I've been looking for a new idea for 2018, a fresh seam to blog, and I think I've got one. You suggested dozens of ideas back in December, some of which I've definitely lined up to maybe tackle one day sometime, not necessarily soon. But this project is more of a long term slow burn thing, nothing to dash through in one year flat, indeed I'll likely never get anywhere near the end at all. It's really simple. It's Random Station.
Specifically that's Random London Station, which avoids having to head to Hartlepool at a moment's notice. Basically it's every National Rail station plus everything that's on the tube map (excluding anything outside Greater London, and the two ends of the Dangleway). I'm also only including a station once, so for example West Hampstead is a single entry on my list, even though it's technically three separate sites. But throw in DLR and trams and Overground and all the minor runty lines out into the suburbs and that's well over 500 stations I could potentially visit.
Specifically my list starts with 252 tube stations, followed by 40 additional DLR stations, then 77 Overground stations not yet included, then 37 tram stops, then 185 other stations served only by National Rail services - a grand total of 591. So what I'll be doing every time I feel like a Random Station visit is using this website to pick a random number from 1 to 591, scanning down my list for the appropriate row, and going there. You don't need to see my spreadsheet, just rest assured that everywhere has an equal chance.
In bad news for Men Who Breathe Railways, the resulting post won't be about the station. Instead I'll be exploring the area roundabout the station and writing about some of the most interesting places there. Specifically, the area I'll be exploring will be anywhere that's nearer to my station than to any other station. This is the brilliant bit because it adds a quirky layer of map geekery, because the region so defined isn't immediately obvious.
For example, if my first station were Queensway then the area I'd be exploring would be the yellow polygon on this map. Anything to the west is nearer to Notting Hill Gate, anything to the north is near to Bayswater, anything to the east is nearer to Lancaster Gate, and then High Street Kensington slices off the southwestern corner. That would leave me a bit of the Bayswater Road to explore, and a lot of Kensington Gardens including the Palace and the Round Pond. Having to write a blogpost about these 140 acres would be a challenge, but that's random interspatial polygons for you.
I reckon it must be possible to create a map which shows, for every London station, the area closer to that station than to any other. All the boundary lines are simply perpendicular bisectors, which must be programmable, if digital mapping is your tour de force. It'd be fascinating to see which station has the smallest hinterland (I wonder if it's Leicester Square) and which outlying station's influence spreads the furthest (maybe Chelsfield?). If you've got any coordinate-crunching skills, please let me know. In the meantime I have already drawn my first random station, and that gave me over 1000 acres to explore, which I intend to tell you about tomorrow...