Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The "New" Circle Line

Anyone who knows me well might want to stop reading right here because all of their fears about my geekiness are about to come true.

Seriously though, what is the point in the “new” circle line? As far as I can tell the Circle line will now run in a spiral from Edgware Road via Victoria and Liverpool Street to Hammersmith. Exactly whose journey is going to be made easier by that? The problem with the shallow lines (Circle, Hammersmith and City, District and Metropolitan) is that they are running the oldest infrastructure and are beset by delays and signal problems. The modernisation programme is therefore very welcome. But that programme should actually seek to make journeys easier.

I think TFL should get rid of the Circle line all together. There isn’t any part of it which doesn’t share track with another line. And unless you are actually on a pub crawl no one wants to go round in a big circle. If the Circle line wasn’t there you could run more trains on the District line and the Hammersmith and City line, thus actually connecting different destinations.

Let’s compare a few journeys:

If you want to go from Hammersmith to Liverpool Street you can take the new Circle line, but you can also take the existing Hammersmith and City line. All that matters here is how frequent the service is. More trains on the H&C line would do the same job.

If you want to go from Hammersmith to Victoria, you are not going to travel all round the Circle line via Aldgate to do so, you’ll take the District line straight there. More trains on the District line would help improve that.

If you want to go from Wood Lane to Barking you can get the Hammersmith and City line but you might have to change trains if you get on a Circle line train by mistake which would only take you as far as Aldgate. More trains on the H&C line would obviously help that journey.

If you want to go from Latimer Road to Earl’s Court then you can go via Hammersmith but you will have to cross the road to go to the other station to get on the District Line, just as before. Noting gained there.

I could go on but I think you get the idea. See if you can find a journey made easier by these new arrangements rather than scrapping the Circle line all together?

While we’re on it, if I was Boris I would also change the name of the bit of the District line which runs from Edgware Road to Wimbledon. It doesn’t share any of the route with the main bit of the District line and is just confusing. I would call it the Baysdon line and make it very dark green.

And I would also change the name of the bit of the Northern line which runs from Kennington via Charing Cross to Edgware, and then have all the trains running from Morden via Bank to High Barnet. That would make things much more simple. People may need to change at either Camden or Euston but people need to change anyway if they get on the wrong Northern line train now. So nothing lost. I would call it the Kenware line and it would be black and white striped.

It’s OK friends, you can come back I have finished. Anyone still reading?...


  1. Oh Mr Elsworth, the true personality is coming through. And I approve heartily of course.

    If you are going to scrap the circle line altogether what about journeys like Westminster -> Notting Hill Gate? Can't be done without changing at the moment. It seems to to me that there are a couple of choke points that make it useful. These are Gloucester Rd -> High Street Ken, Bayswater -> Baker Street and Aldgate -> Tower Hill. Any short trip (i.e. not Westminster -> Baker Street or Notting Hill -> iverpool Street) going through these points is better made on the circle line, because you don't need to change.

    I guess they are making these changes with the long term aim of phasing out bits like the Edgware Road branch of the District line, and calling it something else (as you suggest). It' doesn't make much sense. And plus for the tourist like mysef, it would be nice to have some clarity on the Northern Line branches.

    Also, would it not make sense to get rid of the H+C altogether, and just call the bit between Liverpool Street and Aldgate East a spur of the District line. That way the District would go Aldgate East -> Edgware -> Earls Court as well as round the bottom. Then you could use the new circle line bit to get out to Paddington and Hammersmith. Mind you, that would render the circle line a bit pointless again, apart from the Liverpool Street -> Tower Hill.

    Hmmm. It's tricky this Tube Map stuff!!!!

  2. Get a cab, stick it on expenses

  3. Seb, you and Dan can disucss this further or Saturday!