Friday, 30 May 2008

Mitcham Eastfields station opening this Monday

There's been a bit of confusion over whether Mitcham Eastfields station would open on Sunday or Monday. In particular, the National Rail Enquiries site had trains in the timetable for Sunday, and explicitly gave that date in its notes.

That's now been fixed. The first train to call at the station appears to be the Southern service from Epsom to Victoria at 5:49am. If you want to be on it, First Capital Connect run all night to East Croydon, where you can catch an early tram to Mitcham Junction, one stop before Eastfields on the Southern service.

The National Rail page notes the footbridge will be available "from Summer 2008", implying it won't be ready for this weekend.

Photo taken two weeks ago. Hopefully it's finished by now.

Update: The opening's been postponed again. See the comments.

Update 2: Opening at 4pm today. The first train to call will be the Epsom-Victoria at 16:10

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Einstürzende Neubrücke

The story of what happened to the GE19 bridge last night is starting to become clear. The bridge had been jacked up to remove its temporary support brackets and lower it onto its permanent ones. The jacks failed and the bridge dropped a few inches, causing concrete debris to fall onto the track below - either parts of the deck or of a damaged support column.

We don't know much more than that, but I can explain a bit about this bracket business. When the bridge was moved into place, it needed to slide easily, so they placed these metal runners atop the concrete columns:

These needed to be replaced with something that held the bridge more securely, and here's the same column today:
The bridge is secured directly to the column with a couple of metal plates.

What we've still to find out is what they were doing at the time the jack collapsed, and which corner of the bridge the accident occurred at.

In any case, Network Rail really aren't happy about this "fiasco":

Because of concerns over TfL's handling and management of both the project and its contractors, Network Rail has banned work on the bridge, effective immediately. This will remain in place until TfL has completed an investigation and reported back on the causes of the incident and what measures it will be putting in place to prevent a repetition.
What is it with Network Rail banning TfL from their new bridges?

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

GE19 bridge falling apart

Part of the East London Line extension's GE19 bridge has fallen off, closing Liverpool Street station:

Train services at Liverpool Street station have been suspended while structural engineers inspect a new bridge which has partially collapsed. [...] Around 300 passengers on three trains stopped before entering the station had to walk along tracks to Bethnal Green.
Off there to get pictures now.

Update: Couldn't see a thing wrong with it. This eyewitness report says it's the concrete decking that's fallen on the tracks, as does The Telegraph, implying the main structure is safe.

Update 2: Just remembered I had this photo that shows how the deck is supported, taken from a train a couple of weeks ago. Richard J has a clearer picture of the same thing.

Update 3: Construction News has what looks like a full explanation of what happened. The Ipswich Evening Star has a photo of the gaps in the deck.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The DLR disruption in pictures

I've been on a visit to the scene of this week's DLR disruption and it turns I was totally wrong about what the problem is. The bit I thought they might be demolishing is on the right in this picture, and as you can see, it's all still there:
This shows part of Delta Junction looking west towards Westferry. Before work started to upgrade the junction there were two westbound tracks leading from the two platforms at West India Quay (to the left) that didn't merge for some distance. They've now made them merge much closer (the new-looking track on the left), leaving a redundant second track (in the middle of the picture).

The next step is to turn that track into a replacement eastbound line so the existing one (on the flyover at the top) can be demolished and lowered to make trains dive under the West India Quay-Poplar track that this picture was taken from.

Let's have a look a bit further west where this new eastbound track will reconnect to the main line:
Now this is why the service is messed up. To turn the second westbound track into an eastbound track they needed to dig up the concrete track bed and remodel the junction, which has also severed the other westbound track. The route trains are meant to take from West India Quay to Westferry is around the mini-digger, past that man's arse, through the fence and over the sandbags. On the other hand, there's nothing stopping them at least running eastbound trains on the flyover (on the columns), but apparently they're not interested in trying that.

I've no idea what's gone wrong, but they were still drilling and demolishing this afternoon, so don't expect them to be putting the track back imminently. There are a few more trips over that footbridge at Poplar in your future.

If you haven't understood a word I just said, have a look at the diagrams on page 5 (or 7) of the Enivronmental Statement summary. If you can't get enough, read the full version.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Engineers break the DLR

The engineering work on the DLR this weekend has inadvertently resulted in trains no longer being able to run around the west side of the junction at the north end of the Isle of Dogs (between Westferry and West India Quay). That means no trains between Bank and Canary Wharf/Lewisham and an emergency timetable on all other routes. This is expected to last several days.

