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Crossrail is not a Tube line

Crossrail not Elizabeth

Crossrail not Elizabeth

Worryingly, it’s already started. By trying to name Crossrail ‘The Elizabeth Line’ it sets a precedence that it can now be referred to as ‘an Underground Line’, because the Tube is referred to as the Victoria Line, and the Northern Line, and the Bakerloo Line, as so on…

But Crossrail is not a ‘tube’ railway. I repeat – Crossrail is not a tube railway.  The trains are larger, the tunnels are bigger, the trains go waaaay beyond central London running on National Rail tracks.  It is a National Rail service that then also goes underground – but that does not make it the Tube – no, it is its own new category of railway which we shall call ‘Crossrail’.

Two people have fallen foul already, we’ll add more here as we spot them:

  • The (now online only) Independent have written an extremely lazy article where they call it ‘a new Tube line’ (is isn’t) and to add insult, they tag on the world’s easiest ‘quiz’ where you have to match the colours to the Tube lines. And they include Crossrail in that – which still isn’t a tube line.

Besides which, we’re still trying to work out how travelling on the Underground just three times in your entire life means that you have “A long association with UK transport”. We’re fairly sure that there are thousands of people that have worked on Crossrail, and railways, and even thousands more that have travelled on trains everyday of their working life, that therefore have a stronger case for having a long association with transport.

26 Feb 16

No one is going to call Crossrail the Elizabeth Line

Oh my. What a terrible name. No one has thought this through, have they? No one is going to call Crossrail ‘The Elizabeth Line’. How often do you refer to the cable car as ‘The Emirates Airline’ – never, how often do you call Boris Bikes ‘Santander Cycles’ – also never.

And here’s the main reason why: It’s got too many syllables!

It’s a long name, which makes it sound clunkly, and wordy, and too long to say – and in London, we’re in a rush and we need something shorter. Or – imagine you’re down the pub after a few drinks, “I’m gonna get the tube home” you’d say. And not “Underground”, because tube is a one-syllable word.  We like to say things that are quick and easy, and ‘Elizabeth’ is word that you have to annunciate properly, otherwise don’t bother saying it at all.

El-iz-a-beth – That’s four syllables and it does not trip off the tongue in the same way that ‘District’ or ‘Northern’ does (both two syllables). In fact, let’s break it down:

Two Syllables – District, Northern, Circle, Central

Three Syllables – Jubilee, Bakerloo

Four Syllables – Victoria, Piccadilly

Five Syllables – Metropolitan

Stupidly long – Hammersmith & City, Waterloo & City


Six out of the 11 lines – more than half – are three syllables or less.  ‘Metropolitan’ gets easily shortened down to ‘Met’ all the time, some shorten the Piccadilly to ‘Picc’ and then everyone says ‘H&C’. The Waterloo & City is the least used line and sometimes even we forget that it’s on the tube. (Supposedly it’s nicknamed ‘The Drain’ but we haven’t heard anyone use that name for it for years either!).

The one other odd one – strangely is also the name of a Queen is Victoria, which is four syllables, but it’s also a shorter word, but also if you say it quickly enough you can say it two part ‘Vic’ and ‘Trria’ and people know what you mean.

The problem with Elizabeth, is that you can’t shorten it to ‘Eli’ – the first few characters like you do with the Met and the Picc (and even the ‘Vic’ for Victoria) meaning that you’re going to have to shorten it to ‘Liz’ or ‘Lizzy’ instead which just sounds stupid.

‘Cross-Rail’ itself is also a simple two syllable word, and – more importantly – is what everyone has been calling it already for the past five years.

So no one … no one is going to call it ‘The Elizabeth Line’. People are going to call it what it’s already be branded for ages. If you wanted us to call it ‘Elizabeth’ than it should have been called that from the start of construction – it’s too late now.

Here’s another thought too – It’s not an Underground service, so why call it … Line? Only tube lines have the word ‘line’ on the end. The other TfL services being ‘London Overground’, ‘DLR’, ‘TfL Rail’, none of which have the word ‘line’ in them, so by calling in ‘Elizabeth Line’ to us suggests that it’s now part of the tube – which it’s not. It’s Crossrail. It deserves and needs its own identity. Don’t stick the word ‘Line‘ on the end!

The other complication comes of course when Crossrail 2 is built in a few years time. So – that’s going to need a name too! That offers up the worrying prospect of it being called ‘The Charles Line’, or ‘The William Line’, which sounds even more silly than ‘Elizabeth’.

No, for us – we should be taken a lead from what the French do here, with their RER lines in Paris. The  RER (the Réseau Express Régional) is identical to what London is building with Crossrail – trains that run far outside the capital but then go underground like a metro style service when it gets to the centre.  The French name their Crossrail style services ‘RER-A’, ‘RER-B’ and so on up to ‘RER-E’.

So we do the same here and have ‘Crossrail A’  or even better we think, number than and abbreviate down Crossrail to ‘CR’, so that you’ll have ‘CR1’ and ‘CR2’ on the map.  This has the advantage of taken up less space on the map as well, which is already cramped and space is at a premium.

The other slight insult about all this is again how we’re stuck with multiple orange-coloured Overground lines, but they’re all the same name – Overground.  If ever there were some lines on the tube map that were in desperate need of re-naming, it’s the Overground. Not Crossrail which – oh, did I mention? – we’ve already been calling it that for several years now. It’s in the public lexicon. So now is the time to rename the different Overground lines to ‘OG-1’ or ‘OG-A’ to differentiate between those different services too, thus make ‘CR-1’ or ‘CR-A’ even more sense.

So anyway – that’s what we’d like Crossrail to be called please, TfL.  ‘CR1’. We’ve even done a graphic for you. Are we too late? Any chance of a re-think?  Thanks.

Alternative Names

Alternative Names


23 Feb 16

New York Style Tube Map

We can’t believe we hadn’t stumbled on this sooner .. this was doing the round on twitter today, when it appeared as a link on the TransitMaps Tumblr, but it’s actually by the rather brilliant Max Roberts, who has created literally loads of different transit maps.

It’s a map of the tube, but done in ‘Vignell’ New York style – where the map shows the actual pattern of services.  Look at how complicated Earl’s Court becomes for example – but rather beautifully shows how the service to Olympia actually is.

More over on Max’s own website here, of course.

New York style Tube Map

New York style Tube Map

21 Feb 16

Still no lift at Vauxhall

Since the new tube map came out at the beginning of the year, Vauxhall has had a ‘blue blob’ for full accessibility because of the new lift that they’re building .. but we’re now towards the end of February, and it’s STILL not open. How long can a station be marked as ‘accessible’ on a map, but for it actually not to be and for that to be ok…?

Still no lift ...

Still no lift …

18 Feb 16

Battersea Park on Overground Carriage Maps

Last month, we were on an Overground train to Clapham Junction at the weekend which was suddenly diverted.

“This train will now be terminating at Battersea Park” announced the driver helpfully. Except .. it’s not very helpful, is it? That’s all they said – they didn’t announce any other stops that it would still be calling at or where Battersea Park is.

“This train will call at Wandsworth Road, and then go to Battersea Park instead of Clapham Junction” would have been a much more useful announcement,

So this Station Master spent time talking to people telling them where Battersea Park is on the map, because the carriage maps on the Overground doesn’t show it.

Except that it now does! As of last week, we noticed that new carriage maps have been put up individually showing all the different lines of the Overground – a bit better – but arguably more confusing because surely the carriage map of the line should pertain to the line that you’re on?

Again, it’s just added fuel to the fire that the Overground lines need to be coloured differently, and just to have the carriage maps on the lines on which the trains now actually run. But yes .. Battersea Park is shown as a pecked line ‘Limited Service’ on some in-carriage Overground maps.





15 Feb 16

Tram Maps

We have been travelling on the Croydon Trams a lot over the last couple of weeks, and we have been getting drawn all the 3D maps of the system. We’d therefore hope to have Tram Master released next month.

The tram stops don’t have comprehensive facilities like tube stations too, so the App is a list of the 39 trams stops, and a 3D map that we’ve drawn for all of them, showing where the steps/ramp/access points are, and whether the exit is at the front or rear of the tram.

Here’s Harrington Road which we’ve most recently drawn…

Harrington Road

13 Feb 16

Easy like …

What the heck is an easyCoffee? (Ok, ok, it’s a coffee shop, sure), but it’s the first time we’ve EVER seen one – not just at a tube station – but it might just be the first at a tube station now.

Go to Earl’s Court to see it, read the history of Earl’s Court to see it where they’ve boarded up the old ticket office windows, and see if you can take more than one tube map without being ‘told off’ by the ridiculous woman who works there who scolds you like a school teacher for doing so.

And then go and get a coffee. An easy one…

Easy Now

Easy Now


09 Feb 16

Oyster Fun

With thanks to the marvellous Oyster Rail website, Station Master Geoff has been out on the network, trying out a few oddities with the Oyster system.

01 Feb 16