Twelve members from Surrey Branch armed with Travelcards went on a trip to see the reopened East London Line (ELL) and other new lines and developments in east London. Starting from Woking we took the stopping train to Wimbledon, followed by the Tramlink to West Croydon and it was a short walk from there to the station, arriving just in time to catch a Class 377 on the Victoria service to Crystal Palace. Here there was time to see the improved conditions of the main station building where all the brickwork has been cleaned and an open door provided a glimpse into the old booking hall where refurbishment has started. It is intended to reopen this and provide lifts to the platforms. East London (EL) trains leave from one of two rebuilt terminal platforms in the part of the station which, in days gone by, had an overall roof.
The ELL Class 378 unit took us to New Cross Gate, where the original East London terminal platform has been extended to connect into the down local line. After a 5 minute wait we took the next train to Surrey Quays, travelling on the new flyover over the London Bridge lines and passing the new maintenance depot for the East London line. The new trackbed for the connecting line to Clapham Junction could be seen. Crossing to the opposite platform at Surrey Quays we took the train to New Cross, passing the site of the now demolished shed for the EL trains - remnants of the London Underground Limited (LUL) track were still in place at the depot entrance. The last half mile or so is single track terminating in the bay platform at New Cross and, as in LUL days, there is no track connection with the South Eastern lines. After a brief chat with the friendly driver of our train we were soon going through the Thames Tunnel to Wapping where we took the lift up to the entrance and then walked back to the platforms, down the steps which are built into the original circular access shaft to the tunnel. At Wapping station the narrow platforms have murals depicting the station at various times during its existence, including one of a goods train and an old red underground train.
A quick trip back through the Thames Tunnel brought us to Rotherhithe on the south side of the river and a walk around the corner to the Brunel Museum located in the old pumphouse that served the tunnel. The Museum explains the construction and history of the Thames Tunnel, the world’s first underwater tunnel, by father and son, Marc and Isambard Brunel and includes some interesting artefacts and illustrations with a very keen, helpful and knowledgeable curator who told us about plans to develop the museum site further. The nearby historic Mayflower public house, dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries and overlooking the river, provided a suitable and fascinating place for lunchtime refreshment.
Back to Rotherhithe station, we took the next northbound train to Shoreditch High Street, an enclosed ‘underground’ station built above ground on a new alignment alongside the old Bishopsgate goods depot. In the few minutes while waiting there for the next train, we were able to see some of the detail of this new station, which has platforms long enough for 8 coach trains. On leaving Shoreditch High Street the line curves sharply over a bridge onto the former route of the North London Railway into Broad Street and on the roof of a nearby building four LU underground car bodies from the scrapped Jubilee Line stock were visible. The East London line follows this route on a viaduct with new stations at Hoxton, Haggerston and Dalston Junction, where trains currently terminate. Dalston Junction is spacious with two terminal platforms in the centre which can each accommodate five coaches, and through platforms on the sides.
Now it was a short walk along a busy shopping street to Dalston Kingsland on the North London (NL) line with platforms continuously refilling with waiting passengers, where we too waited for the following westbound train to Camden Road - clearly this was a busy station. The 4 coach train was very full, and the current NL frequency is insufficient to meet the current demand on a Saturday afternoon. On this journey the preparatory work for the extension of the East London Line to Highbury in 2011 was visible, which will provide better connections than the current terminus. Then it was down, across and up the long stairs to the opposite platform at Camden Road (no lifts here yet!) and onto another crowded train eastwards to Stratford.
The previous NL route into Stratford has been taken over for the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) extension to Stratford International, and the NL trains now terminate in two new platforms (numbered 1 and 2, but next to platform 12) on the north side of the main line station – platform numbering here is very confusing. It was noticeable that the platform and the connecting subways were extra wide to cope with the expected crowds going to the Olympics.
395004 departs Stratford International with a South Eastern High Speed Service to Minster (due to weekend engineering work), observed by members of Surrey Branch during their visit to lines in East London on 30th October 2010. Andy Davies
The only possible way to access Stratford International station at present is by following the signs which entail a walk to the far end of platform 11, through a gateway and onto a waiting bus which takes a tortuous route on otherwise inaccessible roads past the Athletes’ Village and on to the station. Security staff were present to ensure there was no deviation into the Olympic construction sites, and we were directed to use a short fenced route into the spacious station building. While only a few passengers were evident on a Saturday afternoon, the staff told us that the station was quite busy during weekday peak hours even though all passengers have to use the connecting bus. The new DLR terminus (yet to open) is right outside the International station.
Purchase of a 10p platform ticket allowed access down the escalator onto the wide centre island platform used by the SE high speed services between St Pancras and Kent. The single access line into the Eurostar depot at Temple Mills rises through the station above the island platform. The side platforms which are intended for use by Eurostar trains look relatively narrow, and have a single escalator and stairs up to a separate bridge area which would be the controlled area for customs and immigration. It is questionable whether these platforms are ever likely to be put in use even for the Olympics.
After seeing a couple of Javelin trains arriving and departing, and a Eurostar passing through, it was back on the bus to the main line station. Due to a planned closure the Jubilee Line was not operating so we could not see the work for the new DLR line to Canning Town, which runs parallel to the Jubilee Line, instead taking the ‘original’ DLR route to Poplar. An earlier train failure caused some delays, and the platforms were crowded. Eventually a train for Woolwich Arsenal arrived, which we took via London City Airport and the newest tunnel under the Thames with a semi-fast South Eastern train taking us back to Waterloo East, followed by a quick transfer onto a very crowded South West Trains service back to Woking.
It was a well planned, enjoyable and interesting trip, travelling on new routes with some equally interesting stops along the way. All the services we travelled on were well used, and some trains were overfull, particularly on the North London Line.
last updated: 19/12/10