diamond geezer

 Saturday, September 16, 2023

25% of the 13 minute journey from Whitechapel to Paddington is spent not moving.

I tweeted this on Thursday, and it currently has 616 likes.

It also has a lot of comments, a dozen of which are reproduced below.

» Glad it’s not just me that’s noticed abnormally long dwell times. Very annoying!
» The padding is incredible
» God forbid a public transport system lets people on and off at its stations
» It's amazing how much quicker it feels when the driver cuts dwell times to try to get a train back on schedule
» Elizabeth line trains spend way too long just hanging around in stations
» Is it noteworthy? Is it materially different to other lines? Folks do have to get on and off...
» I understand the long waits during rush hour but not so much at other times
» I've never felt like the time spent waiting at the station was notably long so I'm just taking this as evidence that it's very fast between stations
» Honestly it feels like an AGE is spent waiting at Whitechapel and Liverpool Street sometimes. They need to cut that down to 30 seconds or something.
» Probably wiser to start cautiously, and reduce the dwell times a bit at a time as experience/confidence grows; than start out all gung-ho, fast scheduled journey times, then find it's inoperable and have to do an immediate timetable recast. But yes, maybe a bit too cautious.
» If you were mobility impaired in some way, you’d be well pleased with those down times. One day, you might be old enough to not be able to walk as fast as now and be grateful for the doors waiting for you.
» I think the Elizabeth line is so excited about itself it just has to keep stopping to get its breath back before it can set off again.

What I didn't tweet was any context or any actual data, so let's put that right.

My journey from Whitechapel to Paddington actually took 13 minutes 15 seconds.
Here are the dwell times at each station.
Liverpool Street: 52 secs
Farringdon: 53 secs
Tottenham Court Road: 56 secs
Bond Street: 35 secs
These are much longer dwell times than you would normally expect, even given how busy central London stations can get at peak times. I did not travel at peak times, it's always like this.

And 196 seconds of not moving in a total journey of 795 seconds equates to 24.6%. That is a lot of hanging around.

Whitechapel to Paddington is five miles, so it's pretty amazing that a train can that travel that distance across central London in just 13 minutes and still spend 25% of that time stationary. But it could do the journey in 12 minutes, knocking the percentage down below 20%, if only those dwell times were a bit closer to normal.

There are reasons why they're not, the most important of which is to introduce some resilience to the central section, otherwise the slightest delay on the outer branches would totally mess the service up. Better to waste a minute of everyone's time than to risk the entire service falling over every time a train near Southall hiccups.

Also rest assured I didn't base all this on just one journey from Whitechapel to Paddington, I did it three times.
Journey 1 (13m 15s): 52s 53s 56s 35s = 196s = 25%
Journey 2 (12m 59s): 53s 59s 53s 36s = 201s = 26%
Journey 3 (13m 13s): 60s 53s 59s 43s = 215s = 27%
The journey always took about 13 minutes and the dwell time at each station was always just under a minute, except at Bond Street where it was rather shorter. 25% was probably an underestimate.

Also yes, the time spent 'not moving' includes time with the platform doors shut when nobody can get on or off. My stopwatch tells me that door-opening normally takes about 3 seconds and door-closing about 7 seconds, meaning 10 seconds of every station stop are written-off.

Also yes, I tried the journey in the opposite direction too, and Paddington to Whitechapel was considerably hang-aroundier.
Bond Street: 61 secs
Tottenham Court Road: 65 secs
Farringdon: 61 secs
Liverpool Street: 74 secs

Journey 4 (13m 22s): 61s 65s 61s 74s = 261s = 33%
Every single wait here was just over a minute - proper peeving slowness - and yet the overall journey still only took about 13 minutes.

What I should have tweeted, it turns out, is...

33% of the 13 minute journey from Paddington to Whitechapel is spent not moving.

What I haven't yet done is calculate how much of a Hammersmith & City line journey from Paddington to Whitechapel is spent not moving, but given this takes 26 minutes we probably shouldn't complain that Crossrail does it 50% quicker.

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