Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Overground info from Modern Railways

This month's Modern Railways magazine has a big article on London Overground, written by the CEO of MTR Europe, making him indirectly responsible for running the service. It's a bit thin on new information, but between it and some other bits of the magazine, there are a few things worth sharing:

  • TfL didn't specify new trains for the Gospel Oak to Barking route from the concession bidders, so the ones we're getting are being bought on LOROL's own initiative.
  • The first Electrostar for the North London Line will be delivered for testing this October.
  • Southeastern's timetable gets reworked in December 2009 to fit in the East London Line services that go south of New Cross Gate. I'd pencil this in as a possible re-opening date for the line, as TfL projections currently have the construction work finishing this early.
  • Of the twelve trains per hour on the East London Line, only four will terminate at Dalston Junction, with the remaining eight continuing to Highbury & Islington. The twelve will be the minimum service all day, with extras running at peak times.
The last one comes in a letter from Ian Brown, head of London Rail, making it more reliable than the usual gossip.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Borough Market viaduct route

I was in Borough yesterday and noticed this building, the Hop Exchange, immediately to the south of the existing Borough Market viaduct. As we all know, Network Rail are planning to build a new viaduct to the south of the existing one for Thameslink 2000, but I couldn't believe they were ballsy enough to propose demolishing a building like this.

Turns out they aren't. I couldn't find plans in any of the usual places, but the Save Borough Market campaign has some. The route swings to the north at its west end just in time to avoid affecting the Hop Exchange. Extra tracks will be built north of the existing viaduct instead, cutting off the westward connection from Cannon Street (off the top of the diagram) to Charing Cross.

This plan shows what will be affected. From right to left:

  • The 3 highlighted terraces to the right will be completely demolished.
  • The big green blob in the middle is it cutting through the roof of Borough Market.
  • Across Stoney St, the Wheatsheaf pub will have its top storey removed.
  • The buildings on the south side of Park Street will lose their rear extensions (not highlighted)
For a more detailed description, see this document from page 28 onwards.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Clapham Junction redevelopment

Metro Shopping Fund have big plans for Clapham Junction station. Or rather, they have big plans for the pokey shopping centre that currently forms the main entrance, since that's the bit they own.

The first thing they're going to do is build a new station entrance further west that connects to the footbridge (the thick white line on the masterplan) rather than the subway (the thin line), and the entrance on the north side will be similarly relocated to a new building. The subway will then be for interchange only, which is the reverse of the current situation.

This is mostly a good thing, since the footbridge is much wider than the subway, but it'll be a longer walk for pretty much everyone. Network Rail will be simultaneously upgrading the footbridge with new stairs and new lifts (first photo), and I'm told they're thinking about realigning the southern boundary, so the currently very curvy platforms that side (second photo) can be straightened out.

Once the entrance is moved, the shopping centre site will be free for redevelopment, and the plan is to flatten the entire block (third photo) and put up two 39 storey towers and a new shopping centre.

The model shown above is on display in a big green portakabin in the shopping centre car park for the next few days. Opening times here.

Monday, 21 January 2008

London Overground GOBLIN train order formally announced

The order for new diesel trains for London Overground's Gospel Oak to Barking Line has been formally announced by Bombardier:

Bombardier Transportation has won a second order for its next generation “Green Trains”. The contract, worth approximately 44 million euros ($65 million US), is an order for twelve 2-car BOMBARDIER next generation diesel multiple units from Angel Trains. The trains are being provided for London Overground Rail Operations Limited (LOROL) for use on the London Overground network and for Chiltern Railways.
The unusual thing is the order being split with Chiltern, who London Overground's operators LOROL share a parent company with.

The press release doesn't say how the twelve trains will be split, but TfL separately mention they'll be getting eight of them. They need five or six trains in service to provide the promised 15 minute service, so eight is about right. Speaking of which, delivery of the new trains begins in Q4 2009, while the new timetable is due in December 2009. That seems a bit tight.

The trains will be owned by Angel Trains rather than TfL directly (like the electric trains are). This allows them to be easily transferred elsewhere if the GOBLIN is ever electrified.

In related news, Laing Rail is being taken over by DB, the German national railway company. Laing owns half of LOROL, and also Chiltern Railways.


Sunday, 20 January 2008

All hail the London Overground bench

The worst thing about London Overground is the mandatory 18 minute wait on Sunday evenings in the grimmest part of London. The best thing about London Overground are these swish new benches you get to wait on. Joined up thinking.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

A complete map of the East London Line route through Shoreditch

I've complained before about the lack of a decent map of all the bits and pieces going in at Shoreditch for the East London Line extension, so I thought I'd make one. Includes bonus side elevation.

Later in the week I'll be posting about some of the detail of what's being built, as well as linking to the various source documents.

The London Gaps Map: now with labels

A few months ago I posted the London Gaps Map, which shows the quarter and half mile catchment areas of every tube, rail, DLR and Tramlink station, and highlights the bits of London that don't have any stations nearby. But it was pretty useless because I didn't bother to label it.

I've corrected that in this version, labelling various stations and also adding the Thames, which should be a big help figuring out which stations the other dots represent.

For good measure, I've also shown the roures the East London Line extension and the Croxley Link, two projects that will fill in a couple of gaps (or will and probably never will, respectively).

