One of the notable things about the Victoria line is just how busy it is. Unlike other lines (except the trivial Waterloo and City) there are just no quiet stretches. Although Blackhorse Road and Pimlico may be regarded as relatively lightly-used, this is only by Victoria line standards. There are no truly quiet stations on the line. It is quite surprising, therefore, that if you know where to look you can find a platform on the Victoria line that has an eerie silence and an almost sinister lack of people waiting for the next train – for most of the time, at least.

That Platform is at Seven Sisters.

The rather sparse Platform 4

The rather sparse Platform 4

If the mass of quirky underground statistics included one for the blandest platform, then surely platform 4 at Seven Sisters would be it. Note the almost total lack of adverts unlike other platforms. Note also a complete lack of people despite being on the busiest (in terms of most densely used) line – which is probably the reason for the lack of adverts.

The clue for this surprising lack of people is given by one of the very few signs facing a potential waiting passenger.

Well technically they DO...

Well technically they DO…

It’s a statement that, if taken literally, is clearly nonsense. In fact trains depart from this platform about every ten minutes and even more frequently in the peak.

At this point the reader might be forgiven for thinking that there is a competition going on to write the dullest article we can:

“You read A Brief History of Sidings. Don’t miss Seven Sisters Victoria Line station – an architecturally boring station with the blandest platform you ever did see!”

We do hope you will continue reading though for, as far as Underground stations go, Seven Sisters is actually one of the most interesting.

Most people tend to think of Victoria (or possibly Oxford Circus) as the hub of the Victoria line, but in operational terms the really important station is Seven Sisters. Victoria is just an ordinary station – albeit a very busy one – with a couple of sidings that can be used in an emergency. Brixton is a very busy terminus but there is nothing particularly special about it. Seven Sisters is important and different.

Three is the perfect number

Seven Sisters is a rare example of a deep-level tube station with three platforms on one line. Until the Jubilee line opened it, it shared this feature with Baker Street on the Bakerloo line. Since the Jubilee Line Extension opened it has shared this distinction with North Greenwich. North Greenwich is visually distinct from Seven Sisters, however, as it was built as a concrete box and not by deep-bore tunnelling. There are stations with more than three platforms of course – Camden Town, Euston and Kennington on the Northern line all have four, but in each case they are on two distinct branches. Seven Sisters is thus just a little bit special.

The three platforms at Seven Sisters are just one of the features of the Victoria line which reflect the considerable thought that went into the design of the line to give it maximum operational convenience and flexibility. Numerically, the platforms in question are 3, 4 and 5 (the National Rail station on top having claimed the first two ordinal numbers). Platform 3 is the northbound platform and platform 5 is the southbound one. Adjacent to platform 3 and accessible to it by cross-passages is platform 4.

Platform 4 possesses some unusual touches. Although at first glance it looks like an ordinary platform (the previously identified lack of advertising aside), it also features something that originally could not be found on any other Victoria line platform. At the western end (and visible in the photo above) is a pedestrian overbridge cut into circular cross-section of the platform tunnel. This was avoided at other station for aesthetic reasons. With no-one likely to be waiting here on the platform, avoiding it was obviously seen as an unnecessary luxury here.

Note the glare of the red signal located in the tunnel at the west end of the platform. This is a Fixed Red Light which means that trains never depart in this direction.

If you do linger on platform 4, then you will probably be approached by staff who presume that you are lost and need assistance. Indeed this platform must be about the only place on the underground where the staff are actually less likely  to approach and ask you questions if you are holding a camera in your hand.

The tracks at Seven Sisters

The tracks at Seven Sisters

Above is a diagram showing the relevant tracks. The little wings on the lines two and from the depot are simply points designed to derail any train that is heading for the “main line” without authorisation. Thanks to swirlythingy for providing this.

Why does this platform 4 exist?

Firstly it enables trains to terminate there. As can be seen from the diagram, trains can advance to either line to the depot and return from there to platform 5. Because of the intense frequency of the Victoria line it would be impractical to terminate trains at Seven Sisters with just two platforms. This was true at the time the Victoria line was designed, but it is even more true now that there are strict rules that require trains to be checked to ensure there are no passengers still on board. These rules have been slightly relaxed now (but not yet for the Victoria line stock), but it would be particularly undesirable for unauthorised passengers to be allowed to enter the depot. As a result, they would probably still need to be implemented at Seven Sisters.

Terminating trains here has two benefits. Firstly, it cuts down unnecessary running to the terminus at Walthamstow Central on the section of the line that is slightly quieter than the rest of it. Secondly, without it all northbound trains would have to terminate at the two platforms at Walthamstow. Operationally, with the incredibly frequency of trains run, this would be highly undesirable. Indeed the line is currently constrained by the need to terminate all trains at the southern end at Brixton. Terminating all trains at Brixton was not the original intention – as discussed in A Brief History of Sidings – but this is now the case and Brixton is thus reputed to be the busiest underground two platform terminus in the world.

There is another reason for platform 4. That is because the depot is actually located at Northumberland Park, about a mile north-east of Seven Sisters station. This was probably the one inconvenient feature the planners could not avoid. With just one northbound platform it would have been awkward to check the train was empty before going to the depot. So an extra platform with a tunnel leading from the end of the platform to the depot, is an ideal flexible arrangement. The tunnels leading to the depot can thus also double as sidings for trains terminating at Seven Sisters before continuing back to Brixton as described above (although this would obviously block the route either to or from the sidings).

A further consideration is that it is very awkward for staff to get to Northumberland Park depot from Seven Sisters at ground level. Platform 4 makes it possible to provide a staff train. Indeed this is timetabled to run every twenty minutes except during peak periods. This doesn’t mean the platform only deals with three trains an hour. Typically every alternate off-peak train that terminates at Seven Sisters returns to Brixton, and during peak hours one train has scarcely been checked for passengers and departed before the next one is approaching.

Seven Sisters Depot Destination

Staff know that this is a staff train to the depot because of the diamond present

Seven Sisters Normal Destination

This train will wait in the platform for a while before going a short distance into the tunnel and then reversing into platform 5

Staff Halt at Northumberland Park

If you were able to stay on a train to the Depot then this is where you would end up.

Staff trains from the depot run straight into platform 5 and enter passenger service there. The only thing that identifies that a train originated at Northumberland Park Staff Platform is that the outside is clean and still wet from going through the washer on departing from the staff halt.

The question of Northumberland Park

As soon as people get to know of a piece of railway infrastructure in London that does not carry fare-paying passengers, there is the inevitable suggestion that it could be put into use for the public by some means or other. The twin tunnels leading to the depot are no exception and at first sight would seem to be ideal for providing a service to Northumberland Park. In particular this is supported by Tottenham Hotspur football club and their fans. Sadly, such a thing will likely not happen for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there simply isn’t the space in the depot to build a station – even ignoring the fact that the depot is not ideally situated. As an alternative it has, in the past, thus been proposed to build a station alongside the existing mainline railway. There is indeed space, but there are plans to reinstate four tracks here so that is a non-starter too. Current philosophy is also that Underground lines with an intensive service should be kept simple and branches should be avoided if at all possible.

On top of all this, the cost would be well over £50 million – money that could probably be better spent elsewhere. It would not simply be a matter of improving the staff halt and providing safe walking routes, as the depot needs to be a secure place and a publicly accessible station would thus need to be physically separate. Finally, given the desolate location of the depot it is difficult to see much traffic generated other than park and ride except when Tottenham Hotspur themselves play at home.

Resignalling the line

Of operational interest is a recent development to the lines to the depot. Readers will probably be aware that since the withdrawn of the original 67 stock the Victoria line shut on many weekends to commission the new signalling on a section by section basis. Following completion, a new timetable was introduced on 22nd April 2012 to take advantage of the faster trains. By speeding them up a 33 trains per hour (tph) timetable was introduced and replaced the 30tph one that was based on the now-scrapped 67 stock. Amazingly this was done without any publicity and the only indication on the TfL website indicating it had taken place was a minor change to the first and last times to take into account the faster journeys. The date of commencement of these times featured as a small footnote. Assuming we are correct, and that the Victoria line now regularly runs 33tph, then it appears a decision not to publicise has been made, it’s tempting to wonder whether this was to avoid adverse criticism that the Jubilee line can still “only” manage 30tph despite many weekend closures.

Given that the line had been resignalled by the end of April, a few eyebrows were raised at its closure again over the May Bank holiday. This was in fact intended to make both lines to the depot fully bidirectional. We understand that in fact the work was not completed, and we await a future date for this. This will probably involve a future closure but with the Olympics and closure dates normally planned at least six months ahead we do, not expect to see this any time soon.

Making the depot lines bidirectional has a number of advantages. The obvious one is that in the event of one track not being operational it would still be possible to get trains to and from the only depot on the line, but there are less obvious benefits. One line could, for example, be used as a test track (although it is probably a bit late for that). Another is that with the trains becoming busier earlier in the morning, it is becoming quite a challenge to get all the trains in service quickly once the service begins. Having both lines available means that two trains can independently enter service at the same time although this would involve a reversal for one of them on platform. Note that despite the “trains do not depart from this platform” notice, it is perfectly possible for a train to leave platform 4 in service and continue to Tottenham Hale and indeed this currently happens. The necessary crossover tunnel built so that trains from platform 4 can continue towards Tottenham Hale is yet another piece of admirable foresight built into the Victoria line despite the pressure at the time to cut costs.

The tricky issue of automation

Finally, as we also discussed in A Brief History of Sidings, at times of disruption the biggest problem is getting rid of trains. On the Victoria line the best way to do this is to utilise both depot tunnels to send some trains back to the depot simultaneously from both the northbound and the southbound platforms.

