Monday, 31 March 2008

South London RUS published

Network Rail have published their South London Route Utilisation Strategy, which propose forthcoming changes to services. There's a bewildering amount of information included (not to mention the diagrams), but here are some highlights related to high-profile schemes.

London Overground:

  • The East London Line phase 2 extension via the South London Line is recommended.
  • The South London Line service from Victoria to London Bridge is almost certain to be withdrawn, but they propose several replacement services that will use sections of the line (diagram on page 99), so most journeys should still be possible direct, and all will with a same platform change at Denmark Hill. This excludes Battersea Park, which will lose its SLL platforms when its others are extended.
  • The Southern Watford Junction-Brighton services via the West London Line will be curtailed at South Croydon in 2009.
  • An extra (possibly peak-only) service on the West London Line will run all stops Shepherd's Bush to South Croydon. Not going further north means 8-car third rail only trains could be used. Trains will reverse in the closed Eurostar depot north of Shepherd's Bush.

The Thameslink Programme:
  • It's acknowledged that the Thameslink Programme Key Output 0 has slipped to March 2009 (page 5 and 140). The Moorgate branch lives on!
  • The 2011 service (Key Output 1) will add Rochester, Maidstone East, Sevenoaks, Orpington and extra stopping services to Three Bridges.
  • The final Thameslink service in 2015 (Key Output 2) will consist of:
    • 4 tph (trains per hour) fast-ish to Brighton, 4tph semi-fast to Gatwick and Horsham, 4tph slow to Sydenham and beyond, 2 tph to East Grinstead and 4 tph to Orpington and beyond via Lewisham (all 12-car via London Bridge).
    • Via Elephant and Castle there will be 4 tph on the Catford Loop and 2 tph into Kent, all 8-car trains.
    • Note the disappearance of stalwart proposed distinations such as Dartford, Eastbourne, Ashford, Littlehampton and Guildford and the curtailing of the Wimbledon Loop at Blackfriars.
    (illustrated above, taken from page 117)
For other suburban services, there are 10 and 12 car extensions planned and lots of other enhancements, but there's far too much to even summarise here.

The North London Line upgrade

Thanks to an anonymous commenter for pointing out that a whole load of info about the future of the North London Line has turned up on the Office of Rail Regulation website.

For one thing, they've chosen a service pattern, which I've illustrated above (the big numbers are frequency in tph, or trains per hour). The service on the North London Line are:

  • 4 tph Stratford - Camden Road - Gospel Oak - Willesden Junction - Richmond (the current North London Line service)
  • 2 tph Stratford - Camden Road - Gospel Oak - Willesden Junction - Clapham Junction
  • 2 tph Stratford - Camden Road
That's a train every 7.5 minutes east of Camden Road. There are no trains via Primrose Hill to Queen's Park, as was once planned.

The 2 tph West London Line shuttle will continue, giving a train every 15 minutes between Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction. The Gospel Oak to Barking line stays self contained, with a 4 tph service, apparently due to the high cost of through platforms at Gospel Oak. The connections at Gospel Oak in the draft timetable don't look good. No upgrade to the Euston-Watford service is included yet.

There'll also be 8 trains per hour beyond Dalston Junction to Highbury & Islington. The diagram in the application form names them as the Crystal Palace and New Cross services, meaning the third service - from West Croydon - will only go as far as Dalston Junction.

There's a detailed diagram of the new track layout between Camden Road and Dalston, which confirms the plans for the East London Line to have a segregated route to Highbury & Islington, with little possibility of ELL trains continuing beyond there (forget about circular services). Highbury & Islington will end up with 3 eastbound platforms, each on a separate island.

Another document gives details of how stations will be refurbished, with improved CCTV, lighting, help points and PA systems. Stairs, flooring, walls, canopies and platform services will brought up to higher standards. LED next train indicators will be installed.

Construction work to rebuild the North London Line track begins this September, with the new timetable due in December 2010.

How Bank-Monument falls apart

Just as I was finishing my diagram of Bank-Monument a couple of weeks ago, TfL cryptically announced they'd be closing various bits today for escalator refurbishment. I went for a shufty on my way home today, and this is what I found:

[ Update: several closed routes are now open ]

So while the headline was that there's no interchange between Bank and Monument, in reality there's a perfectly cromulent interchange route between the two (which unsurprisingly seemed much quieter than usual).

Rather wonderfully, the new hoarding around the very work at Monument that's causing "Bank and Monument to effectively operate as two separate stations" has a big sticker on it pointing out there's a direct route to the Central Line and the DLR - which are where again?

