HS2/HEx/Crossrail

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Chris125

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The government wants a HS2 branch to Heathrow, almost certainly needing a sizeable length of tunnel and a new underground station for relatively infrequent 400m trains.

Now im not usually a fan of 'fantasy land' suggestions, but with HS2 needing every path possible and GWML capacity becoming an issue wouldnt it make more sense to give Heathrow Express, probably operated as part of Crossrail, its own dedicated line?

With the growth in long distance services predicted to force HEx off the fast lines and into a slower 'skip stop' Crossrail service on the relief lines before HS2 even opens, a new line from Royal Oak/OOC would relieve both the already congested relief lines of such a service while preserving a true express service to Heathrow for Central London and HS2 passengers.

While it may need a longer tunnel than the HS2 branch, it would surely see much more use without needing to be built to continental loading gauge or requiring any new station/tunnelling at Heathrow.

Thoughts?

Chris
 
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WatcherZero

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I like to see it as the first step in connecting the Great Western to HS2, to me its the only possible justification of the Heathrow branch.
 

Nym

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It would be entirely either the wrong alignment or the wrong direction though.

IMO if we're having a Heathrow Branch it needs to be extended onwards to Gatwick, then services can actually run from Birmingham and HS2 stations to Gatwick via Heathrow and provide connections for South of London without having to travel through London, if the gauge clearances can be done or Classic Compatable stock is used, then services could continue and run on to Brighton, although I think keeping it seperate and running to Gatwick would be plenty for starters.

We don't need an HS2 connection to face London.

Although 6 tracking the Great Western to Airport Junction would be a hell of a good idea as a lot of Crossrail services will leave there, so one could simplify the Crossrail timetable by having...

Heathrow Express, as it is now, still seperate.
Crossrail Heathrow Branch, doing all stops between Hayes and London
Crossrail Maidenhead / Reading Branch, running fast from Hayes into London.

Track wise...

Crossrail Airport Branch would run on the Slows
Heathrow Express, Crossrail Maidenhead Branch and GW Semi Fast services would run on the "Mediums"
LDPE Services would run on the Fasts.

With a standardised calling pattern it would simplify matters significantly for commuters, and the track layout could be such that the 'slows' are excessively long passing loops on the 'mediums' for taking account of viaducts etc that cannot be extended.

Crossrail would then run similarly to the shared sections of track on LU, kind of like the Piccadilly and District lines, one line is semi fast, the other is all stations.
 

asylumxl

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Track wise...

Crossrail Airport Branch would run on the Slows
Heathrow Express, Crossrail Maidenhead Branch and GW Semi Fast services would run on the "Mediums"
LDPE Services would run on the Fasts.
That would probably also stop the signallers bringing LDPE to a complete stand still just so HE can cross Airport Junction...
 

Nym

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That would probably also stop the signallers bringing LDPE to a complete stand still just so HE can cross Airport Junction...
Yup, the whole idea would be to keep the LDPE stuff separate, although Airport Junction is being remodelled soon to give conflict free moments from each line.
 

Chris125

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We don't need an HS2 connection to face London.

Although 6 tracking the Great Western to Airport Junction would be a hell of a good idea as a lot of Crossrail services will leave there, so one could simplify the Crossrail timetable by having...
Thats what im suggesting - build another pair of lines to Airport Junction for Crossrail/HEx services to avoid the situation where the express service to London becomes a skip-stop service on the relief lines, while at the same time spending vast amounts on a branch for 1 or 2 trains per hour north on HS2.

While i can understand your wish to extend it to Gatwick & Brighton, it doesnt get around the basic issue that even one or two trains per hour wastes capacity on the Lichfield-London section of HS2, and probably would on the Gatwick-Brighton stretch too.

Chris
 

JGR

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6 tracking that part of the mainline seems rather overkill compared to just re-doing part of airport junction.

Also, aside from Heathrow Express, the other Heathrow services (including crossrail when it comes along) will stop at points on the way, and hence aren't terribly conducive to being put in a tunnel. I'm not sure that non-stop services between Paddington and Heathrow are in themselves frequent enough to justify dedicated tunnels.
Given that (more frequent?) express services from Slough/Reading/etc are forcing slower traffic off, would it not make more sense to put (some of) *them* through a tunnel starting somewhere between airport junction and Slough instead?
 

Chris125

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Im sure there are other ways of doing it - im just advocating the idea that it makes much more sense to spend money increasing capacity between Old Oak Common and Heathrow, than it does spending it on a spur and underground station at Heathrow for a single HS2 service per hour from Leeds and Manchester while the existing HEx service is relegated to a skip-stop Crossrail offshoot.

Chris
 

brianthegiant

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On a technical level HS2 heathrow sounds like it makes little sense...

but, my guess is this is motivated by politics, Greening just told the Airline industry this week that She thinks Heathrow cant/shouldnt be expanded any further. (Being MP for Putney might be a factor..). Thereby pouring cold water on the noises being made elsewhere re runway 3.
So the Government has to be seen to have 'an alternative plan'.
I guess they think 'HS2 Heathrow Spur' sounds bigger & better in the media than '6 tracking' or 'junction reconfiguration'.

Does seem to me linking Heathrow to Gatwick makes more sense than linking it to Birmingham.
 

Chris125

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I'm confused. Will Crossrail be similar to the Underground or will it be more like a long distance national rail route?
The new bit is the tunnel under London, which will be dedicated to Crossrail trains offering the high capacity/high frequency service of an Underground line - beyond the tunnel some of those Crossrail services will provide outer-suburban commuter services to Maidenhead and Shenfield on the existing Great Eastern and Great Western Mainlines, replacing existing services.

Chris
 

DynamicSpirit

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Does seem to me linking Heathrow to Gatwick makes more sense than linking it to Birmingham.
Interestingly, I think that would've become quite feasible if the previous Labour Government's plans for a western link to Heathrow from the Windsor line had been implemented, although it would have been by quite a roundabout route: Heathrow-Staines High Street (new station) - Woking - Guildford -Redhill - Gatwick.

Offhand I'm not sure how you could get a more direct Heathrow-Gatwick route without a lot of new track somewhere? The simplest I can think of would be a loop to allow eastbound trains on the line into Paddington to cross to the Kensington Olympia line would allow a Heathrow- Ealing-Olympia-Clapham Junction-Croydon-Gatwick route, but I imagine that would run into capacity issues along almost the whole route.
 

Rational Plan

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Interestingly, I think that would've become quite feasible if the previous Labour Government's plans for a western link to Heathrow from the Windsor line had been implemented, although it would have been by quite a roundabout route: Heathrow-Staines High Street (new station) - Woking - Guildford -Redhill - Gatwick.

Offhand I'm not sure how you could get a more direct Heathrow-Gatwick route without a lot of new track somewhere? The simplest I can think of would be a loop to allow eastbound trains on the line into Paddington to cross to the Kensington Olympia line would allow a Heathrow- Ealing-Olympia-Clapham Junction-Croydon-Gatwick route, but I imagine that would run into capacity issues along almost the whole route.
Slough council and the Thames Valley have already done a feasability study into a new tunnel from Terminal 5 to the Great Western, long before airtrack crashed and burned. It's priced at £700 million and has no level crossings.

As for links to Gatwick? One idea floating around is for a high speed line from Heathrow along the M25 direct to Gatwick. Just 15 minutes door to door. This would onlymake sense with another runway at Gatwick. The irony is getting to terminal 4 from terminal 5 could take as long as getting to Gatwick North.

The main problems are organisational, now the two airports are in separate ownership. Plus the cost of course compared to a new runway at Heathrow, but it is mere pinpricks.

A new argument to make though is the real reason people prefer Heathrow is that it is closer to London than the others, plus it's connections. If you built a high speed line to Heathrow but also built a new Highspeed line to Victoria from Gatwick, you'd go a long way equalising the playing field between them. Coincidently you'd also build a new main line for express trains from the rest of the South coast (well at least from gatwick).
 

HSTEd

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The South Coast Shinkansen?

Certainly the Japanese model is more suited to the South East......
 

gwr4090

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Slough council and the Thames Valley have already done a feasability study into a new tunnel from Terminal 5 to the Great Western, long before airtrack crashed and burned. It's priced at £700 million and has no level crossings.
This is the WRAtH project - Western Access to Heathrow. It is an eminently sensible and realistic proposal which would require only about 4km of new track in largely undeveloped (green belt ?) to a junction in the Langley/Iver area. The proposal is for 4 trains per hour via Heathrow to Slough (6mins) and Reading (29mins), probably by extension of Crossrail services to Heathrow. I am not sure that it would actually require any new trains ?

On the separate issue of increasing GWML capacity by provision of two additional running lines between Airport Jc and Paddington, this was examined in some detail quite some time ago, but would be very expensive. Problems are the need for a new viaduct alongside Hanwell viaduct and getting through the Ealing area. The preferred solution was to make use of the Greenford loop (suitably upgraded) from West Ealing to Old Oak Common, but I think that HS2 proposals might now prevent this ? To the West of Hanwell there is already room in many places for a fifth bi-directional "dynamic" loop between the up and down relief lines over much of the distance to Twyford. Indeed I think parliamentary approved for this was granted some years ago, but may now have lapsed.

David
 

swt_passenger

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Interestingly, I think that would've become quite feasible if the previous Labour Government's plans for a western link to Heathrow from the Windsor line had been implemented, although it would have been by quite a roundabout route: Heathrow-Staines High Street (new station) - Woking - Guildford -Redhill - Gatwick.
If you are thinking of Airtrack, it was nothing to do with the previous Labour Government. A 100% BAA sponsored project, it was BAA who did all the work towards the cancelled TWA Order.
 

Rational Plan

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If you are thinking of Airtrack, it was nothing to do with the previous Labour Government. A 100% BAA sponsored project, it was BAA who did all the work towards the cancelled TWA Order.
The airtrack scheme was flawed in several ways. The biggest was to note that the best economic return was from the extra trains between Staines and London because that is where most of the passengers would be coming from. It is notable they only proposed 5 car trains from Woking and Reading.

They ignored the railway crossings issue from the start, other than assuming a way would be found to reduce the closure length. (they did not!). I supported the original proposals when they had a station in Staines High street (closer than the existing one). It at least gave the town some benefits for the chaos it created.

Then after 'consultation' they dropped the station after objections from nearby residents. So in effect Staines and Egham would have no stops on trains from Reading and Woking and yet would suffer the traffic. I never bought there reasoning as the proposed station was not that close to the estate and would only effect a few households, I felt it was a cost cutting exercise and a sacrificial lamb to the consultation process.

If they never wanted to have the trains stop in Staines and Egham they could have extended the line by the M25 and then joined the track the other side of Egham avoiding the town centres.

I still believe a simplified scheme is possible, just have the link built to the Windsor line and have an extra 4 trains an hour run to Waterloo. It would still provide a significant boost to access to Heathrow from SouthWest London and to the most congested section of the Windsor lines. The Reading and Windsor trains could drop some of their stops between Staines and Richmond to speed up their trips and reduce crowding on those services.
 
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