As part of the Delta Junction upgrade they needed to demolish one side of the viaduct while leaving two passable tracks on the other side, and if that's the work they were doing this weekend (no idea) then I'd speculate they've demolished too much.

TfL Question Time

Two TfL managers have just done an online Question Time session with an uncharacteristically eloquent and on-message section of the general public. There are quite a few interesting answers:

  • On tube cooling: "A new ventilation shaft is being installed at Liverpool Street"
  • On the Northern Line split: "We're currently reviewing the prospect of being able to separate the service and the likely timescales involved. [...]
    The option of fully separating the line would mean all Charing Cross branch trains would only go on to Edgware. All Morden - Bank trains would go on to High Barnet. [...]
    It's unlikely we would be able to implement any proposal before 2015 at the earliest."
  • On the King's Cross St Pancras Northern Ticket Hall: "This redevelopment programme is due to complete in December 2009" That's a little bit earlier than previous official dates.
  • On extending the Bakerloo to Watford Junction. The strategy guy says: "There are no plans at present [...] The Bakerloo line is being upgraded by 2020 and this would be the time to consider this"
    However the possibly-less-informed operations guy is slightly more positive: "At the moment we don't have funding to do this so London Overground services will continue to serve Watford Junction for a few years to come."
[via District Dave]

Sunday, 25 May 2008

London Underground S stock plan [possibly] modified

The subsurface lines (District, Circle, Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City) are all due to have their trains replaced by S Stock from 2009-2015, which will feature air-conditioning and walk-through connections between carriages. The first two trains are already under construction.

The plan was to replace the elderly trains on the Metropolitan Line first like-for-like with 8 car trains, followed by 7 car trains on all the other lines. Since the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines currently use 6 car trains, some platforms would need extending and many sidings could no longer be used. The TfL board papers have consistently mentioned "affordability issues" with resolving this issue.

That brings us to an article in the latest issue of Modern Railways which claims the plan has been scrapped. Instead the Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines will be first to get the new stock because - according to MR - the H&C is due to become a "major Olympic artery". They'll be delivered as 6 car trains with the 7 car upgrade looked at again after the Olympics. The Metropolitan Line will be next to get new trains (possibly only 7 cars to begin with due to the needed "infrastructure improvements") and finally the District Line will get its 7 car trains.

No source is given, though it's implied the changes are part of the re-negotiated contract with Bombardier (who are building the S Stock) that follows the collapse of Metronet. On the other hand, Bombardier themselves announced agreement had been reached without these changes back on April 1st, a claim that's even repeated on page 46 of the same magazine.

And if it means anything, District Dave's prjb (one of the people at LU designing the trains with Bombardier) says the prototype train is 8 cars long, No word yet from him about the article.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Southern franchise consultation starts

The current Southern franchise expires in September 2009, and the DfT have just published the consultation document for its replacement. Of note:

  • The mooted handover of London area services to TfL/London Overground is off, though TfL are being consulted heavily both before and during the franchise.
  • London Overground style frequency and operating hour increases are suggested, as is gating of stations (required to operate full time) and monitoring ticketless travel.
  • East London Line phase 2 is still treated as not confirmed, but something about the language makes me think they're assuming it's likely to happen.
  • Future Southern services on the West London Line are likely to be Milton Keynes-East Croydon augmented by Shepherd's Bush-East Croydon services, as well as the future 4 trains per hour run by London Overground. Full details are given in the document.
  • They expect Oyster PAYG to have been implemented before the end of the current franchise.
[via uk.railway]

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

London Overground disruption this autumn

The North London Line and the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will be shutdown for extended periods this autumn for the enlargement of Hampstead Tunnel and the GOBLIN upgrade.

I've already posted one set of possible alternative arrangements, but the latest Network Rail timetable has a different set which I've attempted to decode below.

