Saturday, 28 February 2009

377501 At Bedford Depot

377501 At Bedford

377501 At Bedford

Well the first of First Capital Connect's 377/5 4 car units was finally deliveried on friday and has made it safely to Bedford as the images above show. Currently only 377504 is the other completed until and is still under going testing on the Brighton main Line at night. It seems with the deadline of the 22nd March for the new timetable a major rolling stock movement is about to begin that will see 350/1 Desiro's working the Southern service between Milton Keynes and East Croydon recently reported on. This would free up some of Southern's 377/2 units for FCC to use on its Thameslink route while Bombarbier get the other 21 377/5 built and working.

Goodbye Blackfriars


The first major thing to happen in the Thameslink programme has started. The closure of Blackfriars Tube station until late 2011 to rebuild a modern step free station providing greater interchange with First Capitial Connect's new 12 car station.

Customers must now use either Temple or Mansion House to get on the Circle or District Lines. Personally I prefer Temple as spring is coming a nice walk along the Thames is a great way to start the week!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Circle Line To Be Broken This Year?

I've recently heard that plans to spilt the Circle Line have been brought forward to December 2009. This has been reported by the Rail Professional February 2009 issue. They have said that London Underground have confirmed this . The plan to create a straighter Circle Line is not new as it had problems since it was first introduced as without ending at any point the line suffers from lateness as they can't recover a train. The issue with terimating trains from Notting Hill at Edgware Road means that both Circle Line and Edgware Road District Lines trains would terimate in the four platform station as well as Hammersmith & City and Circle Line trains to Kings Cross going through. This would mean the reduction of District trains which is proving very unpopluar. also chaging using narrow staircases and footbridge at Edgware Road in large numbers could be a safely hazard. The image above shows what the Circle Line would look like on the Tube map (along side the Northern Line spilt and Crossrail 2).

One good piece of news is London Underground will provide an fall back timetable allowing the change back to the current set up if its deemed unworkable with review dates after 3, 6 and 12 months after the change over. Extra staff at Edgware Road is expect as well.

Hopefully we'll have an offical statement from London Underground on this.

Monday, 23 February 2009

TLP Month

Thameslink Hard Hat

March 2009 might as well be called Thameslink Programme (TLP) month from all the changes happening with the staged introduction of Key Output Zero (KO0). This basically is when the Moorgate branch closes and trains from Sevenoaks are (re)added into the Thameslink network due to lack of terminating bays at Blackfriars come the end of the month. The key dates are different to the 'official' dates but I have used the actually changes rather than the basic timetable changes as weekend services as you know is non existence at the moment.

27th Febuary 2009

The final time you'll be able to use Blackfriars Tube station until late (IE nov/dec) 2011. This is due to Network Rail (NR) rebuilding the whole station to provide a proper interchange with the Thameslink station and will have step free access. Please not that although they say it closes on the 2nd Febuary there is engineering work that weekend meaning you can't access the station on the 28th Febuary/1st March.

20th March 2009

This is the final day of services into Moorgate from the north Thameslink route before closure to allow Farringdon's platforms to be extended over the branch's junction to cope with the 12 car trains coming from 2012. The final service should be the 1906 to Bedford calling at Farringdon, St Pancras International, St Albans, Harpenden, Luton, Leagrave and Bedford arriving at 2012.

23rd March 2009

Customer living on the Sevenoaks to Blackfriars via Catford line will come under the Thameslink/First Capital Network with all trains running through the Central London Core to at least as far as Kentish Town. The service will be run by 4 car 319s and in the peaks will be extended to as far as Bedford. The current services from Beckenham Junction, Gillingham, Rochester and Ashford International into Blackfrairs will also be a joint effort with First Capital Connect and SouthEastern. The trains are due to be run by dual voltage 377/5 and are planned to be 8 units if enough 377/5's are delivered for this date.

As you can see the next month sees a lot of changes to both First Capital Connect services as well as SouthEastern services from late March. This is all part of providing more seats for customers using these services. There is still a danger that these keys dates are not meet. As of writing we are a 4 weeks away from the latest date and yet we have only had two 377/5's delivered with the first 377501 expected to be in service this week according to the latest dates. The second unit 377504 was delivered last week and has under gone some testing, neither have been on the Thameslink Core as of yet. Something that will have to change very soon. Work on the bridge at Farringdon is also behind but Network rail is stepping up efforts there and beginning to make real effort to meet the deadline. If enough 377's and the bridge at Farringdon isn't ready in time then the whole programme could slip. There is only a few months 'spare' in the time scale before the Olympics hit in 2012. Hopefully FCC, DfT, SouthEastern, NR and Bombardier will have all the problems solved or minimised by the time KO0 kicks in.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Meet the Morgan Line

This posting is rather a change for us and slightly different from what this blog might normally run, as its about a proposed line rather than anything that is being built or is part of TfL's offical plans. To this end, this is definitely more of a "What If..." discusion than actual reporting. An opportunity to think less about the money or politics and more about an for helping transport Londoners around in an ideal situation.

So I would like to introduce to you to the Morgan Line. The line would run from North West London to south West London providing a brand new link and servicing areas of London that have been historically lacking a Tube or Tube-like service. Various concept images and even some basic designs for the trains that would run this service can be found on my flickr account here.

The Basics

The idea actually is based on Crossrail's idea of linking seperate suburban rail routes into London via a tunnelled section. The core of the route is Crossrail 2, aka the Hackney-Chelsea Line, from Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction. The Line seems ripe for development and could futher reduce overcrowding in the areas it passes through.

Chingford seems a good fit as it lies in an almost straight line from Dalston Junction and is a busy urban rail route into London Liverpool Street. The line is crowded in the peaks and even though it connects to the Victoria Line at Walthamstow, it still needs relief or a greater service. something that can't easily be provided with the current Liverpool Street terminus and the trackwork past St James' Street.

At the southern end of the line, Strawberry Hill might prove a good fit because of the depot, as well as the Overground links at Richmond. It also allows better capcity for dealing with rugby events at Twickenham which current services struggle with. It would also help relieve Waterloo by taking some services away from the mainline station, allowing for some extra services on the metro routes.

The core of the route, as indicated, is the Hackney-Chelsea Line/Crossrail 2 which is designed to relieve the Victoria Line as well as the Northern. Relief would be felt at Waterloo, Liverpool Street, Victoria and Clapham Junction mainline stations.

Why The Morgan?

The Line is named after someone who nearly got his own Tube network. John Pierpont Morgan was a financier back 100 years ago at the height of the Tube boom -arguably the greatest US fanancier of his day. Like the more famous Yerkes (with whom Morgan shared a willingness to play dirty), he worked towards building his own network in London of tube railways. The network he proposed contained three lines,
  • PC&NELR (Piccadilly and City & North East London Railway) from Hammersmith to Chase Side, Southgate via Cannon Street and Sloane Street
  • C&NESER (City & North East Suburban Railway) From Waltham Abbey to Monument via Walthamstow and Hackney
  • LUER (London United Electric Railway) from Marble Arch to Clapham Junction via Sloane Street
The Morgan group fell apart due to infighting, which destroyed any chance of the lines being built. Impressively that infighting was largely the work of Yerkes - Morgan's plans for the PC&NELR depended in part on the efforts of another company, LUT, who would be responsible for the line between Hammersmith and Hyde Park. In order to scupper his opponent's plans, Yerkes promptly bought a controlling interest in LUT preventing Morgan from being able to guarantee completion of his line. Without this crucial linchpin, Morgan's plans soon fell behind Yerkes'.

Had Morgan got his his way, the Piccadilly would have originally run from Hammersmith to Tottenham and the Victoria Line wouldn't probably not have been needed, apart from extending the Piccadilly to Walthamstow. The Jubilee was originally planned to relieve the Fleet Street corridor and may not have got the funding. Its more likely that the LUER line would have taken over the Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo to relieve that line.

