Late this year, the extension of the East London line of the London Overground to Clapham Junction station will be opened. I say “will be opened” as given Transport for London‘s record, they usually hit their own targets.
You will then be able to do all sort of circular journeys around London, but there will still be a couple of missing links in the complete circle or if you include Stratford, the circle and stub. But it’s never been intended that you get on one train and go all the way round.
Here are the missing links.
Passing through Clapham Junction from east to north
Passing through Clapham Junction from north to east
These two have been solved by an elegant solution, where the northbound trains use one end of the platform and the eastbound the other. So passengers just walk a few metres to their next train or where it is expected.
East London line stations to Stratford
The standard way is to change from the East London line to the North London line at Canonbury or Highbury and Islington, which involves a lift-assisted bridge crossing. But you can always go to Canada Water and then take the Jubilee line to Stratford. They might rebuild the Eastern Curve at Dalston, but I think that will only happen, if they need to send significant traffic from Stratford to South London.
Stratford to East London line stations
The standard way is to change from the North London line to the Line London line at Canonbury or Highbury and Islington, which involves just a walk across the platform.
East London line stations to Richmond
Richmond to East London line stations
These two will again need a lift assisted walk over the tracks at Canonbury or Highbury and Islington. I’d take the second as you have a bigger choice of direct stations without changing when travelling from Richmond.
To show how I use it, I’ll give a simple example. Say, I’ve been to the Eastfield John Lewis at Stratford and I’m bringing home a heavy parcel, I’ll get off at Canonbury and take the first train to Dalston Junction, where I’ll often take the first bus home, to avoid carrying the parcel. It’s also step-free all the way.
The reinstatement of the Dalston Eastern Curve would save a few minutes, but then you’d probably have to wait a couple for a suitable train at Stratford. So from a passenger point of view, it’s probably not worth building, especially, as you can use the Jubilee line as a by-pass to South London. In fact the Jubilee is very much circular tube through South London.
I can remember a documentary on the BBC in probably the 1960s about how a Scottish company extracted oil from shale rock. I don’t know whether they still do. I have just found this museum to the industry and it says it closed in 1962.
According to today’s Sunday Times, there is enough shale gas in the shale deposits mostly in the north of England to last 70 years.
Now I know extracting shale gas is controversial, especially, where the process of fracking is used. There was controversy in the Blackpool are, as fracking was blamed for a couple of small earthquakes. Read about it here.
But then there was controversy, when horseless carriages first arrived on British roads and they had to be preceded by a man with a red flag.
I’m not saying there is no risk from fracking, but I do think, that with proper research fracking will be safe to use in many places in the world.
And eventually, it will be used in many places in the UK, when the problems are sorted out. After all, we mined coal for years, despite the subsidence risk nearby.
And remember that for the same amount of energy coal produces forty-percent more CO2! This is because coal is pure carbon, whereas natural gas is a mixture of Hydrogen H2 and Methane, CH4, so it produces a large proportion of water when it burns.
Hopefully, I’ll know more later in the week, when I have gone to the Geological Society of London to hear a lecture.
The other thing about shale gas in the UK, is that it is located where we need jobs; in the north of England. So it becomes a vote winner for whoever wants to play the shale gas card.
Any extraction of shale gas, should be linked to two measures.
1. A local extraction tax, that goes directly to the local authorities over the extraction. This was proposed in the seventies, by someone I knew, as a means of pursuing oil extraction in places like Surrey, which in his knowledgeable view was one of the most likely places to find oil in the UK. Imagine the fuss it would create if large quantities of oil were found under say Epsom. But if Surrey got enough money to build everything they needed, the reaction of some might be different.
2. Full insurance for any buildings damaged by extraction process.
Politicians and the press will see it as a simple black and white issue. Most will be against! I see it as a multi-coloured jigsaw, that must be based on sound technology.
I would start by setting up an well–funded Institute of Fracking, at a university that has the reputation to recruit some of the best researchers in the world. It may prove that fracking is a dead end but if it showed that it was economically viable in the UK, we would reap the benefit in spades.
I have just found this article from the American Consumer Institute. It makes a lot of interesting points. Note that the United States has a local extraction tax in some or all states and this seems to push opinion in various directions.
I think the worst thing we could do is ban fracking, with the second worst being to ignore it.
Whatever we do, because we have so much of this gas, we should set up some form of research institute.