Chapter 10 - Part III                                                                     Major defects in Hall/Smith scheme


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Serious flaws in the scheme were identified in reports, articles and letters set out in the preceding part of this chapter and chapter 15. However, there are other serious defects.


Crucial flaws & defects

First to the generality of the proposal. It lacks proper plans and drawings for the whole length, without which it would have been shredded by any Board. There is not one cross section nor side elevation drawing. The four top elevation drawings lack detail, and relate to 0.6% of the route. Locations where constructional problems need to be addressed are described in a few words instead of standard before and after drawings, backed by contractors’ written estimates. Photos of Liverpool St. station interior were essential. The study frequently uses assume, if and probably, but concludes with definite consequences! The limited consideration of the down side risks ignores the worst scenarios.

Issues obvious to a transport manager crucial to practicability before considering financial aspects, are the design of the Liverpool St bus station, ticket issues, accidents, use of the route for other traffic, no fuelling/coolant or top-up/water supply for windscreen washers, no timetable and Post Office mails. The bus station is shown thus in the Report:


Diagram 2

The drawing (page 71), has three rows, each of 17 unex­plained dots (one row is shown below as circles). Investigation reveals they are roof support columns.



The 155m long bus station will have 30 bays: 3m per bus lane (Page 13), 2m width per platform to load and unload is inadequate. Barriers are needed to avoid accidents. No width is shown for the pas­senger walkway with bi-directional flows. The plan lacks a passenger/vehicle flow chart to highlight problems. Buses will cross the walkway. The plan should have been put to the H&SE - like rail plans - for approval. Inbound buses – including articulated - will have to turn between the roof support columns.  Articulated buses will need to be in the outer lane to do so. The other rows (not shown above) are expected to be on platforms. Which may have to be wider than 3m to allow pas­sengers to pass by columns meaning less than 30 platforms. Unexplained boxes in the drawing are bases of arches of a wall between the west and east trainsheds. (See photograph. The narrow gaps between columns are also illustrated in Liverpool Street Station by Robert Thorne & Railway Stations of Britain by Geoffrey Body).

An arriving bus will pull in the first available bay & will sometimes, be behind one that has broken down or whose driver has gone for a break, or to ‘inspect the plumbing’. There is no reference to what happens if a bus arrives at the closed end of the bus station, because all sixty spaces are occupied. It would be dangerous for it to reverse, hence it would have to await a space in the end bay. Should it wait more than a few seconds, others will queue behind. Such problems will occur after the peak. No mention is made of relief drivers to cover breaks, holidays or sickness. Without supervisors (none are mentioned), there will be chaos. The scheme envisages drivers will run at random to any destination except on the last run, which will be home.* The prospect that the aggregate working time will precisely correspond to the legal hours limit with such random sequential journey times is nil. As is the prospect maintenance can fit into the time when the bulk of the fleet is at Liverpool St - as is envisaged. As there are no rosters, as buses flow in after the peak, drivers will go into the first space available or congest the bus station, as there is no one to direct which are to park and which are due maintenance at Ilford, of which a driver will have no knowledge.

*The reason is not given. Is the bus to be parked in the street near his home? What happens if it breaks down there? If he uses the bus to get to work next day - his working day is likely to exceed legal limits. Organis­ing recruitment to ensure a satisfactory distribution of drivers at   locations will be a nightmare).  

In a ‘peak’ of 58 minutes1 380 buses will depart - one every 9 seconds. 3 minutes loading time minutes is specified2. No unloading time is forecast, hence turnround time cannot be calculated. If all had tickets, a driver would have to check validity at the rate of one every two seconds. They fail to mention that drivers will have to inspect seasons, nor how they will deal with tickets out-of-date or short of destination. The scope for buses varying from a 9 second slot, is a recipe for chaos. It is said that buses will depart when 100% full. There is zero prospect that all will achieve this in precisely 3 minutes, even in the peak. At the tail end of a peak, the bus to each destination will wait longer to fill to 100%, than during the height of the peak. No refer­ence is made to this. Nor is it stated whether off-peak buses will wait until they have full loads. There will be some tailgating and some longer gaps. Buses de­parting every 9 seconds is improbable. To claim that this task could be performed - day after day, in all conditions - from 19 bays, (see Page 69), is incredible.

1.Why such a strange period has been selected is not explained. A CTCC study of peak travel in 1958 covered an 11/2 hour period; BTC 1968 Annual Report references to heavy peak flows are over a 1½  hour period.

2.Tratherns which operates 71-seat PSVs told the author it takes 5 minutes to load at the one door. A train coach has two or more doors, many of which are as wide as two PSV doors. Rail passengers load their luggage, a PSV driver does that & could not get in the cab until the luggage of the last passenger was stowed.


A bus departing every 9 seconds means one arriving at the same frequency. If it takes five minutes to unload, and five to load, during that time, 86 buses will arrive - ex­ceeding the dual capacity of 30 bays. If turnround time averaged half that, 43 buses would arrive, and as they waited for a vacant bay, a queue would develop. Things would be worse off-peak. To avoid chaos, each bus would need to unload and load in a few sec­onds. When a sealed fare box, (see pages 103,135) - which would need to be secured to the floor - has to be changed, turnround time would increase. The concept is a recipe for disaster.

The passenger walkway (see diagram above), will have 28,500 departing passengers2 moving on it in, in one direction, in the peak 58 minutes - an average of 490 per minute2 past a given point. In that minute, they are going to have 6-7 buses trying to depart across the walkway, taking say 14 seconds out of their minute. Commuters hurrying for a bus further along will risk life and limb to push through. Some will divert off the walkway onto road lanes to get round the crush. Those encumbered by small children, luggage, or in wheelchairs are going to be in particular danger. Departing passengers would have to cross the flow of incoming passengers going in the opposite direction. The flow would be increased by passengers who, intending to board a particular bus, found it fully loaded and went to another bay. Passengers will be unable to get to buses quickly, and the time savings envisaged (see page 104), will not merely evaporate, but become negative.

1.      Some 75 passengers on each of 380 buses, each fully loaded as claimed. If each person’s stride occupies one metre, and has a half a metre space ahead for a smooth flow, and two persons occupy 1.5m of width, 490 will occupy a length of 342m, which is double the length of the walkway. The number of incoming passengers is unknown in the morning peak.

2.      BR filmed arrivals which showed the flow was uneven, which makes matters worse, and undermines the claimed time savings. Clearly, some days would be above average, requiring more buses and more staff.

Departing and arriving passengers will each have to be restricted to one half of a 3m wide walkway, which will need designated directional flow separation to avoid total chaos. If the walkway is made wider, there is less turning area for arriving buses, and more opportunity for conflicting movements between departing passengers trying to cut through to a bay, between other departing passengers heading for a different bay, arriving passengers and moving buses. The Study makes no provision for the costs of a CCTV system, which would be essential and require staff to operate and maintain it.

Delays would occur in boarding due to passengers fumbling for the correct fare, which they are hardly likely to be carrying in their hands as they hurry to find their bus. How those who board in excess of capacity are to be ejected is not mentioned.

As they depart from a bay, each driver would have to manoeuvre through the passenger flow into one of the two departing lanes, sometimes in the path of another bus. Drivers will have great difficulty forcing a way through. The aggregate time taken for departing buses, to cross the walkway at, say two seconds each - it could be longer - is 16 minutes of delay to passenger flow in the 58 minute peak period. The first minor accident will bring the station to a halt. Working hours will be completely unpredictable. Drivers may insist on taking overdue breaks at the outstation, disrupting the flow.

In contrast, Victoria coach station has 21 bays, holding between two and four vehicles to accommodate 53 coaches, plus 6 parking - that is about the same number of bay spaces as the proposed bus station at Liverpool Street, which will have about half of the area of Victoria. Their departures in the busiest hour are about 50. The separate Arrivals area has 10 coaches unloading at any one time. They don’t like more because of the vehicle/ pedestrian interface problem. They allow 15 minutes to unload and move clear. Thus, in a site about 50% of Victoria’s area, the Liverpool Street bus station will hold up to 60 buses in 30 bays, and achieve a departure every 9 seconds, compared to Victoria’s one per minute. Victoria’s frequency is conditioned by bay occupation and internal movement rather than egress onto roads. Victoria allows departure coaches to be in their bays or on site for 30 minutes. It is clear that the planned occupancy and flows envisaged on the Liverpool Street site are wildly optimistic and dangerous into the bargain.

Clearly, the whole Liverpool Street operation with its hoped for flexibility of buses running on any route, would require one company to have the licence or contract. Established bus operators would jib at the prospect of driving a bus, every 9 seconds, through a two way flow of milling passengers. It is doubtful that any insurance company would give accident cover, but if they did, premiums would probably be penal. Cynical brokers would not depend on assurances by academics that there would be no - or few -accidents. Noticeably, there is no reference to insurance.

Another staffing element that has been ignored is assistance for disabled passengers. The effect on loading times of wheelchairs, prams, and luggage is overlooked. Victoria coach station provides assistance. In the 1970s, there was no blanket restriction on cycles on trains, although it was not practical on peak commuter trains. However, long distance trains in the peak and off-peak carried accompanied cycles and broken-down motor cycles, as did off-peak shorter distance trains. Neither could be conveyed by bus.



The route from Liverpool Street carries Inter City passengers to Ipswich and Norwich. They will go by bus to Manningtree, and change to a train, at the one platform to be re­tained, (Page 100). Three of the four platforms/tracks at Manningtree would be con­verted to roads, whilst one is ‘retained for the Ipswich train’. This gives an impression of one plat­form, literally, one train. However, the service via Manningtree to Ipswich and beyond is more than twice that going towards Harwich. The single track sta­tion would have 92 daily trains to and from Ipswich and Norwich. The scheme takes three-quarters of the station for less than one-third of the traffic. A salutary indication of the wasteful use of roads compared to railways. This disproportionate alteration to rail facilities at Manning­tree does not merit a penny for alterations to the residual railway in­frastructure: carriage cleaning & fuelling (hitherto done at Colchester), signalling, or track. No provision is made for the costs of staff required at Manning­tree to look after passengers, and see to departing trains. Nor is mention made of transfer of mails and parcels which are carried in passenger trains.


Other changing points

Many travelling from Liverpool Street will change to another bus at Stratford, Romford, Witham, Wickford and Colchester. Some form of supervision would be essential to minimise chaos, and arguments in case passengers arriving at these locations from both directions, try to board buses in numbers which exceed their capacity. There needs to be supervision to deal with problems of drivers absent from work, and the handling of cash, (see below). The plan makes no provision for toilets or shelters at these or other locations.

Destinations for which no provision is made

No provision is made for passengers (Page 116), to Alresford, Hythe or Weeley, on the Clacton line, or for Mistley, Wrabness and Dovercourt on the Harwich line, hence, they will have no direct service, other than the service stopping at all ‘stations’.


Fare Collection

The idea conceived to attempt to reduce delays and keep costs down by not having ticket offices at all 64 stations involved, would fail. ‘Books of tickets of (sic) season tickets can be bought from ticket offices or the driver’. The belief that shopkeepers could be per­suaded to ‘obtain tickets in bulk at a slight discount’ clearly indicates that the authors have no knowledge of the trade terms required by retailers. The belief that they would stock tickets as an alternative to ‘being pestered for change’ shows that the authors are out of touch with reality. Retailers would not supply change, just as they ceased to oblige non-customers long ago with change for payphones. A notice would make that clear, as in the past, and those ignoring it, would be told quite brusquely where to go! Those who tried to get change for a note, by making a small purchase, and requesting the change to be in a number of specified coins would quickly get their come-uppance. Busy retailers working on tight margins have no time to waste on such unproductive activity. If they agreed to sell tickets*, they would demand a normal trade discount of at least 33-50%, and credit for a month. They may decline to stock a full range of tickets, including season tickets, to all stations. Re-booking at shops at junction points would extend jour­ney times. The commuter used to buying a ticket with seconds to spare, would have to join a queue of those buying groceries, papers, confectionery, etc. Problems of security, accountancy, etc., would be significant. An annual season ticket would be valuable and bigger target for thieves than a few cigarettes. Their insurance would rise. It is a complete non-runner. Retailers’ terms would make bus operation totally uneconomic, even with a subsidy, even if it were not torpedoed by other impracticalities, including shops not opening before 8.0am.

*No comparison can be made with Travel Agents who sell products allied to transport.

The idea of ‘ticket offices at Liverpool Street, Stratford and other busy points’ would have to be replaced by one at every station, some open around the clock. Their failure to name all locations is incomprehensible. One cannot determine whether the staffing levels are adequate without that information. Passengers requiring season tickets would expect the prevailing discounts against the much trumpeted low bus fares. They would not pay weeks or months in advance merely to travel on cramped buses at fares which did not offer similar discounts to BR. Commuters would not tolerate withdrawal of seasons, which enable them to avoid delays at both ends - and government dare not oppose them. 

   Another idea to reduce terminal time is for passengers without tickets to ‘put the exact change into a sealed fare box, drivers would not touch the money’. The driver would be unable to account for his ticket sales - he could give them to friends, or sell them in a pub. There would be no check on how far passengers were entitled to travel. They state that tickets may be dropped in the box. Ticket validity would not be checked. The opportunity for fraud is immense. No one with practical transport experience would propose the idea. Passengers changing at Stratford, Romford, Witham, Colchester and Wickford will pay into another fare box.

Who, at each location, would replace boxes, check and account for their contents is not mentioned. Boxes would need to be replaced before becoming full. They would have to be removed or emptied before buses went to Ilford for maintenance, and at close of work, after drivers made the last journey home. Standard security practices require two persons to handle loose cash, and record the number of foreign coins. How boxes would get to a main location from branch routes is ignored. It would not be possible  to pay by credit card or cheque - an acute disadvantage at locations without ticket offices.

The boxes would need to be of a size which allowed a huge number of coins to be inserted, or turnround times would be extended. The weight of the boxes could prove daunting. The contents would have to be checked and bagged, before being sent by secu­rity vehicle to a bank, which charges for checking coins. The scope for fraud is incalcu­lable. The revenue is forecast at £4.5m pa, (see Table below). Of this, about 25% of London fares would be in seasons (the national percentage is 20%). That leaves £3.4m. If half was in pre-paid tickets, that leaves £1.7m pa in cash - by inference (Page 114) - most in coins. Given the scope for fraud, the amount would be less. The operator would be ruined.    

Bus services

Traffic for Ingatestone, Hatfield Peverel, Witham, (for Braintree), Kelvedon and Marks Tey (for Sudbury), travelling on the A12 and local roads (see page 149), will be slower than rail, but are shown to have faster journey times, (Page 115). Their interface with pedestrians risks more fatalities. Stopping services (Page 115) serving these points will be especially slow. Clearly, stopping services cannot wait until 100% full, or otherwise there is a risk of a long wait and/or having no room to pick up. They must have a specified departure schedule, or otherwise the decision will be left to the random wishes of staff. There should be an allowance in time saving calculations for a counter loss by commuters using stopping services which would take longer to fill, and have longer gaps between.

Bus Fleet size

The fleet cannot be derived by relating a theoretical running time, which makes no provision for problems and using it to calculate a theoretical fleet. The risk of time loss by buses transferring from outbound to inbound lane at out stations, with the consequences of making two right hand turns across unyielding traffic, does not register a mention. At two places, right turns will cross flows of 25,000 vehicles: one every 3 seconds. Peak hours will be worse. One turnround point has only 16,000 vehicles crossing! As no return route is planned at Maryland, buses will make ‘U’ turns, causing delays. The return trip time (see Page 116) does not allow transfer elsewhere to inbound lanes.

The ‘main line’ will have 75-seat double-deck buses. It is stated that passengers will not go to the top deck for a journey under 20 minutes (Page 7). Despite that, the scheme uses   double-deck buses, 100% loaded in the evening peak from Liverpool St to 11 destinations whose journey is 20 minutes or less, (Page 116). These involve 99 buses making 160 peak journeys. If they do not use top decks, that requires 99 extra buses. 17 buses starting from Stratford have journeys under 20 minutes. There will be similar problems with the 50 all-station buses, (Page 115), which will involve journeys under 20 minutes. These buses will need to be single-deck, increasing the size of the fleet and manpower. If ar­ticulated single deck buses were used, to provide 75 seats, they would cause further prob­lems, when trying to pass between roof supports to enter a bay at Liverpool St. If all were occupied by a bus, the tail would obstruct arrival lanes. Should they get into an oc­cupied bay and have to reverse out due to a breakdown of a preceding bus, it would be chaotic. An articu­lated bus would cause delay to other buses and passengers, on depar­ture, by taking longer to exit a bay. They would have problems at mini roundabouts. If single deck or articulated buses were used, the random use of buses to any destination would be impractical. Moreover, the belief that commuters will squeeze into a bus, whose knee room is less than a train, and worse than some of the worst airlines, for a 1-1½  hour journey is unrealistic.

No one would undertake to operate a service at the fares claimed and reliability promised, on the basis of these fleet estimates. The Report does not show total peak passengers. The proposed 380 peak hour buses (Page 72) equates to 28,500 passengers. In 48 trains (Pages 66-8), that averages 590 per train which had between 504 and 1032 seats, ‘average’ 768, suggesting avoidable standing or too few buses. The authors added a percentage of spare vehicles to cover maintenance and breakdown for the main line flow from Liverpool St - which may be unacceptable to operators. None were provided for other routes. No breakdown vehicles were provided. For buses to run at random to any destina­tion requires every bridge en route to be of the minimum height necessary for double deck buses. As will be seen (page 108), nearly half of all bridges need alteration: re-decking, re-building, replacement or excavation of forma­tion to create the limited headroom envis­aged. Excavation assumes no mains services exist, and that bridges had deeper foun­dations than necessary, which is doubtful, given that the original railway com­pany was not prosperous. No data is shown for 18 bridges on the North Woolwich-Tottenham line, and others on the main line which may need attention, (see pages 99,100). Bridge reconstruction will cause serious delays to existing road and rail traffic. No time loss debit is shown.


Manpower is under estimated. A route with a current service from 05.50 to 23.00 is said to need 4 buses/drivers in the peak, and ‘because only one bus is required outside the peak, only 5 drivers are required’. Another with 7 buses in the peak, hence 7 peak drivers - would have a total of eight drivers - to cover a 16 hour time span! It is doubtful that employees would tolerate the implications, and in the absence of a timetable and rosters, it may contravene legal driving hours. A total of 676 drivers for all six routes is quoted. No mention is made of relief staff for holidays, sickness, etc., which BR figures include.

The ‘main line route’ requires ‘650 drivers & 750 other staff* including ticket sellers, bus manufacturing and the bus share of road maintenance’, (Page 121). No cost is shown for the 750 which should be split into the 3 categories. How man­power required to manufacture buses, (Page 9), was calculated is not revealed. There is no reference to supervisors, admin staff, cleaning staff for buses/stations/depots or breakdown crews. Liverpool St bus station would need supervi­sors on each shift at several places, and in the bus park. A control centre with CCTV is vital. Supervision at turnround points would be vital, otherwise, in the absence of a timetable, not all drivers would return promptly. Operating costs for the main line service (Page 120), include £1.94m ‘Other costs’, a term whose definition (Page 23) excludes the 750 staff and those overlooked, (see above). Electricity board staff are excluded from BR figures - so they should be! - as none are included for staff distributing oil to bus depots. BR staff ‘distributing’ electricity should also be excluded for the same reason.   

*No similar provision is made for such manpower on the other five routes.

In contrast to the assessment of manpower required for the six routes, NBC (1976 Accounts) had 3.4 staff for every bus and they excluded bus manufacturing and road maintenance. By NBC standards - and they were almost certainly not affected by heavy commuter peak operation - at least 1,530 would have been required in relation to the proposed fleet, the size of which has not been proven to be adequate in the absence of a timetable. The method used to assess fleet and manpower will never catch on in transport circles. Stagecoach had 3000 vehicles and 11,000 staff; i.e. 3.66 staff to each bus. (1976 Buses Yearbook, by S.J. Brown)

The average cost of a bus driver for a 40-hour week including employers’ contri­bution to NHS, pensions, etc., for one-man operation (OMO) is £2200 pa, (Page 22). In the mid-1970s, the average for LT OMO drivers was £5400 pa. There would be no applicants for £2200 jobs when they could get £5400 from LT. This would increase costs, (see page 139).

In the chart overleaf, a bar represents 125 drivers required for the hours shown. It provides, in round numbers for 500 during peaks, and half that outside peaks for a service half as frequent. In mid-shift, drivers require a legal break. To move, park or operate their buses may require more drivers. Without a timetable, it is not possible to calculate manpower precisely. Based on the Hall/Smith approach, over 1,000 would be required, (see below), Mondays to Fridays, rather than the 650 postulated. A further 99 are required (see page 136), an increase of about 450. This excludes Saturdays, holidays, sickness, etc. Drivers scheduled to an 8-hour shift will not drive for 8 hours. When a driver picks up a bus from the park, time is occupied in checks on a vehicle’s readiness for work. Shifts starting and ending at 01.00 will be very unpopular, but to cover existing service times would be unavoidable. These manpower levels may be reduced if split shifts are accepted, but a penalty payment is often made for the period between peaks. On this long route, they are unlikely to have time to go home. Whether there would be sufficient spare time in the off-peak to cover ferrying to/from Ilford can only be established by duty rosters.

Diagram 3



The Study ignores Saturdays. To determine manpower for Saturday services, given a 40 hour week (Page 22), a form of Rest Day roster is required, which gives all drivers one day off in six, which will not always be Saturday. For every five drivers required on other days, one extra is required for Saturdays. This principle will apply to the other 750 staff mentioned (Page 121). Relief staff for out-based depots - which have low service levels - will tend to be a higher percentage than at a main depot. 



