8 "out of station interchanges" TfL should stop keeping secret

Spot the connections. Image: TfL.

For those of us who spend large portions of our time staring at maps of London’s transport network, there are some eternal and unchanging frustrations: the fact that all the many lines of the London Overground service are the same colour; the impossibly large space between Park Royal and Alperton on the Piccadilly line; the failure of the Circle Line to actually be a circle.

Most frustrating of all is the fact that these maps are so inconsistently helpful. Vague connections you’ll never need but are nice to know about are shown – like that between North Greenwich and the Emirates Air Line’s southern terminus, or the 300m walk between Bow Road tube station and Bow Church on the DLR. Meanwhile, other,. more useful ones don’t appear at all.


Admittedly, it may not be plausible to show every possible connection on the map. But if one opens up new journeys, could feasibly be squeezed onto the map with some slightly funky formatting, and would be helpful to the network’s users, then why shouldn’t it be included?

So, in the dual public service of facilitating transport connectivity and map-nerd enjoyment, here’s a few connections TfL should add to their maps, to save us all the bother of working it out for ourselves.

Northwick Park to Kenton

Niche interest as it may be, tucked into a corner of north west London, this connection is so mind-numbingly obvious to any human with the ability to look at a map and register distance that its omission from the tube map is incredibly aggravating.

At just under 500m, the walk between the two is no longer than a bad trip in the tunnels of King’s Cross St. Pancras, and much more aesthetically satisfying, with a chance to glimpse some of the finest specimens of Metroland housing stock. The connection would stop the northern ends of the Bakerloo and Metropolitan Lines being the public transport equivalents of cul-de-sacs; it would allow Metropolitan line passengers to connect to London Overground services outside of Liverpool Street, too.

Queensway to Bayswater

Notting Hill Gate is a surprisingly inconvenient interchange between the Central, District, and Circle lines – so much so that it’s actually quicker to get out at Queensway, get in the lift, and pop over to Bayswater station. Or at least it was that one time I was late back from my lunch hour.

Either way, with only 200m of pavement between the two, it just seems silly not to at least give a passing nod to the possibility of a connection here. The current map does the connection no favours, and you’d think the transport lords on high would at least recognise the will of their subjects. You’d think.

South Tottenham to Seven Sisters

Who’d have thought that two stations on different lines and in non-adjacent positions on the network map could be so close. It’s not that Seven Sisters is that close to South Tottenham, but it is as close to Seven Sisters as Seven Sisters is to even Sisters.

There’s about 250m between the Victoria Line station on High Road and the London Overground station (also called Seven Sisters) on Seven Sisters road. There’s only about 300m between the Victoria Line station and South Tottenham London Overground station.

If that weren’t reason enough, the simple act of inserting one of TfL’s magical double black connecting lines between Seven Sisters and South Tottenham would create a beautiful interchange hub connecting the Victoria Line, the Overground line up to Cheshunt and down to Liverpool Street, and another Overground line from Gospel Oak to Barking. In my dream world, they change the name of South Tottenham station to Seven Sisters, and create a beautiful underworld pantheon of mysteriously long pedestrian tunnels (did someone say King’s Cross St. Pancras?) and a new and more glorious transport dawn rises. A man’s got to dream.

Camden Town to Camden Road

I mean, come on. It’s 400 meters away. They basically have the same name.

Radical thought – it might mean that the Overground line that swallowed up the old North London line actually connects with the Northern Line in North London. Whole lot of North there, and not a lot of connecting. You do the maths.

Archway to Upper Holloway

There is, of course, the argument that Camden and all associated stations are already crowded and sweaty enough without optimistic folk trying to get from Hackney Wick to Hendon Central (a regular commute for thousands, honest). Thankfully god was clearly smiling when they built the Northern line and Overground routes through North London.  

And thus were Archway and Upper Holloway stations brought seductively close together. Just 400m separate the Northern Line’s gateway to suburban bliss and the first stop on the Gospel Oak to Barking line through North East London. Leyton Midland Road to Totteridge & Whetstone? Easy.

Swiss Cottage to South Hampstead

This would be a fiddly one to format on any future revised map, but it’s a worthy connection to make. The Overground line from Euston is rather neglected between there and the hub that is Willesden Junction.

The simple way to increase ridership, facilitate all sorts of exciting journeys, and give the line just that little bit of spice it currently lacks? Hook it up with the Jubilee Line at Swiss Cottage, and you’ve got a whole new world of possibilities from Neasden to Bermondsey.

Finchley Road to Finchley Road & Frognal

Okay, you got me. There’s a perfectly good Jubilee-Overground interchange one stop over at West Hampstead (where they’ve even thrown in a Thameslink line for good measure, the dears).

But there’s something undeniably appealling about an interchange between two stations with almost identical names save for the addition of a Frognal. If you can’t understand my need for this then there’s something missing from your life.

Leytonstone to Leytonstone High Road

It’s at this point I’m forced to come to the conclusion that TfL is a huge tease. Why name two stations so similarly, position them so flirtatiously, and then refuse to indicate the interchange possibilities available to your lowly customers? Wilful negligence aside, the only conclusion can be that TfL is the transport authority equivalent of a cheeky Nando’s.

Of course – there are others, but most of these just wouldn’t make sense even to think about formatting. Most are just useful self-help tidbits: like knowing that the DLR station at Heron Quays is as close to the Jubilee line station at Canary Wharf as the DLR station at Canary Wharf, or that Waterloo, Southwark, and Waterloo East basically all link up like a network of gently sinister smugglers’ caves.


The point here is all about making our transport networks helpful in a logical way. If you’re going to go to the effort of taking over a load of suburban railways lines, revamping the stations and coming up with a particularly putrid shade of orange to denote it, you might as well show the points at which it connects to your existing network.

Jack May tweets as @JackO_May.

If you've read this far, you're clearly as obsessed with this sort of stuff as we are, so why not check out this story on TfL's secret geographical tube map?

Or you can just like us on Facebook.

All images courtesy of TfL and Google.

 
 
 
 

What's actually in the UK government’s bailout package for Transport for London?

Wood Green Underground station, north London. Image: Getty.

On 14 May, hours before London’s transport authority ran out of money, the British government agreed to a financial rescue package. Many details of that bailout – its size, the fact it was roughly two-thirds cash and one-third loan, many conditions attached – have been known about for weeks. 

But the information was filtered through spokespeople, because the exact terms of the deal had not been published. This was clearly a source of frustration for London’s mayor Sadiq Khan, who stood to take the political heat for some of the ensuing cuts (to free travel for the old or young, say), but had no way of backing up his contention that the British government made him do it.

That changed Tuesday when Transport for London published this month's board papers, which include a copy of the letter in which transport secretary Grant Shapps sets out the exact terms of the bailout deal. You can read the whole thing here, if you’re so minded, but here are the three big things revealed in the new disclosure.

Firstly, there’s some flexibility in the size of the deal. The bailout was reported to be worth £1.6 billion, significantly less than the £1.9 billion that TfL wanted. In his letter, Shapps spells it out: “To the extent that the actual funding shortfall is greater or lesser than £1.6bn then the amount of Extraordinary Grant and TfL borrowing will increase pro rata, up to a maximum of £1.9bn in aggregate or reduce pro rata accordingly”. 

To put that in English, London’s transport network will not be grinding to a halt because the government didn’t believe TfL about how much money it would need. Up to a point, the money will be available without further negotiations.

The second big takeaway from these board papers is that negotiations will be going on anyway. This bail out is meant to keep TfL rolling until 17 October; but because the agency gets around three-quarters of its revenues from fares, and because the pandemic means fares are likely to be depressed for the foreseeable future, it’s not clear what is meant to happen after that. Social distancing, the board papers note, means that the network will only be able to handle 13 to 20% of normal passenger numbers, even when every service is running.


Shapps’ letter doesn’t answer this question, but it does at least give a sense of when an answer may be forthcoming. It promises “an immediate and broad ranging government-led review of TfL’s future financial position and future financial structure”, which will publish detailed recommendations by the end of August. That will take in fares, operating efficiencies, capital expenditure, “the current fiscal devolution arrangements” – basically, everything. 

The third thing we leaned from that letter is that, to the first approximation, every change to London’s transport policy that is now being rushed through was an explicit condition of this deal. Segregated cycle lanes, pavement extensions and road closures? All in there. So are the suspension of free travel for people under 18, or free peak-hours travel for those over 60. So are increases in the level of the congestion charge.

Many of these changes may be unpopular, but we now know they are not being embraced by London’s mayor entirely on their own merit: They’re being pushed by the Department of Transport as a condition of receiving the bailout. No wonder Khan was miffed that the latter hadn’t been published.

Jonn Elledge was founding editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.