diamond geezer

 Saturday, June 09, 2018

We're now precisely six months from the launch of Crossrail, the day that trains take passengers through the central section for the first time.

Crossrail will transform travel by adding capacity and fresh connections, as well as speeding up journeys across the capital. But how much will it speed things up? To help find out, I've been out on the existing network making journeys between consecutive Crossrail stations. For example, the next stop after Paddington will be Bond Street, so I've timed how long it takes to get from Paddington to Bond Street as things stand. Then I've compared that to the new journey time published on the Crossrail website. Just how many minutes might we save?

n.b. Hundreds of new direct journeys will become possible when Crossrail opens, but I've chosen to concentrate solely on consecutive stations to keep things manageable.
n.b. I timed my tube journeys from platform to platform, because that's how Crossrail have timed theirs. I have not factored in the time needed to enter the station at the start, or exit at the end.
n.b. I stood on escalators when changing trains, rather than walking. If you're willing to walk up or down, you could beat my times.
n.b. Crossrail's times are to the nearest minute. Mine are to the nearest half minute.
n.b. If my journey required more than one train, I've assumed a minimal wait for the next service.

PADDINGTONBOND STREET (by Crossrail: 3 minutes)
PaddingtonBaker Street Bond Street (today: 6½ minutes)
When the Underground works, which it did for me, Paddington into the West End is surprisingly fast. That's four minutes on the Bakerloo to start with, a brief dash through the connecting passageways at Baker Street, then two minutes on the Jubilee.

PaddingtonNotting Hill Gate Bond Street (today: 12 minutes)
Even though it looks the same distance as 'via Baker Street' on the tube map, going 'via Notting Hill Gate' takes roughly twice as long. Just the Central leg of the journey takes the same time as the whole of the aforementioned route. Also, you can expect a longer wait at Paddington, because Circle and District line trains aren't so frequent. Moral of the story, never go via Notting Hill Gate.

Paddington → (walk) Lancaster Gate Bond Street (today: 10½ minutes)
A well known shortcut to avoid Notting Hill Gate is to walk between Paddington and Lancaster Gate. The walk doesn't take long - it only took me 5½ minutes - but by the time I'd taken the lift down to the platform, it would already have been quicker to go via Baker Street.

Overall saving using Crossrail: 3½ minutes
Bond StreetTottenham Court Road (today: 2½ minutes)
There's already a direct connection between Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road, namely the Central line, so the time saving via Crossrail (which skips Oxford Circus) isn't enormous.

Overall saving using Crossrail: 1½ minutes
Here's where things get complicated. Tottenham Court Road to Farringdon is a genuinely fresh connection, indeed travelling by tube today requires at least two changes of train. So which route is currently best? I had multiple attempts...

Tottenham Court RoadWarren StreetKing's Cross St Pancras Farringdon (today: 13 minutes)
It looked promising on the tube map. Up the Northern line to switch to the Victoria at Warren Street (where the interchange proved slightly quicker than at Euston). Then a second train to King's Cross St Pancras, then back up the escalators for a sub-surface train to Farringdon. Each step of this journey took two and a bit minutes, as did each of the connections, making a grand total of 13 minutes.

Tottenham Court RoadHolborn King's Cross St Pancras Farringdon (today: 13 minutes)
It looked promising on the tube map. Along the Central line to switch to the Piccadilly at Holborn. Then a second train to King's Cross St Pancras, then back up the escalators for a sub-surface train to Farringdon. But this takes just as long to reach King's Cross as the previous route, again making a grand total of 13 minutes.

Tottenham Court RoadChancery Lane → (walk) Farringdon (today: 10½ minutes)
A much better route, it turns out, is to take the Central line to Chancery Lane and walk the last bit. The tube journey's quick, and exiting from the depths of the station takes a while, but the walk at the far end is only six minutes. You could do the last leg of the journey quicker by 17 or 45 bus, but not significantly quicker, because they don't quite go as far as Farringdon station.