  • The North London Line will be closed between Willseden Junction and Gospel Oak from September 1st to November 16th. Replacement trains are as follows:
    • The Watford DC Line will be diverted to Stratford via Primrose Hill (i.e. Watford-South Hampstead-Camden Road-Stratford), with virtually no trains to Euston. This service runs every 20 minutes.
    • Roughly every 15 minutes there'll be a Richmond-Willesden Junction shuttle. The connections at Willesden with the Watford-Stratford service don't look great.
    • Twice an hour there'll be a Gospel Oak-Camden Road-Stratford service, at alternating 20 and 40 minute intervals.
    • On Sundays, half-hourly Watford-Euston, Richmond-Willesden, Willesden-Stratford and Gospel Oak-Highbury services will run.
    • Passengers for the closed stations between Willesden Junction and Gospel Oak are expected to use "adjacent" stations on the Willesden-Queen's Park-Camden Road route, or local buses.
  • The Gospel Oak to Barking Line will be closed September 1st-28th with replacement buses running.
  • The West London Line appears unaffected.
A new London Overground timetable came in last weekend (not that TfL have bothered updating their site), and the printed book has a small note on every page warning of the disruption, promising further information in August.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Partial Northern Line split now permanent

Back in January signs appeared at Northern Line tube stations advising that during the morning peak, all northbound trains on the Bank branch would go to High Barnet, and all northbound Charing Cross branch trains would go to Edgware*. Today they've put out a cryptic press release hailing its success:

A series of changes to the Northern line schedule, the product of over a year of detailed study, has resulted in more trains running on time. Modifying the service in response to increasing customer demand has led to increased reliability and has reduced journey times by around a minute.
Interestingly they manage to ramble for 400 words without once mentioning what the major change is. The thing I find interesting is they could have used this as an opportunity to butter up the press for the probably upcoming full split, but have instead chosen to say nothing of substance.

(* actually each sign only mentioned the arrangements for the branch the station was on. Can't have the passengers knowing too much)

Crossrail funding doubts

A couple of interesting stories regarding the funding of Crossrail. First the Guardian reckon if it goes ahead TfL won't be able to afford anything else:

Senior transport figures say the £16bn Crossrail project, an underground rail link from Heathrow in the west to Canary Wharf in the east, will stifle investment in the ageing tube network, meaning a number of station revamps and line upgrades could be postponed or cancelled.
Secondly the esteemed East London Advertiser claims Gordon Brown is about to cancel the whole thing:
A highly placed source in Crossrail's management team fears the PM will put the cross-London 'super tube' rail link on hold amid increasing concerns about the effect of the credit crunch on the economy.
Both stories are very wishy-washy, anonymously sourced and full of weasel words. The Guardian's story seems to be a thin regurgitation of one the same journalist wrote 6 months ago, only this time fleshed with numbers sourced from "industry speculation" and a few quotes from a rent-an-academic.

So while neither of these stories is very credible in itself, don't be too surprised if funding for Crossrail never actually materialises.

[Thanks to Ian M for the ELA link]

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Mitcham Eastfields: Two weeks to go

View all posts about Mitcham Eastfields

Let's try this again. Mitcham Eastfields station is allegedly opening in two weekend's time, and last we looked, progress was disappointing.

Good news. The final landscaping around the station building is taking shape:

The footbridge is in:

The gap in the southbound platform has been fixed and all of the platform equipment is in:

Even the streetlights work. There are still a few bits and pieces to sort it out but it now very closely resembles a finished station. It'll take extra special effort to not have this open on June 1.

Shepherd's Bush Overground: wall moving

3 weeks into the work at Shepherd's Bush to move that wall and they've started repositioning the wall segments in what looks like their final position:
They can't be much more than a few feet further back, but it looks like it doubles the available space behind the yellow line.

Meanwhile they've demolished the top half of the wall by the station building (see last week), and dug a big hole behind the bottom half:
Still that post supporting the footbridge to be dealt with.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Tube mobile phone trials postponed

A year ago TfL announced they wanted to try out providing mobile phone coverage underground, with a test installation on the Waterloo & City Line from "April 2008 at the earliest". Nothing's been heard since, and I've been wondering if it's still on.

This blog post today claims the trial is still going to happen but has been delayed due to lack of agreement between parties. Obviously their source could be making it up or entirely imaginary, but it's interesting to hear something about it.

It's worth noting several metro systems already have underground coverage, such as those in Paris, Honk Kong and Singapore, so technologically this isn't a new challenge.

Monday, 12 May 2008

East London Line progress photos: May 2008

Time for a look at bits of East London Line construction that don't involve moving bridges. Last month's is here.

A high rise development will be built above Dalston Junction, and the track layout for the station in the basement is now clearly visible:
This photo's taken from the north end, so the two gaps are for the curve around towards Highbury and Islington, with the terminus platforms behind the wall in the middle.

I still haven't been to get hold of detailed plans for the next two stations, but at Haggerston the concrete for the platforms is visible on the new section of viaduct:
The bridge over Lee Street (on the left) is only wide enough for the track, while the bridge over Arbutus Street (on the right) is clearly designed to carry platforms, so we can conclude pretty definitely that the platforms will start on the north side of Lee Street with the entrance likely to be between there and Arbutus Street.

At Hoxton they're building something on a corner of the station construction site, but I'm increasingly thinking it isn't railway related:
The wall on the right is the viaduct.

Continuing south to the Holywell Lane viaduct (Shoreditch map yadda yadda) they've built this nice chunky support column:

Speaking of chunky concrete, they've started taking down the scaffolding from Shoreditch High Street station:
Just wait for the walls to go up.

Remember that big extension on the front of the GE19 bridge? It's been taken off and dismantled:
(reduced to shoving my camera through a gap in the fence this time)

Last month there was a disused bridge over the line just west of Valance Road. Not any more:This will be the ramp up to the GE19 bridge.

Slightly further towards Whitechapel, there was some temporary track. Again, gone, replaced with a new concrete trackbed:

Jumping a long way south to the missing bridge over Surrey Canal Road. Last week I said it still needed to be replaced. They're way ahead of me:
Way off in the distance above the van is the light blue footbridge that marks the future site of Surrey Canal Road station on the ELL phase 2 route.

At the New Cross Gate flyover, the north ramp looks fairly complete:

While the south one doesn't:

Of course there's a bridge between them now.

Finally, reader Dave has emailed in to say new points have just been put in south of New Cross Gate station ready for through trains. I've also seen new track ready to go in at New Cross (which is where I've heard engineering trains will come in). With the replacement of the Surrey Canal Road bridge complete, it looks like main line trains should be able to reach the central part of the line pretty soon.

First Great Western Oyster PAYG confirmed for September

The Mayor has announced that First Great Western will be the fifth train company to roll out Oyster on all its London services:

Thousands more passengers using these routes will be able to enjoy the greater convenience and speed of Oyster at stations from West Drayton and Greenford into Paddington. Zonal fares the equivalent of those on the Tube will apply for journeys from these stations.
Since April 20th they've accepted it on trains between Paddington, Ealing Broadway and Greenford, but at no other stations. Oddly there's no mention of Heathrow Connect, which is a surprise given much of the local service on this route is supplied by trains with that name on the side*. I shall enquire.

Boris also promises a summit with the five remaining companies to get their agreements sorted out. Apart from South West Trains, none have legally committed to accepting PAYG any time soon. Southeastern do publicly "hope" to accept it by January 2009.

Update: Just had confirmation that, as expected, this applies to Heathrow Connect as far as Hayes & Harlington, but not to Heathrow.

* Heathrow Connect isn't a company, it's the manifestation of an agreement between BAA/Heathrow Express, First Great Western and various government bodies, and has a suitably byzantine operating structure

Sunday, 11 May 2008

The New Cross Gate bridge move

Thanks to TfL I had the privilege of witnessing up close the new East London Line bridge north of New Cross Gate being installed.

Here's a timelapse video of the move:

I've adjusted the length of each frame to match the time between taking photos, so it should accurately reflect the rate of progress. The video covers about 80 minutes of real time.

The bridge was moved on these massive powered trolleys that let them simply drive it across the railway line:
The track beneath was protected with ballast and metal panels, though as the bridge moved over you'd occasionally hear a panel pop as it took the weight). You can also see the curved framework on the bridge deck matching the track it will carry.

The wheels are all independently steerable and can also jack up and down. In the picture above they've arranged themselves into a gentle arc to rotate the bridge. Earlier they were rotated 90 degrees to move the bridge south a bit. Here they are mid-swivel:

The whole procedure was carried out with very little fuss, save some last minute measuring up:

I'm sure they'd like you to think this was all performed by laser-guided computer-controlled NASA technology. But no, it was a dude with a couple of joysticks:
Just drivin' a bridge.

Mitcham Eastfields opening postponed until June 1

View all posts about Mitcham Eastfields

First Capital Connect have posted a revised opening date for Mitcham Eastfields:

We have been informed that Network Rail do not feel the station will be ready to open before Sunday 1 June 2008. It is therefore anticipated that First Capital Connect trains will serve this station from the start of service on Monday 2 June.
FCC don't run trains this way on Sundays, so it's likely the first service will be run by Southern on June 1, and a note on the National Rail journey planner concurs.

The picture is of Greenhithe for Bluewater station, which is a larger version of the same design, with an enclosed ticket hall.

[Thanks to Pedantic of Purley for the FCC link]

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Bridge move live: Time to leave

They've very nearly got the bridge in place and my time here us up.
Here's one final photo.

Bridge move live: inches to go.

The bridge is now only inches from its final position. And again with
the tape measure?

Bridge move live: patience

The bridge is almost there, but the guys on the left pillar have a
tape measure out. Who ordered the wrong size abutment?

Bridge move live: Slotting it in

After a short pause they've started moving it sideways again, much
more slowly as the ends are sliding inches above the abutments..

Bridge move live: lining it up

They've just moved the back end to the right to line it up parallel to
the space, ready to slot in.

Bridge move live: Getting there

It's about to reach the abutment.

Bridge move live: Halfway there

In a little over 20 minutes they've got it halfway round.

Bridge move live: Swivelling!

And now it's swivelling towards us. They're making it look terribly

Bridge move live: South!

They've just driven it a few metres south (left) to line it up with
the abutments, and now the swivelling begins.

Bridge move live: hasn't moved yet

They've laid tracks across the railway line and it's moments from

Shepherd's Bush Overground update

Progress on widening the platform at Shepherd's Bush Overground station continues, with segments of the wall now removed:
They haven't started digging along the rest of the platform.

One of the big challenges is widening the platform where it meets the station building. They've removed the facing panels from the wall that needs demolishing:
As I suspected, there's a steel post holding up the footbridge in the most inconvenient place.

Friday, 9 May 2008

New Cross Gate bridge move this weekend

This weekend sees the third of this year's major bridge installations for the East London Line extension. The bridge has been assembled alongside the main line just north of New Cross Gate station and will carry one track over the main line to London Bridge (see map).

This TfL-supplied image shows what's what, the bridge has been assembled a fair distance from where it needs to go (click to enlarge):
This bridge needs to end up between the South Abutment and what they term the Mid piers, at almost a right angle to where it is now. There'll be a second smaller, simpler bridge in the gap north of the Mid piers.

Here's a ropey video still from yesterday, showing the bridge has been loaded onto self-propelled vehicles:
It's pretty obvious the plan is to one way or another drive the bridge over the track and into the right place.

There's no sign of a webcam this time round and if you want to see it for yourself it's pretty much only visible from the bottom of Mercury Way. I'll be on site and hopefully get some decent pictures.

(btw There's still one more major-ish bridge to go in. Where the main route crosses Surrey Canal Road, the old bridge has been removed and will be replaced with a very similar new one)

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Mitcham Eastfields countdown: Two weeks to go

Mitcham Eastfields station is allegedly opening in two weekend's time, and last we looked, progress was disappointing.

Here it is as of last Sunday. The building is almost finished, and the northbound platform has gained fencing and lights on top of its posts:
It turns out I was wrong to think there was anything to be built in the empty end of the building. While some plans show the ticket office at the north end, they've clearly switched it around and that end will be open to the elements. No ticket barriers either.

Still no sign of that footbridge:

The southbound platform has a bit of a localised Shepherd's Bush going on:

Still a lot to do, but the May 18th date isn't looking quite as unlikely as before.

Latest posts about Mitcham Eastfields

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

DLR to Dagenham Dock TWA Order submitted

TfL last week submitted an application for a Transport and Works Act order (planning permission, essentially) for the DLR extension to Dagenham Dock. TfL's project page is a bit of a waste of space, but the route map at least shows you where it will go. A better place to look is the February board papers, which includes a detailed report along with route maps and diagrams, all beginning on page 111 of the PDF. The application itself is also on public display in various locations.

The line connects to the Beckton branch at Gallions Reach, running for 4 miles along the north bank of the Thames to c2c's Dagenham Dock station. The land it runs through is mostly undeveloped (the site of Beckton Riverside station is pictured), but permission has been granted for 10,800 new homes in the Barking Riverside development alone. Only 4,000 are allowed to be occupied before the line is built.

Trains will run from Dagenham Dock to Canning Town or through to Stratford International. There'll be no services to Central London or the Isle of Dogs - the idea is you change to Crossrail at Custom House or the Jubilee Line at Canning Town. The Beckton-Tower Gateway service will continue to run.

The cost is projected at £750m. Although they hope to get approval by late 2009, construction isn't scheduled to start until 2013, with opening due around 2017.

[thanks to reader Jamie for the TWA tip-off]