The network would be very different to what we know today, with a West London Tube line and - had Morgan fulfilled his promises to Parliament - all night tube services.

More on the 'Tube Wars' of 100 years ago can be found in London's Lost Tube Schemes.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Sign Of Things To Come?

With the current issues with Bombardier and its supplying of Electrostars to both First Capital Connect and London Overground heavly delayed due to economical problems 23 of its suppliers are going through it seem they are getting ready for a mark 2 verison of this mass product. According to Railway Gazette, Bombardier are planning to reveal the second generation Electrostar at next months Railtex Expo 2009 next month. Whats this got to do with London's transport? Well the 30 new 4 car EMU's for Stanstead Express preferred bidder is Bombardier who will build the 120 new carriages at Derby and its likely that they will be a part of the Electrostar family. Also with Bombardier going after the mega Thameslink order for a completely new fleet for FCC as part of the Thameslink Programme, any new verison of the Electrostars are likely to be in the running for this order. Depending on how well the 377/5 fleet does during its few years with FCC could very well affect the decision. Also Crossrail is looking to Thameslink Programme and its new fleet of 12 car trains as they will need a silmar product for the 10 car trains its currently due to start running in 2017. So it could be a south-east land of Electrostar in the future.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

377501 on Test

This weekend the first of First Capital Connect's new fleet of Electrostars, unit 377501 has been on test in daylight hours.

The unit ran into London Victoria as part of a 12 car formation.

It was also spotted at Clapham Junction as part of a 8 car formation.

The unit is rather late as it was originally expected that the fleet of 23 units would be in service for a timetable change in Decemeber 2008. sadly this wasn't the case and now the recession has hit hard at Bombardier, forcing them to buy some of their suppliers to ensure the units can be completed. The air conditioned 4 car units will be introduced from the end of this month to help with the new Thameslink timetable that comes into force on March 22nd. These units will run the long distance services such as Ashford International and the Medway Towns in the peak and run Bedford to Brighton off peak. Introduction of all 23 trains is currently unknown as the second unit, 377504, is expected to be deliveried this week.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

377501 First Images

Im luckly enough to have been given permisson by Paul from the southernrailway Yahoo Group of the first public images taken of First Capital Connect's first class 377, 377501 while on test at Brighton in the early hours of monday morning.

As you can see the units are 2+2 seating with Southern's green 'astroturf' seating covers. The inside of the units is to typical Southern spec. personally I dont really think that the green, purple and pink go really well but it seems FCC doesn't want to pay for the units to have their seat covers or Southern have said no.

So far the unit has been testing on the Brighton mainline during the late night/early morning. It was due to go testing on the West Coast Main Line this week but Im sorry to report the unit has been suffering multiple failures during testing. While I don't know the fault it has happened more than once but the last time it failed it was sent back to Selhurst and not allowed on test for the remander of this week. What I do know is that the unit must run 5,000 fault free miles before it is accepted for passanger service. So far it's well short of this with failures.

Problems arise as until they accept 377501 the delieveries of other units are going to be delayed until its sorted out. As it currently stands 377502 and 377503 are due/planned to be deliveried late friday/early saturday morning but this may now be delayed. It seems the plan to have five 377/5 Electrostars in service for the timetable change on March 22nd is in danger once again. I will remind you that the original plan was for the timetable change to happen in December 2008 with Moorgate branch and Blackfriars bay platform closing along with all 23 377/5's coming into service. Now the deadline of getting Blackfriars and Farringdon means the deadline can't be changed now and FCC is going to have to deal with less trains when it changes its timetables next month.

