Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Crossrail refused full track access rights

The Crossrail project has been busy applying for thirty year access rights (what they call TAO) to make sure its services can run on existing lines. The Office of Rail Regulation has published its draft decision:

we should approve a TAO; [however] the parties’ proposed TAO should be modified to contain rights to two fewer paths per hour in each direction at weekends and in periods other than the peak, shoulder peak and service start and end periods on weekdays;
That upshot is that during the daytime and at weekends they only have rights to run six trains per hour west of Paddington - probably four to Heathrow and two to Maidenhead. On the Shenfield branch, they've only been awarded rights for six trains an hour rather than the eight requested. Peak services are unaffected.

The decision only determines what trains Crossrail has guaranteed long term rights to run. The regulator thinks it's unwise to award them the full set now, in case demand for freight or other passenger services becomes more pressing. If it doesn't, it's entirely possible they'll still be able to run all the trains they asked to, and they have at least 10 years to argue their case.

If you haven't seen the application documents before, they contain all sorts of juicy details like the proposed track layout (west, central and east) and the service frequencies and stopping patterns. West of Paddington it's expected all trains will skip at least one of Acton, Southall, Hanwell and West Ealing; and there'll be half-hourly non-Crossrail diesel trains that skip many more stations, mainly to provide a decent service to Maidenhead and Twyford. The latter are unaffected by the rights decision, so Maidenhead will have a total of four trains per hour to London off peak.

[via Transport Briefing]


Marcel said...

Well, I'm not too concerned since, as you point out, there's still 10 years till it starts running. I still maintain, however, that Crossrail has to run just like the RER does in Paris in order for it to be a success. Anything less and it will likely just be a gimped project that fails in the eyes of the public (somewhat like the London Overground now...but we'll see how well they manage to improve it by 2010).

Alan said...

Given the huge cost of Crossrail, I would have thought there should be at least 20 trains an hour on the central setion. Isn't this going to be possible?

Editor said...

The central section service is 24 tph peak, 20 shoulder peak and 16 off-peak. The trains are high capacity so a full tube style frequency isn't thought necessary, at least not from day one.

James D said...

Do I spy a "station" on the relay west of Paddington? It would be weird having main line trains stopping at Westbourne Park or Royal Oak...

Editor said...

By law, trains have to be "tipped out" before they go into sidings, which means having the driver walk through and check there's no one in each carriage.

To avoid blocking the tunnels, Crossrail trains terminating at Paddington will actually be taken to a dummy station at Westbourne Park where this will happen. But there'll be no public access to it.

(Westbourne Park had main line platforms until the Heathrow Express electrification in the early 1990s. I think Royal Oak may have had the occasional main line train as well, before the lines were fully separated)