Sunday 13 September 2015

More on London Rapid Transit

Since I wrote the previous blog entry I have added a further map to the Localities area of my website, so that it takes account of proposals for Crossrail 2. Personally I do not like the route, or indeed the proposal as a whole. Should it happen, it must rule out a crossing near Barking Riverside that would link to Abbey Wood. I don't care either for the zig zag of lines that would be the approach to Abbey Wood (my East Chord). The simpler proposal is better and for which there are routes across the Thames via Lewisham and Woolwich. Lord Adonis and the great and the good pressed for Crossrail 2 and it has gone to public response via Transport for London. My first years ago impression of Crossrail (any of it) was that it was going to allow through trains between Paddington and Liverpool Street - a service starting at Norwich might end up at Swansea/ Abertawe, say, via London. It wouldn't have been difficult (in comparative engineering terms) either to have created a kind of ring main of railway terminus lines for through and connecting services. After all, Thameslink is a squeeze, first through Kings Cross and now through St Pancras. I propose Riverlink to go via Imperial Wharf. And this Crossrail 2 proposal would make one enormous cavernous station at Euston St. Pancras Kings Cross. What a name for a roundel! All three stations would presumably end up with one name, hopefully not Eupancross. Crossrail has turned out to be a poor compromise between concepts - mainline railway size, fewer but not few stops - and basically they amount to slightly souped up Underground routes.

All this investment amounts presently to about £5000 per person in London compared with about £5 per person in the North East. When the Conservatives made the railways and buses an operating joke around Britain, they left alone the integrity of London rapid transit. We need this for the rest of Britain and a much more rigorous regional policy - get public sector jobs out of London wherever possible, for example. The BBC has created a media hub in Manchester, but only a public body could have started this. Now Mr Corbyn is Labour leader (60%! - and all that 'writing up' Yvette Cooper was so much journalistic hogwash) perhaps we will get some imaginative ideas regarding returning rail and bus to public ownership. It should start with turning private contracts into fee paying only with tickets united across the country and purchases going to National Rail, and one livery for England and Wales. I'd allow 'service provided by' but that's it. When the contracts are up, or they go bust, the state takes over. Same for the buses - contracts up, the state takes over.

What London needs is the development of the London Overground as fast, frequent and alternative routes, so that some passengers take a little longer to go around the city to come in at a later point. Stations should be moved and extended to provide more junctions. Major new lines will be like new roads: they fill up rapidly and then someone starts thinking about the next one. So much of this is like the dog chasing its tail.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Mapping London's Rapid Transit

As a child I was always drawing maps: with the youngster's elastic eyeballs I could use pens and pencils and do a good interpretation of Ordnance Survey maps especially when the new metric 1:50000 came out with their changed road colours and flesh coloured urban areas.

In the computer age and my mid-range spectacles (in fact my earliest whole reading glasses) I do things on screen, and have become rather wrapped up in the complexities of the London commuter railway system. There are examples about of people redrawing the London Underground and London Overground system as it gets ever more complicated and acquires more kinks. The Central Line will have to kink more when Crossrail comes in, for example.

A chap called Sameboat in Hong Kong decided to have a go and tilted the bottle that is the Central Line. The result was very good. Like many, he uses the vector line system that is the .SVG file, but an .SVG file is actually no more than the same sort of code in an .XML file of defined tags - what became the governor of .HTML and more. Music composition files are .XML files and they have tags designed for purpose - and thus become the way to transfer music sheets between different music composing software. I find .SVG programs hard to use (I need to grapple with the learning curve), so reverted to programs that relate to both vector and raster and end up with good raster lines on .BMP files.

When Sameboat put in a Thameslink line, the distortions of his tilted bottle map showed. He put it in as a thin pink line, so on its way north the titled bottle throws it into a U shape. So I had a go, and stretched that part, so that the rail line sweeps west and north nearer to reality. This was the beginning. I decided to make mine more of a recommendation, although he had the Edgware Line that I have only ever seen as the Northern Line.

My map is now comprehensive, that follows Sameboat's practice of labelling London Overground routes as Chords, and so there is a simpler map for an East Chord and one that follows other suggestions of a crossing between effectively Barking Riverside and Abbey Wood. I think it is sufficient to cross via Woolwich Arsenal and the coming Crossrail or even using the Docklands Light Railway more to the west. My map has now added Thameslink as it was and is together, that passes City Thameslink station, and a Riverlink alternative that goes via Shepherd's Bush. I have included all but the non-stop airport services and the final effort was to fit in what I call 'Citylink' that uses Moorgate as a terminus. I have renamed some lines so as to avoid geographical anomalies - and this had to include the Northern line - and produce some contrasting and easy to remember Chord names. The names themselves are not important but it is better to name than use numbers and no name for a Chord or line should just repeat a station on the service. Like Sameboat I have kept 'line' as lower case for the Underground, only on the basis of another distinction between Underground and Overground.

The present real situation of Underground and Overground is one of poor connectivity. To spend millions on an extension to Battersea that doesn't connect with the Victoria line is surely bad design and decision making. If Vauxhall is too busy for a connection then have a new station at South Lambeth - and very useful it would be for locals. Going to Kennington before turning to London is too far. Surely Brixton can be connected between the high Overground and the Victoria line. I have included connections within walking distance - but 500 yards is too far. How West Ruislip is supposed to be linked to Ickenham I really don't know.

My two maps come with an explanatory web page and this includes a listing of stations for all Chords and where services go off the map. My map goes as far south as the Wimbledon Loop, although with me it is no longer a loop nor indeed Thameslink. Branches out intensify the central area frequency of services, but these have to be reasonably easy to follow, and this is why the Tennis line was born out of the District line, and thus the start of associating names. I know that the Short Chord isn't the shortest, but the Brothers Chord helps seeing the difference with the Sisters Chord, and the Short Chord with the Long Chord. I did think of the High Chord to replace Sameboat's North Chord, but other Chords were 'higher' geographically, and so it became the Great Chord with no implications for place. I know Wembley is used for more than football, but the Football Chord is easy to remember and works with both the Tennis line and the Cricket line - as names. And Perrin, Shardrack and Bamber as names for Chords I leave to the reader to work out, but it has something to do with Norbiton, in the first instance.

And now I know why the spending on infrastructure per person is something like £5000 in London and £5 in the North East of England. But logic, efficiency and rationality needs an identifiable rapid transit system to cope with demand, as well as bringing British Rail back as a unified system (united ticket system, move to one livery) of either fee paid providers or public ownership.