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London, 2031

As part of the London Infrastructure plan for 2050 that TfL released, Ian over at Randomly London highlighted the hotspots of the tube by 2031.

We see no mention of Crossrail or the Overground on TfL’s map though … ?

London 2031

London 2031



08 Aug 14

Two Bakerloo Extensions

Bakerloo Line to Camberwell? It’s been talked about for years – going back to the 1930’s. But an intriguing article by the London SE1 community website quoted Boris Johnson as saying “Standby for amazing news” with descriptions of two routes – one down to Camberwell, but another down to Peckham.

We knocked together a quick altered tube map to envisage what it might look like.

Possible Bakerloo Extension

Possible Bakerloo Extension

23 Jul 14

New to Zone 1?

Station Master Geoff, you may recall, drew this map for Londonist a while back which shows the real geographical boundaries where the zones are in London.

In a discussion we were having over the weekend though, it transpires that the two new planned Northern Line stations at Nine Elms and Battersea may be placed into the Zone 1 area – a bit like how Shoreditch High Street was shoehorned into Zone 1, even though it should have been in Zone 2.

Northern Line extension

Northern Line extension

So here’s how the ‘zone map’ would look distorted if that were the case, with a large ‘bump’ of Zone 1 white stretching south to accommodate the two new stations … if it were to happen.

Nine Elms and Battersea in Zone 1

Nine Elms and Battersea in Zone 1



21 Jul 14

Preferred bidder for Northern Line extension

A tweet doing the rounds last night pointed us in the direction of the Construction Enquirer website, which was running the story that a preferred bidder for the Northern Line extension had been announced.

The project is still awaiting approval from the government’s Transport Secretary, but assuming it gets the nod (as is expected) construction is due to start early next year.

Full story on their website here.

Northern Line Extension

Northern Line Extension


15 Jul 14

Liverpool Street Crossrail Station progress

After our visit a couple of weekends ago to the sites of the new Bond Street Crossrail station that are currently under construction this week we were able to visit part of the new Crossrail Liverpool Street Station.

Just like Bond Street, as the new station has very long platforms, it will also have two ticket halls; a western one at Moorgate (the station entrance in Moorfields) and an eastern one at Blomfield Street. At these sites, shafts that will provide ventilation and emergency access, and house mechanical and electrical equipment for the new ticket halls are currently under construction. There will also be connecting corridors at each ticket hall to enable interchange between The Underground at Moorgate and Liverpool Street.

The 250 metre long platform tunnels are currently being excavated and constructed from a temporary worksite in Finsbury Circus. Crossrail’s tunnel boring machines will travel through these tunnel later in 2014 to complete the route to Farringdon.

You can see the Finsbury Circus site in the background of the photograph below.  The area behind the blue hoardings is a compensation grouting shaft site.  The red coloured construction to the left was a device intended to load lorries taking away earth from the site, but was found to be too noisy in practical operation. Noise is constantly measured by microphones (see if you can spot them on the buildings) and any breach of the noise regulations is notified by text message to the contractors and the City of London automatically.

Crossrail Moorgate Shaft site

Crossrail Moorgate Shaft site

The existing ABN AMRO Bank building on the site was demolished and some of the piles that used to support it removed before work commenced on the shaft itself in 2013.

Crossrail Shaft Construction at Moorgate

Crossrail Shaft Construction at Moorgate

86 tonne mobile crane at Moorgate

86 tonne mobile crane at Moorgate

60 metre high diaphragm walls were constructed first (you can see these around the outside and are textured identically to the ground from which they were dug), the supporting structure for the mobile crane was put into the ground (it is further cross braced as it gets revealed as the excavation progresses) and then the actual excavation of the material in the shaft commenced.

Reinforced concrete supporting rings (containing 2000 tonnes of steel) are constructed as the shaft gets deeper to support the walls.  Once complete the shaft will be 40 metres deep.

The mobile crane in use is brand new, weighs 86 tonnes and was delivered from Switzerland at Christmas. A very exciting Christmas present for the project the site manager told us!  One for the crane-spotters!

We’ll also be posting about the Crossrail Whitechapel and Farringdon sites later on in February too.

10 Feb 14

Fit for the future

Future fit

Future fit

During the strikes last week, we noticed that TfL also put up some timely posters about the Fit for Future commitments that it wanted to bring to the tube service in the future. One of these is of course the 24-hour ‘night tube’ service which they want to bring to selected lines from 2015 onward, which … of course they can’t do until they’ve made savings by cutting back on ticket offices in stations.

But when the plans were first announced a few weeks ago, one of the smartest comments we saw was simply this – “I’d rather they concentrate their efforts on getting the current service as it is now running perfectly, before they try to extend it to run 24 hours”, and a huge part of us agrees.  We’ve seen many examples in the last week where things just don’t work under normal circumstances, which you’d kind of hope that they would.

Rayners Lane Train

Rayners Lane Train

Here are two quite major examples of things that we’ve seen recently that we think you would agree need to be fixed.

The ‘next train’ indicator (going westbound) at Ealing Common on a very frequent basis, shows the wrong destination.

It often gets information confused and so District and Piccadilly Lines are shown out of order.

Here’s a District Line train leaving the other day, and on board it was a passenger who really thought it was going up the Piccadilly Line and refused to believe us when we told them otherwise.

Another Rayners Lane Train!

Another Rayners Lane Train!
(Photo courtesy of @tkell97)

The irony of this is that it’s actually possible for this to be true – i.e. what is clearly a District Line train gets routed up the wrong branch, it happened last week and it’s happened many times in the past as well.

The signaller has messed up meaning that a train is routed up the wrong branch,  and the driver wasn’t paying attention and a District Line train really has gone up the Piccadilly Branch.

Here’s a shot of it from last week at North Ealing station. It caused massive delays, and crowds of people swamping the platforms back at Acton Town in the evening rush hour, as other Piccadilly services backed up behind it whilst measure were put into place to ‘retrieve’ the District train.

The passengers have to get off at North Ealing, and the train has to go all the way up to South Harrow before it can reverse.  (It’s worth noting, that for the passengers it’s quicker at this point to get out at North Ealing and walk to Ealing Broadway than it is to wait for a train back down to Ealing Common, and then wait for a train to Ealing Broadway).

So … A 24 Hour Tube system? That’d be nice for sure – but what would be nicer is if all the issues in the current system could be resolved first.


09 Feb 14

Bond Street Crossrail Station progress

This weekend we were lucky enough to be able to visit both sites of the new Bond Street Crossrail station that are currently under construction.

The new station will have two ticket halls, the western is at 65 Davies Street (behind the current Underground station) and the eastern is on the corner of Hanover Square and Tenterden Street.

From the 2nd floor of Crossrail’s offices next door we were able to get a birds-eye view over the Davies Street site:

Bond Street Western Ticket Hall site.

Bond Street Western Ticket Hall site.

The walls and excavation for the 25-metre deep ticket hall at Davies Street were completed by Costain Skanska Joint Venture (CSJV) last year and the site has now been handed over to Crossrail’s tunnelling contractor BFK who will construct the pedestrian access tunnels and station platforms.  The site will then be handed back to CSJV who will complete the ground floor.  Another developer will add further storeys to the building which will be clad in bronze.

The Bond Street platform tunnels were completed last year when tunnel boring machine “Phyliss” passed just to the south of the station box.  This was followed by TBM “Ada” whose route went directly through the site of the (at the time unexcavated) station.  BFK now have to mine from the station box to reach the southern platform tunnels.

This part of the station has been built directly over the Jubilee line and many controls were in place between CSJV, Crossrail and TfL to make sure that no damage could accidentally occur.  The site will also be connected by a new pedestrian tunnel to the new Bond Street Underground station ticket hall and entrance on Marylebone Lane over the road north of Oxford Street, so you will be able to interchange with the Jubilee and Central lines here.

The two platform tunnels connect the Davies Street site to the Hanover Square site a short distance away.  The platforms are 250 metres in length (the length of two and a half international football pitches) and each Crossrail train will have a capacity of 1,500 passengers.  In fact, passenger flows in the station have been modelled in such a way that it can be evacuated in 7 minutes should two of these full trains completely empty one immediately after the other.

After viewing the Davies Street site, our group took a short walk to Bond Street itself, where behind an anonymous gate and building façade lies the Hanover Square site – we were able to get out onto a small roof there and look down onto the site:

Bond Street Crossrail Eastern Ticket Hall site.

Bond Street Crossrail Eastern Ticket Hall site.

Unlike at the Davies Street site which will be linked to Bond Street Underground station, despite its proximity to Oxford Circus Underground station, there will not be any link here.  This is deliberate as Oxford Circus station is one of the busiest.  It would also make the site into one huge station complex and make it unmanageable as far as evacuations are concerned.

At the Hanover Square site we were also able to see one of the “grout shafts”:

Bond Street Crossrail Grout Shaft

Bond Street Crossrail Grout Shaft

There are five of these shafts dotted around the sites with bores spreading radially out into the surrounding area.  Should movement of buildings be detected then grout, (concrete without the aggregate), can be pumped into the ground to stabilise it.  Movement is checked for automatically every seven minutes by remote control.  Crossrail have seen movement of only 23mm which is well inside their allowed tolerances.

Work is progressing well at Bond Street and Crossrail say “We’re half way there”.  Services in the central tunnel section are not due to open until December 2018 (pretty much 5 whole years away) and there will be a year of testing once all the infrastructure is complete in 2017.

The cost of the whole project? £14.8 billion, of which The Exchequer, TfL and Private companies are contributing one third each.

We’ll also be visiting the Crossrail Liverpool Street and Farringdon sites later on in February too.

03 Feb 14

Turnham Piccadilly Green

Piccadilly at Turnham Green

Piccadilly at Turnham Green

Last year, living on the Piccadilly Line as we do, we saw the publicity asking people for their views and thoughts on it. In particular, it seems, whether trains should stop more often, or even on a regular, basis at Turnham Green.

This Station Master made the point that they’d like to see more off-peak trains stop there during the day time – e.g. after 10am, and before 4pm, which I suspect wasn’t a popular choice.

Anyway, TfL have now published their results, which they sent to everyone in an email. They don’t specifically say “We’re not going to stop more trains at Turnham Green”, instead they just say:

“Although we recognise that stopping more Piccadilly line trains at Turnham Green would benefit customers using that station, we do not currently do so because it would mean decreasing the service to other parts of the Piccadilly line, longer journey times for customers passing through Turnham Green station and a potentially less reliable service for all passengers on the line”

That is, until then we spotted a small link at the bottom which DOES take you to the full report, which is here. (Note, it’s a 38-page PDF but the summary is the same : No additional Piccadilly Line trains to Turnham Green).

 but the summary is the same : No additional Piccadilly Line trains to Turnham Green).

~ ~ ~

Hang on … that is of course, until you find the one small paragraph on page 24, which then DOES go onto tell you that ‘TfL plans to stop Piccadilly Line trains at Turnham Green station all day once the line is modernised’ – i.e. once there is a new signalling system in place with new rolling stock.

This is what annoys us about such lengthy reports – in the initial email you get, the message is one of “Trains will not stop at Turnham Green”, but only if you read the full lengthy report, do you find that new trains will stop there – but not until 2018. And we suspect that date will slip to 2020 in reality.

Reading the rest of the report too it does reference the fact the initial survey was to ask about people’s thoughts on the whole of the Piccadilly Line, but they do seem to have focused on the Turnham Green issue and not much else.  There’s no mention of the Piccadilly Line going to Ealing Broadway for example, or whether the District Line will go to Rayners Lane instead once the new S-Stock are rolled out on that line.


23 Jan 14

Piccadilly to Ealing Broadway … permanently?

Piccadilly Line to Ealing Broadway

Piccadilly Line to Ealing Broadway

A thought that’s been discussed before but one worth mentioning again here on the blog is what happens when the S7 stock trains are rolled out onto the District Line.

Let’s look at a couple of things that have been in previous posts here on this blog.  We know that 1973 stock Piccadilly trains can run to Ealing Broadway ok, and we know that S7 District trains are running in and out of Olympia in a regular hourly service.

So what happens when all the D-Stock trains are replaced?  When the current District trains are all replaced by S-Stock (by 2015) it raises up an interesting thought – why not swap round the western end of the District and Piccadilly Lines.

The Piccadilly could then concentrate on going to Heathrow, with a smaller ‘spur’ off to Ealing Broadway.  If there’s any disruption in service, Ealing Broadway could almost be considered an reversing siding for Picc trains to turn and come back again.

The District – using S-Stock – would then go on up to Rayners Lane and Uxbridge meaning that the same style stock would be used on the stretch of the line – rather than mixed height (as we have at the moment), meaning that it would be so much easier to make that stretch of the tube map have step-free from platform to the train, with just one type of train.

But running a District service from Upminster to Uxbridge is a loooong way, which is where Olympia comes into play.   You could have a District Line service that runs from Uxbridge to High Street Kensington, and an Upminster service that runs into Olympia, thus replacing the odd ‘shuttle’ that used to/still does take place between these two stations.

You might therefore see the District Line completely changing its service patterns to look like this:

Uxbridge to High Street Kensington
Wimbledon to Upminster
Wimbledon to Edgware Road
Uxbridge to Mansion House
Richmond to Upminster
Olympia to Plaistow
02 Jan 14