Can the train take the strain?

WHAT does the future hold for the many of us who travel to Liverpool Street Station? In the final part of our Gateway to the Capital series, features editor TRACEY SPARLING finds out what's in store underground and overground - and when we can expect disruption to services.

By Tracey Sparling

WHAT does the future hold for the many of us who travel to Liverpool Street Station?

In the final part of our Gateway to the Capital series, features editor TRACEY SPARLING finds out what's in store underground and overground - and when we can expect disruption to services.

MORE and more people are pouring through Liverpool Street Station, and by 2016 the number of peak passenger journeys in the Greater Anglia region are projected to grow by 17 per cent.

Statistics show that in terms of passenger journeys, bus and rail use declined during the 1970s but train use has been increasing since the early 1980s. National rail and London Underground accounted for 49 and 44 per cent, of all train journeys in 2005/06.

So how will our services cope?

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Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail's Anglia route director said: "The railway is thriving. Demand for rail continues to grow. Three million people use the railways each day, more than at any time in the past 60 years, and we're not standing still waiting for the big infrastructure projects to be delivered.

“We are doing something about it now by moving forward with hundreds of small schemes dotted around the country that will add capacity and ease crowding. For the first time on record, over £1bn per year will be spent on expanding and growing the railway network. This, more than anything, shows how the needs of today's railway are shifting. We will never lose sight of the imperative to run a safe and reliable railway each and every day, but responding to the challenge of growth becomes a more important priority for the company."

Mr Hallgate added: “Growing demand on the Anglia route has led to the Route Utilisation Strategy - which is the entire rail industry coming together to decide how we think we can improve the infrastructure and passenger services over the next decide to meet demand. At present our ideas which we published in April are at a consultation phase and once this is complete, we'll then go to the government to say, 'this is what we think we need', and then it's for them to say if we get funding.”

As part of the work to help meet the expected demand, Network Rail announced in April a £2.4bn programme of rail expansion outlining its spending plans over the next two years with more than £150m being spent in the Anglia region.

Hundreds of platforms will be lengthened, new platforms added, new tracks laid, line speeds raised and capacity added through major resignalling schemes. In the next two years we will see schemes like an alternative route for large freight containers being laid between Ipswich and Ely, and new overhead lines between Chelmsford and Liverpool Street.

Peter Meades for one the company which runs services from Ipswich to Liverpool Street, said “Journey times are of course important to passengers but as the demand for train services continues to grow, a major task for the rail industry and other agencies to address will be in delivering sufficient route capacity to cope with expected demand.”

Trains of the future will be more environmentally friendly, and Peter said: “Increasingly we will see train designs which further improve accessibility for passengers and meet the demands for environmentally friendly means of travel. As an example our fleet of Class 360 trains already feature regenerative braking systems which delivers energy back into the national grid when the trains brake.

”Passenger expectations on comfort and the overall travel experience will also continue to rise and we can expect to see further improvements in these areas.”

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Tell us what Liverpool Street Station means to you, at Evening Star Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP2 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Q: What's the cheapest ticket to London - and how far in advance do you have to buy it?

A: The cheapest fare from Ipswich to London costs £6 one way. This is the 'one' Advance ticket which was introduced last year and over half-a-million tickets have been sold in the first nine months of availability. The ticket must be booked in advance, up to 6pm the day before travel.

It is mostly available on off-peak services so if you can travel outside of the main busy trains you can pick up a bargain.

TUBE trains on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines will be air conditioned in years to come.

Transport for London's transport commissioner Peter Hendy said the new fleet of 190 trains will be fully air conditioned with CCTV throughout and walk-through gangways between carriages.

The trains will be built by Bombardier in Derby and will be delivered between late 2009 and 2015. There will be dedicated spaces for wheelchair users and those with luggage and prams.

Trains on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines will increase in size from six to seven carriages, an overall capacity increase of 17 per cent, as will those on the District line between Edgware Road and Wimbledon.

The new trains will also have regenerative braking systems, which recycle energy that, on current tube trains, is lost in braking. This will save about 20-25per cent of that energy, making a real contribution towards tackling CO2 emissions. Regenerative braking works by recycling power production from the action of the train braking and puts it back in the power network.

This is already a feature on Central, Northern and Jubilee line trains.

Mr Hendy said: “This is the biggest single package of improvements for these lines since they opened in 1863, running over the same route from Paddington to Farringdon they do today.

“Over one million people use these lines each day and they will all benefit.”

LIVERPOOL Street Station is to close while Transport for London demolishes and replaces a dilapidated bridge nearby.

The 120-year-old iron and brick structure is so large it will take ten days to carry out demolition, so Liverpool Street Station will need to close from December 23 to 4am on January 2 2008.

The timing has been chosen to affect fewer people than at any other time in the year, with passenger numbers typically between 40 and 80 per cent down compared to normal days.

Julie Dixon for Transport for London, said: "We recognise that it will impact on passengers and local residents over these ten days, but we will be going to every possible length to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum.

"We are offering various alternative routes and are letting everyone know in good time. Although we try to retain existing structures, it is simply not possible in this case as the bridge is in a terrible state of disrepair and is in the wrong position for the new East London Line tracks. Unfortunately the improvements can only be carried out when the station is shut, and the work has therefore been scheduled for over the Christmas period, when the smallest number of passengers will be affected."

The bridge, known as GE19, has been out of use for decades. Its demolition means removing 12,000 tonnes of brickwork.

Mainline services from stations such as Ipswich will terminate at Ingatestone while Liverpool Street is closed, with replacement bus services operating to and from London. The exception is on December 27 and 28 when services will run to and from Stratford (not Ingatestone) where passengers can change for services to and from London. There will be no services on December 25 and 26.

The new bridge which will be the length of three Wimbledon Centre Courts, will be built in spring 2008.

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