16 January 2015

More on BA / IAG ´s way

It is four a half years since I wrote a piece about British Airways(BA) and its future. The first was published on 15th July 2010 under the title....
"British Airways has lost its way"
.....while the second was published on 24th September 2010 under the title ....... 
"Maybe BA has found a new way".

Time has passed and events have gone on so that the situation needs to be looked at again. This is emphasised by the potential takeover of Aer Lingus by the now holding company for BA and Iberia which is called International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG).

IAG´s bid for Aer Lingus is quite logical, even if not desired by some.

The obstacles are quite clear. Would there be a restriction on competition between London and Ireland? On flights from London Heathrow the answer is clear but on city pairings the main competition is between Aer Lingus and BA against Ryanair and Easyjet(Belfast).
However, since Ryanair already owns 29.9% of Aer Lingus  Does not that danger already exist?

The Irish government would not look kindly on any reduction of Aer Lingus flights into Heathrow from any of the Republic´s airports (remember the hoohaa created by the reduction of flights to/from Shannon).
Thus I see that BA would consolidate its position on the routes by reducing its own frequencies or even withdraw from Dublin(as previously). I do not see BA withdrawing from Belfast as that would be considered a step too far politically.

Little Red´s 13 times daily slots are also up for grabs. Virgin Atlantic closes its routes from March onwards and if there are no takers to substitute Little Red(operated by Aer Lingus) then they all revert to BA except for two which are Virgin Atlantic´s own.

In those two ways BA could increase the number of slots for other destinations.

The shareholders could be a problem. The Irish government´s 25% share might well be sold under the right conditions, and price, as already stated. Ryanair would probably be glad to sell without losing money on its stake, as it is being forced to do at the momemt. This would enable Ryanair´s O´Leary to consider seriously the purchase of Cyprus Airways,(as he stated previously) or at least its assets after its recently announced closure.

The unknown element is Etihad which has a 4.9% shareholding. Would it make a serious attempt to take over Aer Lingus(to a maximum permitted 49%) to consolidate into its alliance or would it accept the inevitable if the Irish Government and Ryanair jumped ship?

In my view IAG will win through. Dublin will be promoted as a gateway to the USA and Canada, especially from the UK regions to protect BA from the transatlantic flights from Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
Look at the "where we fly" map covering the UK and you see so many destinations to/from Dublin, 18 if my counting is correct, quite a few of which do not have flights to LHR. After all BA would just be looking after its own back yard.

In this time let us look at what IAG has done.

Firstly BA and Iberia merged to form IAG. As expected Vueling was taken over since Iberia had a 45% stake in the airline. It operates very successfully as a LCC out of Barcelona, and has other bases throughout Europe. It is well run and very innovative, the proof of which is that both Easyjet and Ryanair have adopted some of its offerings to the public, such as selected seating.

British Midland(BMI)was in the hands of Lufthansa but could not make it profitable so decided to offer it on the market. The logical taker, Virgin Atlantic, offered a miserly sum(GBP100 million if my memory is correct) which was easily beaten by BA. The competition authorities made BA give up some of the slots to enable Virgin Atlantic to set up a domestic airline as competition into LHR and as a feeder for its routes.Known as Little Red (and operated by Aer Lingus) this has proved to be a failure by not achieving the required occupancy levels demanded by Branson and thus was not profitable in the two years of its existence.If no other offer for those slots to set up a domestic carrier is forthcoming then the slots revert to BA.

BMI Baby(based in East Midlands) was closed down while BMI Regional(based in Aberdeen) was sold on to the original founders of its operations and is going strongly, now cooperating with Lufthansa especially in and out of Munich.


Iberia has tried to set up a low cost operator based in Madrid called Iberia Express It has proved to be very profitable from year one but has been impeded by the unions and courts from expanding very much.It is now into its third year.

What IAG has not done.

Air Nostrum(operating as Iberia Regional) still forms part of the group though IAG has still not taken up any shareholding in the company.

Flybe still remains an associate company of IAG. There is a 15% shareholding. It set up a company called Flybe Nordic with Finnair´s short-haul flights in 2011 but eventually sold its 60% stake in it to Finnair in November 2014 for €1, in an attempt to reduce group costs.

Comair is BA´s franchisee in South Africa where IAG still maintains its 18% shareholding.
 This market, however, is hotting up with the advent of low cost competition from both inside and outside the country. Comair does have a low cost brand in Kulula so should be able to hold its own.


Sun-Air Scandanavia still operates as BA´s franchisee from Billund in Denmark. It has extended its routes as to compared to the map of 24/9/10 but not by very much. It appears to still have a lot of unfilled potential in the Scandanavian market.

 Open Skies is BA´s subsidiary which flies 3 times daily Paris Orly to New York, both JFK and Newark. Other destinations tried and failed were Paris-Washington DC and Amsterdam-New York.The choice of Paris Orly might well be convenient for access to central Paris but it is not so good for connections with other oneworld airlines except for some Iberia flights. 
Open Skies flies three classes Biz Bed(business), Prem Plus (premium economy) and Eco (economy). This is the latest configuation after trying a business and premium economy mix as they obviously need the backsides on the seats, up to 84 in each aircraft according to the configuration.

However, now it finds it has competition in the form of La Compagnie which in July 2014 started to fly Paris CDG to New York Newark. It flies just one Boeing 757 at the moment (the same aircraft as Open Skies) in a business class configuration of 74 seats. Also without even completing its first year of operation it will offer a London (airport not specified)-New York(Newark?) route from the spring of 2015. This will be in competition with BA´s business class routes from London City. The chances of La Compagnie making a success of the venture is quite high since the founders of the airline include the founders of L´Avion which BA bought to help launch Open Skies.

What all this boils down to is that IAG has taken over Vueling and BMI but nothing else.

What IAG could have done, did not do and/or could not do. 

A good rule of thumb is to look at the fellow members of an alliance.That way we may see likely partners. The IAG group is a member of the oneworld alliance with its 15 participating groups.This is a loose grouping which does not restrict members from having other connections, codesharings or the like.

However, over the years various changes have taken place. Malev(Hungary), Kingfisher(India) and Mexicana(Mexico) have all gone bust. Air Berlin (BA sponsored its entry into oneworldhas sold a large share(29%) of itself to Etihad. Thus, this airline has one foot in and one foot out of the alliance. Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has entered oneworld and encountered two tragic events. One is the loss of a flight from Kuala Lumpur to China in 2014, which apparently was diverted and lost over the south Indian Ocean, and has still not been found. The second was the shooting down of a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur by, apparently, pro-Russian seccessionist forces in the Ukraine in 2014. These events have damaged the airline through no fault of its own.

This last case of Malaysia Airlines might open the door to a foreign participation in the carrier. 

In the meantime oneworld now has in its ranks American Airlines merged with US Air, one of the three major Arabian Gulf carriers, Qatar Airways, the South American TAM merged with LAN into Latam, as well as the Russian S7, Sri Lankan and the consolidation of Japan Airlines(JAL) into the alliance. 

What IAG could do. 

In Europe at the moment there are three airlines on the block. Almost all the airlines are in one alliance or another while some have opted to join Etihad in its shareholding alliance - such as Air Berlin, Air Serbia, Darwin, Aer Lingus 

Aer Lingus is up for grabs as we have already stated. TAP Portugal is also for sale. This would most probably  not be a proposition for IAG as it would give IAG a predominance in the Iberian peninsula and on traffic to South America. the third airline is the Polish LOT. This could be very interesting for IAG as it would fill in a gap in Central Europe which could be lost with the withdrawal of Air Berlin from oneworld, if that were to happen. With a population of about 40 million Poland could provide a decent springboard to increase market share in Europe.

With France, Germany, Turkey and Greece covered by the present carriers there seems to be little opportunity to set up or take over another option. The country missing from the list is Italy. Etihad has just taken up its permitted maximum shareholding of 49% in Alitalia. Will that be sufficient to turn the loss making airline around.?

If any airline is interesting in Italy it is Meridiana. Among its partners the only airline mentioned is British Airways. It flies from London Gatwick to Catania, Cagliari, Olbia and Naples which are more destinations than 5 years ago, while from Madrid the destinations are Cagliari, Naples and Turin. Into Barcelona it does not fly.However, Vueling does have bases in Italy and flies several different domestic routes. Thus it seems that IAG has to clear up what the policy is in Italy. Does it want to expand with a takeover of Meridiana, or is it quite happy with the present preditory situation?

