A Modest Proposal To Improve Crossrail

By jamesup Last edited 73 months ago
A Modest Proposal To Improve Crossrail

We recently became aware of the Daily Mail Science Correspondent’s concern that Crossrail, the £14 billion rail project, was on the wrong track. Having reviewed Michael Hanlon's observations we were moved to action.

But first, to review Mr Hanlon’s important observations: the elephant in the room, he suggests, is connectivity — it's startling to see that no one has thought about this, not one person, even as the diggers hit the ground!

Firstly, Crossrail doesn't go to Heathrow Terminal 5! The new, flagship terminal! How on Earth will people get from Terminal 5 to London!

Secondly, Crossrail doesn’t go from Heathrow to Reading! An oversight surely? How else to get to Berkshire’s county town?! Heathrow’s on a spur, you see, so you need a westerly line...

Thirdly, this line doesn’t go to St Pancras! Unfathomable! If you just flew in from Paris, and want to get a train to Brussels, you’d have to change trains! How they think people will do this we just don’t know. Hanlon notes, “No one but the clinically insane would plan to spend £16bn tunnelling across north London and not provide a link to Britain’s only international high-speed rail link, right?” For some reason it goes along ‘Oxford Street’ stopping at rural halts like ‘Bond Street’ and ‘Tottenham Court Road’ rather than serving the core of the city, at St Pancras.

Fourthly, Crossrail does not link up with Euston either! The future home of High Speed 2 — why choose to go through the middle of the city when you could go to then-unplanned railway stations on the northern edge?!

Hanlon hit’s the head on the nail when he spots that “Crossrail does not really do anything that the Central Line plus the Heathrow Express does not.” We all know the Central line is pretty underused, the slackers only run the trains every 120 seconds or so, and they really do crawl along. The scheme as-it-is will be an unused failure if something is not done...

We therefore propose a few modest changes to the existing plan (see Figure 1, below) to build a Crossrail that we can be proud of:

First, we add Heathrow Terminal 5 via a new tunnel, with onward connections to the South West and France via ferry (Mon-Fri, supplements apply). Moving east, the line stops at the HS2 station at Old Oak Common before continuing to Bond Street, where it diverts south to Green Park (for Buckingham Palace is also omitted, in the Jubilee year no less!) and to South Ken (Tourists, the museums, you see) and then to Chelsea (no tube station there at all! Can't leave that out!) While we’re south we circle by Battersea Power Station (where new links are needed to assist the redevelopment) before relieving the overcrowded Northern Line with an interchange at Kennington.

Waterloo is very strained, and a key station for reaching Surrey, so is our next stop. Then, on to Victoria to take the strain off the Victoria Line. We then head back to Green Park (Duh! It’s the DIAMOND JUBILEE!) before stopping by Oxford Circus (the constrained site will require some demolition).

Then north to Euston, for that important HS2 link, with another stop 150 meters later for St Pancras (HS1 for Paris). A hard right then takes us south to the British Museum (it used to have a station of its own, and deserves one now), before getting back on track to Tottenham Court Road. Covent Garden is a tourist must-see and the lifts are a pain, so that gets a stop, before we recognize the importance of our legal sector with a new station at Lincoln's Inn.

Then on to Bank — heart of The City — and north west to Farringdon for interchange to Thameslink (could be omitted, who goes to Faringdon? No one we know). A bold new station, Northcliffe International, is then built on the former site of Highbury Fields. This is to provide connections with as yet unimagined railway lines, airports, hovercraft services and Virgin Galactic operations.

Then to Hackney, so long without a Tube station — justice for the North East at last — before we split: one branch heading to Stratford (and Stratford International — it’s a long walk), and then Shenfield as planned. Our south-eastern branch calls at Canary Wharf, Custom House and Woolwich, before joining HS1 to serve a range of European capitals (trolley service will check passports) as well as popular skiing destinations (in season).

This small additional investment now will be welcomed by all Londoners in years to come. Some journey times will be a touch longer, but without changing trains there really isn’t a better way of doing it...

Last Updated 16 April 2012

Tim Boddy

Brilliant :D

Nicolas Chinardet

I think the bit between Whitechapel and Canary Wharf should be extended to take in Camberwell, Lewisham and Greenwich...  no tube service in those parts and it's only a small detour

Stephen C

Now that would be a strange route! That said, the Southerly half of London really could benefit from some improvements, one option is Waterloo to Stratford - http://ukrail.blogspot.co.uk/2...

Nicolas Chinardet

There should also definitely be a stop in Derry Street, near High St Ken.... Just to smooth Mr Hanlon's commute to work in the morning. It's the least we can do to thank him for pointing out all the glaring oversights in the project.


Thanks for the laugh James.  Apart from the fact you made it go through my house, of course :-)


Daily Fail at it again I see. Brilliant reposte though I suspect your wit and intellect would be lost on the Fail's journalist!

Obrien Daisy

This is great!! 

Michael Jennings

“Crossrail does not really do anything that the Central Line plus the Heathrow Express does not. Ah yes, the classic "I do not commute by train or tube at rush hour, and I therefore fail to understand that relieving congestion at rush hour in the key and sometimes only driving factor for upgrading infrastructure and building new lines" fallacy . That is a very familiar one. 

He might have added "plus the Jubilee Line" in there too, given that getting people from Central London and elsewhere to Canary Wharf is the other key role, and there are fairly hideous rush hour congestion problems there, too.

Kyle Johnson

Isn't Crossrail going to stop at Stratford (or International) anyway? So if one really wants to land at Heathrow and get on a Eurostar they can change there?


This is great. But couldn't it go in a slightly different shape in order to draw a picture of a kitten or something, in order to make it appealing to ladies? :)

Daniel Tonks

Just as I expected,  my comment was not approved. I explained in detail why the Crossrail route is as it is. Unfortunately that contradicts the article.

Julie Shrive

What about the issue of vibration caused by heavy loads through the night which could be causing structural damage [ GOBLIN- North London line ].
 Why is there a rule for lorries on roads & not trains & why is Dept Transport actively supporting  this whilst  the Government is showing Neighbourhood groups  such as Walthamstow support ? Then there is the Glenda Jackson Primrose Hill issue ??!!

Michael Hanlon

Well, as the author of the Daily Mail piece I feel I ought to respond.
You have drawn a silly map of a railway line that links every tourist site in London. And this proves ... what exactly? I never said Crossrail had to go to Covent Garden or Buckingham Palace. Why would I? I simply said it was daft that a big, expensive new east-west line under London does not have a single direct interchange with ANY of the other new railway routes. And furthermore that NONE of these new lines connect in any way whatsoever. This is because these routes were all decided by different groups of people often decades ago, in isolation. It is of course possible that the system will be patched up in the future, but this will take (even more) decades. Crossrail is a farce. 

Mr Vee

Michael Hanlon: I'm no expert, but even I know there are lots of complicated and well informed strategy reasons that Crossrail has been designed as it has. It has been analysed by transport experts and strategists who as whole, sorry to break this to you, know a lot more about the transport issues close to this project than you do or probably ever will. 

I know you write for the Daily Mail and feel entitled to ask whatever kinds of questions pop into your mind in the indignant manner that you have (purely in the interest of your millions of adoring readers I'm sure) but honestly: grow up.Crossrail 1 with its emphasis on a central horizontal transport line is but one component of a longer term vision for transport in the capital, another component being Crossrail 2 which will have a vertical emphasis and will link with High Speed 2 at St Pancras.As for Reading, I'd guess it's mainly about making sure the trains aren't jammed with passengers from the start so that there is room further down the line for passengers to board at later stations.


Props to Londonist for managing to irritate a Daily Mail journalist enough for him to turn up and actually take some accountability for what he's written!
(And props to Mr Hanlon for doing so, I suppose I must add).
I heart Crossrail, by the way.

Rob Lugg

lol, Brilliant! As I live opposite Battersea Powerstation I'm all for it!

Pete Turner

Michael Hanlon - I've read your thoughts and in addition to the well thought out arguments against your pov on here, I have just one thing to add; where is Birmigham as mentioned in your article? 


Sorry, dog's dinner.

Joe Dunckley

You forgot North Greenwich, a minor addition between Canary Wharf and Custom House. You'll find a lot of people suggesting that one. And all that it requires is two extra under-river tunnels -- simple!


What a stupid idea to put it into Terminal 5 in the first place, firstly Terminal 5 has the HEATHROW EXPRESS which calls only at Heathrow Central then Paddington it would be FASTER than the Crossrail train, its also got the Piccadilly line for an all stops kind of route through West London and Piccadilly's Heathrow hub at Hatton Cross. Heathrow Central is the main station, its pointless to connect Heathrow Terminal 4 to Heathrow Terminal 5. That means the overall journey for a person who wants to leave the Airport from 5 and go over to Paddington is made longer for no good reason by stopping all over Heathrow Airport. Frankly its much faster to use routes 482 & 490 buses to change between 4 and 5 above ground.

To get from Heathrow to Berkshire is easy, all you need to do is go to HAYES & HARLINGTON STATION which for those people not familiar with the rail network is the next stop from Heathrow Central.

As for that map the author put in, it is pointless if you have a metro which connects every single mainline rail station in Central London then Crossrail will be full no one in the East could possibly board one from Maidenhead or Heathrow and no one in the West could board one for Heathrow or Maidenhead. There are reasons why the Victoria Line handles certain stations and Bakerloo handles others and Northern handles others and the rest of them are all dispersed, what that diagram seems to want is a super metro like all the Piccadilly, Waterloo & City, Hammersmith, Victoria, District, Central, Northern, Circle, Metropolitan, Jubilee and Bakerloo lines joined together with First Great Western. Half the stations mentioned will continue to be served by the Central line like Bank AND Oxford Circus which you can easily walk to from Bond Street or Tottenham Court Road, if you needed interchange with some other line then change at Paddington for the Bakerloo line.

To be honest I'd be glad that Crossrail didn't link to High Speed services mostly because I would be using Crossrail from a station that should averagely have 10 trains plus a few First Great Westerns and for once would enjoy getting a seat in a non-crowded carriage rather than a congested, crowded, sweatbox, hopefully the Central line will continue to relieve this rail scheme at Ealing Broadway and under Oxford Street.


Great article! To address Mr Hanlon's points.
1 - Crossrail connects to Terminal 4, and Hex connects to T5. If crossrail went to T5 apart from platform capacity, no trains at all would go to T4! Or does that terminal matter to Mail readers?
2 - no Heathrow - Reading connection, well recently confirmed spur near Slough (non crossrail) to be built to connect Heathrow west to Reading, Bristol, Wales etc
3 - no connection to HS1... Well St Pancras has 6 tube lines connecting across London, as well as cross London Thameslink trains. The Pic line goes direct to St Pancras from Heathrow (no change), but Crossrail passengers can also change at Farringdon to the tube AND 24tph Thameslink in 2018
for one stop.
4 - No connection to Euston for HS2... No connection to unapproved project... Shock. ing! Although part of HS2 plans is to build stop at OOC for interchange. So yes station not currently being built as no point until HS2 Act passed. also Heathrow station planned and could be brought forward to stage one so no Heathrow passengers need to go to Central London.
Extension to Reading is planned for at Reading and electrification programme fills the gap, but journey will still be faster changing at Pad to crossrail from non stop service.
Finally connection to WCML has been proposed and maybe built but seems like they very busy at min!

University College London

This is a TERRIBLE proposal


For once I have more sympathy with a Daily Mail writer (scratching my head.. hard to believe, even if the 2.5mile number sounds wrong)!

Not quite sure why it couldn't stop at Euston/St. Pancras while still offloading the Central Line?

I'd add it doesn't connect with Ebbsfleet either - why terminate in Abbey Wood.. unless we don't want to use Ebbsfleet?

Well if it was just supposed to be Central Line 2, then it is of course not too bad, but the issue of lack of joint-up thinking seems to be true.