diamond geezer

 Friday, June 17, 2022

TfL are famously skint so the day may come when they need to start shutting bits of the network down. One way to do this would be to stop running trains on certain branches of certain lines because they're less well used than trains going the other way.

For example the Kensington Olympia branch of the District line has far fewer passengers than any other branch of any other line. According to latest figures, updated yesterday, just 28,000 passengers used Kensington Olympia last year, so TfL could save on staff and running costs while inconveniencing almost nobody if they shut the whole branch down. Unfortunately they have already pretty much done this, at least on weekdays, so there's no low-hanging fruit for major savings here.

I have therefore undertaken a considerable amount of research on behalf of the Transport Secretary, should he be reading, so that he can present TfL with a comprehensive portfolio of savage financial cuts that will inconvenience as few passengers as possible.

I've totalled the entry and exit figures for all the stations on certain branches and compared them so that it becomes patently obvious which branch has to go. Figures are for late 2021 so still somewhat pandemic-affected, but atypical data should not stop us from making vicious irreversible cuts.

Let's start at the far end of the Metropolitan line where there are several branches, and thus several potential cuts.

The simplest choice is between Amersham and Chesham. Amersham had 557,000 passengers last year whereas Chesham only had 297,000 - roughly half as many - so we should close the Chesham branch to save money.
n.b. I'm ignoring the basic practical fact that Amersham also has a Chiltern railway service so it would make more sense to send all the tube trains to Chesham instead, because all my proposals are blinkered choices based solely on numbers.

If a greater financial sacrifice is needed we should nudge back to Moor Park. From here the Watford branch saw only 800,000 passengers whereas all the stations via Rickmansworth totalled 2,400,000. With only a third of the passenger numbers, the Watford branch absolutely has to go.

For maximum savings consider the situation at Harrow-on-the-Hill. If one entire branch has to be withdrawn, which should it be? It looks like a dead heat, with 5.9 million passengers at all the stations on the Uxbridge branch and 5.9 million passengers up the Amersham/Chesham/Watford branch as well. But by applying a spurious level of accuracy I can confirm that the Uxbridge total is really 5,905,986 and thus marginally outgunned by the 5,926,507 on the other branch, therefore it's the Uxbridge branch that needs to be scrapped.

at Chalfont & Latimer: Amersham (0.6m) is busier than Chesham (0.3m)
at Moor Park: Amersham/Chesham (2.4m) is busier than Watford (0.8m)
at Harrow-on-the-Hill: Amersham/Chesham/Watford (5.93m) is busier than Uxbridge (5.91m)

I haven't drawn pictures for the rest, I've assumed the Transport Secretary just wants a simple list which makes it clear where the axe has to fall.

at Acton Town: Heathrow (9.64m) is busier than Uxbridge (9.56m)

The data for the western end of the Piccadilly line suggests a really tight choice. Both branches have 9.6m passengers, or at least they do according to my way of calculation which conveniently ignores the fact that several stations on the Uxbridge branch are shared with the Metropolitan line. I'm also using data from a time when Heathrow Airport was massively underused so my conclusions are fundamentally flawed, but that's fine because Grant Shapps won't be interested in facts, only how far TfL can be squeezed.

at Turnham Green: Ealing Broadway (7.4m) is busier than Richmond (3.9m)
at Earl's Court: Ealing Broadway/Richmond (24m) is busier than Wimbledon (16m)
also at Earl's Court: scrap Kensington Olympia (0.03m), obviously

Stop looking at the impracticality of these cuts, just think of the savings to be made by pandering to the majority.

at North Acton: Ealing Broadway (4.6m) is busier than West Ruislip (4.2m)
at Woodford: Epping (3.6m) is much busier than Hainault (0.3m)
at Leytonstone: Epping (7.3m) is busier than Hainault (6.8m)

Common sense says the Ealing Broadway branch of the Central line could be scrapped with only minor impact but the figures say otherwise. At the other end of the line trains to Epping should (just) get the nod over trains to Hainault. The Woodford-Hainault shuttle is already scantily served and could be withdrawn altogether.

at Kennington: Morden (27m) is hugely busier than Battersea Power Station (2m)
at Finchley Central: High Barnet (3.3m) is much busier than Mill Hill East (0.4m)
at Camden Town: High Barnet (14.6m) is busier than Edgware (13.1m)

The Battersea extension is plainly a total waste of money and should never have been built. Closing the Mill Hill East extension would be one of the least savage ways to save a lot of money. The two main northern branches of the Northern line see roughly the same number of passengers, but Edgware should be the loser here.

Other underground lines don't have branches so aren't susceptible to this kind of blunt analysis. However we can continue elsewhere...

at Hayes and Harlington: Reading (6m) is much busier than Heathrow (0.7m)

at Shadwell: Bank (7.4m) is busier than Tower Gateway (1.5m)
at Canning Town: Woolwich (8.8m) is busier than Beckton (6.2m)
at Westferry: Beckton/Woolwich (26m) is busier than Lewisham (20m)
at West India Quay: Bank (14.9m) is busier than Stratford (11.3m)

at Willesden Junction: Clapham Junction (12.7m) is busier than Richmond (3.9m)
at Surrey Quays: Clapham Junction (12.3m) is busier than West Croydon/Crystal Palace (9.8m) is busier than New Cross (0.9m)
at Sydenham: West Croydon (2.8m) is busier than Crystal Palace (1.0m)
at Hackney Downs: Enfield/Cheshunt (11.3m) is busier than Chingford (6.0m)
at Edmonton Green: Enfield Town (1.31m) is fractionally busier than Cheshunt (1.30m)

at Sandilands: Beckenham/Elmers End (3.0m) is busier than New Addington (1.9m)
at Arena: Beckenham Junction (1.0m) is busier than Elmers End (0.3m)

I know my data is flawed and that all sorts of additional factors should be taken into account before closing a line, but all I'm doing here is presenting numbers that could be used to make oversimplified top level decisions. In these brutal times let's not cut the services of the majority, let's just make the minority suffer.

And if you are the Transport Secretary and your eyes simply sped to the bottom of the post for a definitive conclusion, here's the list you need to really screw over Sadiq in your next meeting.

The tube's least used branches
1) Kensington Olympia (28000)
2) Chesham (297000)
3) Mill Hill East (445000)
4) Amersham (557000)
5) Watford (833000)
6) Battersea Power Station (2046000)

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