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Amersham/Rickmansworth to Watford

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mr_jrt

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It's known that there is some interest from stakeholders to see a service using the north curve between Rickmansworth and Croxley once the Croxley Rail Link (CRL)/Metropolitan Line Extension (MLE) opens. There are also proposals to increase London Overground (LO) services on the DC line up to 4tph. This will result in a peak service between Watford High Street and Watford Junction of 10tph (4tph LO + 6tph Met). We also know that the line south of Harrow & Wealdstone will have to manage 14tph (4tph LO + 10tph Bakerloo).

With that in mind, does anyone know the signalling capacity of the section of line between Watford High Street junction and Watford Junction, (bearing in mind WHSj is a flat junction), and thus how much capacity will remain available to increase services further, i.e. to provide the aforementioned north curve service?

Moving beyond that, a few days ago my attention was drawn back to the Chiltern service between Aylesbury and Harrow-on-the-Hill in a discussion about improving capacity there. Fundamentally, I suspect longer trains are required, which means platform extensions at the very least at the major stations - Aylesbury, Amersham, Rickmansworth and HotH. Thinking about the two issues in the wider sense the disused bay at Rickmansworth got me thinking - if you lengthened the platforms eastwards to 8x20m-car length, the bay would because suitable for a 4-car service. A parallel single track section from the bay to Watford north curve could enable a 4-car shuttle service to operate without impacting capacity on the double track section between Rickmansworth and the Watford junctions. It would mean a change at Rickmansworth, but it would keep things simple. Question is whether there would be capacity for it between WHSj and Watford Junction?

Looking further ahead, what is the capacity like on the Chiltern services from Aylesbury via Amersham? Anecdotally I hear they're pretty overcrowded despite many choosing to drive over to the WCML for better service. I ask mainly because the next step to increasing capacity would obviously be to add more signalling, but if that's as good as it gets, then adding more tracks becomes the requirement, and four tracks to Chalfont & Latimer (C&L) from Watford South junction has few obstacles, but those it does have are Rickmansworth's and C&L's stations. Rebuilding those when they get their longer platforms could resolve that - Rickmansworth was going to be rebuilt in the New Works programme further east, on the straight section adjacent to the then goods yard (and now Waitrose), with 4 platforms (and 4 tracks!). Completing this as planned and extending it through Chorleywood (which has plenty of space) to C&L would enable the Met to provide a segregated service to Chesham, giving Chiltern segregated "fast" tracks all the way to Marylebone to operate as required, and going full circle, would enable the Met to provide a Chesham to Watford Junction service without impacting either Chiltern nor their mainline south of HotH at all (as it would just use the spare paths on the northern section used further south by Uxbridge services).
 
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cle

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I see the need and demand as quite local - school kids, the hospital, Watford commuting/shops/connections/boozing - and so I doubt Aylesbury is required.

Chiltern could run a shuttle to Chesham, and remove that from the Met. Or a 4 car S unit (or 2/3/4) could be ordered especially to run that shuttle. Shame to be diesel after all.

The service to Aylesbury does need to be longer and quicker though. I know E/W Rail is currently slated to go via High Wycombe but it will open up options and possibilities for the future - intermediate new stations, other routings, high frequencies, development. I could see Watford playing a part in that.
 

PeterC

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I think that the pinch point for Chiltern is between Marylebone and Neasden Junction rather than between Harrow and Amersham. Chiltern services on this line are always well loaded and stock seems to be allocated based on demand from Chiltern's own stations. The problems arise from passengers joining at TfL stations, if Chiltern could skip Chalfont, Chorleywood and Ricky I am sure that they would.

I don't think that provision for a Ricky - Watford shuttle would be cost effective, if passengers are to change then they may as well do so at Moor Park. I would love to have a through service to the High Street area, road congestion makes driving a total pain and the bus even worse.

Chiltern could run a shuttle to Chesham, and remove that from the Met. Or a 4 car S unit (or 2/3/4) could be ordered especially to run that shuttle. Shame to be diesel after all.
You could have got away with that if the shuttle had been kept somehow after the A stock was scrapped but Chesham travellers won't give up their through service to London without a fight.
 
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mr_jrt

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The problem with changing at Moor Park is that you're using line capacity on the mainline route for passengers who don't want or need to go there. It will also not be cross-platform, which the Ricky bay option would at least enable heading towards Watford. Chiltern also don't stop at Moor Park, so that puts them on the slower Met services to London, or more importantly, a second change to get north of Amersham.

Core principle of a segregated north curve shuttle is that it doesn't take any paths from the mainline, which I suspect may be at a premium without expensive upgrades. If you're happy for people to go via Moor Park to provide Watford-Ricky/Amersham/Aylesbury links, then you need to convince Chiltern to serve Moor Park at the bare minimum.

I don't think a platform extension at the current Ricky station and a mile or two of single track would break the bank...the signalling required on the Watford High St. junction to Watford Junction section is likely to be far more of a constraint (1/2tph should be doable based upon the LO/Bakerloo section of the DC lines, but would 3/4tph be too much?), hence it being my opener. :)
 

causton

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If you're happy for people to go via Moor Park to provide Watford-Ricky/Amersham/Aylesbury links, then you need to convince Chiltern to serve Moor Park at the bare minimum.

I think Chiltern don't stop at Moor Park due to the local residents as it is an upmarket estate, they forbid double deck buses from serving the station during rail replacement services so a separate single decker shuttle has to run; and I think they do not want "dirty smelly" diesel trains stopping there.
 

OxtedL

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If you were serious about running a Watford-Rickmansworth/Amersham 4-car electric train then the most sensible local provider of 4-car trains is London Overground.

I don't think you could provide a half hourly service to Rickmansworth with just one unit, and frustratingly Amersham may be just too far away for just two units. So maybe some kind of interworking would be optimal.

The cost of the trains and any electrification modifications would completely kill any business case, whatever way you look at it. It probably didn't have a business case even without these capital costs, as changing at Moor Park or getting the bus are not terrible options on paper.
 

The Planner

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4 minute headway currently between High Street and Junction so no reason with careful timetabling at the junction with the MLX that it couldn't do 10tph. If anything gets added in as part of the works to drop it to say 3 then it should be dead easy.

The signalling between Mantles Wood and Aylesbury is sparse to say the least, it basically just put a signal in at all the old boxes so you are left with 9 minute headways. I doubt you would get to the point of needing more tracks.
 

G_A_C_C_C

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Personally I would change all the Northbound Met trains to Amersham terminators and have half hourly Chesham trains run to Watford. And I'd send them to Town, not Junction... but that won't happen...but it would give operational flexability.

You can't just order one S4, you would have to order 2, one for back up. So far to expensive....unless you ordered 3 and ran a pair as the extra 8 car set that was ordered...but I think there would be length issues (with 4 cabs) at some stations.
 

mr_jrt

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4 minute headway currently between High Street and Junction so no reason with careful timetabling at the junction with the MLX that it couldn't do 10tph. If anything gets added in as part of the works to drop it to say 3 then it should be dead easy.

The signalling between Mantles Wood and Aylesbury is sparse to say the least, it basically just put a signal in at all the old boxes so you are left with 9 minute headways. I doubt you would get to the point of needing more tracks.

Thank you, that was exactly the info I was after.
 

philthetube

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I think Chiltern don't stop at Moor Park due to the local residents as it is an upmarket estate, they forbid double deck buses from serving the station during rail replacement services so a separate single decker shuttle has to run; and I think they do not want "dirty smelly" diesel trains stopping there.

You can't get a double deck bus from Rickmansworth to Moor Park without going a long way round because of a low bridge, to go via Moor Park from Ricky to Northwood is a laborious route so that would never happen and passenger numbers at Moor park only require a small bus. Chiltern don't stop at Moor Park because of capacity issues, very rarely one will be asked to call there if the Met service is in a very bad way.
 

Daniel

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You could have got away with that if the shuttle had been kept somehow after the A stock was scrapped but Chesham travellers won't give up their through service to London without a fight.

You'd be surprised. I know a fair chunk of passengers are unhappy with the through service, as it means the Chesham branch is more unreliable than when it was a shuttle. Prior to the through services being introduced it was immune to the relatively frequent issues in the city.
 

NickBucks

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I think the whole issue will have to wait to see what proposals Chiltern come up with for the franchise renewal. Rumour has it that the Aylesbury - Marylebone line makes a loss- not surprising given that it is overcrowded but only at the peaks. You can see three-quarters empty two car 165 units shuttling back and forth off peak which must be costly.
There does not seem to be any co-operation between TfL and Chiltern. Many times the fast Aylesbury services are held up behind Met line trains which cannot run to timetable for various reasons. As the OP has stated MK services will run via High Wycombe. Chiltern is clearly concentrating on the new Oxford service and if they were given the chance to run E-W services under a new franchise perhaps Chiltern would relinquish the Amersham line services giving TfL the chance to take over. Aylesbury is having to take thousands of new houses over the next few years (but given the present economic situation many will not be built before the franchise renewal) so demand will still be there.
 

aylesbury

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a correction to the last post: Aylesbury trains are busy all day now, especially from Gt Missenden onwards.

The platforms at Aylesbury don't need extending, they are capable of holding up to twelve coaches, as when the Great Central ran through right up to BR days we had full length expresses calling.

The route via Amersham is important to us and you notice when arriving at Amersham most people board a Chiltern train.
 
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mr_jrt

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I think the whole issue will have to wait to see what proposals Chiltern come up with for the franchise renewal. Rumour has it that the Aylesbury - Marylebone line makes a loss- not surprising given that it is overcrowded but only at the peaks. You can see three-quarters empty two car 165 units shuttling back and forth off peak which must be costly.
There does not seem to be any co-operation between TfL and Chiltern. Many times the fast Aylesbury services are held up behind Met line trains which cannot run to timetable for various reasons. As the OP has stated MK services will run via High Wycombe. Chiltern is clearly concentrating on the new Oxford service and if they were given the chance to run E-W services under a new franchise perhaps Chiltern would relinquish the Amersham line services giving TfL the chance to take over. Aylesbury is having to take thousands of new houses over the next few years (but given the present economic situation many will not be built before the franchise renewal) so demand will still be there.

Ultimately, the Met doesn't have capacity to serve Aylesbury and Marylebone doesn't have capacity to serve Moor Park-Amersham/Chesham.

If the Met lost the Uxbridge branch (i.e. to the Jubilee line) then serving Aylesbury might become feasible, abet you'd have to have a substantial extension of the 4th rail (and I'm not sure if it would be allowed). Likewise, if Marylebone lost the Chiltern services to High Wycombe/Aylesbury via Princes Risborough to a Crossrail connection along the NNML, then it might have the capacity to handle more services via Harrow-on-the-Hill, enabling the Met to be cut back to Watford & Uxbridge (which would then give Chiltern a clear run at electrifying the whole route from Aylesbury to Marylebone with standard OHLE).
 

TrenHotel

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I think the whole issue will have to wait to see what proposals Chiltern come up with for the franchise renewal. Rumour has it that the Aylesbury - Marylebone line makes a loss- not surprising given that it is overcrowded but only at the peaks.

Accepting Oyster/contactless between Great Missenden and Aylesbury would help Chiltern drum up some leisure usage off-peak - it's hugely inconvenient trying to combine TfL/NR fare systems, especially if you're travelling with kids (who get free travel until Amersham).
 
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CyrusWuff

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I think Chiltern don't stop at Moor Park due to the local residents as it is an upmarket estate, they forbid double deck buses from serving the station during rail replacement services so a separate single decker shuttle has to run; and I think they do not want "dirty smelly" diesel trains stopping there.

Chiltern used to call at Moor Park in NSE days. Can't remember when they stopped doing so, but a call there nowadays requires an "assisted dispatch" with a member of LU staff.
 

Metroman62

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I fear there will be no quick changes. In my opinion, the Met service has deteriorated over the years. There are nice new S stock trains with fewer seats. Sound logical reason for fewer seats, but this was to be countered by running more trains. More trains can't be run because the new signal system has not been done, it is now many many years past when it should have been done and not due for completion until the early 2020s. I doubt any changes to services will happen before the signal are changed. The maximum line speed is now 60, it used to be 70, so the Chiltern services can't run as fast as they could. The fast off peak services from Amersham and Chesham have been removed making a journey into London a very long slow ride. i think this is why people seem to use the Chiltern services as they are faster, but have poor connections for Chesham. There seems little cooperation between Chiltern and TFL, why run a fast Amersham a few minutes behind a Chiltern? They perhaps could spread the journeys out.

Any improvements will cost money, but who will pay? the Met line north/ west of Moor Park runs through Hertfordshire and Bucks, but is run by TFL who get their funding from London, with little from Herts. and Bucks, so why should London pay for improvements in this area? (although I believe they are paying for the much much delayed Croxley Link)

I don't think there is an easy solution, so the Chiltern and Met services through Amersham compare badly for speed and time compared to routes via Hemel and High Wycombe, although the Met section does have cheaper tickets which helps!

Personally, I would love and use a direct Aylesbury / Amersham / Watford service, but fear I will have retried by then and moved away
 

Tetchytyke

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The route via Amersham is important to us and you notice when arriving at Amersham most people board a Chiltern train.

That's more a consequence of TfL's timetable changes on the Met, getting rid of the semi-fasts, rather than anything to do with what Chiltern are up to. Amersham-London is effectively 2tph because it is invariably quicker to catch the Chiltern train and change at Harrow (off peak) or Marylebone rather than ride the Met all the way into town.

Aylesbury trains enjoy relatively healthy loadings, but even at peak times with the fasts non-stop to Amersham they empty out noticeably at Amersham. Chiltern's pricing strategy makes it clear they have no intention of growing the off-peak market beyond Amersham and from Amersham-Rickmansworth into London these days they're mostly just carrying people who used to take the Met.

As for Aylesbury-Watford, this is an idea that keeps coming up and I really don't see how there is a business case for it. Aylesbury-Amersham really doesn't need more than 2tph, and if it did Chiltern would want to use the path for London, Watford is not a major market for anyone, and from Amersham southwards it's an easy same-platform change at Moor Park.
 

THC

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Any improvements will cost money, but who will pay? the Met line north/ west of Moor Park runs through Hertfordshire and Bucks, but is run by TFL who get their funding from London, with little from Herts. and Bucks, so why should London pay for improvements in this area? (although I believe they are paying for the much much delayed Croxley Link)

Not so - TfL's contribution to the MLE, as we must now call it, is £49.23m of the total project cost at the P50 risk level of £284.4m and any excess above this amount. The TfL contribution comprises a HM Treasury agreed uplift of £30.5m in the TfL prudential borrowing limit (with TfL retaining net farebox revenue) and a £16m contribution from the TfL Growth Fund, with the balance of £2.73m to come from the general TfL budget. This TfL Board paper from November 2015 refers.

THC
 

rebmcr

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I fear there will be no quick changes. In my opinion, the Met service has deteriorated over the years. There are nice new S stock trains with fewer seats. Sound logical reason for fewer seats, but this was to be countered by running more trains. More trains can't be run because the new signal system has not been done, it is now many many years past when it should have been done and not due for completion until the early 2020s. I doubt any changes to services will happen before the signal are changed.

The last of the D Stock are not long for this world (or at least for TfL's metals...), which clears the way for the traction supply being uprated to 750v. This will lead to acceleration improvements meaning an interim partially-improved timetable is likely to be introduced on the SSLs to stop the gap until the new signalling is ready.

There seems little cooperation between Chiltern and TFL, why run a fast Amersham a few minutes behind a Chiltern? They perhaps could spread the journeys out.

Unfortunately it's impossible to run a proper mix of stopping and fast services on a two-track railway. The fasts would normally catch up with the stoppers, but for the gap that is inserted for them to be able to run — they begin their journey at the back of the gap and even so, still end up almost caught-up by the end. Inserting more gaps like that would destroy the stopping service, so they make the most of them by bunching up a Chiltern with a Fast.
 

Metroman62

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The last of the D Stock are not long for this world (or at least for TfL's metals...), which clears the way for the traction supply being uprated to 750v. This will lead to acceleration improvements meaning an interim partially-improved timetable is likely to be introduced on the SSLs to stop the gap until the new signalling is ready.



Unfortunately it's impossible to run a proper mix of stopping and fast services on a two-track railway. The fasts would normally catch up with the stoppers, but for the gap that is inserted for them to be able to run — they begin their journey at the back of the gap and even so, still end up almost caught-up by the end. Inserting more gaps like that would destroy the stopping service, so they make the most of them by bunching up a Chiltern with a Fast.

Then bunch a fast Chesham and Chiltern (swap the Amersham and Chesham paths). I believe Chesham users have asked for this as it would give better connections and offer Amersham a more spread out service.
 

DynamicSpirit

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You'd be surprised. I know a fair chunk of passengers are unhappy with the through service, as it means the Chesham branch is more unreliable than when it was a shuttle. Prior to the through services being introduced it was immune to the relatively frequent issues in the city.

Surely, when it was a shuttle, people would pick up exactly the same unreliability when they changed at Chalfont and Latimer?
 

Metroman62

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Surely, when it was a shuttle, people would pick up exactly the same unreliability when they changed at Chalfont and Latimer?



They could get a late running Chiltern or Amersham and change at Chalfont, the shuttle would be running. Now they have to wait for a delayed through train or the service to Chesham could be cancelled meaning an even longer wait.


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Mutant Lemming

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Prior to the through services being introduced it was immune to the relatively frequent issues in the city.

The shuttle may have been but the connecting Amersham trains weren't plus there was the added hassle of a dash down the steps through the subway and along to the shuttle platform.
 
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Chris125

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Chiltern is clearly concentrating on the new Oxford service and if they were given the chance to run E-W services under a new franchise perhaps Chiltern would relinquish the Amersham line services giving TfL the chance to take over.

The current thinking at the DfT appears to favour a 'mini franchise' for East West Rail.
 

PeterC

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Unfortunately it's impossible to run a proper mix of stopping and fast services on a two-track railway.
Have they plain lined the points giving access to the fast lines at Harrow?
 

mr_jrt

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Have they plain lined the points giving access to the fast lines at Harrow?

I believe they were referring to the railway north of Watford South junction, aka. Rickmansworth to Aylesbury. IIRC, the points at Harrow are still used by a few peak Met services that use the fast lines.

This is largely why the original 1940s New Works plans were to have the four-track section extended through Rickmansworth station (to enable interchange between fast and slow services more robustly), and to have 4 tracks through Chorleywood station (so the BR expresses could pass the Met services). Alas, those were eventually cut to get the project out the door in the early 1960s.
 
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