21 August 2014

Transport museums at transport hubs.


The Britons have a tendency to place nostalgia items of one sort or another into specialist buildings  to be viewed by the great British public on a specific day outing. These museums can be incredible places offering marvellous experiences concerning our history and heritage. The Science Museum in Kensington, London is a case in point. However, it is only one and does not dedicate itself to transport specifically. There are many transport museums in the UK devoted to all the types of transport both civil and military as well as a multitude of websites such as The Transport Archive.

The number of Heritage train services maintained and operated by volunteers is highly impressive. This is good for the country, for transport buffs and casual enthusiasts, the tourist industry and so forth. The generations which grew up with the train services provided by steam trains is getting on in age. That does not mean, however, that their allure is diminishing.Quite the contrary. Steam trains hold an interest for "old folks" and youngsters alike.

The proof is in the number and variety of heritage railways that exist.

The Ravenglass to Eskdale Railway, The Ffestiniog Railway (both narrow gauge), The Bluebell Railway or The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway (both standard gauge), are examples of some which have been kept alive for many a year despite not being needed for the original function for which they were built.


The information provided by the Heritage Railway Association on this link illustrates the size and importance of all the railway groups. The site gives much more than for those who have just a passing interest in railway history.
A list of all Heritage Railways both standard gauge and narrow gauge can be found here. These cover all parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Two are not strictly railways but  museums and should be highlighted for their importance and attractiveness. They are The National Railway Museum (or here its own website) in York, and the National Tramway Museum (or here its own website) at Crich in Derbyshire.This latter is less usual as it includes about 70 different kinds of trams which had a short life in this history of transport in the UK - now they are being revived but only after having been ignored for fifty or sixty years.



The most well-known and complete transport museum is without doubt the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden in the centre of London. Obviously, this is in a well visited area of London so is a great attraction for all members of a family.This brings together a large collection of vehicles and memorabilia in a well laid out site. A well stocked shop gives the enthusiast an opportunity to buy all sorts of books and other articles related to transport in London.



                                                                                What is not generally know or realised is that the main premises for trams, trolleybuses, buses and tube trains is in the London Transport Depot at Acton in west London.
Just the photograph on the web page gives you an idea of the richness of the collection.













The downside of course is that you have to trek out to Acton while the Covent Garden site is very handy. This makes it less attractive for the casual visitor or those with families. An added problem is that the depot is not open every day  - you have to arrange visits. It should also be mentioned that the site is not well advertised, not least by London Transport itself.



On these islands where water has been so important in our history, most museums(or collections) refer to buses and trains while just a few look at water transport on the canals, rivers and through the ports.The most important sites are at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port (Cheshire) at the junction of the Shropshire Union Canal, The Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey;  the Canal Museum at  Stoke Bruerne  (Northamptonshire) next to the Grand Union Canal. What used to be the third part of the museum is now the Gloucester Waterways Museum at Gloucester which sits on the junction of the River Severn and the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. The splitting of the group into three parts was principally for economic reasons.


However, for transport on the high seas the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, London, is the point of reference. This is the list of all 40 Maritime museums as provided by Wikipedia.




Before the invention of the horse drawn buses and trams, coaches of one sort and another were the order of the day. Ordinary people used Shank´s Pony (i.e. on foot) to travel to the different points while those with some money benefited from carriages and stagecoaches. This meant distances travelled were difficult to cover. The first improvements came with the introduction of the Mail Coach from 1784 and the better roads constructed by Telford and surfaced by MacAdam in the first years of the 19th Century.With the advent of the canals and then railways, communications were improved tremendously and so the focus came to be getting access to the railways stations. It is not the purpose of this article to explain travel but indicate where interested readers might obtain more information. For the different types of horse drawn carriages and coaches there are several collections. Some refer to the aristocracy´s travelling vehicles, including the British Royal Family, while others are of a more general nature.


The Tyrwhitt-Drake Museum of Carriages:opened in 1946 at Maidstone(Kent), is most worthy of mention. It was the first of its kind in Britain and is still considered to be one of the finest in Europe. This was a collection made by Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake, twelve times Mayor of Maidstone, during the first half of the 20th Century when he realised the age of horse transport was passing and about to be lost.

The Mossman Carriage Collection, situated at Stockwood Park, Luton (Bedfordshire) houses a large collection of carriages from the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries including those constructed for the film industry.


The National Trust Carriage Museum at Arlington Court:(near Barnstable, Devon)

 The accompanying interesting article explains(with photographs) all about the different types of coaches and carriages used by a wide rage of people from the aristocracy to the man-in-the-street. It includes different versions of  the Landau, the Barouche, the Brougham, the Britzschka, the Travelling Chariot , the Hansom and many others.





There are even airfields turned over to old aeroplanes showing the dramatic development of this means of transport in the only century of its existence.One of the most interesting air transport sites refers to British Airways and its predecessors BEA, BOAC, BSAA, Imperial Airways and others here.

However, the purpose of this blog is to mention physical sites not websites.
The Brooklands Museum  at Weybridge (Surrey) has an interesting collection of aircraft from all eras of manned flight, including a BAC 111, and Vickers planes such as the Viscount, the Vanguard and the VC10 among others, and not least Concorde. There is even a replica of the Vickers Vimy used by Alcock and Brown to make the first ever transatlantic flight in 1919. There are a lot of military aircraft as well.
This site, it must be remembered, was where the world´s first  motor racing circuit was opened in 1907. Brooklands also incorporates at Cobham Hall in Weybridge The London Bus Museum with 35 vehicles covering the period 1875 - 1979.



The National Museum of Flight at East Fortune (East Lothian)(to the East of Edinburgh) offers another fine mixture of military and civil aircraft but does include, more importantly, memorabilia. 


Imperial War Museum Collection at Duxford (Cambridgeshire) ; though the Imperial War Museum devotes its efforts to the military conflicts in the 20th Century at Duxford there is an interesting collection of civil aircraft as well.

The other aerospace museums in the UK seem to be devoted exclusively or nearly exclusively to military aircraft which is not the aim of this blog . All, however, seem to devote themselves to showing off vehicles, whether civil or military, but not to other memorabilia.



Many of the museums have great gems inside them but their attractiveness can vary greatly. Most are victims of volunteerism - which means that so much depends on the work of volunteers and enthusiasts. Some are very well-run, well marketed and provide an interesting and inspiring insight about how transport developed in this country. Others, unfortunately, show the limitations under which the volunteers work - the lack of space, the lack of working volunteers, and without doubt the lack of funds. All, however, should receive our support as their work will be much more appreciated years ahead when the exhibits of our transport heritage become less and less available.

In a moment of reflection you will realise that the effort, devotion, interest and funds available give us an idea of the interest of a passive public - those who wish to see what is on offer. However, if you consider that transport (both passengers and goods) existed before the advent of canals then you can see the lack of information, sites, museums etc.  

As was mentioned previously about The London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, location can be a big determining factor in the success of many of these museums. Covent Garden is an enviable location - right in the centre of the metropolis in an area of large numbers of tourists. Add  that the contents include buses and underground trains which is no mean feat to get them there.

It must be remembered that the location itself is determined by different factors. Planes fly with many museums keeping them in good order so they can participate in memorial flights which dictates an aerodrome which in turn means an out-of-town site.

Horse drawn carriages and coaches tend to be very old so are treated with kid gloves and only taken out for occasional exhibition. As was mentioned before, the owners, or those who commenced the collections tend to be rich enthusiasts, or aristocracy who have inherited the heritage, or powerful people(such as politicians) who can command the means to make such heritage collections come to fruition. 

Similarly Water Transport dictates a water location so that the boats/ships can be used on demonstration trips. That means a location on a canal or river,  or in a port for larger ships. This is perhaps the failing of the National Maritime Museum in that the exhibits are static with only The Cutty Sark nearby next to the River Thames (even so it is in a dry dock).(see here for more information).
It has to be admitted that along the Thames from Westminster to Tower Bridge there is a collection of historical ships which are underappreciated. Also gems are hidden away in such places as St.Katherine´s Dock
One of the best places without doubt is the National Waterways Museum which claims to have the largest collection of canal boats in the world. Moreover, it is sited in the old docks so the environment is in itself a very important part of the museum.

Trains run on rails which mean stations for passenger access. If the trains are used for demonstration purposes then sections of land/rail are needed to run them. That is why the vast majority of rail museums are heritage railways. The exception is The National Railway Museum in York, but this does have access to the main rail lines and does offer demonstration runs from time to time.

From this what do we ascertain? The transport heritage of  this country is divided into three components.1)The physical buildings where the actions took place. 2)The machines which were used to put into effect the desires of the original patrons. 3) The paraphernalia (memorabilia) which made these great enterprises workable. 



This building is situated next to Warrington Central railway Station. It was part of the Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC) grouping of rail companies. It laid derelict for many years but has now been resurrected as an apartment block. The most important thing is that the original façade has been maintained. It could remain as such, but would not some people of future generations be interested in knowing the origins of the building?

The original façade tells us so much. "The Cheshire Lines", "The Great Northern Railway", "The Midland Railway", "The Great Central Railway". All of those in themselves say a lot about which we know so little. Would we not, or should we not provoke more interest in the meanings of those names? That is how we view our history and heritage.What has been mentioned is one building outside London when over the years we are accumulating many relevant and interesting buildings to increase our heritage.

There are many places of historical railway importance starting  with Stockton and Darlington, and Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria. To place a museum at Rainhill (The Rainhill Trials of 1830) on that Chat Moss Line is a non-starter but efforts more important than just a commemorative plaque should be made.

If we consider just London who would doubt that the (renovated) St.Pancras or Kings Cross stations are jewels to be nutured.  Broad Street has disappeared but Liverpool Street is much improved even though most of the improvement is thanks to the commercial development of the station. Paddington is more devoted to its "Bear" than anything else, Marylebone is small but improving. Moorgate, Fenchurch Street, Bank, Cannon Street, Holborn Viaduct (City Thameslink), Charing Cross, Waterloo, London Bridge, Victoria, and Euston (the 1960s utilitarian building which did no harm but provided no benefit and as such is now destined to the scrap heap because of HS2.). All this is not to say that there are inumerable rail stations and even bus stations outside London worthy of note apart from the already mentioned ones.

However, we come to the point of this article. Memories, rememberences, where things happened, why they happened and what happened afterwards, and with what.

To use the London examples again. Why was Victoria built on the north bank of the Thames while Waterloo was built on the south bank? Why was there no through mainline station in the capital as there is in Berlin and other cities? These are questions which you probably cannot get answers to while you peruse through a station, or do not want to take the time, on your way to your destination.
But what of these termini themselves, what can they offer?
This façade of Victoria Station from about 1900 is very different from the present one.
The list of destinations is very appealing. "Hastings, St.Leonards, Bexhill, Pevensey, Eastbourne, Lewes, Tunbridge Wells, etc., the Continent via Newhaven and Dieppe "etc. This photograph in itself is a jewel. Is it not itself a selling point, an advertisement? Of course, it is.
The façades of other stations were similar, showing/advertising the destinations to which one could reach by using the services of the incumbent railway company. Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Waterloo and so on provoked the delights of travel to far flung destinations which were just waiting to receive the inspired tourist.


To come to the point of the title of this article we have to look at the termini stations in London (and elsewhere).Can they provide us with an inspiring insight in to the development of our transport system? Of course they can. Why not make these iconic buildings/destinations living musems?

If we just limit ourselves to just the two aforementioned stations in London, Victoria and Charing Cross, we will see that there is a whole quantity of historical information about the two sites.
" the London Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) and the London Chatham and Dover Railway (LC&DR)." were the two owners of the site originally(Wikipedia)
"The South Eastern and Chatham Railway Companies Joint Management Committee (SE&CRCJMC),[1] known as the South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SE&CR) was a working union of two neighbouring rival railways, the South Eastern Railway (SER) and London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LC&DR), which operated between London and south-east England. Between 1899 and 1923 the SE&CR had a monopoly of railway service in Kent, and to the main Channel ports for ferries to France and Belgium".( Wikipedia)

These two examples became members of the Southern Railway after 1923 and of British Railways Southern Region after 1948. The reorganisation of British railways into more profitable operating groups meant that these became part of Network South East from 1982 to 1994. After the franchising/privatisation of the British rail divisions into companies  the enterprises passed into different hands such as Connex and now Southern.

