Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Rail or Rapid Transit – You Decide

Posted in Europe, Great Britain, Infrastructure, Metro by Chairman Pip on 22 December 2009

London does not have a true rapid transit rail network. Oh yes, there is the Underground, but that is classed as a metro system rather than an urban rail rapid transit, because it sits entirely within the London metropolitan area, much like the Paris Metro does in Paris. What I mean by a rapid transit network is more like the RER network in Paris. Now though, London is in the process of obtaining such a network through two significant projects; Crossrail and Thameslink. At present, Thameslink is being massively upgraded from a heavy rail suburban service that happens to use a north-south tunnel through London, with around 8 trains per hour (tph), to a proper rapid transit service at 24 tph (or roughly 1 train every two and a half minutes) through the central tunnel. Crossrail will use an east-west tunnel through central London to link up lines that from from London Paddington west, and London Liverpool Street east, again with 24 tph frequency. However, the two eventual lines are planned to be run by different operators, with Thameslink planned to be integrated with suburban services that run into King’s Cross to create a “Greater Thameslink” franchise, while Crossrail will be a seperate entity on its own under Transport for London. It would make that much more sense to me to integrate these two services under a single operator and call them “Line A” and “Line B”, or something similar, just like on the RER. Indeed, Dublin have just such a plan for the expansion of their rapid transit, the DART, when the brand new Interconnector tunnel is built. But then of course, Ireland only has one rail operator.

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