Tuesday, 12 February 2008

ELL phase 2: TfL want DfT funding

December's board papers contained a suggestion TfL could get Phase 2 of the East London Line extension paid for to mitigate the effects of the Thameslink project. This month's board papers are a bit more aggressive about it:

The Thameslink Programme will result in fewer terminating platforms being available at London Bridge from the start of construction works in 2012. As a result, London Bridge will have less capacity. The current South London Line (SLL) service, which runs between London Bridge and Victoria, is very likely to be removed from London Bridge; this is most unsatisfactory and requires mitigation. ELL Phase 2b will provide a 4tph service along the SLL between Clapham Junction and Dalston Junction assisting delivery of the Thameslink Programme as a link to the Docklands (via Canada Water) and City (via Shoreditch High Street Station) is retained. A report detailing the benefits of ELL Phase 2 for the Thameslink Programme has been prepared and funding discussions have commenced with the DfT.
Phase 2 is the currently unfunded branch from Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction, mostly along the South London Line. See the dotted orange line on this map.


Mizter T said...

I'm not at all surprised to hear that TfL is taking this approach. The recent draft South London Route Utilisation Strategy document from Network Rail certainly strongly suggested that building phase 2 of the ELLX would go a significant way to remedying the loss of the South London Line service from London Bridge - it almost seemed like a perfect bit of bait designed for TfL to bite, and it looks like they've bitten.

But if the SLL is to be booted out of London Bridge to make way for the Thameslink Programme improvements, as seems inevitable, then ELLX phase 2 would be a decent enough replacement.

Now TfL needs to fundamentally incorporate the idea of ELLX phase 2 as a crucial bit of enabling works for Thameslink Programme in the mind of the DfT so that they pay up for it!

Mark said...

Can someone explain what happens in 2011 to people like me who live in Streatham Hill and work in Shoreditch?

Do we lose all our trains into London Bridge and yet have no connection to Shoreditch HS?

And getting a train to Clapham Junction is not even an option.

I am confused. What happened to the Overground?

Mizter T said...

Mark - nothing significant will be changing with regards to services from Streatham Hill. I suspect the phrase "South London Line" (SLL) is what has confused you - the SLL specifically refers to the half-hourly Victoria to London Bridge via Peckham Rye service. On Wikipedia someone decided that this was also known as the "Inner South London Line", and the Victoria to London Bridge via Crystal Palace service was known as the "Outer South London Line" service - I have *never* come across this distinction anywhere else apart from on Wikipedia, and have never heard it used in any official capacity.

Also, to confuse things further, back in pre-privatisation Network SouthEast days all the routes that are now covered by Southern's Metro area services were branded as the "South London Lines" (plural)!

It is only the Victoria to London Bridge via Peckham Rye SLL service that is being kicked out of London Bridge to make more space for all the Thameslink expansion works.

If and when ELLX phase 2 eventually gets built and opens for business, you will still have direct trains to London Bridge from Streatham Hill via Crystal Palace. Alternatively, if you instead started from Streatham station then you could change at Peckham Rye or Queens Road Peckham onto an ELLX train to take you up to the new Shoreditch High Street station.

And "London Overground" is the brand that TfL uses for the mainline train services they already operate in North London, and the ELLX services will also use this brand.

Anonymous said...

Mark, ELLX is the extension project of the East London Line. When that is finished it will become part of the London Overground.

This ELL phase2 would be part of the London Overground as well.

From 2010 you can take the London Overground to either 'Shoreditch High Street' or 'Hoxton', depending on where in Shoreditch you have to be.

Editor said...

Mizter t has it - ignore anonymous. Services from Streatham Hill probably won't be affected at all by London Overground or Thameslink. But you will have the option of changing at Crystal Palace and taking a direct train to Shoreditch, amongst others.

Anonymous said...

But cutting the "SLL" gives a problem for those of us who live in inner South East London. Cutting out the service from London Bridge to Victoria will cause many problems for those who work at Kings College Hospital, and other work places along that route

Mizter T said...

Anonymous of 13 Feb 08:09 - the proposals for the future of the SLL are complicated, but it is not as simple as saying the SLL will simply be cut. However I'm not sure that locally anyone has really got their head around the proposals.

I will try and outline it all as briefly as possible. It is all outlined in Network Rail's South London Route Utilisation Strategy document, which has already been published in draft and the final version will be published this March. This document contains a number of options, but it also makes some strong recommendations with regards to these options, so it is possible to infer from these recommendations what the likely outcomes will be - it is from this document that I draw my information.

As I've already said, it seems likely that the SLL will get booted out of London Bridge - this is to make way for more space for changes to the station in relation to the Thameslink Programme improvements. There seems to be a certain inevitability about this happening - the SLL takes up a valuable platform space. Note that the other services that run down to Peckham Rye and then to points south will be unaffected by this.

At the other end of the SLL, platform lengthening of the other platforms at Battersea Park is likely to sever the route of the SLL there as well. Again the logic is that the greater good is being served by lengthening trains on the other suburban routes that stop at this station.

However - all is *not* lost! Read on...

ELLX phase 2 trains would run *every 15 minutes* and call at all stations on the SLL route from Queens Road Peckham to Wandsworth Road, and would then turn south west to go to Clapham Junction. Passengers from stations between Wandsworth Road and Denmark Hill could use an ELLX train and change at Peckham Rye or Queens Road Peckham for trains to London Bridge, or could change onto the Northern line at Clapham High Street / Clapham North.

Meanwhile there would be a new replacement service for the SLL - for convenience let's call it the "SLL2" - which would depart Victoria and then call at all stations from Wandsworth Road to Peckham Rye, and would then continue to Nunhead, Crofton Park, Catford and then terminate at Bellingham (or could possibly go beyond). This would be half-hourly, though could perhaps be more frequent.

Unfortunately this would mean that there would be no trains to or from Battersea Park to SLL stations, which would undoubtedly cause hardship for local residents who wanted to get to say Denmark Hill, where Kings College Hospital is. The alternative routes would be walking to Wandsworth Road station to catch an ELLX or SLL2 train, or taking a bus or buses.

The other problem these proposals would cause is the loss of direct trains between Denmark Hill and London Bridge - particularly important given the fact that King's and Guy's are sister hospitals and are based in Camberwell (Denmark Hill) and Borough (London Bridge) respectively. Alternative options for passengers travelling between Denmark Hill and London Bridge could either take an ELLX or SLL2 train to Peckham Rye and change for London Bridge trains, take the ELLX to Canada Water and change for the Jubilee line to London Bridge, or get the 35 or 40 bus from Camberwell direct to London Bridge (or indeed the first bus up to Elephant & Castle and change to another bus there).

Given that the SLL service is only half-hourly, ELLX trains every 15 minutes (plus the new SLL2 service) and trains from Peckham Rye to London Bridge every 10 minutes or so could be seen as an improvement, even though passengers would have to change.

Sorry I haven't managed to be very brief have I?!

Anonymous said...

No, not brief :-)

I'll leave others to say more but would like comments on the likely changes in journey and wait times on these routes e.g.

South Bermondsey to Victoria
Battersea Park to London Bridge

And proposed changes in frequency off and on-peak?

Mizter T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mizter T said...

Anonymous of 13 Feb 17:07 - I'm afraid that again, this is a comprehensive answer as opposed to a brief one!

- South Bermondsey to Victoria:
Passengers could take the first train south to Peckham Rye (every 10 mins or so) and change onto the first train to Victoria, which would either be an all stations "SLL2" service (as I detail above), running at least half-hourly, or the half-hourly Dartford - Victoria via Lewisham service which would only stop at Denmark Hill before running fast to Victoria.

- Battersea Park to London Bridge or other SLL stations:
If and when platform lengthening goes ahead at Battersea Park on platforms 3 & 4 (i.e. the platforms that serve trains to and from Clapham Junction) then the route of the SLL would be severed. The platform lengthening would provide 10 or 12 car trains on the Victoria to Norbury line. Lengthening the platforms towards Clapham Junction and hence avoiding severing the SLL is apparently considered far too expensive. This change would mean that Battersea Park to London Bridge or indeed any other station on the SLL wouldn't be possible by direct train

*However* passengers from Battersea Park for London Bridge have an easy alternative - just go to the *very* nearby Queenstown Road station and take a train to Waterloo (turn up and go, a train more frequently than every 10 mins), then either another train from Waterloo East to London Bridge or alternatively the Jubilee line.

