Skip to content

London Crossrail – looking into the future (Part One)

March 16, 2012

Well the Transport Womble has had some interesting conversations recently on the subject of Crossrail – well, to be precise, London’s Crossrail network, that is shaping up in the style of the Paris RER network.

We know that Crossrail 2 planning work is advanced.  The route is looking a bit like this:

Crossrail 2 – South West Section – Using South West suburban route into Wimbledon and then using the District Line section from Wimbledon to Parsons Green, then dive underground into Central core

Crossrail 2 – Central Section – from Parsons Green the Central tunnels will include Chelsea, then Victoria, Piccadilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Euston, Kings Cross-St Pancras, Angel, Essex Road, Dalston Junction, Hackney, Homerton, Leytonstone

Crossrail 2 – North East Section – Using the Central Line from Leytonstone to Epping

But this throws up a number of questions and issues:

– will the District Line terminate at Fulham Broadway or Parsons Green or go on to Wimbledon as well?

– from Wimbledon there is the possibility of replacing all the suburban SWT services – Hampton Court, Shepperton, Chessington South, Epsom/Dorking, Guildford

– should Euston-St Pancras be one station? This could be significant as not only do you get 1 station instead of 2, but with the platform having exits either end for Euston and St Pancras you can then add in a people mover above the lines to physically connect Euston and St Pancras at long last! ear in mind here that Euston is being rebuilt anyway at some point soon and that we have the HS2 factor as well which is a critical reason for this station.

– connecting Islington and Hackney is vitally important but will the connection at Angel to the Northern Line Bank Branch be sufficient?

– Following that, should Essex Road take off a spur for the Moorgate line? Or is this connection the catalyst to improve that line separately? Probably the latter i suspect.

– is the Central Line from Leytonstone the right target for the northern end of Crossrail 2?

For the northern side of Crossrail 2 I would suggest that the Hackney element is the crucial part.  How about using the Dalston Crossrail station to properly connect Dalston Junction and Dalston Kingsland (a nice Overground hub) and then on to Hackney Downs.  From there you can then create a huge capacity uplift on the West Anglian lines by shifting the Chingford, Enfield and Hertford services onto Crossrail and thus making more space on the Liverpool Street approach for Cambridge and Stansted services through Tottenham Hale.  You also get significant Victoria line relief with connections at Seven Sisters and Walthamstow Central… nice…

For the Southern side of Crossrail 2, the focus is on relief for the Wimbledon to Waterloo lines by shifting demand onto the new Crossrail line into Central London.  Therefore we want the crucial suburban commuter services moving onto Crossrail 2 and they are the lines to Kingston/Shepperton/Strawberry Hill, Hampton Court, Chessington South, Epsom/Dorking and Guildford.

Central trains (additional peak services) can terminate at Wimbledon and Dalston – to try and push all trains to the extremities of the line will create both network complexity and also service reliability risks.

Is the central core the right focus?  well it is safeguarded and we can presume that given the Chelsea-Hackney proposals are older than the Transport Womble this is where the will (and expediency) is.  The Victoria line relief is vital to London. Islington, Hackney, Chelsea and South West London are all in urgent need of additional connectivity and capacity.  Then there is the Euston rebuild for HS2 and better connecting Euston with St Pancras.

The Transport Womble thoroughly approves of this Crossrail 2!  I’ll be looking next at how we can develop the Crossrail network further and where it is going to be needed as London continues to expand and develop.

  1. Paul permalink

    As a daily SW trains commuter (from Surbiton), I have doubts about the mooted benefits of this Crossrail 2 scheme for SWT users.

    The supposed rationale is to plug the forthcoming PEAK TIME capacity gap on the SW fast mainline trains, ie on trains from the Portsmouth / Woking / Surbiton direction to Waterloo.

    TfL recently produced a Central London Rail Termini Report (Sep 2011). It is accessible at
    The report shows that Surbiton and Wimbledon are in the top 5 stations delivering commuters to any mainline terminals in Central London, and that Waterloo itself is the busiest station.

    Additionally, on page 132 of the report, a distribution map clearly illustrates that within Central London, most PEAK TIME SWML users commute to the City and Holborn. This makes perfect sense when you look at the the appalling morning queues for the Holborn buses and “The Drain”. Not shown on the map, but pretty obvious by observation, is that many more go to Canary Wharf by the Jubilee Line. In contrast, very few go to Chelsea, Tottenham Court Road or Euston, ie our proposed CR2 links.

