TfL have now published their preferred route for Crossrail 2 and in this post I will detail, how I think it will affect East London.
In this post, I will refer to the Crossrail currently being built as Crossrail 1 to avoid confusion.
The Progression Of Large Projects
I have been around the management of large projects for just over forty years, since I wrote my first software system for project management in 1973. From talking to project managers over that time, I have come to various conclusions, some of which will certainly affect the realisation of Crossrail 2.
The second system I wrote; Artemis, was very much involved in providing the necessary management for the development of North Sea Oil. Project managers told me many times, that things were getting easier and more affordable because of the development of bigger and better rigs, platforms and lifting capabilities. In parallel better techniques and methods were also being developed.
I was also told many times, that doing the second, third or fourth version of something like a concrete production platform, got easier each time, especially if substantially the same team could be used.
Crossrail 2 Is The Next In A Long Line
You could argue that Crossrail 2 will be the latest in a succession of large tunnelling projects under London, since the Second World War.
1 The Victoria Line was bored in the 1960s and I can remember seeing film of the digging of both this line’s tunnels and those at Dartford on the television. Pleasant and safe working, it was not! The BBC have posted a 1969 documentary called How They Dug The Victoria Line on iPlayer. It is a must watch!
2. The Jubilee Line was bored in two sections and was completed as we see it now in 2000. In some ways it is the first modern line and stations in London, where some the latter were built to be architectural gems, like some of London’s pre-war stations.
3. Around the turn of the millennium, the Docklands Light Railway was also extended with two branches and four tunnels under the Thames. I have a feeling that the tunnels of the DLR are the first under London to have wholly concrete as opposed to all or partly iron or steel linings. This video, shows the tunnel from Bank to Shadwell.
5. Over the last few years, the forty-two kilometres of tunnels for Crossrail 1 have been bored under London. Like HS1’s tunnels they are full-size with overhead electrification and hopefully non-corroding concrete linings.
These five tunnels show a constant progression of larger and better-designed and constructed tunnels, that have been built by using a succession of bigger and better machines.
You also have a tremendous base of knowledge built-up by companies, engineers and tunnel workers, which as the recent documentary on the BBC about Crossrail showed, includes families and individuals, who’ve worked on all these five tunnels and a good few others besides!
It is my belief that when the politicians press the Go-button on Crossrail 2, the tunnels will make a painless progression under London as Crossrail 2 sneaks along the defined route.
Crossrail 1 And Crossrail 2 Compared
At first sight, both Crossrails would appear to be two large tunnels and train lines across London, from where lines fan out into the wider suburbs and nearby towns and cities at each end.
But there are some major differences.
Crossrail 1 is much more complicated than Crossrail 2. I suspect some will argue that if they were designing Crossrail 1 today, it would be very different to what is being built. For instance, of the major rail terminals in London, it only serves Liverpool Street and Paddington. I think that the design of Crossrail 2 cleverly builds on Crossrail 1 and helps get over some of the earlier line’s deficiencies.
Crossrail 1 was designed in an era, where passengers needed booking offices in stations. In the last couple of years, the growth in contactless ticketing is showing that booking offices can be closed and the space used for more productive purposes.
Crossrail 1 chose to have the major tunnel portals at Royal Oak, Pudding Mill Lane and Plumstead which would appear to be much more cramped and congested sites than those of Crossrail 2 at Tottenham Hale, New Southgate and Wimbledon.
In addition the surface sections of Crossrail 1 would appear to require a lot more work to bring them up to modern standards, than similar parts of Crossrail 2.
This efficient simplicity in the design will keep costs, time-scales and disruption during the construction phase of Crossrail 2, to a much lower level than Crossrail 1.
Crossrail 1 was skilfully threaded through the mass of tunnels under London, as the BBC documentary showed. The engineers could have gone deeper to get under the Northern Line at Tottenham Court Road but for some reason they didn’t. Perhaps going deeper would have meant difficulties and extra costs in the design of stations. Crossrail 2 will have to go deeper in the Dalston area to get under High Speed One and it will also have to pass Crossrail 1 at Tottenham Court Road. The tunnels of High Speed One are at a depth of 34 to 50 metres, so will we see Crossrail 2 bored across London below all the other foundations and infrastructure?
Crossrail 1 by virtue of its route through Central London has necessitated the expensive rebuilding of quite a few stations. It has also needed expensive new stations at Canary Wharf, Woolwich and Custom House. On the other hand, Crossrail 2 would appear not to require so many stations to be completely rebuilt, as the three central stations of Euston/St. Pancras, Tottenham Court Road and Victoria, will have been or are being rebuilt for other reasons and like Angel will have been rebuilt with provision to link to Crossrail 2. This will save time and costs in construction and probably mean that the disruption caused by Crossrail 2 would be much less than Crossrail 1.
The big station reconstruction will be Euston for HS2 and that will cause massive disruption to everything. Making sure the new station will connect easily to Crossrail 2, is a small problem in the grand scheme of things.
When Crossrail 1 opens, Whitechapel station will be the Jewel In The East. And this will not be just about how the station was designed and will look, but about the way it was built. Instead of digging down from the current station to the new Crossrail 1 tunnels, the thirty metres or so long shaft for the escalators and lifts is being dug upwards from the tunnels, using a coal mining technique called uphill excavation.
Currently the escalators in London with the highest vertical rise are those at Angel station, which rise twenty-seven metres, but this is a dwarf compared to some of the longest in the world. Crossrail 2 looks certain to break London’s record.
Crossrail 2 Could Be A Very Deep Line
I think we could see an unprecedented deep tunnel for Crossrail 2 across London, with tunnels in places over fifty metres below the surface. By comparison, Crossrail 1 is thirty metres deep at Whitechapel, which is not as deep as the Saint Petersburg metro , which has one station at a depth of eighty-six metres.
No major station rebuilding, the digging of stations from the tunnel up, longer escalators and other smaller improvements in techniques and machines , lead me to the conclusion, that the central section of Crossrail 2 will be one deep tunnel that excavates its way to the surface mainly direct into existing Crossrail 2-ready stations.
It will be a very cost effective and hopefully much quicker way of building a railway under London, which could cause a lot less disruption than the current Crossrail 1.
What Can Crossrail 2 Learn From Crossrail 1?
In my view from the outside, Crossrail 1 has been a pretty well-managed project. But it has skilfully used various ideas to make construction flow smoothly.
One big problem with large tunnelling projects is getting rid of all the spoil dug out of the tunnels. Crossrail 1 changed, the tunnelling strategy to remove excavated material by barge from Leamouth rather than the originally proposed complex conveyor system in Mile End.
To further use the spoil on the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project was a master-stroke with a large dose of green.
It would appear that all three of Crossrail 2’s portals have good rail and/or water access to remove spoil. Will it be used to similar effect?
Crossrail 1 has been able to use archaeology for positive publicity to balance negative stories. I don’t think Crossrail 2 will be going through such rich veins of historical interest, but they will have to find a positive story to spin, that is not directly-related to the project.
Crossrail 1 had a major problem with the junction of the two eastern branches under Stepney. Instead of being heavy, they worked with the Stepney City Farm to create a solution acceptable to both parties. Crossrail 2 must work the same way in sensitive areas, like their proposed junction under Stamford Hill and the only new station on the line at Chelsea.
When people talk about Crossrail 1, the subject of disruption always comes up. In any plan for the design and construction of Crossrail 2, minimising disruption should be an important objective.
There is an entry entitled Controversy in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail.
This is one of the things that is said.
There had been complaints from music fans, as the redevelopment of the area forced the closure of a number of historic music venues. The London Astoria, the Astoria 2, The Metro, Sin nightclub and The Ghetto have been demolished to allow expansion of the ticket hall and congestion relief at Tottenham Court Road tube station in advance of the arrival of Crossrail.
Crossrail 2 might well find that if they avoided unnecessary demolition, they might calm a few Nimbys.
