A railway upgrade has been approved on one of the Lea Valley lines in northeast London to increase the number of trains that can serve a nearby housing development.

The plan will enable more trains to call at the new Meridian Water station to support the huge housing development that’s under construction next to it. At the moment there are two trains per hour into London from the new station, but with more housing being built, Enfield Council wants to increase that to four trains per hour in peak hours.

However, putting more stopping trains on the line would cause a problem for fast trains that share the line and bypass the stations. The solution is to put a bypass track around the nearby Ponders End station so that fast Cambridge trains can slip past the additional stopping trains.

The works will see a new loop railway built beside the station and new crossover junctions on either side so that slower stopping trains can be held at the station while the fast trains pass through.

As a result, what is currently the southbound platform will be bi-directional, so passengers arriving at the station will need to check which platform their northbound train is leaving from. Enfield Council approved the scheme for the railway upgrade at its latest Cabinet Meeting.

Schematic of existing platforms with the proposed solution – source Enfield Council

The upgrade is expected to cost £9.3 million, and the funding comes from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) which is a central government scheme to fund transport upgrades that can unlock additional housing developments. Under the terms of the HIF funding, the railway upgrade needs to be completed by the end of March 2024, so the plans are for construction work to start early next year. The late start is because there is still some design work to do, but mainly as the requests to Network Rail for railway closures and for engineering trains so that works can be carried out need to be submitted a year in advance.

The council plan is to start basic works around the site in advance to save some time, while the construction plans are completed and the project schedules are agreed upon with Network Rail. Then in early 2023, main construction and railway closures will be started.

Part of the agreement covers the cost of training three rail apprentices from the local college.

Although this project upgrades the line to support four trains per hour on the line through Meridian Water from the middle of 2024, there is also other funding to add more tracks between Meridian Water and Tottenham Hale later which will increase capacity south of Meridian Water to eight trains per hour in the peak period.

When completed, the Meridian Water housing development is expected to have around 10,000 homes.

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15 comments
  1. WAGN says:

    Good to see an imaginative solution. Is anything said about whether additional trains will also call at Northumberland Park?

  2. John Rhldes says:

    I can only wonder for how long this has taken in planning.
    The new ststion at Borham has been in discussion for the last sixty years, in which time men with wheelbarrows a pick and a shovel built the whole of the railway network.

  3. Basil Jet says:

    When they built the third track south of Meridian Water, the original plan was to passively allow for four tracks, but this was reneged on, and they placed the overhead supports for the third track at Tottenham Hale exactly where the fourth track will have to go. Those overhead supports placed a few years ago will have to be moved if they four-track.

    • Ian says:

      Placing the overhead masts to allow for a fourth track would “Active” Provision, not “Passive” Provision.

      “Passive provision” basically means getting the really difficult stuff right without having to come back and change it later.

      Moving overhead masts around again in future is not a massive deal in the grand scheme of things; it’s not a cost that needs incurring now for something not certain to happen.

  4. Brian Butterworth says:

    The worst thing about this “STAR” (Stratford to (old name) Angel Road) service is the service intervals.

    In the morning the trains heading north from Stratford are at 0603, 0636, 0644, 0649 then 0717, 0734, 0747, 0804, 0817, 0834, 0847 and then sort-of-settling from around 0900, 0917, 0930, 0947, 1000, 1016…

    With sometimes Stratford to Tottenham hales taking 9 minutes, but sometimes 13.

    The STAR plan was for turn-up-and-go trains with clockface timing….

    Also TfL’s buses still go to Angel Road, even though there’s no station of that name!

  5. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    You mean that UP platform becomes bidirectional? I.e. a Down train could be at either platform…

  6. Tim says:

    £9 million for all these track and signalling changes seems far cheaper than some of the silly price tags we sometimes see improvement work. More value for money schemes like this please

    • nick lewis says:

      Given what other projects are costing like Soham Stn single platform 14m no rail infrastructure works this will be more like 90m

  7. STF says:

    £9 quid for a new passing loop and some points? Wow, no wonder we cant do much update work at these prices.

  8. Walthamstow Wonderer says:

    Will this result in an increase in services down the line to Stratford via Lea Bridge (currently 4x per hour) or will the additional London services run direct into Liverpool Street via Hackney Downs?

  9. Anthony Tull says:

    Last time I went to Meridian Water, I had nearly an hour to wait for a train back with, and there were no trains north. I ended up using the using a bus. When I saw the Overground, I switched to it. Granted it was the very week that Non Essential businesses were allowed to open so services were probably very reduced, but train services should have started to return to more normal service pattern to reflect return to normal business activities.

    • ianVisits says:

      An hourly service is what that line always offered before the pandemic – so you got their “normal” service.

  10. NG says:

    Now, they need to do the “Three-track trick” between Meridian Water & Coppermills Junction – sets of crossovers at each end, but no new running track needed.
    So that you get ( W-to-E ) Down / reversible / Up lines

  11. c says:

    Sorry if I am being dense, but this is north of Meridian Water.

    This means the Stratford services will go beyond MW northwards – so not only net new trains, but new frequencies north of MW?

    Does this relate to the Ware etc works then? Where do they go?

    Or is this another turnback in disguise? And Ponders End gets 2tph, Meridian turns 2tph (for instance?)

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