Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

How’s this for a leap of logic?

Posted in Commuter, London, Metro, Paris by Chairman Pip on 14 March 2011

Now that both Thameslink and Crossrail have got the go-ahead for completion in full, is it perhaps time to start thinking about them as two parts of the same network? After all, the plan is that both routes will essentially be high-frequency, mainline metro services running from the suburbs and dormitory settlements surrounding London, through the centre of the city using tunnels, and then out the other side. This bears all the hallmarks of the RER network in Paris, where underground tunnels through the centre ofthe city connect surface lines on either side of it. Even if Crossrail and Thameslink have different operators (which seems likely, given that Thameslink will remain part of the Integrated Great Northern Franchise, while Crossrail is intended to be run as a TfL operating concession, much like London Overground), there is no reason for them not to be connected at a fundamental business level. After all, ownership and operation of the RER is split between SNCF and RATP (Paris’ equivilent of TfL). Branding Crossrail/Thameslink under a single name, such as “Regional Express Network” (the English translation of Réseau Express Régional) would no doubt improve cost effectiveness and public awareness. Indeed, why not go further than that? There are already routes in existence that run from the suburbs through the centre in tunnel. They’re called the sub-surface lines, and they form part of London Underground. Almost exactly a year ago, I posted an entry suggesting that the Metropolitan line be removed from the control of London Underground and be transferred to London Rail to operate along similar lines to London Overground. Well, why not transfer the District line over as well, and have that form part of the “Regional Express Network”? Similarly, London Overground’s routes, which are in the process of being upgraded to allow greater frequency, could also form part of the REN. Hey presto, instant integrated network. Which is probably something along the lines that Chairman Ken wanted when he was in the big chair and sought greater control over the railways in London. Of course, that was an actual power grab. Because that’s what Chairman Ken likes to do.

How's this for a London equivilent of the RER?


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  1. […] out as Maidenhead in the west and Shenfield in the east once Crossrail is complete. I’ve suggested in the past that Thameslink, once completed, should also be taken on by TfL to form a kind of “London […]

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