Meanwhile, they have closed the three underground routes between the north and south bits of Bank, none of which contain escalators, forcing thousands of people through a tiny passageway upstairs in the ticket hall.

According to the leaflet, this phase lasts until this August August 2009, when we get all new lies.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Don't worry folks, they fit

Shoreditch High Street station

Not much has been said about the design of the new Shoreditch High Street station, least of all on this blog, so let's correct that.

Renderings like this have appeared on hoardings and in some promotional materials:

At first I thought this was just a conceptual picture of the line flying over Shoreditch, but no, they are actually building a five storey tall, quarter mile long windowless concrete box through the middle of the Bishopsgate Goods Yard site.

Here it is to scale with the enormous new Shoreditch High Street bridge (which you can fit a double decker bus under) and the even more enormous GE19 bridge:

The structure will have solid concrete walls and a concrete roof, making it feel like an underground station inside, despite the platforms being 9 metres above ground level. The brown bits aren't windows, they're "horizontal recesses that create a dynamic articulation in the fa├žade when viewed as a whole", and will be filled with reflective material.

This letter explains why:

The enclosure will facilitate the redevelopment of the former Bishopsgate Goods Yard site by protecting the railway and station from future construction work. Unless the viaduct is enclosed, the future development of Bishopsgate Goods Yard would be severely constrained, or would require line possessions resulting in major disruption to ELL services. Construction of an enclosure to the viaduct is therefore essential if regeneration objectives of the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets and the London Plan are to be realised.
It's expected the whole thing will be "virtually totally enclosed" with buildings in the "medium to long term". There's already a planning application in for the southwest corner of the site.

So yes, big concrete wall coming soon. The station planning application is here or you can skip ahead to this set of renderings and drawings.

London Overground info from Modern Railways

The latest issue of Modern Railways has a few bits of info relating to London Overground:

  • Hampstead Heath tunnel to close for three months starting this autumn. The track is being lowered to allow full size containers through. The North London Line will be split between a Richmond-Willesden Junction and Willesden Junction-Queen's Park-Camden Road-Stratford services, with apparently no service between Willesden Junction and Camden Road via Gospel Oak. The Gospel Oak to Barking Line will be closed for a month for similar enlargement, though no date is given.
  • Electrostar train order delayed Earlier this month the DfT ordered 11 new trains for Southern, which are urgently needed to allow some of Southern's other trains to be sent to First Capital Connect to run the Key Output 0 Thameslink service that's necessitated by the closure of the Moorgate branch this December. Modern Railways claims these will be built ahead of the new trains for London Overground, so you'll be riding in purple and green things a while longer.
  • DfT taking Southern takeover seriously The DfT would normally have issued a "prior information notice" in February to alert bidders to the September 2009 renewal of Southern franchise. They haven't, and a DfT spokesman is quoted saying they're "seeking new operational arrangements" for the franchise.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

East London Line progress photos: April 2008

It's as good as April, so time for another set of pictures of East London Line extension progress. Last month's are here.

A bit more steel work has gone in at Dalston Junction. This is looking south and the gap for the safeguarded east curve (towards Stratford) is clearly visible:

No visible changes at Hoxton or Haggerston, so I'll skip those.

Last month I speculated they were about to start on the deck of the viaduct where the line comes off the Broad Street viaduct (route map through Shoreditch). Look like I was right:

At Shoreditch High Street station, the concrete deck is complete, albeit with mountings for the station walls sticking out:

The gate on Brick Lane was wide open, so here's a shot of the GE19 bridge (and its temporary extension) and the abutment it needs to be moved onto. Between them is the Great Eastern Main Line, though only the beams holding up its overhead wires are visible:

This is from Valance Road looking west towards where Shoreditch station was. This is where the ramp to get the line out of the old ELL cutting begins. The GE19 bridge is visible above it:

A bit further towards Whitechapel there's track down, though it looks only temporary:
TRIVIA ALERT: The wide bit on the left is the old entrance to a goods depot, and later was where they started digging a tunnel to Cambridge Heath station in a previous failed extension scheme.

The north end of Whitechapel station:

Jumping south of the river, a bridge that used to carry the ELL over Surrey Canal Road and into what will be the new depot has been demolished:
Don't know why.

Turning the camera to the right, the shed at the new New Cross Gate depot:

I said last month that the depot site can't be photographed because it's spread over a long area and only visible from a moving train. So let's try video:

The shed pops into view at 0:11, and you see the ramp down from the flyover around 0:24.
(sorry about the poor quality - leave a comment if you found it useful anyway)

The bridge structure for the flyover, which will carry northbound trains over the main line and onto the ELL north of New Cross Gate:
Looks wide enough for two tracks, but only needs to carry one.