What about the other members of oneworld? Finnair is a relatively small airline and for some time there has been speculation about its incorporation into IAG - a logical move,  but is it likely in the short term?. MAS has got into difficulties through no fault of its own so might welcome a foreign partner - but proably not at 100% so that possibility is very much up in the air. Qantas has focused away from Europe to Asia and the Arabian Gulf so probably would not welcome overtures from European based groups. The Latam goup has encountered difficulties, especially with the downturn in the Brazilian economy. The situations in Argentina and Venezuela have not helped the group with the economic uncertainty. I do think Latam will sort itself out without any help from IAG.

Where else can one look then for opportunities? The next best thing is to look at the other airlines with which IAG cooperates one way or another. Three come to mind.

10th June 2014 Iberia announced it would codeshare with Interjet (Mexico) to 24 destinations in that country.This would fill the gap left by the demise of Mexicana in that country of 110 million people. While there is no equity investment in Interjet the agreement should benefit both sides. I should expect BA to extend the codesharing to its routes as well. If this leads to any greater cooperation we will just have to wait and see.

Bangkok Airways(Thailand). This is a codeshare partner of BA. As can be seen from the route map many routes are shared principally with Qantas, JAL, and MAS, all partners in oneworld.

WestJet (Canada)This is another codeshare partner of BA though it also codeshares with American Airlines and Delta Airlines. Thus I see it as an airline wishing to maintain its independence.

There could be other possibilities for merger partners but we always come up against economic nationalism where flag carriers are seen as important standard bearers of a country´s independence. If not at least there are limitations on shareholdings.

The USA is the worst offender in this case since it will not permitt any foreign company or group to have more than 25% of any of its airlines. BA came up against this when it had shareholdings of 25% firstly in United and later in US Air. The Open skies agreement of 2008 between the US and European Union supposedly liberalised the sky traffic but "The treaty disappointed European airlines as it was tilted in favor of United States airlines: while they are allowed to operate intra-EU flights, European airlines are not permitted to operate intra-US flights nor are they allowed to purchase a controlling stake in a US operator."

This was supposed to be solved in the following two years but nothing was done. In fact when Virgin America was set up the US authorities ensured that the Virgin group had no managerial control over the airline at all. This means that any merger mooted between American Airlines and IAG is not on the cards, or at least should not be.Take as an example of the differing attitudes when Singapore Airlines sold its 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic to Delta Airlines. There was no fuss whatsoever.

India is another country with strict control on shareholdings. Before the limit was 25% for foreigners as in the US. Now the limit has been raised to 49% so that various joint ventures are being set up such as Air Asia´s and Etihad´s partnership with Jet Airways. I do not see this as an interesting market for IAG as yet.

Most of the important markets seem to be closed. The best bets seem to be in Central and South America but that has to be seen. The Caribbean holds opprtunities especially in the tourist market to/from the US and Canada, but that might not be considered.

Africa has great potential but one cannot see where to start unless Comair South Africa is used as the vehicle. Ethiopian and Kenya Airlines show that a lot can be done but maybe the thinking should start on the other side of the continent with Royal Air Maroc.

Whatever, a lot can still be done to consolidate the industry - keep watching.

31 October 2014

More about London´s Cross City rail lines

The last few weeks has seen some movement about the extension of rail services across London.

It all started with "London First´s" attempt to promote a cross London line from the South West to the North East of the City. This they have called Crossrail 2 which is really a misnomer since it mixes concepts even though most of the idea might well be positive.

We will look at this later in a clearer context.

It would be better to look at why these ideas about cross London rail connections are now flourishing. From that we can see why these ideas should be focused and what such focussing can provide us with.

Let us begin with why there is a desire to provide cross London Rail services.
The London Underground lines (LUL) go across town over a network developed over 150 years. There was no great plan and so we have what we have. We can live with this network, or fix it, or develop it inside or outside the limitations it has given us.

The National Rail network developed for differing reasons, mostly providing (what came to be known as)regional and inter-city services. The exceptions here were the commuter services (pricinpally south of the Thames) mixed in with the other services. Basically these were provided where there was a lack of LUL services.

