There are those who believe that London’s local rail services would be better managed by TfL. For most of 2016 all the signs seemed to indicate that TfL would be invited to do just that. We look at the chain of events that led to this policy’s sudden reverse.

Taking control of more of London’s suburban railway network has long been a TfL goal. Until recently things certainly seemed to be moving in this direction, with plans for TfL’s primary national rail network subsidiary, London Overground, to take over much of London’s metro services.

Things had started off very well in January 2016 with a document, A new approach to rail passenger services in London and the South East, published jointly by the DfT and TfL. As if to emphasise the organisations’ unity of purpose, the document even began with a joint statement by then-London Mayor Boris Johnson, and the Secretary of State (SoS) for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin. The document put forward the case for more TfL control over London rail services. Over the following months it became clear that this wasn’t just intended to be a positioning paper. Indeed for most of 2016, all the signs indicated that TfL would be invited to take over Southeastern Metro services in 2018 when the existing franchise came to an end.

The Mayoral elections were due in May 2016 and Boris Johnson did not intend to run for a third term. It was clear that the two protagonists were aware of this and that it was by no means inevitable that the next Mayor would also be a Conservative, like both Johnson and McLoughlin. All the major political parties appeared to be in favour of TfL rail devolution though, so it seemed clear that this was a policy that was intended to be implemented regardless of who the new London Mayor would be.

Additional positive news for supporters of rail devolution was that the Secretary of State for Transport seemed well-settled in his job – a role notorious for having short-term ministers. More encouraging still was the fact that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, was known to intensely dislike cabinet reshuffles. As a result, Patrick McLoughlin seemed unlikely to be moved on from the DfT.

A new Mayor

In May 2016 Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor of London. Despite being a member of the Labour Party, early indications were that it was “business as usual,” with the new Mayor taking over much of his predecessor’s policies in the area of transport. This was hardly a surprise. So far the London mayoralty has had a habit of driving all its office holders somewhat to the political left, at least in terms of transport. Boris Johnson had thus taken over many of his Labour predecessor’s transport policies when he had assumed office, with only an obsession for getting rid of bendy-buses and introducing a modern variation of the Routemaster initially representing a major policy shift. Most notably, on being elected, Boris Johnson had quickly given his full support to the expansion of London Overground – a noted free-marketeer thus becoming an advocate for quasi-state intervention in this area at least.

The change of Mayor in May 2016 apparently did little to change plans for a Southeastern Metro takeover, despite requiring a Labour Mayor to work with a Conservative government.

Again here the presence of Patrick McLoughlin as Secretary of State for Transport no doubt helped. A pragmatist with a more than passing understanding of the problems facing Britain’s railways (historically not a trait that all occupants of the office have shared), McLoughlin had never seemed too encumbered by political idealism. It was he who appointed Sir Peter Hendy, then Commissioner of Transport in London, as Chairman of Network Rail. To say that Sir Peter isn’t known for his adherence to right-wing ideology would be something of an understatement. McLoughlin had clearly decided though that this didn’t matter – he was simply the best man for the job. Indeed a by-product of this appointment seemed to be near-guaranteed support from Network Rail for rail devolution to TfL of further rail services, for which Sir Peter had always been a fervent advocate as the organisation’s ostensible head.

As if all these signs weren’t positive enough, it even looked like one of the long term objections to further devolution had finally begun to weaken. Since the earliest days of London Overground, a frequently quoted issue had been that of TfL running services beyond the London border. Doing so, opponents to further devolution pointed out, would raise issues of accountability. For TfL would be running services in counties that had no direct ability to hold the organisation to political account. Indeed there had been particularly vocal opposition early on from some political figures within counties such as Kent in this regard.

As existing and new Overground services either continued to run well or improved, however, the number of voices making such arguments seemed to gradually diminish. Increasingly it seemed as if everyone knew that London knew it was not in its interests to short change those who journeyed into the capital from outside. A city that relies on connectivity and people working together was simply not going to adopt a parochial stance – or at least not one parochial enough that it would not be outweighed by the likely service improvements that seemed destined to follow.

Moreover, this only seemed to be an issue with taking over existing services. It was notable how much of a non-issue this was on Crossrail, for example. Certainly the MP for Maidenhead seemed uninclined to complain simply because a new railway directly benefitting her constituents was managed by the men and women from London.

The storm breaks

So, what then went wrong? In a word: Brexit.

One of the many consequences of Britain voting to leave the EU was the resignation of the Prime Minister, David Cameron. By mid-July 2016 Britain had a new leader, Theresa May. In the space of a few hours the old devolution certainties had disappeared, but with people understandably focused on much bigger issues for the country it is likely that few appreciated the subtle ripples emanating from Westminster that would usher in such a radical shift in the devolution direction.

Britain’s new Prime Minister was clearly determined to start afresh. In the process she undid many of the government’s former policies. She also needed to form a workable cabinet from a mix of those both for and against Brexit. So it was fairly inevitable that a major cabinet shake-up would take place. With the Prime Minister herself being quick to undo some of the policies of her predecessor, it also seemed likely that, in turn, the incoming ministers would feel less bound to continue the policies of their own predecessors – and rail devolution had very much been a product of Patrick McLoughlin’s tenure at the DfT rather than a long held departmental policy.

A new minister

On 14 July 2016, Chris Grayling (Epsom & Ewell) was appointed Secretary of State for Transport.

Dedicated followers of transport politics will know that before a new minister’s personal transport opinions are considered, one should quickly look at the constituency they represent. The appointment of Philip Hammond (Runnymede & Weybridge) to the post in 2010 for example, had arguably sounded the death knell for Heathrow Airtrack. The scheme was highly unpopular on a local level in places such as Egham, where it would have a negative impact on road travel. Egham, of course, was within Hammond’s constituency.

When it comes to Overground Expansion, it would be hard to think of a more problematic constituency than Epsom & Ewell for the Secretary of State to represent. For actions, it is said, have consequences which can sometimes take many years to fully manifest. So it is in Epsom & Ewell, thanks to events way back in 1965.

Working out where London ends

By the middle of the twentieth century, it had become clear that area officially covered by the then-London County Council (LCC) was rather smaller than it should logically be. The distinction between inner and outer London was disappearing, and London was becoming a continuous urban zone right up to the green belt. Indeed, the green belt itself, the result of post-WWII policy, almost seemed to provide a clearer demarcation between London and its surrounds than the LCC’s official boundaries.

It seemed logical, therefore, that administrative London should be redefined to cover all of urban London. Not surprisingly, for a number of reasons, various communities though did not want to be so defined. Their allegiances lay with their present county (which was also their postal county). This opposition was not universal and many suburbs, together with their local councils saw that this logically made sense. What followed was a lot of campaigning on both sides to try and sort out a boundary acceptable to everyone as part of the creation of a new Greater London Council.


Surrey in particular seemed to be a particular hotbed for resistance to the idea of becoming part of London. Elsewhere, the present day London Borough of Bromley became part of London, despite its rural nature. The southern tip of what is now the London Borough of Croydon also joined the metropolis. Neither of these unions were entirely amicable – evidenced today by the fact that many jokingly (or perhaps not so jokingly) remark that Bromley still likes to pretend that is part of Kent – but they did ultimately happen. Other areas that did not want to become part of London, however, were more successful in their campaigns.

One of the most notable of those areas was that of Epsom & Ewell.

Having part of a wider urban area geographically not be part of it administratively was always going to lead to problems eventually. At the time though, the issue of local transport subsidy, accountability and how you maintain transport continuity across an artificial administrative border was probably not seen as much of an issue.

In the long term though, by excluding some areas from the Greater London Area, it has led to transport anomalies which are generally to the detriment of those who live within them. So it is in Epsom & Ewell, where there is well-documented resentment at the fact they are mostly not entirely considered to be part of zone six. Oyster is not valid at Epsom station itself, for example.

It also means that residents of Epsom & Ewell who find themselves over 60, but under the current pension age, are not eligible for free travel in London. Somewhat perversely, this means that all London residents over 60 can travel free by train to or from Tattenham Corner (in zone six but also technically within the Epsom & Ewell parliamentary constituency) but that those living in Tattenham Corner itself have no right to do the same.

For some Londoners, there might be the temptation to view complaints from the good citizens of Epsom and Ewell with little sympathy. These areas, after all, fought for their right to opt out. Now they seem to want the benefits of being a member of the London club without actually having to pay their administrative dues.

Not everyone living in Epsom now, of course, played a part in that original decision. For the actions of their forefathers (fore-residents?) those people are now left to bear the consequences. Nonetheless, within Epsom and Ewell significant separatist sentiment does still remain.

One would naturally expect that sentiment to bubble through to the area’s MP. Nevertheless, a short letter from him to the London Mayor dated 19th September 2016 seemed to suggest that, whilst accountability was a concern, London rail devolution was still at least on the agenda.

Dear Sadiq,
I have been considering the proposals published by our predecessors for the potential devolution of suburban services to Transport for London.

In order to understand your proposals more closely, the government would like to invite you to provide a business case for TfL to run services as proposed in the prospectus. Due to time pressures around the franchising programme, the department will need to see your case by 14th October at the latest.

Within your business case, you should in particular address how such devolution will enable benefits to be delivered for all passengers. This case should also set out how you propose to manage trade-offs between inner and outer suburban markets and, where capacity is available for improved services, enable all passengers to benefit from that, not just those from within the Greater London area.

Once I have received your business case, it will then be for the government to consider what steps to take.

This letter is perhaps more telling than was realised at the time. It is clear that Chris Grayling is aware of the time pressures. The letter was not written for more than two months after his appointment and this could normally be regarded as unforgiveable. These were not normal times though and undoubtedly, as expressed by the man himself, his top priority was addressing the issues of the Southern dispute – one of the few transport issues that had (and still has) attracted serious attention from Number 10.

What is also clear is that, according to the letter from Chris Grayling, the issues of benefitting all passengers and concerns for those outside the Greater London area are paramount. In the original of this short letter the phrase ‘all passengers’ occurs twice. On one of those occasions the word ‘all’ is underlined and that is the only occasion underlining is used in the letter. On the other occasion it is really spelt out: ‘not just those from within the Greater London area.’

There are a many things Chris Grayling can be (and has been) accused of as a result of how events turned out, but perhaps one thing he cannot be accused of is not at least indicating that he had some concerns. In hindsight, he was saying to Sadiq Khan and TfL ‘accountability to those outside London is my big concern. Convince me otherwise’.

There are perhaps reasons to question Chris Grayling’s motives and we will look at the rivalry between the two men later in this article. Be that as it may, ultimately the Secretary of State had indicated that accountability was a concern that needed to be addressed.

Missing the trick

What seemed to follow was a lesson similar to the consequences of not reading an exam question carefully. For the response from the Mayor failed largely to address the issue of accountability, instead putting forward his own case for TfL to take over Southeastern Metro services.

You can read that response here – a combination of documents that were prepared to answer the queries that it was hoped would be present in such a letter (and may well have been had McLoughlin remained in post) rather than actually addressing the issue that Grayling seemed to be indicating was his concern.

One might wonder if the response would have been rather different if it had been answered by General Counsel (legal advisor) at TfL rather than TfL Rail, who were the people who probably prepared the reply. One also might also wonder if things would have been different if both TfL and the Mayoralty hadn’t recently experienced major changes at the top.

This is not to disparage the skills of either Mike Brown or Sadiq Khan, both of whom have demonstrated that they are politically aware operators. Simply that at the time both men were still primarily focused on defining a working relationship with each other.

One could argue that had Sir Peter Hendy, notable for his ability to sniff changing political winds, still been Commissioner then he may have picked up the subtle shift in DfT tone. But for TfL and Brown, building trust with the new Mayor and establishing boundaries with his team was still likely a near-all-consuming task.

Similarly, whilst politically astute at the politics of Westminster, Sadiq Khan was still new to the politics of the Mayoralty. Whilst the position of Mayor of London represents a powerful public platform, it relies on a number of delicate relationships with central government that are based as much on consent as on explicit legislation. A Mayor more familiar with those fragile relationships might have realised that he was no longer setting the agenda and that it was time to go onto the defensive.

The Mayor’s response, whilst initially appearing to be quite impressive, thus seems to have done his cause no favours. Nor did he seem to realise, or if he had been warned so, accept that every political blow he successfully landed on Grayling over the failure to devolve Southern trains was inflicting equal damage on his likelihood of services being devolved elsewhere.

Again, one should not lay too much of the blame before Brown and Khan for missing the signs. Hindsight is 20/20 and perhaps the most telling evidence of this is the appendix in the business case with letters of support. Without wishing to be unfair to Caroline Pidgeon and the Liberal Democrats, or indeed any of the other London organisations that wrote in support, their letters too didn’t exactly help the case.

A few days before Chris Grayling wrote to Sadiq Khan, Caroline Pidgeon, in her capacity as chair of the GLA transport committee, wrote to Chris Grayling pledging her support and giving reasons for devolution. Her arguments for the perceived benefits of rail devolution were well put, but probably unnecessary as these had been well aired. Her final bullet point was that:

Stronger accountability: Passengers will know they can hold the Mayor of London directly to account for their rail service.

Clearly this was a well-intentioned comment but probably one that in reality helped undermine the Mayor’s case if Grayling was indeed as much concerned about accountability without London as within. It would appear that this letter was included as part of the Mayor’s business case and, if it was, it showed that even a battle-hardened veteran of London transport politics like Caroline Pidgeon could occasionally miss the signs.

Although Pidgeon’s comments could be construed as particularly unfortunate given the standing of her committee, her comment was not alone. Transport for All finished their letter with:

TfA therefore strongly urges the Secretary of State to devolve all of London’s rail services to the Mayor so that we can have a rail network in the capital that can be used by all Londoners

If only the final word had been passengers and not Londoners. Many of the letters were letters of support from various areas of London – all well and good but not addressing the Secretary of State’s concern.

In fact there were letters of support from outside London. Most notable were Hertfordshire County Council, Kent County Council, Sevenoaks District Council and Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association. Sevenoaks Rail Travellers association admitted that for many of their members the primary benefit would be in fares and ticketing as the majority of users would continue to catch fast trains not provided by Transport for London.

In view of Chris Grayling’s constituency, a positive letter of support from Surrey County Council would have probably been helpful, but there was not one there. Also fairly damning was the absence of any support from Dartford – either from the borough council or the MP. Given that Dartford is highly analogous to Epsom in being just outside the GLA boundary, and thus the town outside the GLA area most affected by London Overground taking over Southeastern Metro services, its omission would probably have been noted. Needless to say, there was no letter of support from Epsom & Ewell borough council either – but then it is unlikely that anyone would have seriously expected to have seen one.

An unexpected decision

It came as an unwelcome surprise to many in late November when the first signs emerged that maybe, after all, rail devolution was not going to happen. Tom Edwards of the BBC had reported the story as early as 24 November, based on an interview with Gavin Barwell, the Minister for London. Interestingly, Gavin Barwell never provided his own opinion in this interview (or at least if he did it was not reported). Instead he refers to ‘the Secretary of State’. Of course Mr Barwell could hardly say “Nuffin to do with me guv’nor, it’s all that Grayling fellow’s idea not to pursue it”.

The Chancellor’s Autumn statement was also unexpectedly silent on the subject, which did nothing to calm growing concerns. By the time the subsequent announcement came from the Secretary of State about the change in role for Network Rail, it was clear from various comments within this that an announcement confirming the expansion of London Overground was not going to happen soon.

It was made clear that the Secretary of State was not convinced that further rail devolution was the best way forward. Clearly, and with some justification, he wanted to sort out the problems caused by having track maintenance and running the franchise being the responsibility of two different organisations. If this were sorted out then this should benefit all Train Operating Company (TOC) areas and not just one or two. One can understand, even if one doesn’t agree, that having two major reorganisations at the same time may not be a good idea.

Personal politics

Below the surface there are rumours and innuendos galore that what happened was nothing to do with trying to give Londoners the best rail service, or indeed trying to give everybody who uses London rail services the best rail service. Instead it was ‘old-fashioned party politics’. This is essentially the first time the Mayoralty and central government are being run by politicians of different political parties for any substantial period of time. Londoners with long memories will remember that the last time that happened it caused so much friction that then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher arguably resorted to disbanding the entire GLC in order to rid herself of Ken Livingstone.

One should always take such rumours with a pinch of salt. As we pointed out in our look at the current status of the proposed extension to the Metropolitan line, however, it is no secret that there has long existed an enmity between Chris Grayling and Sadiq Khan. Their rivalry dates back to their days as Justice and Shadow Justice Ministers, respectively and one must wonder whether Khan would have so vociferously and repeatedly attacked the Secretary of State for Transport on the topic of Southern had it not been Grayling in post. There were – and are – certainly political points to be made on the topic, but had it been McLoughlin one must wonder whether Khan’s attacks would have been aimed slightly less at the man in the DfT’s top office and more at the TOC itself, where they may have been less damaging to the Mayor’s cause.

Similarly, had it been Zac Goldsmith – or indeed another Labour politician – in the Mayor’s office, then Grayling may not have been quite so circumspect about his apparent concerns. He certainly seemed to revel in catching Khan off-guard with his eventual announcement that devolution was over. As we pointed out in our Metropolitan line piece, on the same day that Grayling and Khan met to discuss London rail (by all accounts giving no indication as to what was coming), Grayling also gave an interview to the Evening Standard officially ruling devolution out. It was an act that at best smacked of professional discourtesy, but at worst was a calculated swipe at a rival. Indeed if multiple LR sources on Fleet Street are to be believed, not only did Grayling meet Mayor and journalist on the same day, but deliberately scheduled them back-to-back.

Given all the above, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that the Mayor is reported to be rather angry that devolution of Southeastern Metro rail services will not happen any time soon.

Instead of rail devolution, the BBC reports that Chris Grayling plans to make the new Southeastern franchise one of the first where there is closer integration with Network Rail over maintenance and services. The Mayor has been asked to be “closely involved” in planning for the future on suburban routes through south east London.

This desire for an alternative solution could be genuine, but equally cynics could argue the Secretary of State just doesn’t like the idea of TfL running services outside London and is determined to find an alternative model to operate the railways so that the benefits are achieved without giving TfL more jurisdiction – or giving the Mayor of London credit for a policy that is popular with voters.

Things took a further twist when it emerged that in 2013 Boris Johnson, then Mayor of London, had written to MPs in and around London urging their support for rail devolution. As reported by the BBC, Chris Grayling wrote back and stated that:

I would like to keep suburban rail services outside the clutch of any future Labour mayor

Whilst that, taken on its own, does seem pretty damning, the letter continues

[T]he continuation of the system we have at the moment does at least mean that MPs and local authorities from outside the London area would have a remit over trains services in our areas, which I would not like us to lose.

This further point works very much in Chris Grayling’s favour. It shows that he was concerned way back in 2013 that expanding the remit of TfL would make them unaccountable outside London – as one might expect the representative of Epsom and Ewell to be.

It is disappointing that it appears that Chris Grayling may have put party before the interests of the country – or London – but at the time he was quite entitled to write such a letter. Crucially, if challenged by judicial review, Chris Grayling can also argue that he spelt out exactly what his concerns were, that they were completely rational, and that no-one has produced any sort of case (let alone a convincing one) to allay his fears. As always with judicial review issues, we remind readers the question is not whether the person made the right decision, but whether they made a reasonable decision taking into account all relevant (and only the relevant) factors.

Fin. For now…

Whatever happens next, TfL and the Mayor are not about to forget about this. Even the draft TfL business plan, published a few days after the devolution announcement, criticised the decision and stated:

We have set aside £20m of funding to enable us to start work immediately should the position change in light of our arguments.

One suspects the logic behind this is that TfL and the current Mayor will probably be around for a long time, whereas Secretaries of State for Transport generally aren’t. The hope is clearly that if (or rather when) Grayling is moved on, that the door to devolution will open again.

Indeed for many, Chris Grayling will be cast as the politician who killed off TfL devolution on spurious grounds – certainly it seems to be the narrative the Mayor himself is keen to push. This may or may not be the case, but circumstance and luck have arguably played as much of a part. Without the ripples caused by Brexit, the MP for an area so traditionally resistant to London’s authority would likely not have been making decisions that relied upon expanding it. Nor would a face-off between two old rivals in Grayling and Khan have occurred.

Nor can the Mayor and TfL be considered entirely blameless, once these events had occurred. Even if the worst of the innuendo is true and Grayling’s decision was largely down to politics (party or personal), by failing to justify themselves fully on the subject of accountability they give him the cover to make such a decision. One can moan at the question set in an exam, but one must still attempt to answer it – not the question one wanted to have been set. Not addressing the concerns raised by the person who has the power to approve or block progress did nothing to advance the cause of rail devolution.

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There are 464 comments on this article
  1. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Eltham & Ewell?

  2. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Also in the final section, this:

    whereas Secretaries of State for generally aren’t. If Grayling is moved on, they likely hope, then perhaps the door for devolution will open again.

    Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense….

  3. Eddie says:

    Such a great shame. I can just see it now – Grayling’s DfT award a franchise for Southeastern that brings almost nothing to the table,and he is then sacked/moved on and Southern and possibly SWT Metros then get devolution whilst SE is stuck with a decade of expensive fares and minimal investment.

    I’d be amazed if even a quarter of things TfL would do if they had power over concessions will happen under a DfT let franchise.

    No staffing most/all stations from first to last train. Thus very high fare evasion continues but even worse is that many are put off using trains at night. Currently even busy stations are unstaffed at night after 8pm (or if there is someone they’re hidden away in an office) and just this week I again saw a group dealing drugs on the platform and station entrance area. Pretty obvious what happens as they aren’t coy about it. Seems pretty common. They’ve never bothered me but it must put people off. SE are informed but little happens. That simply wouldn’t happen in a TfL managed station. A DfT franchise managed station? I doubt it’ll change.

    TfL would improve tired old SE Metro trains from day one. A DfT franchise? Again, much less faith in it. And on it goes with various schemes.

    And another hidden loss is housing. TfL are better at pushing housing on vacant land they either own or NR have a stake in. DfT don’t care and neither do franchises. NR need prodding it often seems and TfL do that. Even when it comes to planning apps, developers will consult TfL to see the impact so it can be catered for but do not with NR and franchises.

    Of course the DfT can change these things but I have no faith in them doing so.

  4. Jim Cobb says:

    Excellent article. Upto now, most of the reporting have been on the political reasons, but as someone who works in London, but lives outside, I am sympathetic to Grayling’s position, so it is good to see a more balanced report on what happened and why.

  5. timbeau says:

    @SH(LR) I assume “likely” is used in the US-English adverbial sense of “probably”.

    I noticed three appearances of Eltham.

    “Nor is Oyster valid [in E&E].”
    In fact it is valid in three of the four stations in the borough (the exception being Epsom itself). The parliamentary constituency includes parts of two neighbouring boroughs, including four further stations, and three of these, (including Tattenham Corner, as mentioned in the article), also accept Oyster – Ashtead being the extra exception.*

    Mention of the Hon Member for Runnymede & Weybridge’s involvement in the Airtrack decision is reminiscent of his colleague and namesake, the Member for Wimbledon, whose short term as Under-Secretary of State for Transport just happened to coincide with a decision that has haunted Thameslink timetable planners ever since.

    *Full list
    Ashtead (Mole Valley) No Oyster
    Banstead (Reigate & Banstead) Zone 6
    Epsom (E&E) No Oyster
    Epsom Downs (Reigate & Banstead) Zone 6
    Ewell East (E&E) Zone 6
    Ewell West (E&E) Zone 6
    Stoneleigh (E&E) Zone Five
    Tattenham Corner (Reigate & Banstead) Zone 6

  6. Eddie says:

    I find it hard to buy the line about outside counties – especially for SE Metro. Grayling almost seemed to have set a test no Mayor can pass – to improve things for ALL passengers. TfL can only state improvements they would bring to passengers in areas they will control whilst not detracting from longer distance passengers that they have no power over.

    At best they can only state that they will not have a negative impact on long distance services, which they did commit to and Kent County Council finally accepted. It’s then up to whoever ran long distance Kent services to bring improvements to those they serve.

    Grayling’s test fails. It did so when Kent’s 10 year objections were finally overcome and they supported the bid.

  7. John Bull says:

    [fixed typos and reworded the ‘likely’ sentence – it did make sense but could have been clearer. Also clarified the zone six comment. Cheers – JB]

  8. Alan Burkitt-Gray says:

    “It also means that residents of Epsom & Ewell who find themselves over 60, but under the current pension age, are not eligible for free travel in London. ”

    Only free travel on buses in London (and the rest of England, if there are any buses left there).

    Only Greater London residents over 60 (using a 60+ London Oyster photocard,which costs £20, until the Freedom Pass is available at *female* minimum pension age) can travel free on all TfL services at any time and on National Rail within Greater London weekends and after 09:30 Mon-Fri *.

    This is anomalous, and I accept that as a Freedom Card holder who is 65½ and still not drawing my pension. I can travel free at any time to the outer reaches of the Met and Central lines, on cross-border TfL buses, and on National Rail to Dartford in Kent and other borderlands of Greater London, while there is no reciprocal arrangement for residents of Dartford and so on.

    Personally, this means I pay (at current fares) £3.50 a day for a Southeastern ride from z3 into central London Monday-Friday and then nothing more, at any time, within London. The current daily cap for z1-4 is £9.50, so this is potentially worth £6 a working day for me, plus weekend travel — perhaps £1,500-£1,700 a year.

    I wonder if more politically astute teams at the Mayor’s office and at TfL would have thought about offering concessions (the traditional definition of concession, not the London Overground-type concession) to Surrey, Kent, Herts and elsewhere — carrots such as free travel to over-60s in those areas on TfL-run services. Not necessarily within the whole of London but perhaps within a defined area. But why not within the whole of London for £20 (or £20 a year) as a real bribe that would have build support from those living just outside Greater London?

    *yes, I know, there are exceptions —

  9. timbeau says:

    “TfL would improve tired old SE Metro trains from day one. ”

    Don’t bet on it – Overground inherited some pretty grotty rolling stock from both Silverlink and Anglia, and it took/is taking a long time to bring the services up to scratch.

    “saw a group dealing drugs on the platform ”
    It is only recently that I learned why the film “Trainspotting” is so-called. Their secret vices were indeed indulged at a railway station – Leith Central to be precise – but as it had closed many years previously they were unlikely to see many trains – although they might have gone on few trips!
    (*Closed to passengers 1952, used as a dmu depot until 1972. The book is set c 1990.)

  10. Daniel W says:

    It’s a slightly pernickety point, but Oyster *is* valid in Epsom & Ewell, but only on TfL bus services. At one point I worked in Surrey County Council’s Passenger Transport department, and the whole issue of Oyster and Zone 6 in Epsom & Ewell came up a lot. Many local borough and county councillors wanted Oyster and to be in zone 6, but in the case of many of them, didn’t want TfL to be allowed to operate in Surrey. I never squared that circle, even when I noted that TfL already did run services – buses – into Surrey, and Epsom & Ewell, which were well-used and well-liked by locals.

    I don’t buy the democratic accountability argument for a moment. If councillors from London’s neighbouring local authorities think they don’t have a democratic ‘in’ to TfL over the running of train services, I can’t imagine what ‘in’ they think they currently have to the DfT that they are afraid of losing.

    I believe Surrey County Council’s position is now more positive towards TfL Rail running into Surrey. I was disappointed to read it didn’t supply a supporting letter to TfL, but if the council is now happier with the idea of London Overground in Surrey, it’s a pity that Surrey’s MP for Epsom & Ewell didn’t get the message.

  11. timbeau says:

    “It’s a slightly pernickety point, but Oyster *is* valid in Epsom & Ewell, but only on TfL bus services. ”

    ….and, as I have already observed, at 75% of its railway stations.

  12. Toby says:

    I have seen limits on how political we can be here, so apologies if I’ve overstepped.

    It sounds like either that area should take the deal that all the other areas have accepted, or join London. Instead they’d rather be a loud voice on the outside (of everything except Cabinet..). Once this DfT managed union fight is over is Southern expected to go back to a normal relatively functioning London metro service?

    The Overground-ification maps I can find are either schematic and skip out minor stations or geographical and don’t cover the ends of a few lines. Is there a full geographical map, because I’m struggling to imagine some parts.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Not sure I agree that Brexit and the change of ministers had much to do with the issue. DfT were dragging their feet on devolution well before then – key people in TfL were dismayed at the lack of follow up to “A new approach to rail passenger services in London and the South East” in the Spring of last year well before the Brexit vote and it was clear even at that stage that DfT including Ministers were not supportive.

  14. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Interesting view taken in the article. I am not sure I agree that the “all” reference was really about accountability per se. I think it was much more about how are going to manage the services and your proposed improvements / changes so that there is both no net loss to passengers and no specific loss by long distance passengers which might be outweighed by gains in the inner area. Clearly the ideological “don’t let Labour play trains” thing was in the background all the time but the exam question seemed to me to within TfL’s ability to manage and respond on.

    I may also be wrong but I understood that TfL had more than once set out proposals for appropriate levels of representation, consultation and involvement for non London politicians and stakeholders. Was that not part and parcel of the “joint declaration” that DfT were signed up to?

  15. John Bull says:

    I’d certainly agree that there is even more complexity to the whole thing than we laid out here. Ultimately we were trying to find the balance between broad strokes and depth.

    I believe you’re right, for example, that TfL had been enjoying a bit of a lukewarm response to their various “hey, let’s do this then?” messages to the DfT post-January. Indeed one thing we don’t cover here (but I know from sources) is that there was both frustration and surprise from TfL when the initial announcement to devolve was made – because they’d been trying to get something out on the subject for ages to say an agreement had been reached but the DfT kept vetoing the comms. Then suddenly DfT put something out themselves without warning.

    Ultimately it would still likely have happened somehow if McLoughlin hadn’t been moved though I think. Grayling’s arrival shifted the temperature on devolution just into the negative though and once you threw in the political dimension it was always going to be an uphill struggle for those looking to still push it through.

  16. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Eddie – my wild guess about what DfT will do on future South Eastern is that it will nick a number of TfL-esque ideas and incorporate them into the spec. I’m assuming here that even if a TfL rep does work with the DfT as has been proposed I doubt the DfT will give them any credit for any ideas. Subject to the money numbers working I also expect DfT will fund some new trains and will include some token service and frequency improvements that can be squeezed out for inner suburban services. There may also be tokenistic baubles from “teamwork” whereby Network Rail rejigs its engineering hour blocks so some earlier trains can run at weekends in Greater London and from a bit further out. I also wouldn’t be astonished if the DfT asks for an option to remove the Zone 1 “add on” fare. Issues are going to arise on fares matters about how Crossrail and Thameslink cross London fares work post Dec 2018 (oh look the same date the new S Eastern franchise starts!) so I’d not be astonished to see the add on fare abolished from that date. It would remove a number of anomolies which will be severely highlighted once Crossrail reaches Abbey Wood and Woolwich. The same provision can be written into the new SWT franchise and the DfT can take the revenue hit of TSGN which fixes South London’s Z1 fare add on issues. (And yes I know it’s dreadfully unfair *now* so no need for *anyone* to repeat their already much repeated views on this!!!). I don’t expect the fares freeze to come into play – DfT will want fares and Travelcard rates / caps to keep increasing.

    All of this is to try to squash TfL’s case by showing the DfT can deliver something as good or better (in their eyes). It would be a classic thing for them to do. As I have not taken my daily dose of anti cynicism tablets today I expect Mr Grayling will take a number of steps behind the scenes to prevent the devolution of inner SWT and Southern services. He can certainly stop SWT devolution being “easy” just by removing a load of clauses about a severable inner area shadow company in the SWT franchise agreement. He can also cause a fair bit of Mayoral discomfort on fares, budgets and TfL control with Crossrail 2 and I expect we’ll see another bit of personal enmity being played out about that in due course.

  17. C keene says:

    The comment about Sevenoaks suggests there would be faster trains not run by tfl, yet the article implies it is the entire franchise (which would presumably include those to the coast and javelin trains)?

  18. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – at the risk of being shot down by another E17 resident I think it is broadly the case that the rolling stock performance on West Anglia and the TfL Rail route has improved markedly. The “Golden Spanners” analysis in Modern Railways shows reliability gains on the older EMU stock on both routes. Now the actual numbers may not be class leading but the gains have been significant. I see rather fewer Twitter messages these days about both rolling stock failures and, pleasingly, infrastructure failures. Obviously the GEML is getting a lot spent on it for Crossrail so you’d expect gains there but we seem to have (being cautious) fewer overhead wire, points, signals and track problems on West Anglia of late. I assume there has been pressure placed on NR to get the root causes of repeated failures sorted out.

    I agree the early days were not good *at all* but things are better. The trains were also given a damn good clean and refresh and are litter picked far more frequently than they were under Abellio. We will see how well both Arriva and MTR cope with the introduction of their new trains over the next couple of years as that’s a big test for everyone involved.

  19. Overground Commuter says:

    Oh well, SE London will continue to have the poor 2tph late evening* and Sunday services which would have almost certainly been improved if devolution would have happened.

    *Victoria to Orpington is 4tph.

  20. MR Ed says:

    Very interesting article. It highlights how sharp the difference between London and not-London can be, even if the difference was only caused by an accident of administrative geography.

    I may have not have grasped the correct meaning of ‘this is essentially the first time the Mayoralty and central government are being run by politicians of different political parties for any substantial period of time’, but we had Boris/Brown for two years, whereas Sadiq/Conservatives has only been in place for half a year or so?

  21. Brad says:

    Have to say, I love the line: “These areas, after all, fought for their right to opt out. Now they seem to want the benefits of being a member of the London club without actually having to pay their administrative dues.”

    Echos there of something more recent I just can’t put my finger on.

  22. ngh says:

    Re WW and John Bull,

    On the “all” point I note that TfL proposal suggested that one approach to speed up Long Distance services (a desire in further Kent) would be for “Kent” to push for the removal of stops from certain services in Kent. An example (section 2.7 on page 62) they gave was the Charing Cross – Hastings services and the removal of the Orpington stops which provide the 2tph of the 4tph fast services to London Bridge from Orpington (and the other smaller local stations south with interchange at Orpington).

    Needless to say that won’t go down well in the Orpington area with 2 fewer trains, fewer fast trains and the journey time on the stopping services being double or more than the fast (non-stop) services. The Charing Cross – Hastings services are currently limited to 8 car due to power supply issues near Sevenoaks but NR have pushed hard with ORR to be allowed to improve the situation so 12 car services can run and the work will take place soon and SE will be getting more stock too. Not much point in going to all that effort if one of the main passenger sources on that service is no longer served! (It also shows TfL don’t understand the service usage very well or the operating patterns either – if you remove the stop (ditto plenty of other locations in Kent) then you just catch up the train in front that has more stops and crawl along behind it therefore you might as well have stop at a big station and if the 3rd rail power supply isn’t that great then a bigger gap between trains is also good idea!)

    As the proposals didn’t do much for capacity in some metro areas (e.g. no lengthening proposed for peak services despite rising passengers numbers) then there would only possibly be improvements for a minority.

  23. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    The TfL representative approach has been done before with the 2009 Southern franchise tender which specified metro area improvements including better Sunday and late evening services, greater station gating and staffing, station refurbs including some access upgrades and palisade fencing to help reduce evasion as well as further oysterisation. The current SoS reopened some of the stations with his local MP hat on that were treated so he is well aware of the history and what can be done. He will probably also have noticed that the cost on Southern Metro for what was achieved was far lower than the proposed TfL SE plan…

  24. ngh says:

    PS to my 1623 comment:

    The services where TfL are suggesting removing stops happen to be in Cabinet members or minister constituencies who also happen to use some of the services effected. 😉

  25. ngh says:

    Re C Keene,

    Sevenoaks would have the stopping services that terminate there run by TfL with the other fast services run by the successor to SE that would be DfT’s direct responsibility as it currently is today.

  26. timbeau says:

    “rolling stock performance on West Anglia and the TfL Rail route has improved markedly”
    Indeed – it was Eddie’s “from Day One” I was questioning.

    There was this map from 2011 in the “Orange Invades” article

    The more recent business case had a slightly less ambitious list;
    Appendix 2, para 2.2

    “Specifically, TfL has identified the following groups of suburban services that would be suitable for transfer to TfL. All of these services are part of current DfTmanaged franchises that will end between 2017 and 2021:
     To/from Charing Cross, Cannon Street and Victoria serving southeast London to Dartford, Gravesend, Hayes, Orpington, Bromley North and Sevenoaks
     To/from London Bridge and Victoria serving south central London to Sutton, Epsom Downs, Epsom and West Croydon plus Southern services along the west London line
     To/from Waterloo serving southwest London to Chessington South,
    Shepperton, Hampton Court, Dorking, and Kingston and Hounslow loop
     To/from Moorgate serving north central London to Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage via Hertford North

    The principal differences in the later document are:
    – omission of any Thameslink services – notably the Catford Loop/Sevenoaks route, the Wimbledon Loop, and the Cat/Tatts (and indeed East Croydon)
    – omission of all Southern services beyond Epsom, although SWT services to Dorking are included in the list
    – omission of all three SWT routes to Guildford,
    – omission of the “Windsor Lines” services to Windsor and Weybridge (a line to Heathrow is also shown on the map!) leaving only the Kingston and Hounslow loops
    – omission of the Hertford East line
    – ADDITION of services to Gravesend via Dartford

  27. Eddie says:

    Yep but budgets are a bit different now (the dfT had the biggest cut of any department in recent budgets) and SE has the HS1 albatross. It does nothing for metro passengers but is a money sink due to access fees.

    TfL have budget cuts too of course but they have budgeted for improvements even within that. The DfT? All I see is minimal to no improvements.

    NGH = “As the proposals didn’t do much for capacity in some metro areas (e.g. no lengthening proposed for peak services despite rising passengers numbers)”

    In terms of peak time improvements – given the DfT continually refuse to give commitments for more stock to SE Metro despite regularly saying they would announce it imminently over the past 2 years it’s hard to have faith there. Even the latest 465 internal work required by law is the cheapest possible. Nasty, low budget stuff. TfL would likely have changed the networkers to 2×2 seating throughout after a takeover.

    And both can’t really do much about the 376s.

    I wonder who would be more effective at pushing for infrastructure improvements to allow far more 12-car running, which of course the 376s are no good for as capped at 10 carriages.

  28. timbeau says:

    For clarity – the later proposal retains the SWML within Greater London (i.e as far as Surbiton), together with all branches up to there, including the Hampton Court branch but not the Cobham line

  29. Eddie says:

    Walthamstow Writer – I’d like to agree about the DfT removing the £1.50 penalty for changing to the tube given Crossrail is coming but I’m dubious. It didn’t happen when the DLR arrived in 2009.

    The fare discrepancy grew last week. Off-peak it’s £2.80 on the DLR to Bank and now £2.90 on SE Metro to Cannon Street. in the peaks it’s £3.90 on DLR and £4 on SE. Ok, only 10p but the DLR is reliable and having staff on board helps feelings of safety. SE Metro can seem a free for all at times. The DLR also doesn’t have the additional £1.50 if changing onto the tube whilst SE now does.

    So more and more will choose the DLR until Crossrail opens in 2 years, but the stretch from Woolwich Arsenal to Canning Town in particular is now very, very busy. To add to that 3000 homes are opening this year at Royal Wharf along this stretch. Allowing any sort of fare discrepancy is barmy. If using the tube it’s £3.20 extra a day on SE. Do that 3 days a week and it’s 40 quid a month.

  30. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh 1638 – surely the previous Southern work was not “a TfL representative” but TfL funding a franchise increment as allowed by the Mayor’s powers? I dare say TfL were more actively involved in the spec development but, crucially, provided funding. I don’t see that happening for South Eastern as it would be conceding defeat. I have just found this transcript of what the Deputy Mayor said to the Transport Committee in December. Note the “not giving up, it’s too important” remark.