Tottenham Court Road → (bus) Farringdon (today: 14 minutes)
Or you could take the bus the whole way. I took route 55 from the bus stop called Tottenham Court Road station to the bus stop called Hatton Garden (for Farringdon station). The bus journey took me just nine minutes, which could have been a winner. Alas this second bus stop is a five minute walk from the station entrance, which knocked the total time up to 14 minutes, making this the slowest option of all. Also I had good traffic, and the timetable suggests it's not usually this fast, so maybe don't take the bus.

Overall saving using Crossrail: 7½ minutes
FARRINGDONLIVERPOOL STREET (by Crossrail: 2 minutes)
BarbicanMoorgate (today: 1½ minutes)
Here's an oddity, a slower journey by Crossrail, thanks to the 'chaining' of Crossrail stations through the City. Farringdon's Crossrail station will also have an exit to Barbican, while Liverpool Street's Crossrail station will also have an exit at Moorgate. Hence it's currently quicker to take the Metropolitan line from Barbican to Moorgate than it will be to ride Crossrail, and that's without taking the long hike down into the depths and back up into account. For comparison, I can confirm that Farringdon to Liverpool Street via the Metropolitan line currently takes 5½ minutes, and Crossrail will be quicker.

Overall saving using Crossrail: potentially slower
Liverpool StreetWhitechapel (today: 4½ minutes)
This link already exists, via the Hammersmith & City line. I got lucky, and my train whizzed across the points at Aldgate East without one of those interminable waits passengers often suffer. Also I got on a train straight away, and the H&C generally only runs every ten minutes, so in reality the current journey usually takes a lot longer than 4½ minutes. Crossrail will be a genuine improvement here.

Overall saving using Crossrail: 2½ minutes
WHITECHAPELCANARY WHARF (by Crossrail: 3 minutes)
WhitechapelCanada Water Canary Wharf (today: 10 minutes)
First let's try the more obvious route. The first part of the journey (on the Overground) takes six and a half minutes, which isn't fast, but the connection at Canada Water is dead quick and the Jubilee line whisks you into Canary Wharf post haste.

WhitechapelShadwell Canary Wharf (today: 10½ minutes)
Now let's try the less obvious route. This time it's the DLR section which takes six and a half minutes, and the change at Shadwell is quite a schlep, but the total time taken is almost the same as via the Jubilee.

Overall saving using Crossrail: 7 minutes
CANARY WHARFCUSTOM HOUSE (by Crossrail: 3 minutes)
Canary WharfCanning Town Custom House (today: 8½ minutes)
This journey can be completed solely on the DLR, but it's much quicker to do the first leg via the Jubilee line, which takes four and a half minutes to Canning Town, and then another three and a half to Custom House.

Overall saving using Crossrail: 5½ minutes
CUSTOM HOUSEWOOLWICH (by Crossrail: 4 minutes)
Custom HouseCanning TownWoolwich Arsenal (today: 15½ minutes)
Because Custom House and Woolwich are on different outer arms of the DLR, and bus connections are currently poor, the quickest route is to head west to Canning Town, then head back east. It's still not especially quick, even with 'perfect' connections (which may not actually be timetabled in real life). Also, as Woolwich is the only Crossrail station being built entirely from scratch, I had to terminate my journey at Woolwich Arsenal instead. If you want to be purist and cross Plumstead Road to where Woolwich's Crossrail station is going to be, the total journey time would be nearer 20 minutes.

Overall saving using Crossrail: 11½ minutes
WOOLWICHABBEY WOOD (by Crossrail: 4 minutes)
Woolwich ArsenalAbbey Wood (today: 5 minutes)
This is one of the feebler time savings, as Southeastern already run trains between Woolwich and Abbey Wood, stopping at Plumstead. But then Crossrail isn't about short hops, it's about cross capital connections, including all the places that residents of Abbey Wood are suddenly going to be able to reach so much quicker.

Overall saving using Crossrail: 1 minute
Six months from today. Six months.

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