diamond geezer

 Friday, November 13, 2009

Tube geek (30) Interchange
TfL define a interchange as "a transport hub where two or more different modes of transport meet". Tube interchange stations, therefore ought to be easy to spot, particularly as they're labelled on the tube map with a black circle. But just how far apart are two stations, or bits of stations, allowed to be before we shouldn't call them an interchange any more?

Zone 1 - northwestCase in point. This is a section of the latest tube map showing four different central London interchange stations. Baker Street is a well-known five-line intersection, while Marylebone is an interchange to National Rail services. But the other two stations depicted here look rather different to their incarnation on the previous tube map. Paddington used to be shown as two distinct stations, with the Hammersmith & City out on a limb, but now it's only one. The H&C station remains a long (and awkward, and congested) walk from the rest, along the edge of mainline Platform 8 and up some not-really wide enough stairs. But now, to the uninitiated at least, it appears on the map like a simple and straight-forward interchange. You know, and I know, that only an idiot would change between the H&C and District lines here. But I bet that many tourists have acted like idiots at Paddington since this new map was released.

sign outside Edgware Road (Circle/District/H&C)More to the point, Edgware Road. On the last tube map two quite distinct stations were depicted, one for the Bakerloo and the other for the Circle/District/H&C. No indication was given that changing to or from the Bakerloo line was possible, let alone a good idea. And now the whole thing - two stations on either side of a busy flyover - is marked as a single point of interchange. Sure you could change here, if you like a trip in a lift and a long yomp across dual carriageway sliproads. But there's no logical reason why anybody should, not when swapping at Baker Street or even Paddington is so much easier.

Marylebone flyoverI had a go from Edgware Road (Circle/District/H&C) to Edgware Road (Bakerloo). There's a potentially helpful sign above the former station's exit, telling interchangers to start by finding a set of traffic lights. That's easier said than done. The aforementioned traffic lights are the wrong end of a one-way street, so not one single red amber or green light points back up the road towards the station. Only if you spot the illuminated pedestrian signals will you be certain which way to go. Turn right at M&S, past a not terribly beautiful Hilton, and thence to the Marylebone Flyover. There are pedestrian crossings now, but the only way to cross used to be via an other-worldly subway. It's very empty down here today - just a rather lonely-looking newsagents kiosk, a wholly unlikely art gallery and signs still pointing towards the "Metropolitan line". Negotiating all that lot, either above or below ground, takes at least two minutes from station to station. No fun with luggage, or a pushchair, or in pouring rain. The Bakerloo line station's gorgeous, especially the ticket hall with its green-glazed ticket windows. But with a judderingly slow lift journey still to go, this is a cross-London trek you're far better off not making.

So please beware of the new tube map. Although every interchange shown is possible, this certainly doesn't mean that every interchange is wise. The linked blobs at Edgware Road are a deceit, not an aid to travel, however tempting they may appear. Do try hard never to change trains here.

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