If however one wanted to travel from Battersea Park to other stations on the SLL route, such as Peckham Rye, then one could...

(1) Take the first train from either Battersea Park or Queenstown Road stations to Clapham Junction and change onto an ELLX train towards Dalston (they would run every 15 mins), which would stop at all stations as far as Queens Road Peckham. Passengers for South Bermondsey could change at Peckham Rye or Queens Road Peckham for a London Bridge bound train (at least every 10 mins). Alternatively one could alight the train at the new Surrey Canal Road station, which is near South Bermondsey, and walk from there.

(2) Or passengers from the vicinity of Battersea Park could walk to Wandsworth Road station (which isn't that far away) to get straight on to an ELLX train towards Dalston - these would be the trains that start at Clapham Jn as above (and so would be every 15 mins). Again passengers could change at Peckham Rye or Queens Road Peckham for a London Bridge bound train (at least every 10 mins).

(3) Passengers from Battersea Park for Denmark Hill or Peckham Rye could take the first train to Victoria (every 10 mins or so, though often far more frequent than that), then change onto the new SLL2 service(every half-hour) or Victoria to Dartford train (every half-hour).


Also worth noting is that London Bridge bound passengers can easily change from the ELLX to the Northern line at Clapham High Street / Clapham North stations - they are just across the road from each other.

A last word about the proposed platform lengthening at Battersea Park - it would be as part of a much wider platform lengthening project which is merely at the proposal stage right now, so if it were to happen the DfT would have to commit to it and fund it. I'd say it's still a long way off from actually happening, if indeed it ever does.

However that does leave the interesting scenario of what would happen at Battersea Park when the SLL gets kicked out of London Bridge. The replacement SLL2 service I outlined above doesn't appear to be compatible with stopping at Battersea Park either - as it uses a different to Victoria that bypasses Battersea Park station - this is because the proposal is that the SLL2 service would use the opposite, eastern side of Victoria station as platform space on the western side is needed for improvements to other services. That said, maybe the SLL2 service could be designed so that it does call at Battersea Park, at least until changes at Battersea Park make this impossible.

Mizter T said...

Just an addendum to the above - the Route Utilisation Strategy document I cited earlier does strongly recommend that platform lengthening on routes into Victoria be completed by 2011, and this would include Battersea Park.

If it does go ahead then I'm unclear as to which of the following two events would happen first...
(a) the SLL getting kicked out of London Bridge to make way for the Thameslink improvements, or
(b) the Battersea Park platform lengthening.

As you can see, there is an interdependency between these two events as they both have a knock-on effect to the existing SLL service.

Robert Doyle said...

In discussions on the South London RUS, everyone involved with rail user groups in Lambeth was quite clear that we don't want this to be seen as a case of the South London Line versus other "inner suburban" services competing for the remaining platform space at London Bridge.

The SLL has been one of the great unsung success stories of recent years - bringing a rail service back to life by increasing station security and increasing frequency of services.

It is a success we would like to emulate on the overground services serving Streatham's stations.

It is nothing short of a scandal that ALL expansions to inner suburban services on the Southern rail network have been put in jeopardy by whatever deal was done with the developers of "The Shard" (London Bridge Tower) to pay for the reconstruction of London Bridge station to facilitate the Thameslink Project.

It appears that all the space in the former "Brighton Line" trainshed at London Bridge - that was converted into the Red Star Parcels depot and associated vehicle ramp in the 1970s redevelopment, and was more recently partly in use as Connex's training centre - is to be sold off and will become part of the Shard's service areas.

This space could easily have been used to reinstate platforms 14-16 to their original length, which would have dramatically increased platform capacity for Southern services [not to mention reducing the average distance that commuters from south Lambeth stations currently have to trudge for their bus/tube connections.]

Regardess of whether it was in the privatised Railtrack days or the more recent Network Rail era, when this is seen in combination with the loss of terminating platforms arising the Thameslink project, this deal does seem to have been an extraordinarily short sighted move, for which transport ministers (more likely than not including Streatham's own MP, Keith Hill?) ought to be held to account.

Robert Doyle
Secretary, The Streatham Society
and former Chair
Streatham Town Centre Partnership Board