The Anonymous Widower

50% Of All TfL Pay As You Go Journeys Are Now Made Using Contactless Payments.

The title of this post is the same as the title of this article on SmartRailWorld.

This is the first paragraph.

Londoners and visitors to the British capital have embraced the contactless way to pay, with more than 17 million pay as you go journeys on bus, Tube and rail services made a week using the technology according to the latest figures from Transport for London (TfL). This total equates to around half of all pay as you go journeys now being made using contactless payment cards or mobile devices.

The article goes on to say New York and Sydney are going to similar systems.

Can anybody tell me, why other large cities and conurbations in the UK, aren’t installing similar systems based on contactless payments?

Especially, as London ain’t seen nothing yet!

April 25, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Ticketing On Heathrow Southern Railway

This article on City AM is entitled New Elizabeth Line Services Are Coming To Heathrow’s Terminal 5 After Airport Strikes Deal With The Government and TfL. It contains this paragraph.

Heathrow has also announced that it is introducing Oyster and contactless payments for all rail services going into the airport. From May 2018, new ticket readers will be installed at Heathrow, so anyone using Heathrow Express and TfL Rail will be able to use an Oyster or contactless.

When I passed through Heathrow a couple of weeks ago, there was evidence of new ticket gates being installed.

Heathrow Southern Railway’s Proposed Services

Heathrow Southern Railway are proposing four services to the West of Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

  • Heathrow Express from Terminal 5 to Woking, Guildford and Basingstoke, with an additional stop at Farnborough Main.
  • Crossrail from Terminal 5 to Staines
  • A service from Terminal 5 to Waterloo with stops at Staines, Clapham Junction and possibly Ashford, Felham, Twickenham, Richmond and Vauxhall.
  • A service from Terminal 5 to Weybridge with stops at Egham, Virginia Water, Chertsey and Addlestone.

Some of the stations like those between Feltham and Waterloo already accept contactless ticking, but surely all of them must if Heathrow Southern Railway is built, as you’ll be able to use contactless ticketing at Heathrow, but not at say Woking or Basingstoke.

Onward From Basingstoke, Guildford And Woking

A proportion of travellers from places like Bournemouth, Exeter, Portsmouth, Salisbury and Southampton will use Heathrow Southern Railway to get to the airport, with an appropriate change at Basingstoke, Guidford or Woking.

Will these travellers want to use contactless ticketing?


There will be a lot of discussions about ticketing on the Heathrow Southern Railway.

These ticketing issues, help to make it very understandable, why MTR, a partner in South Western Railway, want to join the Heathrow Southern Railway, as I wrote about in MTR Vying To Join Heathrow Southern Rail Bid.

Travellers want the ticketing system with the least hassle and as London is proving, contactless ticketing with bank cards works well!




April 8, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

More Train Services Between Leeds, Huddersfield And Manchester

This article on the Huddersfield Daily Examiner is entitled Important Timetable Changes For Huddersfield Rail Passengers Heading To Manchester.

It is a good explanation of the major changes that will take place to TransPennine Express services after the 20th of May.

  • There will be four fast trains between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester Victoria station
  • There will be two slow trains between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester Piccadilly station
  • But nothing is said about Northern services.

I suspect, it will be sorted by the time the service starts.

I would check before you travel.

Hopefully, if you want to go to Piccadilly and get on a train that only goes to Victoria, it will be a same platform interchange to continue, your journey if your ticket is marked Manchester Stastions.

I would assume that you won’t be able to touch in with a contactless card on this short journey as is becoming the norm in a lot of the World.

Ticketing in the North is so Nineteenth Century.


April 7, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments

Do A Lot Of Other Cities Need An Overground?

This article on the MayprWatch web site is entitled London Overground Celebrates Ten Years Of Transforming Rail Travel In The Capital.

The principles behind the Overground are simple.

