Here are six things we learned by making a list of every station in London that crosses a borough boundary

This station crosses a boundary, but by less than you think. Image: Getty.

Confession time: Some of the original version of this post was wrong. What follows is the corrected version, with the number of boundary-crossing stations bumped from 20 to 24, and so forth.

It’s the ultimate crossover of CityMetric’s favourites: transit systems, local government, and cartography. Here are six facts we learned by using OpenStreetMap data to find which stations within Greater London cross borough boundaries.

For simplicity, I’m treating the City of London as a borough, and treating stations as the entire building, including platforms (obviously), ticket offices, entrances and exits to the buildings themselves, and the underground passageways. Complaints are invited and encouraged.

1. 24 stations overlap a boundary

 

 

For now. Once the Crossrail upgrade to Farringdon is complete, there will be 25, with its platforms stretching over 200 metres east from Islington through to the City of London at the eastern interchange on Long Lane. Suggestions that Barbican will be the 26th overlapping station are at best contentious.

Image: Open Street Map.

Sadly, there are no stations that overlap three boroughs. Willesden Junction, between Brent and Hammersmith & Fulham, comes close to Ealing but doesn’t quite make it. If only it still had its main-line platforms.


2. Three stations are in one borough, but two cities and two counties

Alright, I’m cheating here and I’m talking about the City of London (not, technically, a borough, but technically its own city and county).

Farringdon will be one. Chancery Lane also sneaks in, sitting on the boundary between Camden and the City. That boundary, set in 1994, runs midway down (High) Holborn and with entrances on each side, Chancery Lane’s in.

Lastly, the finest of any of the crossing stations, Blackfriars. Not only does it span two cities, but also a whole river. Entrances on both sides, platforms with a great view, and a problematic train service. Ah, Thameslink.

3. The City of London extends south of the river

The boundary between most boroughs over the Thames lies straight in the middle. Blackfriars Bridge, however, is owned by a trust of the City of London Corporation, the Bridge House Estates. This ownership is apparently enough reason that the City of London’s boundaries can extend to the south bank of the Thames, dragon statues and all.

Image: Open Street Map.

London Bridge, also owned by the Estates, is a bit trickier – it has the dragons, but the Ordnance Survey map shows the midway boundary. So, who knows?

4. Four stations have their platforms cleanly split between two boroughs

Most of the stations on the list have an entrance, or a part of a platform, that pops over a boundary. But at New Southgate, platforms 1 and 2 are in Enfield, while 3 and 4 are in Barnet. Kennington's underground platforms are dissected between Lambeth and Southwark. 

At Kensington Olympia, the southbound London Overground platform is in Kensington & Chelsea, while the Overground’s northbound platform and District line bay platform are in Hammersmith & Fulham. The overlap meant that residents from both boroughs successfully protested when TfL planned to put in a gateline that would have included the bridge between the platforms, preventing locals from crossing over without tapping in and paying a fare. The residents argued the bridge was a right-of-way; TfL relented and moved the gateline to allow the bridge to continue to be used.

5. Boundary commissioners like railway lines

Just down from Kensington Olympia is the finest example of split platforms. West Brompton’s District line platforms are in Kensington & Chelsea, and its Overground platforms in Hammersmith & Fulham.

Image: Open Street Map.

In 1940, passenger services on the West London Line (WLL) between Willesden and Clapham Junctions were shut down, and the platforms demolished. Following the MotoRail interregnum, the WLL returned to West Brompton in 1999 with new platforms.
But the Local Government Boundary Commission for England had already produced report #675 on the RBKC and H&F boundary in 1992. It decided that “a realignment of the boundary to the West London railway line would result in more effective and convenient local government. [...] A realignment of the boundary to the eastern side of the railway would be the most appropriate.”

Image: Open Street Map.

So when new platforms were built and West Brompton’s WLL reopened for services, the commissioners’ clean-cut boundary split the station into two. Confusingly, the changes never happened at Olympia.

Image: Open Street Map.

6. Let’s have a new set of administrative boundary reviews

It’s been over 25 years since the last report. With all the platform extensions and wider infrastructure changes, lots of stations are awkwardly jutting into another borough, like a unsure growing teenager with their new limbs.

Here’s the plan: finish the Parliamentary constituencies and Crossrail, carry out a London-wide “Principal Area Boundary Review”.

Then do Crossrail 2.

 
 
 
 

London’s rail and tube map is out of control

Aaaaaargh. Image: Getty.

The geographical limits of London’s official rail maps have always been slightly arbitrary. Far-flung commuter towns like Amersham, Chesham and Epping are all on there, because they have tube stations. Meanwhile, places like Esher or Walton-on-Thames – much closer to the city proper, inside the M25, and a contiguous part of the built up area – aren’t, because they fall outside the Greater London and aren’t served by Transport for London (TfL) services. This is pretty aggravating, but we are where we are.

But then a few years ago, TfL decided to show more non-London services on its combined Tube & Rail Map. It started with a few stations slightly outside the city limits, but where you could you use your Oyster card. Then said card started being accepted at Gatwick Airport station – and so, since how to get to a major airport is a fairly useful piece of information to impart to passengers, TfL’s cartographers added that line too, even though it meant including stations bloody miles away.

And now the latest version seems to have cast all logic to the wind. Look at this:

Oh, no. Click to expand. Image: TfL.

The logic for including the line to Reading is that it’s now served by TfL Rail, a route which will be part of the Elizabeth Line/Crossrail, when they eventually, finally happen. But you can tell something’s gone wrong here from the fact that showing the route, to a town which is well known for being directly west of London, requires an awkward right-angle which makes it look like the line turns north, presumably because otherwise there’d be no way of showing it on the map.

What’s more, this means that a station 36 miles from central London gets to be on the map, while Esher – barely a third of that distance out – doesn’t. Nor does Windsor & Eton Central, because it’s served by a branchline from Slough rather than TfL Rail trains, even though as a fairly major tourist destination it’d probably be the sort of place that at least some users of this map might want to know how to get to.

There’s more. Luton Airport Parkway is now on the map, presumably on the basis that Gatwick is. But that station doesn’t accept Oyster cards yet, so you get this:

Gah. Click to expand. Image: TfL.

There’s a line, incidentally, between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey, which is just down the road from St Albans City. Is that line shown on the map? No it is not.

Also not shown on the map: either Luton itself, just one stop up the line from Luton Airport Parkway, or Stansted Airport, even though it’s an airport and not much further out than places which are on the map. Somewhere that is, however, is Welwyn Garden City, which doesn’t accept Oyster, isn’t served by TfL trains and also – this feels important – isn’t an airport.

And meanwhile a large chunk of Surrey suburbia inside the M25 isn’t shown, even though it must have a greater claim to be a part of London’s rail network than bloody Reading.

The result of all these decisions is that the map covers an entirely baffling area whose shape makes no sense whatsoever. Here’s an extremely rough map:

Just, what? Image: Google Maps/CityMetric.

I mean that’s just ridiculous isn’t it.

While we’re at it: the latest version shows the piers from which you can get boats on the Thames. Except for when it doesn’t because they’re not near a station – for example, Greenland Pier, just across the Thames to the west of the Isle of Dogs, shown here with CityMetric’s usual artistic flair.

Spot the missing pier. You can’t, because it’s missing. Image: TfL/CityMetric.

I’m sure there must be a logic to all of this. It’s just that I fear the logic is “what makes life easier for the TfL cartography team” rather than “what is actually valuable information for London’s rail passengers”.

And don’t even get me started on this monstrosity.

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