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A real good service

One of the things which we like to grumble about the most (and we hear others do too – including drivers) is the fabled ‘Good Service‘ announcement which plagues our eardrums on platforms and stations, and often gets automatically announced by a system which isn’t good enough to react quickly to situations on the tube where it’s gone wrong.

Nothing is more annoying when tube travelling than (say) the time when we waited 23 minutes for a Piccadilly Line train whilst being told several times that there was a ‘Good Service‘ when there clearly wasn’t.

Which is why we love this – Andy Drizen’s Tube Map Live. Yes we’re plugging another App which we have no problem doing here if it’s one we really love, and we really love this one. Andy first produced the excellent Tube Tracker, and then subsequently came up with Tube Map Live, which plots the positions of the trains (from a feed from TfL) on a tube map.

The result? You can actually see for yourself the gap between the trains on any particular line, and thus judge for yourself if there really IS a ‘Good Service‘ or not.

Tube Map Live!

Tube Map Live!

Instead of the wasted money on the ‘rainbow board’ in every station bleating on about there being a good service, how great would it be if all stations actually had a display like this, showing you how the trains were actually running.  In the meantime, download the App (it’s free!), and watch them for yourselves.  Sometimes we watch them, just for fun – even if we’re not taking a journey anywhere!

28 Feb 14

Circle Time

You know how Circle Line trains are the rarest thing on the tube? Well that’s because they run to their own special schedule … so special that they’re out of sync with the rest of the Underground – as proved here at Aldgate station.  Another thing to fix please, TfL before you start trying to give us a 24-hour tube service!

Aldgate Clocks

Aldgate Clocks

We later found out that the Circle Line clock (on the right) was actually correct, and it was the Met Line clock that was wrong! Photo courtesy of @squarewheels_


27 Feb 14

Change at Canning Town

We’re not sure how long it’s been there, but we just got round to noticing that there is now an electronic sign at the bottom of the main escalators at Canning Town to tell you if the next train to Woolwich or Beckton is leaving from the upper, or lower platforms.

It’s a shame it’s a small electronic sign though, tilted in the wrong direction, when what would be better would be a LARGE sign saying “Next train…” and then an arrow pointing in which direction to the platform you should take, but it’s better than nothing.

When the station first opened, there was no way of knowing and it was pot luck whether you shuffled to the right platforms or not, so at least this finally helps.   It’s a bit off if you’re coming BACK from either Woolwich or Beckton though and your train is destined for Stratford but you want to go to Bank or Tower Gateway.  When you change at Canning Town do you stay on the platform you came in on, or do you shuffle down to the board to check the display? It’s still a bit confusing …

Canning Town next DLR

Canning Town next DLR

26 Feb 14

New Exit at London Bridge

New Signage

New Signage

The proliferation of new style ‘Yellow on Black’ signs that first appeared at King’s Cross a while ago are now starting to spread to the rest of the Underground.  London Bridge, we noticed when passing through the other day, is now full of them.  We’d go so far to say that there are too many and they are distracting from all the regular signage that you’re used to.

But we also spotted something else – a new entrance/exit to the ticket hall!  It’s linked to The Shard, and at the moment, it’s just an arcade of retail outlets which have yet to be let out, so there’s nothing really going on, but it is marginally quicker to go this way if you want to exit by The Shard.

New entrance/exit to ticket hall

New entrance/exit to ticket hall


25 Feb 14

Charing Cross mismatch

While out and about on the Underground this week we noticed this at Charing Cross on the northbound Northern Line platform:

Charing Cross Northern NB 1

The hatchings on the platform are accompanied by this sign on the wall:
Charing Cross Northern NB 2

And sure enough when our train arrived the leading set of doors didn’t open here.

If our memory serves correctly this has always been the case with the 95-stock on the Northern Line, so what’s going on here?

Well it all turns out it’s to do with the recent commissioning of what’s known as ‘NMA4’ or ‘Northern Migration Area 4’.  This is part (4 of 6) of the project to implement Transmission Based Train Control or ‘TBTC’ on the Northern Line – which allows the trains to be driven automatically, as is already the case on the Victoria, Central and Jubilee lines.  Presently on the Northern Line, the High Barnet branch and Chalk Farm to Oval are running with automation.

When NMA4 went live recently, the stopping point at Charing Cross was moved back by 2.5 metres (for reasons unknown to us at present), however the doors and the passenger announcements (CELIA) are driven by the Train Management System (TMS) which needs a software upgrade to take this into account, but this won’t be updated until around June 2014.

24 Feb 14

Trains on the brain

Some people have accused our minds of looking a bit like this … we can’t see it ourselves, personally… Heh.

Tube Brain

Tube Brain

23 Feb 14

Meanwhile …

Piccadilly Line trains are still going to Ealing Broadway, supposedly.  With the rest of the Piccadilly  Branch up to Rayners Lane finally have their “Next train…” DMI’s turned on, I’m really holding out and hoping that someone is going to fix this, and perhaps give us some actually times too of when the next train is actually expected.

Piccadilly to Ealing ... not

Piccadilly to Ealing … not

22 Feb 14

Spacious Trains

Spacious Trains

Spacious Trains

This is first (and only, so far!) time we’ve seen this new poster up around the network. A sleek S-Stock bursting out of the roundel announcing yet another way that TfL are ‘reinvesting their income to improve the services’.

We saw this on the Victoria Line, and interestingly it does mention the new ’09 trains as being part of this reinvestment, alongside the Metropolitan, Circle and H&C lines which do have the new ‘S’ Stock.

So, just the District Line to go then …


21 Feb 14

Bless you

Here’s something that we’d never seen on the Tube before until recently, and now we’ve seen it happen 3 times in the space of a week.  A person gets on and distributes packs of tissues with a note asking for money – they put them in places next to people sitting on the train, some who ignore, some who read, some who do give money … and the whole thing has to take place within two minutes until the train gets to the next stop.

Twice on the Bakerloo Line, and twice on the Central Line we’ve seen this, and we’re told that the practice has been quite common on the Paris Metro for several years, and now it’s here in London.



20 Feb 14

Not all trains

With the last ‘C’ stock train running on the Circle line last week, the rollout of S7 trains to the Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines is now complete.  There are just 8 C-Stock trains left on the network – still faithfully serving the Wimbledon to Edgware Road branch, and these will be phased out over the next couple of months.

We couldn’t help notice all the ‘All trains do not stop here!’ signs on the platforms, which were put in place when S7’s were first introduced and there was a mix of ‘C’ and ‘S’ trains. Now that all the S-Stocks are out there, surely it’s time to remove these platform signs?

Not al trains ... at Aldgate Station

Not all trains … at Aldgate Station

It also leave us (Station Master) in a tricky spot.  We have all the new ‘Which door/carriage?’ information ready for the next release of the App – now that trains have 7 cars rather than 6, there have been a few subtle changes in the exit information.  But we’re aware that that information is ripe for being copied and used elsewhere.

So in the same way that some cartographers (including Google Maps) introduced fake roads into their maps (known as Trap Streets), we’re considering entering a piece of false/wrong data on purpose so that we’d know if anyone ever copied us!

19 Feb 14