Despite being a generally well thought out design there is a surprise – and surely regretted – omission from the track layout in this area. What is missing is a very short link from the west end of platform 4 to join the southbound running line. Such a line would have enabled trains terminating at platform 4 to go directly to Finsbury Park without reversing in the tunnels to the depot. An additional advantage of this, which was not relevant at the time of construction, is that it would remove the need to ensure that all passengers had disembarked. It may have been extreme pressure to cut costs or a desire to ensure that everything was kept simple for passengers with all southbound trains departing from platform 5, but whatever the reason it was one of the few real oversights made during construction. There was no desperate need to commission such a link straightaway, but a failure to put the necessary bare short tunnel in place during construction was a piece of short-term thinking that is now almost impossible to rectify at any reasonable economic cost.

We will finish our short sojourn to Seven Sisters by looking at a quirk it almost had, rather than one it actually does – fully automated services, on entry from them depot at least.

This was an opportunity that presented itself during the stock replacement and resignalling. Trains could have been run automatically without a driver or other supervisory staff between the station and the depot. Despite the fact that it is the station that is the main driver booking-on point and not the depot, this was an option that wasn’t exercised. In part this was likely because it would have pushed the current technology to the limit. It would also have meant a union confrontation for relatively little gain. Mainly, however, it was for a reason that is very familiar across the Underground network – the age of the old rolling stock meant that something needed to be done relatively quickly and there wasn’t really time to investigate some of the more far-reaching ideas. The Public Private Partnership was probably also a factor, is it discouraged risk-taking even when there was much to be gained. Now that the equipment is working reliably and effectively “under guarantee”, the mantra “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” will almost certain (and arguably rightly) prevail for some time yet.

Mind The Gap at the Seven Sisters

Mind The Gap at Seven Sisters, with thanks to Diamond Geezer

jump to the end
There are 101 comments on this article
  1. NLW says:

    Fascinating, thank you very much!

  2. Mark Townend says:


    I don’t think the main line has ever been 4 track through Northumberland park unless there were local loops, but land has been acquired strategically and safeguarded for many years since LNER days to eventually allow 4 tracking all the way through to at least Cheshunt. As I understand it the original idea envisioned by the GER was that the Seven Sisters branch should provide the Lea Valley stopping service, leaving the Tottenham Hale line’ typically less than a mile away, as the ‘fasts’. Intermediate stations on the latter route were introduced eventually however which unfortunately constrained capacity for faster services severely. An alternative to constructing new fast lines on this stretch for the main line might be to extend the LU Victoria northwards to Cheshunt taking over the stopping service, and perhaps with the intermediate stations relocated or supplemented to better suit the modern geography.

  3. Mike Killingworth says:

    Yes, thankyou.

    Now, if you want a truly esoteric topic, you could discuss why some Underground stations, like 7 Sisters, have platform numbers that follow on from the Underground station of the same name, whilst others have a “stand-alone” sequence. (And even more esoteric: why do the oldest platforms at Baker Street not have the lowest numbers?)

    On the main line, it’s generally reckoned that platforms are numbered from “down” to “up” – does this apply on the Underground where the concept may be thought to have some meaning (even though not operationally favoured) – the Bakerloo springs to mind. If not, what determines where Platform 1 is?

  4. Anonymous says:

    On occasion you do catch trains from Platform 4 to Walthamstow – tends to cause confusion but I’ve been routed that way or been directed to pick up trains there on several occasions. I think one or two early trains each day depart to Walthamstow having just come down from the depot.

    There is another flaw with the layout and that is the approach tunnel off the main line to platform 4. It is not long enough to hold a train clear of the main line while it waits for a train to depart from platform 4. At times of disruption or when trains are “going to bed” this slows down the service to Walthamstow as it pauses in the tunnel until the terminating train is clear of the junction.

    Some of us have been lucky enough to use Platform 4 for the purposes of going to the depot :-)

  5. Pedantic of Purley says:


    The number (or letter) follows on from the NR platforms because the station is a combined station with a common entrance. Having more than one “platform 1″ tends to cause confusion. Even in London Transport days there was a platform D on the East London line at New Cross, as there is now, following on from the British Rail platforms A, B and C. Perhaps I should have kept that for the Christmas Quiz.

    Traditionally on the Underground the sequence of numbering was determined by the location of the signalbox. I forget the exact rule. Some things are too boring for even me to take an interest in. I don’t know what the current rules are but they are are less important than on National Rail because one tends to refer to Bakerloo Northbound etc.

  6. timbeau says:

    South Knesinghton (Picc) was built with three platforms, although one of the westbound ones (for the “Deep level District” has never seen a train

  7. solar penguin says:

    “Unlike other lines (except the trivial Waterloo and City) there are just no quiet stretches.”

    Uhhh… How can any stretch of the Waterloo & City be quieter than the other stretches…?

  8. Pedantic of Purley says:

    The Waterloo and City line has two stations. It does not have any quiet stretches. The Victoria line does not have any quiet stretches. If the Waterloo and City line did not exist I could have simply written:

    Unlike other lines there are just no quiet stretches.

    However the Waterloo and City does exist. And no doubt someone would have commented that the Waterloo and City line does not have any quiet stretches either. Therefore in an (what turns out to be a futile) attempt to avoid having to clarify or correct the statement I acknowledged the exception by inserting “(except for the trivial Waterloo and City)”. The modified statement is then valid and to me makes perfect sense,

  9. Anonymous says:

    Seven sisters isn’t the most interesting station by a long shot.

    Moorgate is the most interesting station – open air bits you can’t see, disused platforms, a tube line not on the tube map, and vast hidden bits that are bigger than the entire public part of the station (apart from the platforms themselves).

  10. Rapidtransitman says:

    A question from overseas, if I may. How are “down” & “up” defined, for the Underground, & for National Rail? Is down always towards London, or south?

  11. George Moore says:

    @ Rapidtransitman:

    “Up” is towards the city and “down”, away from the city. So for example towards King’s Cross would be described as “up”. The Underground doesn’t use such terms, but instead uses the direction of travel (e.g. westbound/eastbound).

  12. Malcolm says:

    Further to “up” and “down”. “The city” in George’s answer is always London. (I think). Where London can be reached in either direction (e.g Ramsgate, Exeter, many other places), there is a well-defined point where the down line becomes the up line. There is a similar well-defined point on lines (e.g. Thameslink) which go right through London.

    The Underground terms westbound and eastbound are also subject to some wierdnesses. The westbound Picc line, for instance, sets of in a rather easterly direction from Cockfosters. And the phrase “southbound Northern line” is, well, interesting. And of course the circle line has very few platforms of its own. Internally I guess it is referred to as clock/anticlock (is it?), but such terms are not used on public signs. (How are Aldgate platforms labeled?).

  13. timbeau says:

    Up is usually towards London (or the headquarters of the company that built the line if it didn’t serve London) – generally in the direction of the zero mile post

    I understand that on Thameslink all trains arriving at Farringdon, whether northbound or southbound, are “up” services, and all departing trains are “down services

  14. Mike Killingworth says:

    The Circle line is a bit schizo – it does, as Malcolm, says, talk about “clockwise” and “anticlockwise”, but also uses – or has used – “inner rail” and “outer rail”. Whether any of these terms makes the slightest sense to its customers (especially tourists) I have no idea.

    The train indicators on the platforms of course say “via (the next major terminus)”.

  15. George Moore says:

    @ Malcolm:

    The Circle line platforms at Aldgate are labelled plain “Platform 1″ and “Platform 4″, with no reference to direction. It’s a bit difficult there – all trains will ultimately go westwards, but they depart in opposite directions!

  16. Pete In The US says:

    Very Interesting!

    I have a question, what do the “sidings” on the diagram on the lines to and from the depot represent? Are they true full train length sidings or something else.


  17. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon @ 5.16
    Yes, there are two very early morning trains form 7Sis to W’stow.
    Very ovvasionally, a normal train during the day will do this laso, if something has screwed up.
    I was really annoyed, one day, when LUL were playing very silly games, and A “W” train according to every indication was terminated – I demanded to know why we couldn’t go through, and the p/f staff goon directly lied to me, claiming it wa impossible, When I told him, in front of a lot of still pissed-off passengers, that he was a liar, and I had done it in the past, and why not now, he resorted to threats, as one would expect, I suppose.

    The other great cock-up here was when the Central Line fell down in a pile with unsafe traction motors.
    At that time, about half the normal trains terminated @ 7Sis (now it’s about 1/4) … there were HUGE increases in the number of people going to W, and LUL knew this (special buses onward, etc) but, did they alter the train service, to cope with the extra load?
    Don’t be silly.
    The crush loadings really were not funny.
    Another reaon for my distrust of LUL I’m afraid – that particular display of several months of arrogant, incompetent total disregard for the travelling public tends to colour one’s views….

    Oh, yes – I’ve been to the depot as well, once!

    Malcolm, except on lines that DON’TGO TO LONDON.
    The L&YR defined Up as towrds Manchester, the NBR to Edinburgh & the Caley to Glasgow, for instance….

  18. Woof 72 says:

    Very good and interesting article with clear info,

    Just one point that annoys the hel out of me though, to Greg Tierney, “Platform Goon” ? really grown up isnt it, no wonder staff get pissed off with passengers who act like know it alls, maybe this was a new member of station staff or drafted in from another station / area during major disruption.

    Coming out with “well i know better because ive done it” just makes you sound like a spoiled brat, yes i agree not all staff in any job are competent but thats a major case of tarring everyone with the same brush.

    The train could of been running late, it could of developed a fault or some other such reason that you as a member of the public would not of been privy to finding out about, grow up

    And before anyone fires back a reply no i do not work for TFL or any transport related buisness, just an ordinary everyday passenger who travels on the system as well, no it isnt perfect but theres no need to anger and disrepect now is there ….

  19. Rapidtransitman says:

    Many thanks for the up & down clarifications!

  20. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Regarding your contretemps with a member of staff. You are in a public place. If you are causing harassment, alarm or distress to either the person you are arguing with or to other people in the area who witness the dispute you are committing an offence under the Public Order Act section 5 or possibly even 4A. Calling people a liar in such circumstances when what they tell you is what they believe to be the truth would almost certainly qualify. I have seen a person arrested merely for for an expletive said to a ticket inspector after a ticket check.

    If you are lucky you may instead get a given a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) on the spot leading to an £80 fine. Knowing you, you would contest such a thing. I have this feeling that if it went to court you are not the sort of person who would win over the sympathy of the magistrates.

    More likely you would argue that you haven’t done anything wrong. Ironically this will lead to you being more likely to get arrested than if you admit the offence since an FPN would be inappropriate and the police would need to investigate further i.e. a proper interview at the police station.

    The experience of being taken into custody is not a pleasant one. And if you get released without charge don’t think that you can sue for wrongful arrest like some poeple do. So long as the officer arresting you reasonably suspected an offence had been committed and reasonably suspected you had committed that offence and needed prompt investigating (or another reason to justify arrest) then their arrest is lawful.

  21. Lemmo says:

    @ Anonymous, 6:36pm, 20th June

    “Moorgate is the most interesting station – open air bits you can’t see, disused platforms, a tube line not on the tube map, and vast hidden bits that are bigger than the entire public part of the station (apart from the platforms themselves).”

    Very interesting, could you tell us more please? The disused platforms are the ex-Thameslink ones? What are the other bits, and can you point them out on any of the Crossrail diagrams/isometrics?

  22. Greg T ingey says:

    Woof @ 72 (& Pedantic)
    London Underground operate a bullying culture.
    They bully their staff, and they expect that to be passed on to the paying public.
    I have been told (well off the record, of course) that the perpetual, over-loud and 150% unnecessary “announcements” are required, and if you don’t harass the customers with this noise, you will be disciplined.
    Thr reason Bob Crowe’s people are so “militant” on LUL, compared to elsewhere is a simple reaction to this culture.
    They also, regularly lie to the travellers (or certainly used to) – are they still using 80/90 second “minutes” on their “next train due” screens?
    Now then, how does one object to this culture WITHOUT getting arrested?
    You cannot allow this sort of bullying arrogance to go unchallenged, surely?
    I also fail to note, anywhere in history, that grovelling got anyone, anywhere, except, very occasionally, to buy a little time.

    I actually feel very sorry for most of the platform-staff, who are being made the meat in the sandwich here.
    However, and, of course, you also get the 2-5% jobsworths who revel in this, and will probably get early promotionas a result.
    And, like a bent copper, they are usually quite easy to spot – usually, they threaten you FIRST – at the slightest objection, or suggestion that their actions are less than snow-white & 100% perfect.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Yet another gem from the sage of Walthamstow, Blackhorse Road and Headstone Drive, *sigh*

  24. John Bull says:

    [Mod Note]

    Greg, please try to remember that the focus on here is generally technical and non-emotive. Whilst I’m sure you thought that your thoughts on staffing were relevant given the location, as you can see they’ve actually led the discussion away from the Station itself.

    If you could try to focus a bit more on the article at hand both here and in future, then I’d be grateful . Your comments are often informative, but when they derail a thread they’re not so helpful.

    Anyway, with that, lets all get back to talking about Seven Sisters itself please.



  25. Anonymous says:


    I have a rule in life: if everyone disagrees with me, I should at least consider the possibility that I’m wrong. But I doubt the message will get through.

    Looking at the situation you described, I think it’s clear who the bully was (clue: not one of the underground staff trying to do their job). The idea that such a confrontation was done in the best interests of the staff is hilarious. I’m not expecting you work that out though.

    Your anger must be hurting you more though. I feel sorry for you.

  26. Anonymous says:

    (Apologies to the moderators for taking the discussion away from the station itself but this is helping answer a question already posted)

    @Lemmo. Moorgate has a long and complex history. Having been rebuilt twice, there are redundant parts that do not make sense when viewed from its present layout. Some details are here:

  27. Anonymous says:

    @ JB – you can remove this post if you wish to as I recognise it is possibly a bit of a distraction.

    @ Greg – I appreciate you think you know all there is to know about LU and humanity but you’re off beam here. I worked for LU for 26 years albeit in a non operational role. I do not recognise the organisation you think you see. You are perfectly entitled not to like some of the initiatives LU has decided to implement but that does not entitle you to describe the entire company and its activities in the way that you do. You’re simply wrong to describe the organisation as “bullying”. The company is quite simply trying to change the way it does things because, guess what, some of it is not needed, some of it can be done differently because of technology / investment and passengers have much higher expectations than they used to have.

    As always happens when there is “change” there are those who embrace it, those who cope with it and those who disagree or are resistant. The Unions have a perfectly valid role in looking after the interests of their members but they are not in charge of the business. There are decades of entrenched practice that are being challenged and changed but that does not equate to bullying the staff or bullying the passengers.

  28. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Anonymous, actually your comments are highly relevant to the last paragraph of the article.

  29. Edward Sloley says:

    I had no idea there was a third Vic platform at Seven Sisters.

    According to the latest Commissioner’s Report (dated 27 June 2012 – no, really), the Vic is now timetabled for 30tph; I believe the previous timetable was 28.5tph or thereabouts. The 33tph timetable won’t be introduced until next year.

    As for the depot roads, there is a whole line closure on 14 July.

  30. Greg Tingey says:

    LONG post – I hope this a] is relevant, and b] clarifies some obvious mis-understandings.

    Unfortunately, LUL operating practices, and their treatment of both staff and passengers, are very relevant.
    Normally, even though (many years ago) I was a shop steward; and as someone whose farthest “left” politically was to briefly be a member of the Lem-o-Crats, I don’t have any sympathy for Mr Crowe’s semi-Marxist antics.
    However, it is very noticeable that there is much more “union activism”, if you want to call it that, on LUL compared with other railways & TOC’s. Now, what is different?
    Greater loadings, and different management. I leave any conclusions to be drawn as an exercise for the reader.

    The saga of the grossly overloaded 7-Sisters-Walthamstow trains when the Central Line was down, I have already alluded to. Can people PLEASE consider the gross failure of management to organise anything at all for the rail passengers between the two points I have mentioned? Yes, they laid on extra buses to take people forward or to Walthamstow, but no effort AT ALL was made to relieve the (at times dangerous) overcrowding in that section by changing the timetables/operating. [ By making at least 80% of the trains go forward, rather than the 55-60% as was usual at that time. ]
    Incidentally, the contempt with which customers between Amersham & Harrow are being treated by the (lack of) seating, on the otherwise excellent new “S” stock. And, the sheer discomfort of what thin hard seating there is, does also make one wonder about what is happening.
    Then there are the “announcements” – I try to listen to announcements, as do most people, but on LUL, at least 95% of them are not just un-necessary, they are repetitive, and TOO LOUD, and often more than irrelevant – I actually think they may be dangerous. Furthermore, I am the opinion, that one day, there will be a REAL emergency, and everyone will be shouting into their microphones, and … no-one will take a blind bit of notice, because it’s only another irrelevant load of verbal nonsense. [ I could rant on about this verbal assault for many more paragraphs, but I’ll restrain myself, this time! ]
    The Ashfield/Pick ethos of Public Service seems to have been lost completely, and replaced with a Harvard Business School one. ( Discuss this? If true, why? Are there any benefits, and to whom, if true?)

    In the specific case I mentioned – well – do YOU like being lied to?
    I have had to change @ 7 Sis many times, and I usually ask why (because I’ve always got on a “W” labelled train). Usually, I get a simple, correct and polite explanation, and I put up with it, and transfer to the other p/f. This was NOT the case in the incident referred to.
    Please note, I try, if something has gone amiss, always to ask a polite question – but if I get a short, arrogant or lying answer, then I tend to get very sarcastic and sneering, but only then. Or do some people prefer continued grovelling as a way forward? (oops /sark )
    { Similarly, and this may, or may not be relevant … recently I was working at Reading station, and wearing a visible name-badge, though my note-pad/clipboard was in my rucksack. I was trying to observe passenger loadings. I was shouted at by a p/f staff member to “Get behind the yellow line!” – I observed that I was trying to make acount ..”I don’t care, get behind the line like any other passenger!” (still in a shout) – I then very quietly observed “But I’m NOT a passenger”. This was in total contrast to all the other FGW people, who could not have been more helpful. }
    Now, how does one deal with Railway operating staff who behave like this, when you are either merely trying to do your job, or trying to get from A to B without hassle, and one gets this sort of treatment?

    Again, please draw your own conclusions.

    I am of the opinion that something went seriously worng, if you see what I mean, with LUL sometime shortly before the Central Line breakdown incident. Certainly, as I see it travelling by tube has become more and more of a burden and a trail in the past 10 years. And very little of that is down to the admittedly large increase in passenger volumes.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Malcolm – so far as I can remember, weirdness of Piccadilly Line directions is relatively new. There used to be “Northbound” and “Southbound” platforms.

  32. Anonymous says:

    @ Greg

    If I have an issue with someone in officialdom I will talk to them politely and try extremely hard not to get sneery. If I am not getting my point across then I would ask to see their supervisor or manager. I have never felt the need to be as rude as you confess to being when dealing with public transport employees despite having been caught in some truly awful train, tube and bus delays. PCSOs almost get me to the limit of my patience but I simply out argue them from the position of being innocent!

    I lived through all the aftermath of the Central Line’s derailment and its effect on the Victoria Line. The bit you seem not to recognise, despite having been a shop steward, is that there was a crisis and the organisation was in crisis mode to deal with the aftermath. People were unsure of the cause of the derailment, what would be needed to deal with the cause and how much of the Central Line fleet was affected. You also fail to appreciate that you cannot magic extra trains and drivers and a new timetable and rosters out of thin air. You claim nothing was done to the Vic Line service – it’s a long while ago – but I think there was a flexing of the timetable to run a few extras to Walthamstow. However you must surely appreciate that the old signalling did not allow a massively frequent service north of Seven Sisters – hence why part of the service terminates at Seven Sisters Platform 4. I dealt with the inconvenience of rammed full buses and tubes by moving my commute 90 minutes early – not everyone could do that but many did and stayed on those more flexible times once the Central Line resumed.

    If you wanted to point at organisational issues there were two things where I *might* agree with your concern. LU had been through years of organisational review and then preparation for the PPP split. That may have caused people to become distracted. The other aspect of the derailment crisis was that it took a very long time to restore service – as an insider that surprised me and I would contrast it strongly with the immediate resumption of tube service on unaffected sections of the network post 7/7. I can’t recall the reasons why it took so long to recover the Central Line service but I would say the organisation has learnt those lessons.

    Your attitude seems to be stuck back in the world of LT in the 1950s. I can understand why, from an enthusiast’s position, people admire what that stood for. However we are not in the 1950s and life has moved on considerably. The way in which transport is operated has moved on too as a result of what us as passengers expect, how the City has developed and what the politicians demand. You stomping your feet repeatedly saying “not fair, don’t agree, I’m right and everyone who disagrees with me is wrong” won’t change things. It also won’t help this blog stay interesting and meaningful for people. You do have some interesting things to say but please lose the attitude!

  33. Anon says:

    Talking about directions, there is also the Jubilee line which switches between Northbound/Southbound and Eastbound/Westbound where the Fleet Line turns into the JLE.

    On three platforms, Holborn on the Piccadilly also has three platforms, as does Finchley Central, though for these it is due to the branches to Aldwych & Mill Hill East respectively. It would be nice to still count Chalfont & Latimer but they bay platform there doesn’t see much use nowadays with the longer S stock.

    You can also see the importance of 3 platforms to service by the fact that the Jubilee decided to build a new platform up at Stanmore, to reduce the headways when the new signalling system went in there.

    Thanks for the interesting article!

  34. Anonymous says:

    Holborn (Picadilly) had 4 platforms , one was converted into offices/stores . But lets not forget Leytonstone ,and Woodford!

  35. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon @ 1.47
    Err… did you mis the bit where I pointed out that I usually ask a question & get a polite answer?
    And I then trundle away? I only get annoyed when I don’t get a polite answer, or someone lies to me.
    And that is, I’m glad to say on a small minority of occasions, but it still happens too often
    Ever heard the old joke about wild animals?
    “This animal is dangerous – it defends itself”

    Generally – I note one point that I’d obviously missed.
    The corrosive and apalling after-efects of PPP on LUL – thnks for that. It must have been really difficult.

    3 platforms – are we counting above-ground stations on “single” lines?
    If so, then White City / Loughton / High Barnet / Morden / Cockfosters & many more …

  36. Anon says:

    Ok, let’s say Holborn has three remaining platforms :)

    I guess there is Hainualt too! Stratford technically has three, in the same way that White City has 4 :D

    Then there’s North Acton, Greenford uses platforms 1 & 3 but doesn’t count, maybe there are a few too many to keep listing.

  37. Anon says:


    Three platforms on the same line, but not an end of line station.

  38. swirlythingy says:

    Anon and Anonymous have missed a crucial part of the sentence: “Seven Sisters is a rare example of a deep-level tube station with three platforms on one line.” Finchley Central, Chalfont, Stanmore, Leytonstone and Woodford are all on the surface. Holborn now has only two platforms, and even before that it was technically built with four. (The Central line platforms there didn’t open until the 30s, when they replaced British Museum, by which point what we now know as platform 6 had been closed for fifteen years.)

    If it comes to that, Gloucester Road has three platforms on the Circle and District lines as well – they share the eastbound, but for some reason the Circle has a platform to itself going westbound (or perhaps it’s the other way round). But it’s not a “deep-level tube station” either.

  39. timbeau says:

    If we’re talking about surface stations, White City and Loughton each have four platforms, but two of them serve the same track. North Acton has three, and so does Stratford – again two of them at Stratford serve the same track.

    The reason Gloucester Road (SSL) has two westbound platforms is to allow Circle trains waiting to cross the flat junction to do so clear of District trains, thereby avoiding delays to the latter. Eastbound, all trains serve the same destinations (ayt least, the next thirteen) so you want all trains to use the same platform to avoid guessing games.

    The alternative startegy, demonstrated at Baker Street (Bakerloo, pre Jubilee) and South Kensington (Picc) is to have separate platforms on the converging routes, so that trains can wait in the platform for their path across the converging junction. This is not too customer-hostile provided interchage between the platforms is straightforward.

    The Circle Line uses three of the four platforms at Edgware Road!

  40. swirlythingy says:

    Surely the optimum strategy is to do both, as demonstrated at Kennington – two southbound platforms which both serve the same stations (or did until LUL decided that nobody wanted to go from south London to the West End any more), and two northbound platforms for the two branches. Of course, Kennington doesn’t have a flat junction to cope with.

    Speaking of which, doesn’t the District service from Edgware Road have a burrowing junction underneath the District main line on the southbound approach to Earl’s Court? Was the same thing never done for the other arm of the triangle?

  41. Anon says:

    In fairness it’s quite clear that you get the solutions you do to the perceived problems at the time. Kennington is an odd one and you doubt that it would ever be built that way again (if you had to start from scratch) not least because the surface access is so small. It does have a loop and there are a distinct lack of loops on the system. It seems a shame that the proposed extension to Clapham Junction, with the temporary terminus at Battersea (although how temporary remains to be seen) is likely to reduce the majority of traffic from the loop.

    You seem to need at least three platforms at terminating stations and fewer sidings on the central part of the line (linking two recent topics) just to acheive reasonable dwell times and train throughput. You also seem to need to reduce branches as much as possible, which is why I suspect people from south London find it difficult to get to the west end without changing. There is a definite advantage in splitting the Northern Line into two seperate lines operationally, although it would be annoying for me personally!

    Personally I think the best strategy would be to have loops rather than sidings if you want to keep trains in the centre but how do you justify the cost?

  42. Anon says:

    I should point out (before someone else does) that I appreciate that Kennington was not originally built as it is now. Like most interchange stations it has been modified over time.

  43. Littlejohn says:

    @Anon 04.45pm 21st June 2012. In all of Greg Tingey’s diatribes (of which there are many) I don’t recall him ever being personally offensive about a named individual. Does anyone really want to read this sort of stuff? At least what Greg so intemperately says has some relevance to the topic under discussion.

    On a broader note, there have been calls in the past for commentators to invent their own non-de-plumes. It would be helpful if they did – is the 04.45 Anon the same person as the 04.06? Is either related to the 02.28? It is very difficult to follow lines of debate when half the people are using the same name.

  44. John Bull says:

    Right. Any comments. Not about Seven Sisters itself will be deleted from this point on.

    That is all. JB.

  45. Hugo says:

    Many thanks for this!
    I commute from Walthamstow Central to Hammersmith changing outwards at Green Park via the escalators rather than the long passage and on the return at Finsbury Park.This so that I get a seat for most of the journey.In my ignorance I thought that Seven Sisters had four platforms and therefore could not understand why we never have a clear run into the platform there but always have to wait for a train to come in from the sidings.Apart from this on the whole things work pretty well.However there is one thing I still do not understand – why is it that some Northbound trains in the evening rush only go as far as Seven Sisters when the demand is for trains that go the whole way?When waiting at Finsbury Park I notice how empty these trains are with many empty seats and the following Walthamstow trains are very full.

  46. Anonymous says:

    @ Hugo – trains still terminate at Seven Sisters in the PM peak because there is far more demand on the section of line south of Seven Sisters. The fleet size is finite and therefore it makes overall sense to turn trains round and send them back to carry the crowds through Central London and making sure platforms do not overload. While trains may well be busy to Walthamstow there are not jam packed in every single carriage – they tend to front and mid load given where the platform exit points are at the three stations north of SS. Trains through the central area will load heavily in both directions in every car. The relative lack of investment in station capacity expansion over several decades is now coming home to roost with many stations running close to platform capacity in the peaks.

    Much as I would love every train to always run to Walthamstow it will not happen because that part of the line is relatively less busy than the rest (even accepting it is still busy). I think it needs to go on record that services north of SS are better now than they have ever been – typically every 3-4 mins for much of the day, every day. I can remember the agony of Sunday services which ran every 12 minutes with some trains being tipped out at Kings Cross n/b to turn round to go back to Brixton. Trains to Seven Sisters then followed 4 mins later and then 4 mins after that a Walthamstow. Similarly there are far, far fewer Victoria terminators these days – almost everything goes to Brixton. It will be very interesting to see how the 33 tph service performs next year.

  47. Anon says:

    I would assume that even if there was the demand, a number of trains would have to stop at SS anyway due to the speed at which you can turn round trains at Walthamstow. Essentially you’d end up with much bigger gaps between trains.

    On SS station, it would be nice to have built the extra tunnel at the time but there is a real reluctance to do that purely on cost terms. Tunnels aren’t cheap and smaller drives are even less so! They didn’t have sprayed concrete techniques back then and if you manage to find the brilliant documentary on the construction of the Victoria Line (Over & Under I think it’s called – which I definitely recommend it if you manage to find it) you’ll see that they only used TBMs where they had long drives and it was considered economically worthwhile. For example the station tunnels appear to have been built using hand mining within larger shields, which is not too dissimilar to what Marc Brunel was doing under the Thames on what is now the East London Line. Therefore, it’s difficult to see them justifying building a section of tunnel that might never be needed using those techniques! I think this is also a case of looking at this in hindsight, since the turn of the century Victoria Line usage has gone up 25-30%, Engineers in the 60’s would have been hard pressed to foresee that, let alone justify it with a business case!

