East London Line passenger numbers double

The Evening Standard reports figures from TfL, which show that passenger numbers have doubled over the last year:

Passenger numbers on the East London line have doubled in the first year since its £1 billion transformation.

It has carried more than 20 million people, about 85,000 a day, since it was reopened by Boris Johnson a year ago. Figures are expected to double again by 2016...

Last month the East London line was named the most punctual railway in the UK for its performance in April.

Although not great news in itself, as anyone who's traveled between 08.15 and 08.45 can testify, the figures are an endorsement of the quality of the service and its transformational potential and a strong argument for further investment in the network, whether through increased frequency, longer trains, later running times, new stations or enhancements to the existing stations, such as making Brockley Station fully accessible.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

What chance an extension through New Cross and on to Lewisham, Ladywell & Catford?

Monkeyboy said...

You're just spoiling for a fight aint you?

I'm on it at 7:30, we like to start early in the public sector, it's getting snug by then. A good number get off at Whitechaple, though not as many as Canada Water, which is a useful interchange. Will be interesting to see what happens when Cross Rail connects.

Anonymous said...

When I missed the 803 london bridge I tried the Canada water interconnect a couple of times. It's not worth it for me, as I had to wait for 4 trains to go by before I could squeeze on the Jubilee line. Easier to wait for the 17.

Matt-Z said...

The rumour is a post-Olympic expansion to 5-car trains throughout London Overground between 2013 and 2015. After that there's not much more that can be done for the ELL.

Brockley Nick said...

Interesting Matt. What about frequency, at least through the core of the network. Could we move to 16tph, with 4 more terminating at NX?

Mb said...

Hopefully the jubilee line upgrade will help take off pressure but it keeps slipping and I suspect the extra capacity will be used quickley. Crossrail again should help take pressure off the jubilee, but that's a way off.

Matt-Z said...

I don't know what the maximum tph for the core section is - 4 slots are reserved for the SLL service when that starts. I suspect another train could be squeezed down the New Cross branch each hour without too much bother. Even if more extra paths could be found, making them work around the Southern and future Thameslink services would be a hell of a challenge (unless more of those are reduced for the London Bridge rebuilding).

It'll never reach tube-like levels of service (e.g. 34 tph) as it can't go ATO south of the core section.

Matt-Z said...

Also, the NX branch is single track as far a Trundley's Road, and joins the core section via a flat junction at the depot. So increases on that branch would affect train movements elsewhere.

Possibly a new northbound flyover would sort this, but at great expense and with a depot in the way is it worth it? If the branch was to extend to Lewisham, maybe so, but that opens further cans of worms around the single track section, not to mention junction congestion and and finding a suitable terminus (probably new platforms) at Lewisham. If the DLR is diverted underground to head on to Catford maybe its current platforms would do the job?

There's no money for any of this so don't hold your breath.

Tamsin said...

Yes, don't lose sight of those who would like to get to and from London Bridge (and ideally - if it can be restored - Charing Cross/Cannon Street) without changing trains - the old, the infirm, and people with children or luggage.

Headhunter said...

I something wrong with South East Central? Keeps crashing on me...

Dead Horse said...

Did someone say they needed to give me a flogging?

TM said...

Matt

I don't think a flyover is necessary as the southbound Overground passes under the main line and a north bound train could branch off the up main line beyond New Cross and link to the Overground where is becomes dual track.

Run Overground trains to Hayes and no terminus platforms are required at Lewisham.

Matt-Z said...

@ TM

Branching off the northbound mainline at NX could indeed be done without a flyover but that doesn't resolve the junction problem. The northbound NX branch needs to join the core section beyond the flat junction at the depot or conflicting movements will affect the tph to the NXG branch.

Running to Hayes is a nice idea but you have the twin problems of the bottleneck at Lewisham and passenger loadings being so great that trains are full before they reach New Cross

I really can't see any of this happening I'm afraid, there are more pressing schemes and this one lies firmly in the too difficult / too expensive pile.

Tamsin said...

I know it's moribund but in theory if enough people are concerned - and there were plenty of residents and theatre folk along the line who signed petitions - one can get out a vetinary defibrillator each six months when the time-tables are re-written, and certainly when the contracts are due to be re-let.

Yoric said...

No the subject is in an advanced state of decomposition.

Lou Baker said...

One of the many flaws with the East London Line is that the potential to expand it are limited.

You can't run significantly longer trains, because of the short platforms at Wapping and Rotherhithe. You can't run many more trains because that allows no margin for error. We're basically stuck with what we've got for at least the next 3 decades - by which stage the trains won't be new and it will look like a shortsighted project.

The only way to get significantly increased capacity on this route is to completely axe the London Bridge trains. I predict - with considerable confidence - that this is what will ultimately happen.

Brockley Nick said...

@Lou - we've just heard from Matt (who appears to know something about the industry) that there are things you can do, if you read above. Platforms were built short to save costs initially, but can of course be extended.

Lou Baker said...

@nick

Not true.

The problem is at Wapping and Rotherhithe - which can't be extended. You may squeeze an extra carriage on but you won't get longer trains than that unless:
1) Wapping and Rotherhithe are closed
2) or the health and safety people who ruled out selective door opening at these stations change their mind.

Neither seems likely.

Brockley Nick said...

@Lou - I'm sure those issues are not insurmountable, but I'll grant you that's unlikely to be fixed any time soon. However, an extra carriage would increase capacity by 25%. An extra train an hour would add another 10% or so. Jubilee Line gremlins being resolved and the Whitechapel Crossrail interchange will reduce crowding at Canada Water. There's no reason later trains can't be introduced to serve some of the swingingest parts of the city and a further doubling of traffic should tip a cost-benefit equation so that providing wheelchair access at our stations is delivered.

All good stuff. The future is bright.

Armchair psychologist said...

"i predict - with considerable confidence" Yep, your predictions on the usefulness of the ELL are legion. 80,000 deluded people a day use it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect

Perhaps one day soon, a cure will be found.

Tamsin said...

What on earth in the world is wrong with selective door opening? It if could be done with trains with separate carriages in the days when the only announcements one heard were ones made at the starting station it is surely possible with these ones where you can see from end to end and there is non-stop communication available.

I hope Lou is just being pessimistic as usual. Losing the direct links to Central London Termini is not a fair exchange for appearing on the flash new maps.

Anonymous said...

You need to blame thameslink for that tamsin, the world does not revolve round se4

Brockley Nick said...

@Tamsin - even if they never add so much as a lick of paint to the line, it is more than a fair swap, as countless BCers attest.

Headhunter said...

Yep I wonder if we may lose all central London trains at some point and that really, most definitely will not be a "fair swap", not in a month of Sundays....

Tamsin said...

Sorry, blame Thameslink for what?
The loss of the Charing Cross services (sorry about the stink of putrid horse-meat - and love the name, Yoric) - I think others will bear me out - was a result of very effective buck passing between the Department of Transport, Tfl and the train companies and a carve up on the franchise renewals between two wholly owned subsidiaries of the largely foreign owned Govia. (A certain grim satisfaction in that the lucrative long(ish) haul market into Charing Cross that South-Eastern thought they had secured was not so lucrative after all, and they axed it. Didn't give the slots back to Southern, though.)

The world actually, of course, revolves around SE14 - it was SE4 and SE23 that messed up our perfectly satisfactory travel arrangements, but I'm good enough to forgive you.

Mb said...

HH, no one is predicting loosing all trains to LB....except Lou. If that happens I'll happily join Lou in chaining myself to the tracks in protest and admit my error.

Taken as a whole, brockley is better connected and more accessible now than it was 18months ago.

Headhunter said...

Without the link to London Bridge, Brockley essentialy becomes a backwater off the edge of the main section of the Overground... Albeit with frequent direct links to Dalston....

Mb said...

Why do you think the LB service is under threat? Was it Lou's "confident prediction"

Lou Baker said...

I'm not necessarily suggesting the London Bridge trains will be axed soon - though they might be. They may still be running five or even ten years from now.

But when extra capacity is needed on the ELL - or at London Bridge - they'll look around for the easiest (and cheapest) way to do it.

And that will ultimately involve axing our trains.

Because getting rid of our trains - where there is an alternative - will be easier and less controversial than getting rid of services where there is no alternative.

Incidentally, it is perhaps unlikely - but not impossible - that we could actually lose all the London Bridge trains next year. As part of the Thameslink project London Bridge is losing terminating platforms and getting through ones instead. The inner loop is being axed - and replaced by the Overground - but they still need to lose 4 more Southern trains an hour. Coincidentally we have 4 Southern trains per hour ...... And we have the Overground as an alternative. Gulp.....

Short memories. said...

Last year we got extra peak southern services to LB which doesn't really support your rather bleak assessment. I remember the massive crushes at brockley on my morning commute, it's hardly empty now but i don't miss the "olden days" when the plaintive cries of "can you move down please" started at 7:00am.

Lou Baker said...

Also last year a third of the Southern services were cut.

How much easier is it to get rid of the rest now ...,,,

Anonymous said...

Boy your glass is resolutely half empty! Me and the others squeezing onto the ell in the morning do not agree.

Insider said...

The Canada wWater/Jubilee interchange is not for the faint of heart first thing, fingers crossed the upgrade will ease the problem.

In other news, I just took a job in Sloane Square, Cannon street/District line is a dream!

Lou, your LB prediction are completely unfounded.

Headhunter said...

Southern does seem resolutely determined to reduce traffic as far as possible through London Bridge by hook or by crook. If we lose all off peak trains to London Bridge, having already lost all direct links to Charing X in exchange for the ELL (err...Great)... The shine will definitely come off Brockley as a commute-able location....

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, HH, I don't think anyone would disagree with the proposition that if Brockley is no longer connected to London Bridge it would be a bad thing.

What people are disagreeing with is the suggestion that that will happen.

Headhunter said...

Fingers crossed....!

Lou Baker said...

@insider

We will lose the London Bridge trains one day - it's just not a question of if, but when.

They desperately need to free up capacity at London Bridge - 4 more terminating trains need to be axed from next year. (See Nick's post about the Inner Loop for an explanation).

When deciding what to cut they may share the pain - taking trains off more than one route or they may look at where has the best alternative provision. That'd be us. Certainly the Outer Loops chances of survival are, I suggest, pretty thin.

We may keep the other London Bridge trains for a few more years, but then capacity will become a problem again and they'll be axed and we'll get more ELL trains instead. They won't tell you this - but sure as night follows day it'll happen. Eventually.

Matt-Z said...

I'm out of touch with all this but I doubt there'll be any further reduction on the London Bridge service. It's true that London Bridge needs to lose 4 tph on top of the SLL. I suspect they will try to divert a couple of the peak Brighton services into Victoria and/or the Oxted/Redhill trains.

Back to the ELL, Lou is right in some respects - there is no scope in the short to medium term for a large expansion of the route or doubling of the train lengths. But this is doesn't render the line useless. A relatively small amount was spent converting an archaic branch line of the Underground into a modernised, well-connected cross-London route. If funds had been limitless I'm sure we could have a a 10-car service with 8 different branches and 36 tph, but they weren't. So what would you have done, leave the branch line as it was, or do the best you could with limited cash? The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing and yes, the planners who specified short platforms for the ELL at Canada Water need shooting for lack of foresight, but overall the upgraded ELL is a good thing.

Over the next few years the improvements we're likely to see are:

1. Jubilee Line upgrade to 33 tph (2011-2012)
2. 4tph to Clapham Junction on the SLL (late 2012)
3. Fleet expansion to 5-car trains (2013-2015)
4. Extension to Camden Road (2015-2017)
5. Crossrail at Whitechapel (2018)

Beyond that there is not much that can be done without great expense and frequent or long-term line closures.

There were dark mutterings about combining Rotherhithe and Canada Water to make a station that would fit 8-car trains, but Wapping remains a problem.

Headhunter said...

I hope you're right Matt, but my impression is that Southern is keener to cut inner London trains which make them less revenue, than longer distance services from outside London (places like Brighton). Look what happened to our Charing Cross trains - axed so that Southern could make way for it's super expensive high speed route from Kent through London with fancy new trains from Japan... Which apparently no one wanted and has already been cut back.

Southern is a private company and will do what it can to maximise profits, if that is at the expense of service then, so be it.

Matt-Z said...

I see your point HH but I don't think the franchisee will be able to completely bin the inner suburban services just because it makes more money on the long distance routes. The DfT would, hopefully, have something to say about it.

Remember there's a good chance we'll get stopping Thameslink services by 2018 which would take some of the current LB terminators on northwards via Blackfriars and St Pancras.

Ken Livingstone was keen to take more inner suburban services into London Overground, which would be another good thing. The outer SLL and the Sutton Loop were seen as potential targets. Boris has been silent on the issue (cf all long-term strategic transport planning under his mayoralty).

TAmsin said...

An army of LB terminators sounds terrifying.

Unfortunately the Department of Traansport and Tfl are not easily terrified. Only too easy to pass around the blame and responsibility nowadays. Joan Ruddock as MP could not get Southern to even attend the meetings that were discussing the closure of the ELL - it was simply not their problem.

Lou Baker said...

In fairness to Southern, it genuinely is not their problem.

They are told what trains to run by the Department for Transport. They are told times, how many carriages - the scope for them to do anything is limited.

Which is why Joan Ruddock was disingenuous to blame Southern. The decision to cut services was made by the government of which she was a member. I didn't notice her resigning in protest. Though, to be fair, I didn't notice her doing anything very much at all.

Still .....

Matt-z is partly right - we did get a very good value transport improvement. Getting good value is important - but sometimes you can cut a scheme to such an extent that its value becomes questionable. For example, the lack of interchanges on the ELL is a major flaw. There should have been a Central Line link near Shoreditch, they're not putting a Victoria Line link in at Brixton or a Thameslink one at Loughborough Junction. They haven't upgraded the Jubilee Line interchange at all at Canada Water and the DLR link at Shadwell remains dodgy. The stations have not been properly upgraded to be accessible and it still does not address the basic lack of capacity on our network. Far better - but more expensive - would have been
widening the railway cutting and adding an extra pair of tracks. For significant parts of its length the cutting is already wide enough to have done this (the bit between Brockley and New Cross Gate being an obvious example). But we got the cheapo make do and mend solution again - which is why our railways are in such a shocking state.

Thank God the Victorians were more enlightened - otherwise we'd have no railways at all.

Matt-Z said...

Lou - there was no Central Line interchange due to predicted negative impact on that line which is already full up by the time it passes through Shoreditch. It's a post-Crossrail aspiration though.

Linking to the DC lines for through services to Watford has also been discussed, as that route may be forced out of Euston while it is redeveloped for HS2. That then presents the problems of Camden West Junction bottleneck (not insurmountable) and performance pollution on a very long route.

mb said...

I remember when Ken commited to moving engineering hours on a Saturday night to help revelers get home. Sounds simple, just finish later and move the start time. When the bill arrived for all the work that would be required for tinkering with the signaling system and time tables etc, etc... it was quietly dropped.

That's the trouble with saying 'wouldn't it be nice if...' without giving it any thought and then handing it to someone else to sort out.

Tamsin said...

Slight mis-understanding. The gripe with Southern saying it was not their problem was when temporary assistance was sought for the temporary (two year) closure. It should have been possible to factor in an extra three minutes on the six-monthly time-table review and with a properly joined up transport system it would have been done. Nothing to do with the service cuts.

Martin said...

First of all, all the Sydenham line stations will have their platforms extended to accommodate 10 carriages.

The 10 car carriage peak services will be either operated by Southern or by the Thameslink franchisee who may replace half or all of the Southern slots into London Bridge once Thameslink work has been completed.

The only difference being is those trains will go to Luton or Bedford instead of using the remaining 6 terminating platforms at London Bridge.

Anonymous said...

Lou - you complain about the ELL "if only we had an interchange at Shoreditch onto the Central Line"
But you fail to mention that we have interchanges onto the Jubilee line and District line which are closer to Brockley (Canada Water and Whitechapel).

Matt-Z said...

@ Martin

The Thameslink rolling stock procurement is for trains sets up to 12-cars made up of 4-car units. As we're only getting platform extensions to 10-car at Brockley the maximum we'll get is 8-car Thameslink units for the time being. Though it's not unforeseeable that a future RUS will specify further platform extensions to 12-car. While 12-car is the maximum length for the upgraded Thameslink, many routes will still be 8-car, including all those via Elephant & Castle (and Crofton Park on the Sevenoaks line), and plenty of suburban and off-peak services.

Headhunter said...

I understand the reasons for no interchange to the Central Line as outlined by Matt, but an interchange to the Jubilee Line, although useful, is not a substitute. the Jubilee basically bypasses most of Central London and the City and is only useful if you want to go to Bond Street or further north, not if yuo want to go anywhere between The City and Bond Street - basically most of central London...

?? said...

Comparing what we have (The ELL upgrade) with a wish list of what a perfect line would be for a particular user is not that iluminating. The ELL has made travel into london easier. Brockley has far more trains into town, yes with changes. It improves the links to Docklands, a not inconsiderable employer. We're (by 'we' I mean most users) better off than we were two years ago, do you really disagree?

I work all over central London and wouldn't go back to the sole option of the few overcrowded Southern trains into an overflowing London Bridge. I can live without the Charing Cross service, if indeed the loss of that was caused by the ELL.

Headhunter said...

Hmmm.... I think it's all subjective. You can live without Charing Cross and are happy to have links to the Docklands, for me it's completely the opposite way round... The Docklands is more easily reached already from Deptford Bridge DLR anyway which is walkable from where I live in north Brockley... Direct Charing Cross and Waterloo links were invaluable, so for me the ELL has not particularly improved anything. I moved to Brock largely because of it's fast links to Lon Br, Waterloo and Ch X...

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