These, of course, were just a few of the companies that used the facilities set up by the original operating rail companies. However, with just the mention of those two stations is that not sufficient to realise that there is a lot of history in our every day commuting life? If you look at the other stations then you realise the extent of the history of each station.

For example, Euston: the London and Birmingham Railway, The London and North Western Railway, the London Midland and Scottish Railway, the London Midland Region of British Railways,and after privatisation the operating companies became eventually Virgin Trains and London Midland.


The story in itself of the development of the operators at these stations is fascinating. However, that in itself is not sufficient. We need to see and know about all the layouts, workings and means to achieve the ends which were used at each station. Physical material will be limited because you cannot park engines, coaches, carriages and wagons in the station as they occupy too much space. That is the function of the Big museums and Heritage lines but the odd carriage, such as one of the above, could well prove a forecourt attraction.                                      



On the other hand you can provide a lot of memorabilia which refers to the every day workings on or of a line or station.
The uniforms of the staff,
The working documents for the staff,
Timetables(and fare tables) both book and poster form, 
route maps, 
poster advertisements,
tickets,
station signs,
destination boards,
track signs
and of course, drawings and photos and so on.


Who would have imagined that you would need a ticket for a coffin to transport from Waterloo to the cemetery? Even in death there was first, second and third class.

Of course, that is but one example of the artefacts on offer but there are thousands more.

In short such a terminus could house a museum to the origins and workings of that station, that line and the companies which operated from there. then it could be easy to gain access to all the documents related to the lines and the companies, from the Acts of Parliament permitting the setting up of the different lines to the documents setting up the different operating companies.

It should be emphasised that though the London termini offer the greatest opportunities, other stations in other locations can offer very much such as the aforementioned first stations in the north of England.

Bus stations should not be forgotten. London´s Victoria Coach Station is a case in point. Others should be remembered - was not Cheltenham once the biggest bus/coach interchange in the West Country in the 1950s and 1960s with Red & White and Black & White providing most of the connecting services? Midland Red in Birmingham, North Western and Ribble in Manchester, Crosville and Ribble in Liverpool - the list could go on.

The advantage of all this is to make the architectural environment meaningful, to provide easy access to the artifacts and to educate interested visitors and local residents about their home areas.
Now is the time to put these ideas in motion and not let them be lost to future generations.


06 April 2014

Is London as a transport hub holding us back? - The Solutions

The London Transport Hub is a reality with all its advantages and disadvantages. The problem is how far can it go on doing the same? Are there not physical limits to expansion especially when the conurbation is growing by thousands of persons per year?

I begin this second part by repeating the same questions as I finished the first.
Measures are being taken but are they enough? 
What is being done?
What can be done? 
Are there alternatives?


WHAT IS BEING DONE:
Quite frankly a lot is being done.



THAMESLINKThe first attempt in modern times to redistribute the traffic flows so that the terminal stations and the metropolitan transport system did not become clogged up was with the reopening of the cross Thames link from Kings Cross/ St.Pancras to Farringdon then Blackfriars to the three rail system south  of the Thames. This originally opened in January 1866 and continued in use until  the end of the 1960s, though not all the time for passenger traffic. From 1988 the tracks were relaid and opened to north-south passenger traffic yet again.

Subsequently, this permitted a renewed connection between north and south of theThames which became very successful. This led to the Thameslink 2000 project which meant connecting lines from the north to the south of the Thames so  as to provide greater connectivity. The star example is the service from Bedford to Brighton (passing Gatwick and Luton airports).

Such was the case that the whole north-south connection was looked at. Now the whole question of franchises both north and south of the Thames is being modified.  The greatest example of this is the proposal from the DfT to merge the present Thameslink services with the Southern(South Central) and Great Northern  franchises.The new combined franchise would start from September 2014.

As can be seen at the end (annex F) of that DfT document the proposed traffic pattern includes north- south Thames´ services as well as those which terminate at Victoria, London Bridge and Kings Cross and Moorgate.This is a reversal of the previous policy whereby Thameslink was a cross river operator and the said terminals were devoted to a specific operator. Will not the same problems as before arise again to make the desirability of reducing the number of operators at a station a necessity? 
http://www.thameslinkprogramme.co.uk/


CROSSRAIL:The next attempt to aleviate the flows of passengers into London was the Crossrail scheme. This envisaged a cross conurbation rail service from (now) Reading and Heathrow (in the West), to Shenfield and Abbey Wood (in the East). 
In gross terms this service would take the surburban Great Western rail services from Paddington together with the Heathrow Connect services and connect them to the surburban rail services of Great Eastern from Liverpool Street to Shenfield (Essex) while also providing an extension to Abbey Wood in Kent to connect to South Eastern services.

The net result of this line would be to provide greater access to Central London from the surburbs thus freeing up Underground places from the main line termini, while also freeing up platform space at these termini to facilitate more long distances inter-city rail services. The estimates are that this new Crossrail service will increase London´s transport capacity by 10% - a substantial figure.

Crossrail (and Thameslink) are planned to extract numbers from the central Underground areas but will provoke problems of their own. The latest study from Arup(20 January 2014) The passenger numbers expected to embark/disembark at the central stations of Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon have increased from the  estimate made in 2004 of 185 million per annum to a revised figure now for 2026 of 250 million per annum - a massive increase of 35%.
http://www.crossrail.co.uk/

 

TUBE IMPROVEMENT:
Another area where Transport for London (TfL) - the governing body for all London transport - decided major improvements could be made was to make up for the lack of investment in the capital´s transport system - particularly the Undergound (Tube) - over many decades.
The focus has been on three main areas:
--- Upgrade the antiquated signalling system:  this ensures greater reliabilty and thus fewer breakdowns - also it permits a shorter time limit between trains and thus increases the frequency per hour of the number of trains, therefore increasing capacity.
--- Increase in the length of trains (where possible) thus increasing capacity.
--- improve the configuration of the trains so that they can accelerate and decelerate more quickly, while also eliminating the barriers between carriages thus increasing the capacity (walk-through carriages).
Bettering the travel experience with improved facilities, especially for the less mobile,and safety are also part of the process.
These measures require time to be put in place but TfL is undertaking the process. The improvement will be substantial again but the question is how far can these measures solve the problems. 
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/tube-improvement?intcmp=11481

With the expected increase in population (at 200+ persons per day) in the capital and the South East in general there will be a limit to how much the present system can be improved (the law of diminishing returns). But where is the limit?


WHAT CAN BE DONE:

OTHER MEASURES TO BE TAKEN:

Greater Anglia: While the above mentioned improvements are going on TfL and National Rail are proposing additional solutions. 
Firstly, London´s Mayor, Boris Johnson wants to include all rail services within the London boundaries (basically inside the M25 circular motorway) into the remit of TfL. The benefits of this move are not clear - they seem to be more a case of empire building by Boris.


The first step he has achieved is to ensure that the responsibility for the Greater Anglia commuter services from Liverpool Street to Chingford, Enfield Town and Cheshunt  pass to TfL. They might well be branded Overground though these services are fed by overhead electric lines and not the third rail, as the other Overground services are. The stations will be upgraded to TfL standards. If the results achieved by Overground, with improved facilities and safety measures, can be used as a model then the usage of these services will increase substantially.

It should be mentioned here that that the original idea of the Overground scheme was to join
together all the bits and pieces of the British Rail system round Greater London which were not connected. This lead to the idea of connecting them as a circular rail system to connect the middle and outer surburbs on Greater London. It proved successful and so the Mayor, Boris Johnson, has been encouraged to expand it. The motivational idea was "Connectivity" (which this blogger supports wholeheartedly)as well as "capacity". Connecting the outer limits of the transport system means fewer numbers of passengers have to travel through the centre but use the outer connections - something to be encouraged. 




Crossrail 2:The second step is more in the long-term. Crossrail 2, used initially as a working title, is a proposal to run rail services from South West London out to the North East. It was
originally called the Chelsea-Hackney (Chelney) line as a new line of the Underground
It has lately been pushed by a grouping of businessmen and politicians called London First led by the ex-transport minister Lord Adonis. The London Mayor, Boris Johnson, has taken the idea on board fully.
 
There are two options being studied at the moment. (a) Metro option: this would be a LUL line from Wimbledon  through Kings Road Chelsea to Victoria then Euston/Kings Cross and on to Alexandra Palace (with other intermediate stops).  
(b) Regional option: this would run further south and further north, connecting some South West Trains´ services from Shepperton, Hampton Court and Chessington South(or even elsewhere) to the line at Wimbledon while at the northern end the lines to be connected could be the aforementioned Greater Anglia lines to Chingford, Enfield Town and Cheshunt (or others).
The real problem would be the two differing electric systems used (a) the third rail 750 DC used on the commuter network south of the Thames while north of the river (b) the overhead gantry system of 25Kv AC is used. This has already been solved with the Thameslink network both north and south so it is not insuperable - expensive it is, but workable.
The whole process is at an early stage so nothing definite has been decided yet.


LUL extensions:  There are some tweaks to the system which have already been approved. One involves the long waited for extension of the Metropolitan Line from Croxley to Watford Junction. Another is the approved Northern Line extension from Kennington to Nine Elms and Battersea.

In fact this blogger has already set out his ideas for improvements to the rail systems in London in his blog of 25 May 2013 titled "Getting the lines crossed in London - Crossrail 1 & 2 & other lines.
I repeat some of them here.
(a) - the separation of the Charing Cross and City branches of the Northern Line (LUL) into two separate lines, one going to Battersea and the other to Morden
(b) Extension of the Northern Line from Morden to Morden South(to connect with the National Rail line).
(c) - better use of the Waterloo and City Line (extensions to Clapham Junction and Stratford?? - with intermediate stops)
(d) - Hammersmith & City Line extension to Barnes (to connect to South West trains)
(e) - Metropolitan Lines extended throughout the day through central London from Baker St.
(f) - The extension of the Northern Line branch from Mill Hill East to Mill Hill Broadway, Edgware and Stanmore ( to connect to the other lines at those stations thus providing better connections across the suburbs).
All of these mean extensions of existing lines which are not particularly complicated.


However, the following ideas mean using part of the south Thames rail network to add to the extensions.
(g)- extension of the Bakerloo Line to other areas south of the Thames where there are large gaps in the commuter network. Onwards to Peckham Rye (with intermediate new stops)and Lewisham with one set continuing on the circular lines through Woolwich Arsenal, Slade Green and Eltham (and viceversa). The other part would go along the circular lines through Hither Green, Crayford, Bexleyheath and Eltham (and vice versa), to return through Lewisham to Peckam Rye etc.
(h) - The Piccadilly Line split at Holborn so that the Cockfosters branch can be extended to Aldwych, Temple and areas south of the Thames where the Undergound is under-represented. Down to the Elephant & Castle, and on to the Sutton, Wimbledon loop on one side while to Caterham and Tattenham Corner on the other.
(j)The Heathrow and Uxbridge Piccadilly branches would continue from Holborn out north-eastwards(serving areas of Hackney and the Chingford Line, and perhaps taking over parts of the Central Line at the end).
That way a sizeable part of the commuter network would be brought into the LUL system giving the Underground a greater visibility south of the Thames. A net result could be aleviating the pressure on the platforms at Victoria, Charing Cross, Blackfriars, London Bridge and Cannon St.



OVERGROUND: One service which is crying out for modification is the Overground line from Watford Junction to Euston. The subtraction of this line from Euston would free up  platforms for other badly needed services. The solution is simple. From South Hampstead the line can divert to Camden Road along a preexisting track and then continue to Highbury & Islington. Here it would connect to the Overground service to run to New Cross. At present the line finishes there on its easterly branch. However, the service can be extended to Lewisham and Hayes, and to Lewisham, Grove Park and Bromley North. These would result in being two extensions from New Cross, possibly saving platform space at the Cannon St. and/or Charing Cross termini.


AIRPORT EXPRESS SERVICES:The  Heathrow Express service could combine with the Stansted Express service to run on Crossrail tracks through Central London to link the two airports as a joint Heathrow-Stansted Express (thus freeing up platforms at Paddington and Liverpool St.). They would run to Stratford and then on to Stansted. There would be no need for a large number of passengers to change at Paddington and Liverpool St. thus freeing up LUL seats. Both services run at a frequency of 4 trains per hour.

REGIONAL SERVICES:  I also repeat the idea of combining the regional services from Milton Keynes (London Midland) and the Chiltern Line(from Aylesbury and High Wycombe) to those of C2C to Southend.The services running into Fenchurch St. along the Tilbury Line operated by C2C are a prime candidate. They are suburban and regional commuter lines with no connection to any other line or terminus (except for the occasional train running into Liverpool St.). The terminus occupies a prime site of real estate in the City of London. The station site could be sold while keeping the right to have access to the line at a station underground in the same place.

A tunnel would be excavated from Fenchurch St. to run under Central London with stops at Cannon St., Blackfriars, Aldwich(reopened), Tottenham Court Rd., New Cavendish St. (Portland Place)(a new station), Marylebone/Baker St. (connected to both). The tunnel would continue northwards with one branch passing through Maida Vale to emerge at Queens Park and joining the WCML to travel through Willesden Junction incorporating most or all of the London Midland services to Milton Keynes. Thus platforms would be freed up at Euston.

The second section of the tunnel would go directly northwards from Marlebone/Baker St. passing under South Hampstead and continuing to emerge at West Hampstead. The services would continue along the Chiltern Line through Wembley Park and Wembley Stadium on to Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway via Amersham and High Wycombe respectively. These surburban and near regional lines would thus be diverted on to another Crossrail Line through London freeing up platform space at Marylebone station. 

The work needed to be done on these lines would be the electrification of these surburban Chiltern sections. That however, could be part of a general electrification of the Chiltern Line to Birmingham and Oxford which surely will be done in the mid-term. Both the C2C and the London Midland services use overhead power lines at 25Kv AC so the systems are compatible.

Cutting the cost of HS2:

Lords Bradshaw and Berkeley have been active in the House of Lords with different proposals to reduce the cost of the new High speed line HS2 and improve the connectivity of the regional WCML services into and through London.
"Peers and HS2 officials to discuss alternative ‘Euston Cross’ plan" (22-4-13 Rail Technology Magazine)
They have also proposed, quite sensibly in my opinion, dropping the HS1 - HS2 connection along the North London line.
"Peers put forward suggestions on London end of HS2" (7-3-14 Rail Technology Magazine)
This blogger welcomes the decision of the government to scrap the HS1 - HS2 connection.
"Government to scrap HS2 link with HS1" (25-3-14 Rail Technology Magazine)
The reasons given, though valid, are a bit vague - ".....its impact on freight, passengers and the community in Camden”.

The three articles are detailed so I will not go into them here. However, the main reason not mentioned for the cancellation of the HS1 - HS2 link is that  it is logistically a nightmare and thus is not viable. Great Britain is outside the Schengen agreement so it maintains its Border controls on all incomers to the country whether thay be from the European Union or elsewhere. this means that if HS trains were run from the provinces to mainland Europe then the passengers would (a) have to disembark at some point to pass Border controls thus eliminating the advantage of through HS services or (b) pass Border controls at the embarkation stations and be isolated from travellers not going to mainland Europe. This is precisely the problem facing Eurostar services being extended from Brussels to Amsterdam and Cologne(with intermediate stops). It is simpler, cheaper and much less of a headache to start all HS European(Eurostar or other) trains at St.Pancras. Yes, but not all.


Another idea floated was by the pressure group Greengauge 21  called 
(c) Greengauge 21 2014
"HS1 HS2 connection:A way forward"(1-4-14)
It is an interesting but flawed document to read. It contains, for example, a detailed explanation of why direct HS2 services to Mainland Europe are so difficult to organise.
However, it reflects the ideas of its promoters when it should abandon some concepts about which Greengauge 21 itself has come to some clear conclusions. For example, it accepts the necessity of abandoning the HS1-HS2 connection through Camden then goes on to say that that is the way to connect services northwest to those southeast of the capital.
There is a shorter version of the same in "Rail Technology Magazine" (2-4-14) 
"Alternative HS1-HS2 link proposed"



  
OTHER, PERHAPS, MORE IMPORTANT IDEAS OUTSIDE LONDON:

What has to be looked at seriously, which has not been done as yet, are the possibilities of diverting traffic away from the centre of London completely. By this I do not mean local(London) or regional traffic which has already been mentioned.