  48. Anonymous says:

    think this is what you’re looking for more episodes in the menu on right

  49. Greg Tingey says:

    Hugo & anon @ 8.38pm (20.38)
    Also, LUL/Coburg Street (the control room – though has it moved yet?) and the timetables have still got a glitch in their system (or they don’t care … ?)
    It’s part of the problem of the 7 Sis terminators, coupled with the need for “Drivers” to change shift, @7 Sis, and smart turn-arounds at the “W” end.
    I suspect that a little careful re-timetabling and tweaking might work wonders, but without actually seeing a working diagram (i.e. a timetable chart, showing train-positions and time as a graph) I can’t actually say.
    The problems are:
    1] As Hugo says, getting a clear run into 7 Sis s-bound p/f is rare, bacause there seems to be always a train coming down the slope from Northumberland Park.
    This is very sloppy operating, because it causes unnecessary delays for passengers already on a train in service, AND it COSTS LUL MONEY – beacuse a train has to stop, and then re-acclerate inot the p/f, & stop again. Even with regen braking this should not be happening …..
    So, “they” need to look at that bit of scheduling, and making the ex-depot train come in after the ex-W one – the energy-bill will be lower, because almost all the empty will have to do is to take its’ brakes off and roll in, with only a very low power application (the 7 Sis – depot track, IIRC, is manual drive, not automated? It certainly used to be like that)
    2] Almost the same thing happens @ W …..
    What should be happening is that a train comes into a p/f there … another train comes into the second p/f … the first one leaves immediately the points have cleared.
    What actually happens, almost all of the time, except very early in the morning, or late at night is …
    a train comes into a p/f there … another train comes into the second p/f … the first one then waits until a third train is at a stand outside the station, THEN leaves, or leaves too late for the incoming not to have to stop. The incoming then has to accelerate from a stand to draw into W and stop.
    Again, a huge waste of time – say 15 seconds per train, a train every 5 minutes (at least) between about 07.00 and 20.00 .. 15*12*13*number-of-passengers-per-train/60 delay-minutes PER DAY [ guesstimate of at least 6000 – 100 delay-hours per day!] and energy again of course.

    Problem(s), what is the interaction between these two sets of consistent delays? and can one solve one in isolation from the other, given the required staff-operating comstraints @ 7Sis?
    And how would this play out at the other end of the line, where all trains go to Brixton?
    An interesting problem in OR & systems analysis, as well as timetabling.

    I get the strong feeling, though that it could and should be better organised though.
    After all this is OPERATING, and LUL usually do a good job of that, it’s their personnel relations (both staff & public) that are a disaster.
    And it probably all hinges on those entry/exit timings @ 7 Sis to/from the depot.

  50. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Yes the control room has moved. It now at Northumberland Park.

    I don’t normally use this part of the Victoria line but presume you and Hugo are right and take your point entirely that trains should not be delayed because of trains entering service from the depot. It should not happen (or as you would say IT SHOULD NOT HAPPEN). And yes it does cost money and given that this is something that is entirely within LUs control they should sort it out.

    The only possible hope (apart from bidirectional running somehow helping) is that these problems will get fixed as they further tweak the system. I am optimistic that this will happen. I get the impression that there will be minor non-safety critical mods done for years to come. There are loads of ordinary Windows PCs on the Victoria line carrying out routine non-critical control and signalling tasks and I would imagine it is “just” a case of reprogramming these slightly. Many people were rather worried that the Victoria line relies on Windows XP to function but apparently it works rather well.

    One thing I have wondered is how time is measured on the Victoria line. Basically I cannot see how the Victoria line can work unless the WTT gives timings down to the second. Certainly once 33tph is achieved and maybe 36tph aspired to one has to think in seconds. But for this the mindset has to change. It will be no good stating next train 1 minute. I don’t understand why they can’t countdown to the second on a modern resignalled line. It would sure look impressive and hopefully give passengers and staff an indication that seconds matter.

    I know that they are thinking of modifying the CIS so that it counts down in seconds from about 12 seconds once the train is due to depart and it is able to do so (the signal is green in traditional terms) . This would take into account the published dwell time for that individual station. This is so platform staff can assist in a prompt dispatch. One of the problems with the longer trains is that the starting signals have to be in the running tunnel and platform staff cannot see it with the train in the platform.

    Of course it is also a bit sloppy that trains are held back at Seven Sisters going to Walthamstow if that happens as someone earlier reported. Especially as one of the main reasons for three platforms was to prevent it. I would be surprised that the tunnel into platform 4 from the northbound line is not capable of holding a train as it seem quite long to me when I peered at it from the end of the platform. I suspect, however, that it is not signalled to be able to have a train occupy it though I don’t see why not under ATO as the necessary overlap to the train in platform 4 could now potentially be extremely short. However a train shouldn’t be held there if the line was all running smoothly.

    One of the problems may be that Seven Sisters is a “timing point” where trains that are running early are held. To me the idea of a timing point is ridiculous on a modern automatic railway. The whole line should be dynamically monitored and trains speeds adjusted in real time to smooth out the service. As you point out these delays and unnecessary braking all cost money in energy and customer time. It also leads to more maintenance being necessary so I would have thought sorting this out would pay for itself over time.

    Personally I think a real opportunity was lost by not intoducing more automation. For example, for a Seven Sisters terminator at platform 4 the driver could walk down the train checking it was empty. On reaching the rear cab he could enter it and the train could then depart straightaway. The driver would not have to change ends in the tunnel and the train could enter platform 5 in service for its southbound run sooner. More critically the driver would not waste time walking the length of a train a second time before departing from platform 4 and preventing the next train entering. I know that station staff should be assisting checking the train is empty but I still think this would have saved time and reduced the chances of trains being held by other trains waiting to depart.

    And yes I too have a feeling the time spent reversing at Brixton is going to get very critical – as will dwell time at Victoria northbound platform.

  51. timbeau says:

    Surely some trains need to therminate at SS, even in the peaks, to provide the staff train

  52. Pedantic of Purley says:

    No. Passengers come first. The staff train does not run in the peaks. We are generally only talking about a handful of people anyway. I think one reason for the staff train is that it doubles as providing a way of getting trains through the washer during the day.

  53. Stuart says:

    Not a question on Seven Sisters, but about the article…. Baker Street Bakerloo line has 3 platforms?

  54. Greg Tingey says:

    Pedantic … alaong with another LUL lie … “This train is being held to regulate the service”
    Trans: “We are going to make all of you later for your journey/destination.

    I’m glad you’ve picked up on the actual cost to LUL this must incur, both @ 7 Sis & Walthamstow, though the latter has got worse with the new stock & tt. – though it was a bit like that before the new stock was intoduced, as well.
    What it’s like at Brixton, I don’t know, since I normally never go past Stockwell on that line (*Note)- anyone got any info on operating procedures there?
    What suprises me is that “they” have not picked up on how much money they could save, by giving the passengers smoother journeys, without the un-necessary stops outside the stations. That’s really wierd.
    ( *Note – I either change for the Northern or walk to the “Priory Arms” …. )

  55. Anonymous says:

    @ Pof P – not sure if you have visited the control room at NP but I have. It’s a very interesting set up with lots of automation and clever timetable monitoring and adjustment. Controllers are told by the system if trains are diverging from schedule and can reschedule trains with a few mouse clicks. I understand that countdown clocks will be switched on in the train cabs if they haven’t been already. I had a cab ride and was shown how this will work. As you say fine operating tolerances are a necessity with very intensive headway services. Normally LU schedule to 1/2 minutes but on automatic lines I believe it is down to 1/4 minutes. I would expect the Victoria Line WTT to be on that basis now.

    One of the real challenges will be getting the junctions and crossovers to work very slickly. One point that has not been acknowledged by the critics is that the 09 trains were running to 67 stock timings but obviously they are far faster. This means they turn up at Walthamstow and Seven Sisters ahead of time and have to wait. I would be pretty confident that once 09 stock timings are fully incorporated into the timetable then the operation will be much slicker. I moaned about the long platform stands at timing points and was told these will be removed / eased down over time but not all at once – this is so there is still some flex to cater for mini perturbations in the service. Anyone who can recall previous attempts to stuff loads of trains through the Picc Line will also recall how that caused huge train jams whenever the slightest thing went wrong. Ditto the old Northern Line timetable which was “too tight”.

    And this brings me to Greg’s lesson in timetable planning. I think you can take it as read that LU is *very* aware of how to schedule trains, where the operational “wrinkles” are, what the power costs and that they spend a lot of time doing the necessary operational research, timetable, schedule and roster planning with lots of joint working between planners and operators / maintainers to construct timetables that should work. The Vic Line is not there yet but it is well on the way to a timetable that should cure the “glitches” highlighted in various comments. Hopefully we can get away from the apparent belief that the organisation is full of clueless morons who don’t know what they are doing!

  56. timbeau says:

    Stuart – it did, when the Stanmore branch was part of the Bakerloo. There were separate southbound platforms on each branch (allowing trains to arrive simultaneously on both branches and avoiding trains being held in the tunnel awaiting a path). The Stanmore branch platform is now the southbound Jubilee platform – the 1977 tunnel diverges from the original line south of the station.
    Northbound the divergence was after the station, so when the Jubilee was built a new platform had to be included, and the new line merges with the original Stanmore branch after the station.

    the same arrangement was designed into South Kensington from the start, the widening of the westbound tunnel west of the station and of the eastbound line east of the station (as well as the sharp deviation of what would have been the branch) are clearly seen, as can the second westbound platform tunnel. Of course, in the event the “main line”of the “Deep level District” towards Victoria was never built, leaving only the branch which, after a few sharp bends, made an end-on connection with the Piccadilly & Brompton route at Brompton Road.