What Can Crossrail 2 Learn From Other Metros?
From the little of Crossrail 1, I’ve seen in reality, and the masses of visualisations I’ve seen in places like the Crossrail 1 web site, the line strikes me as sound and solid, but not that adventurous in its approach to design and architecture. The stations with perhaps a couple of exceptions, do not have mould-breaking designs that characterise the Piccadilly and Jubilee Lines.
London Transport, the predecessor to Transport for London, was rightly famous for its design from typefaces and maps to stations and buses.
The rules still seem to be applied, but Crossrail 1 doesn’t seem to have extended them, in the way that the Victoria Line did and the Docklands Light Railway and the London Overground still are.
I recently went to Bilbao and saw Norman Foster’s award-winning Metro, which is very much a design-led system.
Crossrail 2 needs to find itself a modern extension of London Transport’s philosophy. They might perhaps start by stealing and Londonising the fosterito idea from Bilbao.
The Safeguarded Areas For Crossrail 2
Crossrail 2 has now firmed up the areas they want to be safeguarded from any possible development that might make building the line difficult.
The web site says this about safeguarding.
The updated route means that relevant planning applications in safeguarded areas will be referred to TfL for advice. If development interferes with Crossrail 2, either a compromise will be reached or the development will not be allowed.
It also says this about TfL and compulsory purchase.
TfL said it currently has no plans to compulsorily purchase properties along the route.
This page on the Crossrail 2 web site, explains all about safeguarded areas and acts as a key to the detailed maps.
The maps show the route of the line and how it effects individual areas, streets and houses.
The only problem is that the PDF maps are sometimes a bit on the skew, but hopefully they will be improved.
Crossrail 2 Through East London
I’m going to look at the area as it works it way through Hackney from Tottenham Hale to The Angel.
The portal for the North Eastern branch is south of Tottenham Hale station, from where it goes up the West Anglia Main Line to Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Hertford East.
It is basically a good plan, as it would appear that the tunnel portal appears to be in an area with all the beauty and charm of East London after the Blitz. It is also located close to rail and water for the efficient and environmentally sound removal of tunnel spoil. Thames Water are even ceating the Walthamstow Wetlands in the area and may have innovative uses for some f the tunnel spoil.
This post entitled Crossrail 2 At Tottenham Hale, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full.
South Tottenham/Seven Sisters
It looks increasingly like South Tottenham and Seven Sisters stations could share a double-ended Crossrail 2 station and become a major interchange between London Overground ‘s Gospel Oak to Barking and Lea Valley Lines, the Victoria Line, Crossrail 2 and National Rail services.
Such an interchange will support major development in a part of London, that desperately needs more housing, jobs and leisure and business opportunities.
This post entitled Crossrail 2 At South Tottenham/Seven Sisters, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full.
The Junction Under Stamford Hill
The two northern branches of Crossrail 2, that go to New Southgate and Tottenham Hale respectively, would appear according to the safeguarding map on the Crossrail 2 web site, to join together under Stamford Hill.
It all seems to point to some clever strategy and alignments, that will allow the junction to be created deep underground, without disturbing anything or anybody on the surface.
This post entitled The Crossrail 2 Junction Under Stamford Hill, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full.
If there is one area in East London that needs to see its existing transport links tidied up and new ones added, it is Hackney and Dalston.
We have been working closely with the London borough of Hackney on the early development of the proposals for how Crossrail 2 could ultimately serve Dalston. The work to date has been based around delivering a double-ended station, with one end being at Dalston Junction, and the other at Dalston Kingsland, thereby allowing the Crossrail 2 station to link to both existing stations. As Mr. Miller rightly points out, the distance between the existing stations is well suited to the 250m long platforms that will be required for the Crossrail 2 station, and the greater interchange opportunities to London Overground services also deliver significant benefits.
I believe that there is an opportunity to create a world class station that subtly brings together all the good elements of the area. The only necessary demolition would be the unloved Dalston Kingsland station. TfL have told me off the record, that Kingsland station will be replaced fairly soon.
This post entitled Crossrail 2 At Dalston, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full about the stations.
De Beauvoir Town
Looking at the safeguarding maps gives the impression that Crossrail 2 will swing under De Beauvoir Town before turning in the direction of the Angel and Kings Cross.
I think the only negative effect will be the possible use of the Bentley Road Car Park as a work site. Why else would it have been singled out for safeguarding?
This post entitled Crossrail 2 Under De Beauvoir Town, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full.
Just as at Stamford Hill, I feel that Crossrail 2 could effectively take a route through the hill at the Angel, well below the foundations of any building on top.
Angel station was rebuilt in the 1990s and this was after a route for Crossrail 2 was first safeguarded, so I suspect that creating a Crossrail 2 station at Angel would have been taken into account in the rebuilding.
I think the biggest decision to be made at the Angel, is whether the new station is double-ended with entrances on both sides of the hill or it just pops up into the current station.
As at Dalston, there is scope for the creation of an affordable world class station, which is subtly blended with the good buildings in the area.
How Will Crossrail Be Built?
Crossrail 1 was built rather traditionally, in that the tunnels have been bored first and then the stations have been created. One thing that surprised me was that the surface sections, which have nothing to do with the tunnels were not prepared for Crossrail 1 a lot earlier.
This is probably because politicians dithered for years about giving the go-ahead for the line. More time and the better planning before tunnelling started would have enabled, the surface stations and possibly one or two of the Central London ones to be made Crossrail 1-ready.
Crossrail 2 has a big advantage over Crossrail 1, when it comes to the politics of the route and construction.
With the exception of a few stations in Hertfordshire and some in the boroughs of Elmbridge, Spelthorne and Epsom and Ewell, Crossrail 2 is a London project, where nearly everything is under the control of Transport for London and ultimately the Mayor. As the only work that will need to be done to outlying stations like Hertford East and Epsom, is bring the existing structures up to a modern standard, that will be capable of handling larger trains, I can’t imagine many complaints about Crossrail 2 from that quarter. It’s interesting to note, that now tunnelling is complete most of the negative stories from Crossrail 1 are about works on the surface section.
As construction of Crossrail 2 is unlikely to start for some years, the tunnelling can probably be scheduled to start after all of the stations have been upgraded to be Crossrail 2-ready.
When St. Pancras was rebuilt for High Speed One, provision was made for Thameslink, and in the same way when Euston and Victoria are rebuilt, I will be surprised if the designs don’t incorporate full provision for Crossrail 2.
Where I live in Dalston, which according to my letter says will have a double-ended station serving both Dalston stations, a TfL manager told me that Dalston Kingsland station is to be rebuilt in the next few years. So as Dalston Junction station was built with Crossrail 2 in mind, boring the tunnels through Dalston will only require threading two needles with the same thread simultaneously.
Probably the only station that needs to be created or rebuilt after or alongside the tunnelling is Chelsea Kings Road, which I suspect will be more politically difficult than any other.
A lot of other features of Crossrail 2, like trains, signalling and the design of tunnels, platforms, track and overhead line systems will probably be the same as Crossrail 1.
I would suspect that a decision will be made to use the same Class 345 trains for Crossrail 2, that are being built for Crossrail 1. The only difference would be that they will need to be dual-voltage to run on the third-rail lines in the south. But they could be built as a run-on to the trains needed for Crossrail 1 and possibly introduced early on the surface lines from Liverpool Street to Hertford North or Victoria to Epsom. I feel that a common weakness of Crossrail 1 and Thameslink, is that they are introducing new types of train as they are respectively building or updating the lines. By using a proven train type the risks associated with the project will be reduced.
So I think we will get a series of phases for Crossrail 2.
1. Introduce some of the new trains on some of the surface sections. New trains on these lines will be needed anyway, as some of the current ones are getting pretty tired and dated.
