diamond geezer

 Saturday, April 28, 2018

This is the Next Train Indicator at Hackney Central station. Specifically it's the Next Train Indicator at the start of the connecting passageway to Hackney Downs, and shows the trains you might expect to catch when you've walked there. Except it's been programmed not to show all of them.

Trains at Hackney Downs disappear from the display when they're eight minutes fifty-nine seconds away. At nine minutes everything's fine, but one second later they blink off and are never shown again. This sometimes means that the next four trains are missing from the list. Just how long do TfL think this passageway is?

I walked the length of the passageway in two and a half minutes, but let's call it three. That's three minutes to complete the interchange on foot, whereas the next trains disappear after nine. During the 'invisible' period I could have walked all the way to Hackney Downs and back, then walked to Hackney Downs again. This, surely, is the most nanny-ish Next Train Indicator in London.

To be fair, the passageway emerges on platform 1 at Hackney Downs, so if the train you want to catch is arriving on another platform it takes longer to walk. It takes an extra two minutes to reach the farthest platform, because I timed it via the subway. But that's still only a total of five minutes walk from Hackney Central, and trains disappear after nine.

Meanwhile there's another Next Train Indicator at the other end of the connecting passageway, listing departures at Hackney Central, and trains disappear from this display when there are seven minutes to go. That's a nine minute cut-off towards Hackney Downs, and a seven minute cut-off towards Hackney Central. Perhaps someone at TfL thinks the passageway takes longer to walk in one direction than the other.

To be fair, the passageway emerges on platform 2 at Hackney Central, so if the train you want to catch is arriving on platform 1 it takes longer to walk. It takes an extra minute and a half to reach the westbound platform, because I timed it via the footbridge. But that's still only a total of four and a half minutes from Hackney Downs, and trains disappear after seven.

In TfL's defence, this isn't a passageway you'd want lots of passengers running down, and the respective subway and footbridge at either end could be hazardous too. But surely removing next train information nine minutes early, ahead of a three minute walk, is taking customer manipulation too far. Just how ill-informed do they want us to be?

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