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Shepherd's Bush Overground: Mystery Solved

The last couple of weeks I've been ringing and emailing pretty much everyone involved with Shepherd's Bush Overground station, and although no one's keen to speak, I think I might have figured out what's going on. Here goes:

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the station. It was designed correctly, it was built correctly, and the platform isn't really all that narrow. It was only when London Overground got involved last summer that objections were raised, demanding after the fact that the station be built to a higher standard.

This would explain why we haven't heard any fuss from the Mayor's office, and how the station came to be completed without anyone saying anything, because as far as Network Rail and Westfield were concerned, there wasn't a problem. And the Office of Rail Regulation (responsible for health and safety) have very frankly denied any involvement.

I still need to confirm some of this theory, but the key part has been stated explicitly to me: The station hasn't opened because, rightly or wrongly, London Overground refuse to use it.

[Latest: The wall will be moved, taking at least four months]

Monday, 14 January 2008

Tube upgrade schedule

There's a new brochure (well I think new, it's undated) on TfL's website that gives an overview of what the "Transforming the Tube" programme amounts to. There's a whole chunk of information hidden in the timeline that I thought I'd repeat here.

Completion of line upgrades (new signalling and trains):

  • Mid 2007: Waterloo & City Line
  • Mid 2009: Jubilee Line
  • Late 2011: Victoria Line
  • End 2011: Northern Line
  • Mid-2014: Piccadilly Line
  • Early2014: Circle Line
  • Early 2015: Metropolitan Line
  • Mid 2016: Hammersmith & City Line
  • Mid 2018: District Line
  • End 2020: Bakerloo Line
Absent is the Central Line, which is considered already upgraded.

Power & cooling works completion (don't know what this is exactly):
  • Mid 2007: Waterloo & City Line
  • Mid 2009: Jubilee Line
  • Mid 2010: Central Line
  • Late 2010: Northern Line
  • Late 2011: Victoria Line
  • End 2011: Hammersmith & City Line
  • Early 2012: Metropolitan Line
  • Mid 2014: Circle Line
  • Mid 2014: Piccadilly Line
  • Mid 2018: District Line
  • The Bakerloo Line isn't mentioned.

Major station upgrades (rebuilds and/or step-free access):
  • Early 2007: North Greenwich (extra escalators)
  • End 2007: Covent Garden
  • Early 2009: White City (mainly Shepherd's Bush Central Line)
  • Mid 2009: King's Cross St. Pancras
  • Late 2010: West Ham
  • Mid 2011: Paddington
  • Late 2011: Vauxhall
  • End 2011: Green Park
  • Mid 2012: Highbury & Islington
  • Late 2012: Finsbury Park
  • Early 2014: Bond Street
  • Late 2014: Victoria
  • Late 2015: Tottenham Court Road
  • 2020: Bank
Several of these are otherwise unannounced. I'll see what I can dig up.

Step free access totals:
  • End 2006: 45 stations
  • End 2007: 51 stations
  • End 2008: 62 stations
  • End 2009: 73 stations
  • End 2010: 84 stations
  • End 2011: 92 stations
  • End 2012: 94 stations

Stations refurbishment totals:
  • Early 2007: 71 complete
  • Early 2008: 117 complete
  • Early 2009: 149 complete
  • Early 2010: 179 complete
  • Early 2011: 225 complete
  • Early 2011: 241 complete
  • Early 2013: 247 complete
There are 268 since the East London Line closed, of which London Underground manage 248 by my reckoning (or 259 including the recently transferred Silverlink stations).

The timeline also covers Heathrow T5 (empty running starts this month, opens in March), the upgrade of the ex-Silverlink stations (completed end 2011), and some depot upgrades.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Station Upgrades: Finsbury Park and Highbury & Islington

TfL are planning to install ticket barriers at Finsbury Park, the last ungated tube station of any significance*. They'll also be installing lifts down to the tube platforms.

The tube station is buried underneath the railway viaduct, so the only access is via narrow passageways that open directly onto the street, with no ticket halls to speak of. A year or two ago they added a new canopy on the east side which will allow the entrances there to be gated without making people queue in the rain. The small Wells Terrace ticket hall will be extended slightly to fit in two tiny gatelines, and the tunnel from Seven Sisters Road will have its gateline positioned deep inside the station, where there's a wider part.

The top end of the lifts will be in a reopened passageway off the National Rail entrance (behind the braille station map in the first photo and the blue area on the diagram). The passageway will be extended so that it doubles as a shortcut from the Wells Terrace entrance to the tube platforms, though you'll need to either use the lifts or go up to the National Rail subway (on the right in the photo) before going down the spiral interchange staircases. It's not clear whether the National Rail entrance will be signposted as a tube entrance via a similar route, but it'd certainly reduce pressure on the tube gateline next door.

TfL say they're going to "reinstating the disused double spiral staircases", which is strange as they're already open. It turns out the key word here is "double". Each shaft has (or had, in the northbound's case) a second staircase interleaved with the open one (the bottom two photos). This was news to me and I use those staircases every week.

While the new gates also cover the National Rail platforms, the step-free access won't. It's stated the plans are compatible with (while completely ignoring) the Finsbury Park "Western Ticket Hall" proposal that appears in Islington Council's Area Action Plan, which was published two years ago.

Meanwhile, a consultation over similar modifications at Highbury and Islington ends soon. They plan to demolish the shops the entrance building is hidden behind, create a bus interchange and install lifts. No news on where the lifts will go, but with the platforms so far from the current station building, it's going to be a challenge.

* We'll ignore the leaky topology at Paddington