Transport for London?s South Western Rail Corridor Plan
E O'Loughlin, Transport for London, UK; J Segal, MVA, UK
TfL, supported by MVA, has developed a plan for the South Western Main Line corridor to address a series of identified limitations. The paper explains these and discusses ways by which TfL can seek to deliver implementation of the schemes identified.
Transport for London (TfL) now has a statutory role in the planning of London?s rail system. The Department for Transport and Network Rail must formally consult with TfL on the specification of franchises and Route Utilisation Strategies respectively. To ensure that TfL has a robust basis on which to present its views, it has initiated a series of Rail Corridor Plans. The subject of this paper will be the Rail Corridor Plan (RCP) for the South Western corridor.
A RCP starts with ensuring a fundamental understanding of the marketplace for rail travel. The basic underlying planning assumptions (population, jobs, economic prosperity) are determined and their likely growth - using the Mayor?s London Plan as the principal source document. Alongside these, the current rail demand and that of other modes, where appropriate, is determined, and the capacity (in the widest sense of the word) of the rail system is assessed; this includes the timetable, capacity, punctuality, quality of rolling stock and stations, information and any other relevant factors. The future rail system including any committed schemes is assessed and the anticipated ?do minimum? growth in demand put against this.
From this analysis, a number of gaps, either today or in the future, are identified. A gap is where the rail system fails to meet the Mayor?s economic, social inclusion, accessibility and environmental objectives for London. For each of the gaps a number of solutions and schemes are identified. The distinction made between solutions and schemes is that former are generic (eg increased train frequency), the latter are specific and include an assessment of the resources (new trains, infrastructure, etc) required. An initial high level appraisal is undertaken to shortlist the schemes that appear worth taking forward to full appraisal.
Schemes are grouped into packages that will alleviate the same gap, and Business Cases prepared. These appraise (according to government guidelines) how the alternative packages of schemes perform under the headings of economy, safety, accessibility, integration and environment. The economic benefits are quantified, whereas most of the others are not. A benefit:cost ratio (BCR) is calculated for the economic case, which is used to ensure that incremental improvements are all worthwhile.
Finally, the selected schemes are brought together into an overall strategy which forms the basis of TfL?s input into the specification of franchises, Route Utilisation Strategies and other policies.
In the context of the South Western corridor, the most important gap identified was the high level of crowding today, along with substantial expected growth. Trains are almost all at maximum length for the infrastructure, and there are few, if any, additional train paths available. Schemes examined included train lengthening, double-deck trains and increased frequency with major infrastructure enhancement. The recommendation as offering best value for money in this area was train lengthening, with associated station modifications, plus reconfiguration of some rolling stock to provide additional standing capacity (at the expense of a few seats).
Other gaps included the ability to interchange at Clapham Junction, one of Britain?s major stations, where some trains currently do not stop due to operational constraints; a solution involving modest infrastructure enhancement was identified. Other stations were examined and detailed proposals prepared for the improvement of facilities, accessibility, security and interchange opportunities.
Other schemes included the Airtrack proposal to provide a rail service from the corridor to Heathrow Airport; later evening services and increases in off peak frequencies to match standards elsewhere; improvements in train frequencies between some urban centres (current services have a strong focus on central London); measures at Waterloo Station (the London terminus) to improve passenger flows and enhance capacity; and consideration of more active management of travel demand to encourage transfer from peak services to those in the shoulder and off-peak periods.
TfL?s conclusions have formed the basis of the input on this corridor into the national rail planning process. It has argued that addressing the significant growth forecast on the line must be a priority during the franchise term of 10 years, commencing in February 2007, and that a commitment to implement the changes proposed should be made by the Department for Transport in its preparation of the franchise specification and the procurement of the franchise. It has also argued that Network Rail, as network owner and operator, should take the lead in developing and delivering the infrastructure proposals to meet the growth forecasts on which there is collective agreement. The paper will examine the objectives of, and outputs from, Network Rail, the Department for Transport and TfL in the specification of services, basing its conclusions on the work on the South West corridor. It will address the significant progress made during the past 12 months, and ways in which the process could further be improved.
By the time the paper is presented, the franchise specification process will have been completed and we will have a much deeper understanding of how London?s needs for its employment and population forecasts can be accommodated within the South Western corridor.
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