diamond geezer

 Friday, August 26, 2016

What time does the Night Tube start? I ask because somebody thinks this is important.

You might think midnight, but it's not as simple as that. The issue's not about time so much as trains, all the trains up to a certain point being 'normal' and all those after that being 'Night Tube'. Actually it's not as simple as that either.

This is a photo of the poster at Liverpool Street which purports to show the first and last eastbound trains on the Central line. It's been up for a week.

Let's zoom in and look at just one part of it. I'll give you a moment to try to fathom it out.

This says the 'last train' runs at 0040 six days a week, and at 2346 on Sunday. And then the first Night Tube service runs at 0040 on Fridays and Saturdays. This is a bit peculiar for two reasons. Firstly the 0040 is both the last train and the first Night Tube service, which doesn't seem right. And secondly, at weekends there isn't a last train, they run all through the night, so why say there is?

Here's another example from the westbound poster.

This time the last train on a Friday and Saturday night is at 0030, which is apparently also the time of the first Night Tube train. But again the peculiarity is that a last train is shown at all, because there isn't one, because that's the point of a 24 hour service.

This confusion also stretches to the first train of the day. This runs at 0546 on weekdays, and apparently at 0538 on Saturdays and 0630 on Sundays. Meanwhile 0538 is also the time of the last Night Tube service on Saturdays, and 0630 is the time of the last Night Tube train on Sundays, whereas in reality the service just keeps on running and at weekends there isn't a first train at all.

Last/first trains are also being doubled up in posters on the Victoria line, as here at Walthamstow Central.

This table is necessarily more complicated, because on weekdays some late services only go as far as Seven Sisters, not the end of the line. But at weekends there isn't really a last train, except apparently it's at 0010, which is also the time of the first Night Tube service.

I assume there must be a reason why TfL have insisted on splitting their first/last train tables into Night Tube and non-Night Tube sections. It might be for branding reasons, to make it really obvious to passengers that a Night Tube service runs. Or it might be because they deem it important to know precisely when the service switches from "every 2-5 minutes" to "every 10 minutes", and when it changes back. In this case, the 0010 train is indeed the the dividing line between a 5 minute evening service and the 10 minute Night Tube service. And yet all these posters have an asterisked note at the bottom which says "Early morning and late evening trains may run less frequently", which seems to have the whole thing covered.

To finally answer the question I posed at the start - when is the first Night Tube train? - I've been to the ends of the Central and Victoria lines to look at the posters, and I've read off the changeover times. In every case these are the times of the last normal train which was running before the Night Tube started, so the first Night Tube train must be the next service after that, and by checking TfL's most recent set of working timetables I can deduce all the specific times.

So the first
Night Tube
departs at
Walthamstow Central 00100020
Ealing Broadway23550015

Which is kind of interesting. But if you stop and think for a minute, who cares?

Your average tube punter doesn't care when the Night Tube starts, only that the tube runs through the night. Viewed objectively, trains start running early on a Friday morning and continue until Sunday evening, with no gaps inbetween. There are no last trains on a Friday or Saturday, and there are no first trains on a Saturday or Sunday. And yet TfL's posters insist there are. Indeed, they insist on making the whole palaver far more complicated than it really is.

The same information could surely be displayed more clearly. Maybe a bit more like this?

Or even cut down to this?

TfL decided several years ago that proper timetables were far too complicated for the average member of the public to understand, and now retain them only where services are particularly infrequent, for example on the Hainault Loop or on the outer reaches of the Metropolitan line. But what they serve up instead is deliberately more vague, and far less helpful, or indeed downright confusing. They'd prefer us to be looking at real time information, where this exists, which most of the time works fine. But for first and last trains the introduction of the Night Tube has made their presentation completely baffling, and all because somebody's decided on certain guidelines which must be followed.

Bad information management with strict rules, like this, can be unnecessarily impenetrable to the public.

And could, surely, be clearer.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream