diamond geezer

 Sunday, March 24, 2024

Some transport news

Central line news

It's well known in tubular circles that the longest direct journey on the Underground is between Epping and West Ruislip on the Central line. It's 54.9km long (34.1 miles), comfortably ahead of Uxbridge to Cockfosters on the Piccadilly line which is 50.9 km (31.6 miles). But this weekend a 60 mile journey is possible, all aboard the same train, thanks to engineering works closing the Central line between Woodford and Epping. In the temporary timetable all trains are running from the far west of the line through central London, round the Hainault loop and then back again.
• West Ruislip → Woodford → Hainault → Newbury Park → West Ruislip
• Ealing Broadway → Newbury Park → Hainault → Woodford → Ealing Broadway
West Ruislip trains are running round the Hainault loop clockwise and Ealing Broadway trains anti-clockwise, cunningly creating a seamless service. And if you catch one of those trains at West Ruislip you get to ride from almost Buckinghamshire to actual Essex and back again, a grand total of 97.1km (60.4 miles). Unbeatable.

1) On Sunday morning and Sunday evening a few trains are also starting at White City, but otherwise it's stonking great end-to-end loops all the way.
2) If you try travelling from West Ruislip to West Ruislip using Pay As You Go, not only will it take you 2¾ hours but you'll be charged a maximum fare (approximately £7-ish) for lingering too long on the network.
3) Actually you'll be charged two maximum fares because the software'll assume you started a journey you never touched out, then ended a journey you never touched in, so you'll be about £14 out of pocket.
4) Ah but is it a proper unbroken journey? A pedant would argue it's only proper if it says 'West Ruislip' on the front all the way round and obviously it doesn't do that. Also, what if they turf everyone off somewhere on the loop, then it wouldn't be a proper direct journey at all. So I checked.

I didn't do the whole 60.4 miles because I have a life. But I did go from Leytonstone back round to Leytonstone, a journey you can't normally do on one train, on one train.

It was odd seeing every train on the board have Hainault as a destination, alternately via Woodford or via Newbury Park. It was even odder that absolutely no announcements were being made about how unusual this situation was, nor that anyone bound for Epping would need a 'Hainault via Woodford' train to change for the replacement bus. Hainault via Woodford always used to be very rare, even before they made a shuttle of the last bit, and since 2020 it hardly ever happens at all.

It's been an absolutely brilliant weekend for residents of Roding Valley, Chigwell and Grange Hill, Normally they only get a train every 20 minutes and they have to change, but this weekend they have a service every 6 or 7 minutes and it goes straight through central London. Not many of them were out to take advantage.

And as we pulled into Hainault station, dammit, the driver played the 'This train terminates here, all change please' message. This probably negates the 60 mile claim, as does changing the destination from Hainault to West Ruislip. But nobody got turfed off, we didn't hang about, we just picked up fresh passengers and continued towards Newbury Park, so I'm calling that one journey. The entire loop took 35 minutes, if you've ever wondered how long a loopy train would actually take, before continuing all the way back to West Ruislip. If you're not a pedant and can mitigate the possible financial outlay, the tube's longest possible direct journey is rideable again today.

Old Bus news

Every so often the London Bus Museum organises a running day somewhere in the London area at which a heck of a lot of old buses turn out and offer rides for free along current and/or historic routes. They did it yesterday to celebrate the centenary of Barking bus garage, and the two routes chosen for the parade of vintage vehicles were the 62 and 145. Buses ran roughly every ten minutes. It was all extremely well done.

All the usual vintage bus day observations applied:
• All ages were present, but especially over-65s
• All genders were present, but very especially men
• Enthusiasts with big-lensed cameras were everywhere
• Surprised passers-by took almost as many photos as enthusiasts
• Passengers expecting a bogstandard bus were utterly delighted to get an old one (or totally baffled)
• Over-65s were even more delighted to get an old bus than everyone else
• Some bus conductors issued unnecessary paper tickets
• Even the boxy 1970s/80s buses were popular
• There were so so so so many buses
• It was great

Local notes
» The centenary was actually in January, but better to wait until March.
» Barking Bus garage was stuffed with vintage buses and open to the public for a £5 fee. Most visitors took even more photos and many purchased nostalgic bus paraphernalia.
» The people of Barking and Dagenham seemed especially pleased to see the unexpected buses, perhaps because it's not a borough where anything like this normally happens.
» I was extremely lucky and boarded a 145 before its advertised first stop so had the entire top deck to myself for the first four miles. Top decks were a lot busier later.

Dates for your diary
Sunday 9th June: Route 406 Heritage Day (Kingston/Epsom/Reigate/Redhill)
Saturday 14th September: Route 61 Heritage Day (Bromley/Orpington/Chislehurst)

Dangleway news

East London's favourite cablecar is getting a new operator. Since 2012 it's been operated by Mace, the company who built it, but from 28th June it'll be operated by FirstGroup instead. They also run Avanti West Coast, GWR, SWR and a lot of buses, plus the Croydon trams so they're not exactly new to working for TfL. This isn't a change of sponsor, merely a change behind the scenes, so most people will never notice.

• The contract is for five years with the option to extend for a further three.
• FirstGroup anticipate revenues of £60m over the eight-year period, i.e. about £8m a year.
• They're promising to "improve the service", "develop the customer proposition" and "place the service at the heart of its local community", whatever any of that means.

Overground news

Would you like to read the digital style guide for using the new Overground line names and colours? Here it is. TfL are very keen that dual lines are always used, and that disruptions are displayed with the word 'Overground' as an additional label.

Also if you'd like to know how the £6.3m costs of the renaming process are broken down, an awful lot of curmudgeons have submitted FoI requests asking the same thing. 37% is going on updating all kinds of signage, 18% on changing all kinds of tube maps, 14% on changes to trains, 12% on digital updates, 11% on awareness, 6% on staff costs and less than 2% on the engagement process that came up with the names.

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