When I wrote about Crossrail as a tourist attraction, I said nothing about the station at Whitechapel.
I probably didn’t as although I use the station regularly, you don’t see much as you pass through except for hoardings with lots of graphics, pictures and information. When I went through last time, I took these pictures.
It shows the construction going on over the two north-south Overground platforms. Crossrail will run east-west about forty metres down. Note how the Underground is on top of the Overground.
I was told by a man in an orange suit, that there will be a bridge over the Overground platforms connecting it all together. Escalators to Crossrail will be going down from between the two Underground platforms, where the blue crane is now situated. The space between the Underground platforms will then be filled in to create a wide island platform with the two lines on either side. It will be an easy step-free interchange from Crossrail to the Underground.
There are some detailed architect’s impressions of the new station here. The page also says this.
The new Whitechapel Crossrail station will use the existing Whitechapel Road entrance to the Whitechapel London Underground and London Overground station.
The Crossrail platforms will be in deep tunnels to the north of the existing station but they will all share a concourse, ticket hall, gateline and station operations room, leading to a fully integrated station that provides an easy step-free interchange between the Crossrail, Hammersmith and City, District and Overground lines.
Transport for London’s, Transport Infrastructure Plan for 2050, states that at some point twenty-four trains per hour will run through this section of the Overground in both directions.
This matches the Crossrail and Thameslink frequencies, so once all these lines are complete, London will have gained a high-frequency H-shaped railway, where journeys like Luton, Brighton or Peterborough to Crystal Palace or Walthamstow might be accomplished using two easy step-free changes. In fact, the biggest problem after 2019 about travel in London, will be choosing which of two or three equally fast and convenient routes is best for you.
Travel is going to be fun!
I suspect Whitechapel might be my entry into Crossrail and Thameslink. I’ll just walk to Dalston Junction, take a four stop journey to Whitechapel and then fan out to the myriad destinations, that can be reached directly from there.
Today, I took the Docklands Light Railway to Custom House station to see progress and then came back to see the works at Canary Wharf station.
In one of the pictures of Custom House station, you can just see the portals for the Conaught Tunnel. This was a particularly challenging rebuild of an old Victorian tunnel, which was one of the subjects covered in the BBC documentary; Fifteen Billion Pound Railway.
One thing I was trying to see, was one of the trees they are planting in the gardens on top of the station, that are mentioned in this article in the Wharf.
There seemed to be others looking around and now that you can walk from Poplar DLR station over the bridge at Bank Street, there are better opportunities for looking at the sites.
Appropriately, this is one of the first places created and opened by Crossrail.
I didn’t realise it was open until today.
But it will be a superb place to meet, if you’ve come to Canary Wharf on Crossrail.
I like this article about the effect of Crossrail on Ilford, when it opens in 2018, from the Ilford Recorder.
I think generally the article thinks the new line will have a positive effect on the area.
One thing the article ignores is the Essex Effect. Give the county an opportunity and it will take the fullest advantage of what has been given.
London has two main North-South cross-city railways; Thameslink and the East London Line, which are shortly to be joined by a third East-West line; Crossrail.
These three lines are characterised by a tunnelled central core, with branches fanning out on either side. This means that if the branch you live on is paired with another branch on the other side of the city, you will probably have to change trains in the centre if you want to go to an alternative branch.
It’s not just London, who use this sort of layout. Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool and Newcastle in this country have similar cross-city trains or metros, and I suspect that worldwide there are quite a large number.
I did a journey a few weeks ago, which illustrates how we use these lines. I’d been to my doctor’s surgery, which is close to Haggerston station and afterwards I needed to go to Norwood Junction, which is on the West Croydon branch of the East London Line.
As it was raining hard, instead of waiting for the next West Croydon train on an exposed platform, I took the first train. I then hopped-off this train at Canada Water and hopped-on my desired train, after waiting for a few minutes in a dry underground station.
This hop-off-hop-on behaviour at a convenient station in the core will get increasingly common, as more and more branches are added to these cross-city lines.
If you use National Rail’s Journey Planner for say Sutton to Luton, some routes offered, involve a change of train at either Blackfriars or St. Pancras using Thameslink. But in the current Thameslink, these changes are not same platform ones, like they are on the East London Line and hopefully will be on the upgraded Thameslink, when it opens in 2019.
Crossrail takes this concept to a whole new level!
Most if not all of the central core stations are island platforms, so that if you are on a train from Abbey Wood to Heathrow, but want to go to Maidenhead, you just hop-off and then hop-on the first train that calls at Maidenhead, using a convenient Central London station. But the island platform, also allow you to reverse direction on a hop-off-hop-on basis. So Abbey Wood to Shenfield becomes a simple step-free one-change journey.
Sadly, there is no central core island platform station on Thameslink and the East London Line. This is probably more to do with adapting existing stations, rather than a less than perfect design.
But imagine what a lovely station the below-ground Thameslink station at St. Pancras would be with a large light and airy, central island platform with trains behind platform edge doors! Perhaps it could have a welcoming coffee-shop, where you could refresh yourself and meet friends.
It may be wishful thinking as I’ll be 72, when Crossrail fully opens in December 2019.
But how will the new line affect the journeys I take regularly?
Access To Crossrail
I will get to and from Crossrail in one of two ways.
I am within walking distance of Dalston Junction station, where I could use the Overground to get to and from Whitechapel station, which is a major station on Crossrail.
This route is a good one for coming home, as I just walk up the stairs or take the lift at Dalston Junction, before waiting no more than a couple of minutes for a bus to perhaps fifty metres from my house.
The other way to go to Crossrail is to get a bus directly to the line. At present, I have three routes within a hundred metres that go direct to stations, that will be on Crossrail. The 56 goes to Barbican and the 21 and 141 go to Moorgate. I suspect that the buses will be reorganised for Crossrail, so the 38 might be routed to stop by an entrance to the Crossrail station at Tottenham Court Road.
Coming back, if the stop for the 21 and 141 is sited as well as it is now for Moorgate station, this would probably be my preferred route in the rain, as the stop for those routes, is just across a zebra crossing from my house.
If anything my biggest problem about access to Crossrail, is choosing from a selection of convenient routes. Especially, as the buses could well be a few minutes quicker than they are now.
This is probably the most common destination out of London, where I go to the football.
I doubt that I’ll change my route much, but it should be easier to get to and from Liverpool Street and I doubt, I’ll ever use a taxi again.
The only possible change I could see is that if the Great Eastern Main Line links up better with a cross-platform interchange at Shenfield, I might use this route. Hopefully, Ipswich services could also be faster under the Norwich in Ninety program, so sitting in a comfortable train will be less important, than say a journey in under an hour from Liverpool Street.
Liverpool And Manchester
I’ve bracketed these two cities together, probably much to the annoyance of a lot of residents of the two cities, but by the time Crossrail opens, there will be a thirty minute service every ten minutes between the two cities. Much of this happens late this year, so we’re not talking about possible projects.
So for many who live between and around the two cities, your route to and from the South will become one of personal preference and convenience.
Coupled with all the other Northern Hub developments, I suspect that both cities will have a more frequent service to and from London and the South than they do now. It might also be quicker, if 225 kph running is enabled by new signalling.
If Milton Keynes is a Crossrail terminal, I could see up to three trains an hour to both cities stopping there to pick up and set down passengers.
If say Liverpool and Manchester did get three trains an hour from Milton Keynes, you would have a maximum wait of twenty minutes for a train to your desired destination.
I would probably book a seat from Euston, but as that dreadful station starts to be rebuilt, I’d probably hop on Crossrail for Milton Keynes.
If though it was four trains an hour to Liverpool and Manchester from Milton Keynes, and perhaps I wanted to see an exhibition at the Tate Liverpool, I’d probably book a Standard Off Peak Ticket the night before and take my chances on getting a decent seat at Milton Keynes.
The more I look at it, Crossrail must terminate at Milton Keynes and that city should be a stop on a large number of Virgin services.
I’m going to Reading next week to see Ipswich. This one is a no-brainer and it’ll be Crossrail all the way.
I’m also going to Birmingham next week and this one could be difficult choice from a multiplicity of routes.
By 2019, Birmingham’s tram system and some extra trains will link a lot more parts of the city, so depending on where I’m going I might not even go through New Street station. If I’m still going to Bordesley for Birmingham City, will the worst station I’ve used recently be a better proposition and perhaps easier to get to?
But again Milton Keynes is an option.
At the southern end, Crossrail doesn’t really ease the Marylebone problem if I use Chiltern to get to Birmingham. Unless of course getting to the Bakerloo Line at Paddington is easy. The alternative might be to exit Bond Street Station on Crossrail, walk to Oxford Street station and get the Bakerloo Line to Marylebone.
I’m always surprised that Brunel’s Great Western had such bad connections to his father’s Thames Tunnel.
Finally, with Crossrail, Paddington gets put on my list of stations that are easy to get to.
But will I actually go there or get a Reading train and change for Wales and the West there?
I think it depends on whether the new Class 800/801 trains are better than InterCity 125s!
Definitely a go direct and no more slogging along the Piccadilly Line.
Yesterday, it was reported on the BBC that the government is seriously thinking of diverting some Crossrail trains to Hertfordshire possibly terminating them at Tring.
This is an old idea originally proposed by Network Rail and discussed here in Wikipedia. This is what is said.
Network Rail’s July 2011 London & South East Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) recommended diverting West Coast Main Line (WCML) services from stations between London and Milton Keynes Central away from Euston, to Crossrail via Old Oak Common, to free up capacity at Euston for High Speed 2. This would provide a direct service from the WCML to the West End, Canary Wharf and other key destinations, release London Underground capacity at Euston, make better use of Crossrail’s capacity west of Paddington, and improve access to Heathrow Airport from the North. Under this scheme, all Crossrail trains would continue west of Paddington, instead of some of them terminating there. They would serve Heathrow Airport (10 tph), stations to Maidenhead and Reading (6 tph), and stations to Milton Keynes Central (8 tph).
I think this could turn out to be an excellent change of plan. It certainly won’t add a billion or so to the costs of the project. Tring station would appear to have quite a large number of platforms and the only major infrastructure for the route would appear to be a tunnel at Old Oak Common.
Crossrail as originally designed went to Heathrow and Maidenhead in the West and Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the East. Sensibly in my view, Maidenhead has been changed for Reading in the West, to add a whole new level of connectivity to the West of England and Wales. Connecting to the West Coast Main Line could add similar connectivity to the North West of England, North Wales and Scotland.
So should Crossrail go to Tring or perhaps a more substantial interchange on the West Coast Main Line, which has cross platform interchange to Virgin’s streams of Class 390 Pendolinos to speed North? The excerpt from Wikipedia, I quoted earlier, says eight trains an could go to Milton Keynes.
I estimate that if Crossrail services terminated at Milton Keynes, the trains would get there within a few minutes of an hour from Canary Wharf. That is only twenty minutes more than it will take from Heathrow to Canary Wharf.
But Milton Keynes is more than a New City on the West Coast Main Line, it is an important staging post on the East-West Rail Link from Cambridge and East Anglia to Oxford and the West Country, so making Milton Keynes one of the Crossrail termini and linking it to the North with frequent services, could give whole new areas of the country like East Anglia and the West of England much better train services to the North.
If Milton Keynes was developed as this major hub, this would have other consequences.
- The East-West Rail Link should probably be built as a 200 kph capable railway, so that Oxford to Cambridge services could be well under two hours.
- The East-West Rail Link connects to the Midland Main Line at Bedford and Chiltern Services at Bicester, so should it complete the set by going to Cambridge via Peterborough, where it can interchange with the East Coast Main Line. It is the cheapest possible route of the rail link, but what people who live in places like Oakham will think about it, I do not know.
- HS2 might be being built in the wrong place, as if Milton Keynes becomes this important rail hub, surely it should visit the city.
All I can say, is that extending Crossrail to Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes, will make planners think very hard about connections from the terminus to points to the North, East and West.
Transport for London’s Transport Plan for 2050 is particularly forceful about what will happen at Old Oak Common.
A key aim beyond this is to integrate Old Oak Common as a Canary Wharf of the future, with around 90,000 jobs and 19,000 homes
They also have a detailed map, showing lines reaching out in all directions, from the junction of Crossrail, HS2 and the Overground. In addition to the links through the Goblin Extension, I’ve traced earlier, there are a possible extension of the West London Line to Balham and a service northwards on the Midland Main Line to somewhere like St. Albans.
So London is getting another hub to complement Stratford and Canary Wharf in the East and Clapham Junction in the South.
This is the last leg, although I skipped the last bit from Bexleyheath to Abbey Wood, as it’s just a turn round the corner towards the station, that will be one of the termini of Crossrail.
Peckham Rye is not one of London’s best stations. It always reminds me of being two separate stations or two separate lines that happen to be chose enough together, to be able to be connected by a maze of dingy passages and steep staircases to a rather nice building.
It is one of the worse eyesores on the UK rail network.
I had arrived from Tulse Hill and to get to Bexleyheath I needed to get a Dartford train. This was not an easy walk down and then up two of the worst public staircases I know.
It also meant, I had to wait twenty minutes or so, in a station, where the only toilet was locked.
If the Goblin Extension happens, there will of course be no change of train, if for instance you wanted to go from Tulse Hill to Bexleyheath. And like I found, you won’t have to waste twenty minutes.
I took these pictures on the journey.
One point to note, is that on the whole journey, the stations are two platform ones and there would appear to be few places to have a turn back facility. The latter would probably mean that you’d have difficult finding somewhere to turn an interim service, until Crossrail is opened.
If you look at the details of the Crossrail station at Abbey Wood, you might wonder how everything will fit together there. But I’m not really worried, as I doubt TfL would mention the Goblin Extension in their 2050 Transport Plan, if it wasn’t possible.
From the Emirates Air-Line it looks like serious work s winding down at the Crossrail site at Limmo, where the tunnel boring machines; Elizabeth and Victoria, were inserted into a massive hole, to start their journeys to Farringdon via Canary Wharf.
The conveyors are still in place and a ship was there to be loaded with spoil to be taken to Wallasea Island.
Over the years it has been fascinating to see how how the work for Crossrail has started, increased and is now starting to finish, from the DLR and the cable car.