow will be using Crossrail. Many moons ago someone posted a link to a document that said a “premium” fare would be maintained into Heathrow. Unfortunately I have never been able to find that link again. I think the issue over the cost of track access into Heathrow will be a key factor in how fare levels pan out. I can’t see Crossrail charging standard Zone 6 fares into Heathrow as there is so little flex in the TfL Budget to allow TfL to effectively charge standard fares but pay HAL their access charge (assuming it is at some “outrageous” level) out of the overall TfL budget.

    For those with long memories we have been here before but with the DLR. The Lewisham Extension was a PFI deal and the assumption was that a “toll” would be included in cross river fares to generate the income to remunerate the infrastructure provider. I was asked to give advice on the ticketing options at the time. However John Prescott decided that there would be no “toll” element and some deal was done with LT / TfL to charge standard fares but also ensure there was money to pay the PFI contractor. I can’t see a “deal” emerging whereby Government somehow funds TfL to pay whatever HAL is allowed to levy. That sort of arrangement is not in line with the current “charge the passenger” philosophy although I will concede that TfL and DfT appear to be on “same side” in terms of trying to stop outrageous charging by HAL for use of the Heathrow tunnel link.

    I also tend to side with those who view HAL as wanting to keep HEX going for as long as possible. I agree the market will eventually decide but the fare levels are crucial. I can’t see HAL wanting to be overly helpful to a “competitor” although there is obviously a danger in being too awkward in that the politicians may be quite happy to “hang you out to dry” over actual or perceived intransigence. I imagine the Mayor could put together a fairly impressive range of stakeholders who could express their “outrage” or “disappointment” at game playing by HAL that could be said to “damage” the prospects for Crossrail. The pressure will build to ensure that Crossrail is an enormous success affording lots of people the chance “to bask in reflected glory”.

    The other imponderable here is the ticketing arrangement at the Heathrow end of things. HEX’s ticketing and free transfer between terminals rather mitigates against ticket gates being provided. This then leaves it down to validator based validation (for smart / contactless ticketing) as the only way of signifying that “Heathrow Crossrail” has been accessed. This then has quite severe impacts about the Oyster PAYG charging, “maximum” fares and what fare is deducted on entry to the system. It also has implications around daily / weekly caps and Travelcard / season tickets. The current existence of “premium” fares on Oyster is controlled by access through distinct gatelines (e.g. HS1 at St Pancras/Stratford and Gat Exp at Victoria). They are also outside of the standard capping arrangements and there have been other undesirable impacts (see the Oyster-Rail website for the full explanation).

    The specific arrangement at Paddington is irrelevant given there is open interchage to Crossrail at multiple locations across London making it impossible to “prove” that people have used Crossrail. I imagine there has been enormous effort and debate put into how ticketing to / from Heathrow will “work”. Let’s hope it has also been sense checked politically with City Hall to avoid last minute reworking.

  49. Ianno says:

    I think HEx will continue to have a decent market after Crossrail opens for two reasons:

    1) Today, all the signage when you step off a plane into the arrivals hall screams in big letters “This way for Heathrow Express to Central London”. You’ve got to look pretty hard to find the signs pointing to Connect and the Piccadilly. Most tourists arriving and just wanting to get to “London” will just follow the most obvious signs. They will also have little grasp of the value of Sterling on arrival and won’t really grasp how much they’re paying (nor how knowledge of the magnitude of cost of alternatives)

    2) For business travellers, HEx is not an alternative to the Piccadilly Line. It is an alternative to a Black Cab, as a direct “private” way of reaching Central London. They’ll still want to reach Central London (Paddington) quickly, then taxi to their final destination there. Sitting on a “commuter” train for 10 minutes longer will not appeal to them (and cost is not an issue on Expenses to them)

  50. Mike says:

    With the Thames Valley and Greenford branches becoming solely Liz line feeders, doesn’t that make a strong logical case that they should be part of the Liz line (noting that logic is not a strong point, and that Crossrail diesels would be untidy)?

  51. quinlet says:

    I use HEx fairly regularly to get to Heathrow from HS1 and vice versa. The interchanges at St Pancras (long, long walk and one set of stairs) and at Paddington (two sets of stairs and a crowded passage) are dire. I don’t use Heathrow Connect, even if one is due to leave Heathrow first, because it has the same interchange problems and is overtaken by the next HEx before it gets to Paddington.

    Once Crossrail is up and running I have considered various routes but I suspect I will route via St Pancras and Farringdon on the basis that the interchanges will be better, particularly at St Pancras.

    For anyone that knows London, Paddington is a dreadful terminus because it is so far from the centre (taxis are expensive) and because most interchanges are poor. So can HEx survive on the basis of selling mainly to unsuspecting foreign visitors when Crossrail will get most visitors much closer to their destinations?

  52. Alfie1014 says:

    On the Eastern side almost all of the GEML freights are pathed on the Main Lines, this makes sense as they arrive on that side at Stratford. That said they can and do use the ELs on occasion if needs be due to engineering work or perturbation. The situation on the GE is unusual in that on all other main lines around London freights mostly operate on the slower pair of tracks. Odd bedfellows the fastest and potentially slowest trains sharing tracks. That said most of the liners are timed at 75mph but in an ideal world they all rather than only a few would be electrically hauled.

    I can’t believe that there will be any reduction in crossovers between pairs of lines, they are simply too valuable and recently those at Gidea Park and Romford have been renewed and those at Shenfield are in the process of being improved to better segregate and speed up traffic types. There is work plannned at Stratford in the near future but I’m unsure if the scope, it too may simply be renewals.

    An enhanced off peak service on the ELs will have to share capacity with the occasional trains on/off the LTS and more importantly with ECS movements to/from Ilford depot, which will be used by not only Crossrail, but London Overground, c2c and Greater Anglia. Up trains leaving here conflict on the flat with down services, which is the main reason that the Chadwell Heath turn back was re-instated between the ELs so that ECSs can leave the depot by the country end go into the turnback siding then come back out onto the Up Electric.

  53. Purley Dweller says:

    Re fares. From Reading you could put in tfl only fates to London. Oyster/contact less cards that are touched in at Reading and touched out anywhere else than Paddington terminus could attract tfl fares and those touching out in the terminus would attract gwr fares. Just like Gatwick Express. HEX could use a similar system to bring in Oyster/contactless there too.

  54. ngh says:

    re Mike,

    That completely destroys the Crossrail / Lizzy line brand and what it means though! Only the Greenford Branch is actually inside London so it might be difficult for TfL takeover (under the overground brand similar to Romford – Upminister branch?) for the other 3 branches as they are all in Bucks/Berks. Easiest to leave them with GWR/successor for the foreseeable future till they are electrified and/or modernised.

    None of the branches are suitable for through train running with the longer train that will soon be running in 2.5months time. And having different operators help reinforce this separation.

    Re Ianno,
    I suspect lots of “Londoners”will use crossrail and those not living in the UK will still be persuaded into using HEx. There could even end up being an assymetry in user levels on HEx with fewer people going to the airpt using it than those leaving the airport as those who were less familiar realise they could have gone cheaper.

    One way for TfL to help cover any excessive element of HAL access charges might be to increase Crossrail passenger numbers with some very selective advertising in inflight magazines, guide books, airline tie-ins, hotel booking sites etc. as other do (Milan, Oslo, Vienna…) to promote non premium airport rail services. Maybe with a combined multiday travel card (HK’s Oyster 72 (if it still exists) as an example) and market this heavily pre-arrival?

  55. Sad Fat Dad says:

    To reiterate some others’ comments:

    HEx will not be moving to the Relief lines; the journey times are contractual and they couldn’t achieve them in between even the 8tph off peak service originally proposed.

    Freights on the GEML are generally on the Mains. Given the linespeeds, and that the passenger trains on the line have this habit of stopping, the freights are quicker from Colchester to Stratford than everything but the Norwich expresses.

    I know that a review was done into the necessity of retaining each set of points between Stratford and Shenfield was a few years ago. However I think it is very unlikely that Maryland East Jn and the main crossovers at Forest Gate Jn will be removed. These junctions are those that enable a train to be routed from Barking to Channelsea Junction (for the NLL and WAML), and for the latter at least this is not easily replaced by going ‘over the top’ via Tottenham. Whilst there is little freight this way, it is a very important route for engineering trains coming from Whitemoor.

  56. Phil says:

    Re JohnKellett
    7 March 2017 at 15:38

    Yes extra freight locos DO cost quite a lot of money, particularly as the ones currently employed are absolutely fine for all current and future operations (till TfL started throwing their weight around and wanting more GWML train paths).

    Please remember those locos used to haul stone trains are OWNED by private, non railway companies e.g. Hanson, whose shareholders are going to be very miffed if they are told they have to replace their bespoke locos* by a Governmental organization on a whim simply to further their own agenda. Moreover Network Rail are under an ORR obligation to treat all users fairly both during the day and at night so they cannot simply turn round and tell the likes of Hanson their access will be removed unless they upgrade. if As such if new freight locos are required then the onus is on TfL to pay for them (and any new wagons similarly required).

    *(the class 59s – which were imported from the USA in the mid 1980s precisely for the job of hauling those mega ling stone trains to the capital where they get split into 2 sections for onward transfer to the receiving depots).

    Re POP (various posts)

    Its all very well saying that Crossrail trains should be welcomed by Maidenhead users due to them being longer – but as has been pointed out a 12car Electrostar will have considerably more seats, first class accommodation and toilets. Commuters are also going to lose their direct trains to London from the branches – and many would regard it as an insult to also be denied a comfortable onward commute once they get to the main line. While it may seem snobbish, the folk of the Thames valley are in general wealthy folk used to their creature comforts and no amount of flannel about ‘superior’ penetration by Crossrail into central or a better frequency is going to change that.

    Just take a look at HEX for a small demonstration of this – most HEX passengers (who pay a hefty premium of course) arriving at Paddington use black cabs for onward travel, not the tube and part of HEXs argument is that if their premium service did not run the majority of said users would not simply migrate to Crossrail – they would go back to using a cab right from the airport.

    The GWR service is similar in that rather than actually offering a better service, users are turned away and start driving to other stations where train operators actually provide what outer commuters want. Yes it wouldn’t bother TfL much, because said commuters have zero impact to the GLA and the Mayor – who can then gain electoral advantage of a higher core service.

    Perhaps a look at a map might be useful – Maidenhead is roughly the same sort of distance out as Redhill, Sevenoaks or Woking yet there would be uproar if said commuters were told they were getting Overground interiors on their services (particularly off peak when standing is not necessary) with more comfortable trains only being used on services that skip said stations and have their first stop at Gatwick, Tonbridge or Guildford

    Thames Valley commuters, just like their Surrey brethren are also very vocal politically and don’t be fooled – they will be making their feelings known to their local MP – who is hardly likely to give them the cold shoulder even if she is PM. Remember what happened to the desire by the industry to axe the Wimbledon loop or the more recent abandonment of rail devolution by Mr Grayling – on the grounds that where the services extend beyond the GLA boundary MPs still have theoretical influence over franchising but none when it comes to TfL / GLA / Mayoral decisions.

    I’m sorry but its about time someone told TfL to stop trying to rearrange the world to fit its own needs. Yes they may well want to increase the service through the core – but that must not come at the expense of the rest of the national rail network – the clue being in the term ‘national’. If TfL want to run more services through the core (not an unreasonable ambition in itself) then they should be focusing upgrading the turnback facilities at Paddington or more usefully find somewhere else to send the trains that doesn’t involve displacing what are true outer suburban services (with facilities to match) on the GWML.

    Many have said it was a mistake to only have a single branch to Crosssrail in the west** and perhaps now TfL are realizing that too. While I appreciate that extending up to the likes of Gerrards Cross or Watford would not have come cheap (and to ensure the Treasury couldn’t cancel it as they wanted to on several occasions) there was a pressing need to prevent ‘project creep’ that does not mean TfL should be hiding from the fact that Crossrail is effectively missing a branch / leg in the west and THAT is what they should be focusing their energies on.

    **Heathrow is not really cutting it as a true branch due to the fact that it can only be accessed by using the 4 track GWML for some distance compared to the Shenfield / Abbey Wood split which takes place well before Crossrail trains hit the 4 track GEML at Stratford and thus will never present more than 12tph for the national network to handle at that location.

  57. Graham H says:

    @Phil – I suggest that you read Anonymous’ post on the speed limit on freight wagons and then either produce evidence to the contrary or rewrite your post. You might also like to consider that freight – especially those trains of aggregate hopper wagons – do not pay access charges according to the track damage they cause.

    Only Henley amongst the Thames branches has through trains at the moment, and that is the only one that loses out. And it would be interesting to know in what sense being part of a national network gives any advantages to the likes of punters from Marlow, Slough or Greenford.

  58. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Purley Dweller – that rather assumes that the DfT would allow TfL to have pricing responsibility for some fares from Reading. There is no precedent for this happening. In fact the opposite is true – the lead TOC has retained pricing responsibility at Watford Junction and Shenfield. TfL has had to charge what the lead TOC sets and also has to adjust its own farescales to “taper” into these higher fares. The Crossrail Agreement, that TfL are a signatory to, has a range of fares related obligations that TfL must meet. Bargain fares aren’t in the criteria.

    Fares set at Reading will have a huge bearing on the total earnings of the GW franchise and for some other TOCs like Cross Country. I simply can’t see differential fares for services that directly parallel each other and where one of the bodies is TfL. DfT are not going to hand the Mayor a “oh look Crossrail saves you money too” gift to parade around the Thames Valley.

    You also seem to forgetting the SWT London – Reading service via Bracknell. Your suggested logic does not work for that route which has a fair number of Oyster equipped station directly served and a load more accessible via 1 change of train. I can’t see SWT being content with TfL fares being charged for a Reading – Richmond journey! Obviously we must wait to see what obligations, if any, are included in the next South Western franchise in respect of smart ticketing. SWT still seem to be lagging behind with the roll out of ITSO ticketing but then the DfT “vision” for SEFT has evaporated into the ether anyway. Some sort of fix will be needed for the SWT Reading service as it will be possible for people to enter a station in the Oyster area and then present themselves at Reading via the SWT service. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Reading but I believe there is one unified gateline in each ticket hall giving unrestricted access to all platforms. Therefore there is no way of identifying that people have specifically arrived by SWT train if they present themselves at a gateline.

  59. ngh says:

    To put a scale on the aggregate trains on the GWML the Mendip quarries ship about 7million tonnes per annum of aggregate by rail most but not all to or through London.

    Re Phil,

    GWR will be still be running services calling at Twyford Maidenhead and Slough but the proposal is that they would be on the Main (fast) lines not the relief (slow) lines. I suspect that a different train will call at each station to minimise timetabling issues but that several 387s could be flighted so on an inwards journey the first calls at Slough the second at Maidenhead etc. with the branch line trains retimed appropriately. This would give faster journey times than today for Maidenhead and Twyford.

    Potential sequence leaving Reading :
    1. IEP A
    2. IEP B
    3. 387 A (stops at Maidenhead)
    4. 387 B (stops at Twyford)
    5. –
    6. IEP C (stops at Slough – as some HSTs do)
    7. –
    8. IEP D
    9. –

    Potential sequence arriving at Paddington:
    1. IEP A
    2. IEP B
    3. –
    4. HEx A
    5. 387 A (stops at Maidenhead)
    6. 387 B (stops at Twyford)
    7. IEP C (stops at Slough – as some HSTs do)

    8. IEP D
    9. HEx B

    Note how HEx fills the useful gaps caused by stopping.

    Also worth noting that the WRLtH proposal is to link to the relief /slow lines not the main /fast lines.

  60. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alfie 1014 / SFD / PoP – apologies if I appear to have stirred up a pointless debate about the GEML and crossovers. I’ve been “told off” more than once in another place for saying that there would be residual freight that could have an interraction with Crossrail’s services. Clearly someone, somewhere has it wrong as I am assuming, based on comments above, that (most / all?) the GEML crossovers are going to be retained and there will still be some freight needing to reach the Barking area even if it is reduced in volume compared to today. We can discount the freight workings that stay on the GEML and head into East Anglia.

    On a sort of transition related question does anyone know when Crossrail’s Pudding Mill Lane ramp tracks are going to be linked into the local lines just west of Stratford (assuming it hasn’t already happened)? I assume that would need a holiday weekend type possession of 3-4 days.

  61. In the light of the arguments presented by Ianno and Sad Fat Dad I will concede that it is not the current plan (up to 2023) to run the Heathrow Express on the relief lines. I have modified the article accordingly.

    I am absolutely convinced that this was a serious proposal in the past and I thought it had been agreed but I must be wrong. I think it is a case of “never say never” as we won’t know what happens after 2023.

    I take Ianno’s point about conflict outside Paddington but maybe there are possible solutions if it were worthwhile to move Heathrow Express from the main lines.

  62. lmm,

    Reading station remodelling was planned with through services from Oxford to Gatwick in mind. Electrification came later. Given that Oxford electrification seems to have migrated to the other side of an event horizon with no publicly announced date for completion, I suspect that the issue of a diesel train running under the wires (other than between Reading and Didcot) will not be an issue for many years to come.

  63. I now realise that I never linked to the relevant Investment and Programmes committee paper in the article. I have now done so in the first paragraph.

    Alternative it is

  64. John says:

    I think some commenters are underestimating the number of people who gladly pay the HEx premium.

    I think some commenters are overestimating the number of people who can just “put things on expenses”. The majority of business travellers fly in economy class (perhaps premium economy for flights over 6, sometimes 8 hours) these days.

    Finally, I think some commenters are incorrect to assume that most tourists are stupid and don’t bother to research how they are getting to their hotel until they are “missold” a HEx ticket.

    @Malcolm, I spend thousands of pounds, not just hundreds, on a flight ticket, and I would agree with the sentiment that £20 is nothing (the fluctuations in currencies cause the prices of my flight tickets to vary by over £20 daily); however I still take the Piccadilly line and/or X26 to LHR (depending on my starting point) because they are the most convenient for me. When I lived in Swiss Cottage, I took the HEx.

  65. Whiff says:

    As well as the issue of skip-stopping the Central Operating Section consultation also seems to suggest that there will be no direct Crossrail trains from Hanwell to stations west of Hayes and Harlington or from West Ealing direct to Heathrow. Has there been any suggestion that this is likely to change with the latest timetable iteration?

  66. Dave says:


    King’s Cross is quicker to reach from Crossrail – change at Farringdon

    Waterloo is quicker to reach from Crossrail – change at Bond Street or TCR

    Agree on Victoria – that one will have to wait for Crossrail 2!

  67. Greg Tingey says:

    You’ve just reminded me of the ridiculous anomaly of neither Oyster nor the Freedom-Pass being valid Hampton-Shepperton.
    Caused, IIRC by block-intransigence by SWT.
    Will this anomaly be removed in the new franchise, I wonder?

  68. Greg Tingey says:

    The logical solution is 6 tracks to Airport Junction … do-able, but expensive.

    Generally, it’s worth remembering that Reading gets more trains than Paddington, something a lot of people don’t seem to realise.

  69. Greg Tingey says:

    Some years back, when doing passenger-counting @ Padders, I very unofficially noted the numbers arriving off HeX
    I assume the operators are only making a profit because of their (expletives deleted ) fares

  70. 100andthirty says:

    Whilst I understand the sentiment about freight and speed, if it has to mingle with stopping trains on a line where capacity is at a premium, something will have to be done…..eventually.

    I doubt that top speed is the main issue and the issue is more about acceleration and braking rates.

    Let me put it this way…….class 59 locos were a major step forward when purchased 20 to 30 years ago, they were a step change forward compared with what went before. Looking at the latest class 88 electro-diesel (or whatever term is in vogue) it is another step change although a CO-CO might be needed to get enough tractive effort. Thus as the class 59s need replacing, the issue nught resolve itself. For braking, some sort of remote controlled brake valve to also discharge pressure from the brake pipe at the rear of the train (similar to HST) might be all that’s needed.

    The idea might be that the current, advantageous, access charges for freight would persist but only if trains meet certain performance requirements

  71. Graham H says:

    @130 – and another thing that might be done is to remove grandfather rights from those unused freight paths which still litter the timetable. On the access charges point, there are two elements here -one is track wear and tear, where many (possibly all) freight wagons do not bear the costs they cause -they score well against the speed/wear crtiteria (and wouldn’t, of course, if they were speeded up), but badly on the unsprung weight/stiffness/wear criteria. The other is the ability – not yet used- to impose a congestion element. Whilst this would also affect passenger trains, it would affect freight, with its wafer thin margins, more.

  72. Paul S says:

    The London and SE RUS 2011 did propose eventually transferring the HEx paths to Crossrail, (page 10) providing a total 10 tph to the airport (with some skip stopping) and a further 6 tph to GWML destinations, this was to be by the “mid 2020s”, (so presumably after the HEx access contract ends).

    However they also pointed out that the Hex replacements would have to run on the reliefs during the peaks, implying that they would remain on the mains off-peak?

  73. Rich (not that one, the other one) says:

    Bourne End still has a through service to Paddington, although that ends in May. Henley goes in December (or possibly, January for practical reasons)

    New turn back and stabling at Maidenhead (from West) was not cheap and still being finished, which suggests plan to continue to end some trains at Maidenhead even if 4 trains/hour go to Reading.

    Through London services from Radley/Culham/Appleford can be picked up by Oxford/Banbury/N Cots diesel services.

    Goring/Cholsey/Pangbourne/Tilehurst will get 387 from Jan 18, and suspect will retain through London services, even if Crossrail eventually continues to Didcot.

    @ngh – works in theory, but you have missed the massive increase in IET services GWR are obliged to be running by Jan 19. Paths suddenly become much less available for stopping trains unless Maidenhead/Twyford stops get added to long distance services.

    Also curious where all the new GWR 387s will end up if they are not used on Reading-Pad semi fasts. Only so many can go to Newbury/Didcot (or Oxford eventually)

  74. Phil says:

    It’s worth remembering that freight (even stone) is price sensitive – efforts to increase the access charges by the ORR were met with howls of protest from FOCs – and their customers, who made it VERY clear that such a move would result in significantly increased HGV traffic.

    As such comments about forcing freight company’s to do this and that are unacceptable to the industry – yes improvements can be encouraged (particularly when capital investment is required for other business reasons) but the basic principle remains that the national rail network has to be administered to cater for all – including indirect objectives like minimising the quantity of HGVs on the roads well outside the GLAs area. As such those ‘unused’ freight paths remain an important resource that once given up prove very hard to recreate should an increase in freight demand occur.

  75. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Paul S,

    Thanks very much for that. I think that must have been one of the places where I read it. There is also this nugget present (in the draft version at least).

    However the concept of extending Heathrow Express into Crossrail and running this service on the relief lines (at least at peak times) appears to be necessary to allow the operation of any additional peak main line trains without major infrastructure enhancement over a considerable distance. Further development is required, with implementation not anticipated to be required before 2019

    Note the 2019 date which I think we now all concede cannot happen.

  76. Graham H says:

    @Phil – I’m afraid it’s not true that the national rail network is run to reduce the number of HGVs. Nowhere amongst any of the policy statements, NR’s business objectives, or regulatory requirements is it said that the network is a national resource whose role is to meet specific sorts of traffic. Even in BR days, the meaning of OfQ was that unless freight controlled the line on which it ran, it took second or third fiddle to a passenger business. If they wanted extra capacity on a passenger line, they had to buy it – something they virtually never could afford.

    Nor can anyone afford to have redundant assets (ie spare paths) on the offchance that they might be needed at some indeterminate time in the future at a time when the whole system is under pressure. In the case of the protected freight paths, as you will see from the WTT, there are many more of these than have ever, repeat ever, been used simultaneously by the freight business since the collapse of the housecoal market. Freight went to great lengths in the run up to sale to leave itself with as many paths as possible. The reason for this was the inability at that time of the freight business to stick to the timetable and they therefore needed to give themselves as much wriggle room as possible at a time when rail freight was, in many subsectors such as steel, integrated into the production process. Days long gone.

  77. Henry says:

    Quite a contrast to Thameslink…

  78. Si says:

    @ PoP – so I guess you didn’t notice my post of 15:13 where I point out similar things as Paul S about the L&SE RUS, HEx merged with Crossrail, and a “mid-2020s” date for it? 😉

    There’s also this nugget (p110) suggesting that there’s no room on the Reliefs for both freight and 16tph passenger service (ie HEx/replacement additional Elizabeth line trains to Heathrow on the Relief lines)

    In the off-peak the RUS anticipates that a 4tph Crossrail non-stop service to Heathrow Airport would run on the main lines. This would allow sufficient capacity on the relief lines for freight paths and would minimise the London – Heathrow Airport journey time. In addition to this 6tph to the airport would run on the relief lines for local passengers, at least 2tph of which could be semi-fast. However other permutations may be possible.

    @ngh – 9 slots per half-hour? I’m pretty sure that the demand is thought to require 10, and with them all filled at Paddington. The RUS wants 16 Reading + 4 HEx following IEP (Option A2) and 20 Reading (9 IEP, 1 HST, 6 outer suburban, 4 ‘shuttles’) in “mid-2020s” (Option A5). It seems the RUS is happy with the ‘shuttles’ making stops at Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough, crossing onto the Relief lines at Maidenhead or Slough, provided that the turnouts are made higher-speed than they were, but will TfL be?

  79. Alan Griffiths says:

    Walthamstow Writer @ 7 March 2017 at 23:28

    ” Crossrail’s Pudding Mill Lane ramp tracks are going to be linked into the local lines just west of Stratford (assuming it hasn’t already happened)?”

    Local TfL rail stopping trains not yet diverted around the portal.

  80. Al__S says:

    @Henry: very much a different proposition to Thameslink! Unlike the GWML and GEML, the Midland and Brighton Mainlines are relatively unimportant for freight. Furthermore, Thameslink doesn’t (mainly) form a “metro” service- there’s few stations through north London (the Northern Line is not that distant) and other than the Sutton Loop TL forms faster/limited stop routes in south London.

    All the talk of running freight through London does cause an itchy crayon finger to drift towards “build a freight distributor line somewhere in the region of the M25”.

  81. Henry says:

    @Al__S: Yes, although what I was really thinking was segregation of services, and the timetable development/management of the project. Not much sensible thought has been given to how linking so many places together with an intense timetable can be practically achieved, with zero thought on segregating services from Southern/Southeastern/GN/VTEC/EMT…

  82. Graham H says:

    @Henry – actually DfT did spend quite a lot of effort devising timetables that they believed worked around the other operators, not least in determining the number of sets to order. Whether that effort was to good effect or they used the right planning software is, of course, a wholly different matter….

    @AI__S -one day, as SFD has pointed out, when Ely is sorted, your crayonistic streak may be satisfied (but only if access charges are tweaked accordingly,I fear).

  83. Brad says:

    Dear Mr Heathrow Chairman.

    You can have your runway. However, we want to take over ownership of the rail tunnels in return.


    The Chancellor.

    Where there is a will, there is a way.

  84. Mr Beckton says:

    Howard Smith believes

    “In his eyes, the marginal cost of running a frequent service out of peak hours is not that great and can be justified by the social benefits and increased revenue brought about by a more frequent service.”

    That’s fine, but marginal cost etc sounds somewhat Old Railway and detached from what the remainder of the TOCs do, so I wonder who is right (and the DfT/SoS must think likewise).

    It has become established practice, especially on London commuter lines, to provide rolling stock for peak requirements, but to cut this back, particularly for train lengths, immediately the peak is past. Attempts to discuss this nonsense where passengers are jammed standing, or in some cases at intermediate stations, actually unable to board, while half the fleet is sat in sidings, have been met with a variety of excuses from the operators, such as that maintenance requirements cause this (although it’s pretty apparent no maintenance is taking place).

    More relevantly, the train leasing companies have notably moved on to a charging basis of by the car-mile, which encourages the operators to run with minimal formations and minimal car-mileage whenever they can. This is obviously the opposite of “marginal costing”. As a result we hear of those heading for London events on Sunday morning being unable to board 2-car formations which are stuffed to the doors. The DfT have proved incapable of dealing with this, and the TOCs and lessors would presumably look for ever more substantial payments if told to do something about it. But why is Crossrail different (sensibly so)?

  85. Greg Tingey says:

    You really think RW 3 will be built?
    Given the level of opposition, not only in “W” postal districts, but elsewhere in London, & also City Hall, I think not, especially if Gatwick go ahead anyway & build their RW2 …

  86. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – re Hampton – Shepperton. I can’t see why SWT can be held responsible for blocking anything. West of Hampton is outside Greater London and the zonal area. I can’t see why London Councils would be under any obligation to extend the Freedom Pass into Surrey nor where the overwhelming case is to extend Oyster PAYG given that demands for “extensions” were concentrated on Dartford, down to Gatwick and on HS1 to Stratford. There are limits to what can be done and not everything is a conspiracy involving your least favourite TOC.

  87. Graham H says:

    @Mr Beckton – it’s not quite the case that marginal costing has disappeared; both access charges and leasing charges include an X (flat rate) + Y (mileage related) structure, although I would agree that the actual calibration of these structures is artificial, as so much in the rail sector, to the point where there may be a “negative” margin insofar as a point is reached – as with some rolling stock deals* – that the kit is too expensive to operate.

    *and as with many leasing deals for eg private cars.

  88. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I can only apologise for not reading your comment carefully enough.

    I am coming to the conclusion that Heathrow Express is too fast for the slow (relief) lines and to slow for the fast (main) lines and this is generally recognised though no one quite knows how to fix this and this is nothing new.

  89. Henry says:

    @Graham H – clearly they have looked at it for many years in many iterations, but the word deluded springs to mind when thinking of the approach to Thameslink timetabling

  90. Mr Beckton,

    Crossrail is probably slightly different. The stock is owned outright and maintained in house. So no artificial points at which it becomes expensive to add mileage.

    More to the point, there is probably a very positive economic case for running more off-peak trains in the central section as they will probably be well used – more than necessary to cover costs.

    So the first advantage of the train running anyway is that you are talking about the extra cost of running the train further out, not the extra cost of running the train in the first place. Effectively wheels are turning for a greater portion of the time the train is in service rather than sitting at the terminus. As the airline industry says, planes only make money when they are in the air.

    The second advantage Crossrail has is that potential income is not totally constrained by Travelcard zones 1-6 which offer relatively cheap fares and therefore relatively little income. Cheap fares and being included in zone 6 seem like a good thing for the passenger but that is not entirely true if it removes the incentive of the TOC to provide a decent service. In other words, if all you are getting is a share of the travelcard payment or, at best, a single journey Oystercard fare from zone 6, it is really worth you adding extra coaches to the train? Note: the answer is different if you are solely trying to maximise profit – or minimise loss – (TOC) rather than maximise benefit to society of which getting revenue is part of the equation (TfL).

  91. Anonymous says:

    preussumed ? [Typo fixed, cheers. LBM]

  92. Balthazar says:

    Re: Mr Beckton – “a variety of excuses from the operators, such as that maintenance requirements cause this (although it’s pretty apparent no maintenance is taking place)”

    Methinks this is a misunderstanding of what is meant by “maintenance requirements”. It is not maintenance being done which limits off-peak capacity; rather, it follows from a desire *not* to trigger a requirement for more maintenance to be done.

    As I understand it, this scenario applies particularly where running maintenance is subcontracted (e.g. the way that South West Trains’ Desiros are maintained by Siemens). As running maintenance is mileage-dependent, the amount – and therefore cost – of maintenance effort increases with fleet mileage. As Graham H will no doubt agree, and I understand the contracts state, above a certain fleet mileage level the cost to SWT has a significant step increase. There is therefore pressure on the operator to ensure that fleet mileage is restrained to just below the step threshold, which manifests itself as a restriction in the planned off-peak fleet mileage. Since frequencies are pretty much fixed, what gives is the length of the trains (= number of units adding to their individual mileage which taken together add up to the fleet mileage).

    Whether one sees the step increase in costs as (1) a grubby money-grabbing exercise which shows capitalism for what it is or (2) a wholly-justified recognition of the logistical consequences of trying to force more rolling stock through a constrained maintenance facility within the same 24 hours in each day* depends, no doubt, on one’s view of the world and place in it.

    *Other constraints with step changes in cost apply, such as the capacity of the depot access tracks, the availability of non-revenue earning paths on the network to get empty stock to and from the depot, crossing a threshold in the number of drivers required, etc.

  93. ngh says:

    Re Balthazar,

    Very much agree.

    “It is not maintenance being done which limits off-peak capacity; rather, it follows from a desire *not* to trigger a requirement for more maintenance to be done.”

    This is indeed a key part of the equation. A lot of the cleaning and toilet tanks filling /emptying can and is done during this time whent he trains are seemingly doing nothing. Not having toilets also reduces down time for Crossrail trains and makes some of these off peak changes in the article possible.

    “*Other constraints with step changes in cost apply, such as” A step change for the maintainer would also be another team of staff that aren’t efficiently utilised hence the TOC bares the full cost of this set of staff no matter how efficiently they are used. (Financial) Modellers hate step functions but they are fact of real life operations especially on the railway.

  94. Mark says:

    I think predictions of the death of HEX are somewhat premature. HEX is standing room only in the peaks.

    If people were staying away from the HEX to use Connect (which is more comparable to Crossrail) I’d give such suggestions more credence. But there is a breed of business traveler that always takes HEX today, as it’s quicker and more convenient, and I don’t see that changing once Crossrail opens.

  95. Graham H says:

    @Balthazar – spot on.

    @ngh -also spot on! Railways ( and probably nearly every “system”) are full of step functions in cost and you try and optimise the business outcome for the system “as is” . Alter the system (closure/new service) and you have a new balance point which may, in fact, have implications way beyond the actual change to the infrastructure – signalling and track layouts are a good example. Plays merry hell with the definition of “marginal”.

  96. Si says:

    @PoP – no problem.

    @Mark – the death of HEx is not a demand-based decision, but an operational and political one. It doesn’t matter if people are standing as it is popular, it matters if Network Rail allow its continuation in 2023 – which is what most of us discussing its demise are talking about: the stated desire of NR to kick HEx off the fast lines in the peak to make room for demand from the Thames Valley.

  97. ngh says:

    Re Graham H,

    The problem is when they try to model those pesky step functions with a “nice” curve instead “cos it’s easier”

  98. AnonymousTrain says:

    Have I missed something here, the GW Direct Award appendix 3b (C1) suggests a 4tph GWR Relief Line service (6 additionals during the peaks). Does the TfL proposal therefore mean than 2of 4tph are removed keeping 14tph at Paddington HL and LL from the Relief Lines. E.g. 4tph Reading, 2tph Maidenhead, 2tph West Drayton, 4tph Heathrow (12tph XR in total plus 2tph GWR Relief Lines (14toh in total)? Or is the 4tph in the direct award documetation out of date?

  99. Graham H says:

    @ngh – not to mention the headaches it causes for looking at (dis)investment cases…

  100. Mr Beckton says:

    I do wonder if the move to specify single unit through-gangwayed units of a full 9 or 12 cars is actually a way of ensuring that operators don’t cut back to minimal formations off-peak. It would be interesting to compare the overall costs charged by the maintenance suppliers for the two different approaches. My guess is that it is not a lot, and in their quotations they game the system by quoting these step changes in such a way that it minimises their work.

  101. Ianno says:

    Heathrow Express on the Main Lines has historically not been a capacity issue since the far, far superior acceleration of Class 332s compared to HSTs largely counteracts their lower top speed – so the total running time Paddington-Airport Jn is broadly equal between both. – an HST is only really topping out around Hayes/Airport Jn from a standing start at Padders, whereas a 332 is in full stride not long after Ealing Broadway.

  102. answer=42 says:

    Graham H, ngh
    You should have a look at input-output economics, in which every substitution is assumed to be a step-function unless otherwise specified.

  103. Graham H says:

    @answer=42 -and quite apart from any difficulty of tying a specific input to a specific output in a complex industry, except in the most narrowly defined circumstance.

    @Mr Beckton – and presumably that is the reason why DfT has in recent years decoupled the maintenance of the kit from its manufacture. (Well, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt…)

  104. Malcolm says:

    Ianno: That co-incidence may limit somewhat the inefficiency of the mixture. But just as a mixture of fish-knives and straight knives do not pack well, the line occupancy will still have been sub-optimal. Also illustrated by the fact that a HeX cannot be timetabled to closely follow an HST out of Paddington, as if it does, it will have to limit its acceleration to that of the HST, and it will not achieve its journey time target.

  105. ngh says:

    Mr Beckton,

    Partly driven by changing economics:

    1. Full fixed length units (assume for comparison an 11car 345 vs 12car 387 formation or 12 car 700 vs 12 350/450 formation) also offer some savings in capital cost as there are fewer cabs (min £200k each probably more with all the newer signalling equipment so save circa £800k and reduce maintenance issues with them too!), fewer traction and auxiliary converters (circa 1/3 fewer), fewer transformers (1/3 fewer). It equates to approximately a 15% capital cost saving currently.

    2. Reliability requirements at component type level are now about 5 fold higher resulting in full fixed formation trains being about half as fault prone as previous generation formation of 3 units so there is much reduced reliability /maintenance penalty to longer formations now.

    3. Following on from 1. and 2. Fewer more reliable components reduce inspection and maintenance costs with less down time.

    4. Fewer cabs = more passenger space.

    5. Wide walk through gangways reducing crowding issues.

    Hence the balance between unit length and in service time is changing (i.e. less penalty for full length fixed units). Note Stagecoaches proposal for fixed 240m units to complement the 5x 23m car 444s on the South coast as part of their SW franchise bidding.

  106. Simon of Ilford says:

    16tph peak service on the Gidea Park – Shenfield route is not enough.

    I have the 1980/1 timetable and in those days BR ran 22 trains an hour in the evening peak.

    If this was possible in those days then it should be possible now.

    If enough trains cannot be sent through the Crossrail tunnel then the Liverpool Street service should be increased.

    Admittedly the loss of the bay platform at Ilford is an issue, although if the platform extension had been below Cranbrook Road then the platform could have been extended at the eastern end instead of the western (London).

    Even so, in the morning peaks trains can still start from Ilford – albeit directly from the depot rather than the bay platform. This will very significantly benefit passengers who board trains at stations Ilford – Stratford, ensuring that they retain space for from these stations.


  107. answer=42 says:


    Well, input-output allows you to model the step function of train maintenance crews; the input of each maintenance action leading to the output of differential train behaviour and the capital value of the train; hence on the output of train services; which are an input to … etc etc etc

    These days, I-O is mostly embedded in structural macro-economic models. There was a fashion for its use at enterprise level in the early 1970s. I suspect it failed, not only due to its data demands but also to its computational needs, which could not then be met.

    Neither constraint exists today, which is why it is worth a look at again, at least as an thought exercise in contrast to modelling Cobb-Douglas substitutions everywhere because that’s what the economics textbooks say.

  108. Malcolm says:

    ngh: It all sounds like a good case for full-length indivisible trains.

    Actually, it sounds a bit too good – because your comparison is comparing trains of differing ages. The more-reliable components could have been incorporated in modern divisible trains. The relative penalty for longer trains may be unchanged, even if the absolute penalty is reduced through general increased reliability.

    Nonetheless, your other arguments about more passenger space and lower total cost still remain, and I accept that fixed formation seems to be working out best – quite apart from Mr Beckton’s ingenious notion that they give less freedom for TOC’s to save money by packing them in like sardines at weekends. (That freedom could of course alternatively be taken away rather more easily by franchise stipulations).

    There is probably also an energy cost (hence CO2) associated with indivisible trains, but such things do not seem to be very far up anyone’s agenda these days.

  109. ngh says:

    Re Malcolm,

    “The more-reliable components could have been incorporated in modern divisible trains.”

    Agree there is an apple vs orange comparison but it is an absolute rather than relative comparison.

    It isn’t just about reliability but fewer components are needed in the fixed formation units even with modern technology.
    A 205m 345 has 5 power (inc traction) electronics boxes (for motors totalling 6,035hp) where as a 204m (2x5car electrostar e.g. 377/6) has 8 (4/unit) traction electronics boxes (for motors totalling 5,370hp) and 4 auxiliary converters. Even if you used the new electrical architecture on 2x 5 car units you could only go down to 6 power (inc traction) electronics boxes so the fixed length unit still wins on 1 less box in terms of capital cost, weight, maintenance and reliability.
    The 9 longer cars vs 10 conventional surbaban length ones and redistributing equipment is only possible due to fixed lenghts.

    With fixed formation units you can get a 12car train need in the peaks for the equivalent of 10car price – the question is whether the increased cost of running them off peak is worth while.

    Also add worth taking into account the crash worthiness strenghtening at each unit end and their cost in both money and mass.

    Energy cost:
    The 345s (205m) are >84tonnes lighter than 2x5car electrostars (204m) – equivalent to 2 cars in mass, so 10 car train length for approximately the energy cost of 8 cars. The reduced mass (especially as the majority of the reduction is also in unsprung mass) will also reduce NR track access charges.

    The cost of carting fresh air around has never been so low!

  110. JimS says:

    @A GWR trains user who understands what is really involved.

    In addition to the Friday night crowd, there are also those of us getting on in years who will miss the toilets on the Reading stoppers. A subtle but effective way of reducing Freedom Pass use perhaps?

    However, I recognise that this is a technical forum where issues of passenger comfort are really not relevant, so I’ll stop there..

  111. Timbeau says:

    The other disadvantage of indivisible trains is the consequences of a failure. If fault develops on a vehicle, the whole unit has to be taken out of service. If the train is made up of two short units, the service can still be run, albeit short-formed. If it’s made up of one long unit the service has to be cancelled

  112. Timbeau says:

    @Moosealot 1404 7th March

    Henley/Bourne End passengers for central London may be exchanging a change at Paddington for a change at Twyford/Maidenhead but unless they are going to Bond Street, Farringdon or Liverpool Street they will still need to change again in London.

    And Paddington itself has a growing business quarter, so an increasing number of people from the Henley branch currently don’t need to change at all – they will certainly lose when the branch loses its direct trains.

  113. Simon of Ilford ,

    16tph peak service on the Gidea Park – Shenfield route is not enough

    Presume you mean the entire line not just the Gidea Park – Shenfield bit. 16tph there would be excessive. Or maybe you mean Gidea Park to Stratford?

    The original plan was to have 6tph terminating at or starting from Liverpool St high level in the peak but Crossrail were adamant that 6tph was not need and 4tph would be sufficient.

    Remember the Crossrail trains will eventually be 205m long without intermediate cabs as opposed to 160m long with intermediate cabs. So that is roughly a 30% increase in capacity.

  114. ChrisMitch says:

    So we can never introduce improvements because someone somewhere will be disadvantaged.
    Eggs and omelettes anyone?

  115. Timbeau says:

    @Imm 1941 yesterday
    (suggesting dual voltage trains would be needed for the planned Oxford/Gatwick services)

    The point of running Oxford trains to Gatwick is precisely because they are NOT going to be electrified any time soon. North of Didcot has been postponed sine die, whilst in the present climate the long gap in the 3rd rail between Wokingham and Reigate (except for a short distance through Guildford) has little chance of being plugged during the service life of GWRs new 387s.

