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London Crossrail (Part Two)

March 16, 2012

In this part I shall presume that Crossrail 1 is now open and Crossrail 2 is in construction as per Transport Womble’s preferred route of a Wimbledon-Dalston core and onward links on the South West and West Anglia main lines.

So the aspiration is for an RER-style greater suburban rail network that crosses Central London and providing direct and through connectivity.  So which are the following target zones for future Crossrail lines?  Well, the critical points for capacity and growing demand appear to be:

– Waterloo-Euston (as championed by Ken Livingstone)

– the other Northern line branch through the City

– the North Kent lines via Greenwich, Bexleyheath and Sidcup

– the North-Western suburban lines to Watford Junction via Harrow & Wealdstone and to Aylesbury Vale Parkway via Harrow on the Hill

– the West Coast commuter services towards Milton Keynes (home of the Franchise football club) and Northampton

– Clapham Junction and the South Central lines to Croydon and Epsom

So do we have the basis here for a likely Crossrail 3, and even a 4!  It would seem so.  The interesting long term point here is to see Crossrail as a means for the Mayor of London to take control of London Rail and integrate it into Transport for London alongside the Tube and the Overground – something that ought to be considered for Thameslink as well?

In the Crossrail 2 discussion from the last post, we saw that the South West Main Line is struggling to cope with growing demand.  Clapham Junction benefits from significant relief with Crossrail 2 branching demand off at Wimbledon.  But Clapham Junction is a critical interchange and connection point – it connects the Overground services on the East and West London lines as well as connecting South Western and South Central services.  Therefore Clapham Junction has to be a focal point for Crossrail 3.

If we accept that premise then we can see the potential for a central core underground from Clapham Junction that can relieve Vauxhall and Waterloo and provide the through connections to Euston and onwards as well as providing relief to the Northern line.

Furthermore, could a combined Charing Cross-Embankment station on Crossrail 3 commence the process of turning 2 tube stations into 1 at long last??  Tottenham Court Road is the other obvious central stop providing connectivity with Crossrail 1 and the Central line.

So where south from Clapham Junction? Well, the obvious routes are the South Central outer suburbans to Epsom, Epsom Downs, Beckenham Junction and Croydon via Norbury or Crystal Palace.  This provides significant relief to Victoria and Waterloo stations for mainline services as well as to the tube stations.  Likewise this provides significant connectivity enhancement by getting South Londoners quickly to Crossrail 1 as well as onto Euston and the WCML and HS2.

So what about beyond Euston?  Well there are 3 clear routes – the current London Overground route to Watford Junction, the WCML commuter line on from Watford to Northampton via Hemel Hempstead, and the Chiltern line through Harrow on the Hill to Aylesbury.

There is no reason why all of these could not be served.  However it would seem likely to provide a faster, longer-distance commuter focus by retaining the Overground and Crossrail 3 using the fast commuter lines from Queens Park via Wembley Central, Harrow & Wealdstone, Bushey and then Watford Junction through Milton Keynes and to Northampton.

At the same time we can relieve pressure and boost capacity into Marylebone by shifting Aylesbury via Amersham services onto Crossrail 3.  At the same time, the Metropolitan Line could focus on the coming Croxley link to Watford Junction and be removed from Amersham and Chesham duties with Crossrail 3 providing a huge improvement on connectivity into the Chilterns by rail.

Is it worth it?  We have to consider how to provide the significant capacity and also connectivity improvements to as many as possible in order to retain London’s status as a world city and the key driver of the country’s economic wealth and competitiveness.  Investing in excellent transport infrastructure with a long term strategic focus is good value and provides huge long lasting benefits.  Surely it’s a no brainer right?

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