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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 2
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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 Line two is a future rail service which will link south-west London with north and north east London.

In the 1970s this line was planned to serve two areas which do not have any Underground railway service, these being Chelsea and Hackney. At that time an unofficial line name of Chelney was mooted and the line was expected to take over part of the District Line's Wimbledon branch and then be routed via Clapham Junction, Kings Road (Chelsea), Tottenham Court Road, Angel, somewhere in the Hackney area and then over either the existing railway route to Chingford (nowadays this is now part of the London Overground network) or Epping (replacing Central Line trains).

However more recently the plans have changed and the line is likely to takeover several outer suburban routes in south-west London (this will allow increased services without having to expand London Waterloo Station) and then be routed via an interchange station with the Northern Line in south London, before following the same route as before as far as Hackney where it will split into two branches, one of which is planned to reduce overcrowding on the Piccadilly Line in north London. The other branch will be extended alongside a little used railway in the Lea Valley which is seen as needing a better rail service to act as catalyst for redevelopment. As yet the exact route and stations served is still being planned.

Using Crossrail 2 as a congestion buster for the southern section of the Northern Line is seen as being better than completing the express tube line which was planned in the late 1930s and partly built (so that the tunnels could be used during the war) in the 1940s.

Using Crossrail 2 as a congestion buster for the northern section of the Piccadilly Line would not have been necessary had two railway routes which used to serve the area not closed in the 1950s (Alexandra Palace and Palace Gates).

The imbalance in fares is also a reason why the Northern and Piccadilly Line trains are experiencing severe overcrowding, even though there are other existing railway services in the same areas. Despite London having one zonal fares system for many journeys Underground fares are cheaper than the other railways.

If built the Chelney Line is expected to open circa 2030 - 2040.




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Small Profile ‘Tube’ Trains .
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‘Subsurface’ Trains
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This page last updated 31st December 2016.
E & OE.
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