diamond geezer

 Saturday, May 03, 2014

This is Capital Towers, the twin highrise apartment opportunity beside the Bow Roundabout.

OK, so it's not Capital Towers yet, more a fenced-off demolition zone where once stood a carpet warehouse and a car wash. But come back in a couple of years and there should be two tall towers, one of them 34 storeys high, containing "a landmark collection of 191 private luxury residences". All were marketed first overseas, none will be affordable, and the cheapest two-bed still on the market is going for £409,000. There'll be great views over London from the penthouse, and all the glamour of the Bow Flyover from downstairs. And apparently CANARY WHARF AND THE CITY are 11 MINS away.

And I'm sorry, but I don't believe they are. Indeed a trip to the development's website, and a flick through the official brochure, reveals a list of even more ridiculous timings.
• 7 minutes to St Pancras International & Eurostar
• 10 minutes to the heart of Canary Wharf
• 11 minutes to Bank and Financial London
• 12 minutes to London City Airport
• 20 minutes to Oxford Street and West End Shopping
As a local resident, I spit upon these numbers. And a look at the smallprint reveals that I am right to do so. These aren't the journey times from Capital Towers, these are the "journey times from Stratford Regional/International", two stations which aren't exactly a stone's throw from the Bow Roundabout.

So I've been out travelling to find out how long it really takes to get from Capital Towers to Stratford, so that I can add on this time on to get a more realistic estimate.

You'd think the quickest way to Stratford would be via the new Pudding Mill Lane station, which is just around the corner. Unfortunately it's quite a big corner so it takes 6 minutes to walk there (which'll probably be more like 5 when the current walking detour via Marshgate Lane is ended). Throw in another minute to walk across the station and up the stairs, then another 2 to ride the DLR to Stratford, and I make that [→ Stratford by DLR, 8 minutes]

In fact the quickest way to Stratford is by bus. There's a bus stop 1½ minutes walk away from Capital Towers - the newly reopened bus stop at Marshgate Lane no less - and then an unobstructed run up Stratford High Street takes about five minutes. Throw in another half minute to walk from a terminating bus into the station proper, and I make that [→ Stratford by bus, 7 minutes]

Meanwhile the quickest way to Stratford International is also by bus, and not via two DLR trains. Route D8 takes about 6½ minutes from the Marshgate Lane stop, on a good day, hindered by the increasing number of treacle-timed traffic lights along the way. So I make that [→ Stratford International by bus, 8 minutes]

Let's see what that does to the total journey times from Capital Towers...
(adding in an extra minute or two for walking through Stratford/Stratford International station to the right platform, and assuming the next train departs immediately)
• 17 minutes to St Pancras International & Eurostar (via bus and HS1)
• 18 minutes to the heart of Canary Wharf (via bus and Jubilee)
• 19 minutes to Bank and Financial London (via bus and Central)
• 20 minutes to London City Airport (via bus, Jubilee and DLR)
• 27 minutes to Oxford Street and West End Shopping (via bus and Central)
Now those still aren't bad times, assuming everything runs smoothly. But they are 140%, 80%, 75%, 67% and 35% respectively longer than the times that Capital Towers is advertising, which I'd argue is wholly misleading.

But we can do better than that by not going anywhere near Stratford. Other nearby stations are available, these also recognised in the Capital Towers brochure but not factored into the timings to key locations. And if we walk out of Capital Towers, dice with death by crossing the Bow Roundabout slip roads and venture to the Bow Flyover bus stop opposite [+1 minute] we can get there quicker.

Bromley-by-Bow station is less than half a mile away, which is a 9 minute walk or a 5 minute bus ride. But actually forget that, because the District line isn't a useful conduit for getting to any of our key destinations.

Bow Church station is also less than half a mile away, this time a 7 minute walk or (if the queues at the roundabout aren't that severe) a 2 minute bus ride. So I make that [→ Bow Church by bus, 3 minutes]

Mile End station is about a mile away, so doesn't register on Capital Towers' transport radar. But whizz there by bus, which might be only 5 minutes in limited traffic, and you could be on the Central line really quickly. So I make that [→ Mile End by bus, 6 minutes]

So let's see what that does to the total journey times from Capital Towers...
(adding in an extra minute for walking down to the platform, and assuming the next train departs immediately)
• 17 minutes to St Pancras International & Eurostar (via bus to Stratford International, then HS1)
• 13 minutes to the heart of Canary Wharf (via bus to Bow Church, then DLR)
• 14 minutes to Bank and Financial London (via bus to Mile End, then Central)
• 20 minutes to London City Airport (via bus to Stratford, then Jubilee & DLR)
• 22 minutes to Oxford Street and West End Shopping (via bus to Mile End, then Central)
And those still aren't bad times, not bad at all. Indeed if the developers had plastered CANARY WHARF AND THE CITY 14 MINS on the hoardings around Capital Towers, that might even have been true.

a) Those timings aren't regularly achievable.
b) All these journeys involve buses, which often get held up by traffic.
c) I've assumed that trains turn up immediately, which in real life rarely happens.
d) You don't think the residents of Capital Towers are going to stoop to catching buses, do you? Trains maybe, or more likely a taxi, or they'll get the car out of the underground car park and drive into Central London because what's a Congestion Charge when you just forked out a million on a penthouse?

And yes, today's post has indeed been over-analysis of an unimportant issue. But seriously, surely property developers should be forced to give realistic travel times from their actual developments and not from a semi-nearby station. Instead they're simply conning rich folk who live halfway round the world into thinking a grim location by the Bow Roundabout is better than it is, because they'll never know any better until they get here, assuming they ever even come.

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