diamond geezer

 Monday, December 10, 2018

Crossrail may not be on the brand new tube map, but TfL have added something else to distract us from its absence - dotted lines. Finally, a hint that it might be better to walk.
"Interchanges between stations have traditionally appeared on the Tube map as two solid lines, irrespective of whether they are internal or external. This approach has now been updated and shows a clear distinction between the two types, with external interchanges now being depicted by a dashed line, linking the two stations or stops."
For interchanges within stations, still two solid lines. In the key they're labelled as Interchange stations. But for external interchanges that pass through gatelines and cross streets, now dotted lines. In the key they're labelled Under a 10 minute walk between stations.

It's a great idea, and also relatively unobtrusive, although as we'll see later there are parts of London where this added complexity has sadly made the map harder to use.

Altogether 23 interchanges have been depicted using dotted lines. I've classified them into three groups (and also timed how long they take to walk).
Please note: All times are from gateline to gateline, because that's easily defined, and are rounded to the nearest half minute. I tried walking these connections on a Sunday, so there wasn't much traffic around and crossing roads didn't hold me up. I walk fairly fast, so you might well take longer.
Group 1: Previously shown as an interchange
» White City ... Wood Lane (2½ min)
» Clapham High Street ... Clapham North (2½ min)
» Archway ... Upper Holloway (4½ min)
» Tower Hill ... Tower Gateway (2½ min)
» Bow Church ... Bow Road (3 min)
» Walthamstow Central ... Walthamstow Queen's Road (4 min)
» Wanstead Park ... Forest Gate (3 min)
» Dangleway ... Royal Victoria (2½ min)
» Dangleway ... North Greenwich (5 min)
These are the uncontroversial ones. Previously joined by two solid lines, they're now joined by dots. No further tweaking of the diagram has been required. All of these involve walking out of one station and walking to another, so it's a lot more honest too. None of the distances are excessive, so they shouldn't take too long to walk (but if you're mobility-challenged, or carrying heavy luggage, you might now choose a different route).
Group 2: Previously shown as one station
» Hammersmith ... Hammersmith (1½ min)
» Shepherd's Bush ... Shepherd's Bush (1 min)
» West Hampstead ... West Hampstead (1 min)
» West Croydon ... West Croydon (½ min)
» Shadwell ... Shadwell (½ min)
» Canary Wharf ... Canary Wharf (3½ min)
These are also fairly uncontroversial. Hammersmith has always been two stations with a shopping centre and a pedestrian crossing inbetween. Shepherd's Bush is really two stations on either side of a bus lane. West Hampstead is a Jubilee line station with a separate Overground station up the road. Canary Wharf's two stations are so far apart that the map once included a dagger to make the point. With dotted lines this is all a lot clearer, and again more honest than what was shown before.

But Shadwell's hardly any walk at all, even if there is a zebra crossing in the middle, and can be tackled in under a minute. Adding a dotted line where the map previously showed two adjacent blobs might even put some people off using the connection, because it looks less convenient than before. And West Croydon's a ridiculously short walk if you use the right exit... but to be accurate, yes, it does now need a dotted line.

So the only potentially contentious connections are the eight new additions...
Group 3: New to the map
» Northwick Park ... Kenton (5 min)
» Finchley Road ... Finchley Road and Frognal (5 min)
» Swiss Cottage ... South Hampstead (5 min)
» Euston ... Euston Square (5 min)
» Camden Town ... Camden Road (4 min)
» Seven Sisters ... South Tottenham (4½ min)
» New Cross ... New Cross Gate (7 min)
» South Wimbledon ... Morden Road (8 min)
Northwick Park to Kenton is a classic Out of Station Interchange, a five minute walk saving an enormously long detour, and well deserves its place. The Finchley Road and Frognal connection is more dubious, because you'd think the existing link at West Hampstead should be good enough. Swiss Cottage to South Hampstead makes sense, and is signed clearly at street level. Euston to Euston Square is a proper timesaver, and the sole Zone 1 shortcut to make the list. Camden Town to Camden Road is an extremely useful link for anyone unfamiliar with the Overground. And Seven Sisters to South Tottenham is the connection the Goblin has been screaming out for (although previously there wasn't space for it on the map, so Tottenham Hale has had to be moved clear to make way).

I worry about the inclusion of New Cross to New Cross Gate. The only people the dotted line might assist are unfamiliar souls trying to get to New Cross from the south, who won't now waste time travelling via Surrey Quays. But to support this tiny group of people the spur has been shortened and the two stations shifted out of horizontal alignment, resulting in a squidge that's less decipherable than before. And although South Wimbledon to Morden Road looks like a damned useful tram connection, it's also further than all the other links on the map and exceeds TfL's notional 700m maximum. I walked it in under ten minutes only by ignoring traffic lights and walking fast.

But Finchley Road and Frognal and South Hampstead are the real wrecking balls. London Travelwatch are particularly pleased with the former, quoting it in their press release announcing the new map feature.
"For example, passengers may not currently be aware that a 5 minute walk between Finchley Road and Frognal & Finchley Road stations enables them to change between the North London and the Metropolitan lines, saving time and money at the same time by avoiding the need to go into central London."
I don't believe passengers were that stupid, but the dotted lines went in anyway. Finchley Road & Frognal had to be shifted closer to Finchley Road to make this work, which also necessitated shifting Hampstead Heath to the 'wrong' side of the Northern line. Meanwhile South Hampstead was nowhere near Swiss Cottage so had to be moved to the other side of the Jubilee line, an action which required moving Swiss Cottage and St John's Wood a lot further down. The name 'Finchley Road' then had to be swapped to the other side of the Metropolitan line to make way for the necessary dots to Finchley Road & Frognal, and the whole thing became a domino effect of increasingly bad design decisions.

On the paper map (left) this has also necessitated pushing the Metropolitan and Jubilee line stupidly far apart, and crashing St John's Wood into the Metropolitan line. And on the poster map, which you'll eventually be able to see on the TfL website, the designers have actually kinked the Metropolitan and Jubilee lines as if Finchley Road & Frognal were a giant magnet. It's such a mess, unnecessarily complicating the journeys of the many for the perceived needs of the few.

Someone should have said "you know what, that's one connection too far", like they did at Paddington. Paddington is famously two stations in one, with the Hammersmith platforms a long way from the rest. This new tube map ought to have been the golden opportunity to make the disconnect clear with a dotted line, but the interchange is so complex that the designers ducked the bullet and gave up. Yanking the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines away from the melee would have had so many knock-on effects that they didn't risk doing it... which perhaps they should have thought with Finchley Road & Frognal as well.

I'm not going to discuss Group 4 - all the walking connections they could have put on the map but didn't - because that's pointlessly subjective. If you feel the need to query a dotted line that isn't there, here's a separate comments box. comments

What I will say is thank goodness the designers didn't overdo things, adding a spider's web of dotted lines in Central London simply for the sake of it, because clarity is always better than confusion. As it is I'd say the balance is almost right, and you might even save several minutes on a future tube journey as a result. I wonder where Crossrail's dotted lines will go, and when?

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