diamond geezer

 Friday, September 25, 2009

How difficult can it be to upgrade the Jubilee line? Very, as it turns out. Contractors Tube Lines had promised to upgrade all the signalling on the Jubilee by the end of the year, enabling all the trains to run quicker. But we now know that they won't hit this New Year target because the work's taken longer than they hoped, and (apparently) because they weren't allowed half as many weekend line closures as they'd have liked.

This will come as a kick in the teeth to those who travel on the the Jubilee and whose weekends have been completely buggered by a seemingly endless succession of line closures over the last umpteen months. Rail replacement buses are no fun at the best of times, but weekend after weekend after weekend after weekend they really begin to grind passengers down. Tube Lines have made some gobsmacking errors too, like having to replace several miles of mislaid cable, and have been rewarded with several additional line closures creeping into January. The good news is that, by missing their end-of-2009 target, Tube Lines will be financially punished. The bad news is that their fine won't be punishing enough (a mere £10m a month), and meanwhile the rail replacement misery goes on and on and on.

To help make sense what this means for customers, I've had a go at collating all the relevant information from TfL's latest list of future line closures. So here's a table showing all the weekend closures on the Jubilee line for the five months from September to January. Each pair of columns represents a weekend, and grey shading means the line's closed. Grim, innit?

 5 121926 3 10172431 7 142128 5 121926 2  9 162330
W Hampst'd
N Gr'nwich

For example, over the weekend October 3/4 the entire Jubilee line is closed, while over the weekend October 10/11 it's closed between Stanmore and West Hampstead. Saturday closures aren't always the same as Sunday. And there are two days when the closure isn't all day, so they're in slightly lighter grey.

If you live at the Docklands/Greenwich end of the line, then your weekends are about to get a heck of a lot better. After the first week of October the eastern end of the line clears, and then it's plain sailing round to Stratford all the way up to Christmas.

It's the northern end of the line where the relentless closures are hurting the most. In fact I find this list of closures absolutely unbelievable. The Jubilee line will be closed north of Waterloo almost every weekend until December, and closed north of West Hampstead EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND until mid-January. If you live in Stanmore you're going to be bloody sick of rail replacement buses by the time 2010 comes round.
If that's not bad enough, there are also 18 days when the parallel stretch of the Metropolitan line will be shut down (between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Aldgate). I've marked these dates in purple, if you squint carefully enough.

It will all be worth it in the end, obviously, except that the end now seems further away than ever. There's absolutely no guarantee that this list won't change, and extend, and that mid-January onwards will be just as hellish as all that's come before. Given how incompetent Tube Lines' delivery has been so far, I fear they'll be frittering away TfL's cash for some time to come. Lovely Jubbly?

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