Monday, 23 November 2015

Fewer trains at Earlsfield with Crossrail 2

Planning for Crossrail 2 is underway with a consultation currently open. The consultation invites feedback on "Proposed service patterns", yet most people in Earlsfield appear blissfully ignorant of what Crossrail 2 means to them. This article aims to make it clear.

Crossrail 2

The South West Main Line (SWML) from Waterloo through Earlsfield to Woking and beyond is one of the busiest railway lines in the country. It consists of 4 tracks all the way from Woking to Waterloo, with services from Earlsfield on the two slow lines.

Since the 4 tracks are no longer sufficient for demand, Transport for London and Network Rail are planning to add an additional 2 tracks between New Malden and Clapham Junction, as part of Crossrail 2. The following map shows the official plan:

The current services that serve Earlsfield today, from Kingston, Hampton Court, Chessington and Epsom will be diverted onto Crossrail 2 and run via Balham, not Earlsfield.

Given this, a key question arises - What services will stop at Earlsfield once Crossrail 2 opens? The answer to this question is not good news for Earlsfield.

Earlsfield is likely to have around 40% fewer trains once Crossrail 2 opens

Exact details are unclear, partly because they are not yet decided. However, the consultation documents and verbal conversations with Network Rail indicate that the following is the working hypothesis (tph = trains per hour):

  • Before Crossrail 2 opens - 18tph stop at Earlsfield
  • After Crossrail 2 opens - 10-12tph stop at Earlsfield (a cut of between 33% and 44%)

What this means in practice is that 6-8tph will run through the platforms at Earlsfield without stopping. These will be the current fast services from Surbiton, which will be moved off the fast lines to make space for more trains from beyond Woking.

Transport for London and Network Rail believe that although there would be fewer trains stopping at Earlsfield, those that did stop would have more space available. As such, they argue that this service cut is not a major problem.

Ultimately, it is up to the residents of Earlsfield to decide whether they want to fight for a better deal.

Crossrail 2 Swirl

This blog is promoting a change to Crossrail 2, the Swirl plan. Swirl proposes routing Crossrail 2 via Earlsfield instead of Balham.

Were Swirl to be adopted, the service at Earlsfield would potentially increase to 30tph, one train every two minutes. It would also see Earlsfield added to the tube map, which experience suggests is very positive for an area.

If you live in Earlsfield you may not realise that the potential exists to get your area a much better deal. The difference between 10tph and 30tph is stark, as is the potential to be on the tube map.

Have a read of the Swirl plan, and if you agree, please respond to the consultation mentioning "Crossrail 2 Swirl".

Update 2016-01-19: See also the Swirl-Max plan which services Earsfield, Balham, Streatham and Tooting providing much greater benefits to the area.


  1. Speaking as someone from Kingston who gets 4tph most of the day, I'm not sure that a decrease from a train every 3.5 minutes to one every 5 minutes - so on average a 45 second longer wait for a train - is the strongest of arguments for Swirl ! However some of the other arguments for Swirl are quite good - especially the Wimbledon disruption....

    1. Kingston's service will increase massively, under any CR2 plan. The point to bear in mind at Earlsfield is that in the peak it is not possible to board the first train. If the trains remain busy at Earlsfield (with people desperate to find some route to the City) then that drop in frequency could mean much longer waits (same number of people entering platform in a 15min period, but fewer removed, means the queues to board each train get longer and longer until peak ends). It depends on whether you believe there will be space on the trains that stop at Earlsfield.