  116. Graham H says:

    @answer=42 -before my time, I fear. However, i suspect that even with today’s available computing power, we would find it difficult to avoid a degree of aggregation in cost causation, not least because recording doesn’t address every last component or every last staff action in a complex industry, let alone all the interactions between the elements of the production process (nor, I suspect, has cost causation analysis been taken down to that level of granularity) .

    @Malcolm – and there are not entirely negligble costs in dividing and reuniting trains, and the complexity of ensuring that each unit in a multi-unit train gets back to the servicing points becomes more tricky.

  117. Pedantic of Purley says:


    We don’t mean to be solely a technical website but some articles, like this one, do end up being fairly technical.

    We are not against discussion of toilets on trains other than because this topic has been done to death here so many times.

    At the risk of being technical, the general rule of thumb is that you only provide toilets on trains on services where it is expected that a significant number of passengers have journeys of over an hour in duration. Of course, if there is a common fleet and some journeys are over an hour long then on other quicker routes passengers may “get lucky” and find that they have toilets despite a relatively short journey times.

    So a slow train calling at Radley and going to Paddington would be expected to have toilets. Even a diesel semi-fast between Reading and Paddington wouldn’t as of right – and certainly not a faster electric train (regardless of who operated it).

    So the question to ask you and Mr “I know what I am talking about” is: why do you believe that there will be toilets in future on the Reading-Paddington semi-fast service? There may well be but I am pretty certain you both have just assumed that this will be the case. The danger in resisting takeover by the Elizabeth line is you find yourself with all the disadvantages and not of the advantages.

    By the way, it is Crossrail policy to have a toilet on the station platform open at all hours trains are running for all the above ground stations (and some of the below ground ones too).

  118. Pedantic of Purley says:

    On the subject of dividing trains …

    Without wishing to stray to much onto a different paper presented to the Programme and Investment committee, there are significant problems with DLR vehicles due to the fact that the depot cannot store them all as 3-car trains so a lot of dividing and reforming goes on. This turns out to be costly because it leads to coupling failures that would not have occurred if the sidings were sufficiently long and the trains stayed in fixed formation.

  119. Concord says:

    @PoP “As the airline industry says, planes only make money when they are in the air.”

    Or to make a facile comparison, “As the rail industry says, trains only cost money when they are on the move”.

  120. 100andthirty says:

    PoP…….on DLR the splitting and reforming is not helped by there being too few vehicles for all trains to be 3-car.

    All the comments made about cab costs should include the cost of autocouplers which are not without reliability risk.

    Also on a 12-car class 350 or 450 Siemens train I reckon at least half a car of seating space is lost – about 32 seats in 2×2 layouts. Moreover, on a fixed formation train you would probably need only one pantograph thus avoiding the issues of waves in the catenary affecting the 2nd or 3rd pantographs on a 3x 4-car train.

  121. Melvyn says:

    The delay in electrification to Oxford etc. is being resolved by an order for bimode Hitachi AT300 Trains which will run as electric trains under the wires then as diesel to end of route being served. And if electrification is extended so they will continue in electric mode ….

  122. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP 1358 – it is also worth adding that TfL have the advantage of being able to “adjust” (ahem) the bus network to “persuade” (force) people on to Crossrail. It is pretty clear that we are going to see rather a lot of this as Zone 1 is denuded of buses and many suburban routes are changed to feed Crossrail. TOCs rarely have that ability to adjust the way a modal “competitor” works alongside their services.

    The other fundamental that you touch on is the rather different philosophy of balancing up the off peak to equal or nearly equal the peak service level. This is prevalent throughout a lot of TfL’s services regardless of mode. It is also supported by the different business case methodology that TfL use. It’s no great shock that we are seeing different likely outcomes in terms of frequencies.

    @ Si – perhaps I am missing something but since when were Network Rail the arbiter and decision maker about the future of HEX? ORR allocates train paths and associated network rights. Surely they will decide in respect of any proposal to continue the operation of HEX as they would for any “open access” operator? Network Rail will no doubt respond to the application as they would for any other proposal to run a service on their infrastructure. Happy to be corrected if there is something specific to operation of HEX post 2023 that I’ve missed.

  123. Melvyn says:

    I do wonder if these plans to increase Elizabeth Line services West of Paddington could be a move to get back at SoS decision to refuse extra services for Mayor Khan but that sounds a bit far fetched ?

    Anyway, demand and usage has always been greater on eastern side of London compared to the West given how the original GWR was more interested in long distance services in preference to growing a commuter network like Southern and Great Eastern Railways did.

    Oddly , one solution might have been to connect Crossrail 1 to SWT and thus create links now which are still decades away for Crossrail 2 !

    As for HEX well many passengers have luggage and given how inaccessible the tube network is then a direct service from Heathrow to Paddington then a taxi to ones hotel makes sense .

    As to the future well Crossrail will be fully accessible but it will only serve a single corridor so some may use it and others remain on HEX its more a case of if demand falls to become uneconomic that services come under threat or a decision to end it when its franchise ends ?

  124. ngh says:

    Re 130 & PoP,

    Agreed on coupling failures etc. Timbeau might also like to go back in a time machine to Thameslink few years ago!

    Moreover, on a fixed formation train you would probably need only one pantograph thus avoiding the issues of waves in the catenary affecting the 2nd or 3rd pantographs on a 3x 4-car train.

    Unfortunately only partially – the 345s have 2 (as do the 12 car Siemens 700s) to avoid a single point of failure (in spec requirement). The underlying issue is however that the ABB Secheron underfloor transformers that most manufacturers use (Bombardier, Alstom, Stadler and Siemens for original desiro before they developed their own) is only rated to 2.5MVA* so you need 2 transformers hence the easiest solution is to have 2 pantographs as well rather than a 25KV bus along the roof, only 1 pantograph and far bigger traction voltage bus along the train.
    With the position of the 2 pantographs on the 345s they would be fine for 110mph but if you added another car in the middle increases the distance between the 2 pantographs is over the magic distance for 125mph on some /most UK OHLE.

    *(12car 700 =4.92MW max traction power but continuous transformer power rating of 4.41MVA so max traction power at 112% of continuous rating, 9 car 345 = 4.50MW max traction power but a theoretical 11car 345 @ 5.4MW might mean doing 2/3 of Siemens… (108%))

  125. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Melvyn – yes I fear you are being far fetched. Crossrail is a done deal – it’s nearing completion and this is about getting more service, greater reliability and undoubtedly more revenue. There is also a cost to TfL of 4 extra trains and the ongoing whole life costs so it’s not exactly inconsequential. The SoS can really only say yes or no in respect of the train service issue as he’s bound by an agreement just as TfL are.

    The more I think about it and reflecting on ngh’s remark about the suggested restructuring of the GW franchise I can see there is some “strategic fit” between what the DfT may wish to do in terms of services into Paddington and “offloading” responsibility for intensive commuter services to Crossrail. The timing of the new GW franchise and the implementation of full Crossrail services also dovetails quite nicely meaning an almost clean break on GW from running diddly little commuter trains into Paddington. Clearly there are the branch services off the main line that need a home plus catering for cross Reading services to places like Oxford. In terms of wanting to bump up the potential earning power from GWR then a concentration on fast, longer distance services into Paddington probably makes sense. How DfT structure the rest of the Thames Valley services and find someone to run them is DfT’s issue. I’d not be shocked to see all the diddy diesel branch services east of Reading “donated” to Chiltern to run given branch electrification has been scrapped or “postponed” (I believe).

    In terms of the “lugging luggage” argument then you seem to have decided that this is only an issue for tourists flying into London. There are millions of Londoners who also fly out of Heathrow and have to access the airport from places other than West End hotels. There are further millions who have to travel *via* London to reach Heathrow too. You also seem to be forgetting that quite a lot of stations are now accessible and more are planned. Thameslink will pull in large numbers of people to the accessible interchange at Farringdon. I’m not suggesting the tube is a panacea of accessibility – it isn’t – but plenty of people do without HEX. They may opt to take Crossrail in future but that depends entirely on the fares I suspect. I can go from my front door to a hotel in Hong Kong and only have to deal with two buses, two tube trains, a plane and two sets of escalators and a cross platform interchange on the Underground. Note there are no steps in the tube stations I use. I may also have a couple of escalators to face in the airports. That’s hardly a nightmare. Ironically I am not at all likely to use Crossrail to reach Heathrow as it has no interchange with the Vic Line and why would I want to go via Stratford given the ludicrous time it takes to get there? I could be 2/3s of the way to Heathrow by tube in the 50 mins it can take from WW land to Stratford.

  126. Pedantic of Purley says:

    People seem to forget in some sense airport workers are a more important category. They tend to get forgotten – as do construction workers building a large new development prior to opening.

    Airport workers don’t tend to have masses of baggage but the numbers of them are (potentially) large. You don’t see them too many on HEx because the price puts them off and anyway they are probably not the sort of custom HEx wants to attract

  127. Si says:

    @WW – yes, you are right that it is the ORR who get the say on killing HEx, not NR.

    @PoP – another reason why airport workers don’t use HEx is that few of them live in Central London. The service doesn’t serve the areas they want, but goes through some of them non-stop. It would be interesting to know whether the high price and low frequency reduce demand on Connect.

  128. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Absolutely. But traditionally we have unemployment in East London and jobs (including airport jobs) for which they can’t get workers in west London.

    This argument is reputed to be what finally got chancellor Gordon Brown interested in Crossrail. He was apparently notoriously not interested in transport schemes but quite obsessed with doing anything he could to reduce unemployment.

  129. Greg Tingey says:

    At the risk of repetition ..
    There is a huge suppressed demand West of Padders, in both directions , with contra-flows to Maidenhead & Reading in the peaks, as well as utterly wedged ( approaching 200% loading ) of up trains in the AM.
    This will be alleviated by the much larger/longer Liz-line units, but …. I think , as do some other commentators here, that CR1 is going to fill up very quickly.
    Of course, if CG’s strictures were to be taken seriously, then CR1 should not be running at all, because of the TfL involvement & control over “Someone else’s railway” … *cough*

  130. lmm says:

    @WW I would think the natural route from Walthamstow to Heathrow would be via Liverpool Street post-Crossrail. Admittedly that’s an underground station but I thought all Crossrail stations were to be step-free?

  131. Milton Clevedon says:


    An excellent article. HEx, GW services west of Reading, and main line commuter stops between Slough and Reading, appear to be the big imponderables for service structure. However the article stops short of 2026 and Old Oak Common’s existence (and maybe a Chiltern terminus also there). Presumably Crossrail is already looking ahead to those.

    There are some early comments above about extending the Crossrail central section 24/20 tph as far as OOC, but none about the implications/risks of a large-scale GW and Crossrail station there, and how that might impact on GW and Crossrail operations.

    NR is also looking to 24 tph capability on the fast lines around the mid-2020s, with its Western Capacity Improvement Plans and changes to Paddington High Level approaches. Whether the timescale for those is deliverable or affordable is another matter, but the plans will be there on the shelf.

    Some planners foresee large-scale AM peak commuter transfers off GW fasts inbound onto Crossrail at OOC, as being distinctly easier than at Paddington, while in the evening peak they suspect a greater passenger interest in getting a seat on the IEPs/387s at Paddington terminus.

    This is currently causing headaches about dwell time impacts on the GW fast lines and calling patterns, particularly in the AM peak direction, and how (or whether) any GW fast line platforms at OOC should be designed. How HEx or a successor might fit in with all that will also be interesting, not least as OOC is being promoted as the HS2 interchange station for Heathrow.

  132. Martin Petrov says:

    @Walthamstow Writer

    “Ironically I am not at all likely to use Crossrail to reach Heathrow as it has no interchange with the Vic Line and why would I want to go via Stratford given the ludicrous time it takes to get there? I could be 2/3s of the way to Heathrow by tube in the 50 mins it can take from WW land to Stratford.”

    I would have expected from Walthamstow Central, the overground into Liverpool St, and then Elizabeth Line to Heathrow from there would surely be the fastest route? The Chingford trains come into the low numbered platforms, so I would expect the interchange to be pretty painless to the Elizabeth Line. (I’m training myself not to use “Crossrail” any more….)

  133. Frankie Roberto says:

    Returning to the subject of Heathrow fares, its worth noting that Heathrow Airport lost its case with the Office for Rail Regulation to be able to charge TfL increased access charges to recover the costs of construction:

    I can find at least one source (albeit secondary) to suggest that TfL fought this so that they could charge non-premium (ie zonal) fares to Heathrow via Crossrail:

  134. Verulamius says:

    Does the proposed increase in the main lines between Paddington and Reading suggest that a grade separated crossing over to the relief lines somewhere around Maidstone would be useful to get the GWR semi fasts out of the way of the non stop Paddington Reading trains?

  135. JohnKellett says:

    If the semi-fasts are in Maidstone then they’ll be well out of the way of the fasts…

  136. Walthamstow Writer says:

    OK folks thanks for the alternative jny suggestion. I had failed to consider the Overground into Liv St – possibly because I rarely use it plus it’s a fair slog uphill to the station. Let’s leave it there.

  137. Alan Griffiths says:

    Mr Beckton @ 8 March 2017 at 12:58

    “It has become established practice, especially on London commuter lines, to provide rolling stock for peak requirements, but to cut this back, particularly for train lengths, immediately the peak is past”.

    Yes, but

    Technology generally tends to become more robust and need less maintenance, provided it is built to the best contemporary standards in the first place. Twas ever thus, but that has become much more obvious over the past 20 years.
    In the case of London suburban trains, most new ones are 10 – 12 carriages as a single train; no unused cabs coupled together in the middle. Such trains are already arriving for Thameslink and Crossrail.
    The interesting question is what the new Anglia Trains sets will be like and whether anyone still thinks middle of day uncoupling and recoupling saves more than it costs..

  138. Verulamius says:

    Yes sorry.

    I should have said Maidenhead not Maidstone. Got my maids mixed up!

  139. quinlet says:

    @Frankie Roberto
    I had read that HAL were considering seeking a judicial review of the ORR decision. However, that comment was made back in August last year. Does anyone know if that JR went ahead or if it was just a bit of miffed sabre rattling by HAL?

  140. Mike Jones says:

    Instead of running Elizabeth Line trains to Reading, why not just bite the bullet and run all GW trains fast from Maidenhead on the Main Lines? It’s only a less than 10 minute Elizabeth Line trip from there to Slough if you’re connecting. Eventually, OOC will need to be a stop, but that will apply to ALL services. (In the meantime, perhaps a few could also stop at Slough if there’s capacity). Yes this will give Twyford and Maidenhead a disproportionate service to Paddington, but provides a service appropriate to what the Elizabeth Line is offering in terms of frequency and comfort.

  141. WestFiver says:

    Airport Workers on Heathrow Express/Connect do not pay full fares, their fares are discounted.

    The fare I pay on Connect between Hayes and T2/3 is £1.50, on production of staff pass.

  142. South Coast Ed says:

    If HAL have not sought a judicial review by now then I suspect they have left it too late. If so maybe they have accepted they have little prospect of reversing the decision or think any legal action, even if successful, might diminish the chances of HEx operating after 2023.

    From the consultation report:

    “In light of the above, we are not satisfied that HAL has provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the Heathrow Spur project could not have gone ahead without the prospect of higher charges to rail users.”

    “We consider taking steps to recover revenue from users of the Heathrow Spur to be rational commercial behaviour by HAL to protect (and maximise) monopoly profits”

    In other words, “pull the other one mate”.

  143. Timbeau says:


    Earlier proposals for Crossrail did include a branch from near Paddington to Turnham Green and then via Richmond to Norbiton (there being space for a turnback siding there)

    The need for property demolition in Richmond for the necessary grade departed junction, and the necessary reduction in services via both Richmond and Kingston on their far more direct existing routes to central London, made this proposal vary short lived.

  144. NickBxn says:

    I find the whole business of the Paddington westbound terminators rather disturbing. The idea of tipping out so many 9-car mainline-size trains in the evening peak without a bay platform when trying to run 24 an hour does not appeal. It’s as if someone were to design the Central line service pattern so that an annoying proportion of the westbounds terminate at Notting Hill Gate in the evening peak. Of course, at Paddington many will be heading upstairs anyway, but the single platform is probably the ‘weakest link’ in the whole timetable. A similar situation that I’m familiar with is Munich East (Ostbahnhof) where a number of core section trains terminate, and some reverse to make an onward journey – but there are twin platforms per direction in which to do this.

    I would be trying to get the trains out a bit further, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the reality of trying to maintain a smooth service becomes a primary catalyst for developing Old Oak Common sooner rather than later.

  145. Ian J says:

    @NickBXN: Providing somewhere easier to reverse was part of the rationale behind the proposed Kensal/Ladbroke/Portobello station – my recollection is that it was proposed that it would be served only by the terminators.

    I think the Victoria Line used to terminate a proportion of its services at King’s Cross and Victoria.

    According to this article in Rail Engineer, Crossrail trains will auto-reverse at Westbourne Park – the train will drive itself into the sidings and back while the driver walks through the train to the other cab. As I understand it the intention is that the sidings will be rated for passengers (ie there will be no attempt to walk through the train and check it is empty before it leaves the terminating platform, as is done on the Tube).

  146. Dan says:

    @ NickBxn
    If you are going to travel west of Paddington you wouldn’t board a terminating service at a core station. If you did you would have to change trains and have a lower chance of getting a seat than if you boarded a non-terminating service at a core station east of Paddington.

  147. Greg Tingey says:

    There are rumours that the “Kensal” station might be a thing in the future, after all …..

    [Snip. Too off-topic. PoP]

  148. Ianno says:

    @Ian J

    Yes, the idea is that trains terminating at Padders are *not* cleared of passengers in normal operation.

    Any over-carried passengers will sit in the train as it goes to Westbourne Park and back – obviously the driver can re-assurre any passengers still on board as he walks through the train that they will be going back to Paddington.

    For trains terminating and heading to Old Oak Common depot, there will be a proper check, either at Paddington or before proceeding beyond Westbourne Park.

    I personally might be minded to board the first train and change at Paddington if I’m not travelling far and not bothered about sitting down – in the evening peak I imagine there’ll be a decent ‘churn’ at Paddington on through trains with generally more people getting off than on (there being relatively little source of demand around Paddington itself)

  149. Jim Elson says:

    Auto train reverse around Paddington will lead to industrial relations problems still unsatisfactorily resolved on London Underground. ASLEF objected to drivers merely announcing “all change” at Queens Park, Bakerloo, & then driving empty into the reversing shed north west of the station. Drivers changing ends n the shed had expressed concern at meeting angry, drunk passengers who had over run on the empty train. Initially LUL then supplied 2 platform staff who walked through every carriage to make sure they were empty, closing the individual car doors & then giving the right of way to the driver. This was a lengthy process, with non English speaking passengers occasionally having to be individually coerced onto the platform. Trains often bottled back on the London side of Queens Park. So LU tried to reverted back to the old driver despatch system to speed up the departure & stop platform blocking. A strike was threatened & to avert it , but cut the cost of the platform despatch, LU got the drivers to check each car themselves in the platform. Some drivers were very brisk, but a few were snail like, & the bottle backs became intolerable. The compromise which operates to this day is that two platform despatchers check each car from the outside,shut each car’s doors & the the driver moves off when the last doors close.
    Essentially LU lost the dispute. Exactly the same issue will happen as the driver walks back through the empty Liz train from the sidings back to Paddington. He will meet people who have not got out at Paddington. So ASLEF will demand the Quens Park solution which will bottle back trains east of Paddington. Any solutions?

  150. Herned says:

    Drivers walk back along the platform at Westbourne Park and ignore any carried-over passengers banging on the windows trying to find out what’s going on?

  151. The issue of emptying out at Paddington has been covered before and I have no wish to see the same speculative debate repeated. If there is something genuinely new to add then that is different.

    For probably the most informed comment that we have on the subject see this one written by 100andthirty

    I will add that this is broadly in line with what a member of the Crossrail team told me a while back.

  152. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ian J – yes in the mid 1980s (and probably before) LU did terminate trains at KX and Victoria. Even then it was not exactly satisfactory as it caused platform crowding and delays to the train service even at a 4 min headway. It would be unsustainable now as demand is vastly higher and the service is far more frequent. The other aspect is that people did not realise – they boarded the first train and were “not happy” at being thrown off a few stops down the line. With Crossrail the public will face a 2 year learning curve about how the service works and where it goes to and from given the phased introduction. Even with state of the art technology the same issues will arise because people are fallable and don’t pay attention. Ironically Crossrail will be kicking people off every train at Paddington for a year and then they move to a situation where only some will terminate there. As I’ve said before how TfL handle this transition will be absolutely crucial.

  153. Edmonton 'Eadcase says:

    I haven’t noticed any comment yet on what the frequency will be in the interim period when trains run between Abbey Wood and Paddington but the Shenfield branch hasn’t been connected yet. The frequency in the central area shouldn’t be too low, but giving Canary Wharf a higher frequency than it would have in the long term will create subsequent disappointment.

  154. ngh says:

    Re Edmonton ‘Eadcase,

    Given the rate of rolling stock delivery and testing (+ later lengthening of the first 16 units from the temporary 7 car to 9car), driver training requirements, new infrastructure testing and the phased openings:
    Liverpool Street to Shenfield: May 2017
    Heathrow to Paddington: May 2018
    Paddington to Abbey Wood: December 2018
    Paddington to Shenfield: May 2019
    Full through service and Maidenhead / Reading / West Drayton: December 2019

    while it is possible a higher frequency could be run temporarily between Dec’18 given May ’19 given the 7-9 car works and the linked Liverpool Street High level platform works post May 19 effectively requiring a large float of 9 car units and lots of Shenfield drivers doing training runs in the tunnelled section before May ’19 then Crossrail may not want to use up all their flexibility. There also isn’t a depot on the Abbey Wood Branch just limited stabling so presumably plenty of stock moves to/from Ilford too.