    Yes, we need action if we’re to stand any chance of being able to board peak trains at Surbiton & Wimbledon. Yes, CR2 adds capacity, but not to where it’s needed, ie where existing SWML users commute to at peak times.

    Surely the cheaper, more effective Swanlink suggestion makes much more sense for SWT commuters. Read more on Swanlink here

    It would be a shame after spending so much money on CR2, if there are no real benefit to SWT users, and most SWML PEAK TIME users will still continue on to Waterloo, and continue to endure pathetic onward links to their Holborn and City destinations. Who wants a train from Hampton Court to Euston if they work at Holborn or Bank? The proposed Chelea stop would be a useless time wasting detour for SWT commuters that would ensure that the vast majority would continue to Waterloo.

    Oh, and the mooted Tooting station, rather than relieve Northern Line congestion might actually make Northern Line congestion worse as SWT users bolt onto it to get to the city.

    Alternativvely, Ken Livingstone’s CR3, linking Waterloo to Euston, might benefit SWT users more.

    I think its important not to get carried away with excitement at actually getting new investment and clarify the exact benefits we’re going to get.

    Any thoughts?

    • Thanks Paul. I saw the Swanlink proposition and it is an interesting one. I totally agree with the point that the Holborn direction from Waterloo desperately needs serving and i also wonder whether there is some mileage in converting the Drain into a Crossrail proposition that could connect Waterloo and Bank (potentially via the Blackfriars-Bankside area?).

      I forgot to mention the proposition of the Tooting link for Crossrail. I am not completely convinced by that i must say but i’ll wait for the proper evidence from TfL when that appears. The Northern line (both branches) is in desperate need of relief through a North South Crossrail scheme that frees up Waterloo and Euston stations (for train paths and passenger numbers) – that is already clear even before we go into the High Speed 2 discussion.

      I think the link into Crossrail 1 is a key factor – for example, the proposed Crossrail 2 can take SWT commuters direct to TCR station so then with 1 change you can then shift across to Farringdon/Liverpool St for the City and also on to Canary Wharf – a real alternative there surely if we accept that people will make 1 change happily?

      I suppose going back to the Drain and whether we are missing a trick with that – i wonder what the feasibility is for connecting the Great Northern from Finsbury Park to Moorgate with the Drain to get a real Northern Line City branch relief? So diving underground after Vauxhall, into Waterloo at the Drain and then fast to Bank (or potentially with a stop around Bankside?) and then to Moorgate, Old Street, Essex Road and Finsbury Park and then heading north from there…?

      Finally, the Crossrail 2 route shifts people into different travel patterns to relieve the severely congested Vauxhall, Waterloo and current journey patterns through those nodes. The Crossrail 2 route can take people to other node stations such as TCR and Euston which will have significantly more capacity for growth following their upgrades – that is a crucial part of the jigsaw – and i guess that given Bank will be going a major rebuild and upgrade later in this decade, then that will also fit the bill!

  2. The CR2 route from Wimbledon to Chelsea via East Putney continues to seem unlikely to me. It is simply not direct enough for the typical SW commuter to bother with – the route to CJ is as fast as a straight line gets.

    The W&C is unlikely to be rebuilt for various reasons. Firstly, it would need complete renewal. Secondly, it can’t be closed (no suitable alternative during the closure). And thirdly, both ends aren’t really suitable for reuse (the Waterloo platforms are short and not extendable, and the Bank ones run directly into the Central line platforms). In other words, there are no benefits from reusing the route.

    However, “knocking about the Northern City” would be a possible option for the non-Waterloo end of a Swanlink type scheme, as the tunnel is at least suitably sized (perhaps being converted to third rail!)

    The CR2 Tooting Broadway station is also an oddity, and risks making things worse, not better. My suspicion is that the Northern is only as busy as it is because the mainlines are perceived as so bad. Simply putting the SWML from Waterloo to Raynes Park on the main tube map might well relieve the Northern line – through psychology!

    My understanding is that it is the Victoria line, the Clapham area on the Northern line, and the Finsbury Park inwards sections that are deemed most essential to tackle next. CR2 is trying to do it all, but I think it really needs two scheme to do the job properly.

    Finally, the key to these options are the tunnel portals. Find the portals and you can start to talk about routes. IMO, there is no portal option near Vauxhall. CJ is possible, and (in theory) the Swanlink one at Waterloo itself.

    • I must say i absolutely agree with you Stephen on the point that if you put Crossrail (or any line) into the tube map it would make a crucial psychological difference – i think that is because of the assumptions that brings about a turn up and go service with predictable patterns for stopping and routing.

      I think we can all agree that the Victoria line needs support and that the Northern and especially the southern end along with the South Western Main Line are also in need of additional capacity. The CR2 route can do a lot of these jobs – especially due to the scale of the capacity uplift it brings along with being on the tube map alongside CR1, and that connectivity onto CR1 at Tottenham Court Road i reckon is a crucial part of getting SW commuters into town and then travel onwards.

      I do think that the major infrastructure improvements do make people reconsider their daily journeys and whether they can take advantage – having lived in Greenwich for a number of years i recall the DLR and Jubilee changing travel behaviour significantly. So I think a lot of SW commuters would consider the CR2 option to avoid Vauxhall and Waterloo altogether and go in that way.

      I did see a possibility for Crossrail 2 of a spur going to Clapham Junction from Victoria – not just for the stabling but a service through to CJ as well. I did mention CR3 going through CJ and providing relief for the South Central lines to Croydon and Epsom. Perhaps a major portal at Clapham Junction that could follow the lines through Waterloo and Victoria might be the answer – as well as a Waterloo portal for the SwanLink – can you point me to the full doc again BTW please?

      • The latest CR2 routes that I’ve seen from TfL go Victoria-Chelsea-CJ-TootingBroadway-Wimbledon and out. Thats a lot better than via East Putney, but Chelsea still sticks out as wrong when routing via Battersea power station is more long the way. One option would be to head more south from Battersea power, to directly tackle the overcrowding in the Clapham Common area, perhaps with a portal in the Streaham area. However, its the SWML that is driving thinking.

        The Waterloo lines really should be thought of as 5 separate 2 track routes – Windsor slow, Windsor fast, Mainline fast (beyond Woking), Mainline semi-fast, and Mainline slow. The Windsor lines have the right number of tracks from Barnes in, but need this proposal to complete the picture –

        The mainline needs 6 tracks from Surbiton in, but only has 4 tracks. TfL propose their CR2 tunnel from Surbiton, but that makes it very long and expensive as it has stations. My view is that the line can be widened to 6 tracks to CJ (tricky, but doable). The CR2 tunnel via Victoria then starts at CJ and takes 1 of the 3 mainline services. Swanlink then takes one of the other 4 services – – providing that the Waterloo portal is viable. BTW, the alternative to 6 tracking Surbiton to CJ is a non-stop tunnel for the mainline fasts – cheaper as it has no stations.

      • Hi again Stephen. Funnily enough I recall hearing of the tunnel from Barnes to either Richmond or Twickenham from a friend at TfL. I must say, having recently stayed for a while with friends at Mortlake, that there is a desperate need for relief on the stretch between Barnes and Richmond. There is a long held ambition across Network Rail, DfT, transport authorities to take out level crossings – and your practical proposal to build the tunnel first and then divert to drop the current lines and then finally have the slows in cutting and the fasts diverted into tunnel. This of course would be great not just for heavy rail through that part of SW London but also significantly better for buses, cyclists, pedestrians and cars as well.

        I suppose that the reopening of platforms 20-24 at Waterloo – and the 8th line from Waterloo to Clapham Junction so you have 4 clear lines as well – that would then maximise the benefit of the works between Barnes and Richmond. I guess this also then allows capacity for the long-held ambition for Airtrack linking SW London to Heathrow Airport?

        The Swanlink is a cracking idea and especially in its utter simplicity of basically adding a matching western branch of sorts spinning south west to Waterloo. I suppose the question is then of capacity for CR1 Swanlink trains between Waterloo and Clapham Junction? Which brings me back to Crossrail 2 as a completely separate project to release all that capacity – how can Swanlink be squeezed in – is there space for 2 additional tracks on that stretch from Queenstown Road through Vauxhall?

  3. On the Windsor lines, there is no doubt in my mind that the tunnel would permit a full Airtrack service towards London. But it would make no difference to Egham, so still no Heathrow to Woking service. And at the London end you need to reinstate the 8th line at Queenstown Road, something that is on the cards anyway.

    On Swanlink, there is no room for extra tracks from Battersea area inwards (although CJ to Raynes Park is IMO feasible to widen). The tracks are currently 3 for Windsor, 3 for fast and 2 for slow. Swanlink doesn’t change this, simply using the 2 slow lines. My opinion is that a CR2 from CJ to Euston is viable as well, simply to provide the extra 2 tracks from CJ to London.

  4. Paul permalink

    Hi Alex,

    re “I think the link into Crossrail 1 is a key factor – for example, the proposed Crossrail 2 can take SWT commuters direct to TCR station so then with 1 change you can then shift across to Farringdon/Liverpool St for the City and also on to Canary Wharf – a real alternative there surely if we accept that people will make 1 change happily?”

    Do, I really don’t see any advantage in that for SW mainline users – as I’ve said before, nearly all peak SW mainline users want to go to Holborn, the City or Canary Wharf. Providing a link to change onto another (probably already overcrowded) train offers little more than we have already. My guess is that most SW mainline users would continue to Waterloo, and continue to endure the pathetic onward links that we’ve got. Not much benefit there for a huge spend. More trains and higher capacity by freeling up the mainline, but no faster journeys.

    Steven’s Swanlink on the other hand offers real improvements for Woking / Surbiton / Kingston commuters by taking them directly, as quickly as possible, to within walking distance of where they actually want to go.

    Surely that simple concept should be applied to solving the forthcoming capacity crunch on the SWML. Not simply tagging us onto CR2 as an afterthought that doesn’t really give us much more than we have at the minute. The same concept should be applied across London – why spend 100’s of millions transforming railway stations, such as Euston and Waterloo when nobody actually wants to go to them in the first place. Rather than wasting the money in creating great temples to Nationa Rail, spend it on creating onward links through these stations, to where people actually travel to. Shorter journeys = less congestion = cheaper infrastructure.



    • hi paul

      thanks for this. i completely see your logic. in my latest post, i talk about Crossrail 1 spare capacity westbound being used to connect into the Chiltern line and to the West Coast Main Line so that Northampton, Milton Keynes, Hemel Hempstead, Banbury, Bicester and High Wycome all gain from direct connectivity into central London through Crossrail 1.

      This is exactly the same principle. I suppose my fear is that the Swanlink proposition puts sole reliance on the core section for what could be a major network in the longer term – so my premise is to have a network of routes (well at least 2 core lines!) rather than using Swanlink with 1 core section serving all points outbound from London.

      I think the Waterloo – Euston proposition is a crucial one – this would provide the direct link to Holborn for North West and South West using the West Coast and South West main lines. As we discussed previously, the key is going to be diving under from the SW main line around Clapham Junction. I suppose my problem is that this doesn’t get the direct line to the City and Canary Wharf but requires changing again. Although on the whole, seamless interchange from one line to another which is easy and reliable is acceptable and could provide a huge improvement in terms of passenger experience and journey reliability.

      But i am in feel agreement with you in principle. The major termini should be used for intercity and long distance trains – with inner and outer suburban trains using a Crossrail network.

      All the best


      • I’m trying to build up a full London-wide approach of bite-sized investments of perhaps £5bn give or take. Swanlink is one, but I’d also do a cut-down CR2 (shortest tunnel possible – CJ in the south, but not sure where in the north yet). Extending the Bakerloo and Met to the SE will probably be two more. The aim is to maximise the increase in capacity in the shortest time and at the lowest cost.

      • i am certainly an advocate for using cross rail type schemes for a London RER system – massive capacity benefits and also keep the Crossrail 1 teams working basically.

        In the North, my guesses would be west coast main line commuters as far as Milton Keynes, and then then great northern – take over the Moorgate branch and the Hertford loop services?

        Metropolitan could take over the West Croydon LOROL section using the spur near Whitechapel off to Shadwell on the ELL?

        Def agree the Bakerloo needs to be pushed into SE London – aiming for Old Kent Road/New Cross/Lewisham plus a spur to Camberwell?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: