Robert Hampton

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26th March 2013

Capital Letters
Posted by at 11.48pm | Out and About, Trains | No responses

Giant London Underground roundelSo, London then.

I was there over the weekend of 16-18 March at the invitation of likeable Finchley-dweller Ian Jones, who zeroed in on an idle Tweet of mine like a ninja. On the first day of my week off work, I found myself on a Virgin train down to the Smoke.

Disaster struck early in the trip, as the Northern Line through Finchley was closed for engineering works. So, to actually get to Ian’s home, I faced the prospect of a rail replacement bus from Golders Green. First problem was actually finding where the bus stopped – Golders Green station has a row of bus stops right outside the station entrance, but of course the Tube replacement service didn’t stop there. No, you had to turn right out of the station, walk along a footpath, cross a road and board the bus at a temporary stop underneath a railway bridge. MAKES SENSE.

The line was, in fact, closed so London Underground could test the new Northern Line signalling system. Excitingly, for much of the weekend we could see a constant procession of test trains from Ian’s kitchen (which looks out onto the railway line). Less exciting was the fact that they went at about 5 mph and kept stopping and starting. Clearly all is not well with the new computers yet.

Undeterred by the lack of trains, we set out to explore some of the capital’s transport delights. Ian, in case you didn’t know, is the author of the excellent 150 great things about the Underground blog, and was keen to show me some of his favourite places. I will freely admit that a good proportion of the weekend was spent wallowing in our mutual transport geekiness.

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18th May 2010

The man on the Clapham (and Balham, Streatham, etc) Omnibus
Posted by at 1.18pm | In the News | 1 response

We finally have the answer to a question which has puzzled scientists for decades: what would happen if Boris Johnson invented a bus?

It’s only at the design stage, so it’s quite hard to judge, but I can’t see it achieving the same iconic status as the Routemaster. I’m also yet to be convinced that it is needed, other than to satisfy Boris’s anti-bendybus dogma.

In fact, watching the video I can’t help but think of that episode of The Simpsons where Homer is invited to design a car because he is allegedly in tune with what the average person wants… the resulting vehicle ends up being a hugely expensive flop.

Seriously, with three doors, two staircases and a wheelchair space, the lower deck is going to have room for approximately two passengers.

One postscript to the story is that about 20 ex-London bendybuses are heading to Liverpool to run services for Arriva, which caused the Echo to do a wonderful story about the DEATHTRAP BUS HORROR ON CITY STREETS (or words to that effect).

17th September 2009

New Tube
Posted by at 8.06pm | Trains | 4 responses

Londoners are up in arms about the new Tube map which has been redrawn to make it “less cluttered”. On that count it succeeds completely, largely thanks to tidying up the East London Line and getting rid of the little red dagger symbols that were sprinkled everywhere. Here’s a sample of before and after for you:-

Old Tube map

New Tube Map

The big change that has upset everyone is that the River Thames has disappeared. If it were a geographically accurate map this would be important, but it isn’t. As BBC blogger Mark Easton points out, the Tube map is designed for people who already know which station they’re going to and just need a simple diagram to know which lines to use. You don’t need to know where the river is for that.

So I think the new map is a huge improvement. It’s certainly better than the now permanently broken Merseyrail map, which after recent revisions has achieved the near impossible and made a simple network appear complicated.

Enjoy the new Tube map while you can, because Boris, with his keen eye for a bandwagon, has ordered the changes reversed.

13th July 2008

B-oyster-ous
Posted by at 4.33pm | Trains | No responses

Thousands of people using London’s public transport network may find their electronic Oyster card no longer works after a fault hit the system.[BBC]

This is why I’m glad Merseytravel haven’t introduced smartcards yet. All I have to worry about with a Saveaway is sticking the plastic cover down without leaving a little lump in it. God bless you, oh lottery-scratchcard-like travel pass!