  155. Si says:

    @Dan – people may have boarded on the Shenfield branch, and want to hold on to their seat for as long as possible, so would change trains at Paddington.

    Additionally, people might do what I do when travelling to Woodford and changing to the Central line PM peak at Stratford: board a Hainualt train as they are normally less jammed (and thus I can stand in relative comfort in comparison to the literal crush-loading on Epping trains), changing at Leytonstone when enough people have left the Epping trains that I can get on them and have relative comfort. Paddington trains are going to be emptier and beyond-Paddington trains would have Paddington and West End passengers on that will get off, making room for people to get on at Paddington.

    As such, the platforms at Paddington are going to be fairly busy with people who are making same-platform train changes – I’m sure the station is designed to cope as the people designing stations will have thought issues like this and the 4tph service to certain destinations in the west (most notably Heathrow) that will mean that people will be waiting on underground platforms for nearly 15 minutes to get a direct train. Plus the design of the whole line, with cavernous underground stations and platform edge doors, will automatically deal with a lot of potential people-capacity issues.

  156. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Re Jim Elson – auto reverse and industrial relations issues.

    You are assuming that this is something new being introduced to an existing operation.

    Knowing the Operational Management of MTR, I would be very surprised if this wasn’t already covered in the contracts for all the new drivers recruited, and in the revised contracts offered to those TUPEd over to get the rather better ‘terms and conditions’

  157. Ianno says:

    One thing that isn’t clear to me yet is how the 7-car to 9-car transition will work on the Shenfield branch.

    One day in December 2019, 7-car Class 345s will be running Shenfiels to Liverpool Street (High Level). The next day they’ll be running through to Paddimgton/wherever as part of the full Elizabeth Line service, which requires 9-cars.

    Presumably every train on tbe Shenfield branch cannot be lengthened by 2 carriages overnight. Nor can Liverpool Street platforms be lengthened before through runming starts as this will need a temporary cut in the Electric Line service. Can anyone enlighten me how this transition will work?

  158. Greg Tingey says:

    IIRC ( & someone will undoubtedly correct me if I have got this bit wrong ….)
    LST will be going from 18 platforms to 17, but the remaining two 16 & 17 will be lengthened, & the work for this will be starting quite soon.
    Once that is done, LST will be able to take 9-car sets of the new stock, which can then be adjusted as they go along, so to speak ( i.e at weekends / overnight )
    So that by the time through running dahn th’ole at Pudding Mill Lane starts, there should be a full complement of lengthened trains. ( ? )

  159. ngh says:

    The work at LST is in 2 stages:

    Short term (next few weeks) sort platform edge clearance issues with an angle grinder so 7 car services can run from May this year. Using 345001 – 345016 as they are delivered in 7 car formation.
    (345017 is already in testing as a 9 car unit)

    Longer term:
    When Paddington to Shenfield starts in May 19 the service is run with 9 cars that have been delivered accepted and stockpiled, that then allows the loss of 1 platform at LST high level (capacity reasons) and the shortish blockade to do the platform lengthening work with the 7 car units lenghtened and returned to service gradually as there isn’t a huge rush.

  160. Steve says:

    “Malcolm” @ 1941 7/3
    “Crossrail only takes you “much closer” to certain places. If you actually want Kings Cross, Waterloo or Victoria (among other popular destinations) then Paddington is as good an interchange point as anywhere else on Crossrail,”

    I beg to differ. Paddington is a lousy interchange for all those locations: faced with the lumbering Bakerloo, District/Circle and H&C lines. Bond St for Waterloo and Farringdon onto Thameslink for KX are surely better. Even changing at Bond St and again at Green Park is probably preferable to the interminable wait for a Circle line to Victoria.

  161. Pedantic of Purley says:


    The next day they’ll be running through to Paddington/wherever as part of the full Elizabeth Line service, which requires 9-cars.

    I was led to believe that this isn’t correct. 7-car trains can go to Paddington and only the appropriate passenger edge doors will open.

    I heard this over a year ago so things might have changed since then.

  162. Simon Of Ilford says:

    @Pedantic of Purley

    In 1980 between 17:00 and 18:02 there were 22 eastbound departures from Liverpool Street. Four of these terminated at Ilford, 11 at
    Gidea Park and 7 at Shenfield. (I bought the 1980/1 timetable and still retain it!)

    My comparision is with the 2014 timetable which in the same timeframe had just 16 departures, of which nine terminated at Gidea Park and seven at Shenfield.

    This is a significant shortfall of six (6) trains!

    I also looked at the trains themselves.

    In 1980 services were operated by the venerable LNER designed Class 306 trains. These comprised 9 carriages which were 162.39m in length and offered 504 seats – some of which were arranged longitudinally as this increased space for standing passengers.

    Nowadays services are operated by British Rail designed Class 315 trains. These comprise 8 carriages which are 158.4m in length and offer 636 seats – all of which are transverse.

    Yes I know that the Class 345 Crossrail 1 trains will be about 45 metres longer than the present-day Class 315 trains. The extra length of the planned 16 extra trains equates to 720 metres, which works out at about three and a half trains. OK, so we must also remember that there will not be any loss of space at carriage ends (because the trains are fully walk-through) but even so it still does not make up the six train shortfall compared with the 1980 timetable!

    Is it any wonder that the trains are so grossly overcrowded and in the evening rush hour passengers are unable to board them at Stratford.

    Is it also any wonder that TfL predict that the trains will be full from day one!

    In short, I am saying that the people of east London are being shortchanged and that the present plans mean that Crossrail 1 will not even provide the same passenger capacity as British Railways offered in 1980 – let alone the required extra capacity to meet the expected increase in passenger numbers!

    There is also an urgent need for a bay platform for terminating trains to detrain, as otherwise delays will occur.

  163. Timbeau says:

    Interchange from a semi fast at Paddington for the Circle /H&C is quite straightforward. And unlike Thameslink, the H&C actually takes you to KX rather than halfway to Camden Town.
    And of course you get a faster journey to Paddington in the first place. Up to that point it is Crossrail which will be doing the lumbering.

  164. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Simon of Ilford,

    You are not telling me anything I do not already know. You might like to read my article Why branch to Abbey Wood? written as long ago as 2011.

    In it I argue that Crossrail could probably be filled up from the east (not necessarily all originating on the Shenfield line). However there is a great need to go to Canary Wharf – not least so as to get funding – so you have to look at the bigger picture.

    Come the start of Elizabeth line services to Shenfield, the trains will probably be able to cope in the sense that people are not left behind on the platforms. The fact that there were once x trains in 1949 or 1981 even is not strictly relevant.

    If the trains are full up when Crossrail opens, rather than just more crowded than passengers would like them to be, there is always the option of buying more trains (the signalling is designed to be able to sustain a 30tph service in the centre). There is also the option of lengthening the existing trains though that would involve quite a lot of infrastructure changes.

    I notice that you were being terribly selective with your timeframes which is a bit unscientific. To be objective you need to decide a timeframe before looking at the timetable. Choosing 17.00 to 18.02 makes it seem like you are deliberately choosing a timeframe to put your argument in best light. It is also unfair because travel patterns change over the decades. In 1981 the peak was generally busier but shorter. Nowadays it is not quite as intense but it is more sustained. I would be interested to see the figures for 16.30 to 18.30 which I suspect may well not put your argument in quite such good light.

  165. ngh says:

    There is also the relatively easy option with more stock of a few extra Liverpool Street High level terminators.

    I notice a certain selectivity about standing capacity which will massively increase with the 345s…

  166. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @PoP: Yes, I quite agree about the peak times… I can’t quite remeber where, but I recall reading an article which showed the spreading of the rush hour from one hour (17:00-18:00), into (16:30-19:00) very well and I think it has come up here numerous times…

    The only fair comparison would be to take the number of passengers that can be shifted per hour relative to the number of passengers that want to travel during the hour and compare that between era’s… Absolute numbers here are not very useful…

  167. Pedantic of Purley says:


    There is also the relatively easy option with more stock of a few extra Liverpool Street High level terminators.

    I strongly suspect that won’t happen because one day they will want to integrate them into the main service – not least to free off slots into Liverpool St High Level. So you would lose 1tph (assuming 15tph on both eastern branches) which you could just about get away with because of the more even headway.

    I suspect, paradoxically, because people like Simon of Ilford check timetables*, Crossrail won’t put 6tph on because it would be hard to subsequently take them away.

    * Not having a go at Simon. Many respectable people do a lot of this kind of analysis. The danger is in interpreting the results too crudely.

  168. Ruralista says:

    The discussion has focused on the impact on GWR stoppers/semi-fasts. But GWR’s main income is from its InterCity operations, and they will not agree to anything that limits growth on these, especially given the ambitious financial agreement for the IETs.

    Ultimately the most productive use of the mains is a 125mph service every 3 minutes, non-stop from Paddington to Reading, and then going their separate ways (Berks & Hants, Swindon/Bristol, Swindon/South Wales, Oxford/North Cotswolds, Gloucester/South Cotswolds). Now 20tph is unlikely to be achieved in the near future, especially given electrification delays, but it demonstrates the most lucrative usage for the GWR franchise. There are sound commercial reasons to aim for this (e.g. spiralling passenger figures on the North Cotswolds) as well as political (Peninsula Rail Task Force lobbying for faster services to Cornwall/Devon).

    InterCity up passengers are majority bound for London; very few for Maidenhead or Slough. Stopping at Thames Valley stations wastes capacity on the mains, but is also an inefficient use of the trains themselves; filling a train at Paddington which then half-empties at Slough limits the tickets you can sell to long-distance passengers. Maidenhead and Slough stops are greatly resented by west-of-Reading passengers and for good reason.

    If TfL’s plans are accepted, then the 125mph service on the mains will potentially be restricted by 110mph semi-fast 387s from Didcot and Swindon; by Maidenhead and Slough calls on 125mph services; and, of course, by Heathrow Express, which is one of the two principal reasons for the slowing of services out of Paddington in recent years (defensive driving being the other one; 23-minute runs from Paddington to Reading were once the norm and are now unheard of). GWR will have to balance displeasing some of these customers (e.g. by worsening the service to Theresa May’s constituency) with limiting their IET service. I would not expect them to simply roll over to TfL’s aspirations.

    One example: a poster upthread wrote that “Through London services from Radley/Culham/Appleford can be picked up by… N Cots diesel services”. I think there would be riots between Hanborough and Hereford if North Cotswold services were downgraded to stoppers between Oxford and Didcot. Bear in mind that this is GWR’s fastest-growing route, and they have plans for more (e.g. 300 extra parking spaces at Charlbury); they’re not going to agree to anything that stunts this growth.

  169. Ruralista,

    Many interesting points.

    GWR’s main income is from its InterCity operations

    That is why I suspect GWR and DfT will probably be happy to cede the Reading-London semi-fasts.

    So GWR might in future consist of:

    i) InterCity – or high speed long distance services in today’s parlance – which will be the bedrock of the franchise

    ii) feeders into the InterCity network which logically fit in to the franchise model. Of course, these will also cater for local journeys.

    iii) Legacy feeder services to Crossrail (Henley-on-Thames, Marlow/Bourne End, Greenford and possibly Slough-Windsor) that are awkward to run and don’t fit into their model

    iv) Reading-Gatwick Airport which doesn’t really fit in at all. Not in GWR’s natural territory and a hybrid between local services and long distance (e.g. Gatwick Airport – Reading). Only the usage of diesel units, the possibility of extending it to Oxford and the fact that this is an awkward outlier that does not logically fit into any franchise means it makes some kind of sense for the route to remain with GWR.

  170. Graham H says:

    @PoP – fear that I was the one who made the case for the transfer of Reading-Gatwick away from its long time Southern/SE affiliations. At the time, the analysis showed that (a) the bulk of the revenue by value camefrom passengers boarding west of Reading, going to Gatwick and Guildford, and (b) it was an intrusive island of diesel traction in a sea of third rail. It made a lot of business sense to include it within an all-diesel operation that was oriented towards its main market, particularly as the electrification case was weak. It also provide a basis for looking at the (Brum-) Oxford-Gatwick market which would probably have been an early NSE project had we survived. (Only 20 years sooner, therefore…)

    We have been here before with a “country” GW whose abolition in the Bowker era was based on that curious notion of his that each London terminus would be better utilised if it had just one operator.

  171. Briantist (Haisen-tetsu) says:

    “I beg to differ. Paddington is a lousy interchange for all those locations: faced with the lumbering Bakerloo, District/Circle and H&C lines. Bond St for Waterloo and Farringdon onto Thameslink for KX are surely better. Even changing at Bond St and again at Green Park is probably preferable to the interminable wait for a Circle line to Victoria.”

    Can I suggest you look at this link – it shows what other people actually do … ?

  172. ngh says:

    Re PoP and ruralista,

    Didcot to Oxford stopping services will be operated by DMU shuttles till electrification can happen post Oxford resignalling in June 2019 (CP6 hence no target dates as such as the focus is on everything in CP5 pre April 2019).

    With ETCS and then Paddington fast line grade separation there will be more than enough space on the fasts in 7-8 years.

  173. Malcolm says:

    The report to which Briantist links is interesting, but please could we refrain from going off at too much of a tangent about it here. It is, however, limited (obviously) to reporting on actual routes on lines which are open now, so it cannot be fully informative about what people’s route choices might be after the central section of Crossrail has opened.

  174. Mark Townend says:

    @Malcolm, 8 March 2017 at 19:10
    “Ianno: That co-incidence may limit somewhat the inefficiency of the mixture. But just as a mixture of fish-knives and straight knives do not pack well, the line occupancy will still have been sub-optimal. Also illustrated by the fact that a HeX cannot be timetabled to closely follow an HST out of Paddington, as if it does, it will have to limit its acceleration to that of the HST, and it will not achieve its journey time target.”

    I agree HSTs are poor accelerators compared to typical electric and more modern Intercity diesel units. Bi-mode IETs in electric on the long distance and 387s on outer suburbans should help to solve this disparity in the down direction. Far more problematic, in my experience commuting to Paddington however, was the merge conflict in the up direction. HEX trains, starting from Terminal 5, a short distance from the main line, have an almost 100% chance of getting to the junction dead on time. When they achieve this, they get the road whatever that does to approaching Intercities running at full speed from the the west. GWR trains from destinations all over the west can arrive at the junction at far more variable and chaotic times. Performance metrics for such longer distance operations acknowledge such unavoidable realities, as do TOC strategies for turnround and staffing logistics, but this phenomenon makes the network operator’s task of regulating the junction conflict to efficiently use line capacity particularly difficult. In my experience, a heavy brake application down to almost a stand at the junction was not at all unusual, which, followed by sluggish HST acceleration no doubt results in a backwards propagating ripple of delay for a number of closely following trains. Such an occurance also results in a huge slab of wasted path space opening up between the HEX already speeding along and the following slowly accelerating HST. IETs and 387s on GW will improve this to an extent with better acceleration, but also able to help will be the C-DAS (connected driver advisory system) implementation at the junction. This technology, allowing the advisory speeds to be adjusted dynamically according to local traffic conditions, will allow approaching trains from the west to regulate speed earlier and slot in more accurately behind a HEX at the junction. Heavy braking and re-acceleration should thus be avoided normally, which in addition to brake wear and fuel savings should also result in less time lost by individual trains and more efficient use made of the scarce track capacity.

  175. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Simon of Ilford,

    Thanks to Jonathan Roberts I now have the information I wanted and, as I suspected, you were being highly selective and gave a very misleading picture.

    In particular a suitable period would be 17.00 – 17.59. This means that you get the 17.00 Shenfield service included (totally legitimate). You also get both the 18.00 Shenfield and the 18.02 Ilford service included by your very selective use of a time period.

    Between 16.30 and 16.59 on the “electric lines” there was only the 16.34 to Shenfield, 16.41 to Gidea Park, 16.43 to Ilford, 16.50 to Shenfield, the 16.53 to Ilford and the 16.58 to Gidea Park.

    From 18.03 to 18.29 there were the 18.08 to Gidea Park, the 18.10 to Shenfield, the 18.18 to Shenfield, the 18.20 to Shenfield (see next comment to understand why they had two trains two minutes apart) and the 18.24 to Gidea Park.

    Personally I think your argument is already totally demolished but there is more to come.

    [Comment subsequently modified after corrections to mistakes of mine and clarity provided. PoP]

  176. Simon of Ilford,

    I have taken the liberty of posting below additional comment provided to me by Jonathan Roberts.

    In 1980 the timetable was quite inefficient: overlap Harold Wood-Shenfield with 10/20 min semi-fasts mainly to Southend, so some low loadings one suspects on some Shenfield stoppers. Also an All stations Shenfield preceded by 2 minutes (mostly every 10 minutes) by a semi-fast calling at Stratford, Ilford, sometimes Romford then local stations. Can’t see why the All stations Shenfield train would be pulling its weight in use of peak time rolling stock passenger loadings. Quite a poor Zone 2 / 3 service as well, at intermediate stations – where growth in greatest now I believe. So 1980 nominal capacity belies what in my view was an inefficient offer.

    An early Class 315 would in my view be a better comparison, showing BR expectations at the lowest period of inner commuting volumes.

    The ‘high peak’ one hour has shifted later since 1980, also the fast lines are no longer able to service intermediate stations as far as Shenfield, because of longer distance demand growth.

  177. Purley Dweller says:

    The same pattern seems to be in place by 1983 but by 1986 it had dropped to about 15 per hour on a quick look at the relevant table 5.

  178. Kit Green says:

    My winter 1957 timetable shows 14 semis / stoppers Liverpool Street departures from 4.30pm to 6pm that called at Ilford but I am not sure that the service pattern is directly comparable.

  179. Timbeau says:

    A nine-car class 306 formation may have been 4m longer than an eight car class315, but more than that length would have been taken up by the two extra redundant driving cabs as the train was made up of three units, rather than two.

    A similarly fallacious comparison was made on the centenary of the LSwR electrification last year – yes most inner suburban services ran 3tph rather than the present two, but trains were often only three cars rather than eight, and the cars themselves were shorter.

  180. Silent Hunter says:

    My 1967/68 timetable has off-peak services to Shenfield only every twenty minutes (I think it may be Gidea Park only, but I’d have to check), but semi-fasts did stop at Ilford back then.

    Also the 306s did not have internal gangways… and also had those awful solid black balls to hold onto for the standees. They also were known as the ‘Shenfield rattlers’…

  181. Twopenny Tube says:

    Timbeau: “A nine-car class 306 formation may have been 4m longer than an eight car class315, but more than that length would have been taken up by the two extra redundant driving cabs as the train was made up of three units, rather than two.”

    Plus the extra guard’s compartment.

    Incidentally, and perhaps trivially, on the terms “fast” and “semi-fast” as I recall, from a Romford/Gidea Park perspective in the 60s/70s era, “fast” meant Ilford, Romford, and all stations etc (i.e. generally to and from Southend) and “semi-fast” meant the (few) peak Seven Kings and all stations to Gidea Park/Shenfield, and the corresponding up trains, all stations to Seven Kings, Stratford, Liverpool Street. Nowadays, there are hourly (at least) trains stopping at Romford but not Ilford; in those days there were not many (one or two Clacton trains on summer Saturdays for instance).

  182. JimS says:

    @PoP 8/3 22:18
    I had assumed, perhaps wrongly, that the toilet-equipped Class 387s currently working between Hayes and Paddington would also be used for the Reading to Paddington stoppers/semi-fasts IDC. If not I would be interested to know where they will be deployed, since Oxford is deferred. Probably off-topic!

  183. Greg Tingey says:

    Historical Note:
    “The Shenfield rattlers” ( Class AM6 / 306 ) were a 1938-39 design, mostly built 1948-9 & lasted until approx 1980-81. They lasted very well, all things considered!
    ( I rather liked them )

  184. JimS,

    In the event of the semi-fasts remaining under GWR control then I would guess too that the 387s would be used. If they have toilets then they would probably remain. I am just saying that in this topsy-turvy world this can’t be relied on.

    We do seem to be going from famine to feast with EMU supply. If the 387s do get displaced by Crossrail I wonder where they would go. I presume there must be a ready market or the case for the change would probably be scuppered.

  185. Timbeau says:

    @2d Tube

    A nine car class 306 formation had three more guards compartments than an eight car class315 formation. I didn’t mention the m because I assumed that, under crush loading conditions, they would be pressed into service for passenger use like their SUB and EpB counterparts on the Southern, but I am happy to be corrected.

  186. Twopenny Tube says:

    Timbeau – thanks. My reference to one extra guard’s compartment was in comparison to the units which ran on the Southend line in the 60s and 70s, which surely had separate accommodation for guards, one per 4 coaches. On the other hand, some, maybe all, the 4 coach units of the time had a few 1st class seats which would have reduced the overall capacity, in relation to length, and possibly toilets in the open/composite coaches. (The 3 car units did not have toilets or 1st class.)

    I don’t recall passengers being allowed in the guards’ compartments, 2 of the 3 would have been locked and unattended, but most of my journeys were off-peak.

  187. Timbeau says:

    @2d tube

    Indeed, the Southend line was mainly worked by AM7s with a few AM2s in the mix. (AM7s were built as DC and converted to AC later, AM2s were built as AC) Both closely resembled their Southern Region contemporaries but in order not to require duplication of transformer and rectifier, each unit had a single power car with two power bogies, and they had one guards van rather than two.

  188. Mr Beckton says:

    Probably coming late to the Paddington terminator issue but I feel a number of issues will combine to give rather more people still seated on a terminator than hoped for.

    The general approach on the Jubilee Line, my own experience of course but that of many others, is to take the first train as far as you can and then change. This is due to the not infrequent habit of changing destinations as you go along, particularly eastbound. Destination may have been chosen the best part of an hour beforehand, and in the meantime things change. Not only do Stratford services get suddenly turned short at North Greenwich (often announced at Waterloo, but more than once, with apology, only when approaching Canary Wharf), but the opposite does happen, a N Greenwich service is suddenly announced as extending to Stratford. So a fair number will bring this approach with them and expect to change at the Paddington terminus.

    Secondly the service pattern seems to be evolving of Shenfield to Paddington, and Abbey Wood to Heathrow/Reading. So all of those from the Shenfield line will have to change for the west.

    Lastly, it’s an ever-increasing issue for passengers to be lost in their iPhone/headphones, and miss any PA announcements, let alone the first half-a-dozen exhortations by staff. Experienced platform staff can doubtless confirm this as so. The experience on the Piccadilly Line at Acton Town, with Heathrow overseas visitors sat in a Rayners Lane train would be interesting.

    I can’t see that operating reversing trains with no driver at the controls from Paddington to Westbourne Park and back will in any way be acceptable to the permanent way maintenance staff on that section. On the DLR the Train Captain has to come to the front and man the controls/horn if staff are on the track. Presumably Crossrail would have to do likewise, both ways, which negates any timetabling advantage of not doing so.

  189. Mr Beckton,

    I can’t see that operating reversing trains with no driver at the controls from Paddington to Westbourne Park and back will in any way be acceptable to the permanent way maintenance staff on that section.

    On the contrary, the arrangements will probably be the safest in the country. You have to remember Crossrail is tomorrow’s railway not yesterday’s railway with yesterday’s working practices.

    As I understand it, the workers on the track will be very well protected. They will carry devices that are recognised by the signalling system. Effectively they are identified as a train and no other train is allowed near them. An exception is in the tunnels where an essential maintenance worker who has to enter whilst trains are running will be clipped onto a lifeline so it is physically impossible for him to come into contact with a train.

  190. Ianno says:

    @Mr Beckton

    On the Elizabeth Line, I would expect that there would be a rule that a train that sets off as a Heathrow-bound train (picking up lots of passengers with heavy luggage along the way) should not be diverted to another destination in all but the most extreme of circumstances (i.e. blockage of the Heathrow route entirely). The time taken to disgorge all the passengers and luggage risks being pretty disruptive to the entire service.

    In the event of the Heathrow branch itself being blocked, I would expect trains to be sent into the bay at Hayes & Harlington, so passengers getting off are doing so without impeding other Relief Line trains.

  191. Alan Griffiths says:

    Timbeau @ 10 March 2017 at 23:16

    ” unlike Thameslink, the H&C actually takes you to KX rather than halfway to Camden Town. ”

    I really don’t buy this argument. Thameslink platforms A & B at St Pancras are underneath East Midlands platforms 1 – 4.

    I can hardly be the only one who makes a point of changing at Farringdon to avoid the crowded trek from Underground to Inter-City platforms at Kings Cross as well as St. Pancras.

  192. Malcolm says:

    There are about 34 platforms within the Kings Cross St Pancras complex. Some of them are bound to be some distance away from some others. Some strategic choices of which line to arrive on (depending on ultimate destination) may exist.

  193. Briantist (Haisen-tetsu) says:


    I make it 35½…

  194. Si says:

    RE: Kings Cross St Pancras – aren’t the Met/H&C platforms under the front of St Pancras?Therefore it doesn’t take one to Kings Cross…

    With the Kings Cross rebuild moving the entrance to the side, rather than the front, SPILL might even be a shorter walk to Kings Cross’s platforms than from the SSLs.

    There’s also issues at Farringdon, where Crossrail interchange with the SSLs will be via Barbican (or the Thameslink platforms).

  195. RayK says:

    Si – SPILL??????

  196. THC says:

    @ Ray K

    SPILL = St Pancras International Low Level, i.e. the Thameslink platforms.


  197. RayK says:

    THC Thanks. I has guessed the first two words and then ran out of steam. It seems a pretty misleading name as the Low Level lines are extremely unlikely ever to carry international traffic. The ‘international’ does however enable one to pronounce SPILL.

  198. Mark says:

    Interesting to note that Crossrail will have only 4tph to Heathrow.

    There is only a single track between Terminal 1,2,3 and Terminal 4, with the journey currently timetabled at 4 minutes. Allowing spare capacity for service resilience etc, there is very little headroom for the frequency to grow beyond its currently-proposed level without either sending some trains to Terminal 5, or building a second tunnel to T4.

    Will be very interesting to see how the service evolves….

  199. Mark says:

    Other question – the HEX platforms in T1/2/3 and T4 are 200-204m long (source –

    Whilst this is a relatively small variation vs the 205m length of HEX trains, do we risk seeing SDO at Heathrow?

    Obviously the greater implication is if ever Crossrail trains are lengthened by an extra carriage.

  200. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I doubt if they will ever bother to provide a better service to Terminal 4.

    It is probably not needed and is not where the political pressure lies. Much more significantly, our notional national flag carrier, BA, flies from the enormous showpiece terminal 5 yet under current plans Crossrail will not go there. Politicians (and BA) notice these sort of things.

    By the way, I was dropped off at terminal 4 the other day as I was seeing someone off. The Underground is not advertised at all in the departures area but adverts and signs for Heathrow Express were everywhere. I gave up trying to find the Piccadilly line station there and caught HEx to Terminals 2 and 3 (free journey).

  201. Greg Tingey says:

    Even from someone who avoids airports unless really necessary & loathes Heathrow ….
    Not having CR1 @ T5 & no adverts for the “tube” both strike me as ridiculous.
    Is the absence of tube signage down to the airport deliberately (mis)-directing punters to Hex, do you think?
    Incidentally, just checking their own web-site, there does not appear to be a floor-plan of T4 available ……

  202. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg / PoP – it is a while since I have been to T4 but I have flown in and out of there. I have also used the tube to and from T4. One thing about Terminal 4 is that it is not exactly spacious at ground floor level. I can recall having to look very carefully for the stairs / escalators down to the lower level to reach the tube. It may have got worse since I last used it if HAL have gone into “HEX promotional overdrive” but there needs to be a balance to ensure basic wayfinding works within the airport overall. Unfortunately I doubt there is an independent authority you could refer any complaints to over the balance of signage. I know the excessive promotion of HEX, especially at T5 where HAL provide almost all the station staff, was a source of irritation to local LU management. HAL / HEX have a very clear commercial focus and it doesn’t allow other parties to gain / benefit at their expense. Whether Crossrail ever reaches Terminal 5 is going to be one to watch given the delightful (ahem!) collision of politics, regulators and money.

  203. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Greg/Walthamstow Writer,

    It did seem to be particularly a Terminal 4 thing. Once I departed HEx terminals 2 & 3 station there were plenty of signs for the Underground and even the bus station. Even so, the prominence of HEx there was a bit concerning. I suspect many visitors who would actually be better off using the Piccadilly line (even before they take into account the price difference) are inadvertently steered onto the premium, fast but not generally very useful product.

    Particularly disconcerting was the hard sell pop-up stalls (akin to an RAC stand at a motorway service area) that were present before the choice of modes was readily apparent in the flesh. It did enhance the feeling of tackiness of Heathrow Express at the Heathrow end – in great contrast to the feel one got at Paddington.

  204. RogerB says:

    At the risk of not being considered sufficiently London-centric, I am interested in the effect on we Inter-City passengers of the (undoubted) benefits of The Elizabeth Line to residents in the Paddington – Reading corridor.
    When IC125’s were introduced we had an hourly fast to Temple Meads, on average a 30 minute wait and a 90 minute journey. Now we have a half-hourly semi-fast: a fifteen minute wait and a 105 minute journey. So we’ve broken even.
    It seems inevitable that the additional stoppers on the main lines will add another 5 minutes to the Paddington-Reading time, but for many destinations in central London, including Liverpool St, we will be able to save the 5 minutes by using The Elizabeth Line. I don’t believe the ‘IEPs’ will provide any significant improvement on present timings so we will win some, lose some, but on average we will, hopefully, break even overall.

  205. Man of Kent says:

    @Greg Tingey

    Heathrow maps available at
    This reveals the escalator to the Piccadilly Line is at the opposite end of the terminal to that to HEX/Connect.

  206. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Roger B

    Last I saw, which was a few years ago, the good folk of Bristol were to be getting a half hourly semi fast via Chippenham, plus another half hourly fast calling only at Parkway and Temple Meads, and thus doing the journey in something around 80 minutes. That was before the ‘re-orientation’ of the electrification project, though.

  207. Graham H says:

    @RogerB – just don’t look at the steam timings…

  208. RogerB says:

    Man of Kent,
    they certainly don’t want you to find the Piccadilly line from T4 do they? You click on T4/ Transport Links/Underground and there is nothing on the map to show you where it is.

  209. IslandDweller says:

    2016 data – source: Heathrow’s own website.
    Terminal 2 – 16.5 million passengers
    Terminal 3 – 17.7 million passengers
    (total central area – 34.2 million)
    Terminal 4 – 9.5 million passengers
    Terminal 5 – 31.9 million passengers

    The bare statistics would suggest it would be far more logical for Crossrail to run through to T5 rather than T4, but as that would further canibalise the numbers using Express services, one can see why the airport owners are apparently not offering this.

  210. NickBxn says:

    My experience of HEX is that of irritatingly intrusive screens with rolling news / adverts / constant noise pollution. I have a certain amount of trust that TfL on Elizabeth will not make use of the sophisticated information display screens to mete out similar punishment, as 1/4 of an hour of it is more than enough already. This may help to attract custom of repeat users when people experiment with one vs the other.

  211. Simon Of Ilford says:

    @Pedantic of Purley

    My rush hour timetable information timeframe was selected so that the start and end times would be the same as the times of trains leaving Liverpool Street in both 1980 and 2014. I wanted to count the trains in exactly the same time-frame – I could have selected 17:00 to 17:59, this would have shown fewer trains (both in 1980 and 2014) but it would also have unfairly skewed the data in favour of TfL Rail as they had a 17:59 departure whilst BR in 1980 had 17:58 and 18:00 departures. For the record, in 1980/1 there were 20 trains between 17:00 to 17:59 whilst in 2014 there were 15 trains. So, still a deficit!

    Jonathan Roberts is looking at the 1980 timetable in a very different way to me. In 1980 the railways did not have marketing units, instead there was an integrated railway system. Passengers who lived in towns such as Brentwood who commuted to London benefitted from faster services (with first class accommodation too) whilst Brentwood passengers who travelled to other stations on the same route were able to catch a slower train that served some of the intermediate stations.

    To placate complaints by Brentwood passengers about the very extended journey durations to and from Liverpool street on all-stations trains the railway operators at the time the present timetables were introduced said that Brentwood passengers would be allowed to travel to Shenfield and catch faster trains.

    Yes, sometimes trains ran in ‘flights’ with faster services that called at the busiest stations first. This way passengers for these busier stations would travel on these trains, leaving more space for passengers wanting the ‘less busy’ stations on the trains which followed immediately afterwards. This also made life easier for passengers making local journeys along the line, as it meant that they had a better chance of being able to board the trains that served their stations.

    An example of how all trains running as ‘all stations’ does not work is Bethnal Green Central Line station where passengers often find it very difficult to board overcrowded trains in the morning rush hour.

    I agree that off-peak services were very different than today…
    Mon-Sat was every 20 minutes all stations to Gidea Park;
    every 20 minutes Stratford, Ilford, Romford and then all stations to Southend Victoria;
    hourly Ilford, Romford, Shenfield and then all stations to Colchester (even non-stopping Stratford!)

    When I could I planned my off-peak travels to catch the Colchester trains as the journey to / from Liverpool Street took just 12 minutes westbound / 11 minutes eastbound (the minute difference applies to all trains, probably this reflected the slower station approach).

    I walked between Ilford station and home so my journey durations to Ilford station were reasonably reliable. As an aside, catching an all-stations BR train to Ilford extended the journey time sufficiently to make it better to use Gants Hill station as although the Underground journey was longer it was offset by much shorter walking time between home and the Underground station.

    re: the period 16.30 and 16.59 you missed out the 16:32 and if you look more closely you will see that all stations received a train at about 10 minute intervals, which was double the normal off-peak service. So it was nowhere near as bad as you suggest.

    Moving forwards to the present day, we know that rush hour trains on this route are grossly overcrowded, so why cant TfL rail run even 18 trains in the peak rush hour period?

    I am quoting 18 trains because it is the number of trains that in 1980/1 terminated at Gidea Park and Shenfield. If BR could terminate and detrain 11 trains at Gidea Park in 1980, why can’t TfL Rail do this today? Enough Class 315 trains were built for a more intensive service than is operated ‘today’ and obviously the signalling system also permitted such a service.

    What about the new reversing siding at Chadwall Heath? Does TfL not intend to use it too? We know that at Paddington the plan is that rather than delaying following trains whilst terminating trains are detrained passengers who do not alight quickly enough will be allowed to stay on the train whilst it travels into the reversing siding. Could the same not be done at Chadwall Heath? It wont be as elegant as a proper bay platform, but it is conforms to the present-day mania for everything to be done as cheaply as possible.

    Will I use Crossrail when it opens? Certainly to try it out, but from what I hear about the walking distances between street and platform plus the number of intermediate stations before Liverpool Street I might find that the journey time advantages are not as great as might be expected. It also depends on whether the trains are driven with gusto (as per the Central Line) or in a lackadaisical way, as per the North London Line.

    Finally, for yours and everyone else’s interest I have placed a copy of the relevant timetable on Flickr at the link below

  212. As a general reminder, please keep comments to a reasonable length. When responding to a number points, it is better to respond to each with a separate comment, as they often spawn their own discussions.

  213. DH says:

    Point of information for Walthamstow Writer at 18.56. The independent body overseeing Heathrow is the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee, which has a passenger group (they call it PSSC) which should be interested in this sort of thing. Declaration of interest: I sit on the Gatwick equivalent

  214. Greg Tingey says:

    Man of Kent
    I must be getting old, or something – I looked at the T4 maps you linked to & could not find any reference to the “tube” at all ….
    Please do show?

    Graham H
    You shouldn’t have done that … I followed your suggestion & looked it up: 1962 London-Bristol in 119 minutes with steam traction.
    Oh dear

    Oh dear.

  215. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Warning: Long complicated answer

    Simon of Ilford,

    You have to look at the history of the line to understand what is going on.

    When the Shenfield line was electrified it had, as you say, a very efficient timetable with a regular interval mixture of fast, semi-fasts and slows. To paraphrase a recently revived comment, it was the right timetable at the right time introduced by the right railwayman. The railwayman in question was Gerry Fiennes, then manager of Eastern Region and, if you can get hold of a copy, you can read about it in his book “I tried to run a railway”. I would imagine that the service very heavily favoured travel in the peak direction. There would have been a lot of empty running on the fast lines to get back to Gidea Park or wherever to fit in a second peak run. Basically it was a timetable designed to maximise use of rolling stock and minimise the time trains spent stationary in stations whilst getting as many people to Stratford or Liverpool Street as possible. Gerry Fiennes makes this quite clear in his book. The pattern had the added advantage of being an attractive one for passengers.

    Things then happened over the intervening years. Electrification beyond Shenfield meant that the returns paths so freely available on the fast lines (and necessary to run the service) were no longer there.

    Furthermore, in BR days, there was general policy to give priority to the more profitable/less unprofitable longer distance services. This was openly advocated by Beeching and more quietly pursued by other managers. The Shenfield line was not alone and we have previously covered how the perfectly busy Bromley North branch was basically sacrificed as a through route to permit more trains to come into London from the coast. I suspect there are examples of this into most major termini.

    So a combination of less availability of the fast lines, a change in the demographics along the line, a recession and probably other factors led to this wonderful timetable, for its time, being butchered. On the point of demographics one only has to catch a suitable train in the evening peak and realise it is no longer a one-way flow. Furthermore there are many journeys currently made for which the original timetable would be inappropriate. You only have to catch a train just after schools finish to appreciate that.

    Privatisation and the financial incentives it brought removed for many years any incentive for improvements on the line from its historically low service. Basically, there was more profit in running fewer, more crowded trains.

    With TfL taking over the effect on passenger numbers was almost immediate but their ability to do something about it in the short term was very limited indeed. They do not have spare rolling stock just sitting around and they can’t re-implement former timetables even if they wanted to because they rely too much on use of the fast lines. Indeed I suspect that was one reason why TfL aren’t to keen to run more Gidea Park – Liverpool St (High Level) ‘shorts’ than they have to as they will be at the mercy of delays elsewhere on the network.

    Given that Crossrail stock will start to be introduced in a couple of months time (albeit only 7 cars) and they want this go as smoothly as possible and from May 2019 onwards capacity will be greatly increased by means of longer trains, I cannot really see what TfL can sensibly do in the short term to improve the situation.

  216. Briantist (Haisen-tetsu) says:

    @Simon Of Ilford

    OK. I’ve done a side-by-side comparison of the two timetables (using LST-RMF for fair comparison). The current TfL-Rail service has today (from LST) 16:08, 16:20, 16:22, 16:47 and 19:00 that have no match in 1981.

    There are a few on the 1981 timetable that we don’t have today 17:03, 17:11 and 17:13, 18:44 and the utterly perplexing 17:25 that takes 35 minutes to get to Stratford!

    So… exactly the same number of trains – almost on the same timings too – five trains moved around a bit.

  217. Anon E. Mouse says:

    “…and the utterly perplexing 17:25 that takes 35 minutes to get to Stratford! ”

    I think it’s fairly clear that that entry is supposed to be the 17:52 (given that it nestles in between the 17:50 and the 17:54) and it takes the standard 8 minutes to reach Stratford.

  218. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – you have made a valiant attempt to counter Mr Simon of Ilford’s argument. Without being horrible I have seen his arguments many times on different forums and I doubt you will shift his view. He seems to believe that today’s position should always be better than yesterday’s and, of course, he wants the best service for Ilford as he’d benefit from that directly. The world has, as you note, moved on considerably and that warrants a different approach and it will move on again thus warranting even more changes in future. Stratford is a vastly different transport and business hub than it was in the 1980s as Mr S’s own video clips attest. It will change again as will Docklands as Wood Wharf and other buildings are completed. We have yet to see what transformation will occur in West London post Crossrail.

    I would much prefer to see how TfL gets on with the transition to Crossrail. It is not without risks and if things go wrong then TfL is in the firing line as it should be. We have had rather silly press releases emanating from City Hall opposition parties this week about Crossrail that ignored the basic realities of upgrading and running a railway. The TfL Rail service is not without its issues, largely down to infrastructure and other operators, but TfL, MTR, NR and those other parties have to work out a way forward. Let’s see if they can do so without forever wanting to go back to “the good old days” (which weren’t that good anyway).

  219. A GWR trains user who understands what is really involved says:

    Some interesting comments and it seems there is a need for further information on travel from the area east of Reading to that west of Reading. At present at least one stopping train per hour goes through and depending on the time of day all are reasonably well loaded.

    Hence my view that one of GWR’s remaining semi-fasts east of Reading will be through from/to west of Reading (Didcot until such time as the wires reach Oxford). The GWR semi-fasts will be limited stop which is exactly what passengers from further out (Twyford & Maidenhead plus their respective branchlines) want plus the branches will also connect to/from the Reading direction as well – where travel is heavy during the commuter periods and steady all through the day. It will be quicker for these passengers to change at Crossrail than travel obna Crossrail train with more intermediate stops and of course both stations will still keep their peak hour GWR fast services.

    I find it amazing that passengers are being expected to ‘trade down’ from a decently equipped Class 387 to the toilet-less Class 345 on journeys longer than 30 minutes – a step back almost 60 years for GWML suburban passengers. My sympathies go out to the carriage cleaners.

    Reading is of course a connectional hub for far more than GWML long distance trains and much of the travel from east of Reading is connecting to/from the other routes so presumably any TfL stations will book through as now?

    The comment about upgrading Main Line platforms and equipping them for SDO would appear to be somewhat wide of the mark. As yet – and there is still plenty of time of course – no Main Line platforms have seen any work on the GWML – nor will they at those stations which don’t have them! I can’t establish what sort of SDO the Class 345 will have although presumably it will be GPS based due to the short platforms at various stations where mirrors, or even cameras would be impractical. And quite how one is meant to avoid bench seats if you can only entrain in a particular part of the train I don’t know?

  220. Si says:

    I routinely sit on trains that have no toilets and travel for 70 minutes from terminus to terminus, with most of the users having sat on them for over 30 minutes (and me for 45-66 minutes, depending on where I get on). I don’t see puddles. I don’t see much rubbish either.

    And there’s to be toilets at the central London stations (as well as at the above ground stations that already have them – ie most), mitigating the small risk!

    No on-board toilets is the price paid for having trains that don’t terminate on the edge of Central London, quite some way from the main action, but go through the centre to give one seat rides. And it is something worth every penny that you can’t spend while on the train! 😉

  221. Graham H says:

    @One who knows etc – “Reading is of course a connectional hub for far more than GWML long distance trains and much of the travel from east of Reading is connecting to/from the other routes” – from another who has actually seen the data, you’d be surprised how not true this is; for example, interchange from the wayside stations east of Reading to either the Waterloo or Gatwick train is very limited; same for the Basingstokes. The amount of cross-Reading local traffic between say, Taplow, and Didcot, is a relatively small proportion of the total.

    “My sympathies go out to the carriage cleaners.” Clearly, the people of the Thames Valley need help with personal hygiene; those on the Met manage perfectly well (and their intermediate stations lack loos, unlike the Crossrail ones).

  222. Graham H says:

    @Si – the problem these days with on train loos is that in, say, a 10 car set, you’d really need two of them as a minimum, if you’re going to provide any at all, and each fully accessible loo takes up a quarter of a coach – so there’s a loss of 5% of capacity straight off. Here in SWT land, people have been travelling for decades for an hour or more on loo-less trains – the Cobhams, for example. (And even on the trains which are equipped, it’s often quite impossible to get through the coach at rush hour – as used to be the case indeed with the CEPs and BIGs where the corridors were crammed from Guildford inwards – a 40 min journey].

  223. John B says:

    Will the Elizabeth line station toilets be free? Too often station toilets seem to be a profit centre, rather than a public service. I’m damned if I’ll pay, so I will wait for the train (or [SNIP – too much information] )

    [Further toilet discussion is dispreferred, and may be banned in due course to give more space for other things. Malcolm]

  224. Toby says:

    In the Subtle Changes section its said that the relief line platforms are used by all Sunday services while they do main line work. How will that work with platform edge doors?

  225. Semifast says:

    How much outer London to Reading commuting is there? I got the impression that lots of passengers change at Ealing Broadway for the GWR local trains down the Thames Valley, with surprisingly large flows away from London in the morning peak, returning in the evening. Would it really be fine to stop the relief line traffic at every stop before Heathrow and slow down these journeys?

    And if the trains to Reading took around 40 minutes (or less) then I guess some people will consider taking a seat on a Crossrail train to central London from Reading rather than stand on a fast line service and spending time changing at Paddington. But this depends on the time differential between the Crossrail and mainline services.

  226. 100andthirty says:

    Toby….The Platform Screen Doors are only fitted on the new central section.

  227. Briantist (Haisen-tetsu) says:

    @John B
    Will the Elizabeth line station toilets be free?

    There is a “free toilets on TfL services” official map! Eight TfL Rail stations have them inside the gateline. So far.

  228. Graham H says:

    @Semifast -you are right: the growth in reverse commuting to Reading is one of the phenomena of the ’90s onwards. Arrivals from Waterloo and Guildford are full to standing/crush loaded in the morning peak. Reading is probably an especially attractive destination in this respect because so many offices are within easy walking distance of the station.

  229. Man of Kent says:

    @Greg Tingey (0821 – sorry for long delay in replying)
    Select T4, then T4 arrivals public area. Hover over south western most escalator, a label “Escalator access to Level -1. Underground” should appear.
    HEX access at the north eastern most escalator, similar label, this time “Train to London.
    Heathrow Express. Heathrow Connect.”

  230. Ian Sergeant says:

    @Graham H

    Reading is probably an especially attractive destination in this respect because so many offices are within easy walking distance of the station.

    Compare and contrast Paddington. Replace offices with shops. So why do some of the Crossrail trains terminate at Maidenhead? Is it simply terminal capacity? And with extension of the wires to Didcot, will this change in time?

  231. Balthazar says:

    Re: Graham H at 18.49 – there are enough myths about accessibility requirements without them being perpetuated here. There is no requirement for more than one toilet on a train to be wheelchair-accessible, as amply demonstrated by the Class 700s. The requirement is (a) the number of wheelchair spaces, which is dependent on train length, and (b) that every wheelchair space has access to a wheelchair accessible toilet, if such facilities are available to passengers who do not use wheelchairs.

  232. Graham H says:

    @Balthazar – I take your point about the number of disabled loos being related to the location of the disabled spaces; I should have explained that I was assumng that trains were made up (as most of them are) of multiple sets. So,for a 3x 4 train – a common phenomenon – we have 3 disabled loos – nearly 3/4 of a coach’s worth. I might add that the CrossRail trains have no loos so the question doesn’t arise in fact; there are may other reasons, of course, which we needn’t go into now,for them not being equipped, otherwise Malcolm will rise up against us all..

  233. Greg Tingey says:

    Graham H & others
    An old, sad tale.
    Bristol-Padders via Bath 188.5 miles
    Best steam time, 1962 – 119 minutes OK, with one stop @ Bath.
    2017 best electric/diesel time: 101 minutes, 2 extra stops ( Reading Swindon, maybe Chippenham)
    One wonders, with that service-frequency, if alternating the service, so that some do not stop @ Didcot, Swindon, Chippenham & getting a decent average speed would be better?
    Ditto the hop, step-&-a-jump semi-fast that S Wales gets at present.
    Best steam time 1962: 180 mins non-stop, 190 mins with stops ( The Capitals Limited & The Red Dragon, respectively )

  234. Greg Tingey says:

    Not exactly easy to find, though, is it?
    Deliberate? [ I think yes, but I could be wrong, of course ]

  235. RayK says:

    I, indeed most people, prefer my loos *not* to be disabled as a fully functioning loo is much more useful. This is why Balthazar refers to accessible loos.

  236. Graham H says:

    @RayK – Hypallage, in fact.

  237. hypallage – a transposition of two elements in a phrase or sentence from a more logical to a less logical relationship (as in “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” for “to waste a mind is a terrible thing”)

  238. Balthazar says:

    Re: RayK – actually I used the words that I did because I believe the term “disabled” in that context amounts to defining human beings by charcteristics that are unconnected to the content of their character*, hence also my reference to “using” wheelchairs. And incidentally if the term “political correctness gone mad” is now used, I don’t care.

    *to coin a phrase…

  239. Mark Townend says:

    @Greg Tingey, 15 March 2017 at 09:13

    “One wonders, with that service-frequency, if alternating the service, so that some do not stop @ Didcot, Swindon, Chippenham & getting a decent average speed would be better?”

    That was IIRC the idea behind proposed additional half-hourly Bristol Temple Meads – London services via Badminton in this particular market, and these were even going to omit Reading on the basis there was already at least a half hourly frequency calling there and running via Bath. I’m not sure if this is still an aspiration and it may not be possible until extra terminal platforms are available at Bristol TM. Those platforms, in turn, rely on making space available in the former ‘Midland part ‘of the station by removal of Bristol PSB (panel signal box). Although the immediate Temple Meads layout is still on track for imminent remodelling and resignalling, with control being transferred to Thames Valley Sigalling Centre at Didcot, plans for complete abandonment of the 1970s facility could still be complicated by a lack of clarity over the future of the PSB’s far western extents of control, for which no plans exist currently I believe. Control transfer of old remote interlockings to new signalling facilities is highly feasible today however and was carried out extensively in the Reading area during rebuilding, so that may offer a solution.

    As to cross Reading traffic, I appreciate that, for any particular local flow, interchange traffic will always be comparatively low compared to numbers heading for the commerce, attractions and non-rail onwards travel opportunities of Reading itself, but the total of all cross Reading flows, enabled by it’s unique ‘hub’ characteristics, must be considerable nonetheless.

    While longer distance commuting from the west to Reading is not equal to that from Reading to London clearly, numbers are highly significant, providing a handy opportunity for the TOC to occupy seats (or standing room!) twice en route. Part of the attraction for these flows is the frequency of service from the west, and any skipping of Reading in pursuit of a few minutes running time benefit risks not attracting enough additional London traffic to offset any losses of inconvenienced Reading commuters and other travellers for whom a road alternative may be far more practical than for any of those destined for central London. The trend in recent years has been for the very few individual trains that traditionally missed Reading to gain a stop there. This suggests that while it may not always be ‘comfortable’ for all travellers, the Reading stop stacks up very well commercially.

  240. Graham H says:

    @LBM – we could, of course, have a discussion about the subtler differences between hypallage and synecdoche in this context but I suspect that (a) Malcolm would disapprove [correct. Malcolm], and (b) everyone else would be baffled…

  241. Malcolm says:

    There are several things wrong with the phrase “disabled toilet”. One is the hypallage – we could avoid this by saying “toilets for disabled people”. Much more important is the fact that many of the people who require or prefer an accessible toilet do not consider themselves disabled.

    It is nevertheless a phrase frequently used, and to repeat it inadvertently is “pas grave”. Nevertheless, the phrase “accessible toilet” is preferred.

  242. @Graham H

    Is it wrong to like to learn new words?

  243. Phil says:

    Re- various comments about Reading

    People need to remember that the rebuilding at Reading did not actually increase the number of tracks or platforms through the station overall.

    The two extra relief line platforms were created by effectively linking together two bay platforms previously used to terminate the short Turbo trains from destinations to the east and west plus the conversion of another short east facing bay into a through platform. The 4 relief line platforms created were also shifted northwards onto the former goods avoiding lines to create a further 2 platforms for the main lines used by HST services to Bristol and the South West (previously there were only 2) .


    and compare to

    The net result is, once you take all this into account, the relief lines at Reading have ONLY 4 PLATFORMS for all the following:

    (i) Crossrail terminators (these being too long to platform share)

    (ii) Cross Country reversals (if they are more than a single Voyager in length they won’t fit into bay platforms 1, 2 or 3 so must use the relief line platforms)

    (iii) Through freight trains from the Mendip Quarries to London

    (iv) Stopping FGW services from Didcot / Newbury that will need to terminate if they don’t go onto to London – they cannot use the main line platforms as these are fully utilized by HST services and the weaving moves necessary will reduce capacity.

    Under the currently planned arrangements Crossrail and Cross Country will use the inner two platforms to reverse leaving the outer sides of the island platforms for trains running through Reading.

    In short having more than 2 tph Crossrail trains terminating at Reading makes timetabling incredibly difficult and helps nobody. Yes they can go to the sidings between turns – but only once every passenger has been chucked off (which takes time), an even then just accessing the sidings takes up train paths.

    That is one of the big advantages of the principle of retaining residual FGW services on the relief lines – they can simply pass through Reading and on to Didcot / Newbury without clogging up the platforms – and there is no way Crossrails, toiletless, tube style interlopers are acceptable west of Reading.

  244. Oliver says:


    Surely (ii) can use platform 7?
    Could (iv) use platform 3?
    Both obviously via the Festival line.

  245. Mark Townend says:

    @Malcolm, 15 March 2017 at 13:48
    “. . . the phrase “accessible toilet” is preferred.”

    I’d hope all toilets provided are “accessible” to some extent!

    @Long Branch Mike
    “Is it wrong to like to learn new words?”

    I’ve just learnt two! Thanks GH.

  246. straphan says:

    @PoP: I thought the intention was to have the 387s operate the ‘outer suburban’ service to Newbury and Bedwyn. Given there are still going to be 4tph HEx trains, the 387s should be able to depart before them, call at Slough and/or Maidenhead and still get to Reading comfortably ahead of the IEP service that follows the HEx.

    What gets me about the service pattern on the GWML is the service afforded to Southall, which is listed (in the off-peak) as a stop for all 4tph Heathrow services and only ‘some’ of the 6tph to West Drayton and beyond. The current calling pattern is 6tph off-peak and 7tph in the 0700-0800 time period. As this is one of my local stations, I can attest that this frequency is already inadequate (particularly in the peaks, but GWR generally provides an inadequate service in the peaks) and – by the looks of things – it is unlikely it will be improved upon. Given there are a good few thousand flats already under construction around the station – and a humongous car park for Heathrow passengers just waiting to be bought by developers – I should think that ought to be improved upon.

    I can also confirm that HEx trains enjoy a fair degree of priority over other services – I often see an eastbound HEx passing Hayes & Harlington followed by an HST crawling through yellows and double-yellows. Part of the capacity issues that HEx creates is that the turnouts at Stockley Bridge Jn (for the Heathrow branch) are 75mph – and eastbound trains rarely travel through them that fast given they are still accelerating from that sharp curve coming from Heathrow.

    As far as freight goes, I

  247. straphan says:

    …sorry comment cut short for whatever reason.

    As far as freight goes, I can see that on the GEML there are at least 1 or 2 freight trains per hour passing Ilford (in real life, not just the WTT!) throughout the off-peak. The same is true of Hayes and Harlington. And neither the London construction business (which requires aggregates from places along the GWML) nor the shipping business (which transports containers from the likes of Felixstowe or Harwich to places along the WCML) show any signs of shrinking.

  248. Littlejohn says:

    @Phil. ‘Stopping FGW services from Didcot / Newbury that will need to terminate if they don’t go onto to London – they cannot use the main line platforms as these are fully utilized by HST services and the weaving moves necessary will reduce capacity’. At the moment the Newbury – Reading all stations usually terminates in the bay at Platform 1 and occasionally at Platform 2. No doubt it will continue to do so and it doesn’t need to make any weaving moves or reduce capacity. Cross Country terminators from the west are often in the bay at Platform 3. The Bedwyn originators (alternate with the Newbury originators) are limited stop Newbury to Reading then non-stop to Paddington on the fast lines so they similarly don’t obstruct anything else. Arguably the 3 carriages provided at the moment are an under-utilization of a path but that is another matter.
    @straphan. I imagine the Bedwyn trains will have to be IEPs not Class 387 since electrification stops at Newbury (or will do). As an aside and picking up on an earlier comment, while the masts are going up trackside there doesn’t seem to be any sign of them on platforms. Is there a specific reason for this?

  249. Phil says:

    Re Oliver

    Platform 7, as indicated on the linked diagram is usually allocated to HSTs serving the west country. Before the Reading rebuild it was quite usual to have a queue of HSTs on the down main waiting a platform at Reading. The new layout prevents this as three HSTs can be dealt with at once in the station in the down direction. While reversals from the west are possible in this platform, the whole GWML timetable is based around platform 7 not being blocked for long.

    Platforms 1, 2 and 3 are indeed available for ex Didcot terminators / Cross Country reversals as long as they are short units.

    The point is that while its easy on paper to say ‘well such and such a train can go there’ simply having the track layout is only half the story. Reading has flows in all directions with trains featuring widely different lengths, max speeds, acceleration / deceleration rates and which all need to slot into detailed paths. Cross Country services for example have to mesh with SWT at Basingstoke over a flat junction, Trains to Didcot must co-exist with 75mph container trains, stoppers and HSTs, trains to Newbury have a mix of slow freight, stoppers and HSTs while the tracks towards London represent the neck of a funnel through which they must pass.

    Network Rail have undertaken considerable timetabling work on the Reading area and those that are involved with the work are clear that having more than 2tph Crossrail services to Reading is not practicable without a serious re-think of ALL other train services that use / pass through the station. (This is presumably part of the reason TfL want to take over the remaining residual FGW services as Reading layout, plus the relief lines in general, could cope with that).

    All very different from TfLs tube lines – which although very busy, only operate a single type of train with identical characteristics and a fixed stopping pattern and its why TfL should stop trying to dictate what goes on once their trains start operating on the national network. Yes it would be lovely to have a minimum 4tph on all Crossrail services (and have them stopping at all stations into the bargain rather than skip stopping), but just as that is impossible on many routes in South London due to the complex service patterns the same is also true elsewhere – unless you go round upsetting large numbers of existing users (most of whom, unlike those in south London, have no way from an electoral perspective to influence proposals. Again I say would commuters from Redhill, Horley, Oxted, East Grinstead, Sevenoaks, Guildford or Bracknell be happy with having their first class and toilets removed and a tube train interior dumped on them in the name of ‘progress’) . If TfL are unwilling to learn that then the abandonment of rail devolution might turn out to be a wise move.

  250. straphan says:

    On the subject of train interiors…

    – First of, I do wonder what kind of people protest against replacing Turbos with narrow 3+2 seats for Crossrail trains with normal size seats that will be relatively empty (even in peaks) west of Hayes.
    – Second of, I do wonder whether Class 387s with the awful ‘ironing board’ Fainsa seats represent a massive improvement over the Turbos. Personally, I don’t think so.
    – Third of, I’m not particularly picky when it comes to hygiene, but I have yet to come across a GWR Turbo with a toilet I would be willing to use. At least toilets at stations have a hope in hell of seeing a cleaner a little more often than once a day.

  251. Oliver says:


    Many thanks for those additional comments. I suspected that it would never be as simple as it looked. I couldn’t see obvious occupancy of platform 7 but wasn’t aware of the operation needs of keeping it available.

    I’m also aware, from articles and comments here on Thameslink, how advantageous it is to not terminate trains at busy locations. Treating Reading as a busy location would, as you suggest, involve a rather more drastic reassessment of the timetable than simply extending Crossrail to Reading.

  252. Fandroid says:

    Graham H. re reverse commuting to Reading. I think ’twas ever thus, not just from the 90s. When I started my working career in Reading in 1970, locally it was a proud boast then that more people commuted in than commuted out.

    As for platform usage at Reading, my experience is that Cross-country trains already often use platform 7 to reverse. Additionally, they just about never (in my fairly regular use of them) consist of more than one unit. That means that platform 3 is fine for them and they can share a through platform too, as was the case this morning at 09.18 when one shared platform 13 with a stopper operating eastwards. As for Crosscountry using platforms 1 & 2 -never seen it!

  253. Fandroid says:

    As for WW failing to find the Tube at Heathrow T4, he was in Departures! Most airports aim their signage to cater for the main direction of travel, ie to planes from Departures or to landward connections from Arrivals. I haven’t tried it at T4, but the Tube is well signed from T5 Arrivals. Using a free HEx transfer from T4 to find the Tube at Terminals 2 & 3 is not much fun, as they are not all that close together there, either horizontally or vertically.

  254. Littlejohn says:

    @Fandroid – no, only ever seen a Cross Country in a bay on Platform 3.

  255. Pedantic of Purley says:


    It was actually me who failed to find the Underground at T4. I take your point that I was in an unusual situation having arrived by car with a departing air passenger and then wanting to get to central London by public transport but the point is that I had no difficulty in finding the directions for the connection to Heathrow Express due to copious signage as opposed to none at all for the Underground.

  256. timbeau says:

    Surely there should be toilets on the “relief” lines?

  257. WestFiver says:

    In T4, I suggest you use the lifts down to the underground. In departures, they are the bank opposite Zone D. In arrivals, same lifts, they are opposite the entrance to the terminal, adjacent to the arrival exit chute.

    For current operations at Reading I suggest you look at the Reading map on Open Train Times. Cross Country trains do not use bay platforms 1 or 2, as they are only connected to the Westbury lines. Through CC trains can reverse in platforms 3, 7 or 8, as well as the relief line platforms 12-15. Terminating CC in the relief line platforms, also use the Kennet Bridge Loop to clear the platform and reverse.

  258. ngh says:

    Re Greg @ 0913 and Mark Townend @1332


    2017 best electric/diesel time: 101 minutes, 2 extra stops ( Reading Swindon, maybe Chippenham)
    One wonders, with that service-frequency, if alternating the service, so that some do not stop @ Didcot, Swindon, Chippenham & getting a decent average speed would be better?:

    Mark: :

    That was IIRC the idea behind proposed additional half-hourly Bristol Temple Meads – London services via Badminton in this particular market, and these were even going to omit Reading on the basis there was already at least a half hourly frequency calling there and running via Bath. I’m not sure if this is still an aspiration and it may not be possible until extra terminal platforms are available at Bristol TM. Those platforms, in turn, rely on making space available in the former ‘Midland part ‘of the station by removal of Bristol PSB (panel signal box). Although the immediate Temple Meads layout is still on track for imminent remodelling and resignalling, with control being transferred to Thames Valley Sigalling Centre at Didcot, plans for complete abandonment of the 1970s facility could still be complicated by a lack of clarity over the future of the PSB’s far western extents of control, for which no plans exist currently I believe. Control transfer of old remote interlockings to new signalling facilities is highly feasible today however and was carried out extensively in the Reading area during rebuilding, so that may offer a solution.

    And therein lies some of the reason for the big mess, running around like headless chickens and DfT changing the GW-IEP spec to all Bi-mode as some one made some BIG promises for December 2018 Timetable change a long long time ago… (Greg are you sitting comfortably? 😉 )

    The “standard” Bristol TM to Paddington via Bath peak hour journey time is 105minutes (intermediate stops at Bath, Chippenham, Swindon, Didcot, Reading). The promised fastest journey time for Bristol TM to Paddington is 17minutes less for the 2tph new services via Parkway (not via Bath) introduced in December ’18. Hence focus on the wirng been ready from Paddington to Bristol Parkway and the last stretch from Parkway to Templemeads (Filton Bank) being (re-) 4 tracked to allow a clear run for the IEPs as that is a big current reason for not running that way.

    So how is that magic 17minute reduction going to be achieved?

    1. Going via Parkway with an HST would save 4.5 minutes (assuming current Parkway – Paddington pathing priority) – A big cheat hence the Filton bank work being very very high priority!

    2. Give via Parkway the high priority pathing from Swindon to Paddington where via Bath services currently get the clear run over the current Parkway (Cardiff) services would save another 4minutes.

    Note no new stock or electrification required so far…

    3. Use stock with centrally controlled power doors – saves 30s per stop (based on Voyager/Meridian timings vs HST on operators that use both (XC and EMT) at major stations.
    This would save 2minutes via Parkway or 2.5minutes via Bath.

    Potential savings so far:
    via Parkway 10.5minutes (6.5minutes left to find)
    via Bath (just 3.) 2.5 minutes
    so another 6.5minutes to find via Parkway…

    Introducing IEP has some issues, while they have significantly better low and medium speed acceleration than HSTs while running on diesel the derated engine set up apparently maxes out at just over 105mph which isn’t good on the 125mph sections… (Spec was 100mph before anyone asks. The GWR ordered 802 for the B&H to Devon and Cornwall aren’t derated and 125mph is the spec.)
    Hence the need to get all the fast sections of the GWML electrified for December 2018 to get better acceleration and 125mph top speed.

    4. Rheostatic or regenerative braking on IEP will reduce the impact of the stops by allowing later and harder braking (and for lower cost vs HST) at 30s saving per stop (very very conservative given HST vs 91/Mk4 differnetial on ECML):
    via Parkway 120s (4.5 minutes left to find)
    via Bath 150s

    5. By December 2018 timetable the Juice is meant to be live for:
    Paddington – Parkway on the via Parkway route (91% of current “HST” journey time from TM to Paddington)
    Paddington – Chippenham on the via Bath route (76% of current “HST” journey time from TM to Paddington)
    [and by Feb 2019 Paddington – Bath on the via Bath route (87% of current “HST” journey time from TM to Paddington) adds an extra 4 miles at 125mph over December 2018 planned extent of live OHLE though I suspect as they have already done the civils (track lowering) for Box Tunnel there is good chance by Dec 2018 so possibly academic]

    All the high speed (>100mph) running to Bristol will be on electricity available by early 2019.

    On the via Parkway 4 of 5 accelerations out of stations will be fully on electric and 4 (may be 5) of 6 on via Bath services with the others not to high speeds at a saving 60s per stop
    via Parkway 5minutes (-30s left to find)
    vai Bath 6minutes

    6. Remove a stop an you’re laughing with some extra padding!

    Looking at 88mins via Parkway and 94mins via Bath

  259. ngh says:

    PS the pigeons of Maidenhead might be in for a shock on Sunday morning…

  260. Pedantic of Purley says:


    If you mean electric shock then only if they have one foot (or other part of the body) on the live wire and the other foot on some earthed structure.

    Maybe you mean they are shocked and surprised that Network Rail can electrify a railway.

  261. Stationless (no longer) says:

    Briefly flipping back to the remarks about the mainline tunnels to Heathrow T4 being single track, I understood that T4 was due to be relocated when the “Queens” Terminal is completed? This could make the existing running arrangments redundant.

  262. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Fandroid – I see PoP has corrected you but I can assure that I don’t get lost in tube stations as I was responsible for all of the Jub, Nor & Picc ones for several years. I also rarely get lost in airports even on 1st acquaintance.

    @ Phil 1637 – surely TfL have just put together a proposal that has to go through sponsor approval and then work its way through set industry processes with approval in the hands of ORR? How this gets anywhere close to a dictatorship is beyond me. The “faux outrage” doesn’t help convey any concerns you may have. As ngh has suggested there may be overall method in streamlining the operation of trains on the fast and relief lines out of Paddington that aligns with DfT’s broader aspirations for the GW franchise.

    @ Ngh – as we have now momentarily ventured as far west as Bristol I have a question. Is Temple Meads (TM) going to be wired from both the Parkway and Bath routes? I thought DfT had postponed (or cancelled) the works at TM due to their complexity but your timing remarks suggest fully electric departures will be possible on both routes.

  263. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    Both! They only usually get zapped when adjacent to an insulator and bridge it resulting in large puff of feathers. 25KV will only normally breakdown air if the distance is less than 8mm (unless holding a pointy conducting object). Remember the Barn Owl from Kent going for a snooze under the pantograph frame on Thameslink that got a rude awakening at City Thameslink last year… One of the best collapse of the TL core excuses I’ve heard.

    Expect a stream of better news from NR and GWR on the GW sparks front from now onwards.

  264. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    Diesel for the last few miles* into TM at least to begin with till all the prerequisites are dealt with (all need for other reasons capacity /journey time reasons):
    – Filton Bank re 4 tracking.
    – Dr Days Jn rebuild (southern end of the re 4 tracked section and also depot access)
    – Bristol TM station works (The former Post Office bridge and lifts down to platforms have now been removed for example.)
    – Resignalling

    * Probable western extents of electrification till the TM issues are sorted are at Keynsham 4.5miles east of TM (rather than just Bath) on the Bath route and Stoke Gifford (IEP depot already wired) 4.75miles further north of TM and just west of Bristol Parkway.

    The plan was both routes but (like Oxford too) there are a number of pre requisites that mean electrification can’t be completed (in some areas started) till other work has been done in early CP6 and they aren’t publishing any dates in CP6, Bath in Feb ’19 is the last bit of CP5 electrification completion (Bath Station rebuild blockade in April along with 2nd Keynsham station blockade at the same time)
    XC throw the toys out of the pram if NR try to do 2 sets of major works on their route at the same time as they can’t cope so the next few years will be interesting as June 2019 has both Oxford and Derby resignalling that are pre requisites of electrification and they won’t like lots of Bristol closures in the same time frame either.

  265. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Stationless (no longer),

    I understood that T4 was due to be relocated when the “Queens” Terminal is completed

    I think you are getting your terminals muddled up.

    Terminal 1 is demolished and evermore will be so.
    Terminal 2 (the current Queen’s building) is new having replaced the original terminals 1 and 2. By 2019 terminal 3 will be demolished and then Terminal 2 will be extended.

    So ultimately there will be terminals 2, 4 and 5.

    I think Heathrow Central, as it originally was, will soon become the most renamed station on the tube. Of course that depends on how often it officially got renamed.

    It will be interesting to see what it will be called when Crossrail starts using it. The Crossrail website refers to it as Heathrow Central on its pull down list of stations and as Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 on its route diagram. It also states (accurately but confusingly) “From May 2018, four trains an hour will run between Paddington and Heathrow terminals 2 to 4”.

    Will this station be the first Crossrail station to be renamed?

  266. ngh says:

    Re PoP and Stationless,

    The proposed T4 closure is linked to the 3rd Runway and T6 etc.

    Quite a bit of T1 is there as the new Terminal 2 uses some of the old T1 baggage system.

  267. Guy says:

    Speaking of Heathrow and getting back to HEX, I always thought the best option post-2023 (for Heathrow, Crossrail and passengers) was for Crossrail to take over and run express from Heathrow to Paddington then on to Abbey Wood. This would deliver a circa 30 minute Heathrow-Canary Wharf trip.

    Of course getting Heathrow on board (to the extent they have a veto over such matters, which I’m not entirely convinced they do) might involve charging a premium which could be challenging logistically as others have touched on.

    But does the current Crossrail infrastructure support a train moving from the main lines over to the Royal Oak tunnel portal (without causing significant effects on other services)?

  268. Greg Tingey says:

    What’s the current state of play on restoring 4 tracks up Filton Bank, then?
    Though the putative 2019 timings look good, if long overdue (pun!)

    PoP & ngh
    Depends on the position of the pigeon …
    I saw one evaporated, or at least exploded, when it flew between a slowly-moving pantograph & a train at Harlow, flashover-shorting through said birdie to train body in a puff of blue smoke & a few feathers.
    Driver had to re-set, as it had tripped the unit out…..

  269. Herned says:

    @ Greg – see here (not mine)

  270. Si says:


    Is T4 closure linked to T6/R3? I thought it was linked to the completion of ‘toast racking’ the other terminals. The confusion comes in as Heathrow assume R3 in their future growth plans.

  271. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ ngh – thanks for the Bristol update. Looks like it will be a long while before it is properly wired and connected up, if ever. Interesting remarks about Cross Country’s approach to large scale works. Seems a shame they are not simply told to put up with it rather than have important works delayed for months or years. I know they provide important connections on the rail network but they should not have an effective waiver to the progress of crucial schemes.

  272. AlisonW says:

    My assumption on LHR renaming was that the numbers would be dropped entirely, and you’d end up with Heathrow East (what was 1-2-3 or Central), Heathrow South (T4), and Heathrow West (T5). If a new third (seventh) runway goes ahead with a new terminal it would become Heathrow North.

  273. Malcolm says:

    AlisonW: An interesting idea, but is there any supporting evidence? Worldwide, terminals are nearly always numbered. Gatwick is different, but personally I find compass points much harder to memorise.

  274. Dan says:

    Terminal 6 will be immediately west of Terminal 5 with satellites between the existing North runway and the new third runway. Therefore the existing Terminal 5 station will serve it. Previous third runway proposals in the noughties had a Terminal 6 station on the line north of the airport.

  275. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Re Cross Country, and a vague attempt to get us back within the London Transport area…

    I once was in a meeting with them to talk about some relatively urgent weekend engineering work between Brighton and Gatwick. Southern and FCC (as was) agreed to it for their several hundred trains a day but CrossCountry would not because of their (then) once daily train from Brighton to Manchester(?) via Kenny O was going to be affected by another set of works at Leamington Spa. Their concern was anyone travelling from Brighton to north of Leamington Spa on that day with them would need to be bussed twice.

    After much lively discussion about the relative numbers of people affected, and the risks of not doing the work (speed restrictions, possible failures), they still wouldn’t budge. So I offered to hire a mini-bus, and personally drive any Brighton passengers with cross country tickets that day for any destination north of Leamington to their end destination.

    Possession agreed!

  276. Stationless (no longer) says:

    @PoP: As per Si’s post, I was referring to T4 being replaced in the “toast racking” plan.

  277. Malcolm says:

    SFD: A good anecdote. And did your new career as minibus-driver prosper, or were you forced to stick to the day job through lack of demand?

  278. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Malcolm: Cloudy memory, but I think I asked XC to check how many tickets for said journeys they sold for typical Sundays, to gauge the size of the minibus required. I had a hunch that most people travelling from Brighton to north of Coventry would go via London as it was much quicker, and that if a bus was required for any part of the journey, they would be unlikely to travel at all.

    When they realised that – as I suspected – most weekends the custom could be fitted in my 2 seater, common sense prevailed, and my minibus driving remains untested.

  279. Tom Hawtin says:

    @Dan Heathrow’s video shows a station between T6 & T5 to the west of the current platforms (according to my memory). It has five tracks (including two Piccadilly) with platform edges on both sides. Whether that is a commitment or artistic licence, I don’t know. They have also used a figurative picture of literally five lines to illustrate the five planned lines (Piccadilly, Heathrow Express, Crossrail, WRLtH, SRAtH). Heathrow’s pledges tend to include words such as “support” and “campaign” rather than money.

  280. timbeau says:

    The use of compass points for the terminals of one airport and numbers for the other has its advantages – to many people, especially visitors to a city, the name of the city’s airport is not particularly memorable (as far as they are concerned the airport they arrived at is “London Airport” – they know of no other). So a cabbie will ask “which terminal” on picking up his passenger, not because he needs to know that detail at that point, but to check that he is taking the passenger to the right airport!

  281. Phil says:

    Re Walthamstow Writer

    The basic point is this, commuters traveling from the likes of Maidenhead, Twyford, etc into Central London deserve trains with an interior fit out suited to that distance – which means no transverse seats and the presence of toilets (though first class is less important).

    TfL’s proposals wax lyrical about increased frequencies and longer trains but there is zero in there which actually recognizes that there is a price to pay with respect to on board comfort from TfLs proposals. The current Turbo DMUs may be short – but they do have a decent number of seats, toilets and first class accommodation – all of which is well appreciated by Thames Valley users.

    Given trains only exist in the first place because of said users, their views are just as important as any grand plan the DfT, TfL or even the rail industry may want to adopt, regardless of how ‘easy’ it might make things (Remember how Wimbledon Loop users strong feelings have influenced Thameslinks future service plan)

    Claiming that being able to catch a glorified tube train every 10 minutes somehow makes up for the lack of mod cons you have had for decades is nonsense – and much as Wimbledon loop users didn’t like the idea of losing direct trains to the City, so Thames Valley users don’t appreciate TfL attempting to take away their on board facilities!

    As I said before this mess has come about precisely because of the imbalance in branches between east and west. Rather than trying to hijack other peoples train paths TfL should be investigating ways of opening up another destination for Crossrail trains that doesn’t involve the GWML and be pushing that forward as the solution to what to do with all those extra trains it wants to push through the core.

    Re Various posters as regards the GWML electrification.

    Under the revised proposals, the wires will only go from London to Cardiff via Bristol Parkway and as far as Chippenham on the Bath line. The choice of Chippenham is because one of the feeders from the national grid for the electrification scheme is located near there and a large substation has already been constructed for the purpose – which would need replicating somewhere else on the Bristol Parkway route were wires not to extend to Chippenham.

    Bath and Bristol will thus be served by IEPs / class 800s running in diesel mode from Chippenham / Bristol Parkway

    Once initial stage of electrification is up and running and the Bristol + Bath areas have been resignalled (the current signalling is not AC immune) electrification pf those areas will follow, as it will to Oxford (again subject to the replacement of the non AC immune signalling) plus Newbury and Swansea gradually increasing the amount of miles the class 800s do under electric power.

  282. ngh says:

    Re Phil,

    “Given trains only exist in the first place because of said users”
    But TfL are also thinking about the future users too – the number fo new future users could well be larger than the existing user numbers within decade.

    Also worth noting that with decent performance electric stock the inner Thames Valley services will get quicker journey times than today…

    The current Reading (Stopping) / Henley / Maidenhead / Windsor / Greenford services only have toilets (and first class which GWR is gradually removing from some DMUs to add extra capacity) because it is a shared fleet based at Reading Depot with the DMUs also running the longer time /distance Bedwyn /Basingrad / Gatwick and Oxford stoppers. There is no DfT requirement (“journey time” less than 1hr) for the services east of Reading to have toilets. For comparison SWT Windsor & Eton Riverside and many Southern Metro services that have longer journey times than those GWR ones also don’t have toilets. TfL is doing what GWR could have done if the depot setup / fleet arrangements had been different.

    Re Various posters as regards the GWML electrification.

    Under the revised proposals, the wires will only go from London to Cardiff via Bristol Parkway and as far as Chippenham on the Bath line. The choice of Chippenham is because one of the feeders from the national grid for the electrification scheme is located near there and a large substation has already been constructed for the purpose – which would need replicating somewhere else on the Bristol Parkway route were wires not to extend to Chippenham.

    Bath and Bristol will thus be served by IEPs / class 800s running in diesel mode from Chippenham / Bristol Parkway

    Once initial stage of electrification is up and running and the Bristol + Bath areas have been resignalled (the current signalling is not AC immune) electrification pf those areas will follow, as it will to Oxford (again subject to the replacement of the non AC immune signalling) plus Newbury and Swansea gradually increasing the amount of miles the class 800s do under electric power.

    Not quite correct
    – As I mentioned above Parkway and Chippenham (or rather Thingley Jn west of Chippenham) are the western extents of electrification for the December 2018 timetable change but it is worth noting that NR have published (in 2017!) a date of February 2019 for Bath go live – the last date noted in CP5 (i.e. pre April 2019)
    – Newbury is December 2018 go live and electrification work has already taken place over more than half the distance between Reading and Newbury, mostly at the Newbury end.

    The April 2017 block closures of Bath and Keynsham include some of the resignalling work…

  283. Graham H says:

    @Phil – “Rather than trying to hijack other peoples train paths TfL should be investigating ways of opening up another destination for Crossrail trains that doesn’t involve the GWML” Handy wavy stuff, really – now if only London was in the middle of the island, or … Easy armchair generalship.

    It’s jolly entertaining that after all the public demands for CrossRail1 to go ever further into the Thames valley (and beyond,indeed) we now have people demanding it goes somewhere else.

    You know, the last time the punters were offered through services from places like Slough onto the Underground, there were emphatically no loos, no first class and journey times every bit as long as now, if not longer. First class may well disappear anyway under the pressure to find ever more capacity on trains (SE Trains passim, already vanished on SW medium distance runs), and as for loos,it has been pointed out that stations will be equipped. Why is that not adequate? On Benthamite principles,why should a minority of the Thames valley commuters be privileged?

  284. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Re Services from Slough to the Underground : oddly the November 1863 timetable shows the 0755 from Windsor calling most stations to Bishops Road (arr 0900) and Farringdon St (0918), but not Slough!

    There was first class though…

  285. KitGreen says:

    Re Phil
    commuters traveling from the likes of Maidenhead, Twyford, etc into Central London deserve trains with an interior fit out suited to that distance – which means no transverse seats and the presence of toilets

    This is just entitled thinking. Only when the users require no subsidy from any public body, whether to TOCs or NR, can they start dictating what they get.

  286. Stuart says:

    I have seen in various BAA documents re Heathrow that they are certainly talking about Heathrow East (T2, T3 subject to major redevelopment) and Heathrow West (T5 plus potential T6 development to the west of the current T5) and to be short-lived Heathrow South (T4, likely to be redeveloped as further cargo capacity, so not likely to remain on a future rail network)

  287. RNHJ says:


    Re. Future rail service: Don’t forget the numbers employed in the area. It’s not just about air passengers and hangers-on.

  288. Graham H says:

    @SFD – I had in mind the various through peak services from Slough/Hayes over the Circle to Liverpool St which ceased at the last War (about 7 of these each way – but my 1939 Bradshaw doesn’t give much detail and you have to trace them across at least two timetables/footnotes); marked by a change of traction at Paddington,which led to the unusual but regular sight of a Met electric loco sitting in a platform on the H&C side. Compartment stock only,however, with no facilities!

    @Kit Green – Quite so. The other thing is that all public transport is necessarily a compromise (by definition) because it cannot offer individuals direct travel from their sofa to their desk at the time they want and with a quality tailored to their precise individual needs, and so, in case of the Thames Valley there is the trade off between direct journeys and the ontrain facilities. If the analysts have done their work properly,they will have measured this and taken it into account. In the case of TfL, they do have some of the most sophisticated systems for evaluating needs and preferences in the UK.

  289. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @KitGreen: commuters traveling from the likes of Maidenhead, Twyford, etc into Central London deserve trains with an interior fit out suited to that distance

    By all accounts probably no longer time spent on them than say the Central Line from West Ruislip or Epping and almost certainly less than on a Met Line train from Amersham or Chesham.

  290. ReadingOnThames says:

    I’m slightly confused as to whether Reading and Maidenhead would now share the same services – 4tph to each, or whether Maidenhead still gets a further 2tph that turn back there?

    I worry slightly about this talk of reduction in services on the GWR reliefs as it could adversely affect commuting INTO Reading from towns between Reading and Paddington.

  291. Jeremy says:

    @Kit Green: “This is just entitled thinking.”

    Yes. I’m absolutely unconvinced that the current Turbo experience from these stations in any way constitutes a better experience than what is proposed. It’s critical that good toilet facilities be provided at Crossrail stations, but demanding their presence on the train is actually daft in the context of a frequent service with many stops. There are plenty of people who commute over similar journey times on (for example) Great Northern out of Moorgate with no loos on board.

    I’m also unconvinced that the removal of non-Crossrail diesel services from the reliefs will adversely affect access to Reading. The proposed mix of retaining some peak calls on the fasts and a frequent and capacious (and fast-accelerating) stopping service should mean significant improvement for these journeys too.

    The change to seating configurations seems to really get people’s backs up. As a frequent user of London Overground for journeys around the half-hour mark I wasn’t sure it would be a good change when proposed. Turns out it’s massively improved the experience. Travelling whilst sat sideways isn’t anywhere near as objectionable as people make out, and thousands of tube commuters from the outer reaches of Zones 5/6+ do it every day for similar lengths of time.

    We’re talking about faster journeys for anyone not actually going *to* Paddington station itself, with air-conditioning, more space, less kerfuffle. Those complaining that it’s going to spoil the romance of a journey in a massively-overcrowded mouldy old DMU don’t have my sympathy.

  292. Alan Griffiths says:

    ngh @ 17 March 2017 at 10:13

    ” NR have published (in 2017!) a date of February 2019 for Bath go live – the last date noted in CP5 (i.e. pre April 2019)
    – Newbury is December 2018 go live”

    I think you’ll find that was outdated by the Minister’s written statement on US Presidential election day.

  293. Malcolm says:

    Let’s not overdo it. The demand for toilets and antimacassars from Maidenhead can be refuted either by saying it’s not necessary, or by saying it’s not very nice anyway (“massively-overcrowed mouldy old DMU”). But to deploy both arguments at once is somewhat self-defeating.

  294. Anonymous says:


    Roger Ford is reporting that the DfT have asked Hitachi to uprate the diesel engines on the bi-mode IEPs to 125mph capability, thereby helping further with your calculations (and addressing electrification delay impacts on timetabling). I dread to think how much they are going to have to pay Hitachi for this…

  295. quinlet says:

    @Alan Griffiths
    Err – presidential election day was in October 2016 so can hardly out date a 2017 statement.

  296. Littlejohn says:

    Alan Griffiths – I don’t know about Bath but everybody here in Newbury is still expecting December 2018 – and works on the ground support this expectation.

  297. Miffy says:

    “@Tom Hawtin
    17 March 2017 at 03:40
    @Dan Heathrow’s video shows a station between T6 & T5 to the west of the current platforms …
    ….It has five tracks (including two Piccadilly) …..
    …..Whether that is a commitment or artistic licence, I don’t know. …..”

    The station already exists under T5. In addition to the currently operational platforms, there’s hidden provision for the additional platforms to serve rail links from the west.

    Behind the false wall on the right….


  298. Simon Of Ilford says:


    Thanks for your reply. I remain convinced that passengers from Maryland – Ilford would be better off if there were still shorter distance trains that start and end at Ilford, as this way these trains would be less crowded (people who wish to travel beyond Ilford would not board them) and there would be reduced possibility of being left behind because the trains are too crowded.

    In addition, passengers from stations Seven Kings – Shenfield would also benefit because they would not be competing for space (on the trains) with passengers going to Maryland, Forest Gate, Manor Park or Ilford. Walthamstow Writer is correct in saying that I believe that today’s position should always be better than yesterday’s* and I am peeved that as far as rush hour travel is concerned this is not and will not be the situation on this railway route. Off-peak however is different, as whereas Maryland, Forest Gate and Manor Park used to have a train every 20 minutes it is now every 10 minutes and under Crossrail it might yet become even more frequent.

    *I hold this view for all aspects of life but that is OT for here.

    @Briantist (Haisen-tetsu)

    I only counted the trains – not compare stopping patterns, exact times the trains run or journey durations.

