Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Jubilee Line at Wood Wharf

Wood Wharf is a major new 7 hectare development to the east of the Canary Wharf site in London's Docklands. Given the go-ahead by Tower Hamlets council late in 2008 the site will comprise several new towers, of residential (around 1,500 new homes) and commercial nature, generating employment for around 20,000 people.

Proposals to serve public transport requirements include a subway with 'travelator' connecting the site to the Jubilee Line station at Canary Wharf. But Canary Wharf station is already at saturation. Seeing as the Jubilee line passes directly under the Wood Wharf site would it not make a lot more sense to attach a new station to the line?

Wood Wharf development in the context of Canary Wharf. New development shown in blue and mauve.

Neither Tower Hamlets nor the developers seem to think so. The philosophy is that once a line has been built new stations are a no-go. Furthermore, Crossrail is destined to serve the area, although at a point some way north of the Jubilee Line station and quite a bit further from Wood Wharf. Recent trends on London Underground are for larger inter-station spacing rather more than the 450m inter-station distance between Canary Wharf and a possible Wood Wharf station.

Canary Wharf station (grey) and potential Wood Wharf station (red). Station separation (centre to centre) would be approx. 450m. The Wood Wharf development is bound by the black line.

Some will argue that it will increase journey times on the line. The Jubilee Line has relatively few stations for its length, with notable gaps in Bermondsey and East Rotherhithe. Crucially, the Wood Wharf station would sit outside the central stretch of the line, between Baker Street and Canary Wharf, so it would have no impact on journeys between the West End and Docklands. The only journeys it would impact are on the short stretch between Canary Wharf and Stratford.

For comparison, station distribution in the City of London at the same scale.

But how to construct such a station on a functioning line? This could be achieved by in fact open digging into the basin of Wood Wharf to construct platforms, adjacent to the existing Jubilee Line. Spur tunnels could then be bored to connect the new platforms to the existing line, at the very end of the process, when ticket halls, escalators etc are already in place and ready to work. The switch of route could be almost overnight. Since the whole site is to be cleared, there are no surface buildings to constrain construction. This presents a wonderful opportunity. The existing through tunnels need not fall inoperative but can remain as alternative through routes or sidings/turnbacks. See diagram.

Construction of new platforms can be done with the line still open, either to one side, or either side of the line.

The Mindroutes team believe the Wood Wharf station could be constructed for as little as £30m. With such a large commercial project being undertaken much of the cost could be contributed by developers.

It would make operational sense because:
  1. Canary Wharf station is already as big as it can be and is close to saturation - 50m journeys/year approx. Extra works to increase capacity will be expensive.
  2. Plans to provide an underground walkway to Canary Wharf will require much more extensive tunneling and be very expensive anyway.
  3. The Jubilee Line tunnels are already there under the site - minimal tunneling is necessary.
  4. The catchment for the station is substantial. Ridership could easily exceed 10m journeys/ year and provide relief to overstretched Canary Wharf.
  5. Increase in journey times on the line will be negligible compared to time savings for passengers at surface. 
Prudently the Canary Wharf team do not want construction at Wood Wharf to start until their existing office space is let. The potential for building this station exists before the building of the surface development. Once the ground is covered in expensive real estate this simple project becomes a major undertaking, much more expensive and much less feasible. Wood Wharf station is an opportunity to be realised now.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Crossrail Extrapolated - New Network Map

Whilst Crossrail Line 1 is under construction and line 2 is proposed, albeit in ambiguous form, there exist other lines and portions of lines that could be integrated into a wider Crossrail network, including Thameslink, Chiltern Railways to High Wycombe and the Metropolitan line from Baker Street northwards to create a cohesive Crossrail network across the capital, much as the RER, Cercanias and S-Bahn services do on the continent.

To an extent the Crossrail model overlaps with the role of London Underground. The difference I see should be thus: 
  • A mainline profile
  • Greater extent. Not merely urban, or suburban, Crossrail is regional, and connects with outliers and dormitories.
  • Lower station density. Especially in urban centres, Crossrail's greater scope requires fewer stops per mile to improve efficiency. As it stands, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon and Liverpool Street seems one station too many.
  • Split running. Various branches and routes can be tolerated on Crossrail, more so than on LUL.
Lines which might be considered for inclusion/upgrade are the following:

1. Thameslink: already performs a "Crossrail-like" function on a N-S axis, albeit with an unusually long extension (new upgrades will see it reach from Brighton to Kings Lynn). Some of the line might be pared back in this scenario.

2. Metropolitan Line: The Met has always been an odd sausage. Conceived as a mainline commuter railway, with a few underground stations in central London. it did for a period operate as far as Aylesbury. I propose routing it under Marylebone station and the West End through Charing Cross and over south London tracks to Gatwick airport. Through platforms at Baker Street would be freed up to become terminator/reversing platforms for the Circle/Hammersmith & City lines. Of course, I envisage running services through to Aylesbury again.

3. Chiltern Line. Running closely parallel to the Met is the Chiltern Line/Railway. An operational merger of the service to High Wycombe with the Met is possible, or it could continue to run in parallel. The former is perhaps preferable in order to maintain separate track for the Chiltern services running to Birmingham, which in fact is the remnant service retainging the Chiltern franchise. This scheme would see Baker Street cease as a Met LIne terminus, both lines instead diving into tunnel under Marylebone (already saturated) and on to south and southeast London tracks.

4. LTS/London Tilbury and Southend. Not a very long line, but a connection through the city and south London out to Dorking and Orpington is possible.

In the first version London Overground is integrated fully into Crossrail. Not the variation on the original Crossrail scheme. Instead of Bond Street, a Kensal Green station is included. This is now not feasible, since construction of Bond Street Crossrail is underway. The western extension otherwise remains the same, but the southeastern route to Abbey Wood is extended down to Dartford fr useful connections with other lines.

(c) Copyright Mindroutes / Luke Peters 2010. To view LARGE VERSION, Left click on image, then right click 'view image'

In the second version London Overground is extracted and stands apart. Operation of the Metropolitan and Chiltern Lines remains distinct though they share routing from West Hampstead south as far as Charing Cross.

(c) Copyright Mindroutes / Luke Peters 2010. To view LARGE VERSION, Left click on image, then right click 'view image'