Longer platforms at Blackheath?

Another interesting story on the Blackheath Village Residents Group site:

Network Rail has distributed this letter to residents living close to the station, advising that work will shortly be underway to lengthen the platforms to take 12 coach trains.

Didn’t they extend it to take 12 cars back in 2010?


Filed under blackheath, planning, transport

11 responses to “Longer platforms at Blackheath?

  1. Alan Burkitt-Gray

    Er, no, the Blackheath platforms were extended from 10 cars (not eight) to 12 in the mid-late 1990s, back in the days of Network South-east. But then NSE discovered (I seem to recall) that the power supply to the line wasn’t adequate for 12 cars, and then privatisation happened, so the whole project was dropped. Lewisham station’s platforms were extended at the same time — platforms 3 and 4 now extend over the bridge across Lewisham Hill.
    But this is all so long ago that Network Rail probably has to send engineers along to check that the infrastructure is still there and that it meets current requirements.

  2. Alan Burkitt-Gray

    The 2010 letter (like the recent one) is bizarre. The platforms were both extended, just as it says in the letter, but around 15 years ago. As the Blackheath Village Residents note says, the stop signs and the monitors at the western end of the London platform already show that that’s where 12-car trains stop. I guess with all the changes in network management (Southern Region to Network South-east to Railtrack to Network Rail) and in regulators there is a lack of corporate memory that the work has been done. I suppose all it needs is a bloke with a clipboard to come along and check it’s OK. For that, though, the contractor will probably charge a decent sum. We have already paid for the work, back in the days when we owned the railway.
    The 2010 letter is wholly inaccurate, because it talks of an extension from eight coaches. I’ve been using this bit of the network — Woolwich, Westcombe Park, Lewisham and Blackheath — since 1973 and in that time it’s always had trains up to 10 coaches.
    Though as I note above, what killed the project in the 1990s was the lack of power (today’s trains use a lot more than the old slam-door stuff, and 12-coach trains more than 10-coach trains of course). Wonder if they’re doing that?

  3. Jon

    I imagine ‘platform lengthening’ is a bit of an over-simplification in the letter.

    At Maze Hill, for example, the platforms are already long enough but the signal is not in the right place.

    Not sure what the issue is at Blackheath. It could be something as simple as needing to install additional cameras and CCTV monitors to allow the driver to see every door when despatching the train.

  4. Pedro

    In 2010, when South-Eastern decided that we had a far too convieniant rail service and cut our peak time trains, I had a long chat with a South-Eastern representative. I asked why none of our trains extend the full length of the platform and she replied that it was because they could only run 12 Car Trains if all the platforms on the line were upgraded to support them, including upgrading the signalling equipment so that it allows for the passage of a 12 car train. I guess thats what they are doing now. I for one welcome it. Although if the platform lift balls up is anything to go off, we could be waiting some time.

  5. Andrew

    As stated by others the original plans were shelved by the costs of upgrading the signalling and electrical supply. Most stations were lengthened but a few still are only suitable for 10 car trains. Welling needed some repairs to the platform ends, Erith is being done at the moment, etc.

    My question is how are they going to lengthen the trains? The 376 untis are all 5 car sets, so unless the original jigs and assembly line are still in place they ain’t going to be able to add a 6th car to each set. (AFAIK the welding jigs and assembly setup were altered to make the new Overground stock, and can’t be modified back to create more 376 trailing vehicles without major expense) The old 465 units can run in 3 sets of 4 but unless they cut services elsewhere there are not enough units to do this. How often do the services on the Blackheath, Woolwich, and Sidcup lines run with short formations due to a shortage of stock? Brand new stock? I’ll believe that when I see it.

    • Jon

      Andrew, the main reason for doing this now is that the service frequency is likely to drop when the London Bridge redevelopment works get started.

      The idea is to run fewer, but longer, trains during construction.

      • Andrew

        Jon, I was worried that may be part of the reason. Trouble is, as I mentioned the 376 units can’t be lengthened unless they build new carriages or start breaking up sets. Its not possible to take a 10 car 376 pair and add on a 2 car 466. They’re not compatible. That means some 12 car 465 trios but over half the trains will still be 10 cars. If, as you say service frequency is to be reduced over the London Bridge development things are about to get a hell of a lot more crowded.

      • Jon

        I agree entirely. Saying that, it may be the case that, in practice, a 10-car Class 376 has a similar capacity to a 12-car Networker, simply because they are much better suited to accommodating standing passengers. I don’t know for sure though!

      • Andrew

        Jon. The reverse is true. A 10 car 376 actually has less usable capacity than a 4+4+2 networker formation. On a 3+2 seat Networker you end up with 6 across (1 standing) plus doorway area. In a 2+2 seat formation you end up with 5 across as there isn’t space for 2 to stand. This forces more people to the doorway area and its lack of handrails. The corner areas around the doors have a theoretical space for 3 people to bum-rest. In reality one person sitting on the cushion end up having to angle their legs in a way that takes up all 3 spaces. The 376 design is based around short trips (10-15) mins metro style. It loses longer trip capacity in favour of faster passenger transfer at stations.

  6. Alan Burkitt-Gray

    I checked last night. The London-bound platform has a 12-car stop sign at the far end, but no monitors (though there is a base for a monitor). On the Dartford-bound platform the trains stop almost half a coach-length from the overbridge, next to the existing monitor (the one on the stupid concrete anti-tank block). Looks as though there is work to be done, but providing monitors not extending platforms.

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