An extraordinary number of Underground lines are closed this morning.
Circle line nothing, District line nothing, Hammersmith & City line nothing, Jubilee line nothing, Metropolitan line (south of Harrow on the Hill) nothing... from opening of service until 3pm.
By my calculations that's 67 stations with no train service of any kind, or 25% of the entire tube network. What's more only 23 of these are getting a replacement bus service. Residents of Stanmore, Turnham Green, Bermondsey and Hornchurch can jolly well cope until the trains restart.
It's all due to software testing for the next phase of the Four Lines Modernisation Programme. This decade-long signalling upgrade is now focused on the Metropolitan line between Finchley Road and Preston Road, or SMA8 in projectspeak, which is due to go live in 2024. Apparently "SMA8 is considered one of the most complex areas of the programme, with significant new challenges associated with the integration of the new signalling system on the Metropolitan line with the Jubilee line and Neasden depot train control software." And because this involves interfacing the Four Lines with the Jubilee, it means five lines have to close simultaneously for testing.
Having gone to all the effort of slapping poppies on the front of every train, it is extraordinary that half our tube lines will be closed on Armistice Day for four hours either side of the two minute silence.
And the shutdown is actually worse than that. A significant chunk of the Overground is also closed today, there being no trains between Highbury & Islington, Canada Water and all points south. Good luck if you were planning to cross the Thames this morning because the Overground and Jubilee line are simultaneously out of action.
But if you were scanning through the 'Planned closures' poster earlier you might have found this significant Overground closure hard to unravel. It appears third in a list of six and has a total mouthful of a description, namely Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, New Cross, New Cross Gate and West Croydon.
How much easier it would be if the Overground lines each had their own names. And this is of course the Mayor's plan, he said so in his manifesto in 2021, and has now set in train a process for deciding what those names should be. His ambition, you may remember, is for the names of the individual Overground lines to reflect London's diversity within the public realm.
Whatever names are chosen they're bound to raise eyebrows and spark controversy, perhaps even infuriate. But this week's engineering works demonstrate why this could be a gamechanger - they will indeed make it easier for Overground users to navigate the city.
I've knocked up what this week's 'Planned closures' poster could have looked like if only the change had been made already. Names are merely illustrative.
The current plan is for the Overground's six new names to be in place "by the end of 2024." This will of course only be if Sadiq is re-elected - his Conservative challenger Susan Hall would bin the idea at the earliest possible opportunity. But see how incredibly simple today's line closure might have looked, and how much easier it is to scan down the list to see if your journey might be affected.
Muse on this as you head down to your local station this morning and find it closed. Pain now, salvation later.