diamond geezer

 Wednesday, November 27, 2019

What's new in the world of TfL FoI? How about a "file which provides the daily, monthly and yearly ridership (number of passenger journeys) broken down by London underground line." The data is for 2018. So that'll be interesting to have a look at. [FoI] [data]

n.b. Passengers travelling on more than one line count more than once.
n.b. The busiest line doesn't necessarily have the busiest trains.

To start with, I can confirm that this is indeed the correct order for the busiest tube lines, Northern first, Waterloo & City last.



The official data bundles the Circle line and Hammersmith & City line together, but it is an established fact that more use the former than the latter.

In numbers...

Annual ridership (2018)
Northern 363 million [17%]
Central 321 million [15%]
Jubilee 309 million [14%]
Victoria 300 million [14%]
District 267 million [12%]
Piccadilly 228 million [10%]
H&C and Circle 154 million [7%]
Bakerloo 126 million [6%]
Metropolitan 103 million [5%]
Waterloo & City 17 million [0.8%]

I've rounded off the figures, because 363,419,546 for the Northern line felt a tad too accurate. You can see where the crowds are. You can also see why it's thought the Bakerloo line has scope for an extension.

Percentagewise, 60% of tube journeys are on the Northern, Central, Jubilee or Victoria lines. Only a quarter of journeys are on the sub-surface railway.

Altogether that's 180 million journeys a month, or 2.2 billion a year.

The data also contains figures for other TfL modes.

Annual ridership (2018)
Overground 198 million
DLR 134 million
TfL Rail 56 million
Trams 29 million

The Overground is about as busy as the Piccadilly line. The DLR is about as busy as the Bakerloo. TfL Rail carries half as many passengers as the Metropolitan. Even the trams are busier than the Waterloo & City.

In order...


     OD    XT 

Better still, the Overground data is split into its six separate lines.

Annual ridership (2018)
East London 73 million [37%]
North London 69 million [35%]
West Anglia 36 million [18%]
Watford-Euston 11 million [6%]
Gospel Oak-Barking 7½ million [4%]
Romford–Upminster ½ million [0.3%]

n.b.Those are the line names in the spreadsheet, which I note are not the cumbersome titles foisted on the public.

The East London line is slightly busier than the North London line. Three quarters of Overground journeys are on one of these two lines. Each is about as busy as the Circle line. Meanwhile three of the six Overground lines are less busy than the Waterloo & City. The Romford-Upminster line attracts fewer than 2000 passengers a day.

The data also breaks down passenger numbers by day of the week. For example, these are the daily numbers of passengers on the District line.

On a weekday 830,000
On a Saturday 600,000
On a Sunday 420,000

The Waterloo & City lines is five times busier on a weekday than on a Saturday. Other tube lines show similar patterns to the District. This is why engineering works take place at the weekend.

The data also breaks down passenger numbers by time of day. For example, this is a typical Friday on the Central line.

'Early' 42,000 passengers [4%]
AM peak 221,000 passengers [21%]
'Midday' 281,000 passengers [27%]
PM peak 270,000 passengers [26%]
'Evening' 132,000 passengers [13%]
'Late' 86,000 passengers [8%]

Roughly half of all Central line journeys are made in the peaks, and about a quarter inbetween. This also holds for the other tube lines, all except the Waterloo & City where two-thirds of journeys are made in the peak.

But the FoI doesn't stop there, it also breaks down passengers numbers on into fifteen minutes slots. For example, 23000 passengers board the Jubilee line between 8.15am and 8.30am on a Friday morning, and 2300 passengers board the Central line between 11.15pm and 11.30pm on a Sunday evening.

These are the busiest fifteen minutes on each line (on a typical weekday).

0800-0815: Trams
0815-0830: Gospel Oak-Barking, Watford-Euston, TfL Rail
0830-0845: District, W&City, DLR, East London, North London, Romford-Upminster, West Anglia

1730-1745: Central, Circle, H&C, Metropolitan
1745-1800: Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria

DLR, trams and the Overground all peak in the morning. Most tube lines peak in the evening, except for the District and Waterloo & City (which nearly do). Sub-surface lines peak slightly earlier in the evening than deep tubes.

The busiest hour on the tube is 5-6pm, followed by 8-9am, then 6-7pm, then 4-5pm, then 7-8am.

On Saturdays and Sundays the busiest five hours are consecutive, from 1-6pm.

Finally, here are the busiest Night Tube lines.

Number of passengers between 1am and 5am on a Sunday morning
Northern 22000 [24%]
Central 19,000 [21%]
Jubilee 15,000 [17%]
Victoria 15,000 [17%]
Piccadilly 15,000 [17%]
East London 3,000 [4%]

The Northern line is the busiest overnight, and the Overground by far the least busy. Sunday mornings are generally 10% busier than Saturday mornings (except on the Northern line and Overground where they're 20% busier). Passengers numbers drop as the night progresses. By 2-3am they're only three-quarters of what they were at 1-2am, and by 4-5am only a third.

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