If I haven’t got tickets and I’m going to say Reading or Slough, I always go via Dalston Junction to get the tickets in the machine there, as I get the best price that is otherwise only available with the hassle of queuing up at a Ticket Office.
Transport for London’s recommended route says get to Highbury and Islington station and use the Victoria and Bakerloo lines to get to Paddington. It suggests a time of just over thirty minutes.
But there are some problems with this route, especially if I get a bus to Highbury and Islington.
- There is as much walking, as going to Dalston Junction.
- The ticket machines at Highbury and Islington don’t issue tickets from the Zone 6 Boundary, so I have to pay for an unneeded journey from Paddington to West Drayton.
- In the rush hour or at busy times, this route is horrendous, due to the inadequate Victoria line.
- Sometimes, buses to the station are hard to find, due to heavy traffic on the Balls Pond Road.
It may be the quickest at times, but it is never the easiest.
I tend to go one of two routes.
- I often use the Overground to Whitechapel and then the Hammersmith and City line to Paddington. This route has the advantage that it is air-conditioned all the way, but it takes about a dozen minutes longer, than the recommended route.
- If I take a bus to Kings Cross and then take the Hammersmith and City line, this can be around forty minutes.
But if I want to go on a main line train out of Paddington, it puts me at the wrong end of the station, unless I have a booked train.
Today, I’m going to Cardiff on the 13:45 train out of Paddington. As I’m taking my own gluten-free sandwiches and I won’t have to buy a drink, I shall use the Whitechapel route, leaving before 12:30.
Crossrail will change all this in that I’ll still get to Whitechapel in eight minutes and then it’ll be thirteen minutes to Paddington. So it should be under half-an-hour between the two stations and we’ll all probably be delivered to the convenient end of Paddington.
It is interesting to apply my mother’s rule of two minutes a station and five minutes for an interchange to the before and after Crossrail routes via Whitechapel.
Before Crossrail – 35 minutes
After Crossrail – 23 minutes
It’ll be fascinating to see whether the twenty-three minute figure is regularly beaten. Hopefully as the interchange at Whitechapel will be quicker, Paddington station will be much easier and the trains on Crossrail will be very frequent, this will be the case.
A Quaint Small Station With Bad Access – Rating 4/10
Iver was the last Crossrail station I visited and I didn’t save the best to last.
iver could become part of the Heathrow Hub in the future, but for Crossrail it will need lifts and updated buildings.
In my visit to West Drayton station, I also noted a railway line going away from the main line towards the North West.
In this aerial view you can clearly see it branching away at the station, which is marked by the red arrow. It then curves round to go under the Great Western Main Line in a Southerly direction, at the far left of the picture.
This is the Staines and West Drayton Railway and the northern section from West Drayton to Colnbrook is still used by freight trains. Some take fuel to a depot near Heathrow.
It seems to me over the last few years, there have been several proposals to improve the links from places like Reading and the West and Waterloo and South London, some of which pass through this area. But none seem to build on and improve this line.
We know that trains will be able to get from Reading and the West to Heathrow, but all projects to Waterloo and South London like Airtrack, seem to have foundered until now.
On the other hand, when Crossrail and Thameslink are fully operational in 2019, it looks like the journey time between East Croydon and Heathrow, changing at Farringdon will be around an hour. Currently, it looks like it’s a couple of minutes over an hour and a half, with two changes. Fast times need a trip on the expensive Heathrow Express.
I think that the only certainty is that in the next ten years or so, Heathrow and Crossrail/Thameslink will have a tremendous influence on railways in the vicinity of West London.
Crossrail is a new railway from Reading in the West to Shenfield in the East.
But not everything is going to be brand new!
Modifications are probably quite small as the current four lines are already electrified. Two of these will be used by Crossrail.
The viaduct ticks all the boxes on everybody’s lists.
- It was designed by IK Brunel
- It is Grade 1 Listed and is part of the submission to get the Great Western Railway declared a World Heritage Site.
- Pevsner said “Few viaducts have such architectural panache” about this viaduct.
- It is inhabited by a colony of bats.
- The electrification of the bridge was carried out in a sympathetic manner.
But above all, it would appear it is up to the job for which it is to be used.
You have to admit, that the Victorians knew how to build with brick!
Crossrail seems to be a rail line that connects most of London’s Main shopping centres together. Starting from the East at Shenfield and going West, you get Romford, Ilford, Stratford/Eastfield, Moorgate, Oxford Street, Bond Street, Ealing, Slough and Reading.
You probably have to include Woolwich and Canary Wharf on the Abbey Wood branch, although Canary Wharf could be described as an important station in the basement of a shopping centre.
Even Westfield at Shepherds Bush is just a detour away from Crossrail on the Central line.
So will one of the slogans for the new line be something like.
Going shopping? Then go Crossrail!
