100 Journeys: No 18

This week took me to a part of the network I don’t normally frequent and to a station I’ve never alighted at before: Warwick Avenue.

I don’t find myself on the Bakerloo Line often, but I’m very fond of it. If this project was about sounds then those of the Bakerloo would feature heavily in my list of favourites. The uneven clatter of the doors slamming together, the tuneful hum of the air compressors and the distinctive drone of the Metro-Cammell motors. It’s like traveling back in time.

The Bakerloo Line is the old gent of the Underground. It was there at the birth of The Tube in the early part of the 20th Century pioneering subterranean travel. It was an elegant Victorian transport solution and had stylish stations designed by legendary architect Leslie Green. It became a surban icon as it shared in the prosperous Metroland idyll with branches to Watford and Stanmore. It survived a Blitz. The Bakerloo Line has been through some stuff and it could tell you so many stories.

As time went on the Bakerloo Line grew old. It’s cousins on the Central and Northern kept up with the times evolving new technology and new trains. The Piccadilly got an extension to the airport to greet all of London’s guests whilst the Bakerloo had to give up one of it’s branches to the flashy new kid on the block. It’s stations got tattier (Warwick Ave Below), it’s responsibility shrunk, it’s signals aged and it’s dream of reaching Camberwell was abandoned. With most of it’s route superseded or duplicated by newer or more express lines, and without the unenviable task of having to run out to two suburban outposts, it’s hard to tell what the Bakerloo Line is really for anymore… But that’s never stopped the old chap. A reprieve is a long way off as new trains and signalling is not due until 2030. So until then the Bakerloo will keep soldiering on every day like it’s 1932.

You might get to your destination quicker on the Jubilee Line, or in more comfort on the Overground, but once in a while take The Bakerloo… It’ll tell you some stories…

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100 Journeys: No 16

Fares Fair?

A Happy New Year to all my followers and welcome back to 100 Journeys!

New Years Day in the early small ours on the Underground is always an interesting one. It can be expected that there will be merriment, rowdy passengers, amusing hats and funny costumes and that the floors of all the trains are strangely sticky. This year was no exception. As is the annual treat from TfL that all travel between 23:45 and 04:30 is free.

It’s a nice gesture, sure, but maybe it’s one born out of guilt – considering that a mere 24 hours later the public is hit by the annual fare increase…

Conveniently for us, someone or something at TfL had cocked up. On January 2nd the gates were once again flung open as the oyster system started to malfunction, leaving TfL no choice but to offer a morning of free travel until it was fixed. A “glitch” in the matrix was blamed but you can bet your last 10p that someone didn’t enter the correct values for the fare increase… Around £250,000 of lost fare revenue was estimated to have gone down the drain in just 6 hours.

The increase sees most fares go up by 10p.

On Sundays, Bank Holidays and Night Shifts I drive to work, not because it’s any easier and sometimes it’s not even quicker but because it’s cheaper. In 2016 it will cost me £5.60 to get to work off peak. Granted I only drive in when the congestion charge and parking is free, but we’ve got to a point where it’s sometimes cheaper to use personal motor transport over public! How is that in anyway going to encourage people to use their cars less? It’s hardly promoting London as a green and environmentally friendly city.

TfL and The Mayors Office, you can keep your free New Years travel – what we really want is a fairly and cheaper fare structure!

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100 Journeys: No 15

Along with the stickers I mentioned earlier, I was surprised to see that the yellow warning of disruption stickers that have announced Tottenham Court Road’s closure were still up at stations. Until I looked closer. It seems Holland Park is next on TfL’s upgrade hit list. This may be a blessing for some as the station is starting to look particularly tired and dated. On the other hand I’ve always been rather fond of Holland Park’s very retro signage and décor. Go have a look whilst you can, it’ll be gone by January!

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