diamond geezer

 Thursday, December 28, 2017

At the end of last year I asked whether you had a ticked-off tube map.

That's a tube map on which you tick off every tube station you visit. A tube map which shows all the stations you've either entered or exited. A tube map which shows the extent of your travels on the tube network.

I have an annual ticked-off tube map, a new one every 1st January, which shows every tube station I've been to that year. Here's 2017's. [click to enlarge]

I start with a clean map on New Year's Day and update it daily. At the beginning of the year, if I've been out and about, there are often two, three, four or more stations to tick off. Later in the year the ticking off gets less frequent, but over the course of three hundred and sixty-something days it all adds up.

By my calculations there are 293 red ticks on my 2017 map, each of which marks a station I've walked into or walked out of over the last year. Interchanging doesn't count, and nor does simply travelling through, otherwise in my case they'd almost all be crossed. As it is, I've swiped my Oyster at approximately two-thirds of the stations on the tube map this year, which is an impressively high percentage.

My life as a serial London nomad helps to keep the map full. I've been to Heathrow, Stanmore, Chingford and New Addington for the blog, and all sorts of stations inbetween. I believe in blogging the whole of London, not just the well-known bits in the middle, which means this map looks a heck of a lot busier than it would otherwise be.

But this year I've gone one step further than normal. At the start of December I noticed that I'd been to almost of the stations in zones 1, and most of the stations in zones 2 and 3. Hmm, I thought, maybe I can tick off all of them by the end of the year. I had to discount zone 3, because the Goblin is closed until 2018, and I hadn't been to five of the stations along its length. But zones 1 and 2 I could complete, I thought, and so I did.

Zone 1 was easy, I only had 10 stations to left to visit, and they were relatively close together. But I hadn't counted on how tediously time-consuming zone 2 would be. There are approximately 140 zone 2 stations on the tube map, and I still had 50 to visit, and they're somewhat more spread out. For example I still had to go to Hampstead, Stamford Hill, East Putney and Deptford Bridge, each of which I'd passed during the course of the year by train and by bus, but never got out or switched between the two.

The requirement to either enter or exit each station is the pain. Normally you'd take the train between adjacent stations, but having just alighted at one I needed to find some other way of getting the other... or else spend all my time double-backing through ticket gates, which I wasn't prepared to do. So I spent a lot of my time walking between stations, or taking the bus, which seriously increased the time this took.

Thankfully these random journeys proved somewhat interesting, as I got to see bits of inner London I don't normally see. Enforced spells above ground introduced me to Lewisham backstreets I was unfamiliar with, opened my eyes to Frognal Lane and confirmed that all of Earl's Court has now been demolished. But all this meant mopping up my 50 missing Zone 2 stations took the best part of four days, which is perhaps not the best use of anyone's time.

One thing that's helped to me tick off so many stations is my annual Travelcard. I've paid up front to travel anywhere in zones 1-3, so hopping onto a train anywhere across central London is essentially free. Pay As You Go customers ticking off Inner London stations would soon hit the £6.60 daily cap, after which subsequent z1-2 journeys would be free, but venture out to zones 5 or 6 and the cap rises to over £11, so that could be an expensive way to spend a day.

As well as ticking off stations, I also keep track of all the lengths of track I've ridden on. This is an additional stage, not always easily accommodated, and only for the serial ticker-offer. But it does allow me to tot up how much of the TfL network I've ridden this year, and to compile the following list as a convenient track-bashing summary.
Bakerloo: all
Central: all, except beyond South Ruislip and north of Buckhurst Hill
Circle: all
District: all, except Richmond
Hammersmith & City: all
Jubilee: all
Metropolitan: all, except Amersham
Northern: all, except Finchley Central to High Barnet
Piccadilly: all
Victoria: all
Waterloo & City: all
DLR: all, except City Airport to Woolwich
Overground: all, except the Enfield branch, and Cheshunt, and Richmond
Tramlink: all, except the last stop to New Addington
TfL Rail: all, except Harold Wood to Shenfield
Dangleway: all
It's not a competition. But if you got yourself a tube map and a biro this time last year, like I suggested, presumably you can now tell us how many stations you've been to. Go on then.

If not, we're due a new tube map at the end of next week, so grab one, hang onto it, and mark off all the stations that you visit throughout 2018. You may need to adjust it next December when Crossrail arrives, but there won't be that many new stations to add, so I'm sure you'll cope. If you're up for a bit of a challenge, visiting every Zone 1 station over the course of next year ought to be relatively manageable. Or really, just forget I ever mentioned this and use the transport network like a normal person, because often that's challenge enough.

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