The scheme plans to use Ilford Multiple Unit Depot for bus and lorry maintenance, (Page 85) – an unlikely arrangement. How costs were assessed for the area and buildings, was not explained. For safety rea­sons, no visitors are permitted in sidings or buildings unless accompanied by a manager or supervisor responsible for a visitor’s safety. Staff in such locations were no­torious for challenging strangers - even in uniform - and rightly so. Crucial tasks are overlooked. In addition to maintaining east side multiple units, Ilford maintained those which operated services from the west side of Liver­pool Street, which under the plan would continue. It also carried out heavy maintenance on multiple units from the LT&S line. With Ilford closed, and the rail link to the LT&S severed, two depots would have to be built for them. Conversion of Ilford depot would have to be done over the second weekend!  

There are no costs for maintenance and renewal of bus terminals. There are references to ‘Other Costs’, which mentions some provision for vehicle and building maintenance by other bus companies, (Page 23), but that would not usually be for bus stations, which are invariably under separate ownership. The approach used to arrive at these figures is not likely to catch on in the transport industry. They will continue to set out the manpower and forecast value of materials required. Any operator providing the services would determine the fleet and manpower required to operate and maintain it, on the basis of a timetable, and the cost of a depot on written estimates.  Whereas gaps between trains enable rail staff to carry out minor adjustment to the formation, it would be impossible on roads. Lane closures will be necessary.


The study claims if buses were subsidised, no fares would be charged, or that rail fares could be cut 64% and would still cover bus operating costs, (Page 120). Covering costs would not be enough for the private sector. The financial details set out in the six sections of the report are not brought together, in their sections, nor as a whole in the Report. They are summarised below. It is claimed that the bus company can stand on its own feet - and it must do so, even if the fleet and staff are inade­quate and need to be supplemented. 


Table 1

rail revenue1

bus revenue2

bus costs3



























Crouch Valley





Liverpool St-Harwich











1.Better Use of Railways, pages 31,41,46,51,57 & 63. These are 7-day revenue figures.

2. Rail revenue less 64%.

3. Better Use of Railways, Pages 38,44,49,55,61,119-120. As a minimum, their figures must be increased for Saturdays: 20%, holiday/sickness relief: 12%, Sundays: 10%, & for other staff, (see below)


On their fleet basis, with 7 day revenue and 5 day costs there is a loss. At their wages: drivers for weekends, holi­days, sick­ness add £0.6m; 450 extra drivers (page 138) add £1m; key staff (page 137) add £0.5m; 750 staff (page 103) not all seem to be costed, add £0.5m; total £2.6m. London area wages (page 137) would increase £2.6m to £6.4m (£2.6/2200 x 5400); and their 650 drivers would cost £2.1m more. Fares com­mission would cost about £1.5m, (page 135). There would be £10m pa deficit. There would be costs for breakdowns, accidents and ensuing revenue loss. Fuel costs are not properly calculated, (see page 103). Operators said buses replacing trains would be unviable (see Chapter 6). Businesses require a vastly higher profit than the authors contemplate.

The six routes in the Study include: assuming conversion costs have been offset by benefits to private traffic. This implies motor­ists will  fund conversion. However, it will not be in coin of the realm -  to pay for construction - but by the theoretical value placed on time saved by motorists (see page 104), who, it is assumed, will transfer from existing roads to the new road system. If this does not happen, the idea collapses. The motorists’ share would be paid in cash by government. The only other cash for conversion, would be from land sales. But surplus land was being sold off as buyers became available, or was developed jointly by BR Property Board and outside bodies. As a rule, if the whole of a property portfolio is dumped on the market at the one time, the price falls. The reality is that the gain from most surplus land was accruable equally to BR, and therefore, must be left out of the equation - a point made by independent parties, (see pages 122,128). BR, in contrast to the bus operator has to fund its own infrastructure, and when it failed to do so - mainly due to political interference in fares and charges, and in closure of uneconomic lines, was re­quired for 21 years to take on interest bearing loans. (See Britains Railways - The Reality, Chapter 15).

This was the cause of deficits. Gov­ernment belatedly accepted that services required for social reasons should - as applies when bus operators are required to provide uneconomic services - be funded by gov­ernment. If BR had been allowed to ‘fund’ its infrastructure on the basis envisaged in this scheme for bus operators - including monetary credit for time saved by commuters when electrified services were introduced - it would have had no problem in operating with fares up to 55 points below inflation, as it was compelled to do by politicians.[1]   


Intangible financial benefits claimed

It is claimed that substantial benefits will derive to passengers and non-passengers to which a monetary value is attributed. Without them, the scheme would not have attracted support of any journalist, nor even of the anti-rail lobby. They are non-cash items, and cannot, therefore, pay contractors. That leaves the government holding the baby.

Journey & waiting time savings for passengers

Shorter waiting-cum-journey times are claimed in respect of buses, converted to money, and prayed in aid to fund conversion. The time taken to book a ticket and walk to a plat­form ‘was recorded for 64 peak (0.2%)* and 62 off-peak departures from Liverpool Street’ (Page 115). Peak passengers were recorded over a 40 minute period, and bought tickets to only 21 of 44 destinations on the main line route. The 18-minute off-peak survey covered only 22 of the 44 destinations. Any time saving for off-peak passen­gers is challengeable, as off-peak, ‘most buses will stop as trains do now, but will generally be twice as fre­quent’ (Page 114). No departure times are listed for trains, nor for buses departing when full. How can a realistic difference be assessed? Nevertheless, a claim is made that 18 of the 62 passengers will have a shorter wait-cum-journey time, whilst none would be longer. These records - which exclude 90 stations served directly or indirectly from Liverpool St (see footnote page 104) - are extrapolated to cover journeys to all stations!  * There is no evidence to show that the other 99.8% would not have a faster overall journey by rail.

It is stated ‘2 minutes is allowed for [rail] passengers to walk from ticket office to train’. No time is quoted for bus passengers. Most - probably 95% - have seasons or returns and would not go to a ticket office, but take the shortest route from street to platform, whose number is engraved on their hearts. They know the time to reach the station, to the minute & aim to get within the barrier in the nearest carriage. Any unable to find a seat, may walk through, as a train is moving. This cannot count in time comparisons. Some may go further along a platform to use waiting time. The few seen buying tickets in the peak, will allow extra time to be on the safe side. They are not representative. In contrast to walking to this nearest point, most bus passengers would walk further. As the first bus bay will be just inside existing ticket bar­riers, those joining buses at bays 2 through 30, will walk further. Given an equal distribution of departures over the 30 bays, that means 96% walk further. A 150m walk would take 1.75 minutes for an aver­age person if not impeded by others. Each bus lane crossed is likely to cause 10 seconds delay as a bus departs. Time to the last bay would be 7 minutes. Walking to buses will average 3½ minutes, plus 2 from the ticket office - worse than the 5 minutes claimed for 64 rail passengers. The total for 64 equates to 7 seconds for  28,000 passengers! Anyone missing a bus will wait up to 10 minutes

The scheme states that ‘passenger time will be saved on services that are not grant aided, (Those travelling to Ipswich, Yarmouth, Norwich, etc.). but this will be partly offset by time lost changing from bus to train at Manningtree’, (Page 119). It is completely impossible to make such a claim in the absence of a plan of the bus/rail station layout, the times of arrivals of buses and departure of trains - neither of which are specified. Arrivals at Manningtree of buses routed via the A12 (see diagram, page 149), will be unpredictable. It is certain that these journeys would be longer, and the authors would have gained credibility by admitting the inevitable.   