I searched for “Shopping Crossrail and found this article in Retail Week. This is an extract.
As John Platt, managing consultant at location analyst CACI explains: “Currently no major high speed rail routes offer direct access to the heart of central London’s retail offer from the suburbs. All the major stations are on the edge of central London’s retail, meaning shoppers travelling from outside central London have to make a second trip on some form of transport.
“With stations at Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street this will not be the case with Crossrail.
So the article is optimistic that Crossrail will increase business in the retail sector.
The issues on the Western branch to Reading are broadly similar to those on the Shenfield Metro.
1. Disabled And Step Free Access
One advantage in the West is that a lot of stations have plenty of space and are not cramped like say Manor Park.
2. Train Access
The platforms in the West are probably worse matches to the trains than those in the East.
But like the East, they seem to fairly straight.
3. Long Distance Trains
The Western branch has the same problem as the Shenfield Metro in that how does it interface in the best manner with the long distance trains.
But it does have the opportunity of connecting Heathrow to Wales and the West through Reading.
4. Buses And Onward Travel
These are probably worse than the East and might be more difficult to saolve as you’re often not talking to London or its boroughs.
I have a feeling that Transport for London may get all of the stations to use London’s very much proven system.
As in the East, there appeared to be a lot of freight on the line.
Not Much To Do Here! – Rating 6/10
Langley station is almost Crossrail-ready now and probably just needs lifts on the bridge and the usual cosmetics.
The bridge obviously needs reconstructing, but there is also a lot of potential in doing something positive with the station building and perhaps the small cafe.
I mentioned in this post, that I’d seen a footbridge, that spanned the lines as you approached Paddington.
So this morning, I went to have a look.
The bridge does mean you can see the workings well, but photographing them is difficult, as you have to look through a wire mesh.
It will be fascinating to go back here, to see the area, as the railway and its infrastructure progresses.
If you want to see it, just go to Royal Oak station, walk along Westbourne Park Villas and the footbridge is on the railway side of this road on the right.
After crossing the bridge, you can either complete the circle back to Royal Oak or take a bus.
I’ve seen this footbridge that might give a view into the Crossrail site at Royal Oak station before.
I wonder if it still accessible. I’ve just looked on Google Maps and obtained this picture of the \area.
I think the bridge is clearly shown in this picture stretching across the tracks, starting from the s in Westbourne. Note too, the signal gantry, just to the right.
So it seems, if I was to go to Royal Oak station and walk along Westbourne Park Villas, I might get access to the bridge.
Wikipedia has a schedule of proposed services. I have broken this down to get the figures for my catalogue of stations. Starting in the East, they can be summarised as follows.
This will have 12 tph (trains per hour) in the peak and 6 tph in the off-peak, calling at all stations and going through the central tunnel to the West.
In addition, there will be other services going into Liverpool Street. Wikipedia is saying 10 tph in the peak and 5 tph in the off-peak. Some will be limited stop, but it does look like that all stations will get at least 6 tph in the off-peak and some will get around ten.
As this is a substantially better service than exists today, you must be extremely pleased if you own or have just bought a house along the branch.
Abbey Wood Branch
Like the Shenfield branch, this branch is scheduled to get 12 tph in the peak, but the off-peak level is not stated.
If the off-peak is the same as the Shenfield branch, then that figure must probably be added to the 10 tph services Abbey Wood enjoys at the moment into other London termini.
24 tph in the peak will pass through the central tunnels, with plans for 14 tph to turn-back at Paddington.
The off-peak is not stated, but if the Shenfield branch figures are correct, then it could be something like 12 tph, with perhaps 7 tph to Paddington only.
As the Class 345 trains will be so much larger than the typical Underground train, this will be a tremendous increase in capacity across Central London.
Western Branch – Paddington to West Drayton
As West Drayton will be served by trains to all the Western termini and will also turnback a couple of trains per hour, it should get 10 tph in the peak going through the central tunnels. Wikipedia says it will get ten in the off-peak as well, so that probably means my figure of seven off-peak trains turning at Paddington is wrong.
There will also be other trains going direct to Paddington. 4 tph are currently proposed to be the Heathrow Express. I can’t see this high-priced service surviving long past Crossrail’s opening in its present form.
Wikipedia says that 4 tph will go to Heathrow all day and hopefully all night, running all the way to Shenfield and Abbey Wood. But these services will not go to Terminal 5 and the expensive Heathrow Express will still be running.
I think that there’ll be some replanning here. I know this is old an article in the Daily Mail from 2012, but it shows that Boris Johnson and others, think that Crossrail should go to Terminal 5.
As Terminal 5 could be joined to Reading, it might be that some Crossrail services from Reading go via Heathrow.
Western Branch – Beyond West Drayton
It looks like 2 tph will go to each of Maidenhead and Reading, with an additional 2 tph going limited-stop from Reading to Paddington.