  • Bring run-down suburban railways under local control.
  • Clean everything like crazy.
  • Run four trains per hour on all routes.
  • Introduce contactless ticketing with Oyster and bank cards.
  • Have lots of visible well-trained staff.
  • Upgrade stations and step-free access, when money allows.
  • Increase train length to match passenger numbers.
  • Allow disabled passengers to just turn up and get the assistance they need.
  • Add lots of passenger information.

The principles certainly appear to have worked. This is from the MayorWatch article.

This investment, which started under Mr Livingstone and was continued by his successor Boris Johnson, has helped the London Overground become one of the UK’s most successful rail services, with independently measured passenger satisfaction scores routinely above 80%.

Since launch, more than a billion passenger journeys have been made on the network which now serves 23 of the Capital’s boroughs as well as southern Hertfordshire.

The investment is continuing.

  • In 2018, new Class 710 trains will replace the thirty-year-old Class 315 trains on West Anglia routes to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town.
  • In 2018, the newly-electrified Gospel Oak to Barking Line will change over to four-car Class 710 trains to double capacity.
  • In 2018, Friday and Saturday night services will start on the East London Line.
  • By 2020, service frequencies on the circular North, East, South and West London Lines will have increased to decrease the overcrowding.
  • In 2021, the Gospel Oak to Barking Line Extension to Barking Riverside will open to serve ten thousand new homes.
  • In 2026, the North London Line will join the big party at Old Oak Common station, when HS2 opens.
  • Could the West London Orbital be the next project?
  • Transport for London would love to get their hands on the Northern City Line. This proposal is supported by many Londoners, polticians and rail professionals like Chris Gibb.

So long as passengers turn up, we will see increasing amounts of orange on London’s Rail and Tube Map.

Celebrating Ten Years

To celebrate ten years, London Overground have released a map showing attractions that are accessible from the Overground.

The Overground could become a tourist attraction in its own right.

  • No special ticket required – Just touch in and out!
  • Many of the attractions served by the Overground are affordable or free.
  • Trains have a frequency of at least four trains per hour.
  • Stations generally have good directions to local attractions.

In addition, Overground trains have better views from the windows than Underground trains.

The Overground Has Certainly Been A Success

When I moved to Dalston in 2010, the Overground had just opened to four station within walking distance; Canonbury, Dalston Junction, Dalston Kingsland and Haggerston.

New three-car Class 378 trains ran to Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, New Cross, Richmond, Stratford and West Croydon, every fifteen or so minutes.

Now the trains have grown to five-cars and there is an extra route across South London to Clapham Junction to complete the circlke around Central London.

Passenger numbers have grown with the capacity and the railways have transformed Hackney and Dalston in particular.

Other Overgrounds In The UK

Several cities in the UK have their own local rail networks that are heavily used for commuting, leisure, shopping and tourism.

I’ve rode on systems in Birm,ingham, Glasgow and Liverpool, but none of these railways is as easy to use and as travel information-rich as the London Overground.

Not one of the UK’s local networks for instance, allow ticketing by using a contactless bank or credit card.

But then, with only a couple of exceptions, European networks are no better than the abysmal norm!

Contactless Ticketing

I believe that every local rail or Metro network, should support ticketing using contactless bank or credit cards.

  • There is no need to buy a ticket or a special electronic travel card.
  • A maximum daily, weekly or monthly cap can be applied.
  • \Entry and exit at stations is quick and easy.

I also feel that cities that don’t go this route will lose out, as tourists will go elsewhere.

Network Maps

New Metros in Europe and the rest of the world, shameslessly copy the features of London’s iconic Tube map for one of their networks. But often for various reasons, they position them high-up and make it that you need to be over six foot tall to read them.

Every network, should have a large map, that is at least the size of London’s with the stations laid out in an easy-to-read format, that can be read by anybody from an eleven-year-old child to an eighty-yrear-old with failing eyesight, sitting in a wheelchair.

London’s maps aren’t perfect, but they are a good start!