  31. CG says:

    Does this mean Oyster will now not be extended to Sevenoaks either? For those unfamiliar with the area, it has already been extended to Dartford and Swanley – both stations just over the Greater London border and served by Southeastern/Thameslink.

  32. spinicist says:

    I am cynical enough about our political system that I don’t buy Grayling’s accountability arguments. The only reason the current minister is accountable to this particular group of constituents is geographical serendipity. Everyone else is out of luck. That’s hardly democratic accountability (or even sensible).

    I come down firmly on TfL’s side on just about anything, because in my experience in the last 10 years they have exhibited competence. Whereas the DfT and ToCs have not, and that’s the only thing I care about.

    Ultimately, if and when TfL start making a balls up of things, there will a public outcry. And then the DfT will ignore it.

    Bah humbug.

  33. Greg Tingey says:

    – that CG doesn’t know (apparently) the ticketing & travel arrangements in his own constituency doesn’t speak well of him, either.

    Daniel W
    it’s a pity that Surrey’s MP for Epsom & Ewell didn’t get the message. – he didn’t want to get the message & was determined not to, or so it seems…..

    No, you are broadly correct – TfL/Overground, after a very shaky start, seem to have finally got their act together, though some AM peak inbounds get regularly screwed-with.

  34. Al__S says:

    One of those occasions when I wish my grandparents were alive so that I could get some Epsom & Ewell local insight. They were local councillors (Labour), and my grandma was even Mayor of the borough for a year.

    One interesting bit on the “personal” level with Grayling is that whilst he reportedly questioned why trains “from Dorking or Guildford” should pass to TfL (the SWT services that he uses) as far as I can tell it still may be the case that TfL take over (most) services from Epsom via Raynes Park as part of Crossrail 2 (The Charles Line perhaps?) – I don’t think any of the plans had actually suggested turning that line Orange as most of the South West division devolution had been focused on the Windsor side?

    In fact, does this mess indicate rocky times ahead for Crossrail 2?

  35. Geoff in Wembley says:

    My view is that TfL has proved itself incapable of running services beyond the Borough Boundaries. They want to close Watford when (if?) they divert the Met to Watford Junction even though it serves a significant built-for-the-railway estate. Similarly they have closed the Met fast lines because they serve Herts/Bucks, totally ignoring the fact that Londoners might want a better journey to Rickmansworth and beyond than they can now have (I certainly do).

    If the Shenfield service was still provided by the same TOC as the rest of Anglia, then trains would be calling at Brentwood whilst the stopping service is unable to reach Shenfield, but TfL don’t get this arranged.
    On my local line, when BR or Silverlink had engineering work on the stopping (now Overground) line, faster trains made additional stops at Queen’s Park, Wembley Central, Bushey. TfL don’t give us this advantage.

    So, my vote is definitely against TfL getting its paws on more services.

  36. Balthazar says:

    Re: Eddie – if we assume that one or both Networker fleets are not replaced by new trains in the new franchise, I’d say that seating reconfiguration to 2+2 is more than likely. I doubt it’s a differentiating point between DfT and TfL overview. Current accessibility work will be as cheap as possible for the very good reason that there is a big question mark hanging over the future of the Networkers, but it is nonetheless certain that they will still be in service on 1st January 2020.

    Of course, there is no actual example of what TfL would do to an existing fleet with an extended remining life as this scenario is absent from all Overground and TfL Rail services to date.

    PS: The inaccurate (albeit possibly unintentional) reference in the third paragraph to TfL taking on the whole South Eastern franchise really grates!

  37. I have changed most references to Southeastern to now read Southeastern Metro. I think something might have got lost in the editing process.

    I too am a bit wary of the suggestion that London and government were generally run by the same political party. An often forgotten exception is after the first Mayoral election when the Mayor was Ken Livingstone (Independent) and the Prime Minister was Tony Blair (Labour).

    Regarding comments “From Day 1” about improvements. The lessons from the Anglia takeover have been well learnt (and documented) and you can be fairly sure that if TfL were given the opportunity to take over another service they would not get caught out a second time. So it would literally be “from Day 1”.

  38. timbeau says:

    “The only reason the current minister is accountable to this particular group of constituents is geographical serendipity.”
    But there is collective responsibility – if enough people in the country as a whole don’t like the Government’s transport policy, they will vote the Government out, however much of a local following the Transport Secretary has in his own constituency.

    “I don’t think any of the plans had actually suggested turning that line Orange as most of the South West division devolution had been focused on the Windsor side”
    On the contrary, the SWML inners to Dorking, Chessington, Hampton Court, Shepperton and the Kingston Loop were always in the frame, as the documents I linked to upthread show. (Guildford via Effingham Junction (both routes), was also mentioned in the early stages, as was Woking). The Windsor side got more attention as it is more thorny – no service via Barnes apart from the Kingston Loop is confined to London – even half the Hounslow Loop trains continue to Weybridge, and both loop services share tracks with the Windsor and Reading services.

  39. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Geoff in Wembley – can I turn your “TfL are not capable” argument round and ask you if you think TfL’s stewardship of the Tube (as a whole), DLR, Overground, trams and buses is also “not capable (competent)” and therefore we should hand the whole lot to Mr Grayling’s control at the DfT? Your issues are, IMO, small fry in the greater scheme of things although I understand why people get upset about longer journey times.

    I also don’t especially recall the era of London Regional Transport as being one of any great competence either even if the short term burden on the taxpayer was lightened under Mr Ridley’s overall stewardship.

  40. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Al_S – As I said in an earlier comment I am beginning to get ominous feelings about Crossrail 2. There has been complete silence about it for many months. The previous timeline of an “agreed” route and stations in Oct / Nov has been and gone. A further round of consultation is also outstanding. There was also nothing new in the Autumn Statement. Digging around this is what Mr G is quoted as saying to the Standard in early December.

    “I want Crossrail 2 to go ahead,” he said. “What we have to do right now is just to work out the best way of developing and financing it.

    “Part of this has to come from development value. If you happen to own the land next to the station, you do very nicely out of it.

    “We have to capture some of that value gained in order to fund the infrastructure improvement.”

    You will note the interesting references to “best way” and the need for a land value capture mechanism. I don’t believe we have a post project implementation method of land value capture so this implies some form of new legislation or adaptation of the tax system (happy to be corrected on this). In other words something in the gift of HMG and not City Hall. This, to me, seems to be a shift from the previous position of using established mechanisms and upfront agreed contributions as used for Crossrail.

    I can also see the nightmare of “accountability” rearing its head all over again with CR2 and we know what Mr Grayling thinks about that. His answer, of course, will be that TfL has no role in appointing the operator or contract management thereafter. That does create its own set of issues if TfL’s involvement is reduced / marginalised as we would face a repeat of the issues that have plagued / continue to plague Thameslink. It’s obviously not unmanageable but it throws up interesting questions about the government’s view about “London should pay for at least 50% of CR2”. If TfL are sidelined then there is no real need for mechanisms to grab money and channel it via City Hall. Interesting times (or some other variant of a Chinese curse) lie ahead .

  41. Phil says:

    Just one thing to throw into the mix as various people are quoting fares.

    It must be remembered that official DfT fares policy is for them to continue to rises – above inflation is expected for non regulated ones – to fund further improvements and minimize the expense borne by the taxpayer.

    This is in marked contrast to countries like France, Germany, The Netherlands, etc – all of which have low fares precisely because it is accepted that for environmental and social reasons the split between users and taxpayers contributions to financing their railways should be no more than a 50:50 split – rather than the 70:30 split which the UK Treasury expect as a minimum.

    Mr Khan by contrast made a big thing of freezing fares during his campaign -which is totally the opposite of what the Treasury want. Thus it would not surprise me in the least that another of the big reasons the DfT suddenly went cold on the devolution idea was precisely because of the conflict between the new Mayor’s fares plan and what the Government expect to happen.

  42. Si says:

    I’d suggest it’s more that TfL’s boss, the Mayor, is democratically accountable to the boroughs, but not to the places outside. The Mayor, therefore, has good reason, as part of the job, to favour the Greater London region over the Home Counties – ‘running transport in parts of the Home Counties’ is not a specific part of the remit, but a side effect of the role of running transport in Greater London. It’s that that’s the issue, rather than the DfT being less aloof than TfL (the opposite is the case).

    While I think Geoff in Wembley goes too far (despite my being badly affected by TfL apathy to outside London), he has a point – TfL, when faced with a London vs outside issue will always naturally side with London.

    Boris’s deal with the councils seemed to sort the issues out in a decent enough way, though Grayling’s change from TfL not being allowed to muck up beyond London services to having to improve them undid a lot of the work. Sadiq was willing to take the Boris deal as the price of takeover, but not this additional stuff for non-Londoners (and as a non-Londoner, I can see why not).

    @WW – CR2 also has the issue that the former Rt Hon Member for Tooting doesn’t like the changed route that goes via Balham, rather than the Broadway.

  43. Mike says:

    I suspect that Mr Grayling was not unaware that delivering *benefits* for *all* passengers is a very high threshold indeed, one that for example neither the current Thameslink work nor Crossrail will achieve. Existing Overgrounding may have achieved it for most lines (though even there I suspect that there are passengers who may be no better off), but certainly not for all South London Line passengers.

    So if this Grayling criterion becomes generally and rigorously accepted, we can wave goodbye to many potential projects: a very clever piece of drafting! And will its application be mode neutral?

  44. timbeau says:

    “I’d like to agree[with WW] about the DfT removing the £1.50 penalty for changing to the tube given Crossrail is coming but I’m dubious. The fare discrepancy grew last week.. ”

    Not just on South Eastern. For example, there are two direct routes from Wimbledon to Blackfriars, via Tulse Hill and via Earls Court, with different fares – and a third (higher) fare is charged if you change from SWT to Tube at Waterloo. TfL and NR seem in no hurry to change this.

  45. Jim Cobb says:

    To be fair, everyone knows the fares system is a mess, but no-one wants to touch it because it is a huge commercial, contractual and political issue. The London Mayor’s fares freeze has put increasingly strain and on already unsustainable system, but as a review would cause many fares to go up as well as down, the current complaints are nothing compared to the storm of protest that the review would generate. All that will happen is some tweaking around the edges to try and stem the number of complaints for a little longer.

  46. Toby says:

    Changes have been made that benefit Londoners over Watford and Amersham because more people are better off. I don’t like that every change a politician makes has to be for a political rather than operational reason.

    I’m talking about Khan there, Grayling’s motives are in the letter he wrote.

  47. Steve says:

    timbeau @1649: thanks for pointing out TfL’s somewhat surprising revised and cut-back proposals.

    On South Western going to Dorking, deep in Surrey is OK, but going to Windsor or Weybridge isn’t. How strange. On the Windsor lines it would mean that TfL would only provide 50% of the off-peak service (on Sundays just 2tph of the total 6 tph) and no station would have an entirely TfL-run service. Furthermore, the Windsor, Weybridge, Hounslow loop and Kingston via Richmond services are all inter-dependent on each other to a greater or lesser extent and splitting between TfL and DfT/TOC would limit the scope for any future timetable recasting.

  48. rational plan says:

    The current fare freeze, even though it is not as extensive as everyone thought it was going to be, is already causing strain to the budget, expect more cuts (sorry, rebalancing the network) to be announced, Of course the straw that will break the camels back will be what now happens to inflation, depending what happens to the pound following what Brexit we get.

    Inflation nudging 4% in two years time could pay havoc with the budget, and with central government not being particularly sympathetic to London and the current Mayor, it would suit certain people to let TFL nearly collapse before riding to the rescue and humiliate the current Mayor.

  49. Balthazar says:

    Re: Rational Plan – genuine question: how closely linked are TfL’s cost base on the one hand and general inflation on the other?

  50. Londoner in Scotland says:

    This may not present an entirely balanced view, but suggests that the much of what Chris Grayling did at the Ministry of Justice has been overturned since – so maybe TfL can live in hope.

  51. rational plan says:

    With a freeze in grant, then extra costs would have to be made up in higher fares. If on the other hand you have frozen fares, then wage inflation at TFL will have a major effect, it could decimate the capital budget. Inflation compounds costs so an extra 1 or 2 % of inflation a year could blow a big hole in the budget. The current fare freeze is supposed to be found from hundreds of million in efficiency savings . I shall remain sceptical on these supposed pounds of fat that Khan identified in the TFL budget.

    I don’t think Khan plans on being more than a 1 term mayor and wants to use it to launch a national leadership bid for 2020. As long as the budget holds together till then, then after 2020 it’s someones else problem. On the other if the costs can’t be kept low then the whole thing could collapse into dispute before the next election,

  52. Anonymous says:

    Khan can try for national leadership for 2020 if he likes, but [Snip! Please no further political comments. LBM]

  53. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Rational Plan – having watched TfL trying to explain their business plan to the London Assembly this week I was left not much better informed than I was beforehand. What is clear is that they have been forced by Val Shawcross, a veteran of examining the numbers as an Assembly Member, to go back to first principles and review everything. There were some interesting words about the previous business plan (March 2016) and how that was put together and how much rigour it had (quickly and not much respectively). The issue, though, is that a comparison between the old and new is now very difficult as spending has been recategorised, there are new policies now etc. Some of what was previously deemed as “renewals” has become “enhancement” which triggered accusations from Tory AMs of the headline “investment” numbers being false. The AMs overall, though, were scathing about the lack of detail and the failure of TfL to provide info that had been specifically requested. I’ll have to keep a watch on the website to see what gets sent it and subsequently published. I understand a desire to keep the main Business Plan readable and concise but publishing detail build up of numbers and assumptions would help – for those who wish to delve into said detail.

    I don’t disagree with your basic remarks. Wage inflation will be crucial given the huge numbers TfL employ directly (or via contracted services). General inflation will impact the supply chain and could severely limited TfL’s ability to squeeze further financial efficiencies there. I also think the assumptions about increased ridership and thus income don’t have strong foundations and even small variances from forecast could have horrible financial consequences. If we get a major economic jolt affecting London employment then all bets are off really (for the Mayor and the DfT).

    As I’ve said more than once I can’t see the fares freeze lasting 4 years – something will have to give. If you are right about Mr Khan being a one term Mayor then yes an almighty mess will be left for his successor to clean up. If he opts for re-election then he’ll have a lot of explaining to do about TfL’s finances and what’s needed post 2020/21.

  54. timbeau says:

    “On the Windsor lines it would mean that …… station would have an entirely TfL-run service”
    Not quite true, as the Reading and Windsor services run non-stop between Clapham Junction/Putney and Richmond, and the Weybridge services run via Brentford, so Mortlake, North Sheen, and St Margarets would be exclusively TfL.

    Dorking is a strange one – if you want to include all the SWML inners why is the Effingham Junction line omitted?
    TfL does operate a parallel bus service (465) to Dorking, so maybe someone at City Hall thinks Dorking is in London?

  55. Tim says:

    An extra anomaly, Hampton Court *station* (ie not the place/palace itself) is very definitely Surrey (Elmbridge) and very definitely Z6.

    Tfl also run lots of bus services round the Esher / Claygate area – the K2 comes to mind.

    The county boundaries in that area are particularly bizarre.

    SCC’s priorities are probably elsewhere at the moment – coming up to full council election time in May (early word is up to 20 councillors may be standing down), and with a major restructure still ongoing in the directorate responsible (such as it is) for transport issues. This directorate also has many more pressing “local” issues to deal with, not least the state of the road / drainage network…

    The tone from the top is much more concerned with pushing for (the completion of) electrification of the North Downs line…

  56. timbeau says:

    I have heard that the reason Oyster was provided at Hampton Court, and also at Stoneleigh, although they both fall in Surrey, is because much of their catchment areas lie across the border in Greater London. SWT has been otherwise very slow in extending Oyster beyond the GL border – the only other two stations covered are Thames Ditton (as it lies between Surbiton and Hampton Court), and Ewell West (as it is paired with Ewell East). The Shepperton branch is a particularly odd offshoot – not on Oyster, but impossible to go more than two stops without entering the Zones.

  57. Graham H says:

    @T/timbeau – “TfL” outcounty bus services aren’t any different to any other contractor’s buses. The fact that they (sometimes) are run as extensions of routes from within the GLA is simply the result of an agreement about letting the contracts between SCC and TFL on a case by case basis to avoid splitting routes at the boundary. They don’t represent some sort of TfL invasion or shadow of TfL influence.n Similar arrangements happen with Sussex and Hampshire, it’s just that there isn’t a “Hampshire” branding.

    We have just –last month – had a long (and probably ultimately fruitless) thread about why the boundaries are where they are…

  58. Greg Tingey says:

    CG has (already) a reputation as someone with the “Anti-Midas touch” so to speak, & then everyone has to run around afterword.
    However, a cautionary note, as touched on once before(?) … Ridley’s deregulation of bus services is till with us & still causing grief.

  59. Greg Tingey says:

    As an occasional visitor to Shepperton I still don’t understand why that branch is not in the Oysterised Zones, nor even on the Freedom Pass – sniff.
    I’ve heard that it is/was to do with SWT. They dragged their feet over Oyster inside London for a long time.
    Can anyone confirm or deny any of this base rumour?

    [Exceptionally, comment modified rather than trashed to remove unnecessarily personal nature of criticism. PoP]

  60. Si says:

    @Toby “Changes have been made that benefit Londoners over Watford and Amersham because more people are better off.”

    The numbers of people who benefited from the all stops is not much bigger than those penalised – Amersham and Rickmansworth are busy stations for that part of the world. And the time benefits to the Northwoodites were smaller (rather than 7.5 minute average wait, it shrank to 3.25 minutes) than the disbenefit to those from Ricky (8 minutes additional on a Met train that’s all stops). The net saving is going to be small – especially when you factor in people waiting for Chilterns at their homes in Amersham/at Marylebone station as they lost their off-peak TUAG service (and these are people who happily wait 15, even 20, minutes for a train) for three years (see below) – and bare in mind that Amersham is the busiest station north of Harrow.

    The people of Bucks and Herts have, however, accepted the stopping Met trains – they understand that it is of benefit to Northwood and Pinner to get 8tph, and don’t begrudge that those people have more clout with TfL. The real issue that made them moan (and made Dartford, etc wonder about the not-London = not-important issue) came a year later in Dec ’12, when it became clear that they had not only less clout, but almost no clout, with TfL.

    When they ballsed up the Dec 12 timetable the change became unpopular in zone 9. Chiltern was now useless for Cheshamites who always had the connection at Chalfont with the faster Chiltern train (that from Dec 11 to Dec 12 overtook the Chesham train, and before linked with the shuttle), and the Met was now pretty pointless for Amershamites who wanted to go to/south of Harrow as the Met was overtaken at Harrow (the Chiltern arrived at Harrow at the same time, having left Amersham afterwards) – TfL made little effort to listen to the woes of zone 9ers and chalked the complaints up to the all-stop service, so responded to these complaints with ‘Northwood and Pinner benefit from all-stop trains – put up with it’, ‘use Chiltern’ and other responses that suggested they weren’t that bothered about fixing an easily fixable problem affecting non-London residents and benefiting no one. Thankfully this was finally reversed in Dec 15, at the third time of asking.

    [I appreciate this is relevant and dear to you and there has been a relevant update but this is getting close to be one of those topics repeated at every opportunity by one individual. OK at present but getting close to crossing the line. PoP]

  61. Steve says:

    timbeau @0018
    Not true. The Windsor service calls hourly at North Sheen, Mortlake and Barnes on Sundays.

  62. Nick Biskinis says:

    Alas, a missed opportunity.

    But TfL would have had to change also: running some orbital lines (ie London Overground) is not the same as dense radial networks where there is much less scope for fast dramatic improvements. The old North London Line was a dismal operation under Silverlink with dirty trains, graffiti ridden and unstaffed stations combining to create an uninviting and unsafe atmosphere. London Overground transformed this with the core LT principals of good information and a strong identity – but in a sense the very fact that the line was so awful meant that quick ‘cosmetic’ (but important) changes were relatively easy to implement and therefore the improvements would be quick to see.

    A network like Southeastern or Southern is much harder to change quickly; because of Ken Livingstone and London Overground the stations of South London are much better than in 2004 – but that also means that TfL would not be able to show dramatic improvements if it were to take over. However with the right people and strong TfL branding we would have seen a steady improvement and better promotion of Metro services.

    What would not have happened I think would have been an extension of London Overground but perhaps ‘LSE Rail’ with a TfL logo: TfL would also have had to show wider stakeholder engagement, going out to local groups in South East London and beyond (TfL does this by the way already but perhaps not consistently).

    As said before, Sadiq Khan over politicized this issues as much as the Secretary of State into a needless ‘Conservative vs Labour’ tug of war rather than an objective argument for TfL to take over London suburban rail. Whilst transport is a political issue, on a day to day basis it is the passengers and transport professionals that should hold greater sway – so that devolution policy is about improving rail services (including passenger information and station care as well as frequencies). The Mayor’s attempts to imply TfL would bring a type of utopia to rail (frozen fares, no strikes, more frequencies) conflicts with the reality of Tube strikes tomorrow under his watch. Conversely, the Secretary of State hasn’t explained properly why the DfT is better at deciding services for Londoners than Transport for London.

    It would be better then if the real policy experts within TfL took over the rail devolution advocacy and promoted some of their ideas so that the debates around devolution broke out of the monochrome arguments over political control

  63. timbeau says:

    @Nick Biskinis
    “running some orbital lines (ie London Overground) is not the same as dense radial networks where there is much less scope for fast dramatic improvements. ”

    Remember that LO also operates the Liverpool Street – Enfield/Chingford lines, and there is indeed less scope for expansion when the constraint is terminal capacity.

    LO promises new trains, but then so do TSGN, SWT, Northern, Transpennine, Merseyrail, Abellio Anglia and Caledonian Sleepers

  64. quinlet says:

    @Nick Bikinis et al
    The crux of a partisan political decision, it seems to me, is:
    would a different outcome have materialised if a more objective approach had been adopted.

    In the case of Grayling, I would think that the answer is a fairly clear ‘yes’ given the previous agreement between McGloughlin and Johnson that had been promoted technically on both sides, together with the Grayling letter and the view that ‘all’ passengers must benefit.

    It’s much harder to give such an unequivocal ‘yes’ in the case of Khan. While it’s clear that he missed or fluffed some key arguments that should have been made, given Grayling’s previously clearly expressed view, I can’t see that it’s clear he would have made a different decision even if Khan’s arguments had been absolutely spot-on.

  65. Fandroid says:

    A cheap way for TfL to put some pressure on DfT, Network Rail and the franchisees would be for them to very publicly award grades of ‘stars’ to services and station in London that come up to a set of standards that relate to the standards included in their rail devolution plan. After all, sometimes when it’s impossible to take direct control, the next best thing is to maintain publicity for the desired standards and to offer ‘prizes’ to others who achieve them. A bit like Blue Flag beaches!

  66. Greg Tingey 09:40 8 Jan,

    I think the issue of the Shepperton Branch and Oyster is well known. South West Trains are not a charity and they need an incentive to change over to avoid revenue loss. It would be nice if DfT included Oysterisation as part of the next franchise requirement.

    It is noticeable the previous incarnation of Southern/DfT were able to come to an agreement to put Whyteleafe, Whyteleafe South and Caterham as well as Chipstead – Tattenham Corner into zone 6.

    I suspect SWT trains looked closely at the theoretical balance sheet and Southern looked much more pragmatically at the situation. In Southern’s case the theoretical loss of revenue would be small, administration of fares would be easier and probably, in practice, fare loss would be non-existent due to more people being inclined to pay when Oyster is present at unstaffed stations.

  67. ngh says:

    Re PoP and Greg T,

    As SWT don’t actually do that much revenue enforcement on the Shepperton Branch, Oysterisation might have some surprising results, if it is easier and quicker to pay for travel then the numbers paying might go up (this has happen on other national rail services elsewhere in London).

    Re Fandroid,

    And DfT could run an alternative stars scheme for other criteria including TOCs with trains that are far shorter than the platforms at those station…
    They would probably be wise to not escalate with DfT as it could come back to bite them.
    In a similar way to the mayor claiming a 90% reduction of TfL strikes under his leadership was almost an invitation to the unions, he is caught between unions attempting to increase costs (more staff) and his fares freeze.

    Fare Freeze and inflation:
    The other place to look at for risk is TfL borrowing and if some is index linked or if not when it needs refinancing as inflation will probably push up financing costs in the future. Natural gas cost is good proxy for underground system energy costs (vs NR glow in the dark sourced contracts).

  68. Twopenny Tube says:

    ngh: “he [the Mayor] is caught between unions attempting to increase costs (more staff) and his fares freeze.”
    If those who use, and work at, stations and on trains want a safe and reasonably pleasant environment then if it means spending money beyond current budget forecasts, it needs to be considered. If the freeze is threatened, maybe savings could come from elsewhere, or maybe a pragmatic decision could be made, and accepted in a “grown up” way, that you can’t have more/better for less. By “grown up” here I mean facing up to to less thoughtful reactions from the press, and the associated opportunism by rival politicians.

  69. Anonymous says:

    @2d Tube. Some might say that a ‘grown up’ decision would be not to make a promise that could not be kept and but which was used to underpin an election campaign.

  70. MrApps says:

    Epsom and Ewell as an allegory for
    Brexit. Well done sirs, well done

    (Regrepsit para 6)

  71. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    I wonder how much of this is old money, repackaged as new money and how much is to take the wind out of the sails of SK?

    Or am I being too much of a cynic?

  72. Greg Tingey says:

    It appears to be “Contingency Fund” monies, but I could easily be wrong.
    It is much needed, but it is – or appears to be, at any rate a useful “political” strike by CG against (say) SK.
    Murky, isn’t it?

  73. Mat W says:

    Great article.

    One very minor point, in the ‘A new Mayor’ section there’s a missing apostrophe in the sentence ‘… for which Sir Peter had always been a fervent advocate as the organisations ostensible head.’

    [Fixed. And not quite sure how or why “ostensible” got in there – maybe a reference to DfT getting more involved in NR decision making.. PoP]

  74. Purley Dweller says:


    I would like to think that maybe they thought that it might be a good idea to throw some money at the TSGN disaster area so that when the trains are running they aren’t stuffed up by infrastructure failures. I doubt it has anything to do with SK.

  75. Twopenny Tube says:

    @ Anonymous 11:58
    I wonder if anyone in the campaign team, or among the commentariat, or more importantly the electorate, read this as a commitment to freeze costs? How the available resources are used to fund key policies is always a challenge and this looks like being a tough one, perhaps even tougher now than it might have appeared before the election.

  76. Anonymous says:

    2d – arguably you are looking at this the wrong way round. If a fares freeze is announced, covering a considerable period, it must surely be implicit that the inevitable cost increases over that period can be contained or absorbed . If they cannot then a fares freeze is untenable.

  77. Greg Tingey says:

    …….then a fares freeze is untenable.
    Which some of us believe to actually be the case, politician’s promises notwithstanding.

  78. Malcolm says:

    Just for completeness, Anonymous at 6:25 might have added (after “contained or absorbed”) the phrase “or met by alternative (non-farebox) sources of income”. This could be important in the general case, since much of public transport operational expenditure is funded by other means, such as taxation or borrowing.
    In addition, cost increases are not always inevitable – sometimes costs can be contained or even reduced in real terms.

    But in this particular case, it might be fair to say that both increased funding from taxpayers or ratepayers and real-terms cost containment are somewhat improbable.

  79. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ 2p Tube – TfL were clear that the budget would work when they appeared in front of an Assembly committee last week (webcast available). They were challenged on inflation assumptions, on revenue / patronage growth and also the scaling down of reserves and financing costs. Mr Nunn (the TfL Finance Director) had to gently correct more than one Assembly Member who had not understood how ratings agencies, reserves and financing worked. Now that’s a whole area I would not claim to understand but he sounded plausible and not in “BS mode”. I doubt that someone in his role would be reckless. A lot of money held in reserves is already allocated to capital spend (Crossrail especially) and that will fall hugely in the next couple of years.

    I remain sceptical about revenues and patronage and the risk of economic shock but I do think TfL have taken a reasonable view around borrowing and reserves needed to keep the rating agencies content. I think there may also be some rather brave assumptions on efficiencies from the supply chain which external events could cut across hugely although the Business Plan explicitly states no view has been taken about Brexit or its possible impact in putting together the plan.

  80. asl says:

    I cannot believe that petty personality clashes, party politics and politicians are meddling in the people’s transport. Quite simply all people (inside the London boundary and outside it) should have the best rail service that can be offered, at the best price. Experience to date of London Overground has shown that this lies with London Overground. Do you hear Watford residents complaning about London Overground’s service on the Watford DC line – NO! Why not? Because it is better than when Silverlink ran it. I travel frequently from near Watford (LO territory) to Sidcup (southeastern metro territory) and was very much looking forward to these routes becoming part of TfL. It is clear that the Secretary of State for Transport is doing a great dis-service to all people who live anywhere on southeastern, southern and all other potential future transfers to TfL (London Overground).
    This news is as shatteringly bad to me as the Brexit vote!
    I strongly suggest taking all public transport decisions away from the petty squabblings of irrelevant politicians and put them in the hands of the travelling public. I always knew politicians were a waste of space, so pleased to have my view reinforced.

  81. Malcolm says:

    asl: Unfortunately, every state in the world is run either by dictators or politicians. (Or in some cases, both together).

  82. Graham H says:

    @asl -why would the travelling public be any better than the politicians in striking a balance between available funding and the service offered? A lifetime of working alongside both in the transport field suggests that neither believes that improvements cost any money at all, neither has even a minimal understanding of the technical issues, and neither has any wish to engage with the necessary detail at all…

  83. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Nick Biskinis – You seem unfamiliar with the state of some stations on West Anglia under Abellio. Before Greg reminds me about Walthamstow Central (again) there were plenty of other places that hadn’t seen a paint brush or deep clean in decades. At least TfL have set about fixing that decay. I suspect there are plenty of analogous stations across South London. There is a noticeable improvement under TfL’s overall tenure. The works on West Anglia stations have also been progressed far faster than was done on the initial Overground takeover – I guess there’s been some organisational learning as to how to achieve faster results. It is also worth bearing in mind that TfL increased Sunday services on West Anglia (not Chingford Line) almost immediately upon takeover. Improving off peak headways is taking rather longer and is probably linked to new trains coming on stream. I can understand a wish not to overstress the 315s and 317s in their remaining months.

    TfL’s expert staff can’t go round making political statements off their own bat. The Mayor and his political supporters / appointees are there to do the persuading of the electorate. If they do that badly then that’s their issue and their accountability. All TfL’s experts are there to do is to provide the support and detail to a policy that the Mayor has mandated. They only appear in public to explain things if specifically requested – e.g. G Hobbs appearing in front of the Transport Cttee. I realise that can be a subtle distinction in some areas but there does need to be a separation of roles and accountability. Clearly TfL people could be accused, over time, of facing in opposite directions if their role straddles two Mayoralties with vastly different policy objectives but such is life in some senior roles at TfL!

  84. Man of Kent says:

    @Nick Biskinis @WW
    South Eastern issued a press release just before Christmas trumpeting that they had repainted all their stations within 14 months (except for two due for imminent rebuilding).
    I wouldn’t say all of it was that expertly done, but at least this time they did not try painting the 120-year-old glazed tiles at my local station, from which much of the paint fell off in about three months last time. South Eastern has also made a fairly good job of refurbishing toilets at quite a high proportion of Kent stations.

  85. Purley Dweller says:


    Southern stations have fared quite well over the last few years. In the 10 years I’ve been using it Purley has had a repaint twice, new toilets, new waiting rooms and barriers installed. Coulsdon Town has had a whole new station built. I’ve seen similar passing through other stations. All under the previous franchise. I suspect that it is one of the few things they probably won’t mess up in this one too.

  86. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ASL – Graham H has nicely summed it up. Just to add that IME the general public can’t cope with detail even when the detail is to their personal advantage. Their eyes glaze over. They don’t have the ability nor willingness to deal with the detail that experts know about. I say this as someone who has been regarded in the past as an “expert” in certain subjects.

    To make public transport work properly on the scale needed in London needs a tremendous amount of expertise, knowledge, experience and skilled people. Putting loads of disinterested people “in charge” of said expertise is a recipe for a disaster. We all deplore wretched and stupid political decisions (wherever you stand on the political spectrum) but imagine how much worse it would be with even more wretched and stupid decisions? At least narrowing down the numbers of representatives who need persuasion / convincing improves the odds that the experts might get their point across and some good decisions are taken. After all the same system that put TfL in charge of the former Silverlink Metro and got Crossrail being built also led to the rejection of devolution for South Eastern. 😉

  87. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Man of Kent / Purley Dweller – I duly sit corrected. Thank you.

  88. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Man of Kent/WW: That press release is of course a load of spin…. SE started to repaint Orpington dog knows how many years ago and stopped part way through doing the canopies, never to finish.

    Along the way they missed out fixing the drainage, so when it rains it still pours onto the platform as the drains aren’t working properly, nor have they even looked at fixing the rotten beams around where the drains have overflowed.

    Yes they refurbished the toilets, but it’s no fun stepping off a train into a deluge!

  89. Giovanni says:

    @ southern heights 09:04
    Similarly Nunhead station which I believe now is ‘managed’ by Thameslink, not SouthEastern. The canopies and supports have been peeling paint for at least a decade and like Orpington, a half-hearted repaint job stopped halfway up the supports (the bits they hoped people would notice), the anti-pigeon netting was removed when it was damaged, and the vegetation which was cut down and left to rot in situ. Now new vegetation is making its way through the compost. But at least Thameslink kindly painted two pink stripes around the lamposts to improve my experience. I really do wonder who decided that the pink stripes would be a great idea.

  90. RichardB says:

    @ Giovanni and others. The point is South Eastern have redecorated Nunhead and other stations in accordance with their franchise obligations. Decorating and repair of the canopies is the responsibility of Network Rail who have little motivation to do this. Interestingly enough my station, New Malden, has been recreated a number of times by South West Trains (SWT) but not the canopies. However during the halcyon period of the “deep alliance” between Network Rail and SWT the station along with others (for example Kingston) a decision was taken to synchronise the canopy maintenance and redecoration with the redecoration of the remainder of the station. As a consequence SWT’s stations are much more attractive. Even Network Rail acknowledged that the division of labour was nonsense and this new approach was to be favoured.

    With demise of the deep alliance clearly sanity has now prevailed as Network Rail has reverted to its former practice and canopies will continue to look shabby as Network Rail has no interest in the appearance of most stations unless they are terminuses where retail is the critical factor and appearance is all important. Network Rail is therefore interested as it gets a revenue stream from the retail outlets at such stations.

    I suspect Network Rail privately considers itself to be first and foremost a property company as its predecessor (Railtrack) did and unless there is money in it for them they will defer canopy repair and redecoration for as long as possible.

  91. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Maybe a separate case could be made to devolve the management of the stations within London to TfL, we might actually stay a bit drier…

  92. Pedantic of Purley says:

    RichardB, Southern Heights,

    There are two crucial differences between TfL managing a station and a TOC managing a station when it comes to infrastructure.

    TfL take stations on and take out 125 year lease. Why 125? I don’t know. So for the next hundred years or so they have a big incentive to maintain it properly unlike a conventional TOC which will nearly always go for the makeover approach consistent with their short franchise. That is why a repaint is so popular with TOCs. It is also one of the reasons you are seeing such a lot of work done on Crossrail stations east of Stratford – it makes financial sense to sort them out properly now.

    Secondly the dividing line between Network Rail and the TOC as to responsibility on the station is completely artificial and problematic. The absurd case of a boiler breakdown was highlighted somewhere – probably Modern Railways. According to the report, if it needs fixing then it is down to the TOC. If it is beyond economic repair and needs replacing then it is down to Network Rail. This means both haggling over whether the boiler should be repaired or replaced and a disincentive for TOCs to look after old boilers.

  93. ngh says:

    The Thameslink (including some multi-TOC with Southern and SE) station upgrade programme was temporarily stopping then is now getting going again after trial on ticket office changes. Southern (inc GTR guise) have been reasonable at sorting canopies and drainage themselves.

    Re PoP,

    One of the reasons why DfT is thinking about alliances more seriously again.

  94. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @ngh: Doing the same thing again and expecting a different result?

  95. Malcolm says:

    Why don’t we go for a really big alliance, of all the TOC ROSCOS ORR NR and all the rest. Get no artificial boundaries. Err, what could we call it?

  96. Malcolm says:

    Replying to myself, I just remembered that it’s already been tried. Didn’t work – apparently the sandwiches were awful.

  97. ngh says:

    Re Southern Heights,

    Except preparing for the bill at the outset for doing it next time would probably lead to a different outcome…

  98. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Malcolm: You are redefining the cynicism paradigm today!

    Maybe the sandwiches were awful, but were the kippers any good? I must admit my experience of the Deep Integration (whatever it was called) was limited to Dover Western Docks and St Pancras prior to its redevelopment….

  99. Balthazar says:

    Re: asl – I’m struggling a bit with your strong suggestion of taking matters away from politicians, but would like to know what you propose (as opposed to what you don’t want). There would still be the need for a supervisory organisation of some kind. There have been various names for such bodies, examples include directorates, ministries, departments, soviets, people’s commissariats, etc. But the nature of the overall supervision tends to mean that the that the people at the top have to act, er, politically. Or have I missed something?

  100. Graham H says:

    @Balthazar – Quite so: politicians are the people who deal with public affairs,however they are chosen. It’s a definitional thing And whilst we all love democracy, those who love its referendal form forget that 99% of the time, politicians – as defined – are needed to deal with the myriad of daily decisions (virtually none of which is a binary choice) ,some important, some trivial, which arise in the course of running public business. One simply can’t go to a referendum every time you decide to repaint some stations or change the sandwich fillings.

  101. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – while not seeking to justify daft splits of responsibilities this is all pretty standard stuff when you have different stewards for short term and long term asset performance. If the DfT decide to have short term operational franchises then it is inevitable that you have to tailor responsibilities to match. DfT could change all of this if they wanted to but clearly they are not particularly minded to align asset management responsibilities.

    TfL have taken out long term leases to reflect the long term nature of the assets and the transfer of service responsibility. In most cases they also benefit from any commercial exploitation at the station so it makes a great deal of sense to get buildings and structures repaired so that they are more attractive to potential tenants / developers. It also makes sense to avoid as much as possible obvious “tidemarks” on the future Crossrail route – people will inevitably contrast new build with the old stations east and west of the core.

  102. RichardB says:

    Arguably John Major’s original idea for rail privatisation might have led to a better outcome. You will recall he favoured recreating the “big four” companies which would have been vertically integrated. I think I still think vertical integration is the best outcome and was certainly successful in the past. The trouble was his proposal smacked of a reversion to “back to basics”. The big four were not perfect although arguably the old Southern company was better than the other three at putting all passengers first.

    Perhaps one way of squaring the circle would be to let franchises for longer periods as concessions responsible for both track and trains and closely monitor their compliance. Nevertheless if we continue to have more than one company use a line we woukd have to find a way of protecting their interests as well as rewarding the concession holder.

    I am not convinced a return to nationalisation would serve us better. It is fashionable to decry the present setup but the overall expansion in the services offered and growth of patronage has been remarkable since privatisation and I am not convinced this would have been countenanced had British Rail continued in existence or at least not to the extent we have now.

    I also still think the culture at Network Rail is committed to a vision of a declining railway hence their reluctance to consider modest infrastructure investments within the London area for future proofing improvements to existing services. The contrast with TfL’s approach is very striking.

    I have to say Chris Grayling’s refusal to countenance further growth of Lomdon Overground is regressive from the passenger’s point of view. I accept there may be inherent difficulties in addressing the needs of longer distance services etc but I am sure this could have been adequately addressed with good will on both sides.

  103. timbeau says:

    “the old Southern company was better than the other three at putting all passengers first.”

    probably because the Southern was unique in having nothing else that could come first: for the other companies, coal is in no hurry, doesn’t need fripperies like waiting rooms, or porters, or seats, and was much more profitable.

  104. JimJordan says:

    10 January 2017 at 12:49
    “but were the kippers any good?”

    The kippers on the Harwich to London morning boat train were excellent!

  105. Greg Tingey says:

    So were the afternoon Tea-&-snacks in (Second-Class) Pullman services (!)

  106. Balthazar,

    They tried taking the control away from the politicians and putting it into the hands of the rail regulator. This way a guy called Tom Winsor and the politicians grew to hate him but it was largely the fault of the way privatisation was set up (by the politicians).

    The trouble is that Mr Winsor came to his considered opinion and said “You really need to spend X per year on the railways” and the government found they were hostage to the figure he dreamt up. It was worse than the Network Rail credit card. It was basically a third party deciding how much Network Rail should debit the government for work done, whether requested or not, and there was nothing they could do about it. So considerations like the cost of borrowing, government priorities, accountability (democratic or financial) were made at the sole discretion of the regulator.

    Ultimately it is up to the politicians to decide where priorities lie and whether money should be spent on transport, housing, defence, the NHS or other areas of government spending.

  107. Graham H says:

    @RichardB -the factors that drive growth would appear to have very little to do with ownership and a great deal to do with economic activity,price, suppressed demand, and so on. BTW, I would welcome your evidence that NR are a “declining railway” culture- that doesn’t come across from any of the NR managers I know well. (It’s true that they are in hock to standards and process, but that’s a different issue).

    @SHLR – kippers definitely A+. (I used to have a standing bet on with David Mitchell, when he was our junior minister, as to whether we would be able to get both porridge and kippers in the restaurant car when setting off on early visits -mostly not, sadly).

  108. Nick Biskinis says:

    Walthamstow Writer: I am not expecting experts at TfL to do politics but to articulate policy.

    Of course elected politicians will have front line key transport policies but what has gone wrong is that core transport objectives which are long standing have become too politicized rather than pervasive.

    I am concerned about TfL being used as a propaganda arm of a Mayor (of whatever hue) rather than being seen as a transport body overseen by the Mayor. The outcome is that good transport practice and policies (eg bus services) have become secondary to political objectives; so TfL under Boris Johnson had to promote essentially cycling propaganda and not publicize or encourage people to use buses as it used to. Conversely when it came to Johnson’s absurd Estuary Airport concept, TfL was used to try and trash Heathrow’s case for a third runway. Overtly political or personal views of Mayors etc are one thing, but bodies like TfL should really be considered more as a public institution that is apolitical.

    So this has distorted and affected the devolution issue. Core transport policies should be objectively undertaken and promoted by the experts (this does not preclude headline transport objectives either) whilst TfL can engage more with the public. Geoff Hobbs actually is a very good example of what I mean: though I disagree with some of his perspectives, he is undeniably highly knowledgeable with a superb technical and contextual grasp of London rail who is steadily combining his academic and analytical skills with broadening awareness of the political environments of transport. As such, he would have been a better public proponent and advocate of TfL rail devolution than the Mayor, with this issue descending into a footnote to a political row between Sadiq Khan and Chris Grayling. London TravelWatch as passenger watchdog also should be given more attention.

    It was in 2005-2006 the specter of London Overground and press coverage that forced rail operators to clean up stations in London which I described at the time as “representing the phantom network that is London suburban rail”: so TfL was a driver for change. In comparison with the stagnation and neglect of British Rail and the various Train Operating Companies, the change that TfL has brought overall made a good argument for entrusting steadily and carefully London suburban rail networks.

    People (though not on this forum) forget just how dismal suburban rail stations and trains were even ten years ago. If Whitehall was so much better than TfL, why did this neglect arise?

  109. ChrisMitch says:

    If TfL had advocated rail devolution independently of the mayor, then that in itself would be political. Remaining policy-neutral is difficult.

  110. Greg Tingey says:

    Core transport policies should be objectively undertaken and promoted by the experts
    Like closing 3/4 of the railways & flying everywhere, as was pushed 1955-90, you mean?
    [/snark] – seriously, it’s a lot harder than you might think.

    However, you remind me of something where I am in load agreement with WW … one thing that TfL control of local suburban services has really done well is cleaner trains, as well as some stations. Some of the 317s used on Overground services have newer, really comfortable seats, as well (!)

  111. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Richard B – the issue that plagues Network Rail is that it cannot work to the same business case framework that TfL does. As TfL can and does take a wider view of benefits and disbenefits (incl qualitative ones) it will inevitably come to different conclusions. Network Rail has to work with government financial and policy constraints together with regulatory determination on efficiency, costs and innovation. Given all of that it is inevitable that outcomes diverge. However I don’t believe that NR is somehow “backwards” – it is an organisation that can’t win no matter how hard it tries. Did it get any credit / recognition for all the work delivered without any real glitches over Christmas and New Year? Nope. Government (of whatever hue) has never left it alone which means you get no organisational stability. This means everything takes longer than it should, staff become demoralised and eventually expertise and experience walks out the door (office move to Milton Keynes anyone?).

    I am unclear, on a personal basis, what rail industry structure / ownership model would work in the UK. What I am clear on is that forever messing around with centralisation vs devolution, different project delivery models, constantly mucking around with lines of accountability / responsibility and having a dysfunctional procurement set up gets you nowhere very fast. Oh and I’m not necessarily referring to NR in those latter comments! If we ever get to a point of considering a different structure we have to get some form of long term consensus. If we don’t then we are doomed to having politicians and others “fiddle” forever with all the wretched consequences that has.

  112. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Nick B – I’m sorry but I think you are being naive in expecting TfL to somehow be “independent” of the Mayor. Each Mayor to date has opted to chair Transport for London in recognition of the importance of transport to the functioning of the capital. It is therefore entirely predictable that TfL will become the “propaganda arm” of the Mayor. I agree there have been very dubious decisions and policies followed but that comes with having political accountability. The alternative is no local accountability and the system being run into the ground as it was when run by Government (post 1986). I don’t really need to repeat the disasters that happened during that period even if the roots of the underlying failures stretched back many years. The saving grace we have now is that TfL is of sufficient scale and has such large revenues that it has “heft” in the general scheme of things (influence, oversight, power) which means it can’t really be ignored. I don’t think that applied to LT / LRT in the same way – they were subsurvient to government.

    As I said before TfL’s experts do the explaining when they are called upon to do so. However fronting what are political policies is not their role. It is for the politicians. If they are badly prepared, cocky, over confident, whatever and make a mess of presenting their policies that’s their fault. All the Mayors to date sit with enormous briefing packs for things like Mayor’s Question Time. Ken had sort of done the job before and was experienced in local government. He also clearly loved the job and had the advantage of being first so could shape things how he wanted. Nonetheless he had his fair share of problems and controversies. Boris got away with murder because he was just rude and offensive to his opponents when they pressured him. Other times he just flanneled and because the mainstream press loved him for dangling off wires and flooring Japanese school children he got away with being pretty useless and uninformed at times. Being in such a powerful position with little scruntiny was a massive piece of luck for him. Mayor Khan is still learning the ropes and is making mistakes but that’s his responsibility. He’s clearly a clever political campaign tactician but being Mayor is something different again especially when up against Assembly Members who have up to 12 years more experience than him plus specialist media people who *do* understand the Mayoralty and how it works. He may or may not find his feet in the role – a bit like Mrs May is trying to find hers as PM. They will live or die by their ability to grow in the role and do it well (just as ordinary folk do when they take on new jobs – you succeed or you fail).

    Coming back to rail devolution I don’t agree with everything that is said by others on here. However I also don’t think we know the full story (and may not do so for decades) as to what has really transpired over the last 2-3 years. It’s clearly not all about Mr Grayling being a nasty tribal politician who hates the Labour Party. There are clearly issues at City Hall and possibly elsewhere. It’s a crying shame we’re in the mess we are but we must see whether “Super Grayling” can pull off a fantastic franchise award and subsequent management of South Eastern. I’m not holding my breath but stranger things have happened. 😉

  113. AlisonW says:

    RichardB: “let franchises for longer periods as concessions responsible for both track and trains” – which is fine for the Marylebone Chiltern line but a terrible idea where different concessions need to run over the same metals. And iirc change drivers at each area boundary too.

    There is good logic behind a _national_ track ownership model, because (unlike, say, BT) it can treat everyone equal without favouring its own services. As to operating services on those metals maybe a move to _only_ Open Access – a bit like airlines bidding for slots at Heathrow – might be a possibility.

  114. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    Some of the underlying issues have been building up for 1 or 2 decades but actually doing something about them is the last 2-3 years after a previous 2-3 years of thinking.

    If you look at the last franchise awarded: Anglia, in detail it is fairly stretching and ambitious if the next SE franchise is half as ambitious then it would be good step forward.

  115. Ian J says:

    @AlisonW: As to operating services on those metals maybe a move to _only_ Open Access – a bit like airlines bidding for slots at Heathrow – might be a possibility

    That was exactly the model that the ultras who pushed through privatisation were aiming for – just as Marx believed that the state would wither away under Communism, so they believed that franchises would eventually die out and be replaced by pure open access, with individual train paths being sold to the highest bidder. A thousand flowers would bloom with, as one minister put it, cheap trains for secretaries and separate expensive trains for their employers.

    It never happened because:
    – service frequency and regularity matters much more for railways than for airlines, which would make selling individual slots a mess as it would be hard to establish a frequent or consistent timetable.
    – railways are much more entwined in the public good than airlines – what happens to the economy if the commuter operators people rely on to get to work get priced out of the prime peak slots by the hyper-luxury ministerial expresses?
    – the continuing need for public subsidy (anathema to the architects of privatisation of course but socially and economically necessary in the real world).
    – how would investment happen in such a scenario – TOCs wouldn’t want to pay (through track access charges) for investment that also benefited their competitors – a similar issue is playing out at Heathrow where BA now oppose a third runway because they don’t want to have to pay for it.
    – a capital-intensive business with inflexibly-usable assets couldn’t work without some long term security of tenure – you can’t just switch trains to another route in the same way that you can aircraft if you lose your slots. Even a fixed length franchise doesn’t give enough security to the rolling stock companies and so many rolling stock leases are guaranteed by the government – another way in which the privatised railway is more state-run than many realise (or many politicians would like to admit).

  116. Greg Tingey says:

    Ian J & Alison
    Trains with “other” drivers could always run over other people’s tracks – it used to be called: “Running Powers” & was mediated by the Railway Clearing House, whose diagrams are still a source of useful information & cartographic clarity.
    I would dispute, except for emergencies or really long-haul travel that airlines are a “public good” at all – though that’s just me.

    [Unnecessary personal political comment removed. There is a risk of the entire comment being rejected if these are included – regardless of whether the people involved are dead or alive. PoP]

  117. quinlet says:

    On top of Ian J’s points, what is so frequently misunderstood is the wealth of difference in approach by passengers between different types of rail journeys. For one-off long distance rail journeys there is a much greater tendency for passengers to plan ahead and select precisely which train they want to travel on. Hence the longer distance markets have been able to offer good deals on specific trains with penalties for switching.

    For shorter distance and particularly commuter services, little such planning takes place and passengers are far more likely to want a train on the spur of the moment. This is where frequency and non-train specific tickets are most important.

    It does mean that operators running very occasional but journey specific trains, such as Grand Central, can prosper in the long distance market but wouldn’t stand a chance in the commuter market, even if they could get slots.

  118. Graham H says:

    @quinlet -I couldn’t agree more,except to say that even for longer distance trips, all the evidence is that whilst people know when they have to arrive, their departure times are subject to all sorts of uncertainty – meeting duration, “secondary” business, and so on. What is astonishing is that so few bidders for long distance franchises do not understand this and believe that the airline analogy is appropriate here, too, even to the point of using the same pricing algorithms. They forget that in much of the aviation market, one has little or no choice about flight times – even on a busy route such as London to Zuerich, say, you’ll be lucky to have a practical choice between two or three return flight times. Cf most IC routes in the UK, with a train every 20-30 minutes.

  119. Graham H says:

    I meant to add that linking specific fares to specific trains also vitiates the point of enhancing the service frequency – not understood by DfT, HS2, etc. In that mode, you’d run an SNCF-style timetable with departures bunched where the pricing tells you to.

  120. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    And in another twist today, KCC withdraws its support.

    Is there a link to this statement allegedly made by the Mayor?

  121. Eddie says:

    “If you look at the last franchise awarded: Anglia, in detail it is fairly stretching and ambitious if the next SE franchise is half as ambitious then it would be good step forward”

    That was before Grayling turned up. Looking at his record and the DfT’s budget in future years then almost no chance. Anglia also don’t have HS1 to drag down improvements elsewhere.

    I fear SE London and Kent are screwed for a decade or more now.

  122. ngh says:

    Re SH(LR).

    Classic omission of detail leading to misunderstanding:

    The original DfT-Tfl rail prospectus said this:

    The partnership will work to ensure that any transfer of services ensures the following:
    • No detrimental effect on fares, either at stations served by TfL services or at other stations outside London
    • No adverse impacts on the frequency, journey times or stopping patterns of longer distance services to and from London. Extra capacity on peak local London services would only be added if there is no negative impact on longer distance services

    And KCC’s leader Paul Carter in the Standard:

    Unfortunately you gave us and people in London completely different messages about your plans.

    “Within London you promised that rail devolution would mean faster, more frequent services for the people you represent.

    “In Kent you made a directly contradictory promise that there would be no additional services for people in London, and that you would only seek to increase capacity by lengthening trains and platforms.


    The point was in reality a few extra services on the SE routes paths could be squeezed in at Blackfriars (by Thameslink, SE long distance and SE metro) and Victoria SE (by SE metro) where the paths couldn’t go all the way into Kent in most cases (E.g. Victoria via Lewisham extras). Kent think they have been diddled out of potential extra paths, when they haven’t…

    However the Cannon Street – Cannon Street Loop (e.g. Dartford avoiding) service plan to make them Cannon Street – Charing Cross and v/v has the potential cause ripple issues out into Kent.

    Also note the TfL Business plan as I mentioned above suggesting KCC push to remove some stops in their area to speed things up.

    TfL’s poorly written and worded business plan has helped fan the flames of misinformation as it failed to outline a post Thameslink baseline for comparison thus has led to KCC seeing a vast increase in metro services some of which were on the cards anyway as a result of the Thameslink Programme not TfL’s takeover (See previous discussion of the map and Blackfriars services). TfL improvements would seem far less impressive though. With the apparent SE extension to December 2018 it appears the Thameslink Programme will now get the credit who the direct and indirect enhancement making a TfL devolution seem far lower impact if it were then to happen in the future as there wouldn’t be built in quick wins.
    KCC are right to call TfL out on not actually trying to lengthen trains where this very low hanging fruit for large scale improvement.

  123. ngh says:

    Re Eddie,

    Have quick look at the projected subsidy Anglia will require towards the end of the franchise. It will go from net contributor to DfT (TOC pays premium to DfT, by the equivalent DfT to NR grant is bigger than the contribution) to Gross contributor i.e. TOC to DfT payment is bigger than the DfT to NR grant so Dft make profit on Anglia towards the end of the franchise. This will be the case with far more franchises in the future but requires passenger growth and revenue collection.
    SE going to net contributor to DfT with the next franchise would be go start as it would reduce DfT’s costs…

    Remember DfT’s annual managed expenditure budget was massively cut which covered things like the TfL block grant but not most rail stuff which isn’t annually managed expenditure as it is 5 year NR of TOC franchise period and is long term budgeted.

  124. Graham H says:

    @ngh – And so it has been with so many TOCs – one wonders just how many have delivered their “positive” profile in the event – a good many (eg the various ECML operators) have gonebust before they were due to deliver. Tell it not in Gath, but the cynical version of me usually wonders whether this isn’t a means of keeping the Treasury at bay; the even more cynical version would argue that it suits the Treaury to connive in the fiction (well… it’s off the end of the public expenditure horizon…)

  125. Nick Biskinis says:

    Well many years agoin a galaxy far far away called the 1930s, London Transport entered its New Works golden age where it took over rail services that ran into the then Home Counties and converted them into Tube lines.

    The proponent of LT back then was less the politicians but Frank Pick; sure you had Herbert Morrison in the LCC but none of the evidence back then suggests that Morrison was the embodiment of LT expansion. This did not detract from Morrison’s influence as a politician and he was the driving force behind London Transport being created, but ultimately public transport initiatives and core values were inherent within London Transport and not simply a political expression of the Mayor/LCC leader.

    Many transport schemes were developed by experts and supported by politicians; if we take post-war Tubes, nobody will say ‘this was the brainchild of that politician’; rather the Victoria and Jubilee stemmed from working parties and the Abercrombie Report (which I believed referred to something called ‘Cross Rail’?).

    So there is nothing intrinsically wrong with TfL safeguarding its core transport needs or advancing ideas and initiatives, provided they are not in conflict with the elected Mayor etc who has a mandate – especially as there is cross-party consensus that public transport is a ‘good’ thing and that the Tube should expand, suburban rail should come into the TfL fold.

    What has gone wrong – and went wrong under Boris Johnson was the extent to which politics percolated into TfL and TfL in total became a political expression of the Mayor. Even Ken Livingstone in the 1980s with his GLC/Downing Street battles over Tube control did not lead to public transport being perceived as a purely political issue.

    What is needed is a clearer separation between when a Mayor is voicing his/her personal or political views and objective core transport concerns. So if the Mayor wants to freeze fares and claim this won’t harm investment it is for him to articulate it, not for TfL to state it. Transport is a political issue – but it should not be a political vehicle.

  126. Malcolm says:

    Some wide-ranging thoughts there, Nick.

    There may be a “cross-party consensus that public transport is a ‘good’ thing“, but it contains the usual consensus suspects. Sadly, the May regime is rather less susceptible to consensus than the Cameron one was, and rather more into confrontation. (And look where the cross-party consensus on another topical issue got us!).

    Parallels with the 1930s or 1950s can also only get us so far. The past is another country – they do things differently there. The relationship between a directly elected mayor and a body like TfL has no close analogy in the past. And as for “objective core transport concerns“, who is to decide whether (say) the need for CR2 is an “objective concern” or not? My “objective need” is your “political view”.

  127. Graham H says:

    @Nick Biskinis – I think you need to set the creation of London Transport rather further back than the 1930s and set it in the context of political initiatives by Asquith and Lloyd George about the creation of major public corporations to discharge certain key functions, starting with the PLA [Port of London Authority LBM] in 1910,the formalisation of the Combine in 1917 (when it was allowed not to have to keep separate accounts for the buses and tube subsidiaries), the BBC as a public corporation in 1922, the development of the air industry, the creation of the Big Four railways, and the near miss of creating LT in 1927.

    The key political consensus was on the role of these “Reithian” corporations (with many others being added through to the ’50s) as the basis of expert activity with minimal interference from politicians. The flipside was that such corporations were expected to be self-funding, and the final recognition that the breakdown in their financial stability in the ’70s was the beginning of a sea change in attitudes to their role and management.

  128. Ian J says:

    @Nick Biskinis: As well as what Graham H has said, the “New Works golden age” itself originated with a specific political aim – central government’s desire to increase employment during the Depression and issuing of loans to enable this.

    Similarly the Victoria Line got its go-ahead because of the Macmillan government’s concerns about rising unemployment. The most astute managers of government bodies like TfL (people like Lord Ashfield (a sometime Conservative MP) and Peter Hendy) have always been those who can engage both with the political and the technocratic sides of their job.

  129. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    ” starting with the PLA in 1910″
    Or even the Metropolitan Board of Works half a century earlier.

  130. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ SHLR / Ngh – this “alleged” (sorry but it is in the Standard) retreat by KCC looks extremely suspicious to me. It has all the hallmarks of KCC having been “got at” via the Tory Party machine. I don’t believe for a second that TfL will have done anything to upset the agreed position it worked to achieve over several years. It was too valuable for them to throw away. This then gets us back to the impact of the GTR consulation and a “moving backdrop” and the Mayor and SoS being new to their posts and hating each other. None of this is the basis for objective decision making. More lamentable mess making by egotistical politicians.

  131. Greg Tingey says:

    I agree completely.
    For recent historical examples of this, we only need to reference GH’s memoirs in these pages, especially in the posts dealing with the attempted closure of Marylebone ….

  132. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @WW: Yes, it struck me immediately that this (indeed if true) was a party machination. Searching the KCC web-site hasn’t turned up any hint of this (as yet). But then the original statement of support doesn’t turn up either….

  133. ngh says:

    Re WW (and Greg T),

    There is certainly an element of being got at, but it might have been wise for TfL to show and explain their plans to the surrounding councils so there wasn’t any element of surprise that the TfL plans appeared to have crossed the red lines e.g. extra (peak) trains and showing that they didn’t effect long distance paths e.g. 3tph all day Victoria – Crayford*

    *Assuming TfL plans for the Dartford lines would have worked and not upset existing services…

  134. ngh says:

    From MayorWatch

    Appearing before MPs on Thursday, Mr Grayling was challenged by Greenwich MP Matthew Pennycook who said Londoners and other rail users would be “disgusted” that ministers were putting politics above passenger needs.

    However the minister denied the charge and said his decision to drop rail devolution had been taken “after the mayor’s business plan was analysed” across government and after discussions with neighbouring local authorities.

    Grayling said Mr Khan’s plans “offered no extra capacity and a whole lot of unfunded, uncosted promises” which hinged on “a very substantial top down reorganisation.”

    While not quite true there would be a tiny bit of extra peak capacity with just 6 extra 4 car units proposed and funded by TfL largely to cover the issues with splitting the SE franchise so no real extra capacity. It is a potential drop in the ocean compared to what is need or could be done.
    E.g. TfL have effectively missed the requirement for some replacement stock for 12 car metro with SDO to sort platform length issues at Charing Cross and Woolwich Dockyard if there is to be any improvements on the Greenwich and Sidcup lines on services to London Bridge…

  135. Walthamstow Writer says:

    I see that the Mayor has decided not to put forward a TfL rep to help frame the SE franchise. This must then mark the complete, utter and absolute collapse of rail devolution prospects for the future. What a disaster for rail passengers. It does, at least, put TfL out of the frame if there are problems in the future SE franchise thus offering endless “ha ha I told you so” [1] opportunities for the Mayor.

    And to cap it all we have the pious and frankly ridiculous remarks from Keith Prince AM who never misses an opportunity to demonstrate his lack of knowledge. (sigh). Another negative chapter in the history of London’s rail services has just been written.

    [1] this would be entirely in line with the frankly childish and ridiculous behaviour from both senior politicians (Khan / Grayling) in recent weeks.

  136. Greg Tingey says:

    I suppose, just, that Khan can now, when (not if) things go ‘orribly worng turn around & justifiably say: “You broke it, you refused to give us a chance – now you fix it.”

    Meanwhile, of course everybody in SE London is lumbered with the results.
    And will continue to be long after Garyling & probably Khan have left the arena.

  137. ngh says:

    Re SH(LR),

    “As for Khan, yes his latest move is equally childish, let’s hope he gets a roasting next time he appears in County Hall…”

    I suspect when there has been more detailed widespread analysis there will be long term roasting not just next time.

    [Note: Original derogatory comment referred to deleted. PoP]

    Re WW,

    Agree on complete collapse of devolution prospects and the failure to supply rep to DfT is a potential disaster for Londoners.

    I suspect CG will be looking to prove SK wrong. There will be a number of easy wins for improving SE services in 2018 and beyond so expect DfT and the TOCs to claim credit for them rather than TfL walking in and claiming the credit.

    A mid 2020s TfL SE metro devolution bid will (if it ever happens) end up being incredibly costly to stand out from a business as usual franchise renewal as there probably won’t be much low hanging fruit just big cheques for infrastructure spend.

  138. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ SH (LR) – I keep seeing the comments about Grayling’s potential demise on the grounds of incompetence and don’t think it will happen. We are getting to the point of no return for Mrs May on Brexit. She has little scope for major cabinet reshuffles, barring death or monumental cock ups from Ministers, once A50 is served. Continuity becomes all important because every single part of government will be embroiled in negotiations. If Mrs May reshuffles the cabinet part way through and things go wrong subsequently (learning curves, ego, change of view etc) she is completely in the firing line and she knows this. Therefore we are most likely lumbered with the choice selection of senior ministers currently in place for many years.

    While I think Mr Grayling is useless there is also the important factor that any replacement could be vastly worse and even more doctrinaire. And just to even things up a little bit the opposition parties don’t have exactly “sparkling” shadow reps on transport either so we’re not going to see any cogent, well considered critique of government policy from them.

    @ Greg – well yes he could and yes he might even do so. However it is not exactly the best political strategy to mock opponents too loudly. You never know when you might need their help. We can’t escape the fact that the Mayor does not have ultimate power here. He is reliant on central government for a vast swathe of things including funding and approvals. IMO the Mayor hasn’t quite got the hang of being Mayor yet but he’s only been there 7 months or so and it’s a unique political role in the UK. There is an element in his political persona where he seems to think he can talk his way out of any situation and it doesn’t work like that. It didn’t for his predecessors and it won’t for him – people [1] have long memories. The London Mayoralty is blessed / cursed (depending on your viewpoint) with some very good media commentators who are not afraid to press home the point or recall what was said in the past.

    [1] some voters, some Assembly members, some commentators.

  139. Greg Tingey says:

    Oh dear … Grayling says: “Cyclists are not road users”……

  140. Nick Biskinis says:

    Sadiq Khan when running for office talked of his Ministerial experience at the DfT, so whilst he inherited an uneviable transport situation from Boris Johnson, 8 months on as Mayor he can no longer claim to still be settling in.

    He needed to refine the TfL rail argument and reach out to KCC and others: the joint devolution concept of London Country Rail would have helped.

    But equally he should have stepped up to the plate when offered at least some leverage over the Southeastern franchise; otherwise it does look as though he is running away.

    Had he joined the board looking at Southeastern he could have either a) got some real improvements which would have given him credit or b) later on claimed that TfL’s very lack of control showed that he could not get what was needed. Either way would have held no political risk for him.

    As Mayor he needs to sort out transport issues occurring on the networks he does run, such as re-prioritizing bus lanes, boosting the bus network and rolling back some of the more unworkable road ‘modernisation’ schemes pushed for by Johnson and his deputy Isabel Dedring.

  141. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Nick B – Anyone who checked comments made during the campaign would have discovered Mr Khan had a relatively short tenure in a ministerial position. Being generous let’s say his remarks about his involvement with Crossrail were a tad exaggerated. I tend to discount those sorts of comments unless there are demonstrable achievements and there weren’t any. I also don’t think a few months as a DfT minister in the dying year of a government give any great insight into anything.

    We must agree to disagree over involvement in the SE franchise development. I don’t think it was open for the Mayor to be the representative. There was also no indication as to what weight, if any, would be placed on what a TfL / City Hall rep said or proposed. It could very easily be a token gesture or it could have been meaningful – who knows. I can see why people are saying that not being involved looks petulant but it provides a clear line between two policy options. Given the political and personal backdrop the Mayor could have been fatally compromised if TfL were involved and then the actual new franchise turns out to be a complete mess. If the DfT want to play nasty later on they could say “oh TfL proposed that, we did it, look what happened”. It’s a fine line and if trust has broken down, as it clearly has at top level, then there’s little to work with.

    Let’s be honest South Eastern is not an easy franchise to run for a whole pile of reasons very well rehearsed on this blog / in comments. Delivery of works at London Bridge gives some potential upside for the new franchisee but there is not a lot of scope for massive improvements either. IIRC Ngh has said that there are a lot of asset works needed east of London Bridge so the next franchisee has to cope with all of that (assuming there are funds in NR for the work). The other big issues are what can be afforded in terms of new trains and capacity increases and how much will the DfT require the franchise to push up the base revenue and thus potential premium payments. We also need to see what the market place decides to do in terms of bidding for a complex and unpopular business that will have to be run in a hostile political environment. The DfT will be hoping for a competitive bidding process to try to secure value for money. Whoever wins they’ve got a very difficult process ahead of them and even if they do very well they’re unlikely to be thanked by London’s politicians.

  142. Warning: Criticise decisions and comments made by the Mayor and SoS (with reasoning) by all means but gratuitous offensive comments, even if relatively mild in nature, may mean the entire comment will be deleted.

  143. Nick Biskinis says:

    Well one compromise could have been the DfT devolving the franchise to TfL for a set period with the SoS reserving the legal right to take control if major issues were to arise; put another way – leasing out the contracting out of the franchise.

    Or the DfT could ask the Mayor to refine his business plan and extend the current franchise to 2021 (by which time Mayoral and General Elections would have been completed).

    Southeastern is a complicated network; but there was scope for new initiatives within the Metro component. I would like liked to see direct Victoria-Clapham High Street trains (ie the Dartford service operated with Selective Door Opening stock to allow this to happen) flanked with direct services to Brixton and Bromley South. The latter would allow Brixton easier access via Clapham High Street to the East London Line.

    I’d also liked to have seen – outside the Metro areas – a Southeastern operator with a bit more sparkle. Southeastern is a rather drab brand, having axed trolley services to Dover etc. The question is whether the DfT, having kept control, has the capacity to think like passengers and be flexible rather than burying itself in metrics and stagnant lack of vision.

  144. timbeau says:

    “I would like liked to see direct Victoria-Clapham High Street trains (ie the Dartford service operated with Selective Door Opening stock to allow this to happen) flanked with direct services to Brixton and Bromley South. The latter would allow Brixton easier access via Clapham High Street to the East London Line”

    Is there the capacity to allow the weaving necessary for trains from Victoria to access the platforms at Clapham High Street and then back onto the LCDR route via Brixton? Or would it be more practical to add platforms on the LCDR line at Clapham High Street? (and perhaps reinstate the platforms at Brixton on the Denmark Hill line).

    High level platforms at Brixton on the Overground would be the ideal but, as has been discussed before, would probably be very expensive to build.

  145. Graham H says:

    @NickBiskinis – but there are absolutely no signs that either the SoS or the mayor wish to compromise.

    The distressing thing about the whole sorry tale is that we have had a major change in public policy put in place with not a hint of any formal announcement, let alone a public debate (apart from on this site).

    @WW – I dare say you are right about future handling, although, if I was Grayling, I really wouldn’t want to continue to relet a franchise that has had its IR thoroughly poisoned, and requires substantial investment to improve it. At the very least I might be shocked at the size of the payments to new bidders. Passing the parcel might be seen as the more astute option. (Equally, the mayor is now in a position to promise all sorts of goodies in the knowledge that they cannot be called). More attention to games theory all round, perhaps?

  146. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Nick B – I think it is the case that the SoS has reserve powers to take back any devolved franchise (concession) if there is a material failure and the usual parties (devolved contracting authority / operator) cannot reach a resolution or the contracting authority has severe financial issues. However I can’t see TfL ever getting into a position where the SoS would have legitimate grounds to intervene. Your suggestion about a “short term” devolution doesn’t work because you can’t achieve very much of a demonstrable nature in a short term. The repeated short term franchises on Greater Anglia show this all too well. However a “short term devolution” would mean Mr Grayling conceding on his reported objection to devolution and that’s not going to happen.

    I also suspect the DfT may be out of options in terms of extending the South Eastern franchise. I believe it had already extended to cater for the Direct Award procurement process and is now proposing to extend the term of the Direct Award contract. There are limits to what can be done here outside of what was previously set out. I also suspect Mr Grayling wants his “teamwork” concept trialled in earnest so is not minded to extend SE any more. Let’s just agree that devolution to TfL is dead.

    Interesting that you say South Eastern is “dull”. What do you expect on a commuter franchise? You are never going to get Inter City style service when the DfT’s major concern is to push up revenue, push down costs (hence no buffets) and maximise its rake off via premium payments. This takes us back to Sir Peter Hendy, when at TfL, saying the DfT doesn’t “get” commuter franchises and has no vision for what they can do in the broader context of making cities work. And as for extra platforms at inner area stations – excuse me while I die laughing. Never going to happen under DfT control because it will impede the passing of longer distance trains to Kent (cue screams from Kent politicians) unless you resignal the lines to boost capacity. Oh hang on that was something TfL might have considered doing. 😉 This is why there is so much anger about the SoS’s seemingly partisan and ill founded decision.

  147. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – well the one thing TfL and City Hall need to do is step back and review what they were proposing. They now have time to consider what went wrong and develop a better future offer. One thing I don’t really understand is why the former SE plan, which was more expansive and expensive, was rehashed in what seems to be a somewhat hurried exercise. I recognise the Thameslink restructuring had an impact but beyond that there seems to have been, as NGH has highlighted, a stepping back from the obvious lengthening of trains on inner suburban services which would have weakened the “no extra capacity” criticism from the SoS.

  148. NickBxn says:

    Having been party to occasional stakeholder meetings between Lambeth, NR, TfL and amenity groups, the most likely candidate for Overground access is East Brixton, without involving Southeastern. It’s been very quiet for many months since the last such meeting that I’ve been aware of. The talks had concentrated on the technical issues encompassing options concerning the whole stretch from Clapham HS to Loughborough Junction, but with no sign of developing funding viability. Lambeth are currently concentrating their thoughts on new access to the existing Brixton NR station in connection with town centre redevelopment plans within the immediate vicinity. NR are busy with the vexed refurbishment of the arches.

  149. Graham H says:

    @WW – the surprising thing that DfT doesn’t seem to “get” is that different types of franchise have different risk profiles and therefore attract different bidders – some franchises guarantee a steady but unexciting cash flow (which is fine if you are the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund as your main investor), others offer more upside which may appeal more to bidders who are backed by that sort of venture capitalist. As you say, commuter franchises are all about cash flow, and for those with tight banking covenants, they become close to being a gilt; the downside is that that sort of bidder has no incentive to improve the offer (and the market drivers wouldn’t encourage them to try anyway). SE Trains falls very clearly into the “unexciting/steady” category, which rather limits the scope for “exciting” new entrants – cue yet another state operator. TrenItalia anyone?

  150. Slugabed says:

    Some day,some brave person will bite the bullet,and have the courage to sign the cheque for proper High Level platforms on the SLL at Brixton…whether as part of a wider station redevelopment or not.
    This person will be carried on the shoulders of a cheering crowd and will have streets named after them.
    Little sign of such a person yet,though…

  151. Nick Biskinis says:

    Hi all – i was referring to Southeastern’s main line services; of course commuter services aren’t going to have catering etc (unless you include the prewar Pullman carriage on the Metropolitan Line and the famous 1979 pre-Jubilee Line opening dining Tube train at Bond Street..) but Southeastern’s brand is, well, quite bland and colourless.

    South West Trains has a stronger service offering: I was taking a train from Woking to Waterloo and it was a long haul service originating in Portsmouth off-peak. Even on the short Woking-Clapham Junction sector there was a trolley. Contrast this with off-peak Victoria-Dover Priory/Margate and there is nothing.

    Leaving aside catering, i think the Southeastern network has a drab look; Southern Trains has a much stronger livery with rich colours (i am leaving aside the major problems with strikes etc). This is why perhaps a new Southeastern main line operator could perhaps much a stronger impression with station care and branding to inject a bit of enthusiasm and dynamic to the franchise.

    Re: Brixton etc. Trains from Clapham High Street can run, but they have to cross pathways, from the ‘Atlantic Lines’ to the paths to Brixton, Herne Hill and beyond, so such trains literally weave in and out of the old South London Line at Clapham High Street.

    East Brixton won’t happen any time soon as the business case is not strong enough relative to the costs (£70 million). Enabling a Brixton-Clapham High Street rail link (eg a Victoria-Orpington via Clapham High Street, Brixton, West Dulwich train) offers a cheaper alternative so Brixton commuters can catch the East London Line at Clapham High Street. But there is also massive benefit for Clapham High Street in having direct trains to Herne Hill and Bromley South because of interchange with Thameslink and onward trains to Kent.

    A TfL takeover of Southeastern Metro could enable stronger initiatives such as additional platforms at Clapham High Street (which others are promoting also) with onward benefits.

    I just think the DfT running Southeastern (or rather rubberstamping the timetable presented by Network Rail) will just be the existing status quo.

  152. timbeau says:

    If they use the low level lines at Stewarts Lane, they do not need to weave in (only out), and can call at Wandsworth Road as well.

  153. Ed says:

    In terms of branding and image it’s true SE have it poor – e.g. the interior of SE Metro trains are so, so dull. 95% grey. And pretty much unrefurbished for 25 years which doesn’t help.

    They clearly need more stock to have 8 carriage services in the peak on Victoria routes and more 12 on Cannon Street and Charing Cross becoming the norm. I know TfL were advocating only a few more carriages so wouldn’t achieve much initially but they would likely have evolved plans if seen to be inadequate (which it was given housing growth projections under the London Plan).

    I just know what’ll happen – the DfT will award something almost on a Northern no-growth franchise due to their desire to invest the bare minimum and a lack of bidders. Then when seen to be wildly lacking nothing will happen for years.

  154. Ed says:

    “Agree on complete collapse of devolution prospects and the failure to supply rep to DfT is a potential disaster for Londoners.
    I suspect CG will be looking to prove SK wrong. There will be a number of easy wins for improving SE services in 2018 and beyond so expect DfT and the TOCs to claim credit for them rather than TfL walking in and claiming the credit.”

    The DfT under CG would likely just ignore any TfL rep. It was a very weak fig leaf to the area. Having said that Khan comes across as an amateur and should be playing it smarter – there’s no love for the DfT at all across party lines in SE London and Kent. And very little faith in the DfT coming up.

    You say CG will want to prove TfL wrong. I wish I had that optimism but see very little reason for it. CG seem to want power and make Khan look bad – that’s about it. Very few improvements will probably happen given the history of SE. The DfT is the department that has been stringing SE along saying they would make a statement very soon on more stock for the area. They’ve been saying it for 2-3 years. Still nothing.

    It’s the same with letting franchises. In 2006 they has the highest fare rises of any UK TOC (RPI +3%) due to HS1 which did nothing for SE metro passengers, then in 2012 it was given a 2 year extension and no investment. Then in 2014 another 4 year direct award and again almost no improvements. What has the DfT given the area in a decade? Why will that change especially with heavy budget cuts?

    I’m curious about what easy wins you think the DfT would push? I can see them and the next TOC really going on a huge PR drive about how great the London Bridge rebuild is forgetting it adds no new paths (possibly even cutting some) and whilst it will help to have another CX platform it’s far from all that’s needed across the area with issues like Lewisham. But what else? Simply going back to peak frequencies on the Greenwich line after recently being cut for LB work, for example, is not a great step forward.

    When it comes to substantial investment across the network away from there I can’t see it. Investing in greatly expanding sidings and yards for many more trains? I doubt it as I doubt many more will arrive.

  155. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Nick BXN – there is no indication in the TfL business plan that there will be any substantive investment in the Overground other than the Barking Riverside extension. Some improvements may lurk within the concession spend (revenue budget) but the capital investment budget declines after 2018. I can’t see anything being added in Brixton because of the implications for train loadings and interchange. Much as I’d like to see the gap filled in the SLL service I suspect a comprehensive works package and extra trains would be needed. Again the Business Plan paints no picture of substantive improvement in the Overground network as it currently stands.

    @ Nick Biskinis – I know you were talking about the Kent Coast services. However they are still essentially commuter services in nature. The whole franchise is like that really and I even include the High Speed services in that.

    @ Ed – while I understand your downbeat view I think we will need to look at what happens with the SWT award and scope of improvements there as a hint as to what DfT may do with South Eastern. We know new rolling stock is being mandated on some of the inner routes and we must see what else transpires. Obviously investment at Waterloo is a big factor in unlocking improvements but there may some similar potential on South Eastern. I agree the funding situation may not be ideal but I expect DfT will want to prove they can deliver meaningful change. The bigger challenge will be the ongoing management of the franchise and if DfT are minded to keep the pressure on as TfL seem to do with their concession contracts.

  156. NickBxn says:

    @ww – that’s much my reading of the situation too, much to the dismay of people in the area. The NR/Overground officers said (at the time) that the current timetable and rolling stock allocation would withstand one additional stop in the area, whereas adding, say, Brixton high level and Loughborough Jn together (even if affordable) would entail major knock-on effects around the whole network. It was interesting that the TfL officers seemed keen on the ‘network benefit’ of Brixton high level and/or LJ, though I’m certain that either one alone would instantly overwhelm the capacity of the available Overground service. East Brixton would be a lighter touch, benefiting those whose journeys start in Brixton and LJ, but avoid generating massive interchange traffic. At least it’s in the local development plan thinking… if only for someday else.

  157. Alan Griffiths says:

    Am I right to think that platforms at most stations on the 3 Dartford routes can accommodate 12 car trains, but few such trains run?

  158. Southeastern Passenger says:

    @Alan Correct, on routes to Dartford only Woolwich Dockyard cannot have 12 car Networker trains. Without usable SDO on the Networkers they cannot call there if the train is 12 cars long. However many trains during peak times currently aren’t even 10 cars long. The latest publicised formation changes were altering trains from 6 to 8 cars and vice versa. I can’t find any information of how many 12 cars now run as Southeastern have redesigned their webite removing the previous train length information.

    The next operator would need to order a lot more rolling stock to allow for mostly 12 car peak running. A side benefit would be the newer stock could be used on diagrams where 12-car Networkers couldn’t run, leaving the Networkers for diagrams which they could run.

    I agree with others that part of the problem with the TfL proposal is they proposed no more rolling stock, yet a large percentage growth in their business case. The additional vehicles were only to cover the fact that stock would be used less efficiently (for example in the first link the 0726 arrival at Cannon Street from Faversham goes empty to Sidcup and runs the metro 0828 departure). The whole plan was lacking a medium term strategy only including short term day 1 improvements and a barely fleshed out metroisation concept.

    The overall aim for the DfT with the new franchise would be to reduce the amount of subsidy, something the TfL proposal wouldn’t have achieved. Part of that may include the stuff TfL thought would make money, such as more ticket barriers to increase fare collection. I hope the DfT keep some of the improvements Southeastern seem to have made of their own accord, such as the 4tph Victoria – Orpington until midnight.

  159. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Southeastern Passenger – surely the more important aspect re gating is to actually have staff on the station to keep them in service? I don’t use SE very much so may be out of date but my abiding images of using some stations is that gates are there but left open / locked away in enclosures with a side gate open. Strikes me as completely pointless (and yes LU is going that way now – foolishly IMO). I see social media remarks that stations like Deptford, expensively rebuilt, with burgeoning demand are left unstaffed with all the issues that can ensue. Surely it’s a complete no brainer to fix those sorts of issues regardless of who contracts the next operation for these services?

    You will know better than I do but it seems that S Eastern has had two major rolling stock issues in recent years. Endless promises of more trains that have never materialised but no clear explanations or apologies as to why not. I appreciate some of it is outside their direct control but some honesty wouldn’t go amiss. Secondly their attempts to re-jig the fleet they do have have often resulted in bizarre formation decisions that then have to be undone. I have also seen hints that there has been a certain opaqueness about the levels of available stock where public pronouncements have been shown later to be false. None of this exactly encourages public goodwill nor fosters an impression of competence – the reverse in fact. There is plenty to criticise TfL about but they would not have been allowed to get away with a 4 year delay in providing extra main line trains on a recently transferred part of the rail network. The nearest analogy is the delay to the SSR resignalling where TfL have been pulled up in front of the Assembly, criticised in official reports etc with all the attendant media coverage. Does anyone in the media even know how many rolling stock promises have been broken on South Eastern and how little local MPs have said on the subject?

    I thought the Victoria – Lewisham service was more a response to forced circumstances due to the Thameslink works and not S Eastern being innovative? Happy to be corrected but innovation is not a word I associate with South Eastern Railway. They’ve had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the realisation that running extra off peak trains and better consistent frequencies might actually pull in the punters especially off the back of TfL funded ticketing improvements like Oyster, contactless and mobile contactless ticketing. All the convenience these changes bring has not cost them any money at all but they get the financial upside.

  160. Ed says:

    Spot on about Deptford station – rebuilt at high cost about 5 years ago. It encapsulates DfT issues more than most. Usage is rocketing up year on year. Numerous new builds and commercial space opening all around and yet still staffed for just a few hours a day and no barriers.

    Now, the DfT could insist on that but again the record is so, so poor. There was a strong argument for gating it back in 2006 when the franchise was let, but by 2012 after a rebuild and passenger numbers tripling it made a lot of sense. Yet it didn’t happen with the 2 year extension in 2012 and again in 2014. Will it in 2018?

    Going back to housing, and the huge Convoys Wharf scheme of 3500+ homes is just 5 mins to the north and is kicking off in earnest now. So it should be obvious but with the DfT calling the shots? TfL are far more on the ball when it comes to housing. And it’s not only that scheme, there’s at least 1000 other homes under way or imminent in the station vicinity.

    But the same could be said in 2006, 2012 and 2014 and the DfT didn’t insist on staffing all day or barriers.

  161. Anonymous says:

    Walthamstow Writer. 15 January 2017 at 15:11 – “Secondly their attempts to re-jig the fleet they do have have often resulted in bizarre formation decisions that then have to be undone.” Not sure I understand what is being talked about here as the SE fleet is relatively simple and I am not aware of particluar isses here.


    “There is plenty to criticise TfL about but they would not have been allowed to get away with a 4 year delay in providing extra main line trains on a recently transferred part of the rail network.” As WW has already stated, the problem here is that the DfT have failed to come up with the units and the short term extensions to the SE franchise do not allow for a long term solution. Hopefully this can now happen and given the DfT’s new marking of franchise bids a complete new fleet of metro trains has to be realistic just as with greater Anglia.

  162. Graham H says:

    @Anonymous – DfT will not agree to “a complete new fleet of metro trains” until the present kit reaches the end of its economic life (and not necessarily even then). Dream on.

  163. Anonymous says:

    Graham H – So why did they agree in the Anglia bid to replacing fleets which were far younger than the Networker fleet?

  164. Ed says:

    Anglia has politicians that caught the national press’s attention? Most London area press like ITV London and the Standard can’t even tell the difference between SE, Southern and SWT.

    Anonymous – ” “Secondly their attempts to re-jig the fleet they do have have often resulted in bizarre formation decisions that then have to be undone.” Not sure I understand what is being talked about here as the SE fleet is relatively simple and I am not aware of particluar isses here.”

    He probably means the carriage numbers chosen on routes in January 2015 and then again in August 2016 after timetable alterations due to LB work. With some routes seeing heavy cuts in frequency SE then proceeded to cut train lengths from an often inadequate 8 down to 6. It didn’t work well and was reversed after about 2 months but who ever thought it would to begin with wasn’t paying attention to growth and housing schemes completing along those routes in 2016 – eg at Deptford again.

  165. Nick Biskinis says:

    The 1980s BREL Class 455 stock on Southern and SWT is becoming due for replacement, and any TfL takeover would have to arrange major capital investment.

    The Southeastern Metro is a mix of the suburban Electrostar and Networker. The Networkers are about half-life, but on the other hand it might be desirable to bring this fleet replacement forward to streamline the fleet into a cohesive bulk type.

    Whilst I can understand Sadiq Khan’s reluctance to agree to the SoS’s compromise deal, he is danger of looking like a do-nothing Mayor on transport with an unsustainable fares freeze which I suspect played into the DfT’s reluctance (as well as inherent party politics). TfL bus services are getting worse with cuts to the network coming – what is doing about this? What is he doing about improving bus reliability or resolving congestion?

    Essentially Khan is a consummate politician and I welcome his more considered tone compared to his predecessor – but this seems to be at the expense of taking a firm stand and showing he knows what to do about public transport. He may so reluctant to offend anyone that he does nothing. Can you freeze fares and increase investment just be ‘eliminating waste’? Much of the waste at TfL has in part been on the extravagant vanity projects – Thames Cable Car or workable cycle superhighways. If the Mayor is really going to tackle congestion for example he is going to have to risk offending some sections. Does he really come across as someone who would hit the ground of running if TfL got ‘immediate control’ of Southeastern? By promising all things to all audiences, inevitably people will spot the contradictions – as Kent County Council did. If Southern Trains being not in TfL control is the reason for strikes, then why was there a Tube strike? These are the sort of questions that emerge.

    So whilst I am a strong supporter of TfL rail devolution, I have the uneasy sense the Mayor doesn’t really know what he would do with the control – as exemplified by his lack of progress on resolving issues on other transport modes – coupled with a fares freeze policy based on questionable economics (which is separate from the politics). As such, even a neutral observer might think handing suburban rail to the Mayor would require more examination (this is distinct from the principal of TfL taking over the suburban networks).

    That is not by the way a vindication or justification for DfT control but rather that the Mayor has to improve the case for devolution – perhaps by stressing that it is ‘TfL’ that will run things, not just the Mayor (although I am risking re-opening the arguments about where does the line between transport and politics run). A more professional advocacy from TfL as opposed to a wholly political one could yet save devolution as a concept – and this is where Mike Brown and Geoff Hobbs should be given a chance by the Mayor.

  166. Graham H says:

    @NickBuskinis – believe me (as carrying the scars of many rolling stock business cases), the business case for standardising a fleet by scrapping early is non-existent; the case for deferring the replacement of the oldest to allow younger kit to “catch up” is usually much stronger – consider the saga of the SSL A stock. Matters are made more complicated where stock is leased because the lease price assumes a fixed life, so early replacement rolls up all the charges into a reduced timescale…

  167. Ed says:

    The older 455 and 456 stock seems to be far more reliable and have a far better rate of miles per failure than Networkers. Not that I’d expect all, if any to go. Maybe the 465/2s and 465/9s.

  168. Timbeau says:

    @Grham H
    1983 stock was scrapped early rather than have a mixed fleet on the extended Jubilee Line, but it is a rare example.

    @Nick Bikinis
    SWT is currently fitting new traction packages to its 455s. I can,’t see them being binned any time soon.

  169. Anonymous says:

    I thought that as reported in Rail and MR that the SWT 455’s have to be replaced in the new franchise as they will not be able to keep to new timings?

  170. Ed says:

    Maybe they’ll go to Southeastern then! More reliable than Networkers stock and could run on Victoria routes in 8 car formation? Might seem pie in the sky but I see the next SE franchise being poverty spec and any extra capacity will be welcome, and to honest they are nicer inside and look more modern than most Networkers.

  171. Timbeau says:


    I have not seen any suggestion of replacement of 455s on SWT – on the contrary, the retractioning is to give them an extra ten years of life – nor of any new timetable for the SWT inners. And there is no question of them not keeping up with other stock, as they have the slow lines more or less to themselves.
    Indeed, we may end up with an example of what Graham H described, as they are kept going until the 456s, nearly ten years younger, become life expired.

    Are you sure you’re not thinking of the 442s.

  172. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – I thought it was the single leaf doors that did for them Anent the 455s, the business case for not extending Wimbledon depot depended on the re-equipment of the 455s, so a fairly extended life seemed envisaged.

  173. Balthazar says:

    Re: timbeau

    Prediction: you will get a surprise in April when the new South Western rolling stock plan is outlined once the franchise award is announced.

    Happy to be pointed back to this post whatever the outcome!

  174. Nick Biskinis says:

    Hi – thanks for all this interesting reaction: I was at a public meeting with TfL where discussions about London suburban rail was taking place and it was suggested that the trains currently in place were not designed for intensive/rapid boarding and alighting or passenger movement inside. That is also true of the Class 319s on Thameslink. The impression I had was that were TfL to gain control of the major southern metro networks, the 1980s stock replacement would be one priority (just as TfL is doing with the Class 317s out of Liverpool Street)

    Moreoever as the transport industry does not like ‘feast or famine’ procurement (ie large orders followed by fallow years) but a steady flow of construction, the BREL Class 455 replacement would seem reasonable. After all the Class 405 SUBs when replaced were of a similar age (35-40 years, excluding some with earlier bogies etc).

    In Paris SNCF has ordered a large fleet to replace the 1980s trains on the RER D C and D; in as much as anything this is less to do with age and more the fact the trains are not fit for purpose.

  175. Graham H says:

    @NickBiskinis – business cases in France are very different affairs to the rest of the world; very few of the figures produced by SNCF are transparent and SNCF are most reluctant to release supporting data even when its in their interest. {I write having tried to extract basic maintenance figures from them in connexion with a private finance deal for the LGV Atlantique, and also in relation to the CDG link].

    The continuity of supply argument is one that the rail industry has tried on DfT/DTp/Mot for decades and it has never been believed because it has never been quantified.

  176. ngh says:

    455 and SWML metro services.

    1. Agree with Balthazar that the 455s won’t comply with the rolling stock requirements in the franchise ITT documents. The narrow doors opening (1.75 person widths) are the major limitation on the maximum frequency of services that can be run. The aim will be to that up to 22tph* from the current maximum of 18/19tph.
    * (C-DAS /ATO and better unit acceleration probably also pre requisites to make it work reliably)

    2. There are only enough 2 car 456s to run circa 50% of SWML metro services as 10 car.

    3. Unless something goes very wrong the new SW franchise should be a cash machine for DfT, so added capacity will be quickly filled and bring in extra revenue.

    4. Stagecoach have been pricing up new units for the bid including 100m (5 car) metro units, replacements for the 159s to increase the number of units and performance (probably bi-mode units) and more 444 equivalents (240m fixed length). So they could be bidding on adding lots of extra capacity….

  177. Timbeau says:

    Stagecoach’s five car units (class 707) have not only been priced but designed, built, tested, and are already being delivered. The first are expected to be in service by Easter. It is to accommodate them that the 455s’ traction upgrade was financially justified – the new kit needs less frequent attention, freeing up depot space for the enlarged fleets.

  178. Anon E. Mouse says:

    Unless something goes very wrong the new SW franchise should be a cash machine for DfT”

    You mean like, say, a long-running series of strikes that occurs because of a government declaration that the the whole network will go DOO?

    As a regular SWT passenger, I very much hope that this is not an accurate premonition…

  179. ngh says:

    Re Timbeau,

    Those aren’t the 5car units I was thinking of…
    The 707s already ordered / under construction / delivery as you mention they are already assumed in the bids for the Windsor lines side, The units I mentioned are SWML metro side replacement for the 455/456s and the pricing up was done months after the 707s were ordered.
    It might be assumed that an extra circa 100-105x 707s would fit the requirement for other SW metro units not on the Windsor side.

  180. ngh says:

    SE metro train lengths:

    To run SE metro services at maximum sensible length based on the following assumptions:
    – Victoria (Blackfriars) Services at 8 car
    – Others at 12 car except via Woolwich Dockyard with 10 car with 376).
    – No SDO stock
    – Bromley North at 4 car shuttle
    – Ignore CHX platform length issues and SDO for the time being…
    – Assume retaining 465s as a base assumption

    Would need for
    a) current timetable another 28x 4car units or equivalent (in service so extra to cover for maintenance).
    b) 2018 timetable post Thameslink completion including GTR consultation changes another 42x 4car units or equivalent (in service so extra to cover for maintenance)

    Some of the “equivalent” could be 466 (but only equivalent to 18x 4 car units for this purpose) so till 10/32 extra 4 car units required assuming all 466s used but there would be some platform length issues at CHX where SDO would also be beneficial so reducing the number of 466s used would be good. (The platform length issues at CHX also make TfL’s proposed CHX – CST loop services instead of CST – CST a good way to kill increasing train length with existing stock utilised which DfT might have spotted!)

    The cascade of 25x (or more) 4car units from GTR (377/1s) for SE long distance should allow the return of most 465/9s to metro services so most Metro service could be run nearer full max length.

    Splitting the SE franchise into Metro and Long Distance would wipe out chunk of that increase though less efficient stock use which combined with extra services without stock provision would also sacrifice maximum train length on many services.

    Retaining the networkers would require modifications to internal layout etc. to make them fit for purpose so whether retaining all of them is the most logical thing remains to be seen especially if a number are retired early to to also help solve the Charing Cross (and Woolwich Dockyard) platform length issues. ((Some) networker reliability is often below normal levels so less assumed intensiveness of stock usage might also be sensible)

  181. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    SE infrastructure works & 2018 etc.:
    Although London Bridge is functionally complete at the end of 2017 there are still plenty of works under the Thameslink programme umbrella in 2018 such as resignalling (re-interlocking, re-control to Three Bridges and Traffic management roll out) in the remaining area covered by the London Bridge signal box out to in the Lewisham and Grove Park.

    Many “SE” Thameslink services are also currently driven by SE drivers under temporary arrangements till May 2018 (since 2009/2012/2014 in increasing numbers at each change) when SE should then have sufficient extra drivers to use the extra units transferred.

    A franchise change over just weeks after those complete might not be the best of plans so delay till December ’18 might be better idea, Trying to split the franchise at that point as well could have been a disaster…

  182. Ian J says:

    @WW: Again the Business Plan paints no picture of substantive improvement in the Overground network as it currently stands

    There are hints of an increase in frequency on the East London Line core enabled by ATO in Network Rail’s Digital Railway initiative (mentioned here).

    If this went ahead it would imply increased frequency on each of the branches and a need for new rolling stock (and for a business case and funding to be identified, of course).

  183. Ian J says:

    @Graham H: Matters are made more complicated where stock is leased because the lease price assumes a fixed life, so early replacement rolls up all the charges into a reduced timescale

    The ROCO might assume a certain life, but unless the stock is covered by a Section 54 government guarantee (currently being phased out), there is no guarantee that a new franchise will take it over and the life may turned out to be less fixed than the ROSCO believed. A lot of ROSCOs seem to have had a nasty shock with the Anglia franchise decision.

  184. Ian J says:

    @ngh: DfT have form for franchise changes and remappings in the middle of major Thameslink works.

  185. Balthazar says:

    Re: Timbeau – presumably the argument that depot capacity is created by traction upgrade of older stock implies further capacity creation in a scenario of their replacement by all-new trains (and even more in a hypothetical case of a uniform fleet at a depot, Thameslink-style).

  186. ngh says:

    Re Ian J @ 01:03

    “@ngh: DfT have form for franchise changes and remappings in the middle of major Thameslink works.”

    Lesson apparently learnt (including stating so the Select Ctte.). The additional risk cost the Franchise bidders will have loaded into the bids would make it more sensible for them to manage risk more directly via direct award extension. Making the award in August 2018* post many of the big changes allows substantial risk cost reduction.

    *Was Feb 2018 before any of the major hidden SE changes of H1 [H1=Q1+Q2. LBM] 2018 have occurred… (Changes as outlined last evening)

  187. Graham H says:

    @IanJ – by early replacement triggering rolled up charges I meant “early” within the lease period. Clearly, when the lease has ended, the ROSCO is exposed; on the other hand, the price of the lease will have taken a view on the liquidity of the market at the presumed termination. (I have constructed “dealers’ ladders” for numerous bankers in the past). In the case of the DfT and the 455s, there will (I sincerely hope) have been a shadow investment appraisal of the case for new stock which takes account of any residual value that there may be in the present fleet – and I would have expected the re-equip 455s versus extend Wimbledon depot business case to have done the same.

    @Balthazar – railway costings are full of step functions which trigger a whole new raft of extra costs at the margin, so “going backwards” doesn’t necessarily create commensurate savings (which is one reason why closing branch lines doesn’t save very much). As the late Professor Joad was wont to say “It all depends”. I would expect the 455 re-equipment case to follow that pattern, although without having the figures in front of one, it’s impossible to say where the tipping point might be. I don’t doubt there is one, tho’ -just consider the reductio ad absurdem case in which some quantity of new kit removes the need for the depot altogether…

  188. ngh says:

    Re Baltazar and Timbeau,

    The Desiro City units* (inc 707s) have significantly lower maintenance requirements than the previous generation of stock (Desiro /Electrostar which are vastly better tha BR era or upgraded BR era stock) hence new stock (Desiro City or Aventra etc. ) allows an increase in total units/cars with just an increase in stabling (till a certain point!) rather than far more expensive additional depot space.

    Re Timbeau,

    The minimum Stagecoach seemed to be pricing up was enough 5 car metro units to replace circa 50% of the 455s on the future SWML metro service levels thus allowing 100% 10 car SWML Metro services. The number of 455s you would retire on doing this would be very similar (by accidental coincidence) to the number of 455/7 (with the reused trailer cars from the 508s that are 5-7 years older than the rest of the 455 fleet. There would also then be enough spare almost new new traction equipment to upgrade the 456s.

  189. Pedantic of Purley says:

    On the subject of “feast and famine” of rolling stock orders, the undesirablility of this is is true but can be counteracted by the creation of a homogeneous large order. Car manufacturers and plane manufacturers don’t like doing small runs. Rolling stock manufacturers are no different. The S stock is a classic case where there are benefits of a large (-ish) order.

    The reduced need for depots is dramatic. Consider somewhere like Ashford (Kent) – a railway town built around the railway and the depot in particular. It wasn’t reduced usage of trains which almost severed the link between the town and railway repair and maintenance – it was the fact there was less maintaining to be done on the same number of trains.

    As pointed out, there must be a theoretical limit of zero maintenance. You would clearly need stabling still. The difference in future will probably be a lot more automated maintenance. It is believed the DLR will go this way with its new rolling stock when this is, er, rolled out. This will, presumably, favour large depots to maximise efficiency which (back on topic) will probably go against London Overground and its relatively small depots. Then again, TfL seems keen to standardise on stock where possible which suits automation so maybe they won’t be in such a bad position after all.

  190. ngh says:

    Re Nick Biskinis and Timbeau,

    Nick @1022 Saturday,

    I would like liked to see direct Victoria-Clapham High Street trains (ie the Dartford service operated with Selective Door Opening stock to allow this to happen) flanked with direct services to Brixton and Bromley South. The latter would allow Brixton easier access via Clapham High Street to the East London Line.

    And Nick @14:38

    … Re: Brixton etc. Trains from Clapham High Street can run, but they have to cross pathways, from the ‘Atlantic Lines’ to the paths to Brixton, Herne Hill and beyond, so such trains literally weave in and out of the old South London Line at Clapham High Street.

    East Brixton won’t happen any time soon as the business case is not strong enough relative to the costs (£70 million). Enabling a Brixton-Clapham High Street rail link (eg a Victoria-Orpington via Clapham High Street, Brixton, West Dulwich train) offers a cheaper alternative so Brixton commuters can catch the East London Line at Clapham High Street. But there is also massive benefit for Clapham High Street in having direct trains to Herne Hill and Bromley South because of interchange with Thameslink and onward trains to Kent.

    A TfL takeover of Southeastern Metro could enable stronger initiatives such as additional platforms at Clapham High Street (which others are promoting also) with onward benefits….

    and timbeau @ 16:11

    If they use the low level lines at Stewarts Lane, they do not need to weave in (only out), and can call at Wandsworth Road as well.

    Reality check time.
    1. A Clapham High Street user appears to want vastly better services for Clapham High Street including ignoring actually operating the railway without reducing capacity… (Also see Northern line turnback sidings discussions from several weeks ago)

    2. The existing available stock doesn’t have SDO as is amongst the least likely SE metro stock to be replaced as all the current platforms on the rest of the route are 8car. A combination of weedkiller and refurbishing existing unused and blocked off platform length (e.g. Wandsworth Road up platform) and extending other platforms (e.g. Clapham High Street up platform) is the cheapest option than anything stock related. [The other 2 platforms are mix of the 2]

    3. “Weaving” between Chatham and Atlantic lines is a non starter due to capacity reduction it would bring, (Relative position of junctions and signal spacing and positioning)
    So the only realistic viable solution to more and longer trains at those 2 stations is:
    a) only (longer) platforms on Atlantic lines
    b) all stopping services only use Stewarts Lane lines and Atlantic lines between Grosvenor Bridge and Crofton Road Jn with no swapping to /from the Chatham lines

    Therefore Brixton, Herne Hill etc. services to / from Wandsworth Road & Clapham High Street) are a complete non starter and not an alternative let alone a cheap one, hence why it always comes back to Brixton High Level and the high price tag or Loughborough Jn alternatives.

    4. Note TfL proposals in the devolution business plan to add more Victoria – Lewisham and beyond services in addtion to all the extra Thameslink related service changes on the Catford Loop, this only works if the extra services go via the Stewarts Lane lines and Atlantic lines.

    5. The Stewart Lane lines could do with few £m spending on them to get line speeds up…

  191. ngh says:

    On the theme of how serious are DfT about improving services when franchises are retendered:

    Grayling on the Wales and Borders franchise:
    “If I were leading the franchise, I would want longer trains, and platforms and services to serve places that are poorly served now, like West Wales.”

    “We have said to Welsh Government ‘Ok, you can take responsibility for the franchise’. In other parts of the UK like East Anglia we have done a deal with the franchisee that we’ll replace every single train with new ones in a part of the country where they are using mainly old stock. The question is, what are the Welsh Government going to do?”

    The tendering next time in 2018 is being devolved to the Welsh Government, so he is setting the bar high now so failure to get “sufficient” improvements is the WG’s fault.

  192. Alan Griffiths says:

    Nick Biskinis @ 15 January 2017 at 18:19

    “So whilst I am a strong supporter of TfL rail devolution, I have the uneasy sense the Mayor doesn’t really know what he would do with the control ”

    I have a strong sense that everyone knows that
    1) considerable investment is required to increase capacity
    2) nobody is very confident of how much increase in passengers or revenue there might be
    3) its difficult to see where that investment might come from in the next 4 to 8 years
    4) someone else might get the credit for any big and bold decisions

    which is a classic scenario for degenerating into a blame game.

  193. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @ngh: You missed this bit:

    “We could do it, but if we would, we would do a good job for Wales.”

    Which is not likely to be something that can ever be checked as you’d have to wait until sometime around 2022 before you could decide if the Welsh Government had jumped the bar or not and even if DfT then took direct control again, you’d be looking at 2026 (probably later) before seeing if that was any better!

    By which time two elections will have been and gone (at least)….

  194. timbeau says:

    “presumably the argument that depot capacity is created by traction upgrade of older stock implies further capacity creation in a scenario of their replacement by all-new trains”
    Not necessarily. You only need to replace the components which dictate more frequent depot visits. If you can get the maintenance intervals for the old stock to be the same as the new, there are no more gains (in this respect at least) in buying new.

    “It wasn’t reduced usage of trains which almost severed the link between the town and railway repair and maintenance – it was the fact there was less maintaining to be done on the same number of trains.”
    A classic example of this was the introduction of the Deltics – 22 of which were able to to replace 55 steam engines. Although this was partly due to the higher speeds, (the same service interval can be achieved with less rolling stock if the round trip time is reduced), the main difference was in the maintenance overhead.

    “The number of 455s you would retire on doing this would be very similar to the number of 455/7 ”

    How fortuitous! It is not just very similar, but exactly the same!
    To put some numbers on this
    SWT class 455 fleet – 91
    class 456 fleet – 24.
    Thus you can have 24 ten-car trains, using 48 of the 455s. This leaves 43 455s left over – which is the exact number of 455/7s in the fleet.

    Since the number of 455/7s was dictated by the number of 508s built for the Southern Region way back in 1978, and the 456s were never intended to make trains up to ten cars (although they were originally intended for the SW lines) this can only be a coincidence.

    There might be some shuffling of cars between units if any 455/8 or /9 cars are in worse condition than the 455/7 cars – remember that two 455/9 cars actually started life in a Class 210 demu!

  195. ngh says:

    Re Timbeau,

    Not quite as 24x 456 will only see 21 (or may be 22 with luck) in service on any given weekday (am) peak. You only need a total fleet size of circa 46x 455s to run 21x 10 car trains each week day peak so could retire 2 more 455s than just the /7s.

  196. timbeau says:

    Why are you assuming 87% availability for the 456s but 91% for the 455s? Once the 456s are retractioned, surely there should be no difference?

  197. ngh says:

    Re timbeau,

    # units rounded appropriately as part units make no sense in this case, the assumption was the same at 90%.
    e.g. 21/24 = 87.5%
    22/24= 91.7%

    No current plans to retraction the 456s as far as I know but same ROSCO as the SWT 455s so if the equipment is there from the retired 455/7s it would make sense, but there is no evidence to suggest this is actually planned. (The surplus “new” traction equipment being fitted could go to retraction more 321s than is currently planned for example as that solution uses most of the same parts).

    But the 456 performance could end up as the limiting factor so there is certainly logic to doing it.

  198. straphan says:

    One thing not considered to any great depth within this whole devolution vs accountability discussion is the question of rail operations. If you look at SWT, the entire Main Suburban operation (i.e. all stoppers via Wimbledon) is interworked. With the exception of the Kingston Loop and Shepperton services, the train unit circuits cycle through all the service groups. The reason for this is platform capacity at Waterloo (which will not get any better post-rebuild!) – these services are conjoined twins. So if you fancy taking over the lines to Hampton Court and Chessington South you will necessarily have to take over services to Guildford, Dorking and Woking because those services will use the same trains! This will, of course, continue until such time that Crossrail 2 comes along and you get a blank(ish) sheet of paper that will allow you to redefine the timetable in the area.

    On the Windsor Lines side the story is a little different, as Reading and (most) Windsor services run on separate circuits from the stoppers. Also, with relatively minor interventions (turnbacks at Hounslow and Virginia Water) you could separate the current Weybridge via Hounslow service into two. Still, the isolation of the Reading services would make them somewhat of a backwater for the main franchise, somewhat far away from their core operation on the SWML.

    However, that still leaves the issue of Wimbledon depot, which currently serves all the Windsor Lines and Main Suburban fleets. The Overground operation would thus still continue to share the depot with the main franchise unless a new one is built.

    The issue is arguably a little easier on Southeastern. Yes, many two-track sections would be shared between the Kent, SE London and even Thameslink operators – but it’s not like having three operators on the same line is something unusual in Great Britain? Also, with the transfer of the Gravesend stoppers to Thameslink, the SE London operators wouldn’t really run any further within Kent than Dartford and Sevenoaks. Also, there is a reasonably clear demarcation of depot space, with the SE London operator potentially taking over Slade Green and leaving the rest to the Kent operator. All in all, a reasonably easier task.

    Ditto Southern – there is a clear demarcation between Metro and Sussex, with everything south of Purley being very clearly ‘not Metro’. The only outlier is the service to Horsham via Epsom, but I believe that service group is diagrammed to be standalone circuits? The only snag is – once again – depot space, with the expanded South London Overground having to share space with the Sussex franchise at Selhurst.

  199. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Minor quibble. The Caterham and Tattenham Corner branches are clearly south of Purley. Whether or not they are “not Metro” is open to debate. I am sure those that use it south of Purley would probably like it to be “not Metro” when it comes to having a fast service from Purley to London but remain Metro when it comes to be being in Zone 6. When it comes to frequency, it has a Metro service of 4tph to Caterham and really ought to have 4tph reinstated to Coulsdon Town instead of just 2tph all the way to Tattenham Corner. Maybe that could happen when Croydon gets rebuilt and there are more train paths.

    In the TfL (and others) Turn South London Orange* proposal they were treated as Metro TfL-run schemes.

    * Other similar proposals apply.

  200. timbeau says:

    “With the exception of the Kingston Loop and Shepperton services, the train unit circuits cycle through all the service groups. ”
    I’ve been travelling into Waterloo since the days of the 4SUBs and never knew that. Why are the Loop and Shepperton lines singled out for special treatment?

  201. Balthazar says:

    RE: timbeau – “22 [Deltics] were able to to replace 55 steam engines … the main difference was in the maintenance overhead.”
    It still amazes me that in steam days a service requiring only one locomotive at a time (the Silver Jubilee) had four dedicated locomotives built, and those needing two locos (both the Coronation and the Coronation Scot) had five.

  202. Purley Dweller says:


    North and south so two at a time with two spare on the Silver Jubilee and four at a time on the others with 2 spare to cover for both trains?

    Pop. Surely Coulsdon Town gets 4 trains with the 2018 timetable being consulted on. The last proposal for devolution ignored East Croydon never mind including Tattenham and Caterham.

  203. Greg Tingey says:

    The “SJ” was exceptional, actually 2 or three locos would have sufficed, but it was a wonderful excuse for “spare capacity” as the A-4’s were not only faster, but more powerful than the A-3’s.
    Nonetheless, you have to remember how long it takes to “start” a full-size Pacific from cold, what the weekly wash-out & servicing schedules were & how long a trip through works took, & at what frequency.

  204. Nick Biskinis says:

    ngh: if additional platforms were built at Clapham High Street, then the Victoria-Bromley South trains could stop there easily. That is cheaper than building East Brixton station.

    Furthermore there are greater overall benefits: enhanced services from Clapham High Street to Victoria and the South East takes people off the very critically congested Tube at Clapham North, whilst the direct Brixton-Clapham High Street rail link provided enables interchange access to the East London Line.

    Brixton does not have overcrowded Tube trains: therefore there is no real immediate need for the East London Line that would justify building East Brixton, nor would East Brixton address the problems elsewhere. The higher costs and the lower benefits mean it has a weaker business and transport case than additional platforms at Clapham High Street. Station staff at Clapham High Street frequently tell me that Victoria peak trains are desireable and would be popular. That’s the feedback I get at public meetings I hold.

  205. Malcolm says:

    Nick: advocate improvements at Clapham High Street all you wish. But the argument that “it would be cheaper than building East Brixton station” can have no part in such a case. It would also be cheaper than rejoining Meldon Quarry to Bere Alston (in Devon), but passengers from Clapham High Street who want extra services would not benefit from improvements at either East Brixton or Bere Alston!

  206. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Nick B – “Brixton does not have overcrowded Tube trains” – what? The station is overwhelmed with demand in the peaks. The slightest problem and the queues stretch back into the street with enormous queues. Brixton used to be, and may still be, the location with the highest volume of bus to tube interchange in Greater London.

    And anyway the role of the Victoria Line is surely vastly different to that of the SLL Overground service? They serve different markets don’t they? Brixton also has very considerable “orbital” bus flows on services like the 35, 37, 45, 345 which partly parallel the SLL rail route. I suspect even the provision of an East Brixton stop, recognising the limitations and other impacts, would be more popular than imagined. It’s certainly less than ideal but I expect people would quickly adapt with some interesting effects on local walking routes and businesses.

    Surely sticking platforms at Clapham High St is more about getting people into Victoria on main line trains that doing anything in respect of orbital flows? It’s hard to follow your logic as we seem to be discussing three things at once.

  207. Steven Taylor says:

    Re Clapham High Street (CHS) . If the platforms which closed in 1916 were re-instated, it would enable Clapham Junction to Brixton journeys to be made with just one change at CHS – otherwise you have to get a bus or circulate via Victoria. As ever, who is going to pay. I cannot imagine this being a priority for South Eastern. The subway, to the best of my knowledge, still exists across all tracks – the station was accessed from the north side until the 1970s.

  208. ngh says:

    Re Nick Biskinis,

    ngh: if additional platforms were built at Clapham High Street, then the Victoria-Bromley South trains could stop there easily. That is cheaper than building East Brixton station.

    Completely wrong you’ve just illustrated you have no understanding of the how the SE timetable works including elements that can’t be changed which is apparently “easy” to change according to you.
    This has been covered several times on LR but not recently so time to weld the steel casket on this shut yet again as it belongs in the same banned category as why isn’t the W&C extended…

    On Up services at Brixton, the Orpington – Victoria services are caught by the flighted fast services behind so upon leaving Brixton there are 2 trains at minimum headways (2 minutes) behind the stopping service so if you were to stop the Orpington – Victoria services at new platforms on the Chatham (fast) lines at Clapham High Street would would also force the 2 following fast services to stop, the second of these 2 services will run through Herne Hill on restrictive aspects reducing capacity at the key junctions there and reduce capacity on Thameslink (and future SE) services to Blackfriars.
    The reverse also happens on the down services via Herne Hill services as the fast services have to have a 8minute gap when leaving Victoria to avoid catching the stopping service in front before the loop at Kent House or 11 minutes till the 4 track section through Bromley South. Anything leaving in that 8/11minute gap has to go via Denmark Hill where there they have to be coordinated with Blackfriars services further east between Crofton Road Jn and Nunhead Junction / Shortlands Junction so there is little flexibility there either. [And before you ask the down Victoria – Orpington can’t leave Victoria earlier because they are following at minimum headway (2minutes) behind a via Denmark Hill service.]

    Hopefully you now understand why what you suggest is completely unworkable and why the only real option that will work in reality is more stopping services on extended platforms on the Atlantic (slow) lines and why building fast platforms that could never be used is a complete waste of money that could be better used elsewhere. This is also why the suggestions of Brixton High Level, Brixton East or Loughborough Jn frequently come up as platforms at any of them could have more stopping services at them, unfortunately none are cheap.

    Also beware unintended consequences, might I suggest you take a trip on an Orpington – Victoria service in the am peak and see how many passengers get off at Brixton for the Victoria Line, would increasing the number of people getting on the Northern Line would be a good thing at Clapham North?

    [I agree with ngh’s assessment of this topic. No further discussion on it please. LBM]

  209. Ian J says:

    @PoP: large depots to maximise efficiency which (back on topic) will probably go against London Overground and its relatively small depots

    As I understand it the TfL Rail and London Underground engineering functions are being merged, so in the long term will we see combined Overground/Underground depots to give economies of scale?

  210. Ian J says:

    @ngh: he is setting the bar high now so failure to get “sufficient” improvements is the WG’s fault

    A cynic would say that he actively wants the Welsh Government to fail so that he can score a political point. Ditto TfL. It’s not clear to me that floating voters as opposed to partisan diehards respond well to this kind of political game-playing, though (see also Watford).

  211. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    ngh: Thanks for spelling out the workings of that part, I always wondered how (& why) they were staggered as they are.

    I believe up to Brixton there are 5 tracks in total? 2 on the Atlantic (slow/Overground side) and three on the fast? Would an extra track help here? Although that would probably eat up room for any platforms?

    Sorry LBM, I want to get this straight in my mind….

  212. Greg Tingey says:

    Try THIS link to Carto Metro
    You can move around, once the initial screen has loaded.
    Should help

    A third track. with centre-reversible all the way to Brixton Jn would be really nice.
    And really expensive

  213. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Ah right, so it disappears by Clapham North….

  214. straphan says:

    @PoP: I had always considered the CATs and TATs as a metro service (run with 455s and the like) that just happened to omit some stops within London… Especially since the Caterham branch is almost entirely within London – or runs right along its outer boundary.


    The Kingston Loop services have separate circuits because they operate on both the Main Suburban and Windsor Lines. Were they combined with some other service groups, this would facilitate cross-contamination with delays during periods of disruption on one or the other line.

    The Sheppertons are run separately purely because they are spaced 15 minutes apart with the Kingston Loop trains in order to provide an even interval between Norbiton and Teddington – and thus cannot really interwork with anything at Waterloo.

    This may – of course – change somewhat post-Waterloo rebuild. However, bear in mind that one of the main reasons why Waterloo International is being brought back into use is because the Main Suburban services will in future require 6 platforms rather than the 4 today. This is due to the new layout at the throat being more restrictive than the current. I therefore strongly doubt that in future it will be possible to do much about operationally separating out all the Main Suburban services that actually run beyond the M25 (Dorking, Guildford and Woking), even if one were to sacrifice the thoroughly sensible isolation of the Kingston Loop trains for this purely political aim.

