L ND N

 Sunday, December 13, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C=0]

So look, today's new Circle line, it's really very simple.
CIRCLE LINE: The Circle line service is changing from Sunday 13 December. Trains will now operate from Hammersmith to Edgware Road then operate clockwise via Liverpool Street, Victoria and High Street Kensington to terminate at Edgware Road. In the anti-clockwise directions, trains start at Edgware Road then operate via High Street Kensington, Victoria and Liverpool Street to Edgware Road and Hammersmith. The HAMMERSMITH & CITY LINE will continue to operate between Hammersmith and Barking.
Unless you're trying to go round the bend between Paddington and Baker Street, there's no real change. It's only here that the Circle line has been severed, and only here that abortive action needs to be taken. Those heading out towards Hammersmith see only advantages, and everyone else will be travelling much as before. So I thought I'd explain how this round-the-bend bit works. Grasp that, and you'll grasp anything. Honest, what could be easier.

Edgware Road station1. How to take the tube from Baker Street to Bayswater.
a) Get on a westbound Circle or Hammersmith & City line train. It doesn't matter which line you take, they're all going to the same place. Peak times there'll be a train along roughly every five minutes. It shouldn't be too long a wait.
b) When you reach Edgware Road, your train will arrive at platform 4. Get off.
c) If you don't mind how long your journey takes, wander a few steps over to platform 3 and take the next District line train towards Wimbledon. Even works with a pushchair, this.
d) If you do mind how long your journey takes, be advised that the next Bayswater-bound train might be departing from platform 2 instead. Half leave from platform 3 and the other half from platform 2, so there's a fifty-fifty chance. Listen out for announcements from the helpful station staff, because they might tell you which it is. Or they might not. The next train indicators won't be any help because they're old and unhelpful and usually read "Please wait for train information" until immediately before a train arrives. Just because there's a train on platform 2 and not 3 doesn't mean that 2 will be going out first. Take your pick, and pray you get across the footbridge before the train of your choice pulls out. It's hell, Edgware Road, unless you don't mind how long it takes to escape.

Edgware Road station2. How to take the tube from Bayswater to Baker Street.
a) Get on an eastbound Circle or District line train. It doesn't matter which line you take (unless you have really heavy luggage or a wheelchair, in which case wait for a Circle). Peak times there'll be a train along roughly every five minutes.
b) When you reach Edgware Road, your train will terminate. Get off.
c) If you were on a Circle line train, you'll have arrived on platform 2. From here it's a few steps over to platform 1 where you can wait for the next train towards towards Baker Street. Easy. Even works with a pushchair, this.
d) If you were on a District line train, you'll have arrived on platform 3. Cross the footbridge to platform 1 where you can wait for the next train towards towards Baker Street.
e) Wait. Peak times there'll be a train along roughly every five minutes. It shouldn't be too long a wait, but the 'next train' indicators give absolutely zero useful information until immediately before a train arrives. It's an utterly rubbish station, Edgware Road, devoid of any useful customer-facing technology.

Edgware Road station3. How to take the tube from Baker Street to Paddington, if you're in a hurry to catch a train, with luggage and stuff.
a) Get on the next westbound Circle or Hammersmith & City line train. You have until Edgware Road to make up your mind what to do next.
b) If you've already bought your ticket for your Paddington train, stay on board at Edgware Road. Get off at Paddington (C&H&C) and pray that the crowds queueing to get off the platform aren't too thick. Then lug your luggage up the narrow steps and head over the footbridge to discover which platform your train's leaving from. From here there'll be a shortcut across another footbridge and/or down some steps, and you're there.
c) If you haven't already bought your ticket for your Paddington train, or if you have a desperate urge for a paper, panini or pint before you travel, it might be better to hop off at Edgware Road and change (see 1 above). That's assuming there's a Circle or District line train heading off in the next couple of minutes, which it's probably impossible to tell, but it might be worth the risk. Although be warned that it's quite a trek through Paddington (C&D) station as well, including a lofty narrow footbridge over the Circle line tracks which is no fun with luggage either, so maybe you'd be better not hopping off after all.
d) Or maybe you should have caught the Bakerloo line from Baker Street instead. Frequent trains and no need to change. Ah, but it's a long way down and up, and an awful lot of steps and escalators.
e) Sorry, you're probably going to miss your train, aren't you? Should have left earlier. Or waited for Crossrail.

 Saturday, December 12, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C-1]
(a 12 day countdown to the de-circling of the Circle line)
Even though it's never been a perfect circle, and from tomorrow won't even join up properly, the Circle line is still to be called the Circle line. It would cost too much to change the name everywhere in every reference at every station everywhere on the network.
Better names for the nu-Circle line include the Spiral, the Lasso, the Tadpole, the T-Cup or the Paperclip.
But they're not better names, are they, not really? There's a far better name the new Circle could have, except it's already been taken by another line...
The Hammersmith and City line earns its name because it starts at Hammersmith and passes through Barbican, Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations, which are within the boundaries of the City of London. But from tomorrow there'll be two lines that start at Hammersmith and pass through the City. And the new Circle line passes through Barbican, Moorgate, Liverpool Street, Tower Hill, Monument, Cannon Street, Mansion House and Blackfriars, making it even more of an "& City" line than the official H&C.
But there's no accounting for logic, so we'll all have to stick with a Circle line that isn't circular, and a Hammersmith and City line that doesn't serve much of the City. From tomorrow.
Take your final ride on the circular-ish Circle today.

 Friday, December 11, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C-2]
(a 12 day countdown to the de-circling of the Circle line)
The Circle line is more than five miles across (Notting Hill Gate → Liverpool Street).
North-south, however, the distance varies a lot. From Baker Street to Victoria is two miles, for example, whereas Barbican to Mansion House is only half a mile.
If you're travelling round the eastern end of the Circle line, it's a lot quicker to get out and walk between Barbican and Mansion House than it is to stay on a Circle line train and chug slowly round.
Now that Circle line trains run only every ten minutes, if you're at Liverpool Street station and thinking of travelling round to Monument, it's probably quicker to walk than to wait.

 Thursday, December 10, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C-3]
(a 12 day countdown to the de-circling of the Circle line)
At the moment, 41 million passengers a year pass through Paddington tube station. Most of these pass through the District/Circle/Bakerloo ticket hall, at the useful end of Paddington station near platforms 1-8 and the shops. Only passengers on the Hammersmith & City line have to use the miserable station at the other (disconnected) end, accessible via a single choked staircase, and a long way from where most want to be.
From next week, rather more passengers will end up at the nasty end of Paddington. All trains to and from King's Cross will pass this way, disgorging 144 carriages an hour onto inadequate platforms. Commuters may soon learn it's quicker to change at Edgware Road instead, whereas one-off tourists are likely to be confused, and inconvenienced, and encouraged to walk long distances lugging suitcases.
But never fear, because a new Paddington (Circle & Hammersmith & City & Crossrail) station is being planned. There'll be a new ticket hall, an extra staircase, step-free access from street to platforms and a significant increase in space in congested areas. But not until 2015. Only five and a bit years of hell to go.

 Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C-4]
(a 12 day countdown to the de-circling of the Circle line)
Many of the line maps on Circle line platforms have already been replaced to show the new elongated route. The maps are big, they're made of enamel and they're expensive, which suggests that TfL aren't expecting to have to change any of them back. They're also a bit complicated...
New enamel maps: Baker Street, Great Portland Street, Euston Square, King's Cross St Pancras, Farringdon, Barbican, ... Liverpool Street, ... St James's Park, ... High Street Kensington, ... Edgware Road (platform 4).

 Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C-5]
(a 12 day countdown to the de-circling of the Circle line)

Peak-time winners and losers
A more frequent service: Hammersmith → Edgware Road (was 7 trains per hour, will be 12), Earl's Court → Kensington Olympia (was 2 tph, will be 3); Wimbledon towards Embankment (was 7 tph, will be 9); Plaistow → Barking (was 22½ tph, will be 25)
No change: Richmond → Acton Town (7 tph); Wimbledon → Earl's Court (15tph); Earl's Court → Tower Hill (28 tph); Tower Hill → Aldgate East (19 tph); Liverpool Street → Aldgate (21 tph); Barking → Upminster (15 tph)
A less frequent service (but you probably wouldn't notice): Acton Town → Earl's Court (was 14 tph, will be 13); Baker Street → Liverpool Street (was 28 tph, will be 27); Aldgate East → Plaistow (was 26 tph, will be 25)
A less frequent service: Ealing Broadway → Acton Town (was 7 tph, will be 6); Wimbledon towards Edgware Road (was 8 tph, will be 6); Earl's Court → High Street Kensington (was 10 tph, will be 9); High Street Kensington → Edgware Road (was 14 tph, will be 12); Edgware Road → Baker Street (was 14 tph, will be 12); Liverpool Street → Aldgate East (was 7 tph, will be 6) [source of info]

Off-peak winners and losers
A more frequent service between Hammersmith and Edgware Road: was one train every 8 minutes, will be one every 5 minutes.
A more frequent service between Whitechapel and Plaistow: all H&C trains that used to terminate at Whitechapel will continue to Plaistow.
A less frequent service at every station around the existing Circle line: Edgware Road → Liverpool Street (top of the Circle) (3 fewer trains per hour); Edgware Road → Liverpool Street (bottom of the Circle) (1½ fewer trains per hour)

 Monday, December 07, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C-6]
(a 12 day countdown to the de-circling of the Circle line)
The blinds on the front of Circle trains are being upgraded. Destinations are now written in big chunky lower case font (probably New Johnston Bold, for those who care about these things).
new Circle line blind There are four new Circle line blinds: "Circle line", "Circle line to Edgware Road", "Circle line via Aldgate" and "Circle line to Hammersmith". At the moment, all upgraded Circle line trains are showing "Circle line". From next week they'll be using the other three, and drivers will have to swap blinds at Aldgate.
Oops: On the driver's side, where you and I won't see it, the "via Aldgate" blind has accidentally been spelt "via Aldergate".

 Sunday, December 06, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C-7]
(a 12 day countdown to the de-circling of the Circle line)
Fastest journey time from Bayswater to Baker Street (today): Bayswater → Baker Street (one train, 7 minutes) = 7 minutes
Typical journey time from Bayswater to Baker Street (Dec 13): Bayswater → Edgware Road (one train, 4 minutes); wait 3 minutes (50/50 chance of needing to cross footbridge); Edgware Road → Baker Street (one train, 3 minutes) = 10 minutes
Actual journey time from Bayswater to Baker Street (yesterday): Bayswater → Edgware Road (one Circle line train, 4 minutes); wait on train 19 minutes (some mumbled apology from the driver about "crew relief") (several muffled inaudible platform announcements) (train goes nowhere) (announcement that the next eastbound train will depart from platform 3) (mass exodus across footbridge) (train on platform 3 departs without us) (return to original train) (announcement that our train won't be leaving for another 9 minutes due to lack of driver) (wait on train) (another Circle line train pulls into adjacent platform) (member of staff walks along platform yelling into carriages that this new train will be the first one out) (swap trains) (sheesh, I hate travelling through this godforsaken station); Edgware Road → Baker Street (one Circle line train, 3 minutes) = 26 minutes

 Saturday, December 05, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C-8]
(a 12 day countdown to the de-circling of the Circle line)
The Circle line has been completely closed for engineering work on 15 separate weekends this year, and partially closed for another eight (i.e. on more than half of 2009's weekends it's been impossible to ride all the way round).
The Circle line is running normally every weekend this month (although the definition of 'normal' changes next week). This weekend is the last fully circular weekend.
The Circle line will be completely closed for engineering work on the first weekend of 2010, and so it goes on (and on).

 Friday, December 04, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C-9]
(a 12 day countdown to the de-circling of the Circle line)
The tube maps inside Circle/H&C/Wimbledon trains have been replaced to show the new Circle line extension to Hammersmith. Like this.
The line maps inside Circle/H&C/Wimbledon trains have been replaced to show the new Circle line extension to Hammersmith. Maybe I was unlucky last night, but all the maps I saw had a nasty dark print-smear between Edgware Road and King's Cross, and also between South Kensington and Embankment, resulting in the yellow of the Circle line turning a muddy brown-green.

 Thursday, December 03, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C-10]
(a 12 day countdown to the de-circling of the Circle line)
Only two sections of track are currently unique to the Circle line - a short strip between Aldgate and Tower Hill and a longer curve between Gloucester Road and High Street Kensington. In 10 days we can also add to this list "Edgware Road platform 2".
The Circle line's official colour is Pantone 116 yellow. That's precisely the same colour as Homer Simpson's head.

 Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C-11]
(a 12 day countdown to the de-circling of the Circle line)
Joined-up thinking: The line maps in tube carriages on various other lines are already being permanently updated. For example, District line tube maps now show the new Circle line interchange at Hammersmith.
Non-joined-up thinking: At the new King's Cross northern ticket hall (opened 29 Nov), the new enamel maps leading to the Piccadilly line fail to mention the new Circle line interchange at Hammersmith (commences 13 Dec).

 Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Circle lineThe Advent Circle   [C-12]
(a 12 day countdown to the de-circling of the Circle line)
The Circle line's tracks were completed in 1884, but it wasn't until 1949 that orbital services were branded 'Circle'.
26 stations are currently served by the Circle line. In twelve days time this number increases by 30%.
Cab driver's view: Kings X → Liverpool Street → St James' Park → KX



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