diamond geezer

 Friday, October 10, 2003

Tube geek (5) Speed
It can take forever to drive across London. The streets are crowded, there are traffic lights every 200 yards and half the roads are in fact only bus lanes. The Underground is therefore a quicker way to get around, as you can always tell when your train hurtles round a sharp curve throwing you into the lap of an unsuspecting fellow-traveller. However, your tube train probably isn't going as fast as you might think. Even if the driver does manage to get the speed up to 40mph, it's never long before he has to slam the brakes on again to stop at the next station. And then another station, and another, stop, go, stop, go, getting nowhere fast.

I've had a go at finding London's fastest, and slowest, tube lines. I've measured the longest possible journey on each tube line (for example, on the Northern line that's High Barnet to Morden, via Bank). Then I've used London Underground's route finder to find out how many minutes that journey takes, and used that to calculate an average speed. Two of the longest lines come out on top, maybe because the distances between the stations are greater, although the equally long Piccadilly and District lines come a lot further down the list. The poor old Circle line is the slowest, its infrequent trains held up by services on other lines in endless queues round a never-ending loop, but it's still faster than your average car (just about).

Speed limit on roads in central London: 30mph
Central: 34 miles in 81 minutes (25 mph)
Metropolitan: 28 miles in 70 minutes (24 mph)
Jubilee: 24 miles in 62 minutes (23 mph)
Waterloo & City: 1½ miles in 4 minutes (22½ mph)
Victoria: 13 miles in 36 minutes (22 mph)
Northern: 23 miles in 69 minutes (20 mph)
Bakerloo: 14 miles in 43 minutes (19½ mph)
Piccadilly: 32 miles in 100 minutes (19 mph)
District: 27 miles in 88 minutes (18½ mph)
Hammersmith & City: 17 miles in 58 minutes (17½ mph)
East London: 4 miles in 15 minutes (16 mph)
Circle: 13 miles in 56 minutes (14 mph)
Average speed on roads in central London: 11mph

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