2. Rebuild Euston station for High Speed Two and make provision for connection to Crossrail 2. This phase alone is probably the most expensive and contentious rail project that will happen in London in the next few years and inextricably links the work for Crossrail 2 and HS2.
3. The current situation at Victoria station is difficult to say the least. Hopefully in 2018, it will have a much better Underground station, with two platforms at which Crossrail 2’s tunnellers will aim their boring machines.
4. Make all the existing stations on the surface lines, Crossrail-2 ready and to a modern standard. Much of the work on the surface sections will be done anyway under Network Rail’s Access for All program.
5. Bore the tunnels through Central London.
6. Fit out the tunnels and the new station platforms.
7. Build the station at Chelsea. This could be an independent last phase, as was Pimlico station on the Victoria Line
Obviously, there are other ancillary projects like the creation of a depot for the trains and as a lot of Phases 1 to 4 won’t interfere with Phases 5 and 6, it could be scheduled to be done at the same time, if planned properly.
As so many elements of Crossrail 2 should be the same as Crossrail 1, any good project manager would probably say costs would be saved by scheduling Crossrail 2 to follow Crossrail 1 by a couple of years or so.
I am optimistic that Crossrail 2 can set new standards of design, affordability, accessibility and neighbourliness as it is built across London in a much shorter time with less demolition and disruption than Crossrail 1.
Well! At least I’m very hopeful!
Crossrail have put up this time-lapse video of the building of the structure of Custom House station.
If you want to read the full details, it’s here on the Crossrail web site.
I believe the station is a major advance in the construction of buildings.
One of the engineers working on the station, told me that compared to traditional methods of pouring concrete on site, the quality is a lot better.
As Crossrail are claiming the whole structure was put together in a year and a day, it would appear to be quicker too!
On my way back from Oxford, I was able to get these pictures of Airport Junction, which has been updated to take Crossrail to Heathrow.
It would appear to be almost complete.
Some reports say that trains will be using the new upgraded flyover this year.
Some of the overhead electrification installed in recent decades has been rather less than robust. These pictures show some of the structures on the Great Western Main Line and Crossrail.
If you compare these pictures with those that I took at Eccles in October 2013, they do seem to be of a similar standard.
Hopefully, this current electrification won’t have some of the problems of projects that were done earlier.
It’s only a couple of months before the Shopping Centre above Canary Wharf Crossrail station opens.
It looks like it will make it!
Today’s pictures add a few of the Crossrail line as it runs along by the side of the Docklands Light Railway to the Connaught Tunnel.
This area of the line is now starting to look like a railway. The bridge at Prince Regent station must have some of steepest and longest steps on the DLR, but once you’re up there you get good views of the rebirth of the Connaught Tunnel and Crossrail as it goes back to Custom House station and the portal to the tunnel to the west of that station. This Google Earth image shows the location of the station by the Excel Exhibition Centre.
You can clearly see the buttresses in the Connaught Tunnel, that are also visible in the gallery, to the east of Prince Regent station and above the train on the Docklands Light Railway.
The Connaught Tunnel must curve southwards to link up with Crossrail’s Thames Tunnel.
I passed through Shenfield station this morning and took these pictures of the work that has started to create an additional Platform 6 at the station for Crossrail.
The work would appear to be not causing too many problems for rail passengers. This Google Earth image shows the station.
The platform will slot into the green area to the north of the current Platform 5, which is the odd platform of five, as 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 are all arranged on either side of an island platform. This is how the work is described in Wikipedia.
Ten-carriage Crossrail trains will run over the pair of ‘electric lines’, rather than the mainlines, replacing the existing eight-carriage “metro” trains and allowing Crossrail to serve all stations between Shenfield and Liverpool Street, continuing west towards Reading and London Heathrow Airport. At peak hours the frequency of service will increase from eight trains per hour to 12, necessitating the construction of a new 210-metre long platform 6, which will be built to the north of platform 5, replacing one of the existing three western sidings. The two remaining western sidings and three new eastern sidings will also be used by Crossrail. It is estimated that Crossrail will cut morning peak journey times by up to seven minutes although there will be no reduction to some journey times.