Meanwhile, the New Cross branch has new track:
The tracks in the foreground are part of the old ELL depot, which is apparently being left to rot.

But god knows what's going on with the track at New Cross station:

Oh yeah, bridge.

They started early and I got there late, so you'll have to go elsewhere for pictures of it properly airborne.

Here it is when I got there at 8.30am:

The east end touched down only a few minutes later:

At 9am, with only an inch to go on west side, the show was nearly over:

By 10:30am it was in its final position and the crane had been unhooked:

Thameslink 2000 visibly happening

Lurking at the side of Herne Hill station there's actual new track being laid as part of the Thameslink 2000 project, possibly the first since it got the go ahead last year:
It's nothing permanent, just a turnback siding so trains from the north can come here to reverse during engineering work. Trains using it won't be able to call at Herne Hill, since there's no platform. There's a tiny blurb about it at the back of the Network Rail business plan.

[via Modern Railways]

Prefab action at Mitcham Eastfields

View all posts about Mitcham Eastfields

A week ago I tried to call Network Rail's bluff about their prefab station concept. Looks like I've lost.

In just a week they've erected a couple of lift shafts for the footbridge:

And the best part of a giant station building:
The building should end up looking a lot like the one at Greenhithe for Bluewater, which was built to the same design (turns out Mitcham Eastfields is Network Rail's second modular station).

Croxley Rail Link rejected again

The Watford Observer reports that the latest business case for the Croxley Rail Link has been declared "non compliant" by the DfT, due to Transport for London not committing to an amount to contribute. But the DfT are still willing to talk to the council about what went wrong.

The picture is the closed Croxley Green station with a Metropolitan Line train going past if you squint hard enough. Took me ages to take that.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Shoreditch High Street bridge move: 8-10am tomorrow

TfL have put out a press release with everything you could possibly want to know about the bridge over Shoreditch High Street going up tomorrow, and the crane that's doing it.

The crane is hooked up and ready to go, the road closure starts at 4am tomorrow and the actual move will happen between 8 and 10 am. The road stays closed until 5am on Monday morning. The diversionary route for cars appears to be going to Old Street roundabout and back.

If you don't fancy venturing out, they're providing live webcam coverage.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Crane arrives at Shoreditch High Street

I've just received a set of pictures from Antonio, who works in the building overlooking Shoreditch High Street. This is what TfL call "the largest crane in the UK" (it appears to be this one), and will be used for this weekend's bridge move. I've made them into a panorama:
They weren't joking, were they?

Update: Photos of the bridge going in and in place and a map of what's what

Sunrise at Heathrow Terminal 5

Good morning. You join me on the platform at Hounslow West at stupid o'clock, waiting for this, the first service train to Heathrow Terminal 5:
The first surprise was the wind noise once the train entered the new section of tunnel - it's much louder than anything I've heard anywhere else on the network, including the worst of the Victoria Line. I travelled back from T5 on Heathrow Express, and didn't experience anything similar.

The new station is vast. Each part of the station has a wide concourse with the platforms either side, separated from it by glass walls. Here's the Piccadilly Line concourse, with the Heathrow Express concourse visible to the right behind another glass partition:

The Piccadilly Line has the northernmost island, Heathrow Express is in the middle, with space for AirTrack to the south, though there's a solid wall of plasterboard hiding it from view.

The lifts and escalators come up in the space between the main building and the multi-story car park. The escalators only get you as far as ground level (Arrivals), though this isn't clearly signposted. To reach Departures you need to get the lifts:

The Piccadilly Line and Heathrow Express stations have separate lifts up to the various floors. Here's where the AirTrack station's lifts aren't:

The ticket office for both services is on the ground floor in the main building, with the two entrances and sets of ticket machines either side:

The terminal building itself is also vast, as I'm sure you'll be hearing on TV news all day today:

Access to the building allows a closer view of the ULTra PRT system. Here's the track from ground level, weaving beneath the road access:

Here's where it enters the car park at the terminal end, and you can just see the section that be used as the station. There's no construction visible, just various piles of equipment:

You also get a view of the far end of the track. It looks to now be complete all the way to where it enters the new long stay car park that it's been built to serve:

Finally, London Underground have found the wordiest and most obtuse way of instructing passengers that they really ought to get a direct train to T1,2,3:

(if you're thinking about visiting the terminal, I did several laps around it while openly taking pictures in sight of various staff and police, and got zero hassle or even interest from any of them)

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Tramlink Crystal Palace extension

Last week's announcement of TfL taking over Croydon Tramlink included the suggestion it might acceslerate progress on the Crystal Palace extension, so I've been reading up on exactly what's planned.

