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Railfanning London‘s Railways

Visitors to London who are also transport enthusiasts (‘railfans’) sometimes ask for advice as to the ‘best’ things to see on London’s railway network. This page is part of a guide which aims to answer that question.

If this is the first time you have reached these pages then it is best to go to the Opening Page which sets the scene, explains the difference between the small and the large profile trains, offers advice on the best type of ticket to buy and photography tips.

Alternatively, it is possible to view everything on one page


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Crossrail Line 1 (Elizabeth Line)
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Crossrail as a name in the London context refers to two (or three) new subterranean railway lines which will travel across central London and in the suburbs extend over existing heavy rail routes. The primary aim is to reduce overcrowding on London's existing railways. The concept of introducing trains to the many areas which are remote from any railway service is seen as a secondary (less important) side effect.

What is significant about Crossrail is that its deep level 'tube' tunnels will be large enough for full size mainline trains. Until now only the deep level 'tube' tunnels used by Northern City Line were suitable for full size mainline trains.

CrossRail Map; click image to see a larger version in a new window.
Map modified by me, original source & license: Ed g2s / Wikipedia encyclopædia CC BY-SA 3.0 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CrossrailLine1Map.svg

Click map to see larger version in a new window! .

When it opens Crossrail Line 1 (which is going to marketed to the public as the Elizabeth Line) will enable some of the existing mainline suburban and regional trains that travel into Paddington station (which is at the western edge of Central London) and almost all the trains on the Stratford - Ilford - Romford - Shenfield route which travel into Liverpool Street station (which is at the eastern edge of Central London) to be joined up via new deep-level tube train tunnels through the centre of London. In addition there will be a new branch to the south-east of London which will end at a new interchange station at Abbey Wood, which is on the southern side of the River Thames. This branch will also serves the Canary Wharf Financial District in the Docklands area and pass through an historic section of railway that has been closed for many years.

The railway routes Paddington - Reading and Liverpool Street - Shenfield both already have at least four tracks, with one pair of tracks (per route) dedicated to fast (longer distance) trains and the other pair of tracks for slow (local) trains. Mostly Elizabeth Line trains will use the slow (local) tracks.

In addition to building new sections of underground railway and stations, the existing railway routes are being revamped. The first stage towards this occurred at the end of May 2015 when control of the London Liverpool Street - Shenfield suburban service was taken over by Transport for London and started using the temporary brand name of TFL Rail. To make this route suitable for the new trains many station platforms are being lengthened and the overhead wire power supply system which dates from the late 1940's is being renewed. In addition many points / switches / turnouts are being renewed or removed, so that the route will have very few remaining connections with the rest of the national rail network. One side-effect of this descoping is that freight / goods trains which used to be able to join this route at Forest Gate and then cross over to the adjacent fast lines before diverting to the North London Line (which is a major freight artery across London) at Stratford will find that the crossover tracks to the fast lines have been removed. making such journeys impossible. A potential side-effect of this is former railfreight traffic switching to the roads! The national railway system is supposed to be for the entire nation - not just the people of London!

The line to the west of London is also benefitting from much investment, both as part of the Crossrail project and as part of an electrification project that will extend to faraway destinations not served by the Elizabeth Line.

TFL Rail Class 315 train. . TFL Rail Class 315 train.
A Class 315 train in full TFL Rail livery at Seven Kings station. The white railing are a recent innovation designed to prevent passengers from entering the little-used section of platform passed by fast trains. . The grey surround around the doorway on the left identifies this as being the nearest entrance to the wheelchair space.
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Inside a TFL Rail Class 315 train. . Classes 345 and 315 trains.
Inside a TFL Rail Class 315 train. The seats with a different colour scheme are 'priority seats' for infirm people who can walk. . TFL Rail 345 007 and 315 822 at London Liverpool Street station.

The Elizabeth Line will use 70 air-conditioned trains which feature a fully walk-through internal design, electronic (visual and audible) real-time information, CCTV, Wi-Fi and 4g. However there are no USB power sockets.

Each train has four wheelchair spaces and (at different locations) groups of folding / tip-up longitudinal seating which create multi-user spaces for luggage (eg: on airport journeys) and parents with children in pushchairs / buggies / strollers.

The first of the new trains arrived in London on Friday 9th December 2016. The train type is the Bombardier Aventra. In the British train naming scheme these trains are known as Class 345.

Eventually these trains will be 200 metres long with 9 coaches, 450 seats and an estimated total passenger capacity of 1,500 people. However because of short platforms (especially at Liverpool Street station) the first trains to enter passenger service have just 7 coaches and are about 160 metres long - this being about the same length as the Class 315 trains they are displacing.

London Crossrail poster. . TFL Rail Elizabeth Line message on train side.
A poster about what at the time was simply known as Crossrail at Whitechapel station. Click here to read the text on an extra large 480kb version of this image. . . A message about the planned eventual use of the new trains - this was on the side of 345 007 as seen at Liverpool Street station one row above.
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London Crossrail poster. . TFL Rail Elizabeth Line message on train side.
Some coaches feature a mix of longitudinal and transverse seating.
Longitudinal seats have fixed armrests whilst transverse seats have folding armrests.
. Some coaches only offer longitudinal seating.
This includes the coach with the wheelchair spaces, one of which is to my immediate left. There is another wheelchair place at the far end of the row of seats on the right.
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London Crossrail poster. . TFL Rail Elizabeth Line message on train side.
There are four wheelchair places per train. These have drought screens on one side and tip-up / folding seats for use by other passengers when the space is not needed by wheelchair users. . Some of the messages seen on the electronic real-time information displays. The trains also have traditional paper route maps.
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seat fabric colour palette Class 345 train Crossrail Elizabeth Line. . Class 345 train Crossrail Elizabeth Line Stratford station.
Class 345 trains have the same seat fabric pattern as the Class 315 trains but a different colour palette.
On the left is a 'priority seat' - these are for infirm people who can walk and they follow their own colour scheme.
. Passing through platform 10a at Stratford station.

Project Timeline

The first Class 345 train started carrying passengers on 22nd June 2017. Although they carry Elizabeth Line livery they are operating as part of TFL Rail.

In May 2018 the local 'all stations' service between London's Paddington station and West Drayton / Heathrow Airport (ie: the Heathrow Connect) will become part of TFL Rail.

In December 2018 trains will start running between Abbey Wood station (in south-east London) and the Elizabeth Line platforms at Paddington station via the new tunnels below central London.

In May 2019 most trains between Shenfield and Liverpool Street will be extended to the Elizabeth Line platforms at Paddington station.

The full service will commence in December 2019. This will include through trains from the Abbey Wood branch to Heathrow Airport and Reading. Although the Heathrow Connect service is being subsumed into the Elizabeth Line, the non-stop Heathrow Express will continue as a dedicated service which links Paddington station with Heathrow Airport.

Note that the Elizabeth Line is expected to operate as two overlapping services. 1) Shenfield - Paddington and 2) Abbey Wood - Paddington / Heathrow / Reading. The reason for this is to reduce the likelihood of delays in one part of London from causing delays in another part of London. Passengers wanting a destination not served by their train will be able to change train by waiting on the same platform.

Some trains from Abbey Wood will end their journeys at Paddington, other trains will travel further west towards Heathrow / Reading. At the time of writing (summer 2017) the plans are for at least 6 trains an hour (tph) to serve Heathrow Airport (this might change to 8 tph), plus according to the time of day and day of week 2 - 4tph to Reading with some other trains travelling only as far as West Drayton, Maidenhead etc.

In the rush hours there will also be additional trains between the existing mainline (above ground) Liverpool Street station and either Chadwell Heath or Shenfield. This is because this extremely busy route will need more trains than those which travel through the tunnel and the platforms at the existing Liverpool Street station will be more convenient for the many people who work in the local area.

The brand new deep level tube train tunnels and the Abbey Wood branch are being equipped with radio Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) moving block signalling with Automatic Train Operation (ATO) and Automatic Train Protection (ATP). To allow train frequencies to increase the signalling is being designed for up to 30tph. All underground stations will have platform screen doors.

West of Paddington station Elizabeth Line trains will travel on the Great Western Main Line alongside other trains and this route is currently being equipped with the European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2. To the east of London Elizabeth Line trains will travel on the Great Eastern Main Line alongside other trains and this route uses the legacy Train Protection Warning System (TPWS).

Sampling The New Class 345 TFL Rail / Crossrail / Elizabeth Line Trains

projector icon Three videos of the new trains in action have been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can be watched (in new windows) by clicking the links below .,
The first train arrives in London - seen passing through Stratford station: https://youtu.be/ZsIDjCImUBs
The first day of service: https://youtu.be/NblaJ2hMd78
Exploring the new trains: https://youtu.be/Mhn_7VLkPRk


So far (July 2017) there are very few journeys in passenger service. The trains run as extras to the normal service and might be cancelled at short notice.

Known times are:

Monday - Friday
10:35 Liverpool Street to Shenfield
11:39 Shenfield to Liverpool Street
12:35 Liverpool Street to Gidea Park
14:19 Gidea Park to Liverpool Street

Saturday:
11:56 Liverpool Street to Shenfield
13:05 Shenfield to Liverpool Street
Nothing on Sundays!

My source of information: .
http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread.php?t=120221&page=70

This information is being shared in good faith in the expectation that the trains will operate as scheduled

Please do not shoot the messenger if the information later proves inaccurate




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This page last updated 28th August 2017 (changes to line colours)
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