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.

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In South Africa's cities, evictions are happening despite a national ban

An aerial view shows a destroyed house in Lawley, south of Johannesburg, on April 20, 2020. The city has been demolishing informal structures on vacant land despite a moratorium on evictions. (Marco Longari/AFP via Getty Images)

On the morning of 15 July, a South African High Court judge ruled that the city of Cape Town’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit had illegally evicted a man when it destroyed the shack where he was living.

That afternoon, the Anti-Land Invasion Unit was out again, removing shacks in another informal settlement.

Evictions were banned in South Africa for nine weeks, after the national government placed the country under a strict Covid-19 lockdown in late March. At present, eviction orders are automatically suspended until the country moves to a lower “alert level” and can only be carried out with a special order from a judge.

Yet major cities including Cape Town, Johannesburg and eThekwini (created through the merger of Durban with several surrounding communities), have continued to use municipal law enforcement agencies and private security companies to remove people from informal housing. In many cases those operations have been conducted without a court order – something required under regular South African law.

Around 900 people were evicted from three informal settlements in eThekwini during the eviction ban, according to the Church Land Programme, a local NGO. Its director, Graham Philpott, says it’s also aware of evictions in other informal settlements.

While evictions aren’t a “new experience” in these communities, the NGO released a report on lockdown evictions because they were “so explicitly illegal”. “There was a moratorium in place,” Philpott says, “and the local municipality acted quite flagrantly against it. There’s no confusion, there’s no doubt whatsoever, it is illegal. But it is part of a trend where the eThekwini municipality has acted illegally in evicting the poor from informal settlements.”

Evictions also took place in Cape Town and Johannesburg during so-called “hard lockdown” according to local activists. In eThekwini and other municipalities, the evictions have continued despite restrictions. In Cape Town, authorities pulled a naked man, Bulelani Qholani, from his shack. That incident, which was captured on video, drew condemnation from the national government and four members of the Anti-Land Invasion unit were suspended. 


The cities say they’re fighting “land invasions” – illegal occupations without permission from the land owner.

“Land invasions derail housing and service projects, lead to the pollution of waterways, severely prejudice deserving housing beneficiaries and cause property owners to lose their investments over night,” Cape Town’s executive mayor, Dan Plato said in a statement. (Plato has also claimed that Qholani did not live in the shack he was pulled from and that he disrobed when municipal authorities arrived.)

South African municipalities often claim that the shacks they destroy are unoccupied. 

If they were occupied, says Msawakhe Mayisela, a spokesman for the eThekwini municipality, the city would get a court order before conducting an eviction. “Everything we’re doing is within the ambit of the law,” Mayisela says. But “rogue elements” are taking advantage of Covid-19, he added.

“We fully understand that people are desperately in need of land, but the number of people that are flocking to the cities is too much, the city won’t be able to provide housing or accommodation for everyone overnight,” he says. 

While eThekwini claims to be a caring city, local activists say the evictions show otherwise.

In one case, 29 women were evicted from shacks during the hard lockdown. With nowhere to go, they slept in an open field and were arrested by the South African Police Service for violating the lockdown, Philpott says.

“These evictions are dehumanizing people whose dignity is already compromised in many ways,” says S’bu Zikode, the president of Abahlali baseMjondolo, a community organization whose Zulu name translates to “the people of the shacks”. 

“It has reminded us that we are the people that do not count in our society.”

Municipal law enforcement and private security contractors hired by cities regularly fire rubber bullets, or even live ammunition, at residents during evictions. Some 18 Abahlali baseMjondolo activists have been killed since the organization was founded in 2005, Zikode says, most by the eThekwini Land Invasion Unit and Metro Police.

(Mayisela says that if city employees have broken the law, Abahlali baseMjondolo can file a complaint with the police. “There is no conclusive evidence to the effect that our members have killed them,”  he says.)

Other Abahlali baseMjondolo activists have been killed by what Zikode calls “izinkabi,” hitmen hired by politicians. Two eThekwini city councillors were sentenced to life in prison 2016 after they organized the killing of Thuli Ndlovu, an Abahlali baseMjondolo organizer. A member of the Land Invasion Unit who is currently facing a charge of attempted murder after severely injuring a person during an eviction remains on the job, Zikode says.

South Africa’s 1996 constitution is intended to protect the public from arbitrary state violence and guarantees a right to housing, as well as due process in evictions. But for Zikode, the South African constitution is a “beautiful document on a shelf”.

“For the working class and the poor, it’s still difficult to have access to court. You’ve got to have money to get to court,” he says. 

The actions by municipal law enforcement are breaking down social trust, says Buhle Booi, a member of the Khayelitsha Community Action Network, a community group in the largest township in Cape Town.

“There’s a lack of police resources and those very few police resources that they have, they use to destroy people’s homes, to destroy people’s peace, rather than fighting crime, real criminal elements that we see in our society,” Booi says.

For him, it’s a continuation of the practices of the colonial and apartheid governments, pushing poor people, most of whom are Black, to the periphery of cities.

Around one-fifth of South Africa’s urban population live in shacks or informal dwellings, according to a 2018 report by SERI. Many more live in substandard housing. City governments maintain that the shacks destroyed during anti-land invasion operations are unfinished and unoccupied. But Edward Molopi, a research and advocacy officer at SERI, says that this claim is an attempt to escape their legal obligations to get a court order and to find alternative accommodation for affected people. 

The roots of the current eviction crisis go back to apartheid, which barred non-white people from living in cities. Between the 1940s and 1970s, tens of thousands of people were forcibly relocated from neighbourhoods like Johannesburg’s Sophiatown and Cape Town’s District Six to remote townships.

In the 26 years following the end of apartheid, deepening economic inequality and rampant unemployment have limited access to formal housing for millions of South Africans. Government housing programs have mostly focused on building small stand-alone homes, often on the peripheries of cities far from jobs and amenities.

While these well-intentioned projects have built millions of homes, they’ve failed to keep up with demand, says Marie Huchzermeyer, a professor at the Centre for Urbanism & Built Environment Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Government-funded housing projects “will never on it’s own be enough,” she says. “It has to be accompanied by land release.”

Government policies call for the “upgrading” of informal settlements and the formalization of residents’ occupation. But “there are still very, very, very few projects” of that nature in South Africa, Huchzermeyer says. “Even if it’s an informal settlement that’s been around for 20 years, there still seems to be a political wish to punish people for having done that.” The government wants people to go through the formal process of being given a house, she says – and for them to be thankful to the government for providing it.

At the municipal level, change will require “real leadership around informal settlement upgrading and around ensuring that land is available for people to occupy,” she says. 

Despite the end of enforced racial segregation, spacial apartheid remains a factor in South Africa. There are few mixed-income neighbourhoods. Those who can afford to often live behind walls in sprawling low-density suburbs, while the poor live in overcrowded slums and apartment buildings.

The creation of the apartheid city “didn't happen by chance,” says Amira Osman, a professor of architecture at the Tshwane University of Technology. “It was a deliberate, structured approach to the design of the city. We need a deliberate, structured approach that will undo that.”

Since last fall, Johannesburg’s Inclusionary Housing Policy has required developments of 20 or more units to set aside 30% of those units for low-income housing.

The policy, which faced significant opposition from private developers, won’t lead to dramatic change, says Sarah Charlton, a professor at the Centre for Urbanism and Built Environment Studies, but it is “an important and significant step.”

Zikode isn’t optimistic that change will come for shack dwellers, however.

“People in the high positions of authority pretend that everything is normal,” he says. “They pretend that everyone is treated justly, they pretend that everyone has homes with running water, that everyone has a piece of land – and hide the truth and the lies of our democracy.”

Jacob Serebrin is a freelance journalist currently based in Johannesburg. Follow him on Twitter.