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Closed at South Ken

Closed sign

Closed sign

Our favourite station to avoid (due the thousands of tourists who dither in front of the barrier gates daily) has a couple of redeeming features about it – our favourite being the information office at the eastern end of the sub-surface platforms.

The best thing about them is that they had two computer monitors up in the windows of an internal-tracking system that showed exactly where the next few trains were on the system, how many minutes they were away, and messages such as ‘Approaching … now’ so you could get a real sense of where/when the next trains were.

Closed Office

Closed Office

So we were disappointed to see last week that it’s now been closed with a sign telling you to go up to the ticket office area instead – which is shame. It’s very helpful (especially at an extremely busy tourist station at South Ken) to have staff to talk to! Yet another demise of something useful on the Underground.

31 Jul 14

Contactless Questions

contactlesscardOn Wednesday evening at 7pm, TFL are having a ‘#AskTFL’ session on Twitter, where you can ask Shashi Verma about new contactless payment system.  We believe though that we’ve already got the answers to the two questions which have been bugging us most:

How do ticket/revenue inspectors check you’ve tapped in with a contactless card?

Unlike Oyster, nothing is written or stored on a contactless bank card – the system just knows what card you’ve used.  So if you are stopped by a revenue inspector when on the tube, the (new) device that they use records the tap of your card and is then checked overnight to determine if that same card was used to tap in at the start of a journey earlier. If not – then a Revenue Inspection Charge (different to a penalty fare) is applied to the offending card.

This might mean though that if you have more than one contactless card, and you accidentally present the wrong one, you’ll be charged more for the journey that you are making.

(TfL wouldn’t answer our question about what the Revenue Inspection Charge would be in the #AskTfL session referenced above, so we FOI’d TfL and were told: “When, as a consequence of revenue inspection activity, we detect that a customer had not touched in at the start of their journey when using a contactless payment card, the inspection event will result in the customer being charged a maximum Oyster fare (as referenced in the TfL Conditions of Carriage available via the following link. [1]…, being issued with a Penalty Fare Notice or referred for prosecution.”)

What happens if you don’t have any money in your contactless account?

TfL are able to settle some of the transactions that the card issuer may decline, and if a card issuer declines a transaction the system will not allow the card to start new journeys.

Upon a decline, the issuer will still honour the value of the transaction up to a certain amount (on average, more than the daily charge on Oyster Pay as you Go), so the card issuer takes most (not not all) of the risk on declined cards.

All of this is is possible because of the TTM (Transit Transaction Model) that TfL and the card issuers have created to make contactless payments possible.

30 Jul 14

Happy 2nd Birthday to us!

iOS 7 icon

iOS 7 icon

Happy birthday to us! Happy birthday to us!

Station Master has been on the App Store for 2 years today and we’ve come a long way since we woke up on a Saturday morning to find our original version 1.0 had been approved by Apple (after 10 long nerve-racking days of waiting) and was finally on sale just as the London 2012 Olympic Games kicked off.

Since then we’ve added iPad support, 3D station maps, enhanced accessibility information, carriage graphics and kept our data up-to-date as the network has changed over time.

We also won an award for best App for accessibility / step free information from TfL too!

Just recently too we added two new Apps to the Station Master family; Exit the Tube with just the exits from Station Master in it, for those of you who want even faster access and Oyster Errors that tells you what those funny numbers mean that sometimes come up when you fail to touch in or out correctly.

Thanks too, to everyone who got in touch to tell us where things had changed or where they needed tweaking here and there!  We’ve always taken your comments on board and updated our information based on those comments.

So, to celebrate, until midnight tonight, we are giving you a chance to get your hands on Station Master for a 2nd birthday price of just 99 pence!  And if you’ve bought the App already, why not gift it to someone or spread the word!

Download Station Master on the App Store!

Cheers!  The Station Master Team.  (Matthew and Geoff)

28 Jul 14

Contactless launch date

contactlesscardToday TfL have announced that contactless payments will launch on TfL services on the 16th September 2014.

However, don’t go throwing away your Oyster card just yet as it is what it says: TfL services only and not the current contactless travel on the buses, nor (officially) National Rail services in London (the contactless pilot has worked on National Rail).

However it appears that TfL hope to have National Rail services on board by the launch date and are working with Network Rail to enable this.

Diamond Geezer has an excellent FAQ about the contactless system on his blog.


25 Jul 14

New choob

It’s been online for ages, but I don’t think we’ve ever embedded the video to it here on the Station Master blog, so in case you haven’t seen it – is this the future of tube travel?

24 Jul 14

Two Bakerloo Extensions

Bakerloo Line to Camberwell? It’s been talked about for years – going back to the 1930’s. But an intriguing article by the London SE1 community website quoted Boris Johnson as saying “Standby for amazing news” with descriptions of two routes – one down to Camberwell, but another down to Peckham.

We knocked together a quick altered tube map to envisage what it might look like.

Possible Bakerloo Extension

Possible Bakerloo Extension

23 Jul 14

More Rezoning

After the possibility of the new Northern Line stations being in Zone 1, it was revealed by TfL yesterday that the three Stratford stations (Stratford, Stratford High Street and Stratford Non-International) would be moved from Zone 3 to become boundary Zone 2/3 instead meaning small savings for anyone travelling between Zone 1 and these stations.

Diamond Geezer has the full comprehensive breakdown here, but for us it’s a chance to have a look at the topological zone map again, to see yet another ‘bump’ created on the map of where the zones really lie topologically speaking. And it’s quite ugly…

How it looks now ...

How it looks now …

How it will look in 2016 ...

How it will look in 2016 …

22 Jul 14

New to Zone 1?

Station Master Geoff, you may recall, drew this map for Londonist a while back which shows the real geographical boundaries where the zones are in London.

In a discussion we were having over the weekend though, it transpires that the two new planned Northern Line stations at Nine Elms and Battersea may be placed into the Zone 1 area – a bit like how Shoreditch High Street was shoehorned into Zone 1, even though it should have been in Zone 2.

Northern Line extension

Northern Line extension

So here’s how the ‘zone map’ would look distorted if that were the case, with a large ‘bump’ of Zone 1 white stretching south to accommodate the two new stations … if it were to happen.

Nine Elms and Battersea in Zone 1

Nine Elms and Battersea in Zone 1



21 Jul 14

International Platform 2

Here’s a fun anomaly that we spotted at the weekend. Every single time we have been to Stratford International on the DLR, it has only ever used Platform 1. We didn’t even think Platform 2 was in use, so it was to our small joy that we caught a train there yesterday coming in and out of Platform 2, which we were told “Does happen just once or twice a day”

Stratford International Platform 2

Stratford International Platform 2

20 Jul 14

Three Wi-Fi

Network provider Three have announced that they are joining the ‘Wi-Fi on the underground’ party!, and that in the coming weeks those on the their network can also get free Wi-Fi at Underground stations.

Three WiFi

Three WiFi

Full announcement here.

18 Jul 14