  215. ngh says:

    Re SH(LR)

    Victoria – Battersea Pier Jn (just South of the Thames) 4 tracks (Up-Down-Up-Down) The Eastern tracks being the fast ones and the western pair the slow tracks.
    [Technically under NR Sussex umbrella as is Victoria station]

    Battersea Pier Jn – Factory Jn (just North Of Wandsworth Road station) 2 separate Routes:
    (a) Chatham Lines – 3 tracks at High level over the SWML (Reversible -Up-Down) [The usual route and under NR Kent Umbrella ] Max Line speed 60mph (till in the Green belt)
    (B) Stewarts Lane lines – 2 tracks at Low Level under the SWML and through the depot area (Up-Down) Max Line speed 45mph.
    The Stewarts Lane lines are attached at the Northern end either side of the Chatham lines but to the Atlantic Lines at the west at the southern end and provide a grade separation option in the down direction for trains leaving from the eastern most platforms at Victoria if needed. [Under NR Sussex umbrella]
    At Factory Jn the arrangement is Up-Down-Rev-Up-Down

    Factory Jn to Voltaire Road Jn (between Wandsworth Road and Clapham High Street Stations) and further South(east)
    At Factory Jn Stewart lane Lines become Atlantic Lines (still max 45mph but under NR Kent umbrella) and the track arrangement is still Up-Down-Rev-Up-Down. At Voltaire Road Jn The Chatham Lines drop to 2 tracks and the overall arrangement is Up-Down-Up-Down.

    If wanting to increase stopping services on the Atlantic Lines it would be worth rebuilding Wandsworth Road Jn (SLL Lines to Battersea Park turn off there) to increase the amount of room available at Factory Junction to allow the line speed through the junction (20/25mph) to be increased along with slight tweak to the Junction layout to make it far easier to run more Victoria -Wandsworth Road services.

    Also worth nothing the long term proposal in the TfL Business plan to increase the Kent House loop length (though not clear how much but all the way to Penge Tunnel is do-able) to all more stopping (not at Wandsworth Road or Clapham High Street as would run on Chatham Lines at that point if going to Victoria) and fast services via Herne Hill allowing a slight reduction in fast services via Nunhead which would allow more stopping services on the Vic-Lewisham and beyond routes some of which would use the Atlantic lines and stop at Wandsworth Road or Clapham High Street.

  216. ngh says:

    Re Greg

    Except the reversible is on the west currently (and would need to remain there if increase the number of Victoria -Lewisham and beyond services in the future) as it is far more useful as a down connection for services from P5-8 at Victoria to the Atlantic line avoiding using the down Stewarts lane line which is better for P1-4(5) departures from Victoria. It also allow up services from the Atlantic lines to avoid the slower via Stewarts Lane lines route if on the west so I can’t see the reversible moving from the current location as the Western most Chatham Line.

  217. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Courtesy of the “Murkydepths” blog and some trawling through Parliamentary Q&As it seems that DfT have killed off South Eastern’s proposal for more rolling stock in the short term. It seems two Labour MPs for Greenwich / Lewisham East have been regularly pressing the Rail Minister re capacity improvements. Going back to October 2016 we have the following exchange.

    Q Asked by Matthew Pennycook (Greenwich and Woolwich) on 07 October 2016

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that Southeastern has access to sufficient rolling stock to enable it to alleviate capacity pressures across its London metro network.

    A Answered by: Paul Maynard on 17 October 2016
    The Department is exploring the provision of additional rolling stock to Southeastern, in order to lengthen services and increase capacity for passengers. This requires extensive commercial negotiations with Southeastern. We are continuing to work with Southeastern to develop the business case, and an announcement will be made in due course.

    And missing out all the “chasing” questions and non commital answers we get to this most recent exchange.

    Q Asked by Heidi Alexander (Lewisham East) on: 06 January 2017

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 8 December 2016 to Question 55749, what progress has been made by his Department’s investment board in considering the business case submitted by Southeastern Railway for additional rolling stock.

    A Answered by: Paul Maynard on 16 January 2017
    The Department’s investment board considered Southeastern’s proposal in December 2016. We have concluded the plans are not deliverable as previously proposed, principally because depot-related costs have escalated significantly. As a result, the Department has asked Southeastern and GTR (both owned by Govia) to work together to provide alternative workable solutions for offering additional extra capacity in Southeastern for 2017, including credible stabling options.

    So that’s that for now and presumably until after the franchise is retendered. It also looks like depot space is, as Ngh has stated before, something of a killer issue which isn’t going to be fixed very readily. I wonder if we will see more faffing around with Thameslink stock workings or some strange compromise where trains are stabled / maintained at Selhurst (?) even though they work S Eastern services. That’s going to make a future franchise bidding scenario a bit lopsided in favour of one bidding group unless the DfT “reserves” space at non SE depots for any future South Eastern operator to use.

  218. Pedantic of Purley says:


    “Also worth nothing the long term proposal in the TfL Business plan to increase the Kent House loop length (though not clear how much but all the way to Penge Tunnel is do-able)”

    Except that Penge East station is Grade II listed so that might create quite a challenge.

    I think the primary aim is to get faster turnouts so I suspect it won’t get as far as the station if it ever happens.

    Walthamstow Writer,

    “some strange compromise where trains are stabled / maintained at Selhurst (?) even though they work S Eastern services”

    Selhurst, though large, is, I suspect, far too small for current needs let alone future ones. There is already some outstabling in places where I would not have thought it secure enough. I know there is some land on the other side of the tracks at Norwood Junction.

    One could possibly is to make the depot a two storey one if desperate but I suspect there are cheaper options around.

    Depot issues are just no taken seriously enough. On some Underground capacity upgrades (Northern and Jubilee lines in particular) it seems that the cost of finding stabling space – not even depot space – far exceeds the costs of buying the trains.

    I think the first iterations of extending the East London Line assumed they could just use spare capacity at Selhurst.

  219. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    The “new” solution as I have already mentioned on LR before is that GTR provide 32x 377/1 on a wet sub-lease maintained by Southern at Selhurst. The temporary solution is that SE get 377/5 (Orpington Drivers already sign and drive them for “SE” Thameslink services on daily) and already had the use of 6x 377/5 daily under a previous sub-lease agreement which will be gently increased until SE drivers can also cover the 377/1 (identical internally to most SE 375s) and use the 377/1 instead. [The old /original solution was 25x 377/1 dry sub-leased to SE] Southern then have 32 units less to upgrade DOO equipment on.

    TfL failing to notice the depot space issue and hence funding required for works to solve it will have made them look more than a little silly at DfT especially as splitting makes the situation even worse.

    Space at Southern depots only really works if they are Electostars for commonality else it will be very inefficient.

    Based on Thameslink Programme infra costs depot space won’t be cheap.

  220. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @ngh: Yes, completely clear now…

    Also worth nothing the long term proposal in the TfL Business plan to increase the Kent House loop length (though not clear how much but all the way to Penge Tunnel is do-able)

    Would probably require the demolition of the (now closed) “The Alexandra” on the corner of Penge Lane.

    But yes, do-able and perhaps the platforms could be shifted towards the tunnel at the same time, to make it easier to create an interchange with Penge West? (Takes cover and runs) 😉

  221. JA says:

    Greg/SHLR, the three tracks of the Chatham main lines used to extend as far as what was then Shepherds Lane Junction until the late 80s early 90s I believe. At that point Shepherds Lane Junction did not connect the Chatham lines and the Atlantic lines as it does now, and was slightly east of it’s current location. Presumably there were a number of alterations/rationalisations to the track layouts in that area at that time in order to accommodate the operation of Eurostar services to Waterloo.

    A couple of recent cabride videos illustrating the areas ngh was referring to.
    London Victoria to Brixton
    Via Stewarts Lane Low Level

    And an older 1980s video showing the three Chatham lines and lack of crossovers between Chatham and Atlantic lines at Shepherds Lane

  222. straphan says:

    With regard to the Southeastern metro situation, it is worth bearing in mind that – should the Thameslink timetable currently being consulted upon actually come into force, then that would see Thameslink taking over more services currently operated by Southeastern than was the case under previous proposals. If memory serves me right, under previous proposals Thameslink was supposed to operate:
    – 2tph stoppers to Sevenoaks via Catford-Bromley-Otford (all day)
    – 2tph semi-fasts to Maidstone via Catford-Bromley-Otford (peak)

    As per proposals currently consulted on this would be:
    – 2tph semi-fast to Maidstone via London Bridge-Otford (all day)
    – 2tph semi-fast to Rainham via Greenwich and Gravesend (all day)
    – 2tph stopper to Orpington via Catford-Bromley (all day)

    Assuming Thameslink also keep the current service to Sevenoaks via Catford-Bromley-Otford, this would mean Southeastern are then relieved of their Charing Cross-Gravesend service, which gets replaced by Thameslink’s Rainham service. This means they then have a few Networkers to play with if they fancy strengthening other trains.

    Depot space then is no longer an issue, as Southeastern’s fleet does not record a net increase, Thameslink’s fleet continues to be serviced at Three Bridges and Hornsey, and Southern is left to continue to provide services to places like Tattenham Corner or Caterham, which Thameslink would no longer serve at all.

  223. Ed says:

    Are they removing the Charing Cross-Gravesend via Lewisham though? I’ve heard conflicting reports and no SE consultation which doesn’t give any clue. Very controversial if so as it removes the link with Blackheath, Lewisham (for transfers to Vic line trains) and Waterloo East and Charing Cross from much of the route.

    The line up to Charlton could take 10 tph (6 all stopper SE to Cannon Street) the 2 Thameslink and 2 via Lewisham. Indeed it did in peaks before 2015 right? Even now it’s 8 off peak.

    And the via Lewisham trains are only 2 per hour off peak (and never ran in the peak – current plans only temp as LBG platforms closed and will change again in 2018). Will it free up much stock at all for other routes?

  224. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Southern Heights,

    A sort of interchange (more like Walthamstow Central/Queen St) has already been suggested between the Penge stations as part of Turn South London Orange. I think they are already out-of-station -interchanges.

  225. Ed says:

    ngh – sorry a bit confused here. You talk about a new plan for 32 377/1s being wet-leased but the DfT have only formally just refused a cascade plan yesterday. Is this newer then from that proposed at the tail end of last year and refused yesterday?

    You mention gradually increasing unit numbers to SE as drivers are trained (though this now refused?!) but I’m wondering even if another plan is approved, how long 32 units for SE at Selhurst could be sustained? And it seems pretty inefficient?

    TfL may not have mentioned depot space but what have the DfT been looking at for years as they extended the franchise twice without specifying additional space? I’m told SE said they have been asking the DfT about it but got nowhere.

  226. Keith Knight says:

    @ Straphan.

    Currently the service between Charing Croiss and Gravesend off peak is 2 Charing Cross to Gillingham “not very semifasts” usually via Charlton & Lewisham and 2 Charing Cross to Gravesend stoppers via Sidcup (fast to Hither Green) which cross on the flat from Fast to Slow at Parks Bridge Junction. Rush hours there are, of course, various alternatives.
    In addition Gravesend also has 2 tph frpm St. Pancras, 1 to Faversham and the other round the circle via Ramsgate.

  227. timbeau says:

    “The Sheppertons are run separately purely because they are spaced 15 minutes apart with the Kingston Loop trains …… and thus cannot really interwork with anything at Waterloo. ”

    Not sure I follow that, as all SWML inners run at 15 minute intervals

    “A sort of interchange has already been suggested between the Penge stations as part of Turn South London Orange.”

    The problem with the Chatham Lines, as with the Windsors and the Welwyn route, is that capacity was increased in the Victorian era not by quadrupling but by building a loop (Catford, Hounslow, Hertford), and both the main and the loop routes now have to support local services Gordian, which limits the number of fast services which can be run in between them. Turning London Orange suggested solving the Gordian knot with a Battersea Pier-Penge tunnel to take the fast trains out the equation altogether . Solves several problems (notably Herne Hill) but the Megaproject money would have several other competing candidates with better BCRs (not least Barnes-Twickenham or a Mimram diveunder!) Short of a Keynesian new Works programme, I can’t see it happening.

  228. timbeau says:

    I meant 30-minute intervals of course. (100 years ago when the lines were first electrified it was 20-minute intervals!)

  229. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I am struggling to see the relevance of loop lines and tunnels to a proposed pedestrian connecting link between Penge West and Penge East. I would suggest that the pedestrian link is not expensive but depends on the will to do it and establishing if it would be used if built.

  230. straphan says:

    Thanks for filling me in on the North Kent services – these were always a bit of a black box to me. Regardless, my understanding is that the Thameslink services to Rainham are to be a replacement of one of the 2tph Southeastern services – rather than being additional to these. This would then free up some Networkers for Southeastern to redistribute elsewhere, and would have also made it easier to split the Southeastern franchise into London and Kent/HS1 parts.

    Also, the timetable under consultation has 2tph extra on the Catford loop (Thameslink services to Orpington), which in itself brings the off-peak frequency on the Catford Loop to an Overground-esque 4tph.

    @timbeau: The Shepperton and Kingston Loop turnrounds at Waterloo are tweaked slightly (compared to other service groups) to allow them to work on an isolated basis. As this eats up capacity, it is not possible to apply the same solution to other service groups.

    Again: this may change post-rebuild. Also: bidders for the SWT franchise were instructed to provide plans for a separate business unit, with a view to hiving it off to TfL (and subsequent inclusion into Crossrail 2). We will need to see how the winning bidder interpreted this exam question, and – given the current climate – whether Grayling will bother with this issue at all.

    PS – wouldn’t it be funny if his insistence on TfL curtailing its activities on the Greater London border would lead to Crossrail 2 not serving Epsom…?

  231. Greg Tingey says:

    An OSI from Walthamstow Central to Queen St ( The ex-NB station in Glasgow ) would be a good one!
    I think you mean the appallingly-misnamed Walthamstow Queen’s Rd, which it is nowhere near – “Queens Rd” was the goods/coal depot where the line passes ground level …. now converted to housing.

    I think the only thing that might shift the SoS & the DfT regarding non-improvement of (outer) suburban outer-London/inner-Kent services is political – like a bye-election returning a non-tory.
    That might, just get their attention. I doubt if anything less would do it (!)

    Greg/SHLR, the three tracks of the Chatham main lines used to extend as far as what was then Shepherds Lane Junction until the late 80s early 90s I believe.
    Entirely correct – they reduced some capacity, just at the point that traffic was about to pick up again …. but traded that off with a better, more flexible track layout.

  232. ngh says:

    Re Ed,

    The old proposal was turned down in December not yesterday, just the ministerial answer was yesterday. Hence they have already had plenty of time to work on a developing what was already plan B as they already suspected plan A might run into issues as it had already dragged on for 18months before being formally turned down in December.

  233. ngh says:

    Re Staphan,

    But routes such as Orpington – Blackfriars via Herne Hill return to SouthEastern in 2018 requiring stock so there is a reasonable SE additional stock requirement anyway (as there have been plenty of promises of longer trains and plenty of people to fill them to), the issues is how big. There are quite few 6 car peak services running and lots of unhappy passengers.

    Depot and to lesser extent siding space will still be an issue.

    North Kent services – remember that a number have been lost during the changes over years (as with other SE services at since the HS1 service start and Thameslink Programme) there also used to be 2tph Semifast via Greenwich which was very unreliable which is what Thameslink are effectively recreating hence the facepalm moments all round when it was proposed!
    A radical Plan Z might see GTR run all the services into the Blackfriars bays permanently reducing SE stock requirement.

  234. Ed says:

    Thanks ngh. So how long can Southern feasibly store and manage 32 Southeastern trains assuming that plan is approved by the DfT?

    Given how the DfT have played it so far with the very long wait to formally refuse Plan A it’s very likely they’ll play hardball again and not agree? I doubt anything will happen until the franchise is re-let.

  235. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    Putting 2 stations on the Kent House Loop would be a big improvement but there are some difficulties as you point out but I suspect an asymmetric solution (different for Up and down lines) might be reasonable compromise hence my quite how far part of the comment. The current loop entry/exit speed is 40mph so not to bad.
    The Station building on the Up platform is listed but not rest hence starting and running the down loop behind the current down platform (or moving back the down platform so there is only down platform on the loop) might work and have a useful impact on Down services leaving Victoria.

  236. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – so, in effect, the DfT are just dragging the entire process out by not defining the exam question properly? If they don’t want to add trains to the current franchise why don’t they just say so? It’s ludicrous even recognising the network constraints. If PoP is right about the constraints at Selhurst and you’re right about problems everywhere else then how can the “plan B” actually work? Sorry if I appear a bit dim on this but we seem to be lurching from one useless plan to another to another. Meanwhile passengers see no improvements whatsoever.

    @ Straphan – I believe the Thameslink via Greenwich service *replaces* an existing South Eastern service so your view that some Networkers might become surplus seems plausible. This is, of course, rather pre-empting the outcome of an extremely complex, interconnected and not hugely popular consultation involving the journeys of hundreds of thousands of people (who all have MPs ready to complain when needed). I can’t see the entirety of the GTR consultation surviving public scrutiny / comment so that means more compromises and more difficulty trying to get an acceptable solution. Alternatively it is all a sham and the DfT instruct GTR to implement the whole lot in its entirety and s** the consequences. And that’s before we get to the remarks in a recent Modern Railways where the railway industry itself is not convinced Thameslink can work in the way envisaged. Perhaps TfL and the Mayor are well out of all this nonsense [1] and can wait for it all to implode while developing a viable, if expensive, alternative plan.

    Oh and I expect Mr Grayling has already ruled out the separate “inner area” unit concept for SWT. Easy enough to do – just tell the lawyers to remove the relevant clauses and tell the bidders the requirement has been removed and can they remove the cost implications from their bids.

    [1] by that I mean the South Eastern and Southern aspects. They have no claim on any of Thameslink.

  237. Walthamstow Writer says:

    A general question for our “detail experts” about the service structure / scheduling. Are so many services interworked / scheduled as they are to just ensure the lowest cost of operation or are there other considerations like driver rostering, maintenance schedules and infrastructure constraints?

    When you have inter-worked schedules on bus services it is nearly all about most service from the fewest vehicles and efficient driver rosters [1]. Clearly bus companies don’t maintain the roads they run on so the infrastructure element is less. Also bus maintenance schedules may be a bit easier to manage than trains with all the complexity of kilometrage banded lease charges and need to get trains “in the right place” for more complex repairs / maintenance. Just curious to know because I’ve been rather surprised that things are as complex as they are on the suburban services. It’s a big contrast to TfL bus practice where there is hardly any [2] large scale interworking even where companies have a lot of contracted work based in large garages.

    [1] a simplification but it was the headline when I did a bus scheduling course.
    [2] there is some at peak times and between some infrequent services like the 389/399 and between day and overnight services.

  238. Ed says:

    WW – a Thameslink service on the North Kent line through Charlton and Woolwich *may* be in place of the 2 tph semi-fast (though we don’t know until a SE consultation that should’ve been alongside) but that semi-fast service was only ever off-peak, so it wont free up any more peak time stock.

  239. ngh says:

    Re Ed,

    Just to add I strongly suspect that the depot /siding cost was multiples higher than the annual cost of leasing the stock see PoP Jubilee and Northern Line examples for even more extreme cases.

    You probably won’t be surprised that there is no simple answer!
    They are already maintaining the units (most technically based at Brighton currently) but:

    a) another 31x units are coming from Thameslink (the 377/2 have recently returned after use with Southern on WLL where they will probably return releasing more 5 car units for metro services. and 377/5 returning to their original home at Selhurst as they become surplus from Thameslink as Southern looked after their entry into service.) that need to be found homes. So an additional 8 units can currently be managed ok. And Caudwell in Bedford is still the existing home for the rest include the 6 on rolling loan to SE (who have storage space for them).

    b) A number of Southern Services are converting to Thameslink (which is why the 377/1 are “surplus”) and will be run by new Siemens 700s maintained in new depots run by Siemens (transfer probably starting May ’17) which creates a little slack in the existing Southern system.

    c) the remaining 442s are nightmare in every sense: 1) they only run a single peak only journey per day 2) high maintenance 3) logistically as maintained at Stewart Lane, stored at Streatham Hill at the London end and various sidings along the coast. So their imminent earlier than planned replacement with 377s should reduce depot and siding space issues. The depot space they leave behind at Stewarts Lane can usefully be filled with more 455s from Selhurst and Streatham Hill sidings can be filled with more 377s/455s etc. in their place.

    d) reducing 455 usage and mileage will reduce reduce servicing requirements and hence depot space requirements at Stewarts Lane and Selhurst

    e) as PoP pointed out a small but useful amount of siding space may get created to the South East of Norwood Junction as part of the propose upgrades

    f) more intensive use or small additions to some of the more remote stabling points.

    So probably easily into the early 2020s the main issues are short term in early 2017.

    The answer should be

  240. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    I think DfT knew there were going to be depot /siding space issues but there hadn’t been any detailed costing on solutions. The large cost isn’t recoverable in a short term direct award and extension without DfT funding direct which they may not have the available cash for. The new (post Dec ’18) franchise will be left to create a long term depot and siding solution which matches it Rolling Stock plans as there is a real danger some infrastructure DfT would effectively fund might have very short lifespan if the new franchisee opts for new stock on a build and maintain basis…

    Interworking to reduce number of units (and the time they are in terminus platforms). Driver requirements largely scale with the number of units.

  241. Graham H says:

    Except that most operators will avoid interworking if they are allowed to do so;interworking is a jolly good device for ensuring the disruption spreads far and wide…. (and in these days of penalties for failure to meet targets, the effect can even be priced).

  242. 100andthirty says:

    Slightly off topic but finding space for more trains is an issue that LU had to face with the introduction of S stock. They bought 1403 cars to replace 1174 old cars – an increase of 229 cars. Put another way they had to find nearly 3.7km of additional siding space. To add to the challenge, many existing sidings in nooks and crannies (eg Triangle Sidings and Parsons Green) were just long enough for 95m C stock trains and couldn’t be extended for the longer S stock trains. The GLA Accounts Committee gave LU a lot of stick about cost over-runs they attributed to the failed signalling contracts, but the challenge of squeezing this quart into the pint pot mustn’t be under-estimated. One result was S stocks in Lillie Bridge depot.

  243. Toby says:

    (I know this would require too much coordination from DfT and TfL to actually happen)

    Is there much need for the metro portions of franchises to have London based depots? LU/LO are the only organisations who need everything done so centrally and even then they have them far out or have sold off air rights. Pass Selhurst, etc to LO (but keep a few for warm spare/parked faulty sets of each franchise) and build new depots outside London. Eg the first train on the Victoria-Orpington route comes from a new depot near Tonbridge and uses the through platforms. LU do this for the Circle Line. Hopefully LO would have time, to put one depot a time out of action while something is built over top, before they fill them all as much as they are today.

    I see a mention of a “Mimram diveunder”. I had a similar thought about the same time today, but a fast loop from Potters Bar to Stevenage on the west side of the M1.

  244. alanbluemountains says:

    ngh 18.59 If some of Southern Services are converting to Thameslink using Siemens 7oo might not some of the returned 377/1 be required for Thameslink as from what I have read the 700 order is considered by some to be low quantity wise.

  245. Graham H says:

    @Toby – well,no: most experienced operators stress the importance of the service “passing the door”, which reflects the need not to litter the system with cripples and the ability to get defective units home easily and without using too much capacity.

  246. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – sorry to string this out but the promise of more trains for SE has been ratting on for years. Surely, *if* DfT knew they had a depot issue, this could have been assessed a long time ago even across different scenarios. I take your point about the high cost of doing anything meaningful so why extend via a Direct Award after having already extended and now we get *another* extension. They should have prioritised the retendering of this franchise ages ago and got the depot issue sorted in that new franchise. This just creates a sense of either incompetence or just not being truthful with passengers and stakeholders. I know you have little time for TfL’s approach but given all this turbulence and uncertainty is it any wonder their proposal was open to criticism? It’s very hard to hit a moving target.

    @ Graham H – I suspect the disruption aspect is one factor, alongside route level contracts, why interworked schedules are not really used for London buses. Far too easy for one route to be wrecked within a few minutes if there is a serious traffic incident. Why voluntarily set yourself up for a second route to be affected via interworking?

    On the railways it’s even harder given the difficulty of “overtaking” or getting round problems without affecting other services / operators. I guess that’s partly why I’d assumed each service had its own independent schedule but I was clearly wrong.

  247. Southeastern Passenger says:

    @ngh For Southeastern Orpington drivers driving class 377/5 units daily, don’t you mean Tonbridge? These units do mainline trips to places like Ashford and Rochester which I don’t think is even signed by Orpington. The Southeastern Orpington drivers do drive class 319 Thameslink trains on a daily basis for the Orpington/Sevenoaks route.

    Also in terms of maintenance the class 387s are nearly gone from Thameslink which also frees up space in Southern locations. Do you know what the stabling plans are for the ‘extra’ SE units? I haven’t heard how much space SE could find in their existing locations and/or what needs to be borrowed from Southern.

    @alanbluemountains The Thameslink stock may be stretched in the full December 2018 timetable, but that has a lot more routes than the current network meaning it needs a larger number of trains. Some Southern and Great Northern routes will transfer over to the Thameslink network and they will have some trains using Thameslink stock early. This allows for a gradual introduction into service, giving a longer period to train drivers and get them used to the new units.

    @WW The documents around the time of the TSGN franchise did include the 25 class 377 units to Southeastern. I’m not sure if they were aware then that Southeastern may not have been able to maintain them. Part of the justification for the further delay would be the change in Thameslink routes, yet another thing that has been a changing picture for years.

  248. timbeau says:

    “a fast loop from Potters Bar to Stevenage on the west side of the M1”

    It would have to be very fast to make up for the extra distance via Luton. Maybe you mean the A1(M).

    “I am struggling to see the relevance of loop lines and tunnels to a proposed pedestrian connecting link between Penge West and Penge East. ”
    Only that both were suggested by Turning South London Orange. The Battersea-Penge tunnel is relevant to the constraints in the Clapham High Street/Brixton area.

    “The Shepperton and Kingston Loop turnrounds at Waterloo are tweaked slightly (compared to other service groups) to allow them to work on an isolated basis. As this eats up capacity………. ”
    I find that even more surprising, as the turnround times for the two services at Waterloo are so different. Shepperton trains have frenetic turnrounds of two or three minutes – not helped by being tucked away on the difficult-of-access platform 1. Loop trains are much more leisurely, and also usually have the advantage of the better access available to platform 4. Indeed, it is not unknown for the platform for a Loop train to be displayed before that of the preceding Shepperton train (as happened this evening).

  249. Greg Tingey says:

    This just creates a sense of either incompetence or just not being truthful with passengers and stakeholders
    Why not both?

  250. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    Looking back at my post on Sunday about SE Metro train lengths where I excluded looking at the Charing Cross Platform issues and just brushed them under the carpet till now, which actually has an interesting link back to the depot question:

    SE metro train lengths:

    To run SE metro services at maximum sensible length based on the following assumptions:

    – Ignore CHX platform length issues and SDO for the time being…
    – Assume retaining 465s as a base assumption

    Would need for
    a) current timetable another 28x 4car units or equivalent (in service so extra to cover for maintenance).
    b) 2018 timetable post Thameslink completion including GTR consultation changes another 42x 4car units or equivalent (in service so extra to cover for maintenance)

    Some of the “equivalent” could be 466 (but only equivalent to 18x 4 car units for this purpose) so till 10/32 extra 4 car units required assuming all 466s used but there would be some platform length issues at CHX where SDO would also be beneficial so reducing the number of 466s used would be good. (The platform length issues at CHX also make TfL’s proposed CHX – CST loop services instead of CST – CST a good way to kill increasing train length with existing stock utilised which DfT might have spotted!)

    The cascade of 25x (or more) 4car units from GTR (377/1s) for SE long distance should allow the return of most 465/9s to metro services so most Metro service could be run nearer full max length.

    Splitting the SE franchise into Metro and Long Distance would wipe out chunk of that increase though less efficient stock use which combined with extra services without stock provision would also sacrifice maximum train length on many services.

    Retaining the networkers would require modifications to internal layout etc. to make them fit for purpose so whether retaining all of them is the most logical thing remains to be seen especially if a number are retired early to to also help solve the Charing Cross (and Woolwich Dockyard) platform length issues. ((Some) networker reliability is often below normal levels so less assumed intensiveness of stock usage might also be sensible).

    The minimum possible solution to get a working solution with all 12 car services on the Charing Cross metro routes while coping with the Charing Cross platforms issue would require 75x 4 car SE Metro units with Selective Door Operation (or 50x 6 car units) in daily service so more to cover for maintenance*. So 300+ cars of new stock, now if you compare that number of the more problematic GEC built 4 car 465/2 & /9 and 2 car 466s where there is also no plan in place for the necessary “2020” modifications that comes to 286cars. Hence there is a longer term option to solve both the what to do with maintenance and siding space for the additional 377s and any potential extra metro stock with fewer individual solutions with a joined up approach from the next franchise operator rather than SE metro concessionaire where TfL hasn’t allocated a budget for it and small longer distance franchise operator. I would be surprised if there isn’t also a suggestion in the tender to procure another 7 to 9x 6car 395 compatible units for HS1 SE Services** hence a possible combined tender and possible long term maintenance contracts could be on the cards so depending on whether it is joint or split would effect the outcome of depot /stabling issues.
    There are a number of options in the Ashford area that would suit 2 bidders but not sure on the council view on bring more former /mothballed railway sites back in rail use or whether even they are still in Railway ownership overall.

    *75x 4car units coincidentally also happens to be with in the range that 1 potential SE franchise was pricing up new stock for 😉
    ** Luckily the Hitachi depot in Ashford is just big enough to cover the extra units that might be wanted but it then means they can then do less work on other SE stock which they currently do which then has to occur elsewhere – this was the previous sticking plaster to SE not having enough depot space and I suspect this last point definitely won’t have been on TfL radar screen!!!

  251. Ian J says:

    @Toby: build new depots outside London

    See for example Heathrow Express, who are relocating from Old Oak Common to Langley to make way for HS2 – an option which they preferred to the original proposal of a depot at the paradoxically-named North Pole East.

  252. Graham H says:

    @WW -I agree entirely that even with bus routes to interwork is to set oneself up for disaster. I notice that in London it now seems to be confined to one or two single journey trips with the resources being found off a main all day service. That really limits the potential damage. (And so unlike Stagecoach in our neck of the woods,where,until last September, routes 18, 19, 46, 70,71,and 72 were all interworked with terrible results spreading mayhem over much of west Surrey and west Sussex,with anything up to 3 hour (!) gaps in hourly services; in September, all these were separately scheduled and everything runs like clockwork). [BTW just for amusement, the former Lancaster Corporation services,which had a star shaped system were scheduled for the buses to run on each route in turn….]

  253. straphan says:

    @WW: The standard hour (off-peak) timetable is – for most TOCs – built around units circulating on the same service group. As you rightly deducted – this is to prevent delays from spreading from one route to another.

    In the peak – particularly in the AM – there are all sorts of capacity pressures that force departures from this principle. For most London termini and approaches to them, the AM peak timetable is as full as the trains that constitute them. There are all sorts of extra peak services, extended dwells at stations, longer train formations that preclude the use of certain platforms… All in all this forces TOCs to come up with a solution that just about works in terms of capacity available – there is just no room to worry about performance or anything else.

    I think London TOCs in general are struggling to find additional sidings space within the London area, to avoid having their trains themselves commuting from far away. On SWT I know there has been a long standing plan to build extra sidings near Feltham, but am unsure whether other operators have any extra space available/earmarked anywhere.

  254. straphan says:

    *deduced, not deducted…

  255. ngh says:

    A perfect example for the peak interworking, off peak segregated model (when there isn’t industrial action!) is Southern’s London Bridge – Victoria via Crystal Palace service which operates as partly interworked in the am peak but as a simple shuttle service for the rest of the day. The interworking is to help reduce platform occupation time at Victoria but it interworks with the peak extra Horsham via Dorking services with some of the units spending overnight in Horsham Sidings. Until recently the Horsham – Dorking section would have needed a guard as well to run. The chances of the train ever being on time when it gets to London Bridge are predictably variable…
    (On time this morning though somewhat helped by fewer services running overall)

    Id’ love to see what the proposal would be to eliminate this kind of interworking to allow a Metro – Long distance split!

  256. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @ngh: The Tunbridge Wells – (07:15) Orpington – Charing Cross service used to return to fast from Charing Cross to Orpington, to then become the 08:21 Orpington – Charing Cross slow service.

    It was almost never on time….. I don’t know if this is still done.

  257. ngh says:

    Re SH(LR),

    The first service now forms a Charing Cross – Gravesend service which tends not to be on time which then runs back to Charing Cross.

  258. Ed says:

    ngh – if I’ve read that right (and probably havn’t!) then around 75x new 4 car trains with SDO could replace 465/2s, 465/9s and 466s after 2020 to allow more 12 car services to Charing Cross. But that still leaves all the other 465s that do not have SDO which still means limits of 8 elsewhere? (as the 466s will be gone).

    Also, that doesn’t include Cannon Street services?

    Is there space for SE depots and sidings to expand within around London? Aerial views of Grove Park appear to show a fair bit of vacant scrubland around depots. Slade Green too, which although green belt, has planning precedent for expansion given a freight yard was approved by the govt around 5 years ago.

  259. straphan says:

    Many operators do so-called ‘bounce-backs’ in the peaks, with early longer-distance arrivals running back empty to somewhere within outer London and making another run into the terminus.

    As an example: Southern currently run (or ran until recently) one of their early arrivals from Brighton into Victoria as empty to Selhurst, then around the curve to Norwood Jn and back into Victoria via Crystal Palace or to London Bridge via Forest Hill. In pre -Overground days the peak South London Line trains between Victoria and London Bridge were formed of 4-car units taken from other peak metro arrivals into the termini.

    Of course Southern (and Southeastern) have the advantage of running identical – if not very similar – stock on all types of services. You probably wouldn’t want a Great Western HST running empty from Paddington to Reading and then back as an all-stations service into London once again…

  260. ngh says:

    Re Ed,

    Cannon Street and Victoria etc. were covered in the original post which I cropped a bit when quoting.

    Still 36x 5 car 376s to form 10car services for the Cannon Street to Cannon Street “Loop” services (as a solution to Woolwich Dockyard 11 car platform issues).
    Other Cannon Street metro services would all be 12 car with 3x 465 where SDO is not needed e.g. Orpington, Hayes and the rest of the North Kent Line services that don’t call at Woolwich Dockyard.
    Victoria (and Blackfriars) metro services at max. platform length i.e. 8 car (2x 465).

  261. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    “BTW just for amusement, the former Lancaster Corporation services, which had a star shaped system were scheduled for the buses to run on each route in turn….”

    Lincoln Corporation did the same for a while. It does mean that a shortage of vehicles does not knock any individual route out entirely, but dilutes the problem.

  262. Tim says:

    I imagine this has been done to death before, but is there no strategic plan, long term, for sorting out this vexed issue of platform lengths at CHX? Could the gateline / buffer stops not be moved back even a few metres to deal with the ‘tight clearances’?

    Surely cheaper than doing a ‘Blackfriars’ and mucking about with Hungerford Bridge/station throat/footbridges.

    Also the lack of a long term, coherent plan to deal with this problem (other than tinkering with stock rotation / stock composition (lengths/clearances) seems at odds with NR’s stated policy of ‘maximum lengths in peak hours’ – though of course see 8 car 700s etc…

    If SE is stuck with the Networkers long term, could they not at least receive the 365 treatment and get air-con (not on the radar in freezing January, but certainly at rush-hour in summer) – these being, as remarked before, the sole regular use SE / Southern trains not to have this passenger/customer ‘comfort’*

    *along with the SWML inners as timbeau will no doubt comment

  263. Balthazar says:

    Re: Tim – the “if” that starts your last paragraph will remain an “if” until about August 2018 when the South Eastern franchise award is made. Retrofitting air conditioning (or alternatively air cooling) is feasible but the rentalisation of the considerable cost involved in this and any other significant upgrades will be based on recovery over a shorter remaining service life than new vehicles, which one would hope also have lower ongoing energy, maintenance and other operational costs. Bidders will assess these in the context of the franchise requirements and bid scoring mechanism defined by the DfT in the invitation to tender when deciding on rolling stock strategy. We have of course seen the result of this process in East Anglia, although the ITT details vary in each refranchising (e.g. there is a heavy steer towards high scoring of proposals for new trains in the South Western ITT).

  264. timbeau says:

    I don’t know what is underneath the concourse at CX, but extending the platforms in that direction may not be feasible if the structure can’t take the weight of a train. In any case, the circulation area at CX is already on the cramped side.

    Aircon in a space which opens to the outside every few minutes is always going to be a “Red Queen’s Race” – running fast to keep still. Long before the system has got the carriage to the desired temperature the doors will open and the air will mix with the ambient temperature outside. The power drain would be significant, and so would the weight penalty. For inner suburban and metro trains, better ventilation is more practical than full aircon.

    (This is also why inner suburban stock needs heftier heaters)

    (not quite as bad as fitting aircon to an open platform bus, but close)

  265. Graham H says:

    @timbeau -the power draw for aircon on some older stock reached as much as 30% of the total. It’s unclear whether retrofitting the Networkers wouldn’t therefore require a power upgrade across the system.

  266. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Graham H: Which it already needs to run more 12 coach trains in certain areas…

  267. Graham H says:

    Just so, so aircon would increase the size of the upgrade required (I haven’t seen the figures but one can imagine that with the extra aircon demand,the requirement would be for more/bigger substations). BTW, I’m not aware of any programme of power enhancement (may be others know?). I’d be surprised if there is much in reserve at present, so going to 12 cars may well make the timetable more challenging.

  268. Ed says:

    Ah yes, the old power issue on SE for 12-car running, alongside depot space.

    What have NR and the DfT been playing at since 2010-ish when they knew the SE franchise was coming up for renewel in 2012? This should all have been on the planning board then and now complete. Instead NR extended pretty much all platforms for 12 cars and upgraded some power but far from enough I believe, and since then nothing whilst the DfT messed up franchise awards and lumbered SE with three short term extensions. Still, I’m sure they know better than TfL how to provide for the future!

    By the time re-franchising kicks in the DfT will have seen more cuts from the Treasury and so how much will be done?

  269. rational plan says:

    With ever more crowded trains, air con becomes ever more desired. If Subsurface tube lines can cope with frequent door openings then inner suburban ones can as well.

    While it may not economical to change existing trains, once they are due for new stock then I imagine air con will be standard.

    For those who can walk from the terminus station to their work, then Aircon on the train means a reasonable relatively sweat free trip.

    As London continues to heat up I imagine demand for proper aircon on buses will grow, even if restricted to zone 1 and 2, where traffic is very slow.

    Plenty of Asian cities already have air con buses, it’s only a matter of time, especially if they improve the energy efficiency of newer units.

  270. Tim says:

    Out of interest, was any power upgrade less of an issue with the 365 upgrades (due to instrinsic higher power over AC)?

  271. ngh says:

    Re Tim,

    I think PoP did an article that covered the Charing Cross concourse a while ago (5-6 years?), I’ve had a quick look but can’t find it…

    The simple solution is stock with modern fully capable SDO.

    There are some options NR could do but they would be expensive and take along time to progress so it would mean the TOC would need to be serious about running 12 car trains in large numbers to justify it getting to funded projects stage, some what chicken and egg situation.

    You have also forgotten about the Southern 455s without aircon.
    The units will be 28years old before the new franchise starts so no long to recoup the substantial cost (replacing the opening windows)

    Remember it is cheaper to run air-con in winter and heating in summer 😉

    Re Balthazar, Timbeau and Graham H,

    Modern train air-con is significantly more efficient than that. Some of the benefit comes from the dehumidifying effect of air-con rather than just the cooling effect provided. Auto door close (after 45s of inactivity) as introduced on the Electrostar, Desiro and Junipers really helps improve overall air-con efficiency.

    Power supplies. Worth noting that the upgraded retrofitted traction electronics on the 465/0 & /1 are regenerative braking capable and enabled, the 465/2 /9 and 466s don’t have the capability tested (passed) and approved so regenerative braking on the those sub-fleets is disabled another reason why the GEC-Alstom networker units might get the chop with a new franchise operator.

    There is no apparent plan for “2020” modifications and other works on the 465/2 /9 and 466s which means either derogations if the stock is going to be replaced shortly afterwards or a complete scrabble to get 286 cars retrofitted from a standing start in less that a year from the start of the new franchise..

  272. RichardB says:

    @timbeau I agree that air conditioning on commuter trains incurs an energy loss due to frequent stops and doors opening although your point is equally valid for train heating in cold weather but you do not appear to see that as equally impractical. The point is air conditioning is now part of our society and with the exception of Class 376 I cannot recall any train order which did not provide for air conditioning. Even SWT has it for outer suburban trains to wit classes 450, 458 and the recent 700 order. It is likely that irrespective of the outcome of the current franchise bid that any trains ordered to replace classes 455 and 456 will be air conditioned and I for one will cheer.

    Whatever the failings of Southern all the trains ordered since privatisation have air con and it is interesting to speculate why South Eastern or Connex decided not to include it for class 376. It is notable tha London Overground insisted on it for their class 378 orders and it has been well received by the travelling public. I can’t help wondering if the motivation for not including within the class 376 was at least in part a cultural response that passengers on those lines did not merit anything better. It must have been an explicit decision as all other post privatisation orders for 3rd rail emus insisted on dual power (a/c and d/c) plus air conditioning.

    One final point in addition to mitigating the excess heat it is notable that air conditioned stock provides for a quieter journey and the carriage environment is generally cleaner.

  273. ngh says:

    Re Ed,

    Actually blame some of the current delays on the ORR who didn’t agree with NR’s costs for the work as there weren’t any McNulty efficiency saving therefore it couldn’t possibly be an efficient cost so they refused to sign off the required amount to get the work done so NR proceeded far more slowly* with a smaller sum that was approved with an estimated efficiency saving taken off by ORR (as things can always get more efficient and cheaper right???).
    In reality the NR cost was based on real tenders from most of the suitable HV contractors operating in the area against a background of general construction inflation in London and the Southeast of just under 10% and innovative contractor design contracts.

    *Completing in 2018 with additional funds and NR’s cost estimation process vindicated.

    Removing or upgrading the GEC-Alstom Networkers would help the power issues as regards running longer trains.

  274. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Graham H: The only thing that can be seen from the train on the Mainline, is a new substation at New Cross. If this is an upgrade or end-of-life replacement, I’m not sure…

  275. Graham H says:

    @RichardB – I wouldn’t say that aircon makes for a quieter journey – just travel on the SWT stock for the sound of constant hoovering, drowning out any pleasant music, for example, that one might wish to listen to, even with noise cancelling headphones.

    As to the past history of not installing aircon, both the Department and the Board were horrified at the cost in those days – a cost to which no extra revenue could be attributed. As ngh remarks, costs have come down although not entirely negligible particularly when they require power upgrades. We also have (or seem to have) more warmer/humid days than we used to.

  276. ngh says:

    Re Graham H,

    The most measurable effect of climate change to hit the UK so far is actually a 2+% point rise in average relative humidity in the last 40 years (from memory 72% to 74%) so the extremes of hot and colder feel relatively hotter and colder due to the higher specific heat capacity of more humid air and in the case of heat it being harder to sweat at high humidity.

    The UK is relatively humid so larger capacity air-conditioning capacity is required than continental Europe away from the coasts..

  277. Walthamstow Writer says:

    So having read ngh / Straphan’s remarks on fleet composition and the complex scheduling is it safe to draw the conclusion that devolution, that requires service groupings to be split apart, is a non starter? I say this on the basis that you incur fleet inefficiencies and there is not enough viable land available to expand depots and sidings. So really a shortage of affordable land in the right places is also a killer blow to rail devolution on a long term basis?

  278. ngh says:

    Re SH (LR),

    Load of additional and end of life replacements and Track – Paralleling hut to substation upgrades all over the place including many hidden under the arches on the viaducts to the East of London Bridge. An additional one at Tanners Hill flydown (St Johns). Also the replacement of the 66KV oil filled insulation cable network that fed them with more standard XLPE 33KV cabling and new transformers and feeds at New Cross National Grid substation (on the site of the former Old Kent Road Gas Works near the SLL). Plenty of work out to beyond Dartford and Sevenoaks areas too.

  279. Balthazar says:

    Re: RichardB – The Class 334s were ordered without air conditioning. It is however now being retrofitted to them (which should be much easier than on a Class 465, or indeed a Renatus 321 where awkward holes are being cut in the roof of a monocoque structure, since it is based on a generice bodyshell that was designed for roof-mounted HVAC modules – like the 376s in fact). Obviously everything under consideration here is electric, but air con certainly makes for a quieter journey on diesel multiple units!

  280. timbeau says:

    Shouldn’t be too difficult to fit aircon to 334s as they are the same basic design as the 458s and 460s which always had it.

    Agreed aircon is becoming more of an issue even on stopping services as trains become more crowded and thus the number of onboard heat generators is greater (100W per person).

    Both a/c and heating drain more power on a train which opens its doors more frequently – that makes it harder to achieve but it is clearly possible as the S stock illustrates. (It may also be relevant to the heating question that short-haul passengers are less likely to take their overcoats off, so heating may not need to be turned up so high)

  281. Tim says:

    @ngh – don’t all the Southern 455s have air-con retrofitted in the recent refurb?

    @Balthazar – it’s a proven with the 465/6(?) as the 365s (Cambridge/Kings Lynn Great Northern) have all had aircon retrofitted.

    @Graham H – were the only BR orders with aircon the 442s and MK3/MK4 carriages?

  282. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    No not a non starter as such just that it just costs a lot without any extra in service trains or capacity being provided for passengers (e.g. what is the benefit to the end user apart from the trains are a different colour etc.???) and then also eats up capacity that could be used to add extra services. (if framed in that way the BCR is grim)
    In the business case (page 25) TfL estimated that a split at Charing Cross (see SH(LR) example above ) would require another 60cars (15x 4car units) to stop interworking the long distances services. TfL then reckoned that as:
    a) SE were getting some 377s
    b) the proposed Thameslink Greenwich services
    c) “TfL’s analysis of station workings at Charing Cross suggests that the former practice of covering inner suburban services with mainline trains for operational convenience during the contra-peak has been reduced.” TfL analysis failed to spot large construction sites near the Shard and New Den that might have been responsible for this on a temporary basis…

    TfL reckoned the extra stock required for split would be reduced to 24 cars (6x 4 car units).
    TfL missed the point that DfT’s intention was for the 377s going to SE were to add extra capacity by allowing most of the 465/9 (34x 4car) to return to metro operations to increase train lengths not to enable a split then lengthen existing length trains instead!

    DfT’s point would be that their intention is that more trains are primarily for longer services (or additional after completion of works) for direct tangible passenger benefits and if the mayor wants to split he should fund the trains need for the split after the priority of lengthen has taken place and not dip into the pool set aside by DfT for lengthening etc.

    The capital cost (spread via leasing) for new trains with 60 cars would be £80-85m which is expensive for just a split with non direct improvements in capacity. In reality after the GTR changes that probably comes down to 40cars at £50-55m just for the split at Charing Cross. The 24 cars assumes the sacrifice of circa 16 cars DfT had planned for lengthening from just 1 terminus alone.
    Hence why the TfL plans went down quicker than depleted uranium brick…

    New depots are do-able but will take time, see CR2 depot at Weir lane (Wimbledon-Earlsfield on former railway freight and power station land), for SE 2 potential sites around Ashford and several other location are possible (e.g. the site of the potential Crossrail depot if extended to Gravesend at Hoo). Most of the obvious SE sites probably require long distance operator co-operation if there was split. Several option available for Southern but none are quick.

  283. ngh says:

    Re Tim,

    455s – No aircon at any point in their life (and not in the last 29years I’ve been using them!), also note the subtle hint of the original opening windows.
    SE, SN and SWT all have non air-con stock so Se are more hard done by.
    The 455s inc SWT always had a forced air ventilation system with no cooling (fan unit mounted in the low ceiling at one end of the cars under the roof hatch with the inlet vents on the side at the relevant the car end, see this photo (not mine) for details:

    https:[email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected]7-9tSYPm-k6acNy-sb3ug6-psNfCm-njvueS-fvKMWJ-pvhaWK

  284. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    PS The timing of SE devolution in 2018 would have allowed the mayor to potentially get away with a one off cheap devolution opportunity, once those SE Metro trains get lengthened it would be very hard to shorten them to allow a split for SE Long Distance instead in the future at say the next mid 2020s franchise re-letting. hence far more expensive and the extra train requirement for splitting would then be greater as the average train length would have increased.

    If the next franchise has far better incentives to collect revenue (the current one doesn’t really so no surprise as it isn’t worth their while!), then the revenue uplift the mayor could get their hands on from a mid 2020s split would be far lower…

  285. RichardB says:

    @ ngh & Tim I think the 455 units used by Southern did have air conditioning retrofitted for the drivers cabs but only the cabs not the main passenger accommodation which still use the same window figments as also do the 455 units used by SWT. Again I think the SWT units have also installed air conditioning in the drivers cabs

  286. ML says:

    It seems that although the Mayor(s) may have seen SE Metro as the priority for transfer based on the opportunity of the 2018 franchise transfer, actually it may be one of the harder areas to start with (a lot of interworking, a lot of competition for the 2 track sections). Although they are further away, perhaps other franchises are more realistic targets. The Moorgate suburban services have no interworking and almost no shared track (I’m no expert but I think from 2018 it will just be the Cambridge slows and Welwyn peak only). And if you can accept TfL managing a few trains as far as Dorking and Guildford the same could be true for SWT inners. There would need to be appropriate governance arrangements for the longer services, but my guess is that there is little scope for dispute. For example, the Dorking and Guildford via Epsom services already stop at all stations despite their destinations. Even at rush hour, although the Dorking services don’t stop at all stations, they have to run between the stopping services so aren’t much quicker – I suspect the non-stopping is more about balancing loading than about speed. (It was different before the big recast after privatisation – but that fight has been fought.) So there isn’t much that TfL could do that Surrey would complain about? Crossrail 2 could actually complicate the situation by introducing sharing of tracks …

    So maybe other targets may be “easier” even if more distant, and may provide the opportunity for learning and building confidence.

  287. Graham H says:

    @ngh -thank you for the interesting analysis behind the headline “improvements for all passengers”* mantra. I can’t say I’m surprised (except by TfL’s failure to grasp the point): in 1993, when the Treasury was still in the first flush of naivete about rail privatisation, their plan was to split SW into at least 9 separate franchises. JKW asked me to estimate the cost of the split, which particularly affected the medium distance services such as Waterloo to Guildford. The answer was about 10% extra cost generated mainly by having to dedicate rolling stock.

    * 0/10 to DfT for explaing what they meant?

  288. ngh says:

    Re Graham H,

    “* 0/10 to DfT for explaining what they meant?”

    Well if I could understand what they** meant 12months ago then it should not be beyond the wit of TfL to understand. As you know I been a bit bearish on TfL devolution since before then as I couldn’t see how much a split and take over would cost for zero passenger capacity benefit, the fare freeze etc just made me more bearish especially with funding getting tight.

    ** I was a frequent visitor there at one point so that might have helped…

    Re ML,

    Following on from the above: My suggestion a year ago was that TfL takeover an easier small chunk e.g. the Moorgate services or Victoria (and Blackfriars bay platforms) metro first as they at the time of splitting would be the least interworked and would be the easiest smallest and cheapest to split.
    For the Victoria SE metro roll out new stock there then cascade the existing stock over to the Charing Cross and Cannon Street side and take over that at some time later if it made sense, the problem would be that they wouldn’t get credit for improvements there.

    Re WW,

    The other interesting point not yet addressed is whether SE “Kent” would have seen less benefit from the stock cascaded in from Southern if SE Metro was split out and the stock not used for lenghtening benefits rather than as cheap way of splitting. e.g. did the TfL business plan miss the assumption of Kent lenghtening to the fullest extent as the starting point there? Did TfL try to apportion some of the lower stock utilisation cuased by a split on the Kent side?
    Some of the 12car “metro” power works are actually the far side of Sevenoaks so that the 8 car Hastings services can become 12 car and hoover up more passengers at Sevenoaks and Orpington the latter where they stop sporadically depending on how much space the planner reckon there might be left to squeeze people on board. (Which then leaves more space on the stoppers…)

  289. Anon E. Mouse says:

    @Graham H
    Your anecdote about the original intention of splitting SW services into 9 franchises has left me very curious about where the dividing lines would have been drawn up. I could imagine it being broken up into 4 or 5 franchises but certainly not 9.

  290. Graham H says:

    @Anon E Mouse – as I recall, the divisions were:

    Portsmouth Direct
    Inner South
    Inners North
    Alton/Guildford/Woking semifasts

    As you see, some were easier to split than others. In particular, the Alton/Pomo/semifast groups were then interlinked, as, of course, were the two Inners (where there also difficulties about where the Weybridges and the Guildfords via Ascot went). Even the Unmentionable turned out to be tricky as the crew were interworked with the Exeters to give them some time in the fresh air, and the IoW turned out to depend electrically on the Solents for some things.

  291. IslandDweller says:

    @ngh. You’ve identified that there was clearly a gulf of misunderstanding between tfl and DfT about stock allocations. But if the previous officials (Boris / McLochlin) were serious in their intent to support devolution (which I had assumed they were), why were the relevant teams not around a table thrashing this out? Were DfT officials never keen for this to go ahead?

  292. Ian J says:

    @ngh: DfT’s point would be that their intention…

    There is an interesting question here about how far a government department can be said to have intentions and opinions of its own independent of the Minister. The previous Minister clearly supported devolution, but what ngh said suggests that the Department, which in principle exists only to implement the decisions made by their minister, disagreed, and used the opportunity of a change in Minister to block a policy they were already working to undermine.

  293. Malcolm says:

    To judge by “Yes Minister” (which is often to be suggested by many who ought to know to be a rather better guide to actual Civil Service behaviour that one might expect from something apparently devised as entertainment), departmental opinions, however theoretically non-existent, would seem to have far more influence on actual outcomes than any mere Minister.

  294. Anon E. Mouse says:

    @Graham H
    Thank you for clearing that up. All I can say is that it’s a good thing that common sense prevailed. Just imagine how much worse things would be whenever there was disruption…

  295. TL driver says:

    Ngh 17/01 – Orpington drivers don’t sign 377’s and at present there is no plan for them to do so as the 700s will be displacing them soon enough. Of course a conversion from the 375 wouldn’t be a biggy but there would still be a fair few drivers to get through.

    All the SE services operated by 377s (I’m meaning the Ashford – Vic services and the like) are driven by (I think) Ashford drivers. Certainly not Orpington ones anyway!

  296. Londoner in Scotland says:

    @Graham H

    “Even the Unmentionable turned out to be tricky as the crew were interworked with the Exeters to give them some time in the fresh air”

    That wasn’t always the case. One of the ways management used to keep some degree of control over train crews, was rostering awkward types for extended periods on the W&C. I cannot find a reference, but I recall BR introducing the practice of not rostering suburban drivers for more than so many repeats of the same trip in one shift, after a number of accidents/incidents where lack of attention through boredom was considered to be a factor. That may well have affected W&C rosters.

  297. Graham H says:

    @Londoner in Scotland – no one admitted to the W&C as a punishment roster when I interviewed the then management but silence may be everything… (You are certainly right about the cause of the mixed Drain/Exeter rosters and when we handed it over, LT amalgamated its rosters with those of the Central for much the same reason (as well as the engineering similarities,of course)). One particular feature of the W&C rosters was that some of the regulars seemed to have private bets on as to see how quickly the trip could be done – about 3′ 35″ on a non-crossover trip, as I recall.

  298. ngh says:

    Re Ian J,

    Probably no change in reality if the previous SoS had seen the TfL business plan then there might well have been a similar reaction to the current SoS. May be TfL missed the paragraph containing “achieve significant changes in capacity” in the Prospectus from Jan ’16. The former SoS also talked about “additional capacity” in his intro in that doc.

    To address these issues, we propose to establish a partnership between the DfT and TfL that will provide joined-up strategic direction for the specification and management of rail passenger services across London and the South East

    It appears things failed even before the devolution if they couldn’t agree on the strategic direction and DfT/SoS focus on capacity appears to have got lost with TfL.

    Note improvement in the current SE franchise listed in the prospectus include:

    More rolling stock – around 92 extra carriages

    [Note that was then the planned amount till June ’18 as not all the stock would be available for cascade by then]

    With potential further improvements in the next including:

    12-car operation as the norm

    Then TfL deliver a plan 8 months later that effectively removes half the metro benefit from the extra stock in the current franchise and then proposed to do nothing about the 12 car norm bit…

  299. ngh says:

    Re TL Driver,

    Thanks, quick follow up question – some of the Orpington / Bromley South Thameslink services end up with 377s occasional are they driven by Ashford drivers though one would normally expect an Orpington driver if a 319?

  300. Purley Dweller says:


    BR orders with ac:

    Mark2d,e and F carriages. Mk3 and mk4. Class 158s and 159s. Class 442s. Class 166.

    I think that’s it.

  301. Purley Dweller says:

    Also wasn’t the 365 only retrofitted with cab AC not whole train?

  302. timbeau says:

    @Purley Dweller
    You missed out the Blue Pullmans

    The upper decks of the 4DDs had forced-air ventilation because clearances were too tight for opening windows, but not full air conditioning.

  303. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – thank you for the multiple replies / add ons. I am left wondering just what on earth has been going on for the last 2-3 years and certainly in the 6 months since the current Mayor was elected. I find it genuinely suprising that TfL missed the multiple cues as to what was “required” given the knowledge of certain people there. I also wonder if the need to cope with the fares freeze forced a rapid rethink of the scale of investment spend (direct or via higher concession payments) previously envisaged. Reworking something that is complicated in a short time period to meet an imposed revised target is often a recipe for chaos no matter how competent you are.

    From reading various TfL documents it is quite clear that a significant change of mind in some areas has taken place. For example TfL are no longer flogging off 55 Broadway and attached offices for residential redevelopment. Instead there’s a paper to next week’s Finance Cttee recommending a “sale and leaseback” arrangement. It’s also evident that a whole load of work has been rescheduled, rescoped or cancelled altogether – the 72 stock rebuild has had its scope reduced for example. Perhaps there was a load of over confidence about what they could “get away with” on South Eastern devolution, as you hint at, but Mr Grayling’s revised test of “improvements for all” was the fatal blow to a badly revised proposal? Shame we’ll have to wait 30 years for the government papers to be released to find out.

  304. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ ML – I don’t see any more devolution happening while Mr Grayling is SoS. It doesn’t matter how easy or complex any bit of the network is. He simply doesn’t believe in relinquishing control of the rail network. On the assumption that all the expected investment on the GN Inners is made by GTR / Network Rail I can’t see the DfT ever agreeing to hand that “lock, stock and barrell” to TfL so TfL can take all the credit for shiny new trains and a modestly improved timetable. Also worth bearing in mind that the proposed timetable and the issues at Stevenage are not exactly popular so would TfL want to take that on? Would Herts CC still be content with TfL stewardship given the rumbling controversy over the Croxley Link project? We can’t say with any certainty now but things may be vastly different in 2-3 years.

    Anyway rail devolution to TfL is clearly dead and I await the announcement that Crossrail 2 has been placed on life support because of an inability to agree terms to finance the line. Note here that Mr Grayling cleverly changed the criteria to “land value capture” as a main funding source thus wrecking previous assumptions. Another changed “exam question” for Michelle Dix and others to ponder.

  305. Ed says:

    Well if the DfT were so unimpressed with TfL’s proposal they better make sure their franchise spec provides a hell of a lot of the benefits they claim TfL couldn’t.

    The DfT blocking extra carriages in the same month isn’t a great start however.

  306. Graham Feakins says:

    @WW – Re. “sale and leaseback of 55 Broadway”, in one way I am very happy that Broadway remains with TfL anyway but what would be the advantage of playing around and selling and re-leasing, subservient to a third party?

    To start with, I understood that TfL enjoys only a small, peppercorn Westminster ‘rating value’ on Broadway, so long as its main (primary?) function is connected with London Underground. This was a deal agreed (and persuaded) by the original London Combine(UndergrounD) when the building was erected.

    This was subsequently confirmed and clarified by a senior Broadway ‘occupant’ pal who explained to me the situation thus: “The trick with 55 Broadway was to ensure maximum occupation by Underground people (or those, like me, who had a railway responsibility in addition to other modes) so that it could be classed as a “railway hereditament” and then no rates were payable.
    I think the Railways (Valuation for Rating) Act, 1930 was the relevant statute.”

    Surely, TfL would lose that advantage if they sell (including that right, which I suspect would automatically expire) and then lease back. They would then be subject to the full Westminster business rate/tax.

  307. Mike says:

    “Improvements for all passengers” is, I suspect, unachievable for a project this complex (that may be why it has been chosen as a criterion – and surely an precedented one), so it’s hardly surprising that TfL could not meet it. The margin of failure, however, is a conern – in any test it’s important to answer the question precisely as asked (however cunningly it may be worded) rather than the question you’d like to answer.

  308. Ian J says:

    @ngh: quoting the previous Minister: we propose to establish a partnership between the DfT and TfL that will provide joined-up strategic direction for the specification and management of rail passenger services

    Then: TfL deliver a plan 8 months later

    Curious how what had been mooted as a partnership degenerated into a set of “exam questions” imposed by one partner on the other (with DfT seemingly not having to come up with its own answers on questions like depot capacity). If a partnership fails to achieve its aim, isn’t that usually the fault of both partners?

  309. Greg Tingey says:

    “Forced Air” ventilation.
    !935 “Silver Jubilee” & the subsequent LNER streamliners …..

    WW & others
    Re: 55 Broadway
    I’m given to understand that they could not sell it off as flats, because the structure is, effectively integral with St James Park Circle/District station & certain fire, evacuation & rail safety statutory requirements simply could not be met.
    I’m very happy about this, as it means that September – March, certainly, I get to listen to a lecture on the 7th floor, surrounded by Art Deco splendour (!)

    Re: Grayling … Oh dear, do you think someone should tell him ??
    What was it he said about TfL having no experience of running a system …. (?)

  310. ngh says:

    Re Greg,

    Well SK probably put his foot in an Mayoral Question Time earlier this week then:

    “Mayor says he can’t name his take-over team as he doesn’t know the expertise needed to take over Southern.”

    One gets the feeling that this might be requoted over the years.

    Lets see for starters:
    The LU ticket office removal team would appear to have plenty of time on its hands currently and is just what GTR is looking for! 😉

  311. ngh says:

    Re Ian J,

    Before the senior partner allows a new junior partner to join the partnership they ask then some probing questions to see if they are ready (or not).

    Re Mike,

    “Improvements for all passengers” is, do-able just complex to plan and expensive. execution could be relatively simple but on the Charing Cross and Cannon Street side of SE Metro it would require a different (alien?) methodology to previous TfL take overs in that several years of shared stock and interworking would be required till all the stock and depot issues are addressed – the side effect would be that TfL wouldn’t be able to put TfL branding on everything in the meantime which would be a complete break with previously.

  312. ngh says:

    Re Ed,

    “The DfT blocking extra carriages in the same month isn’t a great start however.”

    What they chose not to fund was an older plan from the time of the direct award that involved building a new depot to maintain 319s and then later other stock. Due to the high cost of that and other changes meaning that the “other stock” was available earlier a solution not involving big up front investment came along instead.

  313. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    I suspect that SK didn’t realise that devolution as per prospectus involved TfL putting in substantial additional investment* that it wouldn’t necessarily recoup in anything other than the very long term (i.e. several mayors later) if at all, similar to the original NLL / WLL / ELL. As previously discussed the additional fares collected will see TfL making an annual surplus after the initial investment period so it is possible they would recoup the extra circa £200m of upfront investment over time (especially with out a Fare Freeze post 2020) by the mid 2020s.

    *but is probably mutual exclusive to a Fares Freeze.

  314. Ed says:

    ngh – when will plan B of 377/5 be possible based on current plans? Are we talking about tangible improvements with 377/5s operating on SE and thus cascaded Networkers by mid 2017?

    I’m assuming the DfT will agree to it though have more than a bit of cynicism given their record with this franchise.

  315. ngh says:

    Re Ed,

    The 377/5s are a temporary measure as the first stage of plan B till the /1s start becoming available later in 2017 (from summer as 700s start to replace 377s on Southern London Bridge – East Grinstead, Horsham, Brighton and Littlehampton services). As I understand it SE have already got an extra 2x 377 units but these are effectively covering for 375s that are away for refurbishment currently.

    Medium term GTR will want the 377/5s for Southern as they have better DOO cameras than the /1s…

    The 700 delivery rate is about 1 per week (but this will have to increase at some point!). The priority for cascading the stock from Thameslink appears to be the few remaining 387s to GN. The problems is that until Thameslink start getting the next batch of 12 car units in few months time they need those 377s to be able to run 12 cars if need so there will be bit of lag on any thing leaving.

    SE are also currently a couple of 465 units down at any point while the 97x 465/0&/1s get the 2020 mods too.

  316. Mike says:

    ngh: perhaps I haven’t been paying sufficient attention, but I’d be very interested in what scanario(s) could deliver improvements for all passengers, i.e. every single passenger gets a better service than they do now. If that criterion had applied in the recent past, the South London Line couldn’t have been Overgrounded, London Bridge wouldn’t have been Thameslinked, and Crossrail/GW electrification would allow Greenford/Thames Valley branches trains to continue to run to Paddington, for example; and a classic example is the Wimbledon loop, where retaining the status quo (a much less challenging target than improvements for all) has had non-improvement repercussions elsewhere.

    Transport projects have always involved tradeoffs between winners and losers: if “no losers” (again, a much easier outcome than “everybody must win”) had applied previously we would have, for example, seen few (if any) line/station closures in the past, nor new stations like Eastfields that mean slower journeys for through passengers on trains stopping there.

    No changes unless everybody wins sounds like an egalitarian’s delight, but is in fact a recipe for ossification. What’s so special about transport in 2017 that that the status quo has to persist unless everybody has it better?

  317. Toby says:

    What’s so special is the new politicians involved. I think that there isn’t much depth to that answer and it’s not pretty. My reading of the select quotes of Grayling (ie the bit about TfL must improve the situation for long distance users) is that he isn’t insisting that everyone benefits, but that there is some improvement in the long, medium and short distance routes. If TfL did their usual Overgroundisation then tinkered with it a bit to keep the fast lines even freer then that might answer the word even if not the all-important spirit of his request.

  318. Malcolm says:

    ngh says “Before the senior partner allows ….”. I am not saying that ngh is wrong. But identification of which is the “senior partner” is not actually necessary to answer this question. A less contentious answer about the probing questions might be “Before either potential partner allows a partnership to be formed, they are entitled to ask any other potential partner some probing questions to see if they are ready (or not)”.

    A bit like a marriage being contemplated. Either party may (or probably should) back out if they do not like the other party’s answer to any question asked.

  319. IslandDweller says:

    Forming a partnership – check each other out. Of course you do that before you establish the partnership.. But the point is that the former Mayor and former Transport Secretary made clear statements that stated that we were past this stage. That’s what I find so staggering, even in the Byzantine world of Sir Humphrey, that actions/behaviour within DfT have been totally at variance to what the (supposed) leaders had announced
    Clearly I’m a naive soul.

  320. quinlet says:

    But to form a partnership both potential partners must be at least interested, and preferably keen, on forming the partnership. While it’s clear that Khan continued to want the partnership, however much he might not have got the submission absolutely right, it’s by no means clear that Grayling wanted the partnership, under almost any conditions. In those circumstances it’s always easy to find a reason – however spurious – not to go ahead.

  321. Anonymous says:

    @quinlet. ‘it’s clear that Khan continued to want the partnership’. Are we absolutely sure about this? I incline to Toby’s view that improving the situation for all passengers does not mean or even imply that everyone must enjoy the same improvement. A shorter journey time or less standing for some and Overgroundisation of stations for others would seem to meet the requirement and if so inclined SK or his advisors would have seen that. I wonder if the rising cost of the fares freeze and the upfront investment that would be needed have made this a battle that SK would rather not win.

  322. Nick Biskinis says:

    Crossrail 2 is absolutely critical; I can’t understand how the DfT could (if it is) drag its feet and procrastinate over this line, hiding behind disputes with the Mayor whilst pushing on HS2.

    Indeed as TfL have argued (convincingly in my view); HS2 to Euston needs Crossrail 2 to take the pressure off the Northern and Victoria Lines. You could of course not build Crossrail 2 and terminate HS2 at Old Oak Common, but OOC is never going to be seen as ‘London Old Oak Common’ or as London’s newest main line terminus and I suspect that not serving Euston will be the necrosis of credibility.

    Sadiq Khan has to start showing what his transport policy is and Crossrail 2 advocacy will be a good example. His standpoint could be “The Government won’t give TfL control of suburban rail. Will it at least give us Crossrail 2?”. If he allows Crossrail 2 momentum to die then he will start to solidify a reputation for a Mayor of eloquent lethargy

  323. Mike says:

    Nick Biskinis: if “improvements for all” is a criterion, Crossrail 2 will never be built.

    Toby: on 19 September Grayling wrote (quoted in the original piece) “benefits to be delivered for all passengers” and “enable all passengers to benefit”. He clearly is insisting that everyone benefits – he could hardly have put it more plainly.

  324. Greg Tingey says:

    Who/which passengers would disbenefit from CR2, then?

    Would there be any?
    Can’t think of any for CR1, certainly.

  325. Littlejohn says:

    Mike – Yes, everyone has to benefit but not necessarily all in the same way or to the same extent.

  326. Nick Biskinis says:

    But if that is the criterion then HS2 cannot be built as some passengers will see negative impact (eg reductions in classic services from Coventry to London Euston)

  327. Balthazar says:

    Re: Greg T – passengers from south west London for whom Waterloo is very convenient but whose services would be diverted to Crossrail 2, presumably.

    Re: Nick Bisk – I take it you did not see Graham H’s comment on HS2 London terminus article, 7 August 2016 13:52: “…HS2 has – as HS2 Ltd also acknowledge – d****d all to do with the demand for tube services at Euston – at best an additional 3-4% (roughly the same as the impact of a rainy day).” See also the following discussion in that thread to avoid repeating here!

  328. Mike says:

    GT/Balthazar, re Crossrail 2, I had existing Waterloo commuters in mind. How is every one of those affected by CR2 going to benefit (a much more demanding criterion that not see a disbenefit, GT)?

    Re Crossrail 1, Greenford branch users have lost their through trains to Paddington, and skip-stopping in the west means that some adjacent stations (I forget which ones) lose services between them. Clearly in neither of these cases do all passengers benefit, so a fail, I’m afraid.

    NB: precisely so!

    Litllejohn: indeed – I don’t think anyone’s suggested otherwise.

  329. Graham H says:

    @mike – even more seriously,because all public transport is -to the fury of some economists – by definition, a compromise between the personal objectives of all the users, it is logically almost impossible to devise *any* change – even an ostensible improvement in services, that benefits every single passenger. (Those objectives don’t just include routes, but also timings, service quality, and price). So, the Grayling requirement becomes a recipe for freezing the system as is…

  330. Timbeau says:


    The adjacent stations that will have no direct service are Hanwell and West Ealing.

    All passengers to benefit is obviously an unachievable target. Even the most minor timetable change will inconvenience someone who has to get out of bed earlier, or get to work later, as the case may be. More standing room usually means someone will lose their seat (in the literal, if not constituency, sense).

    And taking Grayling’s entire literally, it is impossible for any project to benefit every passenger – neither HS2 nor Crossrail 2 nor Northern Powerhouse are likely to affect passengers on the Aberdeen Inverness route!

  331. Mark Townend says:

    If the statement is taken literally, it would take only one existing passenger to suffer a longer journey, an extra interchange, or a drop in frequency, to justify vetoing the entire proposal, no matter the balancing benefit to all other passengers or its effects on growth, agglomeration, congestion relief, mode shift, emissions, etc. I can’t seriously believe that is actually what the SoS really means in a general sense as a future guiding principle for the industry. Ngh’s analysis of the possible lack of quality and detail in the initial TfL proposal seems more plausible, but it doesn’t really explain why DfT could not have then entered a dialogue to try and develop a better proposal. The speed of the plan’s summary dismissal by the department smacks of a new preconceived opposition to the very concept and a political opportunity.

  332. quinlet says:

    The fact that Grayling’s requirement that every passenger should benefit cannot be met literally is, I think, some evidence that he was never keen on devolution and that the formula is a good soundbite which allows him to veto the proposals while appearing to keep the moral (or political) high ground. If that is true then he would have found some reason to object to the devolution whatever had been included in Khan’s submission.

  333. straphan says:

    I agree that Grayling’s challenge is nigh on impossible if one takes his statement exactly at face value. I cannot think of a public transport investment that had nobody who would lose out.

    If one does, however, take a more nuanced view of his statement and takes the phrase ‘benefits all passengers’ to mean ‘benefits all passengers, not just those living in Greater London’, then clearly SK’s response, peppered with references to ‘London’ and ‘Londoners’ wasn’t what Grayling – or the Kent County Council leader – wanted to hear. Had SK’s response been phrased better and still thrown out by Grayling, we would have been sure this was a political ploy. As it stands – I still have no certainty.

    I find CR2 – at its southwestern end – a little half-baked. Currently the way the SWT timetable works is that the ‘red’ stoppers have the slow lines to themselves between Waterloo and Surbiton. Surbiton is then the first place where trains cross over from fast to slow lines and v.v. However, the CR2 tunnel portal will only be located at Wimbledon – this means that the CR2 trains that are slated to replace stopping trains from the likes of Epsom, Chessington or Kingston, will still occupy the slow lines between New Malden or Raynes Park and Wimbledon. Thus no significant capacity will be released there to allow the trains which currently weave at Surbiton to continue on the slow lines into Waterloo and free up paths on the fast lines.

    The other issue I have with CR2 is that it seems to be designed as a line to take the pressure off existing lines, rather than going somewhere people want it to go. There’s an interchange at Balham to relieve the Northern line; there’s an interchange at Clapham Jn to relieve Southern; and there’s an interchange at Victoria to relieve the Victoria line.

    Judging by the massive queues at the W&C and Jubilee platforms at Waterloo each morning, however, a significant proportion of SWT commuters want to get to the City and Canary Wharf. And even with some of them being forced by Brexit to commute to Taunusanlage in Frankfurt or La Defense near Paris in the near future, this will still continue to be the principal destination for commuters from South West London. However, the CR2 scheme sees their commuter trains being routed via the West End, with the only sensible solution for them being to change at Tottenham Court Road for CR1. Does that really represent a benefit?

  334. ngh says:

    Re Mark T and Toby,

    My definition of “All” – Not just improvements focused on one set of users to the potential disadvantage or no change (set against rising passenger numbers so doing nothing is disadvantage…) of all the others, but the majority of current lines seeing a useful benefit.

    [based on some of my previous comments above]
    DfT plans extra stock so longer trains could be run (albeit only about 60% of the stock needed to go to “max” lenghts in the first instance. [All metro routes and some long distance services benefit vs current train lengths and peak capacity on each line].
    TfL plans a split so circa half the extra stock is used to eliminate interworking instead and the other half used to run extra services (at their proposal) such as the new 3 tph Victoria – Crayford which would eat up the rest of the stock. [Some long distance services benefit (as per DfT above) as do passengers on the existing Victoria -Lewisham route with higher frequency and Lewisham – Crayford with new direct Victoria services but other metro lines then don’t benefit from longer trains and more peak capacity].

    E.g. the benefit goes to the many not just the few to begin with aligning with Toby’s (@ 20 January 2017 at 22:19):

    My reading of the select quotes of Grayling (ie the bit about TfL must improve the situation for long distance users) is that he isn’t insisting that everyone benefits, but that there is some improvement in the long, medium and short distance routes.

    and Anon (@ 21 January 2017 at 15:13)

    I incline to Toby’s view that improving the situation for all passengers does not mean or even imply that everyone must enjoy the same improvement. A shorter journey time or less standing for some

    However I disagree with Toby on:

    If TfL did their usual Overgroundisation then tinkered with it a bit to keep the fast lines even freer then that might answer the word even if not the all-important spirit of his request.

    The issue with overgroundisation and eliminating interworking etc. is that metro routes will see less capacity improvement with TfL than DfT hence it is a disimprovement vs the future DfT plan benchmark. Hence the minimum plan would be DfT train lenght etc, improvements then add overgroundisation on top but the upfront cost of doing that that would be very expensive with the background of the fares freeze and some other slightly questionable assumptions (suitable extra stock available to lease as it becomes surplus elsewhere, but there won’t be any 3rd rail stock with wide door openings need to cope with rising passenger numbers and dwell time issues becoming available, any thing would need extensive modifications e.g. add 3rd rail equipment and internal refits around vestibules which would cost more than you might expect and that is before we get to the new depot issues).

  335. straphan says:

    @ngh: I think we should be a tad more wider-ranging when it comes to the definition of improvements. So far we are talking about aluminium (i.e. trains) and concrete.

    However, as I understand, some of the main problems with the Southeastern metro operation are not to do with peak frequencies, but to do with station security and revenue protection. Evidence from previous takeovers has shown that with the right investment – but without an increase in the quantum of paths – TfL can make its services more profitable. Now – as I understand it – Southeastern as a whole is currently paying premiums to the DfT, but I doubt whether their metro operation as a standalone is making a profit as well… Certainly I don’t think the West Anglia metro was making a profit before its takeover.

    You could therefore argue (somewhat naively but still) that overgroundisation could reduce the level of subsidy required for the services being taken over by TfL, thus saving the DfT money they can spend on improving the lot of passengers elsewhere.

  336. straphan says:

    Just to clarify: TfL can make their services more profitable by improving revenue protection and security, thus enticing passengers to use the trains at times they would have otherwise felt unsafe to travel.

  337. ngh says:

    Re Staphan,

    Agree on the over use of “London” and “Londoners”. A more detailed plan including franchise tender style Train Service Requirement (TSR) probably would have been sensible to show that no one was being diddled.

    CR2 – I thought the plan was segregated tracks New Malden* – Wimbledon and an extra track Surbiton to New Malden (Some SWML bridges are already have 6 track decks e.g. West Barnes Lane just West of New Malden Station) or room for 6 tracks underneath the road (e.g. A3).

    The fast from Surbiton users were/are very fearful enough capacity is being added so all the Surbiton trains could run on the slows!

    *Given the scope of the proposed New Malden rebuild

  338. ngh says:

    Re Staphan @11.11 & 11.13,

    I had focused on revenue collection and off peak for quite a while in the older article comments so had focused more recently on the more physical aspects instead.

    But TfL wanted to take the “profit” not DfT was they still wanted the current financial arrangements with DfT not seeing any reduction in subsidy so no benefit to DfT. (From last data SE contributed £70m to DfT, however the DfT Network Rail Grant for the SE was £240m so DfT still sees a £170m loss on SE e.g. Net contributor not Gross contributor.)

    Peak frequency isn’t an issue but getting on many of the trains is as those are the passengers who are currently paying (and complaining!). Given the level of development recently and currently in progress or proposed this will be a big issue. The peak users also don’t really care much about TfL potential profit margins improving from better of off-peak revenue collection – they want more capacity and unless the additional cash is reinvested in longer trains/ extra capacity for them they won’t be happy.

    Agree big financial improvements could be seen from better revenue collection especially off peak but this doesn’t need TfL it could be done if the right arrangements were in place in the franchise agreement (which they currently aren’t). See Southern 2009 award for what can be done on metro area revenue collection (and longer train too!). Also GTR metro station proposal for staffing and gating times (first till last trains) that has been slightly delayed in term of roll out.

  339. StephenC says:

    I’ve covered the Crossrail 2 issues extensively on my blog (as LR doesn’t seem to want to touch the project). There are certainly many losers with the scheme as planned, notably the many who want Canary Wharf or the City, but whose trains will be diverted to Tottenham Court Road instead where they will be expected to take CR1 (at a significantly lower frequency to Canary Wharf than the Jubilee runs at).

    The first place where passengers lose out, and where it plays into this story, are the routes from Surbiton to Woking and Guildford. Many of these services today run non-stop from Surbiton to Waterloo on the fast tracks. Under CR2, these services will run on the slow lines. Network Rail has been very touchy about this (an off-peak non-stop service is not the same as a peak one…), but fundamentally to provide more room for deep Surrey and Hampshire, close to London Surrey has to lose out. More info here.

    The second place where passengers lose out is Earlsfield. Currently it gets 18tph in the peak, with CR2 it will get 10-12tph, a drop of 33% to 40%. Why? Because CR2 is going on a massive dogleg via the Northern line, leaving Earlsfield “stranded” (word used by the National Infrastructure Commission report). And the drop in frequency is to allow those pesky Surbiton services to skip Earlsfield, so they don’t slow down too much. This time, both TfL and Network Rail seem to be going out of their way to not publicise this negative aspect, with no events scheduled at Earlsfield and information on the cuts obtained verbally rather than from print documents. More info here.

    BTW, there are no public detailed plans for any part of CR2 south of Wimbledon. Network Rail planning was 2 years behind TFLs at the last consultation, so the impact on Raynes Park or New Malden is unknown.

  340. straphan says:

    @ngh: Thanks for the tip. But that still doesn’t solve the issue of replacing trains to Waterloo (with easier access to the City/Canary Wharf) with trains to the West End (with more difficult access to aforementioned destinations).

    I suppose you could introduce an improved service from the Wimbledon loop to either Blackfriars or London Bridge (or both), but that still wouldn’t be an improvement to my mind. Nor is there the capacity to do this.

  341. ngh says:

    Re Staphan,

    Part of the current Jubilee issue at Waterloo is that there aren’t any “peak” services for SWT users on South Eastern from Waterloo East to London Bridge in the morning and LBG – WAE in the evening till after the August ’17 blockade (from early 2015) as part of the London Bridge rebuild which has just pushed up the Jubilee loading at Waterloo which also hasn’t been helped by a long term escalator problem at Waterloo recently.

  342. Graham H says:

    @ngh/straphan – the real trouble about “all” is that we are reduced to speculation. Maybe it’s a deliberately ambiguous thing, maybe it’s supposed to be read literally. We’ll only actually know by the deeds that the protagonists do (or not do).

    @Stephen C -I don’t believe there’s a prejudice against discussing CR2 here. I distinctly recall making the points on this site you make now (plus others!) when the scheme was first announced; we collectively subsequently seem to lose interest when it became apparent that TfL, egged on by Adonis, were hell bent on the regional scheme whatever logic or planning considerations might otherwise have suggested. Perhaps the best hope for all those SWT Inner passengers who want to go to the City/Wharf is that CR2 will be abandoned and the whole issue revived later and reconsidered rationally when the dust has settled, and Adonis has found some other toys or, better still, retired..

  343. StephenC says:

    @Graham H, I was referring to the absence of LR articles on the topic (there has only been one, at that was in 2013). I’ve pushed sensible alternatives to CR2 for years, but have got nowhere. What we have is a scheme that is so expensive it has basically scared the Government off. There should have been a consultation last November – rooms were booked in the local area – but the DfT (Tresury) got cold feet and asked for a business case review. Everyone is in limbo.

    Ultimately, what SW London needs is two additional tracks from Surbiton / New Malden to Clapham Junction, to allow a reliable separation between the inner suburban, outer suburban and mainline service groups. The best way has always been a fast line tunnel, perhaps combined with a short central London tunnel from Waterloo. Total cost much lower. The Euston – Victoria alignment could then be used for South London, perhaps surfacing at Wandsworth Road, with another fast line tunnel

    For South East London, where rail devolution has died, the mayor needs to look at taking a line completely away from Network Rail – this is my suggestion.

  344. StephenC and others

    I’ve covered the Crossrail 2 issues extensively on my blog (as LR doesn’t seem to want to touch the project).

    Absolutely not true in terms of not wanting to touch it. We have had a couple of briefings we attended but unfortunately just haven’t had time to even begin to write up the subject – which is vast and will be around for many years.

    I’ve pushed sensible alternatives to CR2 for years, but have got nowhere

    I strongly object to the opinionated word “sensible” in this context having had it explained to me in great detail why, in the opinion of others, they are not. “Sensible” is entirely subjective and meaningless and therefore unhelpful.

    Meanwhile, as far as London Reconnections is concerned, CR2 is deviation and we ask participant to return to the subject in question.

  345. Graham H says:

    @StephenC – there are indeed a number of cheaper alternatives, but I have no wish to provoke an outpouring of crayonism.

    What is *unfortunate* – to put it mildly – is that the present camelopard is an attempt to string together the solutions to various “small scale” problems by inventing some overarching strategic project which actually solves none of them. DfT are quite right to be doubtful about its costs and if I were still there, I would be asking further questions about its cost-effectiveness in the full suspicion that I would later be being presented with yet more schemes to solve the problems that had allegedly been solved by CR2 (eg Northern overcrowding, relief of the inners, “access” to the Wharf/City, JLE overcrowding, access to the West End ).

    What is *infuriating* is that the metro version of the scheme, which did address at least some of the issues identified, was rejected in favour of the version that didn’t….

  346. Greg Tingey says:

    What seems to be obvious is that we desperately need some form of CR2, but that, especially as regards the mid-distance ex-LSW routes, the present design is sub-optimal, to say the least.
    The taking over of the W-Aglia inners is entirely sensible, not so sure about the New Southgate variant.
    So it goes, & a completely wrong “Do Nothing” approach wins out, much to the delight of the Treasury.
    Similarly we need CR3 ( “Route 7” IIRC ) but that’s even further away ………

  347. Nick Biskinis says:

    Isn’t time the DfT actually published its consultation response? The deadline was last March and granted the new SoS isn’t interested, but still the DfT could at least offer a summary and analysis of the views

  348. TL driver says:

    Ngh – 19/01

    All the 377/387 trips are undertaken by us good folk at Thameslink. Although Ashford drivers do sign the Catford Loop they don’t run the stoppers on it.

  349. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Straphan – at the time of TfL’s takeover of West Anglia there was a TfL Board paper that said that the routes being transferred broadly “broke even”. I don’t know how that was calculated given you can shove numbers wherever you like to show a TOC or a line or a route does / does not make money (much discussed on here previously). However TfL did say that the extra staffing costs across West Anglia would mean the services would be need subsidy which TfL would cover itself. There was no claim on DfT coffers IIRC. Since then we have had the broader government directive that the “North London Railways” grant will be phased out by 2020 so TfL have to ensure all of Overground is effectively subsidy free. The business plan numbers show this happening but the surplus is tiny and must be at risk of non achievement given it’s three years away and a lot can change.

    On the broader point I am surprised people are being so logical about what Mr Grayling allegedly wants for South Eastern with the “all” test. Perhaps I’m being too cynical or political but it simply looks like an invented test that no one can meet. Therefore I conclude this is pure politics as evidenced by “that letter” from 3 years ago. Mr G does not want to cede control. It’s as simple as that. I’d be prepared to be pushed away from my view *if* the DfT published their claimed analysis of TfL’s proposal. If it is as poor as Ngh says that it is then what on earth have the DfT got to fear from publication? Mr G could stand up and reel off a long list of flaws, omissions, errors and unrealistic assumptions thus putting TfL and the Mayor on the defensive. If you have the facts on your side then use them to show that what was proposed was not good enough.

    And here is what Lord Ahmad, DfT Minister in the Lords, said on the devolution issue.

    @ Graham H – I am pleased to note one person agrees with me that the Metro option for CR2 was by far the better idea. 🙂

  350. Ian J says:

    @WW: A couple of interesting subtleties in Lord Ahmad’s replies there:

    our analysis highlighted a number of uncertainties in the business case

    Uncertainties are not the same thing as faults. The logical thing to do when an uncertainty is identified would be to seek more information.

    It was analysed by DfT officials—we worked also with other industry experts—and it was felt that it was in the best interest of all passengers, both those on the suburban services as well as those outside, to go forward on the model that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has now put forward.

    “It was felt that” is what is known as the agentless passive. Who felt that? Is Lord Ahmad signalling here that he did not agree but was overruled by the new Secretary of State?

    Are the ‘other industry experts’ other TOCs? Or Network Rail? If so, don’t the public have a right to know exactly what they said, and what vested interests they may have?

    Some of the questioning does put in mind Walter Bagehot’s observation that the cure for admiring the House of Lords is to go and look at it.

  351. straphan says:

    @WW: I am inclined to agree with you. Especially given that the first part of the network slated for overgroundisation was Southeastern. Grayling and the Kent Council leader are from the same party clique and – if you remember – Kent was opposed to overgroundisation even with Boris at the helm.

    Thanks also for providing details on the ‘break even’ issue. It seems that for TfL the way to have Overground break even was to introduce higher-capacity trains (5-car 378 vs 3-car 313 on North London Line, 710s with more standing room vs 3+2 seating 315/317 on West Anglia) and improve off-peak revenue by gating and staffing.

    Let’s now see if the DfT instructs bidders to pull off something similar on Southeastern metro.

  352. ngh says:

    Re Staphan,

    “Let’s now see if the DfT instructs bidders to pull off something similar on Southeastern metro.”
    Probably as near a carbon copy of the bids currently under analysis SW tender as you could get. e.g. High capacity, low dwell time rolling stock with more of it and more incentive to collect revenue better.

    DfT will benefit more from a future SW approach on SE (i.e Gross subsidy reduction*) than a devolution approach where TfL wanted the current subsidy level maintained. DfT can’t afford devolution given its budget and TfL can’t afford the extra capacity DfT wants as part of it.

    * Gross subsidy elimination would need an interesting set of circumstances including investment (in network stock and revenue collection) to see it turn to a Gross contributor pre 2041 when the cost of HS1 is finally paid off via access charges equivalent to circa 9x NR’s ones and it turns into a nice money maker any way.

    Re WW Staphan et al.,

    LR naturally tends to look at thing s from the London end but if looking at thing sfrom the future separated Kent operators end:
    Eliminating interworking would probably lead to an increase in costs and hence less (Gross subsidy reduction to DfT) as the peak trains from 0630-0700 middle Kent departures onwards would only do a single fully loaded peak or shoulder peak trip as opposed to the current 1 peak medium distance then ECS move then Metro use so DfT is potentially paying a lot extra for no gain with devolution.

    Re Ian J,

    “It was felt that” = classic committee speak

    Re TL Driver,

    Thanks for the info!

  353. ngh says:

    One point I understand was raised by the industry experts was the resilience (lack thereof) of the proposed TfL service pattern particularly the proposed Cannon Street – Charing Cross Loop service*. Which this mornings derailment at Courthill Loop South Jn would have seen a nearly complete shut down of devolved not via Bromley South SE Metro services.
    TfL might of course suggest one of their favourites of banning freight trains (until they find out what route their ballast trains also take!).

    *TfL would be creating a less resilient route structure with NR, other TOCs and FOCs having to pay more compensation to TfL if thing went wrong on non TfL side when they haven’t changed anything. They would all expect DfT/ORR to have coming helpful to say about pushing their costs up…

  354. straphan says:

    @ngh: Have TfL really proposed banning freight trains? You’d need a lot of investment to re-route them away from London – although ultimately that would be a sensible thing to do…

  355. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – I just love your repeated references to “the DfT benefits most” or “DfT avoids incurring extra cost”. So lovely to see the absolute zero reference to passengers – the poor souls who fork out the money to travel in appalling conditions. If nothing else your repeated insights show what is really going to happen. If SWT is the model then South Eastern passengers can expect to see their fares rise way ahead of inflation, ticket conditions worsen and there be few improvements in the inner areas. How we can still have hourly Sunday services on London area SWT routes is beyond me given the general bouyancy in London area patronage. Even if we get some more carriages there is no long term vision about improved frequencies, infrastructure investment and new interchanges to grow the overall market. TfL had that vision.

  356. Mark Townend says:

    Even with significant investment in alternative facilities I’d say it would still be impossible to ‘ban’ ALL heavy freight trains from ALL of the London area passenger network while there are aggregates terminals and similar dotted around the capital and also a continuing need for the railway’s own engineering traffic. Another over-literal interpretation of ‘All’ perhaps!

  357. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ian J – I don’t disagree with your observations about the Hon. Lord’s reponses. However it’s clear that we won’t see anything official from the DfT which just leaves room for speculation. Naive soul that I am I’d have thought they’d want to stop that as it just allows the Mayor to keep going on about the issue forever.

    @ Straphan – Kent CC quite clearly reached an accommodation / understanding with TfL. I watched two of their representatives say they had obtained assurances from TfL about their “red line” issues. Surrey CC and Herts CC reps were, IIRC, in the same meeting of the Assembly Transport Committee. Geoff Hobbs from TfL agreed with what Kent CC said. From that basis we proceeded to the announcement of the “Memorandum” in Jan 2016. I am therefore very clearly of the view that the three key bordering authorities that would be or are affected by future Overground / CR2 issues were “on side” in terms of basic principles being agreed for future rail devolution.

    My feeling is that the fares freeze implications plus other changes to rail services forced too fast a rethink of TfL’s plans as they ran up against the franchise procurement deadlines,and that exposed some of the issues Ngh has patiently explained more than once. I suspect that in a more generous funding climate driven by ongoing fare increases (the Boris regime) that TfL’s original plans avoided some of the inefficiencies or at least funded sufficient extra trains to genuinely grow peak time capacity / not worsen longer distance services. There is evidence all over the place that TfL’s investment plans have been ripped to shreds to fund the fares freeze. Only those with urgent priority (Picc Line) / signed agreements (e.g. GOBLIN extension) seem to have survived reasonably intact.

  358. Toby says:

    I had previously heard that rail traffic from London ports (eg DP world) to Felixstowe had to go through Camden. I’m not sure I believe that. But with electric Goblin it’ll be better, and when the Varsity line is remade (not as it was) then they can avoid even more of London orbital lines.

    Banning through traffic like that would need a rail M25 which I welcome price estimates on, if its on topic.

  359. ngh says:

    Banning – badly worded on my part they wanted even more restricted hours when freight could run (e.g. not just before the am/pm peaks so there was more recovery time in the event of break downs etc.).

    Re WW,
    Future SW not present SWT 😉

    Re Toby,

    Most rail traffic from Felixstowe goes out to the Midlands and North via NLL (Or some via GOBlin again soon). Most traffic from DP world will go out via GOBlin.
    Needs a bit of work near Ely to get more of the Felixstowe traffic to avoid London

  360. straphan says:

    @WW: Kent CC very quickly recanted that agreement, though. I suspect it might be something to do with reaching an agreement with a Boris-led TfL and recanting it once Sadiq was elected.

    You are right, however, that the fares freeze means a long cold winter for any significant public transport investment. I also think that the swingeing cuts to bus services in the West End as proposed recently will be carried out in full, regardless of the results of the public consultation…

    Meanwhile, close to my home mooring, TfL (together with the Canal & River Trust) are funding improvements to the Grand Union Canal towpath to turn it into a quietway:

    This investment is not the most necessary neither in terms of number of users, nor in terms of the benefits it will bring to them. For the most part, the towpath is in an acceptable state for walking and cycling (except Uxbridge Road to Bulls Bridge Junction), and there are plenty of other cycling routes – particularly in Central London – which are used by more cyclists and are much more dangerous.

  361. straphan says:

    The Ely North Junction remodelling has hit a bit of a brick wall recently, when it was discovered that with all the work going on on the GOBLIN and on the Electric Lines (i.e. slow lines on the four-track section between Liverpool Street and Shenfield) there is nowhere to divert freight that would be displaced by the closure of Ely.

    @WW: If you read into the new SWT franchise specification that ngh linked to you will see that the DfT has specify what I would call halfway decent Sunday frequencies for the London area, with at least half-hourly services specified for most routes.

  362. Ed says:

    Half hourly is still a joke. But the DfT may demand a half-decent SWT franchise but they don’t have the HS1 millstone round their neck in terms of costs which will cause the rest of the TOCs area to suffer. And SWT have Grayling representing an area in their franchise.

    I’d still be amazed if SE’s eventual franchise is even half-decent in terms of mid and long term improvements to Metro services despite the rising demand from a quickly rising population.

  363. Balthazar says:

    Re: WW- I’m not a local, so could you clarify to what you refer by “fares rise way ahead of inflation (and) ticket conditions worsen”? Given the context, is this about Oyster fares?

  364. Graham H says:

    Ed – and we have Hunt as SoS for Health – does it mean good hospital services?

  365. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Toby / ngh – the number of freight trains daily that could use the T&H (GOB to some) but that are routed via Stratford to the NLL (before the current block to the former) are in low single digits.

    Straphan – the Ely problem is more about the level crossings at and near Ely which, if more freight is diverted that way, would be closed a lot more than at present. The main crossing at Ely is being bypassed, not so the others (yet).

  366. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    One thing that I had hoped that might have happened with the devolution of services to TfL is that there might be little more imagination during periods of heavy disruption (like today).

    The main problem I feel is that neither SET, nor NR seem to know the actual conditions or auxiliary services available at intermediate points along the network.

    So for example, this evening I caught a rush hour service to Tunbridge Wells from London Bridge. Normally during rush hour, they stop at Chelsfield, to reduce the load. Tonight it did the same… why? The train had loads of seats to spare when leaving LBG! So once it had left Waterloo East, they could have easily added in a stop at ORP.

    Connectivity at Chelsfield is the R1 and two school buses… Connectivity at Orpington is 12 or so bus routes. Changing the calling pattern by adding in Orpington would have allowed them to shift a lot of people from the platforms. Instead a few minutes before they had advised passengers for Orpington to get onto a Gravesend train via Bexleyheath for a “replacement” bus, it turned out to mean: “Catch the 208!”

    Similarly once due to a “one under” at Dunton Green they diverted trains via Eynsford. They stopped at Chislehurst (useless as all the buses go to Sidcup or Bromley) but not St. Mary Cray (useful, with three routes to Orpington and the 51 a short walk away)…

    It is this complete lack of local knowledge that is really frustrating for SE commuters!

    Rant over…

  367. Sad Fat Dad says:

    SH(LR), it’s not so much a lack of local knowledge, but simply that on the ‘very bad’ days, with rolling stock and crew displaced just about everywhere, there isn’t the capacity within the control office to keep track of everything. The Kent / Southeastern control has, typically, 200 services ‘under management’ at any one time. So whilst you observed something seemingly illogical on the one service you were on, there would have been many other control decisions taken on other services.

  368. Timbeau says:

    Lack of local knowledge by Control, who may be miles away, is one thing; but I have experienced equally poor knowledge of local bus services by station staff. Management thought it quite extraordinary that I should expect staff to know details of a “competitor’s” (sic) services. – even though the train operator was actually telling us to use (unspecified) local bus services after the rail service had gone to pot again. So much for integrated transport.

  369. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @SFD: Given Southeastern have been running the franchise now for a good number of years, I would have expected them to “put service first” and familiarised themselves with the area they are serving… That includes knowing major bus interchanges and such like. Or is there a pea souper outside every station door?

    They have had plenty of time to think about emergencies and put together some plans on how to cope with various emergency scenarios. Their contingency timetables: here, seem to be strictly limited in their application.

    At the same time, the DfT should be specifying some metrics to see how a well franchise deals with emergencies. As the timetable is likely to go out the window anyway, with something as major as the Lewisham derailment that is only to be expected, so the normal performance indexes should have been suspended as well. The current arrangement seems to involve throwing your hands up in the air.

    Given the number of cancellations there should have been a few driver available to shift stock around and make sure that those trains that did run were 12 (or 10) coaches. At the same time the service could have tapered off a bit earlier to allow the stock to be reformed into the correct formations for the following day. But given there’s still a reduced service today, they could have just left them…

    As for the departure boards at London Bridge, just wiping out all the SE trains would have probably been better and just replaced them with what is actually moving. It would have given more clarity to the passengers, rather than just everything saying “Delayed”.

    Sorry, it’s just not good enough.,..

  370. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Timbeau: Knowledge can be documented! It simply requires a bit of effort… But you are right it’s absolutely critical for station staff to have some local knowledge or, if they are temporarily assigned to a location, to at least have a crib sheet… Again no excuse, and certainly not when the franchise has been going for as long as it has…

  371. Timbeau says:


    South Eastern have “only” had the franchise for ten years. The example I quoted had already had theirs for about fifteen at the time in question, several years ago.

    I haaten to add that I would have had no need of any help from the staff in this regard. I was the person the passenger in question phoned when the staff washed their hands of the problem!

  372. ngh says:

    Re SH(LR) @10:08,

    As for the departure boards at London Bridge, just wiping out all the SE trains would have probably been better and just replaced them with what is actually moving. It would have given more clarity to the passengers, rather than just everything saying “Delayed”.

    Another thing for an over loaded control to do…, by far the least work option for control is “delayed” on days like yesterday there aren’t enough staff to do anything else as the short terming planning options have to be manually entered. That said turning off the screens and going for manual PA announcements might have been the best option but the announce still has to know what is going on.

    I had a chuckle when they originally published the contingency timetables as none seem to cover events happening at certain busy locations.

  373. Anonymous says:

    Rail services in south-east London seem to be in meltdown. I could not get to work on Monday in Sidcup as the whole line was shut. I seem to remember this was due to emergency track repairs. The freight train derailing on Tuesday is thus adding to the widespread disruption being felt all across the rail network here. With turn back facilities avaialble at Hither Green from Platform 5 I fail to understand why the Cannon Street trains arn’t starting from here and going round on the loop via Slade Green. Normally two trains per hour run so its not like they are extra services. Yes it takes an hour from Hither Green alone, but Lee, Mottingham and New Eltham have no trains and alternative transport arrangements take far longer than this. There is no rail replacement bus so people have to join overcrowded buses and try and make it to the DLR in Lewisham or Woolwich Arsenal. This journey alone can take an hour. Sidcup-Crayford passengers are left with a shuttle to take them to Dartford to presumably join already over-crowded trains.

  374. ngh says:

    Re Anonymous 1239,

    With turn back facilities available at Hither Green from Platform 5 I fail to understand why the Cannon Street trains aren’t starting from here and going round on the loop via Slade Green.

    Very simple: Because P5 is inside blockade area!
    The signalling cabinets in the “V” at Courthill Loop South Jn were destroyed (along with the impedance bond near the junction) so there is no signalling on the damaged section and back toward Hither Green and with the crane and recovery train etc is on the up slow line but with no way of detecting its presence hence the block. Everything will be removed back to Hither Green via the up line (in the wrong direction) in the first instance so you might not want something in P5 if a wagon now with damaged wheel sets decides to go the wrong way again.
    Annoyingly the signalling equipment is due to be replace in spring next year so expensive short term job.

    They could after recovery but before reconstruction has finished run ant run in the loop (towards Grove Park) instead of a reversing at Hither Green.

  375. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @ngh: Have a token to use the section between Lee and Hither Green? Primitive but it works!

  376. quinlet says:

    @ngh 1232
    I am sure ‘control’ was overloaded, but I think the ‘easy’ option off just using ‘delayed’ shows just how much SouthEastern (and probably other operators) fail to realise the need to put a much higher priority to passenger information these days than used to be the case. I know that whenever I see the term ‘delayed’ displayed it actually means ‘haven’t a clue’.

    In olden times it might well have been the right thing to put all available resources into getting the train network running in some form or another and that every extra train run was a victory. Today, with real time information potentially available, if the service is in meltdown, more reliable information and one or two less trains would be the better outcome

  377. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – pardon my scepticism but I doubt future SWT will be much of a step forward from current SWT. It’s a cash cow and DfT will wish to screw as much money out of it as possible. OK we might get some low dwell time, high capacity stock but being uncharitable that’s a decade late really. I don’t really call half hourly Sunday services as adequate in London. Fine if you’re running city to city through rural counties but not in a world city with a population heading towards 9m people. TfL doesn’t run the tube on the basis of Sundays being a maximum of 25% of weekday service levels. People getting “excited” by the prospect of half hourly Sunday services just shows the paucity of ambition at the DfT.

    @ Straphan – re Kent CC. Are you referring to the very recent decision by KCC after Grayling “sent the boys round” to “remind” them where their loyalty lies or something that happened before that? I am not aware KCC had changed their mind until 2-3 week ago. Just diverting slightly I agree that all the Central London bus cuts will go through regardless of consultation. TfL have just / will soon cut frequencies on a number of central London services without any consultation. Worth noting that on the future programme of the TfL Ops and Customer Service Panel is an item called “Future of Buses / Future Bus Network”. This suggests a very radical rethink is underway (as pressaged by Val Shawcross in late 2016). No date yet as to when it will come up though.

    @ Balthazar – I was referring to the regular practice, allowed by the DfT, of above inflation rises to “correct historically low fares” (happened with S Eastern) or creating new ticket types to price up the peak shoulder and reducing the duration of the off peak period (happened with SWT). We also have the introduction of evening peak restrictions across the North of England affecting multiple TOCs. Another DfT mandated “extract more money” instruction. There will almost certainly be more of this in future in the name of “smart ticketing”, “paying for investment”, “trialling new ticket products”, “creating room for advance tickets” etc etc. For the sake of balance TfL weren’t averse to this either during Boris’s tenure when all sorts of sneaky Oyster rule changes and product rationalisation was pushed through to increase income / reduce subsidy.

    Obviously we always have choices about what taxpayers or farepayers pay for and how. However for every snazzy headline grabbing franchise award announcements there are financial horror stories lurking for passengers.

  378. 100andthirty says:

    WW. I couldn’t agree with you more about lack of ambition for London suburban services. I would include in that category all services covering journeys of up to an hour. My line from Euston seems to descend into farce after 10 pm. Not only are there far too few trains for the traffic on offer but they frequently close two of the four tracks (about 4 weekdays out of 5). This wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t schedule a fast train to the Midlands, first stop Milton Keynes, to leave just 6 minutes after a slow train*. It has been like this for years and no amount of complaining gets any reaction other than a metaphorical wringing of hand from both the operators.

    * with a pick up at Watford Junction, the journey should take about 38 mins, when stuck behind a slow train the journey takes 58 mins

  379. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    You are being very subjective when when picking an aspect of SWT as a template to complain about given the actual reason for it does not apply to the same extent at SE or SE metro and isn’t changeable at SWT by DfT in specifying the franchise.

    Sunday services are usually half the weekday frequency so the normally half hourly SWT branches get an hourly Sunday service due to maintenance requirements on the inner SWML on Sunday meaning only 2 lines are available so only circa half the weekday off peak service level is possible with a pair of tracks operating in mixed mode. Similarly on the Windsor line side but in more complex way east of Feltham.
    SE metro already has half hourly so some lines could see a better Sunday service.
    Southern is similar to SWML etc. in that a lower frequency is required if needed for Victoria – Croydon and London Bridge – Croydon on Sundays but the 2009 Southern franchise changes (DfT can do it!!!) was moving from a 30minute metro frequency to a 15 minute metro service level by moving from single terminus (Victoria or London Bridge) Sunday services on a line to dual terminus (Victoria and London Bridge) where possible to increase the Sunday service level without effecting maintenance levels or pushing the annual cost up by multiples of £10m.

    If you did want 15minute intervals on SWT and Southern to a single terminus there would be or Sundays where the frequency is back to 30mins again and far higher usage of Rail Replacement Buses on metro services which might be less popular. The silver bullet in SW metro land for this is CR2.

    On SE metro 15minute frequency would be possible on the Victoria – Orpington Metro service (as is being run this Sunday to provide extra services due to the closure of the slows between Lewisham and Hither Green for repairs). Higher frequencies will be possible from Jan ’18 on Charing Cross and Cannon Street Services as the mixed mode operation problem of SW ans SN land is far less of an issue but due to maintenance requirements this will need to be structured carefully. E.g. Service levels can be provided by just one of the termini which would limit the Sunday service to 22tph so there is effectively2 spare slots per hour on Sunday unless you can run some of the longer distance services to Victoria or Blackfriars if needed on Sundays (Hence Kent passengers get more disruption breaking a Golden Rule in spirit?) or the current practice of running some of the weekday semi-fasts as mostly stoppers on Sundays which only works if you don’t split SE metro and Long distance unless there is mutual agreement between the 2 operators…).

    So 2 spare slots and 5 metro branches wanting an extra 2tph so 10 train to find space for…

    Current total Sunday Service to CST and CHX on a normal no closures Sunday (When did that last happen?!): 20tph
    CST capacity 22tph (2 spare)
    CHX capacity 28tph (8 spare)

    As the Greenwich line services effectively can’t run to CHX except with if far few trains are running to CHX (like on sundays…), CHX can cope with 4tph Sunday metro running with out the Greenwich line as the max tph would be 26 with out Greenwich but there is no chance to fit 30tph into CST unless some other metro routes have maintenance at the same time as Charing Cross and the approaches to reduce the 30tph down to 26tph then divert another 4 longer distance SEML services to Victoria or Blackfriars on Sundays when needed but that then makes maintenance closures for via Herne Hill or Catford Loop more problematic and also makes it harder to introduce 4tph metro on those routes (SE VIC- ORP or Thameslink Blackfriars – Catford loop).
    Other alternatives for long distance include running some outer Kent services as HS ones via HS1 to StPancras on Sundays (more expensive so is TfL going to pay SE Long distance to do this instead 😉 ) or to transfer passengers to Thameslink at Sevenoaks (if running)).
    All very messy if Charing Cross isn’t partly open and approaches fully open.

    The cost to NR of Rail Replacement Buses for “SE” on Sunday would go though the roof (currently effectively an 8 figure sum p.a. during the London Bridge rebuild though that should drop significantly) with DfT ultimately picking up the extra cost for an increased Sunday SE Metro service level via the Network Rail Grant, hence the TfL proposal isn’t cost neutral to DfT as TfL didn’t mention agreeing to higher track access charges to pick up the cost instead in the Business Plan.

  380. ngh says:

    Re 130,

    The agreed rules of the route say the WCML fasts become the proverbial pumpkins at 2200 for maintenance.
    2 paths out for the sleepers complicate stuff but the operators really should co-operate better (but look at the TOCs involved). The VT fasts to the Midlands 6 minutes behind the LM Northamptons (limited stop) both have Watford Junction as first stop now so VT have effectively taken the decision to slow theirs down slightly with the additional Watford stop so they don’t catch the LM Northampton service by Hanslope Jn.

  381. Graham H says:

    @ngh – but can be done quicker; one evening about 15 years ago,before NR got twitchy about 140mph, I recall travelling on a very late MK-Euston that took a tad over 25 min for the 53 miles (I suspect some complicit signallers…).

  382. ngh says:

    Re Graham H,

    More recently than that I regularly used to come down the ECML in the evening with a clear run in front and double flashing greens, the phone GPS data was “interesting” as was the noticeable acceleration at the start of the double flashing green section…

    The WCML routings after 2200 can be interesting so you don’t want to be timed too fast, if you discover you swap to the fasts over some lower speed points suddenly as the fright driver discovered at Bletchley about 5 years ago in the early hours one (Thursday/Friday?) morning…

  383. Herned says:

    “fright” driver is a perfect typo for that event!

  384. 100andthirty says:

    ngh……fortunately the junction where the fr(e)ight-ened driver came a cropper has now gone.

    However, the situation on the WC main line is not as “good” as you indicated. when two tracks have closed, they first celebrate by sending out the last truly fast train as a 5-car Voyager under the wires the whole way to Crewe. It gets “rather crowded”.
    The later two Virgins (VT) ALWAYS catches the London Midland (LM) and trudle at a slow pace from shortly after Watford to Milton Keynes (MKC). It would make much more sense to send the VT out at 22:43 (and 23:43) as this would maintain the hourly xx:43 pattern; they would still be impeded but not by as much. I am assuming that it is intended that the LM should arrive at MKC before the VT in order to facilitate onward connections, otherwise I’d suggest that the XX:24 becomes the XX34. I hope the new franchises manage to sort this out within the spirit of partnership. I hope I’m not being too optimistic.

  385. Greg Tingey says:

    “trudle” is a perfect description for the peregrination you describe!

    [Don’t you and CXXX mean ‘trundle’? LBM]

  386. 100andthirty says:

    LBM….yes I do mean trundle. Since starting to use tablets anx phones as well as keyboadds my typing has become “rather poor”.

  387. Mark Townend says:

    The Bletchley incident is an example of the imperfect protection provided by TPWS in certain scenarios. After the slowing light engine successfully passed under the set speed trap, with the approach released junction signal still at red, the aspect then cleared correctly for the divergence, but the driver misinterpreted the route indication to mean a fast straight route ahead. Perhaps the ‘F’ displayed convinced him he was already on the Fast line itself, a straight route indication convention employed at some newer junction signals in the Wembley and Euston areas. While route knowledge should have informed the driver that was not the correct meaning at Bletchley, once under the misconception he was able to use the enormous power to weight ratio of the solo power unit to accelerate to a speed sufficient for a serious derailment through the tight turnout, coming to rest foul of the Down Fast, which was fotunately clear of other traffic at the time. A more sophisticated intermittent protection system, like German Indusi for example, could have continued to enforce the simple set speed limit until reset by the trainstop transponder at the signal, preventing re-acceleration until later and possibly avoiding the derailment.

  388. Nick Biskinis says:

    “Worth noting that on the future programme of the TfL Ops and Customer Service Panel is an item called “Future of Buses / Future Bus Network”. This suggests a very radical rethink is underway (as pressaged by Val Shawcross in late 2016). No date yet as to when it will come up though”

    Major cuts are coming to the bus network: it is a real urban tragedy that the Mayor is undertaking laceration of a system that had until 2008 been steadily improved into an accessible highly efficient network which provides a major alternative to the Tube.

    The result will be worse bus services in turn forcing more people to use the Tube (though the fantasists in lycraland will eagerly suppose that worse bus services will force people to use bicycles, though the supposed mass conversion of Londoners to Dutch-style Velotopia never seems to happen).

    If Sadiq Khan is continuing to preside over Tube strikes and the downgrading of bus services flanked by an unconvincing fares “freeze” then he is sadly not making a good case for why TfL should take over suburban rail. What’s his case now? Southern keep having strikes – so TfL should take over for more of the same?

    I still strongly feel TfL should take over suburban rail – though not via the Overground brand. Yet the ongoing chaos on the Tube and congestion on the streets is creating a very poor impression of London’s transport now. This may be also why the Secretary of State is under less pressure than he might have been – by pointing at the Mayor’s inaction and seeming imminent dismantling of bus services. Transport in London is getting worse not better and commuters are caught between a hostile DfT and a lethargy City Hall.

  389. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Mark Townend,

    My limited understanding, based on this report, is that TPWS can be made as safe for passengers (and freight) as you want it to be.

    Apart from financial and capacity-limiting restrictions, according to the report, there is a limit to absolute safety because there comes a point where the risk to track workers installing, maintaining and repairing the extra equipment required becomes greater than the expected increase in safety to others.

  390. Greg Tingey says:

    (though the fantasists in lycraland will eagerly suppose that worse bus services will force people to use bicycles, though the supposed mass conversion of Londoners to Dutch-style Velotopia never seems to happen).
    There’s actually a good reason for this.
    Cycling is all very well & good for distances up to (say) 5 miles & if you are not carrying too much & are reasonably fit to start with.
    What “the fantasists” (your words) refuse to acknowledge are the people not meeting those conditions, especially the infirm. And any mention of elderly/unwell/infirm people at public meeting on the subject will get you shouts of abuse & condemnation – yes, really.
    #As someone who has now been cycling for 60 years, I find this very sad.

    Sadiq Khan is continuing to …. What SQ is persistently not doing is pay any attention at all to transport, apart from his headline-grabbing “Fares Freeze”
    – surprisingly, even BoJo paid more attention to transport, even if he frequently got it wrong.
    As you suggest, it doesn’t look good for commuters or even ordinary travellers

  391. Greg Tingey says:

    Regarding TPWS et al, the eventual RAIB report on the Courthill Jn derailment will make interesting reading.
    Does anyone have any safe-to-release information on how it happened?

  392. Mark Townend says:


    Agreed it’s the law of diminishing returns. In this scenario an additional selective speed trap could have been added closer to the signal for the diverging route for instance. The industry agreed not to apply that type of measure generally at junctions where there was effective speed control by the approach release. The light engine scenario was unusual in that nothing else on the rails could have accelerated so quickly. Any additional TPWS equipment at Bletchley would have been in the platform area, automatically requiring a possession to access for maintenance and faultfinding.

  393. Graham H says:

    Turning back to the subject of the thread for the moment, I see that Grayling has rejected the devolution package worked up for the West Midlands also – a pattern is emerging and SK shouldn’t perhaps feel specifically targetted. For amusement, there the devolution is to be replaced by a joint meeting of stakeholders to iron out problems “at least once a year”. Hmmm…]

    This raises the more interesting question of why. At no time in recent decades has DfT had the greater centralisation of control in its hands as a “cultural” objective. Very much the reverse: the very last thing the civil servants have wanted is the greater responsibility that goes with greater control, even if, in the matter of franchise specification,it has been thrust upon them. So what is driving this? The last SoS who wanted to take control was that arch rightwinger Nicholas Ridley, and he wanted to do so only so that, in his words to me, he could “smash the thing up”. The TOCs are already pretty well smashed up structurally (in the Ridleyian sense) , so what is it that Grayling wants to achieve long term? An objectiveless strategy?

  394. Verulamius says:

    Network Rail is currently one large organism which could be ripe for Ridleyisation.

  395. Graham H says:

    @Verulamius – the jury is out on what devolution to routes will mean. Cynics might describe that as a passetemps until Grayling is run over by No10.

  396. Ed says:

    [Snip. Too much unsubstantiated, partially non-transport related, political opinion (regardless of whether we agree or not) and not enough facts. PoP]

    Incidentally, when is the Kent RUS out this year?

  397. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H 1106 – I hadn’t spotted that about West Midlands devolution being canned but I’m not surprised. I have suggested that other moves in that direction were likely to fail and here’s the evidence. I wonder if Mr G doesn’t like the thought of too much challenge and questioning of DfT motives if some power / control / funding is devolved to local level. Alternatively perhaps he just hates local political control / local councils & authorities?

    @ Nick B – to be fair to the SoS (what am I saying?) he has only cited tube strikes in criticising the Mayor of London. Others may be jumping up and down about traffic congestion and buses but I am not sure they have featured in Mr G’s armoury of critical quotes.

  398. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – Yes I probably was being selective in my comments. I am not blessed with your encyclopaedic knowledge of main line train workings and possession strategies. Ok there are constraints but one has to ask why they are so restrictive and why NR can’t do what is needed to raise efficiency and to allow regular blockades to be reduced in scope / duration. I am not saying don’t do the maintenance and inspections – that would be lunacy. However LU can manage to run intensive services 7 days a week without the same scale of regular blockades. I know the main line has different traffic characteristics which creates different wear rates etc but all of this is surely known and understood?

    I tend to look at the NR service offer as a passenger would. I see hourly or half hourly services on local routes and decide they’re pretty pointless even if the actual journey time beats buses hands down. I simply won’t do journeys in London if I’m faced with the risk of 30 minute waits because a connection, no matter how well planned, runs a few mins late. Similarly if the timetables are so poor you end up with 27 min connections. That’s just ludicrous in a world city with huge transport demands and air quality issues. Again I come back to the issue that there is little or no recognition that evening and Sunday services need to be vastly better than they are. I am sure the public will cope, as they already do on the tube, with the occasional planned closure over a weekend providing the information is “out there” in good time and in sufficient detail. I note an increasing trend, including LO, to not provide temporary timetable info on TOC websites. You’re forced to rummage in journey planners when a copy of the timetable would make much more sense (for me anyway).

    So sorry if I disagree with you but I still think passengers deserve much better even with the constraints.

  399. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @WW: Centralised planning and control? Next thing you know we’ll be getting the “The workers control the means of production line?

  400. Reynolds 953 says:

    @WW – Mr Grayling did blame congestion on cycle lanes as part of his “cyclists aren’t road users” quote so his armoury isn’t deficient in that area.

  401. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Reynolds 953 – I clearly missed that one although following the speeches and quotes of Chairman Grayling is not exactly a personal priority. 😉

  402. ngh says:

    Re Greg,

    1. There is a TPWS “trap” at Courthill South due to 60mph line speed on the Lewisham avoiding route or 20mph on the turnout to via Lewisham P1 with over a km of 20mph running ahead so speeding is possible but unlikely (the 20mph restriction is not for that junction but further ahead e.g. the point and track geometry are rated higher than the line speed).

    2. Looks like the exact point of derailment was the left hand facing frog on the fixed diamond where the up via Lewisham crosses the down slow. (Both trailing frogs and the right hand facing frog are still in situ and being retained.

    3. Junction was completely replaced just few weeks ago.
    The new points and crossing are (were…) concrete sleepered but there isn’t a spare on the shelf so the fixed diamond being rebuilt with some timber sleepers on site from components. Also managed to damage the 3rd rail cables and other in ballast cables.

  403. ngh says:

    Re WW @ 1417,

    Any other way of operating would be higher cost, the question is just how much, some of that cost will be occasional claims from TfL for having to run a reduced (less than 4tph) Sunday service once every couple of months, a cost that doesn’t currently exist. Why didn’t TfL devise a strategy that could have allowed 4tph on all the branches most Sundays then work out a method of turnback for a branch to reduce the total number trains heading into London when Charing Cross is closed? If they want changes they should be proactive in attempting to resolve the challenges

    The future total assuming 4tph on SE metro Branches on Sundays would be 30tph with normally a minimum of 4tph to CST (from the Greenwich Line) and the vast majority of the remainder (26tph) to CHX, but realistically a 8:22 split would make sense with possibly the 4tph from Blackheath making the most operational sense if you want to maximise Lewisham calls overall (but they could revert to CHX if CST closed). So how could you get the number of trains down from 30tph to 22tph if CHX is closed.
    1. Hope there is also engineering work on one of the metro branches -4tph
    2. Run Hither Green – Dartford (/Loop) as a shuttle with passengers changing to the Orpington/Sevenoaks stoppers at Hither Green -4tph (Or vice versa given there are fewer stations to Orpington and possibly lower passenger numbers.
    3. Don’t “ask” for payments from NR for not being able to run all the services into the termini despite all branches getting 4tph… (See DfT alliance strategy and reducing the cost of running the railways)

  404. quinlet says:

    @WW 1406
    I think it is reasonably clear that Grayling isn’t much interested in transport at all – or, at least – that his more significant interest is in winning elections. Hence his original letter to Boris was clear that his objection to devolution was not that in any way the need for control control but simply that a Labour Mayor might make a good job of running the services and hence gain votes and support. Therefore, this possibility must be stopped, in his view, irrespective of any objective views about whether the change might be better or worse for the passenger/treasury/anybody else.

    Cancelling rail devolution in the West Midlands is more of the same. His approach on roads is also quite narrowly pro-car (or pro-motorist) even down to the level of his remarks about cyclists, that they really just get in the way of drivers.

    Given that he is probably the most Political SofS since Ridley it is, perhaps, surprising, is that he has not done more in the way of short term boosts for commuters in the South East on the basis that their votes can be very significant.

  405. IslandDweller says:

    @ngh. Saying “we can’t run more trains on a Sunday because occasionally we’ll have to pay the operator a penalty fee for engineering closures” just demonstrates how ludicrous the current fees/penalty merry go round has become.

  406. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Quinlet – an interesting alternative perspective on Mr G’s motives. You may well be right but it sits very badly with me that even a degree of objectivity has gone out of the window in the decision making process. That’s as much to do with how I like things to be done as any other motive on my part. There’s always politics lurking somewhere but generally “good sense” wins out somehow. That’s clearly not going to be happening for a while.

    I think Mr G has done the short term things he can – the two bundles of cash thrown in the direction of Southern. We wait to see what, if anything, transpires in GTR land. His hands are rather tied on South Eastern and SWT given current or pending retendering of the franchises. There’s obviously ongoing stuff on SWT that can’t be stopped now and would be politically very damaging if he tried. I expect we will see “pressies” bundled into the announcement of the next franchise. Ditto for South Eastern – assuming that the Thameslink works and revised services kick in in 2018 as expected. I don’t doubt the physical stuff (like London Bridge) will all be accomplished but I’m a tad more sceptical about what level of new service will materialise and quite when it will appear.

  407. straphan says:

    @Island Dweller: I, too, find the concept of compensation for engineering work on the railways ludicrous – not only does this put rail at a cost disadvantage to roads (anyone ever get compensated for motorway roadworks?); it also makes any business case for large investments in rail infrastructure difficult to achieve (without Schedule 4 payments HS2 actually has a decent BCR!).

    However, I agree with ngh on this one: taking over a beast as complex as Southeastern metro means that TfL will most likely never be able to run a full service on any given Sunday; and it would make much more sense to accommodate NR’s maintenance needs from the outset when building the timetable.

  408. Pedantic of Purley says:

    My understanding is that compensation payments for rail works only cover works not specifically identified in the franchise tender. So the sensible thing for long term planning is to specify the amount of works expected in the franchise. The nature of the works would need to be specified but it should not be necessary to give the exact date although it might be necessary to state whether summer or winter and especially pre- or post- Christmas.

    Compensation for any works not reasonably anticipated is sensible. Otherwise rail operators will add an enormous bidding mark-up to cover for unknown events beyond their control that are nevertheless quite likely to happen.

    There is the similar related issue of putting a value on disruption to calculate the BCR of a project. If you don’t include then you get ludicrous results e.g. cheaper to close a main line terminal during the week rather than at weekends to avoid weekend payments to construction workers. It does not follow that the TOC should be compensated for this amount, and, as far as I am aware, it is not.

  409. timbeau says:

    ” (anyone ever get compensated for motorway roadworks?); ”
    “Lane rental” is charged by some councils to utility companies for digging up the road.

    This is compensation of a sort, although as far as I am aware, the money simply goes into council funds for the general good, and is not hypothecated for transport improvements elsewhere, let alone compensating individual road users.

  410. ngh says:

    Re Staphan, PoP, Timbeau, Island Dweller,

    On Timbeau’s point the TOCs effectively cream off most of the S4/S8 payments with only a small amount going to Delay Repay if applicable from S8. Overground/TfL rail are no different and NR try to minimise overall S4/S8 payments. E.g the rail situation isn’t that dissimilar to the roads one!

    On PoP’s point: S4 is also used to fund rail replacement buses which the TOC’s organise (and use of the other TOC trains etc.) and Southeastern due to current the Thameslink Programme works currently spend over £10mp.a. with other Go-Ahead /Keolis group companies for Rail Replacement Buses or Trains (e.g. Southern running Hastings services from London Bridge via Croydon etc.)

    S4/S8 pouring in at the same rate as currently is effectively part of the current commuter rail business model, which TfL will have also relied upon (same subsidy level as current SE franchise was their assumption) but it doesn’t appear to be part of DfT future vision in the same way it has been since rail privatisation and DfT are probably looking to at least halve the payments via Alliancing mechanisms saving NR (and indirectly partially DfT) a 9 digit sum annually when fully implemented. (DfT taking less upfront NR grant for less surplus back from TOCs in future years but the model does work if enough TOCs become net subsidy free heading towards gross subsidy free.) Like station Car park revenues the S4/S8 payments (NR/TOC/ORR) were outside DfT direct hands on control hence TOCs like the current set up to a certain extent as area outside DfT control tent to be high margin…

    Re Staphan,

    I actually think TfL attempting to use the Overground brand and all the principles that come with it for a take over of SE metro was possibly the wrong approach, I suspect a new separate brand such as “London Rail” “SE Metro” with a slightly more pragmatic approach to Sunday Service levels and other constraints might have worked better.

    As a comparison – Just think how much quicker and less disruptive the M3 smart motorway work would have been done if end user disruption was taken into account via BCR or compensation when DfT went for the lowest possible direct cost to them model. I’m not sure DfT would go down the same route again (from the same era as DfT’s economics department claiming it was too hard to calculate the value done in the UK to HMT vs importing, BIS were happy to do it for DfT if they weren’t going to (this was several years pre the Siemens vs Bombardier argument), note the apprenticeship and skills programmes and done in the UK metrics now).

    “Ludicrous etc.” – It appears DfT currently share the same thinking.

  411. straphan says:

    @PoP: Yes, the way it works is that Network Rail publishes standard possession opportunities in their Engineering Access Statement and refuses any applications for train paths that violate the EAS policy. And so as per EAS the WCML is two-track in the evenings and Sundays until 12:00 (as mentioned earlier), and the BML is also two-track throughout the night.

    It would be somewhat impractical, however, to deprive a whole railway line of a Sunday service (or to severely constrain it e.g. by planning it as a single-line) just because Network Rail needs to close it a few times throughout the duration of the timetable. This is why these closures are not specified in the EAS.

    The problem is generated by the fact, that franchises are specified as net-cost entities. Were they gross-cost entities, they would probably welcome engineering work with open arms (better infrastructure and more maintenance time for trains = fewer delays).

    @ngh: The obvious moniker of TfL Rail appears to already have been taken!

    Jokes aside, I think the prevailing thinking at TfL is that the commuter TOCs run a very inefficient operation, and that extra capacity could be created by reducing dwell times at stations (through better rolling stock with more doors), run times (ditto) and through reducing turnrounds.

    They clearly don’t seem to grasp that railways routinely running at 4-5 minute turnrounds don’t really have great PPM figures (hi there, ScotRail!), and that even with the Japanese-style 6-doors-per-20m-carriage people will still be reluctant to jump the 1+ metre gap onto a full platform at Clapham Jn.

  412. ngh says:

    Re Staphan & PoP,

    TfL rail – They could always reuse it in several years time.

    Scotrail will be messy until they have longer trains with consequently more doors, newer stock with wider doors and more electrified routes with higher performing stock than DMUs to increase the margins a bit where they have been squeezed with increasing passenger numbers. They are still performing better than the old franchise just the targets have been “stretched” before the arrival of new stock or completion of infrastructure works.

    … because Network Rail needs to close it a few times throughout the duration of the timetable. This is why these closures are not specified in the EAS.

    But the expected frequency e.g. once every X weeks for Sunday closures is but ORR have probably pushed NR too hard on reducing the frequency given increasing rail traffic and the cost of those not booked in at least 84 weeks in advance can get very expensive for NR. The NR S4 bill has nearly trebled with all the infrastructure work going on. Net Vs Gross cost indeed and DfT alliances plan pushes some of the cost elements in the direction of a Gross Cost model so we might see some behavioural change there.

  413. straphan says:

    @ngh: the problem with ridiculously short turnrounds and trains departing late from origin is widespread – in Scotland, in the North of England, in the West Mids and around London. In some places – such as Scotland – it is reaching a point where it is tough to find a day where commuter trains depart on time from origin in or just after the peaks. Southern wasn’t doing great in that department even before the current bout of staff issues.

    The other problem is that in some cases either the DfT or the bidder may specify first/last trains that run earlier/later than today, and infringe the EAS times by 5-10 minutes here or there. Given the accumulated effects of this over the years – and with ever more stringent safety procedures – more and more overnight possessions are becoming too short to do any meaningful work (half the time is spent on checking the track is safe to enter, getting people and plant in and out, and handovers). That pushes maintenance to Sundays, where at least the time pressure is not as ridiculous and people actually get to do some proper work.

  414. ngh says:

    Re Staphan,

    That pushes maintenance to Sundays, where at least the time pressure is not as ridiculous and people actually get to do some proper work.

    Agreed – But the exact opposite of what was envisaged with McNulty report 6 years ago to increase efficiency especially around more efficient utilisation of plant and staff (especially the more specialist on track plant and staff with skill sets where there are shortages (signalling engineers) . That being said SE and Southern have been good about early in the week earlier last services (and rail replacement buses instead) to facilitate engineering closures on their rural branches. E.g. East Kent resignalling was done with lots of (Sun) Mon-Wed evening work.
    The result is more weekend especially Sunday closures despite the increased costs to NR as it is still cheaper than the alternatives (less efficient working overnight working).

  415. Greg Tingey says:

    Is it just me, or does that look like a wooden-dollars-roundabout?
    ( As opposed to Zebedee & a Magic one )

  416. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Straphan and others,

    Engineering work is a topic in itself but one is tempted to play devil’s advocate and question why this is all so different from TfL practice.

    On TfL they manage to safely switch the traction current off without it taking half the night’s possession time. On the deep tube they have all but eliminated weekend possessions by working out how to make the best of the few hours available at night. The notable exception is the Jubilee line but that is usually because they have to close it due to a weekend possession on the adjacent Metropolitan line tracks as part of the Four Lines Upgrade (SSR resignalling mainly).

    It does beg the question, if TfL can avoid weekend possessions when confined to a tunnel then why is it so hard for Network Rail to do so in the open? I know there are many good reasons but the initial comparison does make Network Rail seem less than impressive.

    I think part of the idea is to incentivise Network Rail to introduce more efficient practices. It is hard getting the balance right between a reasonable incentive and an unfair burdensome yoke.

    Finally, if Network Rail really needs more time to make good use of engineering closures then why does it persist with Sunday and not whole weekend closures (as common on LU) ? This seems to be just because historically Sunday was much quieter than Saturday. One can argue it still is on a lot of National Rail but that is because of all the engineering works!

  417. Malcolm says:

    There are doubtless various bits of answers to PoP’s question. One bit is that tube lines are typically discrete entities with very limited rail-connections to anything else. So exactly which bits of traction current you have to turn off and verify-the-offness-of is relatively clear. (And ways for a stray train to intrude on the possession are almost completely absent). This does not apply to the mess of spaghetti which forms the south London rail network.

  418. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    Because Sunday traditionally has half the service level of Saturday so the theoretical frequency of rail replacement buses would be halved hopefully with some consequent reduction in the total number of buses and hence cost.
    Just a Sunday allows more frequent closures to do some secondary originally unplanned work sooner that otherwise if just less infrequent weekend closure. (E.g. some small scale ballast renewal to sort a wet patch and thus remove a Temporary Speed Restriction (TSR.)).

    Ballast renewal in the deep tube tunnels isn’t anywhere near on the same scale as NR’s network in terms of mileage or volume of ballast.

    NR is attempting change but getting a high medium output ballast cleaner that is 3rd rail compatible has taken 5 years, cost £50m with circa 500 staff with the aim of doing a mile a night but it will still take 2 years to do most of Kent (excluding the areas with lots of S&C).

  419. ngh says:

    Re Greg,

    Except the Wooden Dollars become less wooden and more fungible at the TOCs where a good quantity leak out…

  420. Walthamstow Writer says:

    I am not going to claim any great expertise here but before I left LU I got quite an insight into the planning and operation of closures and possessions. It’s a very complex process for plenty of good reasons but it was clear that efficiency and productivity was nowhere near where it should be, even with Infracos having invested in plant and training to reduce costs. I believe a great deal of work and progress has happened since I left.

    I know the main line is a different beast in many ways but there have to be a load of ways to get far better efficiency. Some of that efficiency may well involve compromises for passengers, as noted above, but that can be handled with good planning / comms / management of replacement services. It’s worth just noting in passing that based on what I read elsewhere a great deal more can also be done to improve the operation of rail replacement bus services as well (including those run for LU / TfL). That may make them a more “saleable” prospect to passengers who have to tolerate disruption from engineering works.

  421. quinlet says:

    Lane rental for utilities on roads is currently restricted to TfL and Kent, as an ‘experiment’. Although the outcomes do show a distinct reduction in possession times by utilities, those same utilities have vigorously lobbied against any extension, threatening that the extra costs will just be added to householders’ utility bills. This has got the government a bit worried.

    Any income from lane rental is actually quite strictly hypothecated to reducing the impact of street works and TfL has achieved quite an interesting research programme based on this funding.

  422. Ed says:

    TfL may well have a point about speeding up journeys on devolved routes, and not just using reduced turnaround times. Why in the past year or two have most, if not all SE Metro trains started taking 5-10 seconds to open the door after stopping? It used to be 1-2 seconds.

    And some of the driving is so defensive and slow. Sure there’s a need for safety but ambling along into stations at 10 mph seems extreme, and that’s with nothing ahead. Other nations metro networks are not as pedestrian in my experience.

    As for SE franchise and hoping for a good deal with worries whether the DfT will oblige – I was reading about SWT and how there are just two bidders. DfTs hope to cream off money from SWT franchise may well be greatly reduced. If so they will they only have a bare bones specification for SE?

    And who will bid? The dreaded Govia again and Stagecoach perhaps? First/MTR like SWT?

  423. Balthazar says:

    Going back a few days (sorry) but I thought it worth mentioning that the West Midlands rail devolution situation has a few subtleties to it, and is not necessarily a read-over of South Eastern.

    For the next West Mids franchise (October 2017 to, I think, 2024) there are two significant changes:
    – what is now London Midland is split into two “business units”, essentially one for local West Mids services and the other for WCML services
    – the former unit is managed jointly by West Midlands Rail and DfT

    This seems to remain the intention, given the second paragraph in this (published yesterday):

    At the moment it is slightly unclear to me whether the principle of WMR being in the lead here – which was certainly the plan a matter of weeks ago – remains. However, note that several years ago it was the local authorities’ intention to have full devolution and this was rejected by the DfT at least a few years ago (and certainly before Grayling).

    What appears to have been ruled out – for now – is the further aspiration that the franchise after next would be a concession let and managed by WMR alone. That said, a lot can pass under the bridge, including potentially a few Secretaries of State, in seven years.

  424. Balthazar says:

    Re: Ed – Trenitalia, flushed with success from the LTS routes? Keolis, in or out of consortium with Amey? Arriva? Abellio? MTR on their own? Any new contenders (not yet passport-ed) seen wandering around the DfT’s franchise bidders’ days recently, like new names from among the foreign state operators?

  425. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Balthazar – You could add in Mitsui and also Metroline (Comfort Delgro) to your list either on their own or in a partnership. Metroline bid for the Overground contract and Mitsui have taken a share of Greater Anglia which, in some ways, is similar to South Eastern.

  426. ngh says:

    Re Balthazar,

    Trenitalia main attention will be on combined West Coast HS2 They will be alot less interested in SE.
    Keolis is a shareholder of Govia…

  427. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    Mitsui are there to provide the financing element which will be an important element in all future tenders and the franchisees will need to invest more initially than previously.

    MTR previously reckoned they could only manage 4 franchises in Europe so they appear to be nearing their self imposed limit.

  428. Ed says:

    If most/all of those are not interested in SWT given the premiums why would they be with SE given the HS1 money sink?

  429. ngh says:

    Re Ed,

    Why SE:
    Lower total investment required,
    circa 1/3rd smaller,
    currently in subsidy,

    so probably lower risk and accessible to more groups (vs SW) unless DfT go really off-piste…

    Large franchise size is now being seen as problem to bidder numbers as with passenger growth they are all allot larger in financial terms so continued growth is more of a financial strain so there may be some splits if logical. GTR was always desinged to be split in 2021 and bidders had to have a split at the end in their plans. “GWR” many get split at the next retender, it will theoretically have already got a bit smaller with the loss of the crossrail services but with growth due to IEP and resignalling it will have grown much larger so there may be split with London – Devon and Cornwall via Newbury services hived of into a new franchise along with Devon and Cornwall and South Somerset local services.

  430. Londoner in Scotland says:

    Trenitalia’s aspiration in its 2017-2026 business plan is to run between London and Edinburgh, but that seems to be envisaged as open access (so good luck with that).
    See (but you have to scroll down a bit).

    I suggest that they took on c2c because that was what was available, but are really interested in long distance. They do, of course, have the high-speed experience that DfT says it is looking for for West Coast.

  431. ngh says:

    Re LiS,

    TrenItalia have already teamed up as the minor partner with First as the major partner in 70:30 JVs to bid for the forthcoming East Midlands and West Coast (& HS2 opening) franchise bids.

    Agree that C2C was opportunistic and of course it happens to get them a UK track record and access to all the data sets that operating TOC have access to that give an advantage in pre-bid thinking.

  432. Balthazar says:

    Re: LiS – that’s rather interesting; does it imply that sale to a foreign state-backed transport organisation is the exit strategy for a Scottish-based transport group in relation to open access interests?

    While we have recent evidence that sale to a foreign state-backed transport organisation is the exit strategy for an English-based transport group in relation to franchise interests, and that partial sale to a foreign giant conglomerate *by* a foreign state-backed transport organisation is a risk-mitigation strategy in relation to franchise interests.

    Compare with 1998, when sale *to* a Scottish-based transport group was the exit strategy for (a) venture capital and (b) an MBO in relation to franchise interests!

    (Currently reading Paul Mason’s “Postcapitalism” and so on the look-out for evidence of crises in capitalism…)

  433. Graham H says:

    @Balthazar – a very interesting slant on things. I haven’t seen a discussion about exit strategies in the UK rail sector before and they have not been very apparent hitherto in bidding. It would be good to hear more!

  434. Dr Richards Beeching says:

    As a resident in the Chessington, so not very far from the Epsom & Ewell area, but with many friends extra mural to the invisible GLA boundary, I now feel the benefit of the London Freedom Pass. Some fellow pensioners are quite envious and it is noticeable that those with the Freedom Pass now have different lifestyles to those a mile away who do not. Many of us here go to central London once a week whereas those living a mile down the road who would have to pay for their train journey go perhaps twice a year.

  435. Balthazar says:

    Re: Graham H – Thank you, although I fear I may have used the term “exit strategy” a little loosely, as I am not certain that the sale of the equity in every one of the cases I (obliquely) referred to was a long-held plan.

    That said, it does seem likely to me that the venture capital element of Virgin Rail Group in its original incarnation (59% VC, 41% Virgin Group if memory holds) wasn’t intended as a long-term investment, so something along the lines of the Stagecoach stake (with Virgin Group purchasing a further 10% to have that majority holding in a bilateral ownership structure) looks like it was expected at some point.

    The MBOs and new ventures (Great Western Holdings, Michael Schabas’s GB Railways and Adrian Shooter & Co’s M40 Trains come to mind) were sold on to larger concerns more or less quickly, but was that the intention all along or did they simply receive offers out of the blue that they couldn’t refuse?

    A hardening attitude to private sector risk is quite clear today compared to the early days of privatisation, hence the growing clout of foreign state backing and the partnerships and evolving investment stakes we are seeing – presumably driven by the UK Government’s requirements for financial assurance but also a realisation that high profit margins are hard to find.

    The intriguing case – for me at least – is Abellio and the East Anglia franchise: initially in partnership with Stagecoach, now 60/40 with Mitsui but actually awarded an extremely challenging franchise in the interim when Abellio was on its own. How did that happen?

    No doubt similar things could be said about the freight business, but aI think thst’s enough for now!

  436. @Balthazar

    Please, do go on.

  437. Graham H says:

    @Balthazar -as LBM said: “do go on”.

    I agree with you about the implications of the initial VT structure. VCs almost invariably, when I have met them, stress that that they have a three year time horizon to exit. Not so sure about the MBOs being broadly similar, however; the risk profile of GB Railways and M40 Trains is very different, for example, and they may have attracted different sorts of investors. Without studying the detailed links between Burckhardt and GB Railways (which became a bit clearer to those of us who privatised the Estonian State Railways), it’s not easy to be sure, but certainly in that case, Burckhardt had a very clear short term payback in mind, like any VC. M40’s development strategy (and what I know and see of Adrian Shooter’s personal predilections) suggests that he fully intended to stick to a 20 year programme. But times change and the passing attraction of a big bag of gold may make short termism suddenly attractive.

    I have never been able to quite grasp what is in it for overseas state railways and this has always made them very frustrating clients. Is it “railway imperialism”/expansion of domestic production? (Perhaps the French case), or the wish to add a solid income stream to what is perhaps a flaky home base (Italy, France?), or merely “because it’s there” (certainly the Danes and perhaps the Dutch) or even a belief in “eat or be eaten”. The frustration arises because these different motivations lead to different target acquisitions, and to different exit strategies, yet the players struggle to recognise that in practice.

  438. straphan says:

    @Graham H: I believe the state railways are in the UK purely for the money. In the case of the French and the Italians, they rely mostly on subsidies received from the central and local governments – these tend to be rather volatile, much like any other stream of money where there are politicians manning the tap. Remember that this sort of financial instability was the key issue people have when there is talk of renationalisation in the UK.

    In Germany the issue is more acute. DB operate their freight and long-distance sectors on a commercial basis, and these tend to just about break even. The bulk of the profit comes from local services, which are subsidised. Plenty used to be directly awarded until a few years ago, when mandatory tendering was enforced by courts. DB has since managed to get rid of the competition by judicial reviews of unfavourable tender outcomes, but nonetheless this has still eaten into their profits quite considerably.

    By purchasing Arriva, DB hit not two but three birds with one stone:
    – They knocked the wind out of their biggest and most dynamic competitor in Germany – whilst they were prohibited from buying the German operations of Arriva, they sold them to Trenitalia, who – as far as I can see – have not been as successful in securing new business.
    – They gained access to Arriva’s revenue streams outside of Germany – both in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. Arriva had been by far the most active player in continental Europe out of all the ‘bus bandit’ companies.
    – They also gained a foothold in the UK rail market, thus entering into competition on the bus and rail fronts with the ‘bus bandits’ in their home markets. Thus increasing the risk of depriving them of their main ‘cash cow’ revenue streams that could have been used to expand their operations in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

  439. ngh says:

    Re Balthazar,

    The intriguing case – for me at least – is Abellio and the East Anglia franchise: initially in partnership with Stagecoach, now 60/40 with Mitsui but actually awarded an extremely challenging franchise in the interim when Abellio was on its own. How did that happen?

    Abellio came in post NatEx being stripped for a short 2 years franchise (then later got 2 year extension). The original mantra for the first 2 years were no big changes and make sure the Olympics go OK. There was then 2 year extension with the Overground and TfL split offs mid way and some more stock refreshes. All theoretically* low risk financially as no new rolling stock introduction or massive passenger revenue increases.

    The new 2016-2025 Anglia is very different beast than the first 2 Abellio tenures, 9 years vs 2 years, complete rolling stock replacement and huge increases in passenger growth and revenue need to pay DfT, so significantly higher risk financially which is why Abellio needed a minority partner mainly for financial reasons. Initially this was to have been Stagecoach but has recently become Mitsui. Stagecoach probably pulling out becasue they need their financial fire power elsewhere.

    *In practice some old issues coming home to roost and the LO/TfL rail split cost substantially more on the Abellio side than expected which may be 1 reason why DfT is weary about the cost of devolution as it cost them more than expected indirectly last time so they know they would have pay Govia a reasonable extra sum to sort a split as variation to the current Direct award if a split were to happen at the end of the current SE franchise.

  440. Graham H says:

    @straphan – I’m sure you’re right about DB needing a solid cash flow (besides the payoff of knocking out their main domestic competitor). That probably implies that they don’t need or want an exit strategy at all. In the case of the Dutch and the Danes, the problem is different – any single likely franchise in the UK would represent a turnover comparable with half or more of their domestic market – this was a particular problem with the Danes I found, who couldn’t be dissuaded from bidding for one of the IC franchises at a time when EC or WC were bigger than the whole of the Danish turnover – but then they couldn’t explain to me (as a potential adviser) why they wanted to be in the market at all.

    Mitsui weren’t much clearer about their objectives – they approached my firm about 10 years ago to ask for advice on a “project” to enter the UK rail market. In response to the obvious question of what sort of project with what sort of risk profile and what sort of cash flow, they merely said they didn’t know, what would we advise? [I suggested a range of possibilities from buying a ROSCO (or setting one up) to taking a stake with a partner in a range of TOCs with differing profiles. They looked puzzled and we heard no more from them which was probably a good thing – they had the potential, as we saw on other deals, to be the client from hell; they will be well matched with Abellio…]

  441. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – *In practice some old issues coming home to roost and the LO/TfL rail split cost substantially more on the Abellio side than expected which may be 1 reason why DfT is weary about the cost of devolution as it cost them more than expected indirectly last time so they know they would have pay Govia a reasonable extra sum to sort a split as variation to the current Direct award if a split were to happen at the end of the current SE franchise.

    Care to say what the “old issues” and “extra costs” are? I assume it is more than just than slightly less efficient rolling stock deployment given Abellio dumped a pile of unreliable rolling stock on LOROL / TfL Rail. I also assume the adoption of a modified TfL fare scale on the WAML routes is not an issue given TfL pay a revenue compensation fee to Abellio.

  442. Londoner in Scotland says:

    In looking at the motives of overseas national railways bidding for UK franchises, do not overlook the survival instinct. If you are threatened at home, as DB and NS particularly have been, you will want to be expanding in other directions to make up for the loss. Is it a coincidence that Trenitalia has only taken active steps to operate elsewhere since ‘open access’ passenger operators have entered the market in Italy? There may not be any rational business reason for this expansion, as Graham H’s experiences suggest, but the people running the organisation normally want to maintain their position. There are few “commercial” nationalised industries left in the UK, but as an example of this behaviour here, it was while their core business was under threat from competitive tendering that David MacBrayne Limited successfully bid to operate Marchwood Military Port in a joint venture with a private company. With the company’s home position now secure, there have been no signs of further such expansion.

  443. Balthazar says:

    Re: ngh – indeed, but that wasn’only reinforces the point of my question. What puzzles me is the sequence:
    1. Joining up with Stagecoach indicates unwillingness on Abellio’s part to run franchise alone.
    2. Stagecoach quits arrangement, leaving Abellio’s bid less robust to all and any observers.
    3. Abellio wins highly risky franchise.
    4. Mitsui joins Abellio.
    The odd one out is 3., since the points in 1. and 2. would have been equally clear to the DfT.

    And coming back to what kicked off this train of thought in the first place, I checked both the First Group and Trenitalia websites today. Entering “Trenitalia” on the former seems to yield nothing at all, oddly, but the latter carries the news release of the tie-up with First… but only in relation to upcoming franchises. No reference whatsoever to open access, and yet there is London-Edinburgh clear as day in the link provided by Londoner in Scotland.

    PS: inevitably my device’s word look-up makes two suggestions begining with G when I write “Trenitalia”…

  444. Greg Tingey says:

    And the deep irony, to me at any rate, that we can’t have (even temporarily except in an emergency) any “Nationalised TOC’s even, but other country’s nationalised operators can run our trains.

  445. timbeau says:

    Surely the outcome of step 3 depends on how the bid was formulated, and how good the DfT are at going beyond just seeing which boxes are ticked in each bid. There have been a number of franchising exercises which did not go quite as outside observers would have expected, such as GBRail assuming, like most of their clients, that they were a shoo-in for the first reletting of the Anglia franchise and getting a nasty surprise when they failed at the pre-qualifying stage, or NatEx having to give back the keys on East Coast when they found they couldn’t actually do what they promised without losing money. And after being called-out over the handling of the West Coast franchise in 2012, DfT will be unwilling to do anything other than strictly go by the book, even where common sense suggests it is time a new page were written in the book.
    So whether the Abellio bid looked less robust to observers, after Stagecoach got cold feet, DfT may have been obliged to assess the bid as submitted?

    It is no surprise that foreign publicly-owned industries are making most of the running now. Despite what the apologists for privatisation claim, governments are prepared to take greater financial risks (i.e not factor the cost of that risk into their bids) because they, and they alone, can cover any losses by printing more money.

  446. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I’m happy to be corrected but in my experience of complex procurements the client will ensure it has access to specialist resource to support the in house team. I would be astonished if the DfT is not using specialist transport planning resources, expensive lawyers and financial advisers / modellers. Someone has to take a view on the robustness of the financing and guarantees behind any bid as well as the likely cost of such, the attitude of funders and a whole load of risks. Obviously even the experts can and do make mistakes but I can’t believe DfT is relying on its own staff to cover a wide range of specialist activities.

  447. timbeau says:

    @WW I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise, but as you say even the experts can get it wrong. Or maybe they knew that Abellio had a new partner lined up.

  448. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I rather suspect that Abellio made it clear during bidding they were seeking a further partner to help support their franchise and its financing. I expect DfT will have considered this but reserved their approval until a final proposal was put forward to them.

  449. Balthazar says:

    Re: WW – by “approval” are you referring to the award of the franchise or the rubber-stamp of the Mitsui stake acquisition?

    Re: timbeau/WW – Abellio’s bid will have included full details of the bidder’s financial standing standing at the time of submission, which will have been less robust than with either Stagecoach or Mitsui formally involved.

    Re: GT – it isn’t quite clear to me what value home state-backed bids would add to the process. All franchise bidders are, for UK law purposes, private sector entities, regardless of parent.

  450. Greg Tingey says:

    Minor technical niggle w.r.t. timbeau @ 21.34
    But the countries referred to cannot print more money, because they are using the Euro, n’est ce pas / nicht wahr / is that not so ??

  451. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Balthazar – I would expect DfT to have taken due regard to financial standing at both points – contract award and then later when the Mitsui deal was finalised. I would also expect there to be separate decisions at each point as they are dealing with different issues. One contract award, two a change to company structure and financial / risk structure. I agree with your second point that things may have been less “robust” at the point of contract award.

  452. Timbeau says:


    Denmark isn’t in the Euro, I think.

    But even if they can’t print the stuff, governments CA always raise money in other ways, such as taxation.

  453. Londoner in Scotland says:


    Abellio is from the Netherlands, which does use the euro.

  454. timbeau says:

    I know, but Graham H pointed out that DSB had also been interested.

    I had also thought of MTR (Hong Kong is defintely not in the Eurozone), which operates TfL Rail and used to operate the Overground, and has been shortlisted for several others, two of which are still pending, but learn that it was privatised before it started to bid for UK franchises.

  455. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I may not understand the definition of “privatised” but the HK Government still retains 75% of the shares in MTRC. The rest is with a range of institutional and individual shareholders. Shares are, I believe, traded on the HK Stock Exchange and listed in the Hang Seng Index.

    If, for some reason, MTRC was to suffer serious financial issues and risked going belly up something tells me the HK government would not allow it to do so. The loss of urban rail operation in HK would be massively damaging to the HK economy never mind to the residents of HK who rely on the service. The effect on the property market and ongoing development would also be of great concern to the government. Given there is massive public criticism if trains are delayed for 5 mins in HK the collapse of the entire service could cause the collapse of the HK government (even if it is underpinned from Beijing). I suspect that the core operation of urban rail and property in HK would be protected but international ventures and possibly the operations in the Chinese mainland might be allowed to collapse if financial circumstances forced that.

  456. timbeau says:

    Serves me right for trusting Wikipedia then. Keolis and Govia are similarly part-owned by the French Goevernment, whilst all the shares in DB and Trenitalia are owned by their respective governments, as was also the case for DOR, the British government’s “operator of last resort”.
    According to Wikipedia, DOR has now been taken over by a three-company consortium of private companies (Arup, Ernst&Young, SNC-Lavalin) but it is not clear what would happen if that consortium went out of business.

    Government-owned commercial companies are quite common, British ones include the Met Office, the Post Office (but no longer the Royal Mail), Land Registry, Ordnance Survey, Channel 4, Royal Mint, Student Loan company, and HMG also has part shares in many others, such as air traffic control, and various banks and international organisations

  457. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – in the case of France, you need to take your ownership analysis two or three levels deeper. You will find that for many (maybe all – I haven’t looked into every case), some shares are held directly by the French state, but then the balance is held by French banks whose shares are themselves held mostly by the French state, or by some other agent of the state such as RATP, or even by another seemingly private company whose shares are held by the French banks and err…. I have worked recently with French actors (to use the fashionable jargon) on several projects in the rail and highway sectors and have invariably found that when the chips were down, it was the French etat (l’etat c’est Lui – sorry) who called the shots -even when dealing with such seemingly obvious private folk as contractors – try looking into the real control over SNC-Lavalin,for instance,or Armament Navale.

    I will forbear from my usual rant against quality control of facts on Wikipaedia.

  458. Man of Kent says:


    Well the Companies House website doesn’t bear out any privatisation of DOR. The shareholder (as at September 2016) was the secretary of state for transport, and the chief executive, one Peter Wilkinson, civil servant.

  459. timbeau says:

    It all seems a bit odd, but Wikipedia seem to have misrepresented it. If I understand the article they refer to, DOR remains as a government-owned shell company, to be used to keep the wheels turning when the next franchise falls over.

    The three companies they refer to seem to be consultants contracted in to support the DfT as and when required, allowing DOR to reduce its headcount of permanent Civil Service staff when they flogged the East Coast franchise to Souter and Branson.

    But I’d be interested to know if anyone has further and better particulars.

  460. Londoner in Scotland says:

    DOR has always depended significantly on consultants. Previously it was First Class Partnerships. The company staffs up if looks like a franchise is likely to be taken in house. It is also worth noting that the practice so far has been for DOR not to run the franchise directly itself. A subsidiary, with its own board, does that, as was the case with the South Eastern and East Coast franchises. DfT has (or used to have) a number of dormant companies that could be activated for this purpose. This arrangement was to replicate the structure of a ‘normal’ franchise, as far as possible, with DOR as parent company and its subsidiary as franchisee. DOR dealt with policy and strategic direction, leaving its TOC subsidiary to concentrate on operations. Presumably, Peter Wilkinson is Chief Exec for administrative and economic reasons so long as DOR does not need to do anything. However, when it was previously running a franchise DOR and its TOC subsidiary had to answer to DfT like all the others. Unless there has been a change in policy, this suggests Mr Wilkinson would have to stand down if DOR had to run a franchise again.

  461. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I haven’t gone to Wiki to read the article but my understanding is that DOR is precisely as you say – a shell company that sits on the shelf until it’s needed. At that point DfT secure the requisite resources – presumably a mix of “at the time” advertising and use of “framework” contractors to bring in particular skills that will otherwise walk out the door with the defaulting franchisee. The companies listed were probably those who supplied the skilled resource for “East Coast DOR”. No guarantee they’d get the work next time as frameworks don’t last forever and resource needs flex over time so other consultancies might be better placed for whenever the next TOC collapses.

  462. ngh says:

    Re Londoner in Scotland,

    “Unless there has been a change in policy, this suggests Mr Wilkinson would have to stand down if DOR had to run a franchise again.”

    It could have created an interesting paradox for the RMT even if just the short term, the desire for renationalisation of GTR but bringing Peter W with it more closely in some form…

    Re WW,

    The expertise needed may of course not be available from firms already holding framework contracts with DfT which could lead to some difficulties at GTR in 2018 as Keolis were bringing some unusual expertise to the GTR franchise with may be difficult to replace at this point for the Thameslink Programme outputs occurring smoothly given the sometimes glacial speeds of Government procurement.

  463. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – [mode = sarcasm] is Keolis’s “unusual expertise” the ability to destroy a franchise in under 2 years? 😉

  464. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @WW: Surely that must go to the previous incumbents who did it so well no-one noticed. Or were they introducing ATO without telling anyone?

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