A number of railway upgrades have been proposed which could see a new DLR track, a link on the Northern Line from Finchley to Edgware, and a new tunnel under central London.
The proposals come from London TravelWatch, the statutory body you never think to contact when you have a complaint.
What they have done is side-step shiny big projects and propose a number of smaller enhancements that could have significant local benefits.
Of course, none of them have any financing, this is more of a wish-list, but one which might be dragged out whenever someone wants to redevelop some land near affected areas, and then asked to cough up the necessary cash.
The intention is to suggest modest enhancements to railway stations, some reusing of old railway infrastructure, or in some cases, large scale works to tie together currently disconnected services.
Northern line extension
Most notable of the proposals could see part of the long abandoned Northern Heights project resurrected — with the Northern line extended from its short terminus at Mill Hill East all the way to Edgware.
That would create a link between the two separate branches of the Northern line, a very useful east-west link in North London where none exists, and likely, an interchange with the Thameslink at Mill Hill.
The difficulty is whether funding could be secured for such a line. Although most of the route still exists, as a walking trail, some parts are cut off by housing and developments which would probably need to be bought out.
Although part of the route passes by open parkland, turning that into the flats needed to fund the development will generate considerable opposition.
There used to be a railway between Bow Church and Hackney, but that closed in the 1940s, and the track’s built over when the A12 was constructed.
Without saying how, London Travel Watch suggests this line could be restored, offering a valuable link along an area lacking much in the way of rail links.
It would be just about possible to run the railway above the A12, but construction would face formidable challenges.
A new tunnel under the city
This is not a quick fix, but also due to the length, the cost not outrageous for the potential benefits.
The Great Northern line which currently terminates at Moorgate could be extended in a tunnel down to link up with London Bridge — the aim being to create a new “crossrail” with trains able to run direct along the Great Northern and Southern Tulse Hill routes.
An interconnection could be added at Bank.
The downside is that there is no hope of developers suddenly discovering an empty plot of land along the route to cover any of the cost, so it would have to be entirely funded by TfL and the City of London.
Crossrail to Uxbridge
An old railway line running from Uxbridge to West Drayton closed in the 1960s, but its restoration could see some Crossrail trains running to Uxbridge.
As the report notes, two Elizabeth Line trains an hour are scheduled to terminate at West Drayton, but if the old track was restored, they could run up to Uxbridge instead.
Unfortunately, about half the former railway track has been built upon since then, making it a legal nightmare, not to mention expensive to buy back all the land.
A number of proposals, of which the more interesting include.
There is a cluster of separate stations at West Hampstead, and the area could gain a fourth station, if new platforms were added next to the existing Jubilee line to allow Chiltern line trains to stop there as well.
That would create a sizeable hub covering Jubilee, Thameslink, London Overground and Chiltern lines.
Noting the real congestion problem at Covent Garden, a probably unlikely suggestion is to tunnel along to the existing Aldwych tube station and turn it into a second exit.
The difficulty being that’s a heck of a long walk, even with a travolator involved.
A link from City Thameslink to St Pauls
Two stations that above ground are some distance from each other, but are actually moderately close below ground.
Pedestrian tunnels from the far end of St Paul’s would offer a modest walk to the Thameslink station, creating a direct interchange between the two. For regular users it would probably shave around 10 minutes off the walk between the two, but also putting an interchange on the tube map makes a world of difference to how people perceive how to get around London.
At the moment to get from Charing Cross mainline to Embankment tube station means leaving via the Strand and walking down to the tube station,. However, there are existing emergency exits at the far end of Charing Cross, almost on top of Embankment.
An upgrade of those exits into public use could reduce congestion at the existing Charing Cross ticket barriers, and on Villiers Street.
A new station at Maiden Lane
Not a new idea, as plans have been talked about for some time, but there could be a new London Overground station just behind Kings Cross, roughly half way between Camden Town and Caledonian Road.
Actually, not new, as there used to be a station on the site, and it closed down nearly 100 years ago.
In the modern “let the developers pay for it” model of development, they are a bit late though, as the area has just been redeveloped.
As any who lives nearby will know, at Brockley in South London, there are two lines crossing at right angles at the current station, but platforms only serve the north-south set of tracks.
A new set of platform – essentially reopening the closed Brockley Lane station, but as one new larger interchange would give fresh links to Lewisham and Clapham Junction.
The report supports the long held ambition of the Epping Ongar heritage railway to extend its line back to Epping. At the moment, there’s a gap of around 100 yards that needs to be completed, and if a new platform could be added there, then a direct connection from tube train to steam train would once more be possible.
The full report can be downloaded from here.