Tag Archives: Goblin

New trains today!

23 May

By Fsheng666 - Own work

Picture by Fsheng666

After much speculation during the week and one false start, yesterday afternoon Transport for London (TfL) confirmed that the first two Class 710 trains would enter passenger service today (23 May 2019) on the Barking – Gospel Oak route.

This follows a successful test of a software drop (version 33!) at Network Rail’s Asfordby test centre two weeks ago and further successful testing of a tweaked version (version 33.1?) on units at Bombardier’s Willesden depot last week. 

The three ‘borrowed’ 4-car Class 378 trains will continue to operate the temporary half hourly timetable with the new units operating in some of the paths cancelled in mid March when the last of the two-car diesel trains disappeared to the West Midlands.

Once the Class 710s at Willesden have all received the updated software, and demonstrated sufficient reliability, additional trains will be put into public service, finally restoring the proper 4-trains-an-hour service. The three ‘borrowed’ Class 378s will then return to 5-car formation on the Euston – Watford Junction service, allowing that to move to a 15-minute service from its current irregular three trains per hour ‘Interim timetable’.

So far around a third of the drivers have been trained on the new Class 710s, those trained before the latest software drop will have to have a further day training before being ‘passed out’ to drive the units.

Secretary of the Barking – Gospel Oak Rail User Group (BGORUG), Glenn Wallis, said,

“Passengers have waited 14 months for this belated entry into public service of the Class 710 and endured a deteriorating service in the meantime. It is to be hoped that all the software issues have been finally resolved and that the units prove reliable in service so that the full 15-minute interval timetable can be restored as soon as possible.”

“BGORUG looks forward to an early meeting with TfL to discuss the month’s free travel to be provided by Bombardier as compensation to regular travellers for the inconvenience they have suffered.”

The free month is expected to be in September.

Waiting for the train

25 Jun

LO Train Length

Picture from Global Rail News

Press release from the the Barking – Gospel Oak Rail User Group on the delayed introduction of new trains on the GOBLIN:

Transport for London (TfL) staged a ‘launch event’ for a new train last week, but no sooner was the event over than the train was sent back to its maker, dashing commuters’ hopes of overcrowding relief.

TfL has ordered a total of 54 new Class 710 trains from Derby train builder, Bombardier. The first of these new trains was supposed to be delivered to TfL back in January, but Bombardier has so far been unable to get the trains approved to operate on Network Rail tracks. With around 30 of the trains completed, Bombardier has had to slow production as it runs out of space to store the new trains.

One of the trains was towed from Derby to London Overground’s Willesden Depot on 13 June for a TfL ‘launch event’ which took place on 20 June. Hopes that passengers would soon benefit from the new trains were dashed when TfL could only announce that the trains would be in service “by November”. The next day, the new train was towed back to Bombardier’s Derby works.

The first Class 710 off the production line was delivered to the Network Rail test centre at Asfordby in Leicestershire last December. It had to pass Network Rail’s acceptance tests before it could be allowed onto the national network. The train is still at Asfordby and has yet to gain Network Rail approval. It is said that there are problems with the software in the train management system.

“This is a major embarrassment for TfL”, said Glenn Wallis, Secretary of the Barking – Gospel Oak Rail User Group (BGORUG). “Up until now the problems with the Class 710 have been masked by the delays to the completion of the Barking – Gospel Oak electrification.”

Network Rail’s electrification of the Barking – Gospel Oak line was finally approved for use by the Rail Regulator (ORR) in early June, a full year later than originally planned.

“BGORUG is fully aware that the existing Barking – Gospel Oak fleet of eight diesel trains has to move to West Midlands Railway by November”, said Glenn Wallis. “It is therefore deeply disappointing that TfL is unable to provide a firm schedule for the introduction of the Class 710 into passenger service. Considering that testing started last December, it is also concerning that Bombardier has yet to obtain Network Rail approval for the Class 710 to operate on the national network.”

The Chair of BGORUG, Graham Larkbey, said, “What was the point of TfL staging the Willesden event when the only new announcement turned out to be the colour of the train’s upholstery?”

Having suffered months and months of closures and replacement bus services while Network Rail installed the electric cabling, passengers are still seeing no benefit. Trains continue to be overcrowded and (to my mind) dangerous during the morning and evening peak. If TfL don’t sort themselves out there will literally be no trains at all by November.

PS: for what it’s worth, the new trains look lovely

Alight here for Forest Gate

16 Jan

Screenshot 2018 01 16 16 54 07

According to the latest newsletter from the Barking-Gospel Oak Rail User Group (BGORUG), there will soon be an additional to the signage at Wanstead Park station:

At a meeting with TfL last September BGORUG secured agreement for the platform signs giving the station’s name at Wanstead Park to receive straplines reading ‘Alight here for Forest Gate’. This follows on from a similar success in 2015 when TfL agreed to add ‘Alight here for Walthamstow Town Centre’ to the name boards at Walthamstow Queen’s Road. This station is not even very close to the road it is named after!

BGORUG consulted with the Forest Gate North councillors, meeting with Cllr. Rachel Tripp, who was very supportive of the idea.

It is true that the names of many stations on the Barking – Gospel Oak line do not really reflect their true location. Wanstead Park station is closer to Wanstead Flats than the park it is named after and only a matter of a few minutes walk from Forest Gate station.

The new signs will deliver a message that is consistent with the current version of the Tube map, which shows Wanstead Park and Forest Gate as an official interchange.

Goblin closure

11 Apr

On the subject of local rail travel, the Goblin – the Gospel Oak to Barking line on the London Overground – will be closing in June for eight months. This will allow Network Rail to electrify the route. 

Once the work is done TfL plan to introduce new four-carriage electric trains to replace the existing two-carriage diesel units. This will double passenger capacity and relieve the dangerous overcrowding we currently endure during peak times, though not until early 2018. When the line re-opens it will initially be served by the existing, inadequate trains. TfL claims retraining drivers to use an alternative type of electric train for “just 11 months” until the new ones are delivered is cost-prohibitive.

Ahead of the closure TfL staff will be holding a series of drop-in sessions to meet passengers, answer questions and provide details of alternative travel arrangements:

  • Barking, Monday 18 April, 16:00 to 19:00
  • Woodgrange Park, Tuesday 19 April, 16:00 to 19:00
  • Wanstead Park, Wednesday 20 April, 16:00 to 19:00
  • Leytonstone High Road, Thursday 21 April, 16:00 to 19:00
  • Leyton Midland Road, Friday 22 April, 16:00 to 19:00
  • Walthamstow Queens Road, Monday 25 April, 16:00 to 19:00
  • Blackhorse Road, Tuesday 26 April, 16:00 to 19:00
  • South Tottenham, Wednesday 27 April, 16:00 to 19:00
  • Harringay Green Lanes, Thursday 28 April, 16:00 to 19:00
  • Crouch Hill, Tuesday 3 May, 16:00 to 19:00
  • Upper Holloway, Wednesday 4 May, 16:00 to 19:00
  • Gospel Oak, Thursday 5 May, 16:00 to 19:00

If you’re a regular user of the Goblin it will be well worth going along.

On a related topic, the 2016 annual general meeting of the Barking – Gospel Oak Rail User Group will take place at 19:00 hours, concluding at 20:30 hours on Wednesday, 27th April in committee room 2 at Barking Town Hall, which is approximately a 5 minute walk from Barking station.

More information about the group can be found on its website.