From 1948  British Railways became the nationalised body in the UK to run the railways. In the south-east these were still grouped around the four original companies (which became the regions) of Western, London Midland, North Eastern and Southern. Much later the regional and commuter services were organised into Network South East.

Thereafter, from the 1980s and 1990s the government policy was of privatisation of the transport system which resulted, after several ups and downs, into the system we know today in 2014.

Faced with an upsurge in demand for rail services, which have not seen such passenger demand since the 1920s, based on experiences in the last ten years together with forecasts of a growing population for London of 1.000.000 over the next 15-20 years, it is then obvious to see that pressures on the transport system are going to be tremendous.

 "What can be done?"
Obviously, a lot can be done but we have to be rational and work within reasonable parameters and manageable resourses.
From this we come to...
a)-more trains with greater frequency - this is the result of better operational use, reducing the interval between trains -- it comes down to improved signalling. 
b)-longer trains -- this is heavily dependent of the length of platforms at each station. Extension is possible but limitations apply.
c)-higher capacity trains -- double-decker trains are not a possibility on British rail lines but "walk-through" carriages are. The layout can be so improved as to increase the passenger carrying capacity - without any impediment from one articulated carriage to another then capacity can be increased substantially.That is what has been done on the new trains for the Circle Line
http://www.globalrailnews.com/2013/09/03/s-stock-trains-take-to-circle-line/ and will be done on other lines.

After that we come to basic operational details. Any train stopping at a platform on a through station will remain to offload and load its passengers in a short time. These permit the train to enter and exit the station in an extremely short period so that it can be on its way in, even, under one minute. That permits the time difference between trains on lines through London being in the region of two-three minutes at rush hours. At least the north-south Thameslink through Farringdon and Blackfriars, as well as Crossrail aim to offer 24 trains per hour in each direction.

That is fine for through stations but when it comes to termini the situation changes. The Thames Valley commuting trains into Paddington and the commuter trains into Liverpool Street are the ones which will provide the traffic for Crossrail when it comes into service in 2018. These trains, at present, arrive at each terminus and stay for far longer than two-three minutes. They occupy space and time at each terminus. This is where time can be saved and frequency increased by putting them on to Crossrail. Eliminating these commuter services from the termini permits greater use of the platform space for more regional and long distance trains. This is where great gains can be made. The introduction of Crossrail in 2018 is estimated to provide an increase in total London commuter capacity of 10% - a substantial increase.

Having understood this we can then look at the problem of commuter services entering and terminating at mainline stations in London and how they can be taken out of the termini to provide services through Central London.

A second problem raises its head, however. Almost all the commuter services are run with electric traction. All London Underground(LUL) and almost all London Overground(LOL) services are run on the three rail system - drawing electric current for traction from a third rail. The old Southern Region of British Rail - basically all the services south of the Thames - also uses the third rail for electric traction. These services these days are offered by, mostly, South West Trains, Southern and Southeastern.

North of the Thames most services are electric but using overhead wires for collection of the current. This is true for commuter services out of Paddington, Euston, St.Pancras, Kings Cross, Moorgate, Liverpool St. and Fenchurch St. The exception here are the Chiltern Trains services out of Marylebone. At the moment they are run with diesels so it is not a question of if, but when these lines are electrified they will be to overhead electric transmission.

From that if we wish to link commuter services to commuter services, as will be done with Crossrail, then we have to think of compatibility and cost. This brings us to the conclusion of "like with like", as much as possible. Thameslink is the exception since it operates both north and south of the Thames. This is not an ideal solution because the trains which travel to both sides of the river have to be compatible with both systems,third rail and overhead, resulting in more complex and more expensive vehicles.However, a lot can be done with thought.

1)-   Crossrail A: I do not wish to use numbers since they could lead to confusion about what I want to say. For that reason the original Crossrail I will call Crossrail A. This is the line which runs from Reading and Heathrow Airport in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. It involves electrification of quite a part of the line with some new construction down to Abbey Wood and tunnels through Central London which are about 21kms in length each way. In the east there has been speculation about extending the line from Abbey Wood to connect to HS1 at Ebbsfleet - a logical and inevitable event. From Shenfield the extension can be made from there to Southminster and Southend Victoria taking over the said part of the Greater Anglia services into Liverpool St.