    I was extremely surprised to find that in both 1980 and 2017 Romford station is indeed served by the same number of trains which depart from Liverpool Street between 16:00 and 19:00. However in 1980 there were another five trains which did not reach Romford – because they terminated at Ilford. I explain how these five trains benefit all passengers along the entire route in my reply to POP (above).

    Anyway, yes, Romford passengers really will benefit from an actual capacity increase when the 9 car Class 345 trains are running, although the extra station stops en route will mean that it might be faster to travel on Great Anglia trains, at least to Stratford – if not the whole way to Liverpool Street. A lot will depend on the ultimate destination of the passenger and the (as yet unknown) interchange walking distances at Liverpool Street.

    @ Graham H

    You are thinking of the GWR City stock passenger carriages which between Paddington and Aldgate were hauled by Metropolitan Railway electric locomotives. One of these carriages has been restored and can sometimes be travelled on at the Didcot Railway Centre. However none of the 1920s articulated trainsets are known to have survived. As you said, the start of WW2 saw these trains stop travelling east of Paddington. The war also saw the end of the “Southend Corridor Express” through trains between Ealing Broadway and Southend On Sea.

    As an aside, one of the GWR branch lines the GWR City Stock trains served left the mainline near to West Drayton station and went north to Cowley station and Uxbridge Vine Street station. In the 1930s passengers travelling from Kings Cross to Uxbridge had a choice of three broadly dissimilar routes, all on through trains! The Piccadilly Line, Metropolitan Railway / Line and GWR City stock. I think the Met’s services were the fastest, but in those days some trains ran non-stop between Finchley Road and Rayners Lane.

    I wonder, had the GWR Uxbridge Vine Street branch survived to the present era would some of the Crossrail trains which will end their journeys at Paddington have been extended to there… ? We will never know, as the route has been lost to the railway, making the present generation poorer because of the actions of the previous generation.

  299. Graham H says:

    @Simon of Ilford -yes, that’s the stock I had in mind! (Must look out for the preserved vehicle on my next visit to Didcot – didn’t know it was there). In Another Place, there’s a nice photo of a Met electric loco sitting quietly in the platform at Paddington.

  300. Ian J says:

    @Simon: had the GWR Uxbridge Vine Street branch survived to the present era would some of the Crossrail trains which will end their journeys at Paddington have been extended to there

    Given the analogy with the Greenford branch (where Crossrail isn’t going to, and has caused the end of the through service to Paddington), or any of the other GWML branches (except Heathrow, which is a special case because of its economic importance), I doubt it.

  301. Greg Tingey says:

    SoI & IanJ
    Uxbridge had 2 branches … the real missed-proposal was to joint them up, giving a Padddington – UXB – PAD loop service.
    If WWII had not intervened it was a possibility

  302. Alan Griffiths says:

    quinlet @ 17 March 2017 at 16:32

    ” Err – presidential election day was in October 2016 so can hardly out date a 2017 statement.”

    So it was (there’s me looking foolish)! but the Minister’s statement postponed sizeable bits of the electrification indefinitely.

    Littlejohn @ 17 March 2017 at 17:20

    “Newbury is still expecting December 2018 – and works on the ground support this expectation.”

    Newbury wasn’t mentioned in the Minister’s statement, leaving readers guessing

  303. RogerB says:

    we here in Bath aren’t now expecting our wires until Temple Meads is rebuilt, if then. The publicity leads one to believe we will have faster trains, but whereas Bristol might get a faster service if the non-stop Parkways happen I can’t see how we would.
    It’s going to be interesting getting on and off a 26m coach at Bath Spa.

  304. ngh says:

    Re Roger B,

    It’s going to be interesting getting on and off a 26m coach at Bath Spa.

    Really? 😉 The main part of the Bath station rebuild starts on Saturday 8th April which will see the tracks realigned, both platforms widened by 6′ and all the gap/step height issues sorted. The platform lengthening of the Down platform (by 2.5 car) to take 10x 26m for IEP will take place later in 2017. The Station work (both April and later in 2017 is part of the IEProgramme which actually makes electrification harder as they weren’t co-planned so the electrification takes the nth fiddle and has to work around everything else that was already planned.

  305. ngh says:

    Re Alan Griffiths,

    The ministerial statement was deliberately vague and focused on the December 18 TT change and the end of CP5 at the end of FY18/19.

    Re Anonymous @ 15:52

    Roger Ford is reporting that the DfT have asked Hitachi to uprate the diesel engines on the bi-mode IEPs to 125mph capability, thereby helping further with your calculations (and addressing electrification delay impacts on timetabling). I dread to think how much they are going to have to pay Hitachi for this…

    But as I understand it all the detail on cost and paying for it hasn’t been sorted. The question is how many arms and legs…

    The main issues with more 125mph rather than 100mph running on derated (via software) diesel engines is the increase in wear and maintenance requirements on the engine rafts. Hitachi’s original price will have been based on lower 100mph maintenance levels so if Hitachi need a bigger facility (both space and equipment) and more staff (especially if on shift basis), the additional incremental maintenance will actually cost Hitachi quite bit which they will pass through to DfT, even if the extra facilities and staff are only need for the relatively short term (i.e. if electrification continues)

    But there is window of opportunity for a “Goldie Locks” solution:
    If the 125mph sections of line can be electrified before all the IEPs enter service the additional extra maintenance required in the short term on the non derated engines could be handled but the original size of facility /staffing so the cost would be far less with just additional parts and staff hours (some staff just recruited earlier though most already hired anyway)

    So how much further electrification is needed to quickly eliminate 125mph IEP running on diesel to minimise costs?
    There is just 5m 21ch of 125mph running west of the main major substation at Thingley Jn (West of Chippenham – the actual 400KV 3phase National Grid feed is just along the branch line from Thingley Jn at Melksham.) All the prerequisite civils (inc. Box Tunnel lowering in 2016) have been done on this section so should be an easy high value add on as soon after Dec 2018 (hence NR’s recent quiet publication of Feb 2019 for Bath???)

    Hence there is high probability of a cheap temporary derating option if NR’s works all meet current deadlines (which is looking likely unlike previous deadlines)

    The other question is can the IEPs when introduced keep to the HST timings before the December 2018 TT change? Selective use of IEPs on the least problematic services (i.e. via Oxford), Paddington – Didcot electrified initially and lower dwell times due to power doors suggest they might on most routes but might need to have uprated engines along some routes (especially limited stop services).

  306. ngh says:

    Re Simon Of Ilford

    I remain convinced that passengers from Maryland – Ilford would be better off if there were still shorter distance trains that start and end at Ilford, as this way these trains would be less crowded (people who wish to travel beyond Ilford would not board them) and there would be reduced possibility of being left behind because the trains are too crowded.

    I’d love to see the effect this would have on the crowding assessments on the all core central stations in the evening peak where the whole idea is not to have “interesting” stopping pattern but high frequencies so there aren’t lots of passengers waiting on the platforms. Is your nice stopping pattern really worth billions in extra costs for larger station caverns? The simple answer is no as the passengers would never want to pay the extra for it and you appear to have missed larger items from the bigger picture…

  307. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Simon of Ilford,

    I wonder, had the GWR Uxbridge Vine Street branch survived to the present era would some of the Crossrail trains which will end their journeys at Paddington have been extended to there… ? We will never know, as the route has been lost to the railway, making the present generation poorer because of the actions of the previous generation.

    I think you only need look to Mary Poppins for your answer.

    Practically perfect people never permit sentiment to muddle their thinking.

    To me it is an interesting hypothetical question and I think I can be pretty sure what the answer would have been.

    One way to look for inspiration is to look at branch lines off Crossrail that are still open and see if it has affected them in this way. The answer is a resounding no. So, if it doesn’t apply to open lines it is unlikely to apply to a closed line. The reason for this is quite apparent to me. It would be an operational folly to introduce a branch off Crossrail that has a flat junction. Even terminating in a side bay, Ilford-style, is avoided wherever possible and I believe it does not happen on the Shenfield branch. It is unavoidable at West Drayton and Maidenhead on the Reading branch.

    I believe that if the Uxbridge branch was still operational, or even if the trackbed was still there and there was a grade-separated junction then you would have been seeing Crossrail trains to Uxbridge. Without an existing grade separated junction, which is very expensive to build, if the branch still existed it would have been just a branch feeder service into Crossrail just like the other branches that connect to it.

  308. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    “It is unavoidable at West Drayton and Maidenhead on the Reading branch.”

    But Maidenhead has the new centre turnback siding west of the station that has just been installed for Crossrail to avoid this…

  309. ngh,

    Pleased to hear this which I didn’t know about. That makes my point even stronger. Ironically, the one place left where Crossrail will turnback on a timetabled basis without a conflict-free route is West Drayton (2tph in the peak) which is precisely where the Uxbridge Vine St branch joined the existing railway.

  310. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Phil – others have already responded in a way I would have done. I make this additional point. If Thames Valley commuters are as aggrieved as you suggest they are, then I trust they will make full use of the open and accessible feedback channels to the DfT and to Mr Chris Grayling. And no I haven’t the faintest idea where those channels are or how to find them but they must be there because Mr Grayling doesn’t believe in nasty Labour Mayors being in charge of railways and Mr G *is* a joint sponsor for Crossrail *and* in charge of the GW franchise. Therefore I am sure he will listen and send those nasty horrible commies in TfL packing with their anti Thames Valley ideas.

    Is that sarcastic enough for you?

    I actually think ngh is probably spot on with his hypothesis about the future structure of services out of Paddington and Thames Valley commuters will just have to live with the decision to let Crossrail run the lion’s share of relief line services.

  311. Littlejohn says:

    Re Greg and the Uxbridge branch lines. I lived in Uxbridge off and on for about 20 years and often pondered on this possibility. Certainly the orientation and elevation of the two terminals made an end-to-end connection impossible (apart from the necessity for on-street running down the High Street). However the High Street station platforms were on an embankment and the line *could* have crossed the High Street on a bridge and then curved round through Uxbridge Moor, meeting the Vine Street line near Cowley and avoiding most of the built up area. Vine Street station and the approach would be abandoned. The real question however is what demand would it meet and would it be cost effective? I suspect it is just croyonism.
    As a matter of interest, a length of the Vine Street track remained in situ in front of Brunel University and was clearly visible from the road. Is it still there? The facing of one of the Vine street platforms remained in use as a retaining wall when Vine Street station became a car park.

  312. RogerB says:

    ngh, thanks.
    I thought the Bath Spa down platform lengthening was in the April window, but looking at preparatory works on site I’m not so sure.
    My concern was not the famous leap at the Bristol end of the down, but rather the curvature. Widening the platforms doesn’t alter the number of degrees the train has to turn through between arriving and departing, although I guess there is scope to even out the curves.
    I’ve heard no rumours here of extending the wires west of Thingley Junction, but we’d be the last to hear. It would certainly improve the IEP’s prospects if the long haul up through Box Tunnel was electrified.

  313. Jonathan Roberts says:

    I have an early aerial photo which shows that the Uxbridge High Street line DID cross the road on a bridge, though it stopped immediately afterwards!

    GWR had planned a linked chord onwards to join the Vine Street line some way southwards towards Cowley, but the Joint Line passenger traffic never developed to the extent that it warranted a through suburban loop service with equal proportions of passenger volumes on both radial legs.

    It was the GC/LNE suburban trains from Marylebone to High Wycombe which offered the main Joint Line commuter service at local stations. Railmotors were the main offering on GW local services via Northolt, through to the 1930s and 40s.

    Quite how the GW electrification scheme from North Acton to West Ruislip and briefly Denham (to be provided by Central London Line trains) justified itself as a service improvement in the mid 1930s, still eludes me, despite having the relevant Standing Joint Committee business case reports in my library!

    Basically, high hopes of lots of infill housing development appeared to be the rationale, to offset the poor VfM eastern New Works Programme schemes (NE London, and Shenfield electrifications) which struggled to pay their way even with Government-backed funds from the London Electric Transport Finance Corporation share issue in 1935. Possibly the benefits of a western tube depot were also useful, to complement that in the east at Hainault.

  314. Littlejohn says:

    @Jonathan R. Thanks – I was going to say that I don’t remember the bridge, just the platforms. However, from photos on the Disused Stations website ( it appears that the span across the High Street had gone by 1929.

  315. Jonathan Roberts says:

    Thanks for that link. The article says the road bridge went in 1922. These days a through route might be considered handy not for Crossrail but for Chilterns-Heathrow access, however that is impossible now!

  316. Man of Kent says:

    @JR @Littlejohn

    The NLS map website actually has a Bartholomew half-inch map (said to be from the period 1897-1907) with the connecting line marked on it:

  317. Moosealot says:

    @PoP 13:53 18/3/17

    I’m surprised that nothing’s been done at West Drayton [WDT] for this. Assuming that no up trains on the reliefs want to call at WDT while there is a Liz Line terminator in the platform: a crossover from Up Relief to Up Freight to the West of the station would allow through Up services to use the freight loop to bypass the station, freeing the Up Relief platform for the terminator. A down-up crossover East of the station (but west of the Up Goods to Up Relief switch to prevent any conflicts there) would allow WDT reversers to do so in the Up Relief platform without any conflicts.

  318. Greg Tingey says:

    Map of Uxbridge in the 1920’s
    The terminus of the short-lived Northerly branch is just visible at the top. But this shows the difficulties that might have been faced in joing the two lines up, maybe.

  319. Littlejohn says:

    @Man of Kent. Thanks – it is gratifying to see that my mental crayonism all those years ago actually had some basis. Or maybe it is just that that is the only possible route a connection could have taken.

  320. MikeR says:

    @JR @Littlejohn The NLS page shows that Braybourne Close was built along the embankment. I lived in No 75 in the eighties. It was 2 stories at the front and three stories at the back.

  321. straphan says:

    The other bay platform which will require crossing over in the face of up trains on the western side of Crossrail will be Hayes & Harlington. At least I assume Crossrail trains may end up terminating there. If not, what was the point of building/extending the bay? Surely not just so that the Class 387 shuttles could terminate there for a couple of years?

  322. timbeau says:

    That link shows what looks to be an earthwork branching off the Vine Street line exactly on the route of the proposed link (near Walford Road) as shown on the NLS map, and the modern aerial view also seems to show the edge of an open space following the same curve. This suggests the GWR’s link plans got considerably further than the Crayon stage, and real shovels were involved.

  323. Jeremy says:

    @straphan: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hayes and Harlington bay were entirely justified by the potential need to turn Heathrow trains early in the event of an incident affecting services to the airport, and to deal with the number of passengers who would need to alight/board trains there during such disruption…

  324. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Although I can’t say for sure, I suspect that the H&H bay will be designated as an emergency reversal point in case a problem occurs on the Heathrow branch.

  325. Jeremy,

    You beat me to it. As far as I am aware there are no plans to include timetabled terminations at Hayes & Harlington after 2018.

  326. Straphan,

    Yes, but the fallout from not having the turnback in an emergency may well justify its existence. We are talking about bad publicity for the UK as perceived abroad. It almost certainly is an exceptional case.

    I do wonder if this is also related to the station rebuilding and the desire to have true step-free (no lifts involved) access to the pick-up bays to facilitate a workable alternative to getting to Heathrow if in dire need*.

    * Like Heathrow Express loses its access rights on the GWML and gets a sulk on and so closes the Heathrow rail tunnels.

  327. straphan says:

    @PoP: But if there is a problem on the Heathrow branch, there will be no train service from the airport and people from abroad will most certainly notice… Not sure I understand your argument there… Moreover, since the West Drayton turnback is only supposed to be used twice hourly in the peaks, it could just as well be used to terminate Heathrow branch trains if these cannot get to Heathrow – all for a fraction of the cost of the Hayes bay.

    Also, when the Paddington-Hayes shuttle operated only in the peaks, it terminated at Heathrow Airport Junction. Not sure why Crossrail trains couldn’t do the same in an emergency.

    All in all, I appreciate the Hayes bay improves resilience, I just wonder if it was worth those few million to spruce up…

    Also, as far as your snipping of my last comment goes, you might as well delete it more-or-less in its entirety, as it makes little sense without the part you chose to remove.

  328. straphan,

    Damage limitation. Arriving passengers will at least have the Piccadilly line. If the service becomes unavailable, for whatever reason, when people have already commenced their journey then there could be some hope of getting them to Heathrow on time. At least it would be better than leaving them stranded on trains.

    All one can do is mitigate against worst case scenarios. That might be acceptable if not ideal but not to have a plan in place at all …

    Also, as far as your snipping of my last comment goes, you might as well delete it more-or-less in its entirety, as it makes little sense without the part you chose to remove

    I can’t understand that at all as it appeared to be having a dig rather than making a relevant comment. But happy to oblige. Entire comment gone.

  329. straphan says:


    If the service becomes unavailable, for whatever reason, when people have already commenced their journey then there could be some hope of getting them to Heathrow on time. At least it would be better than leaving them stranded on trains.

    In what way would they be stranded? If Heathrow is shut, it will still be possible to have trains call at Hayes & Harlington and then have them terminate at West Drayton, where the bay will be completely empty in the off-peak and barely used (2tph) in the peak.

    Not to mention that while bus 350 runs from Hayes & Harlington to Heathrow T5 via West Drayton, it takes close to forever to run between the two stations, before making a more-or-less straight run to T5 from West Drayton via Harmondsworth.

    The Hayes & Harlington bay only really makes sense during engineering works, when there is an all-line block west thereof. But given half of the junction complex is only a few years old (and the rest thoroughly renewed as part of the construction of the additional flyover), I do wonder when Network Rail will feel the need to close all lines in the area again…

  330. Perhaps stranded wasn’t quite the right word.

    If the tunnel is shut then you have to terminate trains from London to Heathrow somewhere. Even if that is beyond H&H you are going to potentially have long dwell times at H&H and these would block trains that need to go further (e.g. West Drayton to terminate). By having the bay platform you can be unloading one train and still leave the through lines free so the service does not clog up with trains queuing on the relief line to disgorge their passengers at H&H.

    People get less stressed and are less likely to consider themselves stranded (even if not quite the correct word) if they are waiting at a station rather than waiting on a train between stations. The psychologists tell us it is all about believing we are in control – even if the reality is that we are not.

  331. straphan says:

    I don’t think we’re quite on the same page here, PoP.

    The closure of the Heathrow branch will affect 4tph at most. It really isn’t an impossible task to terminate these trains in one bay platform at West Drayton, particularly in the off-peak. The Hayes bay helps in emergencies, of course, but I don’t think it’s so essential that millions had to be spent on it being built specifically for this purpose.

  332. timbeau says:

    @PoP /Straphan
    I think it depends which is the better railhead for Heathrow if the tunnel is blocked.

    H&H has the 140 to Heathrow Central, but West Drayton has the 222 and U3 to Central and the 350 to terminal 5. If the latter is used, there would be no extended dwell times at H&H.

    Southall (105) and Slough (75-78) also have direct bus services to Heathrow, if the pressure gets too great on those two – Slough has a bay as well.

    (As Straphan notes, the 350 calls at both H&H and West Drayton, but you would change at the latter for connections to Heathrow.)

  333. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I would like to think they could provide coaches rather than rely on existing services. Does raise the point though about should you distribute the people at various stations to stop one designated one getting clogged up?

  334. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I think people might be shocked if the 222 went to Heathrow. It serves the Bath Road but not any of the bus stations at or close to a terminal. The 350 is shortly to be downgraded to a single decker and have its frequency cut by 40% so its ability to cope with diverted airport traffic is questionable at best. Although busy the 140 is the better option given its use of double deckers and high frequency if you need to shift displaced rail passengers. PoP is right that the best option would be to deploy a rail replacement service but these take time to arrange even if the operator has a stand by contract with an operator who has the ability to take on emergency cover work.

  335. ngh says:

    Re PoP & Staphan,

    One reason for the Hayes bay platform is that it is east of an electrical isolation section and West Drayton is to the west of the isolation section thus having the Hayes bay platform gives an option in the event of disruption for some of the Reading / Maidenhead / West Drayton services to turn back at Hayes instead of Paddington and reduce the over crowding on the Heathrows if they are still running. It’s not directly about Heathrow…

  336. straphan says:

    @PoP: Not sure what your experience of dealing with major incidents on the railway has been. My experience tells me that even near Heathrow it would take a few hours to muster enough buses/coaches (and – more importantly – drivers) to get some sort of replacement service going.

    @timbeau: H&H has the 140 to Heathrow Central, 350 to T5 and 90 to Hatton Cross (where you can change for T4). West Drayton has U3 to Heathrow Central*, 350 to T5 and nothing that would give you a decent connection to T4. All routes mentioned have a weekday daytime frequency of 12 minutes or better, although the 350 is due to be significantly cut back at the end of April due to the following:

    In any case, a train terminating at West Drayton would first call at H&H, where passengers for T2, 3 and 4 would be told to get off and catch the relevant bus; whereas passengers for T5 would be told to stay until West Drayton and take the 350.

    *The 222 only runs along the Bath Road and then turns off towards Sipson, Cowley and Uxbridge. It does not go into Heathrow proper.

  337. Anonymous says:

    The line from Hayes & Harlington to Heathrow will still need maintaining, yes you can do most of that in overnight blocks, but a bay at H&H would be rather helpful for the weekends where disruptive possessions are required. Especially if you are still running a booked service on the rest of the line. Psychologically as well for passengers, H&H and then a planned replacement bus may not be as bad as a West Drayton one would.

    And even if the possession strategy for the tunnels allows you to block only during overnight “white space” it’s arguably a rather sensible place for a extra turn back.

  338. timbeau says:

    Sorry, I misread the map for the 222.

    But getting people into the Heathrow complex is the priority – there are several ways of transferring between terminals once you get there (e.g the Piccadilly Line)

    The presence of the isolation section does make H&H a better option though.

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