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Spreading the benefits of Crossrail 1 and HS2

June 18, 2012

Fellow Wombles and/or transport people – on the day the fixture list has been announced for 2012/13 season I want to talk about a transport intervention that I consider could make a very strong and appealing case for a large number of people.

Crossrail 1 is well under way and a lot is made of the station next to the depot at Old Oak Common that will be a key interchange station with the High Speed 2 line out of Euston to Birmingham, the North West and North East.

Old Oak Common holds another key that I think could unlock huge benefits for people, for transport and for connectivity and capacity.  My proposal is this:

– add a Crossrail spur west of Old Oak Common onto the existing Central line through North Acton;

– Crossrail can then take over Central Line services from North Acton to West Ruislip and beyond onto the Chiltern line providing additional capacity and connectivity;

– add a further Crossrail spur west of Old Oak Common onto the existing northbound line heading to Harlesden and then connect Crossrail to the West Coast Main Line.

Greenguage 21 have pressed for the WCML-Crossrail connection previously (

The benefits are multiple:

– better use of Crossrail 1 with a broader network – providing greater connectivity and accessibility for many more into the heart of London;

– relief for the lines into Euston and relief for Euston station itself as it prepares to become a major terminus for the WCML intercity and HS2 services;

– significant benefits for Chiltern line users in terms of greater connectivity and accessibility with longer trains into the heart of London;

– relief at Marylebone station and underground with passengers transferring onto Crossrail;

– potential for significant Central Line benefits and improvements including reliability and turnback for the core central London section;

– major benefits for the West Coast Main Line commuters from Northampton, Wolverton, Milton Keynes, Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard, Cheddington, Tring, Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead, Apsley, Kings Langley, Watford Junction, Bushey, Harrow & Wealdstone – providing these stations with direct connectivity into Central London and also to East/SE London and bypassing Euston thus relieving significant pressure at Euston;

They key is, can sufficient Crossrail 1 Western services be provided – essentially you would have 2 new routes along with existing Maidenhead and Heathrow services.  Well at 18/24 tph you would suspect so depending on demand to Heathrow particularly; they key is proving the demand is there – unless the rationale is compelling from an operational perspective.

I would welcome the views of others on this.  From 2 fronts: making best use of the £16bn investment in Crossrail 1 and secondly from the operational side, is it feasible and would it bring key additional benefits?

I did also see today that Boris is pushing for Crossrail to provide a key rail link eastwards to Stansted Airport – this could help the Stansted in 30 Campaign (30 min journey time from Central London) and also helps his statement of now wanting a 2nd runway at Stansted… not one for here or now though!!!

  1. The way to approach a question like this in my mind is to ask what frequency of service is sensible and worthy of a place on the tube map. In my mind, 6tph is the minimum acceptable for a tube map service, and Crossrail achieves this on both eastern branches. In the west, its a different matter.

    Crossrail in the west basically is a bit of a lost and confused soul. It goes to Heathrow, but tries hard not to. It goes to Maidenhead, rather than Reading. And it only works in current plans via a horrible skip stopping approach that makes local journeys nigh on impossible. All this happens because of a lack of a vision for the west, and under-building (there need to be six tracks through the London section, not four).

    Were six tracks to be added and Heathrow to be sensibly served, you’d have 12tph to Heathrow, 6tph slow to Slough and 6tph semi-fast to Reading (fast to Slough, then slow). And your 24tph Crossrail service is now full.

    Thus, trying to add two more branches looks futile. ie. I don’t buy into the Tring/MK branch – that could probably take 24tph just by itself as well!

    The real problem with the above is that planners see things in terms of seat/standing capacity, rather than in terms of service frequency. Its the frequency that makes the real difference IMO.

    BTW, there is no hope of Crossrail to Stansted with only 12tph to Shenfield (a line which already needs 18tph today!). Hence Swanlink…

    • Def agree that 6 tph is the absolute minimum, bare minimum for a metro-type service frequency. I think you are absolutely spot on really – as per other comments, the West Coast commuter services need a separate cross rail link relieving the northern line between waterloo and euston – as well as linking Holborn into the network.

      yes, heathrow needs proper relief, save the piccadilly line!!! 12tph to heathrow, every 5 minutes is essential and the fast/semi-fast approach for Reading/Slough also makes perfect sense. but those 24 trains ph are saying no to swanlink or is that the 4/6 lines through the core you are referring to??

      Frequency is crucial as that is a major attractor for passengers as well as the wider economic benefits that will make a Crossrail network stack up.

      on the stansted point, i’m all for the new relief line you proposed a while back that supports great eastern as well as Stansted lines! Stansted needs a new line as you suggest, it really is as simple as that in my mind especially given the Stansted in 30 campaign

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