In the west we find that 14 of the 24 trains per hour will stop at Paddington. To rectify this misuse of resources there has been a proposal to feed on to Crossrail some of the commuter services from Tring, or even from Milton Keynes, that presently run into Euston(London Midland services) from the WCML. To this blogger that sounds like a badly thought out quick-fix.Thus I offer an alternative.The Great Western services between West Ealing and Greenford are intended to be run as a diesel shuttle service. This blogger proposes that Crossrail A services run along that line to Greenford and on to West Ruislip.They would thus take over the LUL Central Line services to West Ruislip so that the Central line would terminate at Greenford.This would entail lengthening of the platforms at each station and conversion of the system to overhead electric wires. This will not seem such a wild idea when I mention Crossrail B.

 2)-   Crossrail B:  If we take it as a logical progression from policies applied north of the Thames regarding electrification of rail services, then it is safe to say that when electrification comes to the Chiltern Lines from Marylebone station then they will be converted to overhead operation. 
From that we can associate the Chiltern Line commuter services from Marylebone with  existing commuter services to Amersham and Aylesbury Vale Parkway plus those to High Wycombe and Aylesbury, plus the London Midland services to Tring and Milton Keynes along the WCML. These run roughly parallel so are complementary.

At the other end of central London we have the Essex Thameside line operated by C2C from Fenchurch St. The London Midland and the C2C services (and it is supposed the Chiltern services eventually) are operated by overhead electrical supply. Join the two sides with a tunnel from Fenchurch St. - Cannon St. - Blackfriars - Aldwych (more to be said later) - Tottenham Court Rd.- New Cavendish St./Portland Place(new station) - Marylebone (and Baker St.). From Marylebone one branch would continue to South Hampstead and West Hampstead to continue on the Chiltern Lines to the north west, while a second branch would connect Marylebone with Queens Park and on to the WCML out to Watford Junction etc.

The lines at both ends would need no special conversion as they are overhead wires. The inevitable electrification of the Chiltern lines would be brought forward but that is only a question of when not if. The tunneling from Fenchurch St. to Marylebone and onwards would come to about 13.3kms. which compares quite favourably with Crossrail A where the tunneling has come to be about 21kms. in each direction.

Are the services compatible? If we look at the periods of 06.30 to 10.00hrs for those services into the London termini, and from the termini between 16.30 and 20.00hrs. we can see that C2C runs 48/49 into and out of Fenchurch St. while London Midland (into / out of Euston) plus Chiltern Trains (into / out of Marylebone) run in total the same number of services - 48/49. That makes for a rate of 14 tph at each end. However, if we understand that joining the lines would mean there were no platform dwelling time at the termini we can see that a capacity increase is built into the system ready to be exploited.

One line which could be used, at least in part, is the now closed Post Office Railway which runs from Paddington to Whitechapel. This would save a large amount of expense on tunelling.

As a result a valuable piece of real estate at Fenchurch St. would be freed up for development to help pay for the scheme.


3)-   Because of this solution we are now presented with an opportunity. The Metropolitan lines from Amersham, Chesham, Watford Junction (soon to be completed) and Uxbridge run into Baker St. for most of the day. At the rush hours these trains run along the Circle Line to Aldgate to serve commuters into/out of the City. The potential of this line is, therefore, underused. With the "Crossrail B" services running across town to serve the City and onwards The Metropolitan Line does not need to serve the City but can be put to other uses.

An overlooked gap in the central London LUL map now has the opportunity to be filled.
The Metropolitan line can now run  Baker St. - Marble Arch - Hyde Park Corner - Victoria - Kennington. From there it would continue south to - John Ruskin St.(new station) - Camberwell New Rd. (new station) - Denmark Hill - North Dulwich - West Dulwich - Sydenham Hill - Gipsy Hill - Crystal Palace. One line would then branch off to Beckenham Junction while the other would go to Purley then divide to Tattenham Corner and Caterham. These inner London services would thus pass to TfL following the policies of London´s mayor that all such services should be under TfL.


4)-   Once we look at the Metropolitan Line services from the north west suburbs then we have to look at the LUL Bakerloo Line. This, at present, runs from  Harrow & Wealdstone to the Elephant & Castle, south of Waterloo.Any extension northwards of this line would be up to Watford Junction coinciding on that section with the services into Euston of Overground. 

However, there is a proposal on the table from Transport for London(TfL) to extend this line to underserved areas south of the Thames. "Proposed Bakerloo line extension route considered", (Global Rail News 30-9-14) and (Evening Standard 20-10-14)"Government funds may not be needed for £3bm Bakerloo Line extension,"

There are a couple of things to point out. The southern extension only provides one new station at Camberwell connecting to the existing station at Peckham Rye, while the northern extension to New Cross Gate provides two new stations (provisionally named Old Kent Rd. 1&2) in this underserved area of South London. This blogger thus supports the northern option as being more beneficial especially since a Camberwell station can be built in the Metropolitan Line project.
The other point to mention is that there is a reference to an extension to Bromley town centre. This has since proved to be the the extension of the branch through Beckenham Junction to Bromley South. On the other hand there is a branch from Grove Park to Bromley North. This, at the moment, is stuck out on a limb. However, if the previously existing services from Lewisham to Grove Park were reinstated to go along this branch then we have another option for the whole Bakerloo line.

It is pointed out that the branch to Hayes would take over all the National Rail services along that line. Any extension to Bromley South might take over, at least, some of the services from Victoria to Orpington. That, however, has to be explained in more detail. The Bromley North branch runs 3 tph thoughout the day. To provide a metro service a minimum of 4 tph is considered necessary. With a Bakerloo branch running through Lewisham direct to Bromley North that is quite feasible , if train paths are available. On the other hand there exists the idea of extending the services from Beckenham Junction to Shortlands or Bromley South and then with a new section of line to join up to Bromley North and on to Grove Park. These services would substitute the services through Lewisham to Bromley North and , therefore, not then interfer with the mainline ones through Lewisham and Hither Green down to Sevenoaks.


5)-   Once we mention any Bakerloo line extension we have to look at the Overground(LOL) service from Watford Junction to Euston. The Overground service is basically a cross London service to circle the capital. This has been the development so far, very successfully. 
The Overground services terminating into Euston, therefore, have no logic. 
If we look at the Overground map we can see that there is just a short break between South Hampstead and Camden Rd. The distance is 2.8kms over an already existing line between the two stations but really comes down to a connection of only 800 meters on lines which already exist. It does not suppose any new construction so can be accomodated very easily. From there the Watford line can be connected, in two stops, to the line at Highbury & Islington  from which services can be forwarded on to New Cross, Crystal Palace, West Croydon, and Clapham Junction without any difficulty.

There was a proposal to extend the Overground services from New Cross southwards to Lewisham. This is only possible with works at New Cross. Where the present lines diverges from Surrey Quays to New Cross it becomes a one way line which then runs into New Cross without any connection to the other lines through the station, into a turnback facility with one platform. Substantial works would be necessary to be able to extend the line southwards to Lewisham which are most likely not cost effective. For that reason the Overground services from Watford Junction could run into New Cross,into New Cross Gate and on to West Croydon, Crystal Palace and Clapham Junction as the present services do. 

These Overground services from Watford Junction, being diverted along the line through Camden Road and  Highbury & Islington will only mean the loss of Euston as a station. That is beneficial as it will free up much needed platform space and can be easily covered by the services on the Bakerloo line plus the improved services on Crossrail B.


6-)  The Cockfosters Line:
The Piccadilly (LUL) Line runs from Heathrow and Uxbridge to Cockfosters. From the west after Leicester Square and Covent Garden the line turns north to Holborn, Kings Cross, Finsbury Park and Cockfosters.
However, from Holborn, there still exists a branch(now closed) to Aldwych (closed). If there were a will then the Cockfosters branch could run south to Holborn, then Aldwych and southwards under the Thames.
The logical extension would be to Temple (Circle/District lines) - Waterloo/Waterloo East - Elephant & Castle - Camberwell(a new station as indicated before) - Loughborough Junction - (and stations to)  - Tulse Hill - Streatham Common - Mitcham Junction - Sutton and Epsom Downs. Obviously this line would include the loop through Tooting, Wimbledon and Sutton (at present operated by Thameslink).


7-)  With this operation the Piccadilly Line would be truncated at Holborn. However, other proposals in the past (like the abandoned Fleet Line project) have looked at the idea of aleviating the crowded Central Line. This has meant, for example, taking over the Central Line services from Leytonstone to Gants Hill and Hainault. If we extend this Piccadilly line services through Leyton Midland Rd. - Hackney Central, it can connect to the Chingford Line services through St. James Street to Hackney Central. The Line could then go south through (e.g.) London Fields - Haggerston - Essex Rd. - Angel - Clerkenwell(new station) to Holborn and onwards.That way we would have the Central Line aleviated while the Chingford Line, which will be taken over in 2015 by Overground, giving up its terminus and platforms at Liverpool St. while obtaining  useful cross-London destinations.

Tunelling would be needed from Holborn to Hackney Central which is about 6.4kms each way. Add to this tunelling from Hackney Central to below St.James St and Leyton Midland Rd. which could come in total to 6.2kms. each way. The the service to Chingford would need to be changed to the third rail system but that to Hainault would need no change.

This is how the map would look like with these two lines.


That leaves the "London First" proposal for the so-called Crossrail 2 project. It is also known as  the Chelsea- Hackney line, or in short the Chelney Line. That is how I prefer to refer to it as will be seen.

 As said in the report as prepared by London First..........
The new line, Crossrail 2, would transform journeysfor commuters from the south-west and the north-east, including Wimbledon, Kingston Hackney, Islington, Tottenham, Cheshunt and Hertford East. It would also provide essential relief to major London interchanges, including Euston, Victoria and Clapham Junction, and reduce pressure on congested Tube lines. In some cases, journey times would be more than halved.

8)-The Chelney Line:
The general direction of the line has been laid down for some years. At first it was a southwest - northeast line to cover areas, such as Chelsea and Hackney which were lacking in Underground coverage.
Now, however, we have to be more specific.
i)- The Greater Anglia lines from Cheshunt and Enfield through Seven Sisters  are to be taken over by London Overground, together with the services from Chingford, into Liverpool St. in 2015.
These services can be taken out from Liverpool St., thus freeing up platforms,  and fed under the City to form part of the Chelney Line.
ii)- I disagree with London First in that these lines should go through Tottenham Hale. I would prefer to send out the Greater Anglia services from Liverpool St. to Hertford East, Stansted and Cambridge through Stratford. The Stansted Express as well as other local stopping services can call at Stratford to provide the necessary connections. By not calling at Tottenham Hale the Victoria line will not have the connections envisaged and so will not be provided with transfer passengers to an already overcrowded line, these will then be funelled on  to the Circle Line.
iii)-The extension to Alexandra Palace and even New Southgate can be taken on from London First´s suggestion, however, I would run the line from Seven Sisters.That way the inner core could have greater frequencies of trains while reducing the construction costs.
iv)-In the inner core the number of stations and their location can be taken from London First´s plan. However, north from Kings Cross this blogger suggests stations at Essex Rd., Haggerston, London Fields to connect to Hackney Central.
v)-At the southern end of the line there would be branches to Shepperton, Hampton Court and Chessington South. These would take over the South West Trains lines to those destinations thus freeing up platform space at Waterloo.

vi)-There is a suggestion to run a service through Kingston, Teddington, Strawberry Hill to Twickenham. That, however, has its difficulties as a new flyover would have to be constructed at Twickenham into a turnback facility which does not exist - certainly an expensive option.
vii)-There is also a suggestion to run trains from Wimbledon and Raynes Park through Motspur Park and Stoneleigh to Epsom. The practicality of this would depend on other services from Victoria and Waterloo to outlying areas.

The platforms saved from surburban trains at Paddington, Marylebone, Euston, 
Liverpool St., Victoria, Waterloo provide for a broad scope to increase regional and inter-city 
trains. That way the capacity, connections and convenience of the system can do much for the 
crushed commuter.

The London rail system, though mature, still can provide a flexibility to offer a greater variety of 
services along its lines. It only needs some broad thinking and political will to increase the 
capacity so as to satisfy the demands to made upon it it in the latter part of the 21st Century.

To read more on this subject look at the blog of London Reconnections for 24th October 2014.
Other bloggs, I have written,  related to this subject are.....

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,
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.