diamond geezer

 Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What is London's longest alphabetical train journey?

(this, of course, depends on what you mean by 'alphabetical journey')

Stations beginning A, B, C, D etc

Only nine tube stations start with the letter A.
Only one of these (Arnos Grove) is adjacent to a tube station starting with the letter B (Bounds Green).
But the next station (Wood Green) starts with a W, not a C, so that's the end of the chain.
The longest alphabetical journey on the tube is therefore Arnos GroveBounds Green.
So that's a disappointing start.

If you extend the search to the entire tube map, four more stations start with A.
But none of these are next to a station starting with B.
Purely in terms of probability, that's not really a surprise.

If you're happy to accept tram stops, there are three more A→B journeys.
AddiscombeBlackhorse Lane, Avenue RoadBirkbeck, Avenue RoadBeckenham Road
But there are still no adjacent Cs.

If you extend the search to all of London railways, hurrah, there's one better success.
Albany ParkBexleyCrayford

And if you allow any stations within the Oyster zone, hurrah, that chain gets even better.
Albany ParkBexleyCrayfordDartford

Across the whole of the rest of the UK rail network, only one other chain of stations matches that.
It's up in Scotland, on the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

But A-D is the very best we can do.

Stations beginning with consecutive letters

What if the first station can start with any letter, not just A?

I can find only one chain of three consecutive alphabetical tube stations.
Ravenscourt ParkStamford BrookTurnham Green
Even changing trains mid-journey doesn't add any more to the list.

The wider tube map, adding DLR, tram and Overground, offers nothing as good.

Throw in the whole of the London rail network and there are a couple more chains of three.
LeeMottinghamNew Eltham
RichmondSt MargaretsTwickenham

But three stations is London's maximum, which is somewhat disappointing (unless you know better).

Outside London, here's a four in South Wales (but I can't find a five).
Barry DocksCadoxtonDinas PowisEastbrook

Stations containing consecutive letters

Can we find consecutive tube stations containing A, then B, then C, then D, etc?

Yes we can. Here are some chains of five.
Fulham Broadway → West Brompton → Earl's Court → Gloucester Road → South Kensington
Edgware → Burnt Oak → Colindale → Hendon Central → Brent Cross
Hampstead → Belsize Park → Chalk Farm → Camden Town → Mornington Crescent

Those are all without changing trains.
Allow changing trains, and it's possible to get to nine.
Chancery Lane → Holborn → Tottenham Court Road → Goodge Street → Warren Street → Oxford Circus → Green Park Hyde Park Corner → Knightsbridge

Starting with K instead of A, here's a tube journey which hits the maximum of eleven.
BankLiverpool Street Moorgate → Barbican → Farringdon → King's Cross St Pancras → Euston Square → Great Portland Street → Baker StreetRegent's Park → Oxford Circus
...and here's another.
Southwark → Waterloo → WestminsterEmbankmentCharing Cross → Piccadilly Circus → Leicester Square → Tottenham Court Road → Goodge Street → Warren Street → Euston

Stations in alphabetical order

This should be easier.

In good news, two adjacent stations are always in alphabetical order, in one direction or the other.
In bad news, the next station only has a 50/50 chance of following on, and then again, and then again.
This is similar to flipping a coin until you get a different result, so a long chain isn't very likely.

Here are several examples of five consecutive tube stations in alphabetical order on the same line.
ArsenalFinsbury ParkManor HouseTurnpike LaneWood Green
Baker StreetEdgware RoadPaddingtonRoyal OakWestbourne Park
Barons CourtHammersmithRavenscourt ParkStamford BrookTurnham Green
BermondseyLondon BridgeSouthwarkWaterlooWestminster
BoroughElephant & CastleKenningtonOvalStockwell
CroxleyMoor ParkNorthwoodNorthwood HillsPinner
EastcoteRayners LaneSouth HarrowSudbury HillSudbury Town
LeytonLeytonstoneSnaresbrookSouth WoodfordWoodford

If TfL ever build the Metropolitan line extension there'll be a six.
Cassiobridge → Croxley → Moor Park → Northwood → Northwood Hills → Pinner
(but they won't, so there won't be)

If changing trains is allowed, I can get to six.
Baker StreetBond StreetGreen Park Hyde Park CornerKnightsbridgeSouth Kensington

There is a genuine consecutive six on the Overground.
CanonburyDalston JunctionHaggerstonHoxtonShoreditch High StreetWhitechapel

Here's a seven on the wider London rail map.
BarnesMortlakeNorth SheenRichmondSt MargaretsTwickenhamWhitton

And if you allow changing trains, this is a ten.
Beckenham HillBellinghamCatfordCatford BridgeLadywellLewisham NunheadPeckham Rye Queens Road PeckhamSurrey Quays
(this assumes it's OK to use the interchange at Catford/Catford Bridge)

Across the whole country, using National Rail, here are two sevens.
Cardiff CentralCardiff Queen StreetCathaysLlandafRadyrTaffs WellTrefforest Estate
BidstonBirkenhead NorthBirkenhead ParkConway ParkHamilton SquareJames StreetMoorfields
Change at Moorfields and you can travel one more station to Sandhills, scoring eight.

And if you focus instead on stations stopped at during a single train journey, this is ten.
BarryBarry DocksCadoxtonCardiff CentralCardiff Queen StreetCathaysLlandafRadyrTaffs WellTrefforest
That train journey is the 07:42 from Bridgend to Aberdare, and well done to Tom Forth for finding it.
He has a lot more of this kind of thing, computer-churned, over here.

(we'd best leave reverse alphabetical order for some other time)

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