TfL works out how to add 4 trains per hour to East London Line peak

A new strategy paper from TfL reports that increasing the capacity of the East London Line will be cheaper, easier and faster than previously expected, allowing them to reduce peak time overcrowding. London Reconnections reports:

In the case of the ELL, it has become possible to increase the frequency by removing signalling constraints long before anyone imagined it would have happened and at little, or no, cost to TfL.

To quote the paper:

"In the 2016 Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced a £450m Digital Railway fund for trialling digital signalling technology, expanding capacity, and improving reliability. The strategic outline business case for the ELL 20 trains per hour project has been shortlisted to receive funding from this fund. Funding of £6m has been received to develop the project to outline business case but a final decision is not expected until spring 2018."

So an unexpected opportunity has arisen to both buy trains at a cheaper price than they would otherwise cost and to have the ELL signalling upgraded at no cost to TfL. Despite TfL being strapped for cash, it must be hard to resist such an opportunity. Indeed, one could even argue that because TfL is strapped for cash it is even more important to take advantage of such an opportunity while it exists.

The ELL is well-known for operating at capacity at certain times of the day. Of particular concern are stations such as Honor Oak Park in the morning peak, where passengers cannot always board the first Overground train that arrives.

For many years there has been talk of running an extra 2tph ‘pixie busters’ (‘Passengers In eXcess of Capacity’, or PIXC to its friends) on the Crystal Palace branch in the peak period. Indeed it is a bit of a mystery why this hasn’t already happened, as the trains are available (they are currently designated as ‘hot standbys’). The main reason for this not taking place seems to be the issues at London Bridge during its redevelopment...

We can fairly safely conclude that the proposal is for the service to be increased to 6pth on both the Crystal Palace and the Clapham Junction branch. At Crystal Palace, where there are two dedicated terminating platforms available, we can be confident that the terminus can handle the increase in services.

There is much more extensive analysis here. Thanks to Richard for the spot.

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