"Amongst my very earliest memories is myself sitting in my pushchair and watching “Edward” as mum used to call the 0-6-0 shunting the coal sidings at Bromley North. Our vantage point was the footbridge at the Grove Park end of the station and sidings. That must have been from very early in the 1950s. And I must have watched the same shunting operations later on as I walked down from home, over that footbridge on my way down to watching the trains at Bromley South. An altogether much more interesting place to me in the late 1950s!"
The above passage comes from Bryan Benn, whom I have been in contact with recently. Although the C Class was no longer there when he got his first camera, the memory serves well as a reminder of what used to be, at Bromley North and many other locations. Thanks go to him.
Amid English Controlled Assessment preparation and Lunch plus a walk in Eynsford I still managed to get out to the Bromley North branch to take photographs. I also got a video of the unit on the 8:25 from Bromley North speeding through Sundridge Park. Apparently I need to sign up to 'weebly pro' to use the video tool so I have instead decided to use the youtube tool, only problem is this mac doesn't let me sign in! Will find a way.
Have done! Here it is below, you can also see it in the gallery
Every half year or so, sunday sees the Bromley North branch line reopen and demonstrate it's potential with a 2tph direct service to London Victoria taking 33 minutes. This is of coarse due to engineering on the Bromley South line, meaning that Bromley citizens can get to London. The times are on display at Bromley North station but frustratingly not on the southeastern website, therefore I will reproduce them here.
The first northerly train is the 7:25, the last is the 23:55. The first southerly train is the 7:39, the last is the 23:39 dep.
I have included trains A & B but of coarse studying these I realize they are wrong so ignore them. I will hopefully take photographs on the day.
Engineering works are also happening on the 12th to 16th March, this time on the Bromley North branch. The days are Monday to Friday and whilst this is annoying (couldn't they just do it on sundays when the branch is closed?) I will be able to monitor what the engineers are doing. Replacement bus services will operate.
The recent snow and ice has prompted the deployment of 465 023 on the Saturday 'Popper' ('Popper' is the nickname of the Bromley North Branch Shuttle,) as followers will know the Saturday 'Popper' is now mostly 3tph after the December timetable change. Class 465s are twice the length as the usual 466, meaning that they have more pick-ups and therefore less chance of breaking down in the ice. A small photoshoot is viewable in the gallery.
After recently viewing the 2009/10 passenger user statistics I discovered that Grove Park had the 19th highest amount of Interchange numbers in Britain. The figure quoted is 1.1 million and the Bromley North branch (Bromley North + Sundridge Park) accounts for roughly 0.9 million of it. I'm sure this comes as no surprise to the crowds which climb the Grove Park footbridge in the peaks and on Saturdays (from memory).
I was walking through Bromley North station on this cold day returning from school when I noticed that something had changed in the concourse. I realized that a new toilet had been installed, the door was bright blue and informed me that it was for the use of all sexes, being a single room. Had I brought a camera to school this blog post would be headed with a photograph but I don't think anybody will be groaning when I tell them that they will be deprived a photograph of a blue door.
Apparently the key is in possession of the station staff and you need a valid rail ticket to use it.
I have just received a kind email from Ben Brooksbank informing me that I can use his 1961 photograph of Bromley North Station, which is of course displayed above. This will be the first entry into the 'historical gallery' (coming soon) and a hope it will be joined by more photos which will help us to understand the branch as it was.
A few notes on the photograph-
It was taken on the footbridge that spans the station throat, the same from which I took my photos many years later, the amount of tracks explains 'the mystery of the unnecessary extraordinary long footbridge' which I was confronted with when I first moved to the area. Of coarse I found out through facts first but the photograph displays the answer so much better than words can.
As you can see much has changed, the goods yard was lifted in 1968 and is now a car park and small bus stabling area, in the 2011 photograph it is hidden by the trees. The EMU stabling siding (between the track between the Platform with a train in it and another EMU) was retained until it too was lifted in 1975. There are wagons in a siding as well as 2 EMUs stabled. In the extensive goods yard a steam locomotive could often be seen shunting the wagons as the right three sidings were not electrified.
Also note the semaphore signals and the new signaless gantry, the signals would be installed for the 1976 london bridge resignalling scheme, which would render the semaphores redundant resulting in their removal.
I hope to be putting more images into the historical gallery in the future.
Looking Back on 2011
Today ends the year of 2011, which has been on the whole a year of progress. First we had the installation of Driver Only Operation which although sent the friendly assortment of guards packing did pretty much half the cost of running the 'Popper.' I don't know if the service does make a profit on the whole but I am sure it does in the peaks and this 'improvement' helps this. Congratulations go to Southeastern for allowing 4 Carriages to use the installment although this does mean that the 2 Car Stopboard is exactly 2 Carriages north of Bromley North station building!
Then came the Bromley North Station Improvements, in actual fact this had nothing to do with platform, tracks or even the Grade II listed station building but was instead focused on replacing the 'patio' in front of the latter. This began by removing the two or three trees which were ripping up the patio bricks, then a lengthy wait was followed by the removal of the ruined patio. In it's place a new redder brick patio was installed along with 20 odd bollards around the perimeter and two neatly contained trees (see photos in gallery). The end result allowed photographers and the general public to see and appreciate the grand building without having to peer through foliage and branches, I was very pleased.
The end of 2011 was marked by a service increase in the December timetable change, perhaps as a result of the cost cutting measures of the Driver Only Operation Facility installed earlier in the year. 'The Bromley North Branch line will be fully 3tph (trains per hour)', this website's news report proclaimed and indeed it is now, barring the 0thp statistic on Sundays and late night and early morning (6 O'clock) figures which remain 2 tph.
Looking Forward to 2012
Tomorrow we start the year of 2012 and there are wide amount of posts already planned for the ‘latest news’ section. Perhaps a more appropriate title for ‘latest news’ would be ‘blog’ as I will be examining options and potential throughout the year as well as faithfully reporting latest developments on the branch.
As in 2011 we saw three improvements which have been discussed earlier, perhaps and appropriate thing to do would be to list three ‘desired’ improvements for 2012.
Full restoration of the waiting room at Sundridge Park. (already underway)
And a more ambitious but achievable (it has good arguments)-
Reinstatement of the Sunday Service. (especially during the Olympics)
It seems this website has almost turned into a sort of Passenger Lobbying Group for the Branch and so I will be writing letters to various contacts
Much much more ambitious (and some times ridiculous) schemes will be brought forward in various ‘blog’ posts along the course of the year so watch this space!
In the meantime I wish you and your families a happy new year!
Today, as those of you following the latest news will know, is the last Saturday of the current timetable, of coarse it would not be so significant if it weren’t for the fact that the timetable to be introduced includes 3tph in most of the off-peak (and peak). An increase of 48 services in each direction per week boosts the current weekly total of 253 to 301. Saturdays has the biggest improvement, previously having 2 trains per hour (tph) in each direction as of next week Saturdays will be predominately 3tph. Weekdays also see a service increase but already being 3tph in the peak it is not such a big one. Anyway, to mark the occasion, today I decided to do a photoshoot.
To see the photos go Gallery
For an (epic) account of the day see The Last Saturday
Today, On my regular walk from the bus dropping off point to home, which involves a trip through Bromley North station itself I saw a class 465. The line is usually run by a class 466 EMU, which are a 2 carriage version of the class 465 (which has 4 carriages), Southeastern usually bring these out for no apparent reason or, in some cases to reduce the chances of the train breaking down in frost or snow (as there are more 'pick-ups' on a longer train)- but the first thing that stuck me was- 'bet those peak time passengers are pleased.'
And they would be, for when my Dad was living a street away he commuted from Bromley North and he told me that he regularly failed to get a seat. So, why don't they run 465s all the time?
The answer is, of course that the demand in the off-peak does not justify the use of the longer unit all day, indeed the off-peak could probably not fill a single carriage train.
There are a number of solutions that spring to mind-
1. Re-introduce the Bromley North- London direct service with a class 465, this would satisfy all overcrowding and would not be used in the off-peak.
2. Run the 465 on the shuttle in the peak and replace it with a 466 in the off peak. (seems rather obvious but I have a feeling it won't work, I'll look into it)
3. Run two 466s in a rapid service in the peak, ferrying passengers to Grove Park every 5 minutes or so as they come- they may have to wait at Grove Park but it would avoid overcrowding and the passengers would otherwise be waiting at Bromley North (or Sundridge Park) anyway (although Bromley North is much nicer to wait at in my opinion, Sundridge Park is even Nicer!) In the off peak one of the units would leave the branch and leave the other to continue the 3tph sequence. (alternitively the extra unit could wait in one of the two platforms at bromley north between the two peak times.
December seems an important month this year- on the 15th the government's decision on HS2 is announced (which may determine what job I end up doing), on the 25th we have Christmas and on 11th the december timetable change will boost services on the Bromley North line (although, the 11th being a sunday the first train will not run until the 12th). After recently re-examining the timetable to be introduced I discovered that although frequencies will be 3tph on Saturdays 07xx till 17xx, after that it will still be 2tph, and that following introduction of more services to supplement the existing peak time 3tph in the weekday 3tph runs only from 07xx till 19xx. In total, there are 7 extra trains in each direction to be introduced on the weekdays, there are 13 extra trains to be introduced on Saturday.
This means that the trains per direction in a week on the bromley north branch line increase from 253 to 301.
Weekday service per day in each direction will be increased from 43 to 50, Saturday services will increase from 38 to 51.
The first 'new' working will be on Monday 12th December the 9:06 departure from Grove Park.
The new timetable's connections will be assessed in a later post (including connections to Kent despite the fact anyone would go to bromley south to get there.)