“26% of passengers (see Page 116), will travel over the A12 from Brentwood*. Four of the destinations reached by this road claim a peak time saving, none are longer”. It is inevita­ble that there will be traffic delays. In the off-peak, no time saving to any destination can be assessed from the period studied, as not enough passengers were observed to fill one bus. With no bus departure times, how can time savings be claimed? How will a driver know when to depart? Buses twice as often as trains means nothing to a driver. Even in the peak, 75 passengers may not board a particular bus within the allotted terminal time.    

*(This excludes passengers on the Yarmouth train - page 63 - & other expresses who would travel over the A12).

No mention is made of increased costs nor revenue loss to main-line passengers during changeover. There is no reference to a survey to ascertain if passengers were waiting for someone who finishes work at a different time, intended to buy a paper, magazine, take refreshment, join a train which a friend or partner will join en route, or needed to fit in with domestic plans to be met at destination by a partner whose own work dictates the time at which a lift home can be provided. No gains would arise for them. In the absence of such a survey, the £1.67m paper savings claimed therefrom, that would be severely cut (see above), and then further cut by an inevitable switch to car - cannot be counted as a benefit. The reality is that when lines have closed in the past, far more switched to car than bus, and in many cases, the bus service - despite being subsidised by BR - was eventually withdrawn.  If not all rail passengers transfer to bus - a scenario which is not considered, yet is the reality - there will be long gaps between buses, and hence longer waiting times. The massive sum attributed to the passenger time savings will evaporate.

‘To avoid great expense, cross platform interchange between LT & BR at Stratford will cease, but walking time will only be one minute’, (Page 82). This is not referred to in the time gains as the one minute loss for thousands of passengers daily that it would be.

‘A shorter subway will halve walking time from bus station to platform’, (Page 82). It will not benefit those who walk from home, nor those on buses unless bus times are altered.

Motorists and other private vehicles

There is no reference to a survey of journey details, to see if any would benefit from diversion to a new route, rather than assuming that they would, when it may extend their journey time.* Some drivers on an existing route may be stopping to pick someone up, or make a purchase before continuing. The mind boggling £19.25m value attributed to time saved by private vehicles, which is prayed in aid of conversion, is speculative, and cannot be accepted as justification for converting the route on a trial basis.

*(London Polytechnic’s study established an existing road route was shorter than the new converted road, see Chapter 10-III),

Gains for diversions of road traffic from existing roads, some of which it is claimed will be replaced by newly generated traffic  (see page 105), are converted into monetary value and claimed as a source of funding for the constructional costs of conversion, (see page 139). Newly generated traffic is a trip not hitherto thought worth making. (page 2). (The basis for assessing the volume & journey length is not explained. Journey purpose is unknown. If a fall in traffic cuts deaths, this must increase them). Noticeably, they are phrased in conditional terms:

Probably 6m of the 7m vehicles pa on the A112 and A1005 will divert to the new road between Stratford and Tottenham Hale, (Page 37).

The A124 & an unclassified road have 17.5m vehicles, not more than 6m vehicles pa can be allowed on this new Romford-Upminster road, (Pages 41,43). This assumes more wish to divert. It is not supported by surveys. How the rest would be blocked is not explained.

It is assumed that almost all 1.8m vehicles pa on B1018 will divert to the new Witham-Braintree road, (Page 48).

It can be expected, say 0.5m pa vehicles will divert to the new Marks Tey-Sudbury road and a similar volume newly generated, (Page 54).

1m vehicles pa will probably be diverted onto the new Crouch Valley road, ‘and if the newly generated traffic averages 0.5m vehicles pa ...’ (Page 60).   

On the new Shoreditch-Brentwood road, not more than 2400 private vehicles per hour will be permitted, restricted by tolls, (Pages 110-111); the probable two way flow [of private vehicles] will be 50,000 per day, (Page 111); these 50,000 vehicles will divert and be replaced by 50,000 newly generated vehicles per day, (Page 112). All are given a money value. Tolls will not restrict traffic to a pre-determined volume.

If 2m pa of the 2.5m vehicles on the A604 and B1352 divert to the new Colchester-Harwich road, the time saving is worth £0.2m, (Page 112).

If 4m of 5m vehicles on the A133 and B1027 divert to the new Colchester-Clacton/ Walton road, saving 8 minutes per vehicle, the saving will be £0.32m pa. (Page 113).

The new Brentwood-Southend road can be expected to take 3m vehicles pa from the A129 & A127. If the average saving is 10 minutes, it will be worth £0.3m pa, (Page 113).  

There is no traffic data to show what proportion may be to/from locations on existing roads or turning off at a junction on an existing road, and would not gain from diversion. These if, assumed, probably or expected diversions are converted to a firm time saved, then to money. Two routes in the study were examined by the Polytechnic of Central London (see page 123), who dispute the conclusions, particularly in respect of traffic diversion benefits. In one case, they state that the new route would be longer.



The Hall/Smith study claims £3.46m, will be saved by fewer accidents due to diversions from residential streets, including £3m from using the converted ‘main line’. Compari­sons between train and bus safety are related, in the study, to passenger data which, for buses, is unreliable, (see page 153). The number of non-passengers killed by a train or bus is not influenced by the number of passengers in either. The only accurate data supplied by the industry to the DfT relates to stage services [i.e. local services in towns and villages], and this traffic will have to continue operating in residential streets or else run empty. Passenger mileage on express, contract and excursion services are estimated. Local services accounted for 72% of vehicle mileage in 1973. For what it is worth, local passenger mileage in 1973 was 77.2% of total estimated passenger miles/km.

If traffic is diverted from 11,000 of the existing 220,000 miles of road to 11,000 miles converted system, the remainder will travel faster, and cause more deaths. Moreover, the newly generated traffic will fill up the roads. As pedestrians and cyclists will still share existing roads even, if with less traffic, it does not ensure even one fewer death. Well documented causes of accidents are traffic speed, tailgating, mechanical failure, tiredness and misjudgement - all of  which are equally likely on a converted system.

Flat junctions mean right turns across traffic, leading to collisions. The Study mentions 14 such places on the main line route, (Pages 75,86,87,99,100,101,102,104,105,106,108). It does not mention Ilford, where lorries and buses will be maintained, serviced and parked, and to which, other transport will arrive from unspecified directions with parts and fuel. Mile End depot will involve right hand turns. A similar problem will arise at ‘level crossings’, as buses would be more frequent than trains (longer delays to cross traffic, including farm traffic, would induce pedestrians and drivers to take risks). Men maintaining roads are more likely to be killed than on railways, given the greater number of road vehicles and their facility to swerve into workers, whereas trains cannot swerve. Liverpool St bus station with its dangerous conflicting interface of passengers and vehicles, is certain to lead to fatalities. Four new level crossings (Pages 54,103,108,110), will be hazards, but no allowance is made for more accidents, although the converse is expected to cut accidents. If central reservations on motorways cannot prevent head-on collisions, it is obvious that a lack of them, and narrower lanes on a converted system will cause more accidents.

Claims are made of the safety of the Heads of the Valleys road - of which 4 miles, in sections, was partly built on a closed 20-mile line. No before and after data was produced to sub­stan­tiate these claims. It has a bad record now, (see page 105).

The study makes comparisons with 1973 rail fatalities, which were higher than 1974 - whose figures were available before the study report was submitted.


Freight Traffic

No assessment is made of lorries to convey rail freight. (However, a figure of 350 suddenly appears on page 85). This is attributed to BR and NFC being unwilling to provide data - perhaps due to a belief that conversion was behind the request. Some data can be assembled from the Annual Reports of BR and NFC, DoT and Select Committees. BR produced three relevant Reports a decade earlier, which could have been adjusted for inflation, and other known changes. (The Reshaping Report, Trunk Route Development and Road & Rail Costs)...

It is stated that there is no rail freight on two routes: Romford-Upminster (Page 41), Marks Tey-Sudbury (Page 51). The rail freight traffic on the other four routes is listed as:

A daily 2-way flow at Manor Park of around 70 freight & parcels trains with around 800 freight wagons and 100 parcel vans daily. 18 trains take containers to/from Parkeston Quay. Others take farm produce to Harwich; sand from quarries at Marks Tey and Southminster; oil from Parkeston Quay to Bow, Claydach and Channelsea; cars from Halewood (Page 63). (The author recalls there was a daily flow of two trains of car parts from Dagenham to Halewood.).

Short goods trains are occasionally seen on Tottenham-North Woolwich  (Page 31),

Braintree has on Mondays, a train of fertiliser and a sporadic coal train (Page 46),

Two trains from Southminster carrying sand. Twice weekly, radio-active waste is brought by lorry from Bradwell to load on a wagon for dumping at sea, (Page 57).


From this vague data, rail & road costs are compared (Pages 25/26). This ‘assumed a type 4 diesel loco and 4 sets of 20 wagons, each con­taining £10,000 and a maximum payload of 40 Mg, with an average load of 60% - 50% for min­erals & 85% for containers1- and the loco running 60,000 km pa’.2 This assumption is compared to Commercial Motor Tables of Costs [1973], but with interest recalculated at 10%, licences excluded, fuel tax cut 50% to cover only road maintenance, 20% over­heads, but no profit,3 a maximum payload of 22.4 Mg and average load of 60%. ‘On the evidence available, it is concluded there is no significant difference between costs of freight trains and 32.5 Mg lorries. (A series of assumptions leads to a positive conclusion!). On a road with excellent alinement (sic) and lim­ited access, there is no reason to restrict weight to 32.5 Mg and length to 18m. In the USA, 33m long multiple bottom dump trucks of 57 Mg gross weight are used on nomi­nated roads. They are made up of semi-trailers joined by dollies. To leave nominated routes, each semi-trailer is taken away individually as a normal artic tractor/trailer unit.4 Ford UK said if double bottom lorries for two 9m containers were permitted, there would be a slight saving. SMMT and RHA have no knowledge of these ve­hi­cles, which, if suitable for converted railways, ought to be in use now on motorways. There is no reference to cus­tomers being asked if more frequent entry to premises was acceptable. Most coal merchants will not accept coal tipped to ground as it degrades the quality - they take it direct from wagon to sack. One cannot assume, because transfer to road seems academically better, it will be accepted in the commercial world.  

1. (The source of these figures is not disclosed. They are not included in BRB Annual Reports.)

2, No source is shown. BRB 1975 Report shows the loco fleet averaged 103,000 km pa, there is no split for freight.

3. No data quoted to prove how much road renewal & maintenance is caused by lorries. There is much evidence to prove that wear and tear they cause eclipses many times over, that of cars, which bear an unfair share of costs. Why licences, interest rates & other costs should be cut, is unclear. Lorries will travel beyond the new route

4. This means having parking, plus extra tractors and drivers at each access/exit! These are not costed.




Cash gains claimed

Property sales

One entry reads: ‘As there is shortage of jobs & and housing in this area it is assumed half of the land will be given planning permission for industrial development and half for residential use’ and claims £615,000, (Page 38). No assumption can be made. A job shortage does not equate with business buyers. Some 36 items on 27 pages claim to give sales of over £6m including one of £1.8m (Page 86)* for land for warehousing, factories, houses, etc., without proving there would be buyers. Thousands of acres of brownfield sites lie unsold. Former stations and houses have proved unsaleable. Claimed gains for selling land are scattered through the book among constructional or other proposals. They are mixed with claims for the value of land turned into roads, whilst financial benefit is also claimed for the value of time saved by diverted motorists. A claim for £17m (Page 113), appears to be related to using the land for transport purposes, with no proof cash will change hands. There is no proof of market interest in the land that may become available, and if there is, it would not be balanced by tenants leaving existing premises empty & derelict. Sites would be needed for rolling stock maintenance displaced from Ilford, (see page 138). * (Fyffes depot at Goodmayes (see reference in Chapter 10)).

Of 36 properties to be sold, 26 would retain a frontage on the new road. If that was denied, they may prove unsaleable, being condemned as fire hazards, and tantamount to slums. If they did retain front access, they will have a frontage onto the converted system, despite protestations that this will not apply, in order to claim fewer deaths.

‘Tenants will move to Mile End goods depot. Other tenants can be moved to the depot. Tenants under Malcolm Road bridge can be moved to Mile End depot’. (Page 75). ‘£20,000 opportunity cost is claimed for relocating tenants’. (Page 76). There is no depot plan to show there is space, nor prove it suitable, nor confirmation tenants have agreed to move.

There has been no deduction of Estate Agents’ and Solicitors’ fees for selling. Valuations by Estate Agents are gross before deducting their fees and those of solicitors.

If the grasping Treasury believed that the amounts stated could be gained, by replacing some or all rail by road transport, it would have left no stone unturned to cash in.   


Scrap sales

The scheme claims sales of rail assets to pay for conversion. BR may wish to re-deploy their own assets. The book claims profits from scrap steel and cast iron worth £17,000 (Page 36); and from dismantling OLE of £0.28m (Pages 73,90.94,96,104,107,110). Assumptions that contractors would be allowed to remove OLE, would not be fulfilled. There is a need when removing redundant OLE to re-plan the lengths and route of the remaining overhead wires - one does not simply chop a piece out. An electricity substation is to be demolished at Mile End, (Page 78). There is another at Chadwell Heath. Both are on the nearside from which the first two tracks are to be removed. If these were removed as part of the initial conversion, there would be no power to run trains during the week in which conversion of two tracks was proceeding. If they weren’t removed, given post-privatisation experience, it is likely that contractors would cut power cables in the process of ripping out tracks, taking down OLE, etc., and bring trains to a stand.


Cheap construction

It is claimed that the formation, compacted by trains over decades, needed only a tarmac layer to provide a perfect road, (Page 16).

Diagram 4



On four routes (Pages 43,48,53,59), the lines were single on a double or near-double formation. The unused excess would not be compacted, nor would the cess or verges on any line. All lines have a ‘cess’ each side: an uncom­pacted walkway about 1m wide, (see photograph). Heavy road vehicles would be on uncompacted land! A proposal that traffic can run on a bitumen bound base the day after it is laid, and a wear­ing surface added later (Page 16), is a recipe for chaos, and analo­gous to Lloyd’s plan to widen tunnels later if they were found to slow traffic down, (see page 23)

‘Mr. Lever believes Wimpey Asphalt would be able to follow this timetable,’ (page 91). There is no timetable to reveal the time allocated to asphalting or other tasks. The book is silent on whether they would do so within an [undisclosed] contract cost.

An advisory booklet issued by UKRAS, stated: ‘on clay or alluvial soils, deterio­ration will set in rapidly under heavy traffic, especially in cuttings. To check the sub formation, it will be necessary to undertake soil mechanics investigations. This geophysi­cal research is specialist work. Underline bridges should be subject to stress analysis by calcula­tion and strain gauge measurements. In cuttings, soils usually con­tain undrained water. There will be continuous upwards movement of clay or silt through the ballast. The exposed soil must be covered over to a depth of twelve inches or more with fine stone dust or graded sand well compacted. Fresh clean stone ballast can then be added. Under heavy traffic, soils of this character break down at the approximate rate of one inch pa’.

There is no specific reference to the cost of installing drains, which according to road engineers (see page 26), would be costly. ‘Trimming’ the formation to provide drainage (Page 16), is inadequate. Plans provided to the author by county highway departments, in response to queries regarding the extent of conversion (see chapter 13), include new drainage, and some bridges whose foundation or structure had to be rebuilt. 

The scheme plans a 6.6m road (see page 120) and 4 tracks in the 21.5m wide Liverpool St -Bethnal Green cutting (see photo). A 4 track line (see page 198) with space to re-locate the east side OLE masts (see photo), leaves only 5m for a road and a pavement for pas­sengers to unload in the event of fire, accident or breakdown, and a wall between rail and road.

The outbound LT line at Stratford is to move 3.3m (Page 82), from LT platform 6 to 5, now used by BR trains to give cross platform interchange to LT trains on platform 3. The six line para­graph is ambiguous without a present and proposed layout drawing, which would show that it was not simple. A diagram (Page 81) shows no platform numbers, nor that LT lines are in single bore tunnels at both ends. Ensu­ing track curvature would be tight. No space would be created for a road lane between the tunnels, due to the deep cuttings leading to the tunnels. Platforms to be demolished are on uncompacted ground.

  It is planned to abandon 20km of two-track line from Brentwood to Chelmsford (Page 94), and 22km Chelmsford to Colchester, (Page 97). Ex-rail - and other traffic - using the new road from London, would divert onto the A12, (see diagram, page 149). These sections include some 60 bridges and viaducts, about 21 miles of cuttings and embankments, plus walls and fences, which would require ongoing maintenance, for which no cash is allocated. These sections had five level crossings, which may, with the bridges, etc., have influenced its abandonment. The cost - along with three unwanted platforms at Liverpool Street - would fall on BR. Capacity for extra traffic on the A12 is disputed, (see page 121).

Construction costs, including slip roads, roundabouts1, flyover, demolition and relocation of occupied property, conversion of Liverpool Street to a bus station, conversion of Ilford depot, the purchase of 494 buses & 350 lorries would have to be incurred, before any income was earned. There is no reference to DCF or NPV - commonly used in such projects. A project of this size should also be subject to a Critical Path Analysis2, but there is no evidence of one. It would quickly expose the crucial problem areas in sequentially planning construction, demolition and materials delivery. 

1. Seven are mentioned, (pages 92,97,99,104,107,110). Traffic will be delayed during and after construction.

2. Aka Network Analysis. This vital project technique had been used on BR at least two decades before, for example, the shipbuilding industry debated it, (see Britains Railways - The Reality, Page 91).

Houses are to be demolished, parts of industrial premises compulsorily acquired, private and public carparks reduced in size, and businesses relocated. This, of course, contra­venes the concept of conversion: to use formations as they stand, without widening, which was proclaimed by the Conversion League, (see Chapter 8) Brentwood in nine days, (see page 108) - is impractical. An idea to double train length whilst two tracks are converted is doomed, (see page 147). The plan to lengthen 10 stations is not so simple, (see page 147). Neither is the plan for trains to share platforms 1-10, during the second weekend, whilst the east half of Liverpool Street is converted to a bus terminal and bus park. Alterations to bridges, Il­ford flyover, OLE and crossovers represent crucial and potentially insurmountable difficulties.

Lifting two tracks, will cut off Liverpool Street platforms 15-18, halving the commuter trains, as there is no link between them and the tracks to remain! Services would have to be reduced. Many commuters would be unable to board overcrowded trains, and would be delayed. No cost debit is provided for their delay.    

The belief that one can simply lengthen any platform is ill-founded. No drawing nor sentence, is included to prove that any location has the space in the right place for an extension, which may well necessitate alterations to signalling, crossovers and other infrastructure, and new earthworks. Coupling is completely impractical*. The moment one was drawn forward - over several crossovers and junctions - to back on another, other trains would be unable to leave or arrive. Safety procedures require a driver to change ends, so that in setting back, he was in what would then be the leading cab. This involves applying the brakes, shutting off power, climbing down from his cab, walking the length of the train, climbing into the rear cab, and starting up again. In doing this, he would walk along the ballast, which is not an ideal walking surface. Reversing towards a platform containing a train full of commuters carries risks and would, almost certainly be vetoed by HMRI, should BR managers and staff lose interest in safety. Only someone, without knowledge of safe railway working methods and train operations, could make such a suggestion. This would inevitably cause delay to other trains. Likewise, the arrival of an 18 car train, which needs to split, would stop most of the station. Due to the longer running times created by coupling and dividing at both ends of the route, additional rolling stock would almost certainly need to be acquired - from whence would be a problem for the dreamers. The service would have to be heavily cut during changeover.     

*There were three types of commuter trains, operating to Shenfield, Southend and Clacton respectively. They were incompatible for coupling together, having different motors, maximum train speeds, couplings and unit/train size. One type had controlled doors. Double length trains would be up to 24 cars in length. It would delay all other trains.

There is no prospect that trains usually using platforms 11-18 could be loaded in the west side commuter platforms, which are in constant use in the peak - in any case, four platforms have no access to the tracks that will remain in use for one week. Only one of the main line platforms could, at a pinch, accommodate one of the trains which would be usually in platforms 11-18. The operation of coupling up and dividing at both ends of the line, would require a review of track layout and signalling to see what costly changes were necessary. Additional staff would be required at both ends to perform coupling and uncoupling. If the task could be left to traincrew, the time taken by them to do so would be longer. No one would be allowed to couple or uncouple, without another person who could stand alongside the middle of the elongated train, within sight of the driver, and signal when it was safe to move. There is no reference to ensuing costs.


Temporary platform extensions would have to be inspected by HMRI before use. If half of each elongated train was restricted to passengers for particular destinations, trains will be have to overrun stations so that pas­sengers in the rear half can leave. Experience from earlier years, when trains had to ‘draw-forward’ was that it was a time consuming practice. Having part of a train off the platform was frowned on by HMRI. Extra trains would be needed from manufacturers, to meet peak needs, due to the longer terminal time at Liv­erpool Street and the other end. Running time would be longer. It is unlikely that 18 cars can be operated in multiple. As there would have been no expectation to have trains of such length, it would have been pointlessly costly to build in such a facility. 