As the new Platform 6 will be paired with Platform 5, which is already step-free with a lift, this be one of the more simpler station upgrades for Crossrail.
I can’t help feeling that when Crossrail is open, that Shenfield will become a major interchange for passengers travelling between Crossrail stations in Central and West London and stations on the Great Eastern Main Line like Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich.
Crossrail is not a high-speed line, but the increase in connectivity the line will bring, will change the lives of everybody who use it or live within a few miles.
Some pilots consider flying low an ultimate thrill.
So look at this report on the BBC web site.
The East London Line currently runs at 16 trains per hour, but changes to the signalling and lengthened platforms will allow 24 6-car trains per hour, in the near future.
In my speculation about tram-trains in Croydon, I realised that you could get from Dalston Junction to Hayes with just one change at New Cross, in about 64-67 minutes with a delay of about 10-15 minutes caused by the change, although the change going south is just walking across the platform.
So in a few years time, when ERTMS allows us to run trains closer together would it be a good idea to use some of the extra capacity in the East London Line to run trains direct from Dalston Junction to Hayes via New Cross and Lewisham. I believe even two trains an hour would make a lot of difference.
1. Timings between Dalston Junction and Hayes would drop to about 52-54 minutes.
2. It would give people who live North of the Thames easy access to Lewisham, which is well-connected to Kent. Otherwise you need to go to one of the terminals that serve the area. And often that is the dreaded Victoria.
3. Once Crossrail opens, it will also give those South of the Thames a second route to the line by going direct to Whitechapel, instead of going to either Abbey Wood or Woolwich.
4. Hayes to Heathrow by Crossrail changing at Lewisham and Abbey Wood will be around 1:56, whereas just changing at Whitechapel will be 1:33. What also illustrates the speed of this route is West Croydon to Heathrow via Whitechapel and Crossrail could be about 1:26.
5. It would surely give an alternative route under the river and enable people to get home when problems exist on the primary routes.
The East London Line has very much been a quiet success, that has been enjoyed by those who live in the area it serves. So why shouldn’t we widen its catchment area?
Crossrail will bring a tremendous amount of extra passengers into London. So we must develop the infrastructure that links it to as much of London as possible. Thameslink is being upgraded and to many, the East London Line is just as valuable as a North South route.
If you link Hayes to the East London Line, why not link Orpington to it via Lewisham. Two trains per hour to Orpington, would give an excellent four trains an hour to Lewisham.
I obviously don’t know Transport for London’s passenger figures, but in the four years since the East London Line reopened, I’ve only gone to New Cross once, where I wasn’t going to catch a train on from the station.
So is New Cross the least used direct southern destination on the East London Line? Also, was it only included in the East London Line for historic reasons, as it had been a Metropolitan Line destination?
If so, it might be an idea to see if extension of the four trains per hour services terminating at the station is possible. Perhaps two could go Hayes and two to Orpington, which would double the frequency to both places from New Cross.
I think the only objectors would be Southastern.
If nothing else, this analysis shows how complicated London’s rail network is and how difficult it is to get the train patterns right.
Some weeks ago Transport for London (TfL) launched a consultation on transport links and stations in the Old Oak Common area of West London.
A report in the Kilburn Times has said that the public have said that they’d prefer Option C of the TfL consultation, which involves two new Overground stations.
2. Hythe Road on the West London Line.
This TfL map shows their locations.
And this is a Google Earth image.
As TfL are saying that service frequencies on the West London Line will be four trains per hour, which is the same as that of trains to Heathrow on Crossrail, it strikes me that these two new stations will greatly ease access to Heathrow from South London and beyond.
From where I live in Dalston, the two station idea has the benefit that if I want to get on Crossrail to go to Reading or Heathrow, it is just a single change at either of the two stations, depending on where my westbound North London Line train is going. Old Oak Common would appear to be a shorter walk however.
But surely, if you are doing a big development as at Old Oak Common, you need as many connections as you can reasonably afford.