Here's a diagram of the existing tracks in the area (not to scale). The green dotted line shows the general route of the extension.

The description and TfL's diagram are a bit vague about where exactly the tramlines will run:

the tram would run on the embankment, either converting part of the existing train tracks or running alongside them.
The beginning of the route through Penge Road follows same lightly used branch line as the route to Beckenham Junction, and is a likely candidate for where one of the tracks could be converted. The route then crosses a junction with the Brighton Main Line (more on that later), and from here the railway is much busier and needs to remain double track, so trams will have to run alongside it to Anerley Road, mainly through people's back gardens.

It was once proposed to take over the entire railway branch to Beckenham Junction (shown in blue on my diagram), with direct tram service from Crystal Palace to Beckanham Junction. This is absent from any current plans.

At Anerley Road the line rises to street level from which there are several options for reaching Crystal Palace station. Finally, it runs along the bottom of the park to terminate at Crystal Palace Parade, for interchange with buses.

The part of the plan that's haziest is the crossing of the Brighton Main Line, and the two junction spurs alongside it. Trams need to be fully segregated, so sharing track or having any tracks cross on the level isn't an option, making it all but impossible to use the existing bridge. And the spurs are already on embankment, so unless they have something clever planned, the bridge needed to go over the whole lot will need to be enormous.

I've included two other major projects on the diagram: The purple tracks are used by Thameslink services to Brighton and eventually other places. The orange tracks will be used by the East London Line extension to Crystal Palace (where there will be new platforms) and West Croydon.

As for other Tramlink extensions, the best TfL can say is they "haven't been forgotten about". Reassuring.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

DLR Stratford International extension progress

Since the Stratford to North Woolwich closed in December 2006, work has been slowly happening to convert the section between Canning Town and Stratford into the DLR, extending it onwards to serve Stratford International, and due for opening in 2010.

How far have they got? Not very, since it's still in the "enabling works" stage. For a short distance west of Royal Victoria the track has been removed and stacked in the mouth of Connaught Tunnel:

This line here is part of the non-existent Royal Docks Heritage Railway and eventually will be part of Crossrail.

The track has been removed to allow the construction of complex grade-separated junction between the four branches south of Canning Town, which is well under way but I've completely failed to photograph it. There's lots of digging and drilling and concrete and rebar and so on. You'll have to use your imagination.

At Canning Town the old North London Line platform has been covered in Martian graffiti:

All trains towards Stratford International will leave from these platforms, and all trains towards Canary Wharf and Central London will leave from the existing platforms upstairs. Trains the other way, towards Beckton and City Airport/Woolwich Arsenal can leave from either location, depending on where they're coming from. There will be no direct trains from Stratford International to Canary Wharf.

The line is untouched all the way from here to Stratford, with no sign yet of the three new stations.

At Stratford, the North London Line is still using the through platforms downstairs, and no work can happen until new platforms have been built for it upstairs on the far north side of the station:

The North London Line service will be diverted here this December, os so I'm told.

North of Stratford, the NLL/future DLR is being walled in with enormous concrete slabs:

The DLR will run along the same track until almost to the first junction, where it turns right and runs alongside the Temple Mills freight line to reach Stratford International. I've made a Google Map showing what's what.

From a passing board an NLL trains you can see a level trackbed has been left alongside the freight line as part of the recent large scale landscaping of the area:
That bridge carries the Stratford International access road. Almost visible beyond is the Channel Tunnel Rail Link cutting.

And that's the nearest the public can get. See this post for pictures of Stratford International DLR station under construction.

Mitcham Eastfields station update

View all posts about Mitcham Eastfields

At the end of last year I posted everything there is to know about Eastfields station. Since then they've renamed it Mitcham Eastfield, decided it will be in Zone 3 and possibly First Capital Connect are going to stop there (all according to the latest London Connections map). But with it due to open a few months from now, let's see how construction is going.

On the London-bound platform they've finished the standalone part of the platform and the foundations for the building and are putting up the short station canopy:
When completed, the platform will extend across in front to much nearer the level crossing (see plan).

On the other side of the level crossing, construction of the southbound platform is also nearly complete, as are the foundations for the footbridge:
The brick hut visible in this image is gone.

And here's a bunch of bits (possibly the footbridge) arriving on the back of a lorry:

The immediate location of the station is quite unusual. On one side there's little but school playing fields, and on the other it's surrounded by ramshackle allotments (the station is by the crossing gates in the distance):

There doesn't seem to be much sign of the fast, cheap modular station concept they once bragged about, though maybe that will change now the ground preparation is nearing completion.