Crossrail

Posted on
  • We haven't had a Crossrail thread, just a couple of them on various aspects of it.

    Concerns about construction lorry movements:

    https://www.lfgss.com/conversations/1455­46/
    https://www.lfgss.com/conversations/1582­38/

    Related bus route changes:

    https://www.lfgss.com/conversations/3101­67/

    It's obviously a bit late to start a thread now, but I thought I would in view of the problems with late opening of the lines (initially the central section, and later the branches at either end), and the implications for cycling, of which the questions surrounding Oxford Street are the most obvious ones. However, there is also the expectation that fewer people might choose to cycle along its alignments when Crossrail becomes available.

  • So, on the delays:

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018­/dec/10/final-crossrail-bill-could-hit-1­7bn-with-london-paying-2bn-shortfall

    I think that a large part of these problems are caused not by the withdrawal of TfL's central government grant, but by the reduction of the Crossrail budget in Osborne's first Spending Review in 2010. The budget was cut by about £1bn then, which was the shortfall identified by July this year. Obviously, the other TfL cuts are bad, too, but I strongly suspect the earlier budget cut was the primary reason.

  • On Oxford Street, there was some discussion in the TfL thread, starting here:

    https://www.lfgss.com/comments/14271441/­

    Currently on the table are Westminster's plans for it:

    https://www.westminster.gov.uk/oxford-st­reet-district-strategy-0

    The main reason why this is important for cycling is because Crossrail is expected to bring so many more pedestrians to an area that isn't exactly short of pedestrians right now, that other modes may be crowded out partially or entirely. This would affect mainly bus traffic, taxi drivers, and cycling.

    Sadiq Khan's latest plan to 'pedestrianise' Oxford Street was resisted by Westminster. It's a long-running saga whose last verses are a long way away from being sung. :)

  • No doubt budget cuts played a part, but unfortunately, this is just typical of how Railway Infrastructure projects work, or don’t, in my experience in the UK.

    Anyone associated with Crossrail in the last year/18months could tell you that it would never be ready for the original or even the revised opening target dates. The track and signalling (the railway systems) haven’t even been tested properly yet and I have heard from someone who has done some work on parts of the signalling systems, that they aren’t confident that in its current configuration that parts of its can actully work with the new trains.

    The Thameslink project (not the franchise) has been a pre-cursor for Crossrail. It’s been bailed out twice, repeatedly missed its delivery/end dates and parts of it haven’t been planned properly (the new timetable introduction for example). It’s not really in the public realm though, because the only bits that get shouted about with glee are the stations (Blackfriars, London Bridge etc etc) and the bad knock on issues (with the bad bits of the project) to the network can be, in part blamed on the Train operating companies (TOCs). A lot of this is down to Network Rail being a right old mess, but that’s nearly all down to cronic underfunding and a lack of leadership and control from the Department for Transport (DafT) and another politically charged story entirely.

    However, the main reason I think that these projects go so wrong is this. NR is funded in Control Period of 5years, the budgets are laid out, effectively bid for and taken by various parts of NR for what they want to do. Projects like TLP used to have ‘ringfenced’ budgets, so they knew what they had full stop, but crucially a lot of the directors either got paid bonus’s on their Control Period delivery targets or came from parts of NR that had/have that mentality. This meant that they came in with a 5yr attitude,did their time making sure it all looked rosy and on target, collected the cash and toddled off to a new project.

    Invariably the next set of directors would come in, find a big hole in the books and have to ask for a bit more from the Dft, who can’t really say no, because otherwise it looks like they haven’t been paying attention.....

    This goes on untill you get to project close out, which is when someone finds all the bits of the project that were to hard to do/fix/start hidden down the back of the sofa. Then the shit hits the fan properly, but about 15yrs to late.

    I am guessing Crossrail is following a similar pattern even though it’s a separate company to NR.

    I am sure HS2 will as well, looking at the current roster.

    The current state of the Railways makes me very sad (probably in both senses :) )

  • It can only ever be a subjective judgement, but I think the ends are justifying the means.

    London Bridge, King's Cross, Farringdon are stations (and whole districts of the city) to be proud of. They look great, preserve existing architecture, add walkable housing, and will probably out-last any problems they've caused. Even if that does take 100 years.

    In every case they've added or improved space for cycling and walking. For example South of Blackfriars the new station has led to office development on Upper Ground which has repaved and widened pavements. I don't know if you ever tried to push a buggy down there in the old days, but it's amazing how much easier it is now.

    At the same time they've generally removed parking, and road capacity, permanently from the city.

    They might not solve every problem but can you think of many other cities that are using transport development to push more pedestrian friendly city planning on such a huge scale?

  • I am guessing Crossrail is following a similar pattern even though it’s a separate company to NR.

    I thought Crossrail was specifically not set up to work like this?

    It's years since I read about that, though.

    Needless to say, it's obviously true that the problems generated along the line only come out towards the end. I'll need to ask again, but I've heard that because of the initial budget cuts some things were done more cheaply, which is now coming back to haunt them.

  • Well, it's relatively simple: If you look where the investment has gone, of course you see benefits there. The trouble is that the concentration of investment in so few places, most notoriously in Central London only, causes an immense increase in the need to travel for those who live further away, and there's no 'trickle-down' effect except perhaps for the increase in house prices along the Crossrail alignments. Jobs will move to Central London, more people will shop in Central London and not elsewhere, and so on. Most of that extra travel actually won't happen on Crossrail itself.

    Overall, I still think Crossrail was an extremely ill-timed project, formulated decades ago when Central London badly needed a stimulus, which it really didn't any more by the time construction finally started. The main beneficiaries will be Central London landowners.

  • Places with low density tend to be a bit shit (examples include Peterborough, Milton Keynes, Dalls, every suberb everywhere) and I'm confused why you'd want to see more of them.

    Good transport enables high density development and fewer cars. The "trickle down" you are looking for can be seen up and down every rail corridor to London - where high-density flats are being built within walking distance almost every station to enable people to live closer (in terms of time) to work and entertainment.

    Some of those places have even reached high enough density that they are becoming interesting places in their own right. Elephant & Castle being one such example.

  • Some of those places have even reached high enough density that they are becoming interesting places in their own right. Elephant & Castle being one such example.

    I'm sure all those displaced from E&C over the last fifteen years to facilitate this high density development will be so happy that E&C has now met your definition of an Interesting Place In It's Own Right.

    Honestly E&C has always been an interesting place, it's just a different kind of interesting place now.

  • Interesting places by the Schick definition, which appears to be:

    Places which offer employment and things to do which can compete with the quality of employment and things to do available in Central London, such that there's no real need to reguarly travel to the center of the city for anything if you live there.

    E&C is certainly closer to meeting this definition now than it was in 2003.

  • Well, I'm not sure how you assume that I want more places like Milton Keynes. My argument is first about London alone--that I think it's currently a mistake to stimulate Central London so much over everywhere else (in London). It would have been a good idea in 1970, when the centre was very much in decline because of post-war centrifugal policies, but times have moved on. Today, Central London is thriving, but many other town centres are not.

    If we're going to build more underground railways (and I don't think that's a good use of funding), they should be orbital (and not the stupid Roads Task Force 'idea' of an orbital underground motorway) to improve access to other centres more. With radial railways, you just get most passengers ending up in the centre, benefiting landowners there. This leads to functions being lost in smaller centres--and when we talk about 'smaller centres' in London, we talk about places that would be major cities in their own right if they weren't attached to London, like Croydon or Ilford. It's really a very simple point--don't constantly (over-)stimulate Central London, but ensure that with continued growth in London there is more activity in other centres, so that people can live closer to where they work or do other things (these being more spread out and therefore more accessible). Not 'low-density'--rather the opposite, increasing the density of activity in other centres.

    Obviously, it's all a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, but I've been saying the same thing since well before Crossrail went into its construction phase. Not that it could have been prevented even so. It's clearly a popular project. I just don't think it's the right policy at this time.

    Other than intra-London concerns, there is obviously a regional imbalance in development and economic performance, and has often been said, the North needs public transport development much more urgently than the South-east, and I consider the Crossrail funding misallocated for that reason alone.

    There, too, town centres are losing functions--obviously partly because of the Internet, e.g. banks closing branches, and other retail because of on-line ordering, although getting around local retail via mail order has of course been happening for some time. Whatever the reason why places close, whenever that happens and the function can't be performed via the Internet, or for a pensioner who doesn't have Internet access, it generates a trip to a bigger
    destination. Unlike in London, those are mostly not made by public transport. I'm not saying 'generate more low-density places' but 'don't reduce the density (of activity) of smaller places', e.g. traditional market towns. Keep functions there and help them develop more independence from bigger places, or you end up with social devastation.