I know the Merseyrail network well and it probably comes closest to the London Overground in terms of operation.

But, in terms of Marketing, I don’t think it does is best to sell itself to visitors.


Is a big change about to happen in Birmingham?

This article in the Railway Gazette is entitled West Midlands Trains Announces London Northwestern Brand.

This is also said about services in Birmingham.

Services operating around Birmingham are to use the West Midlands Combined Authority’s West Midlands Railway branding, with a view to facilitating the possible future devolution of responsibility for these services from the national Department for Transport to the authority.

So will Birmingham improve its local rail offering?

It’s certainly going to have new trains and an expanded service, so will they add the following.

  • Contasctless bank card ticketing.
  • A route pattern and map, that is understandable to non-Brummies.
  • Dedicated local platforms at New Street station.
  • More visible staff on the platforms.
  • More information.

The bare bones are there, but they need a lot more flesh!


The world needs to develop more Overground networks as London has done!



November 11, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Could London Introduce Lifts With Inbuilt Ticketing?

Use the Underground or the trains in London and you have to have to touch in and out with your contactless ticket, Oyster card, smart phone or Freedom Pass.

Suppose you want to put lifts into a station, where putting the lift inside the ticket barriers would be difficult, but perhaps putting it outside on the street would be easy.

This technique has been used at Bank station to provide step-free access to the Docklands Light Railway.

When I called the lift to enter the station, the lift was sent by an operator in the Control Room.

So why not combine an outside lift with the ticketing?

Perhaps to call the lift, you need to touch in or out?


November 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Welcome To The Future, New York City

The title of this post is the sub-title of this article on the Inverse web site.

It describes how New York City is changing its public transport ticketing from a card-based system to a Tap-and-Ride system based on london’s Oyster technology.

Is this one of the first steps to the world becoming London’s Oyster?

October 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

What Is Most Important In A Train Service?

I am prompted to ask this question after my trips on the reopened Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin), which I wrote about in Along The Reopened Gospel Oak To Barking Line.

These are my thoughts on what is important in a train service.

Clean And Tidy Trains And Stations

London Overground is a network of nine lines and 112 stations and the operator makes sure that everything is clean and tidy.

Also unlike many rail lines in the world, it is very rare to find any graffiti on trains or inside stations on the Big Orange.

I’ve only ever seen one example of spray paint on a train, in the seven years, that I’ve used the Overground.

So what is it, that enforces the good behaviour?

I don’t know, but even on a crowded train, I’ve never seen any anti-social behaviour.

Could it be that the clean, practical environment of the trains and stations discourages it? Perhaps it has just been designed out?

Remember that stations are the marketing or retail face of the trains.

Would you buy your supper, clothes or household goods from a badly-designed and scruffy shop?

You wouldn’t!

And you didn’t buy much from BHS, Blockbuster, Comet or Woolworths either!

The Size, Quality And Type Of Trains

My fellow passengers on my GOBlin trips, didn’t seem bothered about the quality of the Class 172 trains., but a couple did say that four-car trains would be welcome, as overcrowding on the line can be a problem.

But I do wonder if you have a quality train of the right size and performance, does it matter what  method is used to power the train, so long as it is reliable.

I also think that if you asked a selection of users and residents by the line, that electric trains would be fasvoured on noise grounds, but some would object to gantries marching along the line in a sensitive area.

It should be noted, that one of the reasons for electrifying the GOBlin, is so that freight trains can be electric-hauled, which is preferable for environmental reasons, of which diesel locomotive noise is very prominent.

The Number And Quality Of he Stations

More and higher quality stations are a sound policy, that is only limited by the budget.

Many recently opened stations, like Dalston Junction, Galashiels, James Cook, Oxford Parkway and Southend Airport have been a success, as like most new stations, they’ve built to fulfil a perceived need!

In addition, stations like Deptford,  Hampstead Heath and Lower Edmonton have also shown an increase in patronage after upgrading with lifts and a refurbished  building.

A cynic might say, that Network Rail’s Access for All program is not just about passenger needs but more about getting more people  to ride in trains to generate revenue.

But the outcome is the same for those with special travelling needs.

A Turn-Up-And-Go Service

One lady of a certain age, I met yesterday, said she’d never used the GOBlin before and as she’d heard it was running again, she thought she’d give it a try, as she fancied a walk on Hampstead Heath.

Since, it was taken over by London Overground, the short line has been running four trains per hour (tph) in both directions, which is what London Overground, Merseyrail and other operators would consider a Turn-Up-And-Go-Service for an urban route.

If you just miss a train, then you only have to wait a maximum of fifteen minutes for another train.

But to be an efficient Turn-Up-And-Go Service other things are needed.

Contactless Ticketing

My fellow traveller was  like me, travelling on a free Frredom Pass, which means we just touched in and went on our way. But in London, I actually carry two other valid tickets as two of my credit/debit cards are contactless. I use one of these, when I’m travelling to Gatwick Airport, as it is outside the Freedom Pass area, but inside London’s contactless ticketing area.

, Surely when you use a line like the GOBlin, be it in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Paris or Zurich, you shouldn’t have to buy a ticket if you have a contactless debit or credit card.

These days with modern technology, no-one should not have to do anything more than touch in and touch-out with a contactless bank card to use a local transport network; based on bus, tram or train.

Operators that don’t embrace this contactless bank card route and insist you buy a separate card or download an app to your new Nokia 3310 are Luddites of the worst kind.

Getting To And From The Station

Efficient Turn-Up-And-Go also needs enough car and bike parking and/or well-documented bus links.

Tea And Coffee Kiosks

London Overground also like to add good tea and coffee kiosks into their Turn-Up-And-Go mix, often using very independent operators.

If you do miss that train, you might as well take your caffeine fix!



March 2, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Ticketing In Liverpool And Manchester

On my trip to Wigan, I travelled around Liverpool and Manchester extensively on both days.

Whether the cities like it or not, transport-wise, the whole of Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester  is one ticketing area.

I bought a Lancashire Day Ranger at £15 on both days. But!

  • That is not expensive for me, but it probably is for others.
  • It doesn’t include Manchester’s or Blackpool’s trams.
  • It doesn’t include the Wirral Line in Liverpool.

Why can’t I just touch in with my contactless bank card, like I can in London?

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Sydney to trial contactless payments on public transport network.

Sydney will be using London’s system, so why can’t Liverpool and Manchester?

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Smart Ticketing Delivery Board

This article on the Rail Technology web site has a section entitled Smart Ticketing Delivery Board.

This is the opening paragraph of the section.

Elsewhere in his speech Grayling announced his vision to introduce smart ticketing across Britain’s railway network, enabling passengers to use mobile phones, contactless cards or smart cards to buy their tickets along with more pay-as-you-go options.

I’m glad to see contactless cards mentioned, as in my view there is no other way to go.

Why shouldn’t one contactless credit or bank card get me all over the UK? Or Europe for that matter? But that’s being small. If I can use my Amex card in a restaurant, why can’t I use it on the train, bus or tram? Or even a plane!


December 8, 2016 Posted by | Travel | | Leave a comment

Heathrow Services Post Crossrail

To take some of the pictures for A Look At Stockley Junction, I took Heathrow Connect to the Airport..

My return ticket from Hayes and Harlington station, cost me £8.20 with a Senior Railcard, which must be one of the most expensive journeys  per mile in the UK. Especially, as there are only two trains per hour (tph). Considering that I could have done the journey quicker yesterday, using a 140 bus, as the train was ten minutes late.

But it would be difficult to take the pictures I wanted from the bus.

Arriving at Heathrow, I thought that a hot chocolate would be in order, so I set off for Terminal 2.

Passenger friendly the journey is not, so as I wanted to get back, I returned to the station to catch the next train.

I did not see a single sign to Heathrow Connect, with this one being typical.

Where's Heathrow Connect

Where’s Heathrow Connect

I knew where to go, as I’d walked it.

Incidentally, it is easy enough to find the overpriced Heathrow Express, but how many passengers with a brain want to go to the disconnected Paddington?

Some like me might actually want to go to Hayes and Harlington or perhaps Maidenhead.

I didn’t ask, but I wonbder if the advice to go to Maidenhead, is to take Heathrow Express to Paddington and then get a train to Maidenhead. The Oracle (Nation Rail’s Journey Planner) recommends taking Heathrow Connect to Hayes and Harlington, but will all the staff.

Current Services To The Airport

There are four ways to get to Heathrow by public transport.

Heathrow Express  – 4 tph to and from Paddington. – Overpriced

Heathrow Connect – 2 tph to and from a series of stations along the route to Paddington – Infrequent and overpriced.

Piccadilly Line – Slow, frequent, usually reliable and the most affordable.

Bus – For a lot of those living near the Airport, this is the preferred route.

This map from shows the layout of the rail and Underground lines.

Rail And Underground Lines At Heathrow

Rail And Underground Lines At Heathrow

Simple it isn’t!

But that is what you get if you dither over the next runway in the South-East for forty years.

Heathrow’s rail links are so very Topsy, unlike those at Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, London City, Luton, Manchester, Southend and Stansted.

Not all the others are perfect, but they’re getting better.


Crossrail will be the new wayto get to Heathrow and in some ways it is a replacement for Heathrow Connect. This is said under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Heathrow Connect.

From May 2018, Crossrail trains will replace all Heathrow Connect trains between London Paddington and Heathrow terminals 2, 3 and 4. Furthermore, as of December 2019 all services will run through the new tunnels at Paddington to central London destinations including Bond Street, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf

So, it would appear that there will no substantial improvement until December 2019.

This is a detailed timetable, with particular reference to going between Heathrow and the City of London and Canary Wharf.


  • May 2018 – Heathrow Connect will be taken over by Crossrail. We’ll certainly see better signage and service under Transport for London’s management.
  • May 2018 – The Crossrail start schedule on Wikipedia, also shows that the shuttle between Heathrow Central (Terminals 1,2 and 3) and Terminal 4, will be transferred to Crossrail. Terminal 5 will be reached by using Heathrow Express from Heathrow Central.
  • May 2018 – Heathrow Connect in the guise of Crossrail will be serving erminals 1,2, 3 and 4, but not Terminal 5. Will we be seeing new Class 345 trains and a higher frequency to Heathrow? I woulden’t be surprised if Heathrow Airport, try every trick to keep Crossrail out of the Airport, to protect the revenue on Heathrow Express.
  • December 2018 – Crossrail services between Paddington and Abbey Wood will start, thus linking Paddington to  the City of London and Canary Wharf. There will probably be a longish walk between the two parts of Crossrail at Pasddington, but the tunnel across London, will give Paddington the much need-connectivity, it’s needed since the Second World.
  • May 2019 – Crossrail services between Paddington and Shenfield via Whitechapel will begin, thus meaning that many travellers East of Paddington, will use a single change there to get to and from Heathrow.
  • December 2019 – The full Crossrail should open, meaning that there will be direct trains between Abbey Wood and Heathrow Terminal 4 calling at Canary Wharf, Liverpool St-Moorgate, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Bond Street, Paddington, Heathrow Central and all the stations in between.

Trains into the Airport will be.

  • 4 tph – Heathrow Express for Paddington, where many passengers will change to and from Crossrail.
  • 4 tph – Crossrail to Abbey Wood.

One will be expensive and the other will be affordable and much more convenient, as it reaches the places passengers want to start or finish their journey.

It looks good, but there are a some questions to answer.

Is eight tph enough trains to and from the Airport?

If you compare Heathrow with Gatwick, Luton and Stansted, eight tph seems good.

However, I found this article in TravelWeekly, which is entitled Gatwick outlines plans for a train departure to London every three minutes.

It gives a very good summary of the train services that will run to Gatwick after Thameslink is completed.

  • Four tph dedicated Gatwick Express trains to Victoria
  • Six tph to Victoria – originating from East and West Coastway, Horsham/Littlehampton, and Three Bridges/Haywards Heath
  • Four tph to Bedford via London Bridge – originating from Gatwick and Brighton
  •  Two tph to Cambridge via London Bridge – originating from Brighton
  • Two tph to Peterborough via London Bridge – originating from Horsham
  • Two tph to London Bridge – originating from Littlehampton/West Coastway, and Haywards Heath/Three Bridges.

That is a total of twenty trains to and from London and beyond and most of the South Coast from Southampton to Hastings.

How many better rail-connected airports are there anywhere in the world?

Luton and Stansted are also have aspirations to improve their rail links.

I think that passengers will press for increase in the frequency of services to the Airport and they’ll want more destinations.

After all Shenfield and Abbey Wood are planned to have 8 tph all day to and from Central London, with at least twice as many in the Peak.

How do passengers get to and from Iver, Langley, Maidenhead, Reading and all staions to the West of Hayes and Harlington?

A rail link into Terminal 5 from the West is planned, but something needs to be done before that is completed probably in the mid-2020s.

After December 2019, their will be four routes.

  • Go to Paddington and use Heathrow Express – Expensive
  • Go to Hayes and Harlington and take Crossrail into Heathrow Central – Requires two step-free changes of train.
  • Take a coach from Reading.
  • Go to Hayes and Harlington or West Drayton stations and use a local bus.

I can see something innovative being done at Hayes and Harlington station.

There is probably capacity between Heathrow Terminal 5 and Hayes and Harlington stations for a 4 tph shuttle in both directions, that would also solve the Terminal 5 connectivity problem.

Southall could even be an interesting alternative, as there is lots of space.

What Would Be My Solution?

I would use Hayes and Harlington station, as the interchange for Heathrow Airport.

In an ideal layout there would be three slow lines through Hayes and Harlington station, with two island platforms separating the lines. From the South, they would be.

  • The Reading-bound (Up Slow) line.
  • The Heathrow shuttle line, which would also be used by Crossrail trains going to and from Heathrow Terminal 4. This liine would be bi-directional.
  • The London-bound (Down Slow) line.

Between the platforms would be two welcoming island platforms to give passengers a step-across interchange, between trains.

It would need a major rethink of the station.

But consider.

  • Passengers from the West for Heathrow would just walk across the platform to get their train.
  • Passengers for Heathrow Central could take any train.
  • Passengers for Terminal 4 or Terminal 5 might need to wait a few minutes for an appropriate train.
  • Crossrail passengers for Terminal 5, would change at Hayes and Harlington.
  • Passengers from Heathrow for the West would just walk across the platform to get the train.
  • No passenger would need to change platforms using the step-free bridge.

What is being provided at Hayes and Harlington station is very much a poor design.


Will the current Heathrow Connect service between Paddington and Heathrow Central and Terminal 4 be dropped?

I can’t see any point to it, after Crossrail has an all-stations service to the Airport from Paddington.

How do passengers get to and from Terminal 5?

I proposed the shuttle to do this, with passengers changing at either Hayes and Harlington or Heathrow Central stations, to a train going to either Terminal 4 or Terminal 5.

Will passengers be able to use contactless cards to the Airport?

I think if the decision was down to the Mayor, Transport for London or the people of London, Oyster and contactless bank cards would be a way of paying a fare to Heathrow, as it is to Gatwick.

Will passengers like me with Freedom Passes, be able to use Crossrail to Heathrow?

Boris said Yes and I suppose the current Mayor, Transport for London and card holders, will expect it to be possible, as it is on the Piccadilly Line.


The Heathrow spur of Crossrail has not been thought out too well!







November 22, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment