Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 7240 - 7259)

  7240. MS LIEVEN: Of course, my Lord, and if there is any question of changing the programme other Petitioners will have to be told as well.

  7241. CHAIRMAN: Yes, thank you very much. Very well, let us go on.

  7242. MS LIEVEN: I think there is one document Mr Cameron wants to put in and then I will call Mr Berryman.

  7243. MR CAMERON: There is one document I would like to put in but cannot right at the moment. It is page 36A, which your Lordship asked for.

  7244. CHAIRMAN: Yes, I thought we might get that.

  7245. MR CAMERON: We have got the first version of it but it needs a correction and, therefore, I cannot put it in now but I hope to put it in within, Mr Hackett is saying five minutes or so.

  7246. CHAIRMAN: Can we go on with anything else?

  7247. MS LIEVEN: Yes, my Lord. If I can move directly to calling Mr Berryman.


  7248. MS LIEVEN: Mr Berryman, I think I have explained in the course of the morning how the proposals going to Ebbsfleet have changed and the Committee may want to ask questions about that, but I do not think we need to go back through that. Can we go directly to the question of how and why was the decision made to drop Ebbsfleet?

   (Mr Berryman) Well, as I think has been mentioned several times this morning, there was a review of the project carried out by Sir Adrian Montague in 2004 and one of the conclusions of that review was that the risks to the operability of the railway and the risks of achieving the very high frequencies that we are looking for in the central section will be seriously compromised by the fact that our trains would need to mix up with the regular trains which run on the North Kent Lines. That was a conclusion we had come to independently but when it was verified by Sir Adrian Montague's team the decision was taken at that point that we would not include those services.

  7249. If we can put up our Exhibit 2.[49]50 Can you just explain briefly what are the problems on the North Kent Line and how they would have to be solved?

  (Mr Berryman) Yes. As has already been mentioned this morning, the North Kent Lines are a complex of lines which run between Dartford here and London Bridge here (Same indicated) and there are three pairs of lines which make that journey, if you like. The service pattern on these lines is very complicated because there are two capacity constraints which really drive everything on it at the moment. They are at London Bridge where there is clearly serious congestion and at Dartford where there are only three tracks which run into Dartford Station, although Dartford Station itself has four platforms. It is balancing the problems at those points and trying to provide a comprehensive service to all the places within this group of lines which drives the timetable. This is a fiendishly complicated bit of railway timetabling. Unless you have been involved in railway timetables it is sometimes hard to appreciate how complex they can become, and this is one of the more complex bits of the timetable in the UK. The thing which makes it difficult is the fact you have got two junctions, one here at Crayford Creek and one down here called Crayford Spur and Dartford Junctions, and what happens at these junctions is the trains making different movements cross over each other so there is a capacity constraint. Obviously you have got flat junctions at all of these points which means that a train turning in this direction will cross over another train going in that direction and they have to be timetabled to avoid each other. The way it works is that some of the trains do not actually go into Dartford from London Bridge, they go around the circular route like that, that is the brown pair here. That is typical of the kind of fiddling about with the service pattern that they have had to do to get all of the services in here, so it is a very congested piece of railway.

  7250. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: There have been historically two dreadful accidents on what you call `going round the loop', Hither Green and St John's, each of which killed 100 people 45 years ago.

   (Mr Berryman) That is right.

  7251. Do those problems still exist that gave rise to that, would they have been made worse by that further congestion, or have they had fundamental solutions to the problems that gave rise to those two disasters?

   (Mr Berryman) I do not think they have had fundamental solutions, my Lord. Obviously the railways around here have now been fitted with a system called `TPWS' which prevents trains crossing red signals and that should have really resolved most of the problems which are relevant in this area. It ought to be mentioned that the trains around here do not go very quickly and they are well within the speed parameter of the TPWS system.

  7252. Well, they were not going very fast that night when one ran into the back of the other and pushed the other's coaches up, whereupon it demolished the bridge in front, falling down, crashing the carriage behind and killing 100.

   (Mr Berryman) Indeed, my Lord, you are quite correct in that.

  7253. It was only going at 15 miles per hour.

   (Mr Berryman) The reason I referred to the speed is that the TPWS system has a maximum speed limit within which it can safely stop trains, so these trains do not exceed that speed limit. The issue really is the fact that there are only three tracks between Dartford and Dartford Junction and the number of flat junctions involved in this part of the network between Crayford Creek and Crayford Spur and then the flat junctions at Charlton and Blackheath, which I am sure Lord James is very familiar with, so that is it really.

  7254. MS LIEVEN: If we were going to extend to Ebbsfleet and, therefore, have to undertake the four-tracking solution, and perhaps we can take this slightly out of order so that we stay with this exhibit, can you explain to us, even with that four-tracking solution, what problems or what complexities would be left?

   (Mr Berryman) If you just four-tracked it and you did not do anything else, you would still be struggling because you would have crossing movements at these junctions. What you would have to do to make a four-tracking solution work is recast the service so that one pair of tracks, which would run down here (indicating), and this is not a track diagram, but it is a useful surrogate for that, one pair of tracks would take all the trains going into the two northernmost platforms at Dartford and the two southernmost platforms would be used by trains coming along here or along here (indicating). By segregating the trains in that way, you could make the whole thing work even more efficiently, irrespective of whether Crossrail was going to be there or not. The point about that, which I think I ought to just explain, is that that would require a recasting of the services. In other words, some trains which currently exist would be re-routed onto different routes and the whole thing would be quite a complex exercise.

  7255. CHAIRMAN: And stop at different stations?

   (Mr Berryman) And stop at different stations, my Lord. I have to say that, based on bitter experience, apart from taking someone's parking space away, taking away their existing train service is probably the worst thing that you can do to anyone in London, and you always come in for a great deal of criticism if you ever do that.

  7256. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: Mr Berryman, again in the quest of completeness of understanding, is there not a direct line that goes from Victoria to Gillingham quite separately and parallel to that?

   (Mr Berryman) There is, my Lord, and that is not on this diagram because that is very well to the south of this route.

  7257. But it is still a direct line which serves a great many of those stops.

   (Mr Berryman) I am sorry, my Lord?

  7258. It is a direct line which serves a great many of those stops, so, for completeness, we ought to know about it.

   (Mr Berryman) It does not serve any of the stops on this diagram, my Lord. It actually runs further south down here (indicating).

  7259. But it ends up at Gillingham and that is on this.

   (Mr Berryman) Yes, it does end up at Gillingham. It sort of runs like that (indicating) and it goes to Victoria at the other end. That is the fast line, my Lord, from Gillingham.

49   50 Crossrail Ref: P49, North Kent Lines-Proposed Service Pattern under Integrated Kent Franchise (BEXYLB-44_04-002) Back

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