diamond geezer

 Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Remember six months ago there was a lot of fuss about extending the Circle line to Hammersmith? How the Circle line was no longer a Circle, and how there'd be far more trains out beyond Paddington. Well I hope you weren't planning to take advantage next month and travel out towards Hammersmith. Because that might be difficult.

Remember how 18 months ago a brand new station opened at Wood Lane. How it served the fledgling Westfield development and brought shoppers from far and wide. Well you weren't thinking of travelling this way during the first half of the summer holidays, were you? Think again.

Because, if I read the signs right, there are plans to shut down the entire western end of the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines for three entire weeks (and four weekends). There'll be no trains at all between Hammersmith and Paddington for 23 days, starting on Saturday 24th July. It's for your own good.

Sometimes when engineering work needs to be done, a weekend shutdown isn't enough. By the time the contractors have moved in, and tidied up afterwards, there's not enough time left inbetween to get anything done. So on this occasion it's bad luck West London, but upgrading your railway comes first.

New longer trains are on their way to the H&C & C, so Hammersmith's platforms have to be extended to cope before they arrive. And Crossrail's budget hasn't been stopped yet, so tweaks need to be made around Paddington to allow it to emerge from underground. A three week suspension is for the common good, because it'll help the future to arrive on time.

Indeed it's not a good summer to be attempting to travel on the Circle or Hammersmith & City lines, especially at weekends. I've tried interpreting the latest (well-hidden) list of TfL track closures, and these two lines appear to be over-represented over the next four months. Here's my best-estimate summary of yellow and pink shutdowns...

Weekend closures on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines
 CircleHammersmith & City
Jun 12/13 closed  Hammersmith-King's Cross closed
Jun 19/20closed Hammersmith-King's Crossclosed
Jun 26/27open Hammersmith--Whitechapel closed
Jul 3/4closed Hammersmith -Edgware Roadclosed
Jul 10/11closed Hammersmith -Edgware Roadclosed
Jul 17/18closed Hammersmith -Edgware Road closed
Jul 24/25closedclosed
Mon Jul 26
Sun Aug 15
for 3
Edgware Road--Barking 
Aug 21/22closed Hammersmith---Barking 
Aug 28-30open Hammersmith-Moorgate closed
Sep 4open Hammersmith--Whitechapel closed
Sep 5closed Hammersmith -Edgware Roadclosed
Sep 11/12open Hammersmith--Aldgate Eastclosed
Sep 18/19closed Hammersmith-King's Crossclosed
Sep 25/26closedclosed

The Circle line is fully open for only 3½ out of the next 16 weekends. When there's engineering work to be done, the poor old Circle is first up against the wall. But look, there'll also be three full weeks when the Hammersmith branch is closed and the Circle line will revert to being a circle again! It'll be just like the old days - trains rumbling through Edgware Road, and fewer hassle-filled journeys as a result.

The poor old Hammersmith & City is getting stuffed too. It's only running end-to-end for one single weekend over the next sixteen - the weekend before the Notting Hill Carnival. Most of the time it's the City end that gets curtailed, with ten closures lopping off the link to East London. And then there are those three full weeks when the line abandons Hammersmith altogether. Because you didn't want to go that way next month, did you? Think again.

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