    Anyway, it's obviously an endless argument that takes us very far away from Crossrail.

  • Places which offer employment and things to do which can compete with the quality of employment and things to do available in Central London, such that there's no real need to reguarly travel to the center of the city for anything if you live there.

    A very slight change of emphasis (not very different from your version, but I find it important): I wouldn't put it in terms of competition, but in terms of accessibility (as above). If you can buy something like what you want locally, even if perhaps the choice isn't as great as in Central London, but you don't have to go on a Tube or railway journey to get there, then you may choose greater accessibility over greater choice.

    I haven't studied the E&C's development (apart from finding the new buildings unsightly, but that's the case pretty much everywhere in London at the moment, and doesn't say anything about the quality of function), but the recent traffic scheme is really terrible--shit done cheaply. They haven't grasped any of the nettles to be grasped there. There used to be a lovely page somewhere about the various visions for reforming the junction design, but I can't find it now. It showed the history very nicely and made it easier to understand the objectives to be achieved there.

  • It may not have been set up like that, I don’t know, but if you staff something with people from the rail industry it’s probably going to run in a fashion they are comfortable with.

    Budget cuts in large infrastructure projects just mean that parts of the job are cut out (mainly at the design stage). In theory this should make the project delivery faster, or at least run to programme.

    Again though, the rail industry is unique. Due to tendering regs and approved suppliers in safety critical roles, certain contractors are almost guaranteed work so charge ‘Railway prices’. This adds a lot, needlessly to rail projects, it also means that nothing can be done ‘cheaply’ as nearly all rail work is probably above the market price.

    Great ‘down the line’ pun there. 9/10 will use in office next year for sure

  • London Bridge, King's Cross, Farringdon are stations (and whole districts of the city) to be proud of

    Blackfriars is the one to be really proud of and of course City Thameslink.......

    Farringdon is a bit of a mess (and still isn’t finished)

    KGX & STP are a delight

  • A very slight change of emphasis (not very different from your version, but I find it important): I wouldn't put it in terms of competition, but in terms of accessibility (as above). If you can buy something like what you want locally, even if perhaps the choice isn't as great as in Central London, but you don't have to go on a Tube or railway journey to get there, then you may choose greater accessibility over greater choice.

    Do fast rail links to central London kill off local development, or do they accelarate it?

    One really big example is Stratford, where being a growing transport hub justified the shopping center, which then attracted housing, which is supporting more shopping and offices.

    It's true on a smaller scale, too. Vauxhall has been gaining, not losing, restaurants and shops despite being on one of the best train links to the city immaginable.

    I think happens because people over-value options, even if they are never likely to use those options in practice. For example people who buy trucks "in case they need to carry something heavy" despite the fact they are always used for the commute to work.

    So people value links to London, but then end up shopping locally if they can because it's easier. But you have to have the option to get to the city, to persuade enough people to move there, to make the local services and jobs viable.

    A counter example might be Nine Elms, which is attracting people and jobs without a good rail link. But they've got the promise of two stations on the way, and the developers are subsidising private busses to try and cover the gap.

  • Vauxhall has been gaining, not losing, restaurants and shops despite being on one of the best train links to the city immaginable.

    This is in a large part in spite of NR. But now we have sold off Commercial estate to Blackstone/TT (the company will be called The Arch Co) expect this to accelerate very quickly in the next few years.

    Large station redevelopments should bring changes to the area. Whether they are good are bad is a case for the planners to argue over. As it’s public bodies that propose station re-generation, the links to the local gov and assoc parties are much stronger, so should develop schemes that benefit the local area and its community.

    Certainly from my experiences on TLP, the section 106 requirements from the local councils were geared towards this and the carrot to NR was the improved retail ops, but even that has stipulations on who ‘gets back in’ to the station when it’s done

  • Not a bad article that, even if it is in the Graduian

    HS2 and the comparison between ‘Nothern Powerhouse Rail’ should be explored further by mainstream hacks. The piss poor Transpennine upgrade is something that clearly shows how money is spent in NR in N v S terms.

    East West Rail has also taken far to long to get off the ground, considering it’s obvious benifits. It just goes to show how these large projects now ‘suck’ the industry in and starve other projects.

  • Rail links cause residential development/increases in house prices--see Metroland. For overall development mix, they're notoriously poor and don't cause better central places except where lines meet--the old crossroads principle--, hence the need for orbital rail to complement radial lines (which mostly meet in the centre). That can lead to well-mixed uses (but proximity to other, larger centres on the same line(s) generally makes that difficult or impossible, too).

    All the development areas you cite are mainly driven by the London Plan's strategies for addressing London's extremely fast population increase, apparently the fastest ever (for London), even faster than in the 19th and early 20th centuries--obviously facilitated by a long time of deprivation and population decrease in most areas post-war. For instance, Stratford is in the Lower Lea Valley Opportunity Area (which dates back to Livingstone) and under the Olympic Legacy SPG, and that (plus Westfield, planned since before the Olympics) has been the main driver for development there, not the recent improvements in rail links there (which are lagging behind demand):

    https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/pla­nning/implementing-london-plan/opportuni­ty-areas/opportunity-areas/lower-lea-val­ley

    Stratford, of course, has long been a major rail hub, and the area on which Westfield and much of the Olympic Park now sit used to be the Stratford Rail Lands, a huge marshalling yard with associated rail industries. That's all long gone and has been replaced by the HS1 station and the Eurostar depot.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Mil­ls

    It still lacks connections it used to have, such as the famous Hall Farm curve:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hall_Farm_­Curve

    This would be a (relatively inexpensive) rail (re-)improvement that would certainly benefit Stratford. I think there are similar things like this further east, but I don't know what they are (and they may not be reinstatable).

    Vauxhall is an odd case--an area that despite its proximity to Westminster has long been poor, partly through being dominated by council estates and being blighted by the Vauxhall gyratory. It's long had massive unrealisable development potential, and most of that remains untapped. The main recent development there has been that of those horrendous 'buy-to-leave' riverside tower blocks. I'm sure a more affluent population has recently moved in where it could.

    Again, the main beneficiaries from those purely radial rail links, aside from private landlords, are landowners in Central London. The main impetus behind most development in London, however, is simply rapid population increase (and population decrease elsewhere).

    Well, this debate is really getting rather wider than Crossrail. :)

  • Yes, completely nonsensical investment priorities.

  • East West Rail has also taken far to long to get off the ground, considering it’s obvious benifits. It just goes to show how these large projects now ‘suck’ the industry in and starve other projects.

    Who needs rail when you can have motorways?

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-be­ds-bucks-herts-45498594

  • Shame the road lobby is balls deep in Westminster isn’t it?

    Makes no sense at all, if the route had been re-instated/opened earlier then there would probably be little call for the road, or there was call for it, it would be clear nonesense.

    Sadly the rail lobby at parliament is focused almost solely on privatisation.

  • CrossRail as an organisation has done well to hide from TfL and our esteemed Mayor just how late it is. The greenspace of The Haven in Ealing has long been home to a multi-storey portakabin office, and a compound. Mooching around Ealing recently with mespilus jr., we noticed some 'bits' of a staircase in the compound. Xmas Eve saw us return to Ealing, and found the bus services were disrupted as the road outside Ealing Broadway station was occupied by an immense, extending Liebherr, self-propelled crane, and the staircase components on low loaders waiting to be lifted into position.
    Popped back into Ealing on Saturday after a wander along the canal from Greenford to North Acton, and could see the new staircase, (not yet in use), and the access point on the existing station infrastructure where another will have to be installed.
    Does anyone know when Ealing Broadway station was meant to be completed?

  • Dec 2019

    I understand that NR are delivering the station upgrades there

  • It still lacks connections it used to have, such as the famous Hall Farm curve:

    That reminds me of the Todmorden Curve which would allow direct trains from Burnley to Manchester https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todmorden_­railway_station#Todmorden_Curve
    a 500m stretch of line that was closed in the early 70s and didn't reopen for 40 years (and took 6 years for the work to be carried out for it to be reinstated).

    Admittedly the actual trains are somewhat dated

  • Post a reply
    • Bold
    • Italics
    • Link
    • Image
    • List
    • Quote
    • code
    • Preview
About

Crossrail

Posted by Avatar for Oliver Schick @Oliver Schick

Actions