This date is know as Key Output Zero or KO0 (meaning no extra trains). KO1 comes in December 2011 with the rebuilt Blackfriars and Farringdon opened and extra services. KO2 is due to be completed in December 2015 with London Bridge and the viaduct between there and Blackfriars being completely rebuilt and giving FCC trains there own tracks from Kentish Town to Bermondsey. The new NeXt generation Electrical Multple Unit trains (NXEMU's) are due to be in service replacing all the current 319, 365, 313, 317 and the forthcoming 377 EMU's.

38 days remaining to Key Output Zero of Thameslink.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

West Coast's Full Timetable

Chasing trains
Originally uploaded by MackenzieBlu

Good news for travelling using West Coast services from Euston and Southern's West London Line as Network rail have announced today that as from monday the full West Coast timetable will be in operation. This comes after Southern's ex Brighton - Watford Junction service was due to be changed in december's timetable change to become Milton Keynes - East Croydon. Due to Virginn West Coast invoking its protected access for the West Coast Main Line (WCML) as part if that lines £9bn upgrade. This lead to the ORR (Office of Rail Regulation) getting invloved in wording in West Coast track access right which saw it having to define what "calls at" and "starts or terminates" actually mean in a legal sense when applied to the railways. Finally the matter has been sorted and now the following enhancements can be made

Virgin Trains - 16 extra services a day

London Midland - 6 extra services a day

Southern - Extending all 32 services from Watford Junction to Milton Keynes

Chris Burchell, managing director of Southern said: "I’m very pleased we can now put in place the final pieces of our timetable. Southern’s hourly service will provide direct trains for people travelling between towns along the West Coast main line and locations in west and south London, including Wembley, Shepherd’s Bush and Kensington Olympia. With connections to many other destinations at Clapham Junction and East Croydon I am sure these trains will prove very popular."

Robin Gisby, Network Rail’s director of operations and customer service said: "Passengers have already seen the massive benefits that the £9bn investment in the west coast route has delivered with much more frequent, faster trains. With the new timetable now bedded in, we can introduce the final few services that complete the picture of improved services along the West Coast main line."

Monday, 9 February 2009

Beware what's coming commuters!

Here's the start of LU's major information drive to inform customers of the forthcoming closure of Blackfriars tube station as part of the Thameslink Programme. This along with a leaflet drive should get to customers the fact the station is closing temporarly. Once complete the new station will have step free access and a new airy and glass building fronted ticket office. It will look good but lead to major pain in the medium time.

Thameslink Programme Update

Just an update on Farringdon works as part of the Thameslink Programme. The first part of the new bridge is finally up and working now. Hoping over the next few weeks the rest of the bridge (to the right of the bit you seen in this picture) will be installed and completed before Moorgate branch is closed and Farringdon gets alot busier interchange.

Also the first of the new trains for First Capital connect is currently on test with the following paths

5Z70 2050 Selhurst depot - London Bridge 2108
5Z70 2114 London Bridge - Gatwick Sidings 2155
5Z71 2208 Gatwick Sidings - London Bridge 2237
5Z72 2245 London Bridge - Brighton 2354
5Z73 0003 Brighton - London Bridge 0055
5Z74 0102 London Bridge - Brighton 0151
5Z75 0200 Brighton - London Bridge 0248
5Z76 0254 London Bridge - Gatwick 0319
5Z77 0325 Gatwick - Selhurst depot

It also seems thats another two 377 (likely 502 and 503) are to be deliveried on saturday morning (if anything like 501 around 0200-0300). This seems to work with the latest information that FCC will run with five 377 in the new timetable on March 22nd.

This is all good news for those affected by the Thameslink programme as it seems things are starting to kick in. I for one can't wait to see what March's timetable change brings us in terms of altered services. So far the information Im getting seems to be that instead of being able to run all but six services as 8 car trains, there will be many more 4 car trains in peak until all 23 377/5 units are in service. To give an idea how long it takes to do a 4 car 377, Im told atleast three cars have been made in jan. This of course is unconfirmed information.

Stay tuned for more updates as events happen including a time line of changes at Blackfriars.