diamond geezer

 Monday, November 07, 2011

Tubewatch (36) Travel tools
It's not too many years ago that, if you wanted to catch the tube, you had to turn up at your local station and hope. And now there's no need to say "Oh it's not running, damn!" so long as you've checked the internet or your smartphone first. But I do wonder if you've noticed all the available travel tools at your disposal to keep an eye on how the trains are running. Here's my tube week compilation.

Live travel news
All the latest news is on the map on the TfL website, the one with the coloured delays and suspensions, and you already know about that. Then there are the rainbow boards at stations (which you can widgetise and add to a webpage of your own design, if you so choose). Me, I really like the live travel alert service, which sends me a text message every morning if there's disruption on my commute into work, and another on the way home, ditto. You can pick any route of your choice, and any time for the text messages to be sent, or maybe get the info by email instead. Dead clever. Also dead clever are the live departure boards which show the next trains due at almost any station on the network, even if you're sitting at home or in the office. Sometimes they're much better than the information you'd get from the next train indicator board if you were standing at the station.

Engineering work
Every weekend we expect engineering hell (unless it's December, that is, when you'll be glad to hear TfL have cleared the decks almost completely to enhance pre-Christmas shopping trips). Next weekend's engineering works are always visible diagrammatically here, or else you can sign up here to get the same information emailed to you weekly. Click the "future dates" option above the map to see disruption on any of the next 28 days - here's Saturday 3rd December, for example - almost clear! If you really need to know up to three months into the future, there's the planned works calendar - recently revamped into a tabular format which does seem strangely familiar. Or for six months advance warning, this regularly-updated pdf has everything you need.

Normal service
Being a "turn up and go" railway, the tube doesn't really do timetables. Except there are timetables, obviously, they're just not terribly widely circulated. Download the timetable for any tube line or any tube station from here (or from the interactive map here). Often they're a bit vague, but sometimes they're unexpectedly specific. You might even spot something perversely unusual, like the fact that Bow Road has two Circle(!) line trains each morning at 0524 and 0543. Who knew?

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