The plan to lift two ‘nearside’ [east side] tracks (Page 91), using two for trains to Brent­wood, overlooks that a flyover to be demolished at Ilford, carries tracks from east to west side. A single line (see diagram), connects to west side tracks beyond the flyover, for which speed would be 20mph at both ends. It cannot be used in the oppo­site direction without new connections, signalling and OLE. A single line would not cope even with a re­duced peak service. Trains would terminate at Manor Park, 6 miles from Liverpool Street.

This problem apart, a full width road could not be laid on the lifted 2-track section as OLE masts supporting hundreds of 4-track gantries stand in the cess, (see photo), which, along with any verges, is an essential part of the width needed for a road. Their removal would be essen­tial before slip roads could be completed. Any 2-track gantries over tracks to re­main for a week, and located in the middle of the formation, would limit road width.


From Liverpool St. to Brentwood, 20 crossovers link east to west side tracks. Removal of their OLE would cause costly delays, and could not be done during the changeover week. It is not a matter of cutting wires, which would electrocute the cowboy who did it, and stop trains on west side tracks in a tangle of wire, due to cross runs of wire.

Four-track gantries (see photo), could not be removed while trains still used the two tracks to Brentwood. They would have to be replaced by new 2-track gantries, requiring changes to the con­trol systems of OLE and electricity distribution. The OLE would have to be re-designed involving preparation of drawings. Labour would be required to implement the changes. Speed restrictions would be imposed on all trains whilst alterations took place,  causing more delays and creating a passenger time debit. No allowance has been made for these potentially heavy costs.

A simplified diagram shows the flyover and tracks relevant to the removal plan. It does not show all 20 crossovers which will have an OLE changeover problem. Had the Study included all track diagrams and OLE structures, these crucial defects in the changeover plan would have been seen.

Diagram 4



The changeover plan does not mention that from Liverpool Street to Brentwood, 12 bridges are to be rebuilt or redecked, and formations excavated at 9 others. Before redecking, etc, OLE attached to bridges would have to be replaced by gantries for a week. Excavation under bridges - which really means excavation over a much longer length than the bridge itself - would destabilise ballast on the formation of the two tracks in use. This work cannot begin until trains cease, and must be completed during the second weekend. Nor does it mention major works on the rail formation at Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester, (Pages 90,95,97-98), which cannot begin until trains cease. 

‘During the second weekend, trains will use platforms 1-10, whilst the east half of Liverpool St. station is converted’ to a bus terminal and bus park. That involves excavat­ion to create headroom, and doing so between columns (see page 131). It may not be possible to limit trains to 10 platforms instead of 18. A timetable would have to be compiled to see what was feasible. Assumptions by non-railway operators should not be made.

If changeover was not demolished by problems itemised herein, and the ‘first car­riage­way opened’, it would have no west side exits, until all tracks are lifted. Until both carriageways opened two months later (Page 91), there would be no east side exits. Buses would unload in a construction site and turn at Brentwood. More buses would be needed.

Rail route is abandoned, (see diagram below). Traffic will leave the route at Brentwood & go on the A12 via a new link road*, (Pages 92-93), which will cause delay during con­struc­tion of a huge roundabout/underpass. No time loss is debited. It may take a year. Building it can be part done in advance, but a flyover at the railway end must be done in the second weekend. At Brentwood, the road to Shenfield/Southend will be slewed, (see dia­gram), onto new ‘uncompacted’ ground. At Chelmsford traffic will re-join the forma­tion for a short distance from existing roads, exit to exist­ing roads to go to Col­chester. At both, major construction is required to connect existing roads to the rail formation. Neither can be done until the sec­ond week­end, as trains will run until then. Between  Brentwood and Col­chester are Ingatestone, Hatfield Peverel, Witham, Kelvedon and Marks Tey, to be served off the A12, via local roads. Abandonment abolishes five level crossings which would be incon­venient flat junctions, and avoids other problems, (see page 146). These diversions onto existing roads must increase accidents and slow traffic, but no financial debit is admitted for either.

*The capacity for this traffic is disputed, (see Chapter 10-II). Up to 65% of the distance will be on existing roads!


Until the Brentwood-Southend line is converted, 137 buses, in each direction, will use existing roads in the peak, plus other off-peak. This task is to take two months, (Page 91).

Diagram 5


Previous conversionists avoided being specific on changeover. By wandering into this marsh, the impracticability of conversion of main lines - regardless of how much money is thrown at it - is exposed. Users of rail and road, who would be delayed by a changeover should be grateful that this attempt to spell out changeover has been fruitlessly made.



Doubtless, media comment on the highlights - fares down by 64% and still profitable, £billions of gain to the country - were made without realising that most was not in coin of the realm, nor that many crucial elements had been overlooked. It has been shown (see page 139), that with a 64% fall in fares, a bus company could not operate without a subsidy.

The outlay, before a penny is earned, would be £22.3m [construction £11.5m1 acquisi­tions £0.2m2, new buses & lorries £10m3, staff training £0.6m4]. To this is added wages for staff recruited in advance. Over an unknown period, an inflow of £6.1m cash [property sales £5.7m, scrap £0.4m] is claimed (See Chapter 10)... A £16m bank loan is needed. Interest of £2m pa, & a bus subsidy of £10m pa (see page 139), will leech £12m pa away - four times the BR subsidy. Paper gains from motorists will not fund investment or cover revenue losses.

 1. Better Use of Rail Ways, pages 36,43,48,54,60,94,96,104,106,110.

2. Plus six acquisitions which are not priced, (Better Use of Rail Ways, Pages 73,75,76,85,86). It cannot be assumed that acquisitions will be unopposed, with costly legal consequences and delays.

3. £5.8m for buses and £4.2m for lorries is shown Better Use of Rail Ways, page 121

4. Rejoinders page 16.


The practicality of handling traffic, fleets, manpower costs - including weekend services - should have been precisely determined by relevant experts. A detailed survey of existing road jour­neys should have been included to ascertain if there were any benefits from diversion. Data on formation widths relates to about 18% of the total length of route. Detailed drawings showing compacted and uncompacted formation widths throughout, and a table of before-and-after bridge heights and widths were essential.

This review and other comments (see Part II, page 199, chapter 15) shows that the proposal is wholly impractical, and the benefit claimed invalid. The Study postulates its worst scenario of costs and benefits, which this chapter shows is well short of the worst scenario. Attempts to validate claims by references to sensitivity tests of selected elements in the scheme, take little account of the most crucial issues. They assume:

that all passengers would transfer to bus, and none to car, despite past evidence,

that a bus service of such magnitude on a shared road could operate without a timetable,

a financial benefit for passenger time based on extrapolation of unrepresentative data,

that the fare box concept outlined would be practical and financially sound,

that retailers would sell tickets for a slight discount,

entrepreneurs, held back by lack of a site in East London - would spring up to buy land,

that staff would be available and would work for wages well below south-east levels,

no extra cost for strengthening uncompacted areas outside those occupied by tracks.

30m cars may transfer from existing roads to converted roads, and fund the conversion,

that all users of new roads will drive and maintain vehicles responsibly,

  that barriers will prevent cross carriageway accidents, when this has yet to be achieved - and that barriers will not cause vehicles to rebound back across their  own carriageway,     

there would be no - or significantly fewer - accidents on these converted roads, (This is unreal, when traffic diverted to higher standard motorways still experiences accidents and fatalities).

that delays will not be caused by breakdowns and collisions with bridges both above and below the converted system, contrary to current experience, (see Chapter 12 & photos).


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[1] See Britains Railways - The Reality, Appendix A