East London Line: The Future

BCer Monkeyboy has spotted this treat in Rail Technology Magazine, an interview with Huw Edwards, head of programme delivery at London Overground. Edwards says that all those rail replacement bus services we've had to put up with mean that they have been able to compress the project timeline from 3 years to 18 months, as they race to keep up with demand.

The first longer train enters service on the East London Line in late 2014. In total, 29 trains are being extended on the ELL, one a week for just over half a year.

Edwards said: “The insertion of the fifth car will happen at New Cross Gate, unlike when we went from three-car to four-car a few years ago, when it was done at Derby. To reduce outage time, we’re going to take the unit out of operational service for a week, insert the fifth car, fully commission, fully test, and send it back out into operation.”

“When compared to a traditional DfT or Network Rail programme of work, the pace of delivery here is significantly faster. We’ll bring in the first fifth car at the end of 2014, when we didn’t gain board approval to do the work until February 2013. I often say it’s a three-year programme of work delivered in 18 months.”

Looking forward, he says that the Overground will have to grow even more, with new, even longer trains the most likely solution. He says South East London is the main driver of demand for capacity and will be the priority:

Edwards acknowledged that over a 20 or 30-year timeframe, the five-car extension alone will not be nearly enough to offer the capacity required, although Crossrail will help from 2018.

But the Class 378s can’t be configured to run in six-car formation, so Edwards said the next opportunity for serious capacity improvement after this extension would be at fleet renewal time in the mid-2020s.

Until then, LOROL could run additional train services – going from 16tph on the East London Line core to 18tph, for example. Going beyond that would require ATO (automatic train operation), 

“If we stretched and sweated the fleet, we believe we could be running an 18tph service between Shoreditch and New Cross Gate. But the reality is, that’s not where demand is – the demand is south. The demand is for bringing passengers up from the Crystal Palace, West Croydon areas into the central core. So therefore [we are in a] tricky position; that’s where the demand is, that’s where the business case is – unfortunately that’s not where the paths are…so the next discussion to be had with the industry is ‘can we sweat two additional paths south of New Cross Gate’.”

17 comments:

AliAfro said...

and while your at it - stick in some more trains on the thameslink route via crofton park - only 3 or 4 trains per hour at peak times and 2 per hour off peak - rubbish!! With more trains I'd use that over the overground and I'm sure they may be others who would do the same...

M said...

Totally agree. Such a waste. The trains that do run are packed at peak times so the demand is there - and it will only grow as Catford Stadium gets developed. Also Blackfriars always seems empty of trains so there must be room!

Yo momma said...

No shit, I guess he hasn't tried to get on in the morning rush hour when many of the trains are delayed and packed

Michael said...

Crofton Park services should be doubled when the Thameslink programme is complete, though final routes are not confirmed yet. There's a suggestion that Maidstone trains could call, in addition to the Sevenoaks services:

http://www.thameslinkprogramme.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions#general15

And there's plenty of agitation to improve the service. For example:

http://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2013/10/crofton-park-station-gets-a-very-poor-deal/

Headhunter said...

From what I've seen, the 5 car extension will pretty much be immediately used up, the Overground trains at peak times are pretty damn busy....

Just Wondering said...

Michael (or anyone out there), do you know if a direct Crofton Park Service to Victoria will become a more regular thing at peak times during the week?

Fat Controller said...

It would be cheaper to create a long term fix instead of adding carriages every 4 years. The overground is a bit of a cattle truck, even on the weekends the service is scaled down meaning fairly crowded trains.

Good links but a line very much done and run on the cheap.

Pizza snob said...

There is blatantly more room but last year I sent a whole tranche of emails to MPs, Southeast trains and TfL and all of them came out with the same capacity rubbish.


Platforms 1 and 2 are basically always empty at Blackfriars so terminating trains can definitely go there. If even the smallest thing goes wrong further down the line in Kent every train is near impossible to board - completely ridiculous. The Catford development will probably start fights on the platforms.


Fingers crossed the Thameslink upgrade brings more trains but I'm not holding my breath.


The original article above is actually quite heartening - it's very rare to get anyone to acknowledge that the South East desperately needs more capacity.

Monkeyboy said...

It would have been cheaper, it would be cheaper to do the next 5 upgrades now. There want the money 5 years ago, there isn't the money now. All infrastructure jobs are a compromise of money, technology and political will. You have to take the opportunities as they arise, the Victorians had the same challanges, despite the myth making. Why didn't they make the tunnels bigger and straighter? Wasn't just can't, was also ££££

Monkeyboy said...

Yes it will. It will move more people than now

Chris said...

It's worth remembering that the Thameslink project is years away from completion, and though platforms 1&2 might be relatively under-used that doesn't mean you can simply route trains from London Bridge into them without making matters worse.


Indeed the through platforms and the terminating platforms at Blackfriars specifically switched sides because Thameslink services from London Bridge will all continue through to St Pancras.


If some switched over to the westernmost 'bay' platforms they would criss-cross the other tracks, and cause conflicts with other services. This reduces the number of trains that can run overall, and increases the impact of delays on other services. It would make matters worse, not better.

Pizza snob said...

I'm not sure if I fully understand your point, but


(a) this criss-crossing is only on a short stretch between Blackfriars and Elephant and Castle and I'm sure track expansion/advanced signalling could solve


(b) have they really built a brand new station where two of the 4 platforms cannot be used simultaneously to the others? Bonkers.

Chrisb said...

The criss-crossing isn't just between Blackfriars and Elephant & Castle - follow the route of services from Kent on google maps and you'll see one 'flat' junction after another where services from one route conflict with others heading in the other direction. It's this that restricts how many extra trains can be run in South London generally.

Pizza snob said...

"relatively underused" is somewhat of an understatement. Platforms one and two are ONLY used for the Sevenoaks train after a certain hour (and at weekends) when they inexplicably change it from a through service to a terminating one - impossible to argue capacity on that point when they've been running it as a through service the rest of the time.


I can understand the criss-crossing point generally, I got mixed up in your reference to the Thameslink upgrades (which I still don't understand - I don't think anyone does).


Criss-crossing issues or not - I refuse to believe that services cannot afford more than two trains an hour on this line. Four with half terminating at Blackfriars is surely possible.

Monkeyboy said...

Railway planning is much more difficult than busses. Having a seemingly empty platform means little, it's not the same as a bus stop. you need to analyse the entire path that your prefered service makes to get there, and how that slips into the service pattern for other paths. Changing traqck layout, junctions and signalining is no trivial matter. Trains cant turn at 90deg, you need curves to change direction, a new curve in London could take out a row of houses.

Pizza snob said...

I'm going to leave this one - my overarching point is that platforms 1 and 2 aren't "seemingly empty" - they are empty. And it's a brand new station!


They serve no other purpose than giving Southeastern an excuse not to run the Sevenoaks service with through trains all of the time.

M said...

But the trains through Crofton Park don't go to London Bridge so no trains would need re-routing from there to Blackfriars. Surely if there are currently empty platforms there then more trains can run on that line and terminate at Blackfriars (although i see that the 'criss-crossing issue' has a bearing on this)?

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