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Plans to improve rail freight on London’s railways


Most of us have stood at a station ready for a prepare, when an enormous freight prepare rumbles via the station carrying something from new vehicles to cargo containers.

They’re a enjoyable distraction for the ready passengers, but additionally a really critical industrial service for the railway and the businesses that rely on these deliveries.

Trains delivering vehicles.https://t.co/ZwHbmOIIHc pic.twitter.com/5a36En1Eqw

— ianVisits (@ianvisits) February 12, 2019

Around 40% of all aggregates utilized in London’s development business are delivered by rail, taking plenty of heavy items lorries off the roads, which not solely reduces street visitors, however rail is significantly much less polluting than street visitors – not simply CO2, but additionally particulates shed by street autos and breathed in by pedestrians.

The problem is that as rail fright will increase, that shifts congestion from the roads to the railways, the place rail freight competes with passenger trains for house on the railways.

Balancing the 2 could be tough.

As one rail boss instructed me a very long time in the past, if a freight prepare is delayed, there’s one particular person complaining, but when a passenger prepare is delayed, there are a whole bunch of individuals complaining.

So Network Rail is what upgrades are wanted to maintain each freight and passengers shifting and to address the anticipated enhance in freight visitors.

Some of the problems affecting London begin far outdoors the town although. For instance, cargo deliveries arriving at Felixstowe and being moved into the centre of the nation for distribution typically come by way of London, as a result of the cross-country route by way of Peterborough is itself full to capability.

More regionally, the London Gateway freight terminal on the Thames is growing capability, and all its rail freight actions at the moment undergo London, as a result of there’s no different.

Short of constructing a completely new railway line, what could be executed to enhance capability for freight on the railways?

A report, the London Rail Freight Strategy seems to be at what is required, pinch factors and issues which might be affecting rail freight immediately, and can maintain again development sooner or later, with a set of suggestions seemingly to be phased in over the subsequent 30 years.

Schematic map of rail freight routes in London (Not to scale). Source: Network Rail

The key suggestions would see:

Camden Road station

The reinstatement of the third monitor and a platform on the northern aspect of Camden Road station, the place there used to be a four-track railway between Camden Town and Maiden Lane.

Reinstatement of a 3rd platform would allow Platform 2 to be used as a central turnback, with Platform 3 turning into the eastbound line for via London Overground providers and nearly all of freight. A turnback platform can even enable future passenger development to be addressed with peak capability boosting Stratford-Camden Road service.

That would give the railway in Camden as a complete extra capability, however would additionally virtually actually see the deliberate Camden Highline at greatest reduce, or probably cancelled fully.

Kensal Green Junction

Another plan would see the Kensal Green junction, which is simply outdoors Willesden Junction station moved eastwards.

The junction connects the North London Line to the West Coast Main Line and Wembley Yard, and any westbound freight prepare should cross over the flat junction to entry the City traces in direction of the West Coast Main Line, a conflicting transfer with any eastbound London Overground or freight providers from Willesden Junction High Level.

Shifting the junction sideways would allow them to run trains throughout the junction at larger speeds which suggests it’s blocked for much less time and gained’t maintain up different providers.


Another space that causes delays is the switchover of energy provides on the West London Line (WLL), the place the present overhead cable energy provide may very well be prolonged south to Shepherd’s Bush Station.

At the second, trains decelerate alongside the monitor to change energy provides, however making the switchover at Shepherd’s Bush Station means it may be executed when the trains are going to be stationary anyway.

The change is estimated to velocity up trains alongside that size collectively by sufficient to slot two extra trains per hour in every path into the timetable.

There’s additionally a longer-term proposal to lengthen the overhead wires additional south to Kensington Olympia in order that electrical hauled freight trains can change whereas shifting on a stage monitor somewhat than doing so whereas going uphill as they’d be additional north.

Clapham Junction

At Clapham Junction, there may be already an current plan to construct an extra bay platform for using London Overground WLL providers. Effectively a Platform 0 subsequent to the present London Overground platforms 1 & 2.

That’s a comparatively modest change as there may be already a disused aspect to Platform 1 that used to have trains however is at the moment unused. A brand new junction could be wanted, together with signalling, and the removing of some sheds that occupy the previous trackbed.

The primary profit is that with out Platform 0, the deliberate enhance in London Overground trains would see a few of them arriving at Platform 17 as a substitute, and that’s the place freight trains cross via the station in the meanwhile. So conserving them over the place the opposite Overground trains are is not only good for passengers, however good for freight.

Weight limits

One of the broader points which spans many areas are weight restrictions. Freight trains are heavy, and whereas many of the community is designed for them, there are locations round London the place development provide trains can’t be hauled by the most well-liked type of fright locomotive.

Elsewhere, the heavy axle loadings trigger issues with bridges, the place trains have to decelerate to cross over them. Slower trains means much less capability.

Signalling upgrades

At the second it’s not doable to run trains with 3-minute gaps between them on elements of the orbital railway traces, so upgrades could be wanted, seemingly to be a change to ETCS signalling.

More freight yards

Network Rail has recognized quite a lot of areas the place extra space to retailer trains for loading/unloading and whereas ready for monitor capability is required. The key gaps they’ve recognized are close to Acton and Wembley, and south of the Thames.

Finding extra space for freight trains to be saved goes to be very tough in London, however they see alternatives for smaller services to be slotted in across the railway in some locations.

London Rail Freight Strategy Summary Report 20

(c) London Rail Freight Strategy abstract report

There are additionally quite a lot of different longer-term plans, resembling upgrading among the holding tracks at Stratford, the Nunhead Junction, Longhendge Junction close to Battersea, and velocity enhancements on the GOBLIN department.

One of the extra fascinating experiments already underway will see some modified previous passenger trains transformed into freight, to allow them to ship proper into the center of the town.

This might see native companies accepting medium-sized deliveries by prepare somewhat than by lorry. A trial between the London Gateway and Liverpool Street station is due this 12 months.

The full report is right here

As an apart, the variety of instances I typed fright as a substitute of freight when writing that is scary.