Here’s the longest you could get trapped in the train doors for on every London Underground line

Any second now... Image: Getty.

Did you read CityMetric’s recent story of a man who got trapped in the doors of a Northern Line train for 15 stations and think, “Pah, what a pathetic loser, I bet I could get trapped in the doors of a tube train for way more stations than that!”? Then read on, for we have for some reason attempted to calculate the maximum number of stations it would be possible for on each line!

In order to work this out we’ve looked at the which side the doors open on the train at each station: at some stations, it can actually be either, as there are 2 or more possible platforms for the train to stop at. If at the start of a journey the doors open on the right, then open on the left for 14 stations until finally opening on the right again, that makes 15 stops of “stuckness”.


In order of length, by number of stops, here are the longest ‘stuck’ journeys we could find on each line.

Waterloo & City: 2 stops

This might seem somewhat ludicrous given the Waterloo & City Line only has two possible stops but if the train arrives on the ‘wrong’ platform at Bank (and you aren’t otherwise rescued, which is basically a running assumption here), you’d have to wait until it returned to Waterloo (the trains always end up on the opposite side they started from at Waterloo and go out of the station to turn around, otherwise you could do INFINITE WATERLOO & CITY LINE).

Bakerloo: 5 stops

Queen’s Park to Edgware Road, in either direction.

Victoria: 8 stops

Warren Street to Brixton makes seven, and assuming we’re correctly remembering how the trains work at Brixton, if you get the ‘right’ platform you’ll be stuck until it goes back up the line to Stockwell.

Hammersmith & City: 8 stops

Royal Oak to Hammersmith for seven and, again, if you get a platform where the doors are still shut on your side at Hammersmith you might have to wait until the train goes back to Goldhawk Road.

Central: 10 stops

Holborn to White City, IN THAT DIRECTION ONLY, you fools (due to Notting Hill being weird).

Metropolitan: 10 stops

Northwick Park to Uxbridge and then back out to Hillington, assuming you get the right platforms at Harrow-on-the-Hill and Uxbridge.

Circle: 12 stops

South Kensington to Aldgate (that direction only because who knows what is going at Mansion House???).

District: 13 stops

South Kensington to Whitechapel. (Assuming you get ‘right’ platform at Tower Hill)

Northern: 16 stops

This is basically the route of the unfortunate Samir – Bank to Edgware – only you have to get even more unfortunate and remain stuck at Edgware until you are returned to Burnt Oak).

But the winner is…

Piccadilly: 19 stops

Credit to Henry Dyer for working some of this out before us.

Anyway: Assuming that a) you’re on a train that stops at Turnham Green, b) you get the ‘right’ platforms at Acton Town and Uxbridge, you could get stuck at Earl’s Court and not get freed until the train reaches Uxbridge, then reverses back out to Hillingdon. Then, and only then, will you be crowned best at getting stuck in the doors of the tube, unless you’ve been arrested by the British Transport Police, e.g. because someone has seen it, said it and sorted it.

Will you unlock the cupboard now, Jonn?

Addendum: We’ve just realised that of course that some train doors don’t open either side at certain stations with short platforms. Whether or not this opens up an even longer trapped-in-door situation is left as an exercise for the reader. If you find one, you will win the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve wasted even more of your life than we have.

With much help from Clive’s Underground Line Guides, Carto.Metro and this effort by TfL Tech Forum user Briantist.


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.