The Anonymous Widower

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

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

Ban Lorries From Using Car Sat-Navs, Say Councils

This is the title of an article on the BBC web site.

After a number of high-profile incidents where lorries have got stuck and caused hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage, something needs to be done.

Perhaps driving a truck, through an area it is banned, should be considered dangerous driving!

January 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

A Walk Between Colchester’s Two Stations

I’ve not been to Colchester many times.

Once I remember, I had to go to Celia’s Chambers on North Hill and for some reason I took the train and walked. I think, it could have been that we were going out with friends from the Chambers and she must have driven me home. But it was probably around twenty years ago.

So as I’d certainly never been to Colchester Town station and wanted to get some photos for Making Sense Of The New East Anglia Franchise, I thought it might be a please to go and have a walk to Colchester station to get the train home.

This Google Map shows the two stations and the town.

Colchester Stations

Colchester Stations

Colchester station is at the top, with the Great Eastern Main Line going through in a West-East direction, from Chelmsford to Ipswich.

The Sunshine Coast Line breaks off the main line, turns South and goes out of the South-East corner of the map.

There is a branch from this line, that goes from a triangular junction to Colchester Town station, which is in the midde at the bottom of the map.

These are pictures, I took on my walk.


  • It is not a very well-signposted route.
  • There is plenty of space at Colchester Town station and it would be possible to walk across between the two platforms.
  • It is quite a steep walk up from both stations.
  • What didn’t help, was that the Town Centre was being landscaped and there was builders rubbish everywhere.

If you look at the Google Map, I’m certain there must be a better walking route, than the one I used. But then if Councils put up decent walking maps and routes, the natives complain, as they say they know their town and city well.


August 20, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

A Tram Map In Munich

When it comes to local transport and walking maps, it’s a case of the bigger the better.

A Large Munich Tram Map

A Large Munich Tram Map

This was in the tram information centre in Munich Hauptbahnhof.

Every main station should have a local transport information centre and the largest map possible.

At the station, I also took this picture.

Tram Sign In Munich

Tram Sign In Munich

I was going for supper and I needed to get a tram 16 to St. Emmeram, which would drop me in the area of one of the best gluten-free pizzadromes in Europe; Pizzesco.

So what could go wrong?

There was a demonstration in the area and the trams stopped running, leaving me in a part of MunichI didn’t know!

Although, Pizzesco was very crowded and I had to wait, I eventually got my delicious pizza and a bottle of gluten-free beer.

Coming back to my hotel, I eventually found a tram outside the Deutsche Museum.

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Design Crime – Manchester’s Totally Crap MiGuide

When I see things like this, it really gets my anger up.

All I want in a City Centre, is a map that will show me where to go, not some indecipherable device, that I probably can’t work, as I have the sort of fingers that don’t work well with touch screens. I don’t want to be bombarded with advertising.

If I need information, like the nearest gluten-free restaurant, I’ll search Google.

Give me maps on liths like Ipswich, Glasgow, Preston, Bristol, Birmingham, Southampton and Sheffield! Or big ones with seats like Krakow!

Manchester used to have some nice maps, but they seem to have been removed.

Perhaps they’;re kept with the Ed Stone?

These devices are total crap, that should be consigned to the dustbin of the future.

They’re certainly a Design Crime.

January 4, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , , | 5 Comments

HS2’s Interactive Map

For those who are worried, need to know or just plain curious, HS2 have put a very good quality interactive map on their web site on this page.

These are some images, I have captured.

Stations are shown by red dots

Euston, St. Pancras and Kings Cross Stations With HS2

Euston, St. Pancras and Kings Cross Stations With HS2

Euston, St. Pancras and Kings Cross Stations With HS2

The map clearly shows the three stations and the route of HS2 into Euston.

Note the following.

  • HS2 clearly arrives at Euston on the western side of the station.
  • The pedestrian route to St. Pancras could be more difficult than planners think.
  • The station would appear to be extended towards Euston Road.
  • Whilst the station is built, I suspect, that a good connection to the Metroipolitan/Circle can be created.

I think we’ll see some plans in the next few years, that make the connection between the three stations a lot better.

Old Oak Common Station

Old Oak Common Station

Old Oak Common Station

The map shows the myriad of lines in the area.

I believe that for many people using HS2 to and from London, will use this station, as its connectivity is so much more comprehensive than Euston.

Birmingham Interchange Station

Birmingham Interchange Station

Birmingham Interchange Station


Birmingham Curzon Street Station

Birmingham Curzon Street Station

Birmingham Curzon Street Station

Birmingham Moor Street and Birmingham New Street stations are to the south of the new station.

HS2 East Of Birmingham

HS2 East Of Birmingham

HS2 East Of Birmingham

This map clearly shows how trains for the North via Birmingham will go into Birmingham and then reverse direction in Birmingham Curzon Street station.

Handsacre And HS2

Handsacre And HS2

Handsacre And HS2

This map shows where HS2 joins the West Coast Main Line at Handsacre.


The interactive map is a real credit to modern computing.

Every project that could benefit should have one.

Will we be seeing one for Crossrail 2?

December 4, 2015 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The 2017 UK City Of Culture

Hull is going to be the 2017 UK City of Culture

I walked across Hull twice from my supposedly City Centre hotel, which seemed to be almost closer to Grimsby than the railway station.

The first time was in the dark and there were no signs or maps, so I had to climb up on a dual-carriageway bridge, as the direct route across the footbridge was blocked due to demolition. The taxi-driver who brought me to the hotel said that all other routes were dangerous.

Despite the hotel saying it would take twenty minutes to get to football at the KC Stadium, It took me over an hour.

The pictures were taken in the morning and it was very wet, as they show.

I had hoped to find a paper shop to buy my copy of The Times, but in the forty minute walk, I didn’t pass one open shop selling newspapers. They was also no nice cafe for breakfast.

So instead of looking around Hull, I made an executive decision to go to Meadowhall to get some breakfast.

I know it was eight o’clock, but round here in East London, most things start at seven. Even my local Carluccio’s opens at eight in the week and nine at the weekends.

I got lost both times and I couldn’t even find a taxi to take me to the station.

I have never seen a city so badly signposted in my life.

But then to many of these towns and cities, maps are a waste of money, as everybody uses smart phones.

I don’t as my left hand isn’t good enough to hold it steady enough. Also as it was raining, the screen doesn’t appear to be too readable underwater.

UK Capital of Culture 2017?

They’re having a laugh or are they trying to lure visitors into those unsavoury areas my taxi driver warned me about?

I shan’t be going back to Hull again.

The place is an absolute disgrace as regards welcoming visitors, who don’t have cars and prefer or have to walk.


October 21, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Circular Walk Through York

At York station, I took a circular walk to the City Centre and back to get some lunch.

The return route from the centre was as follows.

  • Through the Museum Gardens
  • Along the River Ouse.
  • Across the Pedestrian Bridge by the York to Scarborough Line
  • Directly into the station through the cycle parking.

The installation of the new bridge was talked about in Dancing With Cranes And A Bridge With Help From Lego.

My return route along the river and over the new bridge was a lot easier, as you’re away from the traffic on pavements that are better.

This map shows the area where I walked back to the station.

York Minster To York Station

York Minster To York Station

The Scarborough Bridge is the most westerly one over the River Ouse.

I would also think it’s easier to go this way between the National Railway Museum and York Minster and the City Centre.

For a city that relies on tourism, it is not blessed with decent and numerous, maps and information.

Of the major cities in Yorkshire that I’ve visited only Sheffield seems to have a large number of decent maps. None are up to the standard of Glasgow, Krakow and Preston.

October 20, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment