It's been 150 years since the Great Eastern Railway formed the Epping Ongar Railway. Now the longest heritage railway in Essex, will be resuming steam and heritage diesel hauled passenger trains on the branch. Volunteers have been working towards restoring on the track, signals, buildings and rolling stock on the former end of the London Underground Central Line. Starting with a special weekend from Friday 25th May 2012 the railway will be running services again.
The railway intends to operate steam hauled passenger services between Ongar and North Weald, a diesel shuttle from North Weald into Epping Forest, and a heritage bus service connecting to Epping LUL Station and High Street.
The last Epping-Ongar service ran in 1994. At the time when passenger services were suspended, the line was only carrying a mere 80 passengers a day. The train that ran the final London Underground service on the line, a three-car unit of 1960 stock, has been preserved by Cravens Heritage Trains. After a variety of special opening days, at the end of 2007, the railway was sold
to a new private owner who was committed to bring steam back to the line. Thanks to the owner the hard work of volunteers this will now be taking place.
The photo above shows a leaflet issued by London Transport for
when the Underground was originally extended on the Central line - west to West Ruislip and eastwards to Loughton on
the way to Epping & Ongar.
Further details of timetables and gala opening weekend fares will be released. Tickets will be available shortly on this website or follow @eorailway on Twitter to keep up to date. Advanced booking for the first weekend is strongly recommended. Many thanks to Shell for telling me about this.
You've seen a lot of Tube Maps which attempt to show what they should look like if geographically accurate. However, students Benedikt Groß and Bertrand Clerc, from Royal College of Art in Kensington, have turned this on its head somewhat. They believe that Londoners now have the Tube Map ingrained in their heads so much that we actually think London looks like the London Underground map. Benedikt said "We're visualising the imaginary, mental map Tube users have of London." As we know Harry Beck's Tube map for many is "more useful than the actual geography."
He continued "Similar to the process of my MapMap Vauxhall project, all real world geographical locations of stations, railway tracks and Thames riverbanks have been matched with the corresponding positions on the London Tube Map. In the image above this process is demonstrated, you can see the mapping of the River Thames, Victoria Line and stations." The black dots are from the Tube map - the red dots are the real locations.
In a project called Metrography, they have taken 1,865,565 data points from OpenStreetMap & merged them with TfL's Tube map. The latitude and longitude of each point is then recalculated, keeping the positions of the Thames and stations as fixed references to produce a rather beautiful map below
Metrography wasn't designed for navigation, but Benedikt and Betrand think that maps like this could become popular. "In future an accurate map might be less
important than an abstract map," says Bertrand. "And maybe we've
started that process." Hat tip to Wired who published this in their May 2012 issue.
What do you think? Is the quest to find or design a geographically accurate Tube Map actually quite redundant and pointless now? If so many of us see London as the Tube Map, would a geographically accurate one be more of a hindrance than a help? Or should the real Tube Map make more efforts to show that distances that look far away from each other are actually quite close? Is this something that could encourage more of us to walk between stations (probably quite useful given the levels of Tube overcrowding predicted for the Olympic Games)?
Brits Daley Thompson & Steve Redgrave, American athletes Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis, Australian swimming legends Murray Rose and Dawn Fraser and basketball great Magic Johnson are amongst other athletes who will have a London underground station named after them on a special map during the London Games later this year.
The Underground Olympic Legends Map was designed by Alex Trickett and David Brooks who said: "We love sport, we love lists and we love London, so what better challenge than to select 361 of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen and to fit them on to our iconic Tube map.
"There were heated debates and a few late changes of heart, but we are happy with the result: dozens of nations represented, all 2012 Olympic sports accounted for, and Ali and Phelps, two of the greatest Olympians of all time, guarding the Stratford gateways to the Games."
"These things always divide opinion, so we are happy to discuss (and defend!) any of our choices"
Baker Street is renamed Daley Thompson for the two-time decathlon gold medallist, while Leicester Square is LeBron James and Knightsbridge is Steve Redgrave.
Track stars make up a good part of the map, running from west to east and all around the centre of London. Swimmers take up most of the Central Line. Basketball and tennis players run from north to south, with stops Magic Johnson and Sheryl Swoopes being followed by Roger Federer, The Woodies Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge, and The Williams sisters Serena and Venus.
Ian Thorpe is the new name for the Oxford Circus station. Piccadilly Circus is renamed Mia Hamm after the USA's gold-medal winning football player.
A watermarked sample of the full map is on TfL's site and a poster can be purchased for £4.99
Update - Fanny Blankers-Koen, a Dutchwoman who was one of the biggest
stars of the 1948 London Olympics, was originally left off a new
map of the London Underground dedicated to past Olympians,
prompting criticism from the Netherlands.
On 4th April 2012 , the track star known as the ''FlyingHousewife'' was added to the list for future prints.
''We apologise if any offence has been caused by the omission of
Fanny Blankers-Koen, who was clearly a remarkable athlete,''
TfL marketing director Chris Macleod said in a
statement. ''We are speaking to the publisher to ensure that she
features in the next reprint of the map.'' I had never heard of her until she was mentioned in the comments, but am delighted that Fanny will be on the Olympic Tube map. If only they were real stations, I would pay good money to hear drivers announcing that the next train will be stopping at Fanny!
The contract will give travellers one hour of free online access every day, at any station on the network. Some of the major London stations to get the service in time for the stations in time for the London 2012 Olympics this summer will be Dalston, Forest Hill, Hackney Central, Kensington Olympia, New Cross Gate, Norwood Junction, Shepherd’s Bush, Surrey Quays, Wapping, West Croydon, West Hampstead and Willesden Junction. The rollout to all London Overground stations is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
“Access to the internet is no longer limited solely to home or to the workplace, and people’s expectation is to be able to work and communicate effectively and seamlessly while they’re on the move so we’re delighted to support this initiative which will bring reliable, free WiFi to London Overground’s customers,” said Steve Murphy, Managing Director of London Overground Rail Operations.
Virgin Media is building the wi-fi network on the London Underground from a total capital expenditure budget of about £640m for 2012. There will be a period of free access during the Olympics, and then only Virgin Media's broadband & mobile customers will get continued access as part of their subscriptions. Other non-paying users will be limited to a site showing online travel information.
Boris Johnson gave the Queen her commemorative Oyster card yesterday as he led a delegation to Buckingham Palace to deliver a loyal address. It's unlikely that she'll use it as I think she was last seen on the Tube when the Victoria Line opened in 1969, but you never know.
You'll be able to get your hands on both cards at all London Underground ticket offices & selected Oyster ticket machines within Zone 1, as well as TfL Travel Information Centres. The official designs unveiled by TfL will have the normal £5 deposit and £5 minimum top-up.
The second card, expected to be available in mid June, celebrates all of the events taking place in the capital this summer, including the London 2012 Games. Shashi Verma, TfL's Director of Customer Experience, said: 'Commemorative Oyster cards have been very popular with the travelling public in the past and we are delighted to be able to offer Londoners and visitors the chance to have a special memento of what will be a summer like no other.'
He added: 'Transport will play a vital role in bringing people out to see The Queen during her Diamond Jubilee, and in getting people to all of the sporting and cultural events during the London 2012 Games and so it is fitting that we have limited edition Oyster cards that they can use and keep to mark these wonderful, once in a lifetime, occasions.'
Boris was equally happy about people rushing to this summer's event and said in the loyal address "Londoners will flock to the banks of the Thames to see your Jubilee Pageant pass down the river and the whole city looks forward to the moment in the summer when Your Majesty will declare the Games open, in the heart of a renewed east London, now transformed from the devastation of the blitz and post-war decline."
The first "limited edition" Oyster card was introduced last year for the Royal Wedding and 750,000 were produced. TfL are clearly hoping that sales of the new ones for the "summer of celebration" will be just as popular.
The latest of the posters from the ‘Get Ahead of the Games’ series is on the London Underground. Its all part of the campaign to ensure that tourists, Londoners & commuters can effectively plan their journeys during the Olympic Games. Two weightlifting people try to squeeze themselves out of Tube doors at the same time, with the caption "Certain journeys will be affected during the Games". "Certain" journeys? Why not try "all" journeys?
Well unless you are travelling just a few stops on the outskirts of West, South or North London, your journey won't be affected. So they're right. Otherwise every other Tube journey during the Olympics will be affected.
Anyway, back to the advert, if you are free today - Tuesday 27th March 2012 - you can get the chance to star in a re-construction of the above ad. The people behind the campaign are "looking for extras to appear with our two Weightlifters in a very special video and photoshoot. We'll be filming at a disused station, with our own Tube train and platform!" It might be too late to apply now - but you never know - if you're free at lunchtime and can get to Charing Cross, where the filming will be taking place on the old Jubilee Line platform, get in touch.
If you're one of the people going, please let me know how it went. I'd love too see how they re-construct the old lady on the right of the picture with her cat (or is it a white squirrel) in the shopping trolley!
Boris has said as part of his plan he would withdraw the right to free public transport from young people (under-16's get free bus travel) who refuse to give up their seats for people who are elderly, pregnant or disabled.
Apparently the scheme, which would operate on a two strikes and you're out policy, would also apply to youngsters using offensive or threatening language on public transport.
A spokesman for the mayor said the plan would cost Londoners nothing and be "self-enforcing".
Self enforcing? So that implies that other people are going to have to report youths to someone - London Underground station staff, the BTP, TfL - who knows?! And say what? "I heard a young person using the F-word a lot". "A girl with hooped earrings kissed her teeth at me when I told her to take her feet off the seats".
In all seriousness can anyone see this actually happening? Also who deems what is offensive. Certain people pepper their sentences with swear words all the time and actually don't mean to be offensive.
Many Londoners feel embarrassed enough asking people (youths or adults) to give up their seats for pregnant women or those who are elderly or generally look as if they are in need of a seat.
Also why just penalise youths for this behaviour? If Boris seriously thinks anti social behaviour in public transport is so awful why not ban everyone who is offensive on public transport. He banned drinking alcohol, who why not just ban swearing in general and offer a two strikes on your out rule for people who don't give up their seats to those who need them?
Shouldn't more be done to make everyone behave more considerately to others on public transport? Even though Boris believes his pledge "would cost Londoners nothing", he's wrong. There is always a cost to policing something, even a fairly bonkers idea like this one. Why not spend a bit more money on posters which are not as mawkish as the ones TfL introduced a few years back?
If you're near a radio or internet that has access to Radio 5 Live today at 5.20pm (ish) listen out for my dulcet tones on the subject. But in the meantime feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.
The film crew follow a number of Tube workers "from hard-working Bulgarian cleaner Vladimir, who is amazed that the British government pays for people not to work, to 23-year-old Harry leading his gang of 'fluffers' picking fibres and lint from the tracks." Fluffers is not what you might be thinking about the more modern day use of the term referring to adult films, but was (and apparantly still is) the name given to people who clean all of the fluff from Tube tracks. This was very much a female occupation in the past & they were also known as Fluffies. The picture of the women below was taken in 1955.
London Transport Museum says: "They are using special fluffer brushes that helped them collect the dust and fluff from around the rails. This was important because if the dust built up, it could affect the trackside equipment or cause fires. Fluffers went to work every night once the electricity to the tracks had been switched off."
Even in 1989, thanks to Molly Dineen's Heart of the Angel film, it seemed these cleaners were mainly female. It'll be interesting to see how many women (if any) are amongst the cleaners featured tonight.
A pest controller, Mick, is also called in to investigate a smelly problem at Hounslow Central and emergency response worker Roy gets inside one of the Tube's disused 'ghost' stations, Down Street.
Tickets for semi regular / annual tours of Aldwych Tube run by London Transport Museum always sell out very quickly, so I imagine that tonight's episode will be intriguing and entertaining finale to the series.
The artist said he "found idle trains trips an amazingly fruitful time for prayer and contemplation". It's a non profit exercise and "just a little idea for those Circle Line passengers who believe that pondering on the enormous mystery of Christ’s death [and mysterious enormity of His love] could be a good thing".
Speaking to The Catholic Herald he said that a series of paper cut illustrations of Jianzhi pandas, given to him by his mother when he was eight, was his inspiration.
After exhibiting, the original illustrations may go up for sale with proceeds going to charity. If you're interesting in exhibiting, contact the artist here. Many thanks to Ianvisits who originally alerted me to these illustrations. They'd also look interesting alongside the Poems on the Underground ads on the Tube. For me they make a diverting alternative to variety of religious ads on the London Underground we can ponder or stare at on our journeys.
I originally blogged about these cutaway diagrams a number of years back but Matt's post prompted me to re-visit them. The one above of Piccadilly Circus is by Gavin Dunn from 1989 and you can buy a reproduction from London Transport Museum's poster collection
There's a lovely 3D cutaway illustration of Bank and Monument stations found via skyscrapercity
Here's one of Liverpool Street from Crossrail's website
If anyone knows where there are more 3D Tube station cutaway designs please let me know in the comments. Have you seen any other 3D Tube maps that would work & help us get around the London Underground?
Thanks to everyone who has added more images in the comments. Many thanks to Ivan who found one I particularly like. It's an amazing one of Camden Town Underground by the cutaway artist Leslie Ashwell Wood.
Ivan also found a mirrored site by Paul Mison of collection of many more 3D Cutaway drawings of London Underground station that was formerly on Geocities (remember them!).
There are some lovely illustrations in there too including the one above an official poster with a prediction of what the "new" Bond Street Tube station would look like after its completion in 1976. So check the link.
If you're in King's Cross, your smartphone knows exactly where you are, and plays audio relevant to your location. You can also listen if you're not near King's Cross. The app, can be downloaded via 3G, features ten stories, althought there is also a much larger version of the app, Streetstories Extra, available on iPhone which has over 70 stories and about two hours of audio material, downloadable via Wi-Fi. I'm going to try the Android version when I'm next around King's Cross (I've still haven't seen the new station yet!)
The video shows some of the areas & stories the app features. There's stories about 7/7 bombing, all of the architecture of around St Pancras station and hotels, and Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter extracts with his use of platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station to get to Hogwarts.
Francesca Panetta, The Guardian's Special Projects Editor, said: "Streetstories is a great way to experience an area in a new way, and we found out all kinds of things about the area during this project - Charles Dickens lived here for some of his childhood, Thomas Hardy worked as a trainee architect helping to clear bodies from St Pancras Old Church, and along York Way, where our building sits, you would have seen cattle being marched down the road from the Caledonian market, once the largest cattle market in Europe."
As with most audio guides you don't have to play in a particular order, so can wander round as the mood takes you. Nina Lovelace, their Content Development Manager, said "We're keen to get feedback from users, as well as talk to any potential clients keen to develop similar apps for their locations, organisations or travel routes."
I'd personally love to see something like this for the East End as I'm now there for work and really have no idea of lots of the background & history around Bethnal Green and Whitechapel. It might also be useful for visitors to the London Olympics if they decide to explore these areas on days off from the games.
When I initially heard that M & C Saatchi had designed the campaign and initally only saw this pretty dull ad below, I thought "Meh, Saatchi could do better". But now that I've seen the in-carriage ones above, I think it's a good job playing on both uses of the term rubbish - ie rubbish as in "pants" one of Vicki Pollard's favourite words and rubbish as in litter. Also look out for press ads with a similar message saying "This advert is rubbish".
According to TfL in 2011, 97 newspapers, 76 drinks cans and bottles, 20 fast food items and 61 other objects were caught in train doors causing delays to services.
Also there were 327 "litter related incidents" which caused disruption on the network last year.
Gareth Powell, LU's Director of Strategy and Service Development, said: 'Customers don't always think of newspapers as rubbish when they are on a train or at a station. Leaving coffee cups, fast food packaging or newspapers on trains can lead to these items getting stuck in doors or falling on the track. By taking their litter with them or putting it in the bin passengers can help us run the Tube more smoothly and improve reliability.
'This new litter campaign is asking people to dispose of their rubbish in a bin so it can be recycled, minimising delays for the millions of people that use the Tube a day. This will also make the Tube cleaner and more pleasant for everybody.'
Numbers of bins on the London Underground have increased by 25% per cent and there's also 1,600 plus bins that are in, or within walking distance Tube stations. Sadly the press release makes no mention how much it costs TfL (and us) to pay for staff to clear up all the free-sheets and papers - although some would argue that it's creating jobs!
Either way, let's hope TfL's new rubbish advertising isn't rubbish and has some effect.
For visitors unfamiliar with the "Guess Where Tube" game it's where I ask you to guess from exactly where on the London Underground, certain pictures from the London Tube Flickr group were taken from. This is shot through a train as it's coming into the the exact place you need to guess.
So as the previous most accurate guesser never claimed his prize and as I'm still working on a way to import all the old comments to Disqus, the prize has been carried over. Like the previous one this is another that I think is reasonably easy.
The prize is a lovely rubbery Mind The Gap Key Ring. You have until UK time 11.59pm on Sunday 25th March 2012 to make guesses. Try not to look at the comments before you when making your guess.
Make your guesses in the comments below and either leave your blog or twitter name or email address or some really obvious way I can get in touch with you if you're the lucky winner. The last person had a Google Connect account and for some reason I couldn't contact him through that. So if you're unregistered in Disqus or don't give a Twitter or blog name or email address you won't be included in the contest. The person who is the most exact will win & if there's more than one person who guesses the same most correct place, I'll put names into a randomizer & select from there. Good luck.
I've never really understood the fascination the London Underground have with maiming and scaring away pigeons. Perhaps tonight's episode will show why it is. They clearly spend a lot of time (and money) with "pigeon control".
Also on tonight's episode: "Station Supervisor Bob Weedon at Bank has to deal with five injuries and faintings in a row during one rush hour crush." Remember the series was filmed in the summer time and there are loads of notices on the Tube then about carrying water and what to do when you feel faint on the London Underground. One of the nicer signs is below by the lovely station assistant Kim, of Caledonian Road Tube, whose arty designs brighten up the Tube station's white boards.
I'm not sure why the Jubilee Line seems to have more than its fair share of reported power failures. When I was looking for pictures to illustrate "power failure" the line popped up quite a number of times. Hopefully Howard Collins will explain this tonight and I'm sure many Tube staff that read this blog will be interested to see what "mucking in" for the London Underground boss really means.
What I love is how the London Underground doesn't even get a look in. Usain Bolt can obviously run to the stadium faster than taking the Tube during the Olympics. Actually even me running might be faster than taking the Tube during the Olympics. Even a paddle boat on the Thames at Richmond is seen as more viable than getting on the Tube!
NB Please PR agencies note I really am extremely unlikely to blog about your vaguely Olympics related Press Release on the back of this post. I also don't do paid blog posts & VISA haven't paid me to post this, I just happened to be watching I Robot on Sunday night and the ad was running in one of the breaks. However, if you have an anti Olympics post, it might be worth sending it my way!
I never really liked it when Echo took over from Haloscan and the support they offer for commenting is non existent unless you pay £100 a month purely for hosting comments - which obviously isn't happening.
So I've imported Disqus as the new way to comment - a number of London bloggers who I know many of you already visit, already use this, so it will be good for you as no need to build a new account. Also if it's good enough for "over half a billion people across some of the largest sites on the web", it's good enough for me!
If you don't already use Disqus you can still comment without having an account, but I'm sure people who are regular Disqus users will tell you what the benefits of having an account are.
Hopefully someone with more brains than me will be able to work out how I can import the old comments into the new system. I've just worked out how to access the XML file. But it took this developer half a day to then import the comments into a new system. That's worrying as it would probably take me half a year as I have very little technical abilities.
So if you want to see the old comments stay patient. A friendly developer has really helped me with getting Disqus onto the site so that it (now - as of Sunday 2.30pm 18th March) works regardless of which country you are in (all comments made yesterday on the index page & outside of the UK have unfortunately disappeared though).
It wasn't long before they became an "internet sensation" and we learnt how by caring for, busking and travelling around with Bob, James life had been transformed. My posts on their exploits were some of the most popular posts of the year on my blog. The huge online cat community Catster covered their tale. Bob was featured in The Big Issue (see picture above) and there was much excitement when we learnt they had secured a book deal. So finally A Street Cat Named Bob is now available in book shops and as of today on Amazon and if the signing & reviews are anything to go by, is set to be a best seller. Today's Evening Standard has an interview with James and the writer says of Bob "he has entranced London like no feline since the days of Dick Whittington".
On Tuesday 13th March 2012, there was a book signing at preview at Waterstones on Islington Green. I was pretty gobsmacked to see the size of the huge queue going out of the door. The signing started at 6pm and when I arrived at 6.30pm I was told that all the books had been sold, but I could still take pictures if I liked.
I went inside and Bob was looking as cool as a cucumber loving the attention and James was clearly overwhelmed by the huge turnout but had a kind word to say to everyone as he signed the books, asking which name he shold put and adding a big heart to each signature. The Waterstones and Hodder & Stoughton (the books publishers) cleverly had a little cat footprint to stamp on the book alongside James's signature too.
I've never been to a book launch before were so many people had at least two copies of a book. A number at three and there was clearly a huge amount of love & affection for the pair. Hodder & Stoughton have produced a lovely video of the pair briefly telling their story.
It's a heartwarming story and one that is popular not just in London, but thanks to sites like Catster and Madmikesamerica, has a global appeal too. He's even big on Russian TV!
There's a few more pictures of Bob & James Book Launch in my Flickr set and you can keep up to date of all their news since the launch by following @StreetCatBob on Twitter. Now , I wonder how long it was take to train my cat to sit on my shoulder & travel on the Tube!
UPDATE - 28th March 2012 - Bob & James's Book is now in the Sunday Times Bestsellers list and they both appeared on BBC1's Breakfast Bites on 27th March
Bob doesn't look remotely bothered by all the TV cameras in the studio!