A chilling and exhaustive inventory of London’s major railway stations ranked by temperature

Baby it’s cold outside. (Okay, today it isn’t actually, but still.) Image: Getty.

Depending on your route, entry into London can be either an eye-watering push through a frozen and gaping hole or a cloying, damp-breath squeeze into a baguette-smelling shopping centre.

In 34 years of coming and going (born here, moved out as a child, returned as an adult), I have built up a forensic picture of London’s major railway stations and the microclimates in which they exist. No number of noodle emporiums, shirt retailers or blister plasters can hide what I like to think of as a station’s core temperature. Forget seasons, weather, crowd size or time of day; this is a tabulation based on the very essence of the station itself.

Brrrrrrrrrr

Paddington

Sweet mother of suffering chillblains. Paddington Station is a frozen tundra, a relentless howling gale, a house-sized tube of draught, pockmarked by ticket machines and gift shops. It is the coldest place in London. The Atlantic may as well break upon its shore, as it turns its wind-bitten face to the west.

Waterloo

 

A snowy day at Waterloo. Image: Getty.

I sometimes wonder if they pump the Waterloo air straight off the surface of the Thames. It just has that nautical bite, a kind of chill that sets into your bones, wriggles down your scarf and kickboxes you in the ankles. Last time I waited there for a train I ended up pushing my fingers down into my thermos: true story.


London Bridge

The Watership Down of train stations: largely underground, often damp, overlooked by the terrifying and vicious. While not always and essentially freezing, it does feel somehow chilled. Like the plums in the icebox. Only the plums are the West Cornwall Pasty Company and the icebox is the doldrums of The Shard.

Clapham Junction

While not, strictly-speaking a major interchange, Clapham Junction is the busiest station in Britain (at least, according to measure of traffic, rather than passenger numbers, with a train apparently departing from there every 30 seconds). So it earns a mention as, in my humble opinion, the windiest station in Britain, if not the world. (I’d give notable mention to Warschauer Straße in Berlin as the other hot contender for sheer, bitter wind power.)

Marylebone

Marylebone is as cold as the past: as cold as open fires and polished brass; as cold as Sunday closing and terry cloth nappies; as cold as bowler hats and tuberculosis; as cold as coal smoke and a fit of the nerves. Not thermically cold, perhaps, but certainly stiff with the chilly weight of time.

Getting warmer

Kings Cross

Only get hawks on warm days, you know. Image: Getty.

A veritable cathedral to tepidity. From the lukewarm tea to the brick walls, Kings Cross is as tall and blank as a stingray, floating through the blood temperature waters of North London. Not that this stops 5,783 dweebs turning up in floor-length maroon and yellow scarves everyday, trying to wring some magic out of what is, essentially, a sandwich-flavoured waiting shed for London North Eastern.

Victoria

Essentially a 50p wee with a trains side dish, Victoria has a particularly stale, acrid climate that has little to do with temperature and everything to do with huffing commuters in navy suits smacking their briefcases into every passing knee as they bark meaningless orders into a takeaway cortado like a labrador staring down a rabbit hole.

St Pancras

Bah oui, St Pancras c’est chaud, non? Well okay, not actually chaud but definitely getting that way, even in January. Unless you make the mistake of walking down the M&S sandwich aisle which is, of course, colder than snow (but that’s more of a national crisis than a station-specific problem).

The very mouth of hell

Liverpool Street

It was probably quite warm that day. Image: Getty.

Bring me your tired, your hipsters, your huddled city boys yearning to breathe Essex, the wretched digital natives of your teeming shore. Send these, the sockless, hair-tossed to me, I lift my face to the golden departures board... and then take them for an egg roll at Wasabi and to Boots for some ibuprofen. Liverpool Street has that flat, unrolling warmth of Eastern England; a hairdressing climate, a sausage roll climate, a baked potato place.

Euston

Mmmmm, the warm hug of secondhand fag smoke, how I miss you. While pregnant, I managed to throw up every single time I set foot in Euston Station. Perhaps it was the heat, perhaps the smell of old chicken and gritty coffee, perhaps it was just sheer exhilaration at being so close to a Paperchase, but my god that station made me hurl. Still, at least it’s warm.

Oxford Circus

Sure, it’s not a major railway station, but special mention must go to the Bakerloo Line stop at Oxford Circus: hotter than Dante’s jockstrap and just as inviting. According to figures from TfL, the Bakerloo Line is the hottest line in London, temperature-wise. And, according to figures from my own sweat-soaked hauling of a large suitcase during a July heatwave, yes, yes it is. Burn on, Oxford Circus: you make clowns of us all.

Nell Frizzell tweets as @NellFrizzell.

 
 
 
 

Urgently needed: Timely, more detailed standardized data on US evictions

Graffiti asking for rent forgiveness is seen on a wall on La Brea Ave amid the Covid-19 pandemic in Los Angeles, California. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

Last week the Eviction Lab, a team of eviction and housing policy researchers at Princeton University, released a new dashboard that provides timely, city-level US eviction data for use in monitoring eviction spikes and other trends as Covid restrictions ease. 

In 2018, Eviction Lab released the first national database of evictions in the US. The nationwide data are granular, going down to the level of a few city blocks in some places, but lagged by several years, so their use is more geared toward understanding the scope of the problem across the US, rather than making timely decisions to help city residents now. 

Eviction Lab’s new Eviction Tracking System, however, provides weekly updates on evictions by city and compares them to baseline data from past years. The researchers hope that the timeliness of this new data will allow for quicker action in the event that the US begins to see a wave of evictions once Covid eviction moratoriums are phased out.

But, due to a lack of standardization in eviction filings across the US, the Eviction Tracking System is currently available for only 11 cities, leaving many more places facing a high risk of eviction spikes out of the loop.

Each city included in the Eviction Tracking System shows rolling weekly and monthly eviction filing counts. A percent change is calculated by comparing current eviction filings to baseline eviction filings for a quick look at whether a city might be experiencing an uptick.

Timely US eviction data for a handful of cities is now available from the Eviction Lab. (Courtesy Eviction Lab)

The tracking system also provides a more detailed report on each city’s Covid eviction moratorium efforts and more granular geographic and demographic information on the city’s evictions.

Click to the above image to see a city-level eviction map, in this case for Pittsburgh. (Courtesy Eviction Lab)

As part of their Covid Resource, the Eviction Lab together with Columbia Law School professor Emily Benfer also compiled a scorecard for each US state that ranks Covid-related tenant protection measures. A total of 15 of the 50 US states plus Washington DC received a score of zero because those states provided little if any protections.

CityMetric talked with Peter Hepburn, an assistant professor at Rutgers who just finished a two-year postdoc at the Eviction Lab, and Jeff Reichman, principal at the data science research firm January Advisors, about the struggles involved in collecting and analysing eviction data across the US.

Perhaps the most notable hurdle both researchers addressed is that there’s no standardized reporting of evictions across jurisdictions. Most evictions are reported to county-level governments, however what “reporting” means differs among and even within each county. 

In Texas, evictions go through the Justice of the Peace Courts. In Virginia they’re processed by General District Courts. Judges in Milwaukee are sealing more eviction case documents that come through their courtroom. In Austin, Pittsburgh and Richmond, eviction addresses aren’t available online but ZIP codes are. In Denver you have to pay about $7 to access a single eviction filing. In Alabama*, it’s $10 per eviction filing. 

Once the filings are acquired, the next barrier is normalizing them. While some jurisdictions share reporting systems, many have different fields and formats. Some are digital, but many are images of text or handwritten documents that require optical character recognition programs and natural language processors in order to translate them into data. That, or the filings would have to be processed by hand. 

“There's not enough interns in the world to do that work,” says Hepburn.


Aggregating data from all of these sources and normalizing them requires knowledge of the nuances in each jurisdiction. “It would be nice if, for every region, we were looking for the exact same things,” says Reichman. “Instead, depending on the vendor that they use, and depending on how the data is made available, it's a puzzle for each one.”

In December of 2019, US Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado and Rob Portman of Ohio introduced a bill that would set up state and local grants aimed at reducing low-income evictions. Included in the bill is a measure to enhance data collection. Hepburn is hopeful that the bill could one day mean an easier job for those trying to analyse eviction data.

That said, Hepburn and Reichman caution against the public release of granular eviction data. 

“In a lot of cases, what this gets used for is for tenant screening services,” says Hepburn. “There are companies that go and collect these data and make them available to landlords to try to check and see if their potential tenants have been previously evicted, or even just filed against for eviction, without any sort of judgement.”

According to research by Eviction Lab principal Matthew Desmond and Tracey Shollenberger, who is now vice president of science at Harvard’s Center for Policing Equity, residents who have been evicted or even just filed against for eviction often have a much harder time finding equal-quality housing in the future. That coupled with evidence that evictions affect minority populations at disproportionate rates can lead to widening racial and economic gaps in neighborhoods.

While opening up raw data on evictions to the public would not be the best option, making timely, granular data available to researchers and government officials can improve the system’s ability to respond to potential eviction crises.

Data on current and historical evictions can help city officials spot trends in who is getting evicted and who is doing the evicting. It can help inform new housing policy and reform old housing policies that may put more vulnerable citizens at undue risk.

Hepburn says that the Eviction Lab is currently working, in part with the ACLU, on research that shows the extent to which Black renters are disproportionately affected by the eviction crisis.

More broadly, says Hepburn, better data can help provide some oversight for a system which is largely unregulated.

“It's the Wild West, right? There's no right to representation. Defendants have no right to counsel. They're on their own here,” says Hepburn. “I mean, this is people losing their homes, and they're being processed in bulk very quickly by the system that has very little oversight, and that we know very little about.”

A 2018 report by the Philadelphia Mayor’s Taskforce on Eviction Prevention and Response found that of Philadelphia’s 22,500 eviction cases in 2016, tenants had legal representation in only 9% of them.

Included in Hepburn’s eviction data wishlist is an additional ask, something that is rarely included in any of the filings that the Eviction Lab and January Advisors have been poring over for years. He wants to know the relationship between money owed and monthly rent.

“At the individual level, if you were found to owe $1,500, was that on an apartment that's $1,500 a month? Or was it an apartment that's $500 a month? Because that makes a big difference in the story you're telling about the nature of the crisis, right? If you're letting somebody get three months behind that's different than evicting them immediately once they fall behind,” Hepburn says.

Now that the Eviction Tracking System has been out for a week, Hepburn says one of the next steps is to start reaching out to state and local governments to see if they can garner interest in the project. While he’s not ready to name any names just yet, he says that they’re already involved in talks with some interested parties.

*Correction: This story initially misidentified a jurisdiction that charges $10 to access an eviction filing. It is the state of Alabama, not the city of Atlanta. Also, at the time of publication, Peter Hepburn was an assistant professor at Rutgers, not an associate professor.

Alexandra Kanik is a data reporter at CityMetric.