n.b. This is not a genuine TfL press release.
But the underlying facts are true.
New Jubilee line timetable will mean fewer trains and longer gaps from Monday
On Monday 22nd May the introduction of a temporary Jubilee line timetable will see the withdrawal of five trains from weekday service. With fewer trains available, gaps between services will become longer at certain times of day and overall capacity will be reduced.
"We were hoping not to mention this," said Gavin Henderson, TfL's Head of Awkward News. "But hands up, yes it's true and we apologise to our customers."
The amended temporary timetable has been made necessary by long term train cancellations. The withdrawn assets comprise three trains which operate throughout the traffic day and two trains which operate in peak service only. With five sets of rolling stock sitting in the depot all day, general resilience of service will be improved.
"Normally we operate 57 Jubilee line trains during peak periods," said Marie Humboldt, TfL's Head of Jubilee Operations. "But from Monday the peak total will be just 52 trains, a 9% reduction, not quite enough for customers to realise something's up but just enough to provide a worse customer experience for thousands of passengers daily."
Between the peaks the reduction will be from 44 trains in service to 41, again a 9% reduction, so that's not good. But services on Saturdays and Sundays are not affected so at least that's something positive.
These temporary changes will apply until further notice, which could be weeks or months or even longer, nobody knows.
"Ideally we would have recast the entire timetable to optimise the service provided by a reduced number of trains," said Barry Nzuma, TfL's Head of Temporal Manipulation. "But recasting an entire timetable is a complex, lengthy and time-consuming process and quite frankly we didn't have the time. So instead what we've done is take the existing Working Timetable and crossed out five trains wherever they appear. We know this is not ideal."
For example 'Train 351' normally rumbles out of Stratford Market Depot at 0616 each weekday morning and rumbles back into the depot at 0001. Between these hours it runs from Stratford to Stanmore, back to Stratford, back to Wembley Park, back to North Greenwich, back to Willesden Green, back to Stratford, back to West Hampstead, back to Stratford, back to Willesden Green, back to Stratford, back to West Hampstead, back to Stratford, back to Stanmore, back to Stratford, back to West Hampstead, back to North Greenwich, back to Stanmore, back to Stratford, back to Stanmore and back to West Ham. None of these journeys will now run.
Passengers who would normally have caught Train 351 will now have to wait until the next timetabled service arrives. For example, at Stratford station between 1pm and 2pm a Jubilee line train currently departs at least every 2½ minutes. But from Monday when Train 351 disappears a five minute gap will open up around quarter past one, so bad luck if that's the time window you turn up during.
The full list of trains to be withdrawn is as follows.
• Train 140: operates 0626 to 1124
• Train 336: operates 0516 to 1920
• Train 350: operates 0611 to 2356
• Train 351: operates 0616 to 0001
• Train 362: operates 1611 to 0056
To get a feel for the new timetable you could simply download existing Working Timetable18 and cross these services out. But because that's a right faff, the main way you'll experience the change is by turning up at an inopportune time and waiting longer for your train.
The effects are all a bit random. For example, passengers departing Stanmore at the height of the morning peak will now see two trains withdrawn in close proximity. Currently they enjoy southbound departures at 0724, 0728, 0731, 0734 and 0737. From Monday the 0728 and 0734 will disappear, changing an 'every 3 or 4 minutes' service to an 'every 6 or 7'. But passengers turning up at any other time between 0645 and 0800 will experience no difference because none of the other trains during this period are being withdrawn.
A particularly bad time to catch a Jubilee line train from Stratford will be around half past three on a weekday afternoon. The 1529 and 1537 trains are both being withdrawn, creating a 6 minute gap and later a 7 minute gap where previously the gap was never worse than 4. Expect the rear carriage of the 1532 and 1541 trains to become packed with passengers who daren't walk up the platform, and consequent grumbles as the train keeps filling up rather than departing.
"We have the best interests of the customer at heart," said Rizwana Adelio, TfL's Head of Internal Mitigation. "Existing trains have been rescheduled to minimise the impact of wide intervals that have opened up from the cancelled train paths. However some wider than usual intervals will remain in certain parts of the timetable, due to pathing constraints. Intervals are to be regulated and services adjusted where necessary."
Only minor attempts at mitigation have taken place. For example there could have been a really bad spell at Stratford around twenty past four when two consecutive trains were being withdrawn. A trainless gap from 1615 to 1623 would have made for a disastrous start to the evening peak. Instead surviving Train 312 is being nudged back by a couple of minutes to create two consecutive 6 minute gaps - still damned poor but not as bad a full eight-minuter.
Ultimately either the issue with long term train cancellations will be solved or a brand new Jubilee line Working Timetable will be drawn up, whichever happens quicker. In the meantime the outright removal of five scheduled trains has been deemed the simplest solution to a pressing problem, because perfection can't be conjured up overnight.
"We don't normally go into this level of intricate detail in a press release," said Polly Hopkins, TfL's Head of Brand Froth. "We like to keep it positive, upbeat and mention nothing negative whatsoever 👀😍. But sometimes we do have bad news and perhaps it's better to admit it rather than pretending everything's sailing ahead as normal."
A worse weekday service with longer gaps starts on the Jubilee line on Monday and continues until further notice. You may never notice, but should you turn up at the wrong moment and find yourself waiting a few minutes longer for a busier train, this is likely why.