The Anonymous Widower

Custom House DLR Station Reopens – 10th January 2017

Custon House  DLR station has now reopened and trains are now stopping again.

As the pictures show, there is still a fair bit of work to do.

I’m curious, as to what the structure on top of the station is for.

At the moment, it’s just a framework of steel beams, but is it for retail or a ticket office for either Crossrail or Excel.

Crossrail’s information on the design of the station is non-existent.,


January 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 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

Is This The Hippest Train Status Displays?

In Technology Doesn’t Have To Be Complex, I described how Transport for London were using the suspension to assess how crowded trains are on the London Overground.

In my post, I suggested that the information could be used in modern station displays to show the train loading.

Yesterday, this article in the Standard, had a picture of such a display, at Shoreditch High Street station.

So today, I took one of my own.

According to the Standard, passengers like the display.

It should be born in mind, that this is only the first version and I’m certain the information captured from the train suspension will find be used in several innovative ways.


October 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Your Class 345 Train Has Arrived

I took this picture at Stratford today.

Note the extra information on both screens.

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

The Class 345 Train Has An Updated Information Display

Bombardier have updated the information display on the Class 345 train, that I rode on the The 10:35 From Liverpool Street To Shenfield.

In that post I said this about the Information.

The current on-train information is simple, but then as I suspect the screens are software driven, any degree of required complication can be added.

I don’t know whether it is deliberate but everything is large and easy to read. There is also no maps or exhortations about security.

Long may it stay that way!

Simple is efficient!

So it looks like a new version of the software has been installed.

These pictures show the new display.

I wonder what the final version will be like.

I hope it’s not to fussy or full of advertising.

July 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

An Integrated Bus And Train Information Point

I saw this information point in the middle of Exeter.

Buses at the top, Exeter Central station in the middle and Exeter St. Davids station underneath.

Why aren’t there more in other cities?

April 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Another Sensible Large Map

This map was at Southport station and shows the two lines that meet there.

Like several Merseyrail stations, Southport has a combined ticket office and shop.

Several other train operators could do worse than copy some of Merseyrail’s ideas.

I sdhould say that Southport station is particularly well appointed, as it has an entrance into the nearby large Marks and Spencer.



March 24, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Sensible Large-Scale Local Train Map

I like this map from Merseyrail’s Northern Line.

The London Underground has something similar, with a schematic with times to get there, but London’s are much smaller than this large-scale version.

But that doesn’t put the minutes in a station circle and this is the only map I’ve seen that does!

Incidentally a Scouse version of Irene’s Law would not be far out, if you allowed three minutes for each stop.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Ducking And Diving Between Crossrail And The Central Line

There are stations that Crossrail and the Central Line have in common.

Ealing Broadway

Ealing Broadway station is one of the Western termini of the Central Line.

But is isn’t particularly well arranged to allow a fast interchange.

The change between an Eastbound Crossrail train and the Central Line is easy and is just a walk across of a few metres.

However, changing between a Westbound train and the Central Line involves a trip over a bridge.

Bond Street

Bond Street station links both lines to the Jubilee Line.

The change between Crossrail and the Jubilee Line looks to be easy, provided you are at the Western end of a Crossrail train.

The change between Crossrail and the Central Line, also has the Western end advice and also needs a lengththy walk underground.

A Look At Bond Street Station gives more details, of the various connections.

I do think that regular users of the new Bond Street station, with its three lines and multiple entrances spread over a wide area, will quickly learn that they will need to get off at the right end of a train and use the correct entrance.


This map from Westminster Council shows the station entrances.

Bond Street Station Entrances

Bond Street Station Entrances

The station entrances are as follows.

  • A – Northern Underground entrance.
  • B – Davies Street Crossrail entrance
  • C – Hanover Square Crossrail entrance.

A few thoughts.


  • As it looks like Hanover Square will be returned to its original state, it would appear that the Hanover Square entrance to Bond Street station, will be an entrance with a garden.
  • Fenwicks, Hamleys, John Lewis and Libertys, which are in a ring around Hanover Square will probably be best reached using the Hanover Square entrance.
  • Walking between Oxford Street station and the Hanover Square entrance isn’t too taxing, but it could be improved by wider pavements and more pedestrianisation.

The biggest change at the Eastern end will occur, when and if TfL decide to make Oxford Street station step-free.

This map from shows the various lines from Bond Street to Tottenham Court Road.

Bond Street, Oxford Street And Tottenham Court Road Stations

Bond Street, Oxford Street And Tottenham Court Road Stations

It would appear that the Bakerloo Line goes under Regent Street with the Central Line under Oxford Street.


  • Could it be possible to dig a new entrance, with lifts and escalators down to the deep level lines from the South West corner of Oxford Circus?
  • It it was feasible, it might even be possible to build the entrance, without disturbing the current station.
  • The entrance would be a short walk to Hanover Square.
  • Crossrail would gain the missing link to the Victoria Line.

The solution will depend heavily on the development in the area.

Tottenham Court Road

A lot of what is said for Bond Street, can also be said for Tottenham Court Road station..

  • It is a double-ended station, with lots of entrances.
  • It connects Crossrail and the Central Line to an important North-South line; the Charing Cross Branch of the Northern Line.
  • It will bring hoards of shoppers to a hopefully pedestrianised Oxford Street.

I said more in The Double-Ended Tottenham Court Road Crossrail Station.

I’m not sure how difficult the interchange will be between the Crossrail and the Central Line will be at Tottenham Court Road, but I suspect that the unknowledgeable traveller, at the wrong end of a Crossrail train, might have a long walk.

Certainly, travellers changing to the Northern Line at Tottenham Court Road, will probably find they need to be at the Eastern end of the Crossrail train.

Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations share a  massive Crossrail station, that I wrote about in Liverpool Street Station Disentagled.

When travelling on Crossrail and changing at this station, you’ll need the Western end of the train for.

  • Moorgate Main Line Trains, which will become the Great Northern Metro.
  • Northern Line

And the Eastern end for.

  • Central Line
  • Liverpool Street Main Line Trains

It would appear, that Circle, District and Metropolitan Lines will be easily accessible from both ends of the Crossrail train.

Get it wrong and you could have an unexpected two hundred metre walk.

This map from shows the layout of lines at Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations.

Lines At Moorgate And Liverpool Street Stations

Lines At Moorgate And Liverpool Street Stations

So many journeys from the complex will now be a lot easier.

  • Liverpool Street to Canary Wharf
  • Liverpool Street to Heathrow
  • Liverpool Street to North London and South Hertfordshire
  • Liverpool Street to South and South-East ~London.

Liverpool Street is going to be a very busy Crossrail station.


Stratford station is a cross-plstform interchange of the highest quality between the Central Line and Crossrail.

I’m certain that passengers travelling from the East to stations like Holborn, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and Shepherds Bush, will think about changing at Stratford from Crossrail, rather than at later stations.

The journey might be more convenient and you might get a seat.

Journey Times

But the factor that will decide, where a Crossrail passenger will get the Central Line or vice-versa will probably be decided by journey time.

Looking at a journeys, the following times are predicted by the various  planning tools.

  • Ealing Broadway to Stratford – Central Line – 46 minutes – Crossrail – 26 minutes
  • Bond Street to Stratford – Central Line – 20 minutes – Crossrail – 15 minutes
  • Ealing Broadway to Bond Street – Central Line – 23 minutes – Crossrail – 11 minutes

So it looks like Crossrail will be significantly quicker.


I think that Londoners will do what always do and duck and dive across London, finding the best route for their particular journey.

The ones who will have problems will be the irregular passengers, who don’t know the station layouts.

For this reason, TfL need to get the information on Crossrail to a much higher standard than today.

One thing on their side will be that Crossrail trains will be wi-fi and 4G enabled.


October 24, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Northern Rail’s Ticket Machines

This picture sums up Northern Rail’s ticketing machines; lonely, unreliable and crap.

A Niortern Rail Ticket Machine At Manchester Victoria Station

A Niortern Rail Ticket Machine At Manchester Victoria Station

This machine at Manchester Victoria station did work though and after scratching around for a few coins, I was able to get to Blackburn.

A few other comments on my trip to Blackburn on Saturday.

  • On my arrival at Liverpool Lime Street station, the queue for the ticket machine was at least fifteen people. So by the time, I’d bought a ticket, my train had left.
  • At Manchester Victoria station, there were only two machines for a very busy station.
  • At Blackburn station, the machine was hidden in the subway.
  • I never saw a machine at the two small stations; Clitheroe and Whalley.
  • The last two stations have independent platforms, so if you’re travelling from one without a ticket machine, you’ll have to have a long walk first.
  • When I passed through Manchester Piccasdilly on Saturday evening, neither of the Northern Rail ticket machines were fully operational.

The company needs a lot more machines, hopefully with better functionality and reliability. They should also make sure they’re better placed.

Whilst, I’m giving Northern Rail a good kicking, here’s some more annoyances

A couple of stations I visited had a truly dreadful mobile phone signal. I think the law should be that all stations and bus stops should have a top class signal, so that those, who need to text or call their partner, friend or parents can do so.

The two-coach Class 156 train, I rode from Blackburn to Preston was the most overcrowded train I’ve ever ridden. The staff must have known it was so bad as Blackpool had just been beaten at Accrington. So why weren’t we  told by the station staff?

Probably because they were keeping well away!

At least we had a nun on board and she probably prayed for our safe deliverance to Preston.

Surely, Northern could have rustled up another or bigger train from somewhere. A four-car Pacer would have been manna from heaven!

What’s missing from this picture?

Getting My Train To Blackburn

Getting My Train To Blackburn

Although, it was the Peak, there was no prominent staff on the platform to help unload and load this four-car Pacer.

I had to look it up on the Internet, whether our train stopped at Rochdale for a fellow traveller.

Incidentally, Manchester Victoria is starting to look tired and dirty. Is it all the diesel exhaust?

Northern also seem to specialise in bad information on stations. The bus information at Blackburn was abysmal and pointed you to a non-existent bus stop to get to Ewood Park.

I do wonder that Northern are worried if they improve things, then too many passengers might want to use the service and they’d have to buy more trains.

October 16, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments