diamond geezer

 Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Another year, another Crossrail 2 consultation.

The first, in 2013, asked whether we preferred a shorter DLR-style service or a larger network stretching out into the suburbs. The second, in 2014, confirmed that the larger network should go forward, and wondered what our preferred route options were. And the third, launched yesterday, confirms the majority of the route and asks if we're OK about all the buildings they'll need to knock down.

This latest consultation reveals a phenomenal amount of information, by no means the whole deal but enough to gauge the impact on your part of town. Where the trains will run, proposed levels of service, precisely where the stations will go, where ventilation shafts will need to be inserted, that sort of thing. There's no need to get excited just yet, construction's not due to begin until 2020 and won't be complete before 2030, but the intervening decade looks rather messy in certain now-well-defined places.

In overview, two branches of Crossrail 2 will sweep in from the north, one from New Southgate and the other from Broxbourne (down the existing Lea Valley line). Both will enter tunnels and combine to the north of Dalston, a station selected in preference to Hackney Central (which might be part of an eastern extension later). Crossrail 2's central section passes through Euston St Pancras, Tottenham Court Road and Victoria, as planned, with one train scheduled every two minutes. Chelsea gets its own station, then either Balham or Tooting, before this wiggly tunnelled section ends at Wimbledon. Crossrail 2 then splits to take over four suburban spurs - to Epsom, Chessington South, Hampton Court and Shepperton. One day, that is, when all of us are 15 years older.

Here's the consultation website, with numerous supporting documents, here's a route diagram, and here's an interactive geographical map. Meanwhile below I've attempted to summarise some of the moot points, with links to further local detail, to save you having to plough through the lot.

New Southgate: New Southgate will be the end of the northwest branch, and the location of a tunnel portal, and also the site of a large train depot. As a result a particularly lengthy strip of land is going to be swallowed up by Crossrail, including the current alignment of Station Road (which will be used for new platforms).
New Southgate to Seven Sisters: Previously it was assumed that the line would have stations at Alexandra Palace and Turnpike Lane, and this might still happen. But Haringey council would very much prefer the route to miss both of these in favour of the centre of Wood Green, because that's where all the shops are. This consultation will help to decide which route wins out. Both would relieve pressure on the Piccadilly line, but only the Ally Pally option fully interchanges with all local National Rail services. A Turnpike Lane station would swallow the bus station and BHS, while in Wood Green the Vue cinema would have to go. Could go either way.
Seven Sisters: This station'll be a double-ender, with one entrance at the existing Seven Sisters station and the other at South Tottenham (for the Overground). Some residential properties on Birstall Road would have to be demolished, as would the Jehovah's Witnesses' Kingdom Hall.

Broxbourne to Angel Road: This northern branch can expect a Crossrail train every five or six minutes. That's a lot of trains so the line would also need to be widened from two tracks to four, allowing fast services to Harlow and Stansted to speed through the middle. That's a long-long-awaited improvement! Meanwhile all the existing level crossings would need to be removed, and possibly replaced by bridges or underpasses (or in some places not replaced at all).
Angel Road to Tottenham Hale: This section is already scheduled to be doubled up from two tracks to four, in readiness for so-called STAR services running between Angel Road and Stratford. Consultation documents confirm that these services are scheduled to begin in 2017/18.
Tottenham Hale: This station is destined to become a major interchange, with a train every couple of minutes above ground and the Victoria line below. Crossrail trains will descend into tunnel to the south of the station, requiring the acquisition of a long strip of land alongside the existing railway all the way down to Markfield Park.

Tottenham Hale/Seven Sisters to Dalston: In the previous consultation, the idea was floated of adding intermediate stations at Stoke Newington and/or Clapton. Neither of these will happen, for reasons of cost, as the two Crossrail branches join together and whizz down to Dalston without stopping. For a proposed railway which started out in the 1970s as the 'Chelsea/Hackney line', Hackney isn't going to do very well out of Crossrail 2 fifty years later.
Dalston: Crossrail platforms are two football pitches long, so the stations are very long too. This one'll have one exit at Dalston Kingsland station and the other at Dalston Junction, creating a new station simply called Dalston. Planned worksites will require the demolition of shops along two 50m sections of Kingsland Road.
Angel: Crossrail 2 will bring a new railway line to busy Upper Street with a direct connection to the West End. Demolition of the Royal Bank of Scotland (beside the existing Angel station) is required, while Iceland (and other properties on White Lion Street) will bite the bullet for construction of a ventilation shaft.

Euston St Pancras: This key portmanteau station will serve HS1 and HS2, with one entrance near the taxi rank round the back of St Pancras, and the other in place of the Travelodge opposite Euston. An "underground passenger link" will be created to link Crossrail 2 to Euston station (but there's no news of any similar link from Euston to St Pancras direct, because that's an HS2 issue).
Tottenham Court Road: If you thought ten years of construction works here for Crossrail 1 were bad enough, expect another ten for Crossrail 2. The current TCR station isn't sufficiently future-proof, it seems, plus the two lines will actually cross beneath Soho Square (where a worksite will remain, for ground stabilisation reasons). One new station entrance will be built facing Oxford Street along the eastern side of Rathbone Place, while the other will be on Shaftesbury Avenue and requires the demolition of the Curzon cinema. You've not heard the last of this one.
Victoria: After swerving beneath Pall Mall and St James's Park, Crossrail 2's next stop is a game-changing interchange at Victoria, reducing congestion on several existing lines. The price is 5-8 years of construction work, including the removal of everything opposite the existing mainline station on Buckingham Palace Road, and yet another redevelopment of Terminus Place. A shaft is proposed on the site of Victoria Coach Station, regarding which "proposals about the future of the Victoria Coach Station are being considered" and will be "subject to further consultation by TfL".

King's Road Chelsea: The previous consultation raised the possibility of an alternative station at 'Chelsea West', nearer to new residential development, but this idea's now dead in the water. Plans to devour Dovehouse Gardens and Chelsea fire station have also been amended, with the proposed station entrance now facing onto Sydney Street opposite Heal's. Further land opposite M&S would also be required, a relatively small landgrab compared to most other stations, but expect the population of the King's Road to be vocally unhappy all the same.
Clapham Junction: One of the busiest stations in the country will be gaining a direct link to the West End and beyond, so expect a lot of southern commuters to alight here for interchange into central London. Much of the construction work will take place on existing sidings, but the bus station (and church) to the north on Grant Road are scheduled to disappear.
Tooting/Balham: Now the intriguing detour. Tooting was always the intended destination in south Wandsworth, but geological surveys have found awkward ground conditions, prompting a major rethink. Relocating the station to Balham would apparently be "faster, easier, less disruptive and cheaper", so I suspect we can assume the switch is a dead cert, and that Balham's Waitrose is consequently doomed. Swift interchanges to the Northern line are guaranteed either way.
Wimbledon: As the point where Crossrail 2 trains emerge from deep tunnel and then split in two directions along existing suburban lines, the centre of Wimbledon totally gets it. There'll be worksites across either end of the existing platforms, and on the site of Centre Court Shopping Centre, and along the other side of Wimbledon Bridge. This is majorly significant disruptive stuff, all for the long-term good, but a lot of properties look like becoming 'unavailable'. The Odeon will be safe, but as for anything north of that, check the map. As a bonus, however, expect the tram terminus to be raised to street level and integrated into the town centre... and the big prize is of course 30 Crossrail trains an hour.

Wimbledon to New Malden/Motspur Park: Here's the big southwestern split, with some additional tracks required on the way to New Malden. More frequent trains will also require "a small number" of existing level crossings to be closed, and Network Rail "will work closely with local communities and the local authority to find an appropriate resolution for each". The big payback here is that diverting suburban trains into a brand new tunnel creates considerable additional capacity on the existing mainline into Waterloo, where services can (eventually) be enhanced.
Motspur Park to Epsom: This branch would retain some existing Waterloo services as well as four Crossrail trains an hour.
Motspur Park to Chessington South: This branch would become Crossrail only, with four trains an hour (rather than the existing two).
New Malden to Hampton Court: This branch would become Crossrail only, with four trains an hour (rather than the existing two).
New Malden to Shepperton: This branch would retain some existing Waterloo services as well as four Crossrail trains an hour. The number of trains from Kingston into central London would double. Previous plans to send Crossrail trains to Twickenham have been withdrawn, leaving these services unchanged.

There's a heck of a lot to be discussed, so two months of roadshow events are planned in the run-up to Christmas, starting next week in Broxbourne, Waltham Cross, Wood Green, Euston, Chelsea and Epsom. And this matters, because Crossrail 2 will change the face of London in the same way that its sister project almost has. You'll be aware from Crossrail 1 how large a construction site is required at every new station, and for how many years, so best we get Crossrail 2 right. The consultation period ends on 8th January, so if this might affect you, best have your say. If nothing else it'll give you something to do during the 15 years before you can finally take a ride.

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