Friday, 22 May 2009

Shoreditch High Street - UPDATE

After weeks of waiting I finally got a reply from TfL over why all of a sudden Shoreditch High Street has been re-branded from a Zone 2 to Zone 1 stations. The following is what TfL told me;

“Thank you for your email.
Yes, I can confirm that the Secretary of State (Department for Transport) has set out a condition that Shoreditch be a Zone 1 station as part of the funding deal that’s been agreed.
As with most of these type of agreements, they are complicated and involved and I'm not in a position to provide further details of the reasoning behind the decision.”

So although the price of using the East London Railway will bring in extra money, the addition cost means that the full extension gets built and built quickly. Now its just a case of seeing if TfL can get the cash for the Surrey Canal Road station.

The original story can be found here.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

378 Passenger debut set

A new date has been given out for the first of TfL Overground class 378 Electrostar to be I passenger service. The first unit is now planned to take its first paying passengers on the Monday 15th June, just over three weeks away. This is some six months later than originally planned. This is due to the lack of parts that have also affected the 378s cousins, the 377/5 for FCC. This is good news for the users of the Overground as the current class 313 are looking very worn in their Sliverlink livery.

So far Bombardier have delivered 378005 and 378007 with 378001 having gone back to Derby to be fitted out for customer use as it was only a shell used for line testing. This compares badly with the 377/5 as six have now made it out of Bombardier's works with five already in service.

Hopefully more units will soon follow and allow for the complete change of the Overground fleet from what it is today. The units will, however, be returning to Derby next year for carriage lengthening as all the trains will end up four cars compared to the initial delivery of three car units. So the fleet is still yet to be completely finished for awhile after passenger service.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Great Northern Timetable changes

After three years of planning First Capital Connect are introducing the biggest timetable change on its Great Northern (GN) route for 15 years. With the addition of five trains to the FCC GN fleet and regular 12 car trains, FCC will introduce an extra 5,000 seats during the peak period.

The work to introduced this timetable has progressed with both Network Rail and stakeholders being involved throughout. The improvements are know in FCC speak as 'Seats For You', although during the consultation period it was know as the Cambridge & Peterborough Capacity study. By gaining five class 321 from London Midland and using them on the Peterborough route, this in turn frees some class 365 Networkers to increase many 8 car trains to 12 cars on the Cambridge route. For example the 07:15 and 07:45 Cambridge to London Kings Cross are listed by the Government as some of the most crowded trains in the UK. The new service allows these trains to be increased from 8 to 12 cars.

Peterborough route also sees improvements with 06:54 and 07:14 departures from Peterborough callings at Huntingdon and St Neots in the morning peak with 12 car trains. An additional 12 car train runs north from Kings Cross at 17:40.

There are off peak improvements and the Sunday 14:56 Ely to Kings Cross doubles from 4 to 8 car service. There are various other additional off peak trains in the new timetable.

To achieve this Network Rail has increased platform lengths at Cambridge and Royston to allow 12 car trains to call there. Upgrading the power was also needed with £1.6m spent to allowed the lengthen and additional trains to run.

In a few years futher changes will be made as part of the Thameslink Programme with new 12 car trains and an entirely new fleet for both the Great Northern and Thameslink sides of FCC and with the running of trains from the GN side through the Thameslink Core.

Thameslink Update

Due to the slow but regular introduction now being seen by Thameslink customers of the class 377/5 Electrostars more changes to the timetable have been made. As it stands units 377501/502/504/507 have being delivered to FCC. Unit 377508 went into service this morning 13 days after being delivered for testing with 377505 on test at the moment.

A summary of some issues are below

  • 17:06 Sutton to St Albans reduced to 4 cars
  • 17:40 Sutton to St Albans increased to 8 cars
  • 17:05 Sevenoaks to Bedford will run two minutes earlier and take up the 'Crowd Buster' path meaning it loses stops at West Hampstead, Elstree & Borehamwood, Radlett, Leagrave and Filtwick.
  • 18:16 'Crowd Buster' will be reduced to four cars and take the 17:05 path meaning it picks all all the stations lost to the Sevenoaks service above. Once enough 377/5 have arrived the 'Crowd Buster' will start from Elephant & Castle.

Friday, 15 May 2009

First Crossrail station begins construction

Work has begun on the new station at Canary Wharf as part of Crossrail today. The new station is the first part of the project to be built and is expected to be among the first to open in 2017 with the Stratford branch following on a few months later. The huge new station is being built in the dock to the north of Canary Wharf, next to the West India Quay station of the DLR. The station will have a covered walkway to the Canary Wharf development. The retail development above the station will have 100,000 square foot of retail space with a park on the roof top of the building.

This is the official press release from Canary Wharf group

Construction of Crossrail begins as foundations laid for new Canary Wharf station

Mayor and Prime Minister joined by UK business leaders as Europe’s largest construction project gets underway

Crossrail, London’s first new major railway in a generation, reached a landmark moment today as the Mayor of London Boris Johnson and the Prime Minister Gordon Brown marked the start of construction of Crossrail at a breakfast briefing with UK business leaders.

The Mayor was then joined by Transport Minister Andrew Adonis, London’s Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy, Crossrail Chairman Douglas Oakervee and Canary Wharf Group Chief Executive George Iacobescu to launch the first of nearly three hundred 18.5 metre tall steel piles that will form the basis of the new station. The new station will be built in North Dock between Canary Wharf and North Quay and when complete will be one of the largest on the Crossrail network.

The renamed Canary Wharf station will be the first Crossrail station to be constructed, and includes plans for 100,000 square feet of retail space and a roof-top park. Crossrail services will begin operating from 2017 cutting journey times across London allowing travel from Canary Wharf to Liverpool Street in 7 minutes, Paddington in 17 minutes and Heathrow in 44 minutes.

The formal start of construction signals the intensification of work on Crossrail and follows the confirmation of major funding agreements with BAA, Canary Wharf Group and the Corporation of London, the appointments of the new Chief Executive and Chairman of Crossrail and the appointment of the main contractors who will oversee the overall project delivery including design, tunnelling and construction.

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said: “Many people said it would never be built, but today we are celebrating a defining moment for London as Crossrail’s construction gets underway.

“Crossrail will not only mean faster journey times across the capital and beyond, it will also bring a massive economic boost to the city, creating thousands of jobs and adding at least £20 billion to our economy.

“Investment into important projects like Crossrail, the largest construction project in Europe, is vital to create and protect jobs as well as supporting businesses, so that we can grow our way out of recession and ensure a strong future for London and the country as a whole.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “The years of hesitation, irresolution and vacillation are over, the shovels have tasted earth and the construction of a railway that is crucial to the economic prosperity of this great city has begun.

“This amazing project will create and support thousands of jobs, relieve congestion and provide a high speed link between east and west of London. When the first of Crossrail’s chariots glide smoothly along its lines in 2017 it will change the face of transport in London and the South East forever.”

Crossrail is Europe’s largest infrastructure project and will employ some 14,000 people at its peak, providing a crucial boost to London and the UK’s economy. Another 7,000 jobs will be supported indirectly through project support services through items such as manufacturing equipment.

The vast majority of these jobs will be undertaken by people in London and the UK, particularly those living in boroughs along the Crossrail route which are some of the most deprived in the UK, and creating a lasting skills legacy for London. As a beginning, a Crossrail Tunnelling Academy will open in Newham in spring 2010 to train some 1,000 people up to 2015, providing the skills necessary for work in a variety of tunnelling roles.

Crossrail will run for 118km from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west through 21.5km of new twin bore tunnels through central London and on to Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Woolwich, Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east. The new railway will bring 1.5 million people within 60 minutes’ commute of London’s major business districts with over 200 million passengers expected to use the railway in its first year of operation.

Canary Wharf Group Chief Executive George Iacobescu said: “Today London starts work on one of the great civil engineering projects in its history. Canary Wharf Group is proud to be playing its part, not just by helping to fund the project, but by taking on the responsibility of building the Canary Wharf Crossrail station as well. It’s true that times are hard right now but Canary Wharf still expects to see growth return long before Crossrail is completed. Today we have 93,000 people working here. In the future it is expected that this will more than double. So this project is not just about anticipating future transport demand it is also about London catching up with the demand which is already there.”

London’s Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy said: “Crossrail will deliver a huge capacity boost as part of a multi billion pound investment to improve and expand the capital’s transport network. When it is completed in 2017, the new railway will play a key role in relieving congestion on the Tube and extending access to key retail and business centres to passengers from all over London and across the South of England.

“Alongside Crossrail we remain strongly committed to upgrading the Underground, and other major projects that will deliver better services for our passengers between now and 2017, including the extension of the DLR network, the East and North London Lines and London Overground. All are vital for London’s economy.”

Crossrail Chairman Douglas Oakervee said: “The priority for Crossrail is to deliver this project on time and within budget. Following approval of the Crossrail Act last summer, the project has made significant progress with funding and governance agreements finalised and the appointment of the contractors for the key Programme Partner and Project Delivery Partner contracts. Today marks the beginning of the next stage.”

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Beckton is getting three car services from 2011

An agreement for the Beckton branch of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to get three car services has been signed. Costing £18.2m the deal will see the following seven stations extended;

Royal Victoria
Custom House for Excel
Prince Regent
Beckton Park
Gallions Reach

The money is coming form the following sources

£10.8m from the Olympic Delivery Authority
£2m from London Development Agency
£5.4m from the Housing and Communities Agency

The work will mean that by the Olympics, all the DLR services will be three car which will give the DLR trains the same capacity as a Circle Line train, give the network a huge boost to cope with the ever climbing passenger numbers. The first three car trains will be running on the Bank – Lewisham service from early next year.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

National Express East Coast

After months of rumors do one of the rail franchises handing the keys back to one or more franchise, one has finally collapsed and has done a deal with the government. National Express East Coast franchise have has previous issues when GNER had to hand the franchise back due to its parent companies inability to guarantee premium payments. Two years ago National Express (NX) won the rights and begin running the services between London and Scotland along the East Coast, but the company has had negative press over its plans to cut jobs and services such as buffet cars in its trains due to struggling with its cost.

The deal for National Express to run the service as a management contract now means that NX can try to raise £400m to help stabilize the situation for its 3,100 staff and 17m annual passengers.

The full deal is yet to be settled with the agreement only at the outline stage but both commuters and staff will be worried about what the future is going to bring. It seems National Express's other franchises will be left alone which will come to relief of various groups. One of National Express's best franchise is c2c which has transformed the old LTS rail line and now is a by word for reliable and timely services.

This isn't the first time a franchisee has lost a franchise as Connex was stripped of its railway contracts which lead to the SRA (strategic Rail Authority) doing a management contact. With Southeastern this lead to improvements to the service before its was re let.

I leave you with the words of the DfT on the situation:
“All train-operating companies have regular meetings with the DfT and as a company we never talk about in public what we discuss in private,”
“As we have made clear on numerous occasions we do not renegotiate franchises.”
The original article is here

Rail deal sparks £400m cash call

Friday, 1 May 2009

Crossrail Safeguarded to Reading

The full Crossrail scheme was always supposed to get to Reading rather than Maidenhead but the link was pulled to reduce the costs as the business case wasn't as solid that far out of London. Also cut was the the Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet International link which would have provided a second link to the HS1 services that will be running by Southeastern by the time Crossrail opens, enabling people from south east London to access Eurostar service without going into Central London.

Along with the electrification of the Great Western Main Line (GWML) this could provide Reading with links to Central and East London as well as Essex and Kent with one train and not using the Underground. However the safeguarding now means that if the funds can be raised in the future it will be easier for Crossrail/TfL to achieve this.

The full DfT press statement is below

New Crossrail route safeguarded

The Government today safeguarded a potential Crossrail route from Maidenhead to Reading.
Whilst there is no current commitment to extend Crossrail out to Reading, safeguarding provides additional protection against future developments on the route.
Transport Minister Andrew Adonis said:
"Our current priority is to get on with the delivery of the Crossrail Project as it is currently planned, but safeguarding would provide additional protection against developments impacting on future operational requirements.
"Safeguarding will also allow the line to be electrified in the future and for Crossrail to be extended if a case can be made to do so."