SUGGESTION: Having said that there could be a solution. This would mean bypassing London with new different services.

Ideas have been floated about rail connections from (a)Reading to Heathrow and from (b) Heathrow to Gatwick
Connection (a) has now been approved."Heathrow rail link plan unveiled by Network Rail" (4-2-14 BBC News)
Connection (b) was mooted under the title "Heathwick" - to connect the terminals at both airports with a fast rail link so that they could work as one. This was plainly "pie in the sky" as it was proposed and has died its death.
However, this blogger did propose a combination of both. 
Reading - Heathrow Rail Connection (6-10-11) 
Heathrow - Gatwick Rail Link (11-10-11)

It takes no big mental effort to see that a connection from Gatwick airport to Ashford and into the Channel Tunnel is the next step. that would mean Reading, Heathrow and Gatwick would be interconnected and able to offer ongoing services - some to Continental Europe and others as regional services to northeast Kent. 
At Reading passengers would arrive from the Midlands, the west, South Wales and the South West, for airport and regional services without going through London.
At the airports passengers would not only be able to reach regional destinations without going through Central London, but also those ongoing to near European destinations such as Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne could take pressure off the shorter European flights and perhaps reduce demand on them. Thus expansion at the airports would be controlled to a certain extent.   
To achieve this Eurostar and other international services could start at Reading.
Here dedicated platforms and Border controls could be provided  on trains that run through Heathrow (T5, Central & T4), on to Gatwick airport, then to Ashford and through the Channel Tunnel to Paris and Brussels, all on dedicated international trains. This is an idea I have floated before.


Both the international services and the regional services would eliminate the need to travel into Central London to reach the TWO major airports.This is a "win, win" situation: (a) alternatives to ongoing flights to Europe from the two airports at distances where rail is very competitive with air travel, and (b) greater connectivity (thus capacity) between the two major airports in the country to enable more rapid interconnection,  while(c)better connectivity for travellers, tourists, commuters and others who will not need to travel through Central London thus aleviating the TfL system.

This blogger has expounded these ideas before such as:
Long-haul rail terminals under Heathrow and Gatwick.(4-5-12)

It takes no great effort of the imagination to see the possibility of regional services over this line, which I call SHSL (Southern High Speed Line), from further afield. These places could be Birmingham and Oxford, Bath and Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea, and elsewhere. The possibilities opened up are numerable.



FREIGHT:
This has always been the poor relation of rail services because it does not transport people - commuters, businessmen/women, tourists, sports fans or whoever - only goods.

It has to be accepted that London is not a seaport any longer. The port facilities are further down towards the end of the Thames Estuary and even elsewhere. Whether the rail (or road) transport is going to Tilbury, Felixstowe, Dover or Southampton the principle should be accepted that none of these imports/exports should go through London unless they are destined to/from London itself. That is of vital importance to take rail traffic off London´s lines and lorries off its roads - and especially the M25.


Line initiatives for freight, such as the Southampton-Basingstoke-Reading line(and on to Nuneaton), and the Felixstowe-Nuneaton line are to be welcomed. but they are not enough. serious thought should go into the idea of taking lorries off the roads so that they avoid London and other cities and towns as much as possible.  

This blogger´s ideas on avoiding central London were expounded in more detail through the two following links. 
"Fast Trax 2 - The case for a southern high speed alternative (SHSL)" (24-2-10)
"Who wants the Irish....?"(15-5-12)

Those who have read the last link will realise that it refers to the transport of freight(more than passengers) between continental Europe and the Republic of Ireland through England and Wales. However, both go on to explain how the idea could be extended to regional pick up points for freight traffic near Bristol and near Birmingham. All of these would have the double benefit of diverting traffic from London, and taking lorries off the roads further from the Channel tunnel so that fewer fumes are emitted into our air.









What will it take to achieve all this? 
It needs the vision to see the future benetfits, the political will to put ideas into action and the economic commitment to fund a rolling programme to fulfill it. Money should be spent on beneficial projects to the greater good for the greater number. It does not necessarily have to make an economic case, a social one might well be sufficient. However, such action will always be better than grand vainglorious projects which become self seeking in the end in a prison of political commitment and face saving.