  57. Anonymous says:

    @ Stuart – Baker St Bakerloo used to have 2 s/b and 1 n/b platforms before the Jubilee Line was built. The service split at Baker St to run to Stanmore on one branch (what is now the Jubilee) and to Queens Park / Watford on the other (the current Bakerloo Line). Coming south the two lines merged just after the platforms.

    If you look at the Baker St area on this map – – you see where the junctions are between the Bakerloo and Jubilee Lines.

    IIRC the section from Baker St – Oxford Circus used to be the most heavily used part of the network before the Jubilee Line opened. Strange to think that they stuffed a huge frequency of trains down to Elephant & Castle in times past.

  58. Rogmi says:

    Delays to following trains
    The problem is that the intervals between trains are very tight and leave little room to spare.
    The following trains are those timed to depart SS SB between 12:34 and 13:02½ on a weekday morning in the current timetable:
    33/34. 36/36½, 39/39½, S41½/42, 43/44, 46½/47, STD48½/40½, 51/52½, 54/55, 57/57½, S59½/00, 01½, 02½ – arrive/depart, S-from siding, STD-Staff Train from Depot.

    The trains are booked to follow one after another – as soon as the departing train is clear of the starter signal overlap, the next train (siding or Walthamstow) should be entering the platform.

    When it is time for a train to depart, allow about 10 seconds to close the doors and start. The departing train then has to travel about 370 feet past the platform starter (VL18) before the signal allowing the next train into the platform (from Tottenham (VL24)) or the siding (signal at platform end of the crossover (VL19)) can clear and allow a train at that signal to carry on to the platform. The exit signal from the siding VL20 or VL22A can clear as the train starts to depart the platform, allowing the train up to VL19. So, in theory, a train from the siding doesn’t have so far to travel, but the speed will be slower.

    So, the departure sequence for a SB Walthamstow (W1) / Siding (S) / Walthamstow W2) departure from platform 5 will be:

    W arrives in platform at 39, departs at 39½ + door close time
    When W is quarter way down the platform, S can start to leave the siding, up to VL19.
    When W has travelled 370 feet, S can now pass the signal and proceed into the platform, stop and open the doors. By now, it will probably be at least 41½.

    Passengers board, doors close, and S departs. Meanwhile, W2 is on the way to VL24, possibly starting to slow down.

    When S has travelled 370 feet, VL24 will clear and W2 can carry on into the platform

    Hopefully this makes sense, it’s much simpler when shown as an animation. It is also easier to follow on a diagram of the area (see the Sidings article for the website)

    As can be seen, this shows that the working is very tight, and that’s with everything running as it should. All you need is one delay with the siding train arriving / departing the platform and the following train will get held outside the station. As long as they still want to reverse trains at SS, I don’t see that there’s much else they can do, even with the new signalling. They could retime the train from Walthamstow to depart ½ minute later, but that will only have a knock-on effect to the rest of the service.

  59. Pedantic of Purley says:

    This is an alternative location for the signalling diagram mentioned by rogmi.

    Note that it is a diagram showing the situation prior to resignalling though the principle is unchanged. Also that rather confusingly it is the other way round to the way you would expect it with northbound to the left and southbound to the right.

  60. Rogmi says:

    Terminal station delays
    In an ideal world, trains should have to wait outside a terminus However, there are probably valid reasons as to why this happens. Apart from any timetable issues, one common reason is that the train has arrived early (even a few seconds will cause it to get held to time) another is a delay in the platform meaning that the platform that the train should go into isn’t empty yet.

    The weekday midday frequency at Walthamstow is about every 3½ minutes.
    Below is a piece of the weekday timetable showing the booked platform arrival / departure times:

    1 depart 12:54½
    1 arrive 12:56½
    There is a SS reverser inbetween these trains
    2 depart 12:58
    2 arrive 13:00½
    1 depart 13:01
    1 arrive 13:03
    There is a SS reverser inbetween these trains
    2 depart 13:05
    … and so on

    Iit is generally two minutes from the departure time until the next train arrives into the platform. Two minutes may sound a lot but, as with the Seven Sisters blocking back, when broken down, that two minutes isn’t much.

    10 secs to close the doors and start.
    The departing train has to travel about 500 feet before the signal will clear to let the next train into the platform.
    The following train then has to travel about 1200 feet from the signal until the end of the platform.
    So that’s two minutes to do all that. Tight, but workable if everything goes to plan, however a slight delay will throw it all out. A delay can also have a knock-on effects that may last several hours.

    Generally, points can be thrown once a train has cleared them (in this case the crossover). However the signal can’t be cleared until the train has cleared the sections relating to the signal. That is why you will sometimes hear the points throw and nothing seems to happen for a while.

    Even if things could somehow be speeded up, there is a minimum time allowed for driver turn round (usually 4½ mins). Other than when there is a SS reversing train, this is currently the time that the trains are in the platform now. The only way this could be improved on is if stepping-back is introduced, like at Brixton.

  61. Rogmi says:

    “Note that it is a diagram showing the situation prior to resignalling though the principle is unchanged. Also that rather confusingly it is the other way round to the way you would expect it with northbound to the left and southbound to the right.”

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks the layout’s unusual :-)
    I would have preferred going from South to North, which is more natural a way of working to me, but I stuck to the standard LU orientation so that the diagrams would be compatible with what other people were using.

  62. Greg Tingey says:

    All very well, but why, then when returning to Walthamstow, do I get stopped outside the station, I would guess 8 times out of ten, and outside & Sis in-bound about 7 times out of ten – and I don’t travel in the rush hours any more, either ???
    I thought the drivers “stepped back” @ W’stow for flexibility, or doesn’t that happen any more?

  63. Rogmi says:

    I don’t think they have steppimg back at Walthamstow. The timetable doesn’t show crew number changes like it does at Brixton, so I assume not.

    Other than the possible reasons I’ve given in the previous posts for delays outside Seven Sisters SB and Walthamstow NB, I can’t think of anything else.

    According to the timetable, there are less trains to Walthamstow, with a bigger gap between trains in the rush hour (especially AM) and more trains reversing at Seven Sisters. Therefore, there would be less likelihood of delays at Walthamstow in the AM, and possibly the PM rush hours, when there is more turn round time, than there would be off-peak when there is a more frequent service.

  64. Greg Tingey says:

    Given that the trains are often full-&-standing when leaving Walthamstow ( & my wife somewtimes uses the peak-hour inbound tube, rather than the ex-GER line) I would suggest that the thinning out of the “W” services is still overdone?

  65. Anonymous says:

    There is no stepping back at Walthamstow and I can’t recall it ever being done there as the frequency does not warrant it. It is essential at Brixton in the peak. Trains have left Walthamstow full and standing during the peak for years and years and years. That’s why you see people going to catch the 2nd train out in order to get a seat or why a (small) proportion of Blackhorse Road commuters travel north first in order to bag a seat and stay on the train. Unless things have gone crazy in the last 4 months I have never seen a Walthamstow train arrive at WWCS full and standing in *every* carriage. In the front 2 or 3 cars then yes because everyone wants to dash to the escalators. The fundamental change is that the peak has spread with trains being full earlier from earlier in the morning. The evening peak was always more spread out. The other noticeable change is the growth in the numbers of people travelling north over the northernmost section – e.g. T Hale to Walthamstow or even B Road to Walthamstow. I think the advent of much better Overground services at Highbury and BH Road and growth in Stansted Airport train usage are factors in boosting demand for shorter trips on the northern end of the line.

    I think Greg needs to see how the 33 tph timetable serves Walthamstow – that will probably represent the absolute maximum that can be squeezed out of the infrastructure. People need to bare in mind that stuffing too many trains down the tunnels can cause huge issues *if* there is a failure that means people are stuck between stations. The timetable is not constructed solely to maximise passenger numbers, it also has to be safe and operating plans must recognise numbers of trains, likely locations and how you get people out if you need to.

  66. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon @ 09.13
    Stepping back – not sure about the past – I’ve been using it since the first week of operation, after all!
    F&S in every coach – does happen occasionally , & certainly did during the Central Line fiasco, for reasons given a long way back.
    Agreed about the reverse-journeys from BHRd … The loading-up from the Bus station & transfers to/from the Chingford branch [ So that you get an F-&-S up Chingford arriving, disgorges LOTS to Vic line, leaves F-&-S apart from coach 8 on dep for Livp. ST ] is impressive. Didn’t someone say that W bus-station is the busiest suburban one in London (?)
    The current t-t works quite well, APART from the stop-start glitches mentioned earlier, & in spite of the soothing noises coming from various correspondents here, I am not anticipating LUL actually doing anything constructive about it, even though it would save them money.
    LUL seem to have a very strong “NIH” mentality, I’m afraid, which is why the suggestion of using rising artesian groundwater as coolant for the central London stations has been made at least 5 or 6 times, to my certain knowledge, until they (re)invented it for themselves, after about 5 years.
    Agree about 33 tph.
    I almost wonder if 30 is actually the safe maximum? Time will tell.

    Talking of safety. At 7 Sis itself, the staircase down from the Enfield Town up line to ground-level [ & hence to the Vic-line ] is really dangerously crowded in the AM peak – I’ve watched it a few times recently whilst working on the down side.
    An escalator is really needed, but fitting it in, wrt property-ownership (like the LUL buildings behind (East side) of the up p/f and also safe discharge at the bottom of any putative escalator onto the passageway into the ticket-hall/down-to-Vic-Line area mkakes this very desirable project a tricky one to design. I certainly wouldn’t like to try, without a very clear idea of how much space one had to play with, in all 3 dimensions.

  67. Rogmi says:

    It might have been helpful if I’d posted the link to the timetable. All the Underground Working TimeTables (that the staff use) are available there:

    This is an updated link to one I had previously used and has WTT34 which is from 22 April 2012. The train arrival departure times in my previous posts were taken from WTT33

    Comparing my previous times, although the actual time may be different for platform 1 and platform 2 at Walthamstow, the interval is still the same.
    At Seven Sisters, the SB departure time is every 2½ minutes in WTT34. In WTT33, this was generally 2½ minutes with the occasional 2 and 3 minutes.
    Without looking into it deeper, I’m not sure if this makes any improvement to potential SB approach delays at SS or not.

    Arrival/Departure times Seven Sisters SB over a 30 minute period
    12:33/34, 36/36½, 39/39½, 41½/42, 43/44, 46½/47, STD 48½/49½, 51/52½, 54/55, 57/57½, S59½/00, 01½/02½

    12:32½/33, STD 35/35½, 37/38, 39½/40½, 42½/43, S45/45½, 47/48, 49½/50½, 52½/53, STD55/55½, 57/58, 59½/00½
    S = from siding STD = staff train from depot

    Looking at an hourly period, the amount of reversers / staff trains is the same in both timetables.

  68. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Thanks for link. I did not know the WTT was published. There is practically a short article in just the Vic WTT but it requires a lot of digestion. WTT 33 required 37 trains in the morning peak. WTT34, despite having a more intensive service, only requires 36. This is almost certainly entirely due to speeding up the service which is mainly due to the superior acceleration and braking of the 09 stock.

    I believe that the total fleet is around 49 trains. Normally around 90% are required for service which means 44-45 trains. So there are still a lot of extra trains. Going from 30 to 33 tph will probably require an extra 4 trains although they might just get away with 3 if there is still some unnecessary slack in the timetable as people are indicating. This still only uses at most 40 trains when at least 44 trains should be available for service. This would suggest that an ultimate goal was and probably still is to go to 36 tph.

  69. Anonymous says:

    @ Greg 1113 – at least you have confirmed that the full and standing arrival syndrome is occasional. You will quite naturally get different behavious if there are delays on the Vic Line or during a more serious event like the Central Line. It’s not really sensible to try to use “extremes” as if they are the norm. It doesn’t help your argument.

    Yes I am well aware of the surge effects of Chingford Line arrivals. You get the same all the way down the line with the added bonus of surges at Blackhorse Road because of the burgeoning patronage on the GOBLIN. I don’t think Walthamstow is the busiest suburban bus station – I would certainly expect Stratford and Finsbury Park to be busier although you could go all pedantic as to how you define “bus station” at these locations. Walthamstow was certainly in the top 10 busiest bus / tube interchanges in London last time I saw the TfL data. From memory Brixton was top of the list which of course gives us lots of surges and demand at the other end of the line.

    As for “not invented here” syndrome – well that’s difficult. Many aspects of the tube, as it was the first Underground, present unique problems and there is a long standing culture of doing things the “LT way”. Having to maintain assets that are 40-70 years old means you develop your own ways of fixing and maintaining assets because no one makes the parts anymore. There are moves towards using industry standard kit and processes to get out of tied suppliers and all the attendant risk. That will, however, take many years. I rather feel, though, that Tube trains will always be specilalised because of the tunnel size and other issues. One mustn’t forget the political influence either – they impose their own demands like Borismaster buses and TfL having to run cable cars (to reference just the current Mayor). Mace have the contract to run the cable car for three years – it’ll be interesting to see what happens after that.

  70. Rogmi says:

    What I didn’t mention, when I commented on the time taken for one train to clear a section before the next train could get moving, is that trains may not necessarilly be held in the same place with the new moving block signalling. By slowing down, they can get closer to the train in front and still retain the braking distance. This means that they would be nearer the platform and could arrive there quicker than they would under the old system.

    This would be the equivalent of using additional speed-controlled signals in a conventional signalling system on the approach to a station – e.g. as at Oval NB where the following train can get over a train length closer to the train still in the platform than it would be able to under normal arrangements.

    I don’t know how the new signalling relates specifically at Seven Sisters SB or Walthamstow NB, but I’m assuming it must make a difference to the run-in time when following a train.

  71. Pedantic of Purley says:

    There is a marvellous set of pictures of the old now decommisioned IMR (effectively the modern automatic equivalent of a signalbox) at Seven Sisters including this that have been recently uploaded and brought to our attention by District Dave’s website.

  72. stephenk says:

    There are a few misconceptions in this thread concerning terminus operations.

    1) Trains waiting a short time to enter a terminus is a fact of life, and sensible timetabling. If trains were timetabled perfectly through the crossovers at Brixton and Walthamstow, then any late running (caused easily by variations in dwell times earlier in the journey) into the terminus would cause a knock on late running to services departing from the terminus.
    2) Brixton should be able to cope with 33tph as long as the platform re-occupation time is around 80 secs or less. Under the old signalling the platform re-occupation time was 96 secs. With 30 seconds operating margin and door closing time, this resulted in 126 sec headways, which was the average peak service frequency. 80 secs platform re-occupation time + 30 secs door closing/operating margin = 110 secs headways = 33tph.

    A method to increase frequency at Brixton style termini is to start the door closing procedure before the crossover is clear and a green light is given. By the time the doors are closed, the green light is given. This is done on Hong Kong MTR at Chai Wan (Island Line) which operates 30tph with 182m long trains.

  73. Job says:

    I have read through this thread and followed as best I could, some terminology has gone over me but my issue is travelling northbound. I don’t believe I saw an answer but could be wrong, I need to get to either SS or Tottenham Hale to catch a connecting mainline train home, they run to the minute (most of the times) so I need a smooth running Vic line in order to catch my connecting train home otherwise it’s a upto 30 minute wait for my next train home (leaving earlier is not possible). I get on at Finsbury Park and so many times the trains just stop start all the way to SS, regardless whether it’s 5pm or 8/9pm, also almost every time the train pulls into SS it is stuck on a red light preventing leaving immediately, this is regardless whether the previous train has just left or there has been a 3-4 minute gap. Is it that LU seem determined to hold every train just to annoy passengers who need to get to Tottenham Hale as soon as possible or it’s the regulating service excuse or is there another legitimate reason for the delays?

  74. Ian1944 says:

    Given that the photo is undoubtedly not L to R exchanged (“Seven Sisters” appears on a sign), the platform being to the left of the line means that the view is to the east, so the footbridge is at this end of the station and the red light visible isn’t the fixed one prohibiting movement westwards. Or have I totally lost it?

  75. No you haven’t lost it. We seem to have lost it. I am sure there should have been a photo with a bright red signal that appeared before the line “Note the glare of the red signal located in the tunnel at the west end of the platform.” I have tracked down the photo and it is a bit blurred. I can only presume that we made a last minute decision not to include it without realising that the text referred to it. It is amazing that no-one else picked up on this.

  76. GarethC says:

    Hi All – This article sounds like potentially the answer I am looking for. I board the underground at Tottenham Hale towards Victoria. I notice some people getting off my train at seven sisters and then waiting at the same platform or people already waiting at the platform and not boarding a train with available space. I don’t understand this as all the trains from this platform are going southbound to Brixton are they not?

  77. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Gareth C – some southbound trains start empty from Seven Sisters. This is why people wait or alight from crowded trains from north of Seven Sisters. I used to do the “SS wait” regularly. I’d see the same people every day waiting in the same spot for “their” empty train and their regular seat. Sounds daft for the tube but true. Same applied at F Park with people waiting for the less crowded train that had started at SS.

  78. GarethC says:

    Ha ha thanks that solves the puzzle! I was thinking there was some mysterious train that went somewhere else! Thanks again

  79. timbeau says:

    As some trains stop short at Victoria, there may also be people for stations further south who change at 7S to await a Brixton train, as there are, for the reasons explained, more trains from 7s than from further NE

  80. Pedantic of Purley says:

    As some trains stop short at Victoria

    No there aren’t. Except possibly one or two after midnight.

  81. Londona729 says:

    I was on a Victoria line train that terminated in the late evening at Victoria last month-however having been a VERY frequent Victoria line user I know that this seldom happens!

    In hindsight I should have taken video footage of this rare occurence!

  82. Jeffy likes apples says:

    Interestingly, i was at Euston late one evening waiting for a train north and was surprised to see the next train terminating at King’s Cross. I can only assume there had been disruption and they were straightening things out though the service pattern suggested nothing of disruption.

    Id also assumed that during times of disruption they terminate the mass of trains at SS and into the tunnels towards the depot to get them out of the way but this is probably an incorrect assumption – think I came to the conclusion when I realised they often run with more trains than platform space available and this seemed li,e a sensible way to get things flowing again.

  83. Mike says:

    Pop: “As some trains stop short at Victoria” – “No there aren’t. Except possibly one or two after midnight.”

    Easily checked at, which shows a couple of such terminators.

    A quirk is that the last through southbound train Mon-Fri waits for 8 mins (0040-0047) at Stockwell waiting for a connection from Edgware – must be a bit frustrating for those on the train!

  84. Pedantic of Purley says:

    which shows a couple of such terminators

    Correct. And assuming I have read the WTT correctly, only one in service – the one after midnight. I thought these stabled overnight at Victoria but in fact they come back out again for a northward journey. This does fit in with one occasion I know when they had to stick a works train in the siding after overrunning night engineering works to avoid delaying the start of service the next day. Presumably they had to then cancel the train that would have used that siding.

    It does make you wonder why they bother. Either it is to keep the train operators familiar with the siding moves or they really need a train service around 2-3 minutes apart for the service is still busy even after midnight. I suspect a combination of the two. They can’t run the later one to Brixton without making the time of the last train from Brixton even later and presumably they need every minute of engineering hours they can get.

    @Jeffrey likes apples,

    If it was very late (23 44¾!) your King’s Cross terminator would have formed one of these trains running southbound. All in the timetable. Again probably partly to keep up train operators’ knowledge of siding moves. It helps to lump these together so one only has to do one specific turn to retain familiarity with these moves.

    By the way one of the reasons for making both tunnels to the depots reversible was exactly for the reason you describe. In the event of severe disruption they can send trains back to the depot using both tunnels so that they can get passengers stranded in tunnels onto a platform much quicker.

    The timetable states it needs 37 trains. I thought it was 39 but clearly I was wrong. This means there can be four more trains than platforms. This is only going to get worse from June this year (34tph in the peaks) unless they can intensify the service and use the same number of trains by removing any remaining slack. It will certainly get worse from 2016 (36tph and all trains normally run Brixton-Walthamstow).

  85. timbeau says:

    Things seem to have changed since I used the line regularly – did there used to be more terminating at Victoria?

  86. Greg Tingey says:

    Quite a few years’ back – yes.
    What lasted longer was the incredibly annoying habit of terminating far too many at 7 Sisters …
    Including during the period that the Central Line was “out” …
    3 or 4 times more people using the Vic-line & still at least 1/3rd of trains terminating at 7 Sis …..
    AFTER that was all over, THEN they changed the timetable ….

  87. @timbeau,

    I thought it was a long time since trains terminated at Victoria. I would guess mid-70s. From memory, which may be wrong, terminating trains at Victoria once the Brixton extension was opened only lasted a few years. It was always the intention to terminate some of the trains there and that is why, in contemplation of doing so in future, they originally built four sidings at Victoria – two would form the running lines if the extension to Brixton was approved.

    What happened is that the Victoria line was far busier than predicted and the narrow platforms weren’t really geared for people waiting for the next Brixton trains. They also found that the time difference in terminating a train and running it through to Brixton wasn’t that great so they might as well just run them through. This eliminated the hassle and delays when emptying a train at Victoria. I suspect it also explains why the quantity of stock supplied was inadequate and they had to botch together extra trains using mix-and-match with 1972 stock.

    I suspect that the Brixton extension in particular was busier than expected and I suspect one of the reasons for that is that no-one had foreseen that Vauxhall would become the major interchange that it is today.

    I am also sure they would have had second thoughts about the design of Brixton if running all trains to Brixton had been the original intention.

  88. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau / PoP – the number of Victoria “terminators” has progressively reduced as LU has increased off peak service volumes. PoP is right to cite the difficulty of emptying trains at Victoria but in the 80s they regularly tipped out at Kings Cross and Victoria – especially evenings and weekends. I have no experience of 1970s LU but plenty of experience of being tipped out of Vic Line trains terminating at the boundaries of Zone 1 (or near enough there) or avoiding getting on them! It is extremely rare these days to see unscheduled short turns at Victoria and Kings Cross and they’d only be done if there was disruption and a gap in the service Kings Cross to Victoria (and vv). Certain stations cannot cope with gaps of more than 5 minutes or so at busy times without platforms being jammed full and people unable to enter. Years of Vic Line commuting through Victoria gave me very sensitive “antennae” in terms of detecting that something was wrong with the service just from looking at the volume of people on the platform!

    The differential between peak and off peak service on the Vic Line is now very small – especially at the Walthamstow end when off peak can be more frequent than peak as there are fewer trains trying to squash into service at Seven Sisters (he says sneakily getting back on topic ;-) ).

  89. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Walthamstow Writer,

    It is probably a sad reflection on me how much I follow the development of this although I did not realise Victoria terminators continued for so long. You seem to imply it was or became an off-peak thing and maybe that is why I wasn’t aware of them.

    Of course what we are now seeing is a similar pattern emerging at the the north end with Seven Sisters instead of Victoria and Walthamstow instead of Brixton. And arguably Tottenham Hale replicating Vauxhall as the unexpectedly busy NR-Vic Line transfer station that means it makes little sense to terminate any train short of the terminus stations.

    The perception of the peak/off-peak ratio is interesting. At the moment it is 33/24 which is quite a difference but frequencies have got so high that the expected mean waiting time of 55 seconds in the peak and 75 seconds off peak means that to the user this difference is imperceptible. If only Crossrail would be able to claim the same.

    Of course by 2016 we should have a peak/off-peak ratio of 36/27 which gives mean expected waits of 50 seconds and 67 seconds. No-one is really going to notice the difference between the two. The real winners, Greg will be pleased to hear, are users of Tottenham Hale, Blackhorse Road and Walthamstow who will no longer have gaps when the train terminates at Seven Sisters. It will be interesting to see if this is implemented the timetable change in June this year or whether we will have to wait until 2016 when 36tph is implemented.

    I also wonder if, when they eliminate the Seven Sisters short workings, they run a staff shuttle from platform 4 to Northumberland Park depot. I suspect not.

  90. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – My tube usage has declined considerably but my old commute gave me a 4 minute headway in the peak at Blackhorse Road. Off peak these days heading south is often a 3 minute headway which is very good. Of course if you mistime it in the other direction you can sometimes hit a 5 minute gap or, late on, up to a 10 minute wait. I know all this looks like not worth commenting on (if you’re faced with longer waits) but if you are a regular user and have a standard perception of wait time you very quickly notice any divergence from the norm. Given so many people make connections to other rail routes or buses then these extra minutes and divergences can make the difference between a seamless connection and a wait of up to 30 minutes for a NR connection at somewhere like Tottenham Hale.

    Your observation about T Hale is well made – the tube is always busy and has grown considerably. However having sometimes waited for a peak time Stratford train I was genuinely surprised at how busy the main line was and the volumes interchanging as well as those heading into Liverpool St and boarding at T Hale. Made me wonder where everyone was coming from! Blackhorse Road is seeing a mini boom with the GOBLIN interchange. Us Vic Line regulars used to hate mistiming arrivals at Walthamstow Central to get a tube so that you get hit by the Chingford Line tidal wave as people pour down to the tube. Get it wrong by a minute and no chance of a seat on the next tube out. The same thing happens all down the line with now the GOBLIN surge, the T Hale torrent, the Seven Sisters tsunami and the Finsbury Park flood (sorry got carried away there!). Travelling at regular times I could tell from the faces waiting to get on the train at each station as to whether particular trains had arrived “upstairs” or not.

  91. Melvyn says:

    With the major work associated with the Victoria upgrade the deliberate practice of terminating trains at Victoria must have become less feasible given how restrictions caused by escalator upgrades and renewals affected passenger throughput.

    The major development at Vauxhall is likely to lead to more passengers travelling in reverse direction from Victoria (South in morning / North in evening) to reach Vauxhall it still seems a big mistake that Northern line extension won’t interchange with Victoria Line and will most likely have to wait until Crossrail 2 is built.

    A solution at Brixton will need to be found to increase capacity to turn trains which might be a 3rd platform or maybe a run round loop similar to what west end branch of Northern Line once had or maybe extension to a new 3 track terminal station in South London ?

    I wonder if TFL keeping quite about increased train frequency is linked to Boris obsession with driverless trains and if this new service level makes driverless operation not look as good as he would like people to believe ? So driverless Victoria Line at +40 TPH anybody!

    As to having £50 million to spare well inserting missing Central escalators at this and other Victoria Line Stations or a step free Seven Sisters would be a better use of this amount .

  92. Pedantic of Purley says:


    On your first two points I disagree but will only comment that there is an awful lot of residential building going on at Nine Elms (as much as in Colindale) and the Victoria Line will not be able to handle this but the Battersea extension supposedly could. That leaves the question of what happens between now and 2020. Already one is struggling to get on the first train at Vauxhall northbound in the morning peak.

    A solution at Brixton will need to be found to increase capacity to turn trains
    I am assured that it has already been found and it doesn’t involve massive new infrastructure. If all trains go to Walthamstow in future, as planned, you would equally have to consider the other end of the line.

    I wonder if TFL keeping quitequiet about increased train frequency …
    But they aren’t. Their plans are published in their reports and on their website e.g. here.

    I am not 100% sure what you are trying say about driverless trains but driverless trains don’t increase line capacity other than by potentially freeing two cabs for passenger use. ATO (and minimising dwell times) is the key to increasing tph and the Victoria Line already has a good ATO system.

    As to having £50 million to spare well inserting missing Central escalators at this and other Victoria Line Stations
    Not trying to disagree with you but curious as to which station(s) you are referring to as I thought these had been done at all locations where there was a need.

  93. timbeau says:

    “maybe a run round loop similar to what west end branch of Northern Line once had”
    Unless there has been a drastic remodelling at Kennington recently, it still does.
    (There was, of course, one at Embankment in LER days)

  94. Graham Feakins says:

    When I first used the Vic. Line, it terminated at Warren Street from the north, before the line was opened to Victoria. Even afterwards, Warren Street was used occasionally for reversals.

    I’m sure that regular Victoria starters ran well into the ’90’s; one could always tell them because they were of course empty but were also driven in manually from the sidings.

  95. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – the peak time crowding at many Vic Line stations is so severe that I would contend that all of the stations require third escalators and / or congestion relief measures. When it can take you minutes to get from the platform to the bottom of a single escalator and the next train load is right behind you there is something seriously wrong. That applies at all the Vic Line stations – Highbury is a mess at lower level and some serious money needs to be spent. Finsbury Park needs a bomb dropping on it and starting again rather than fiddling with spiral staircases. Tottenham Hale and Walthamstow Central overload at lower level and at ticket hall level. Clearly the former is getting a bigger ticket hall but the third escalator issue isn’t going to be touched which I feel is an error even if the consultants think the place can cope. More marginal are Seven Sisters and Blackhorse Road but loadings are increasing and SS can be very, very busy with strong surges of people off the trains and buses. If the Overground success story is repeated with West Anglia then Seven Sisters as a whole will need looking at.

    I appreciate there is no money for any of this and there are undoubtedly far more critical sites in Zone 1 on other lines which warrant the spend. However the move to ever higher train throughput on the Vic Line will generate more demand and thereby more pressure on the stations. At some point there will need to be a strategy to improve station capacity on the Vic Line at the “second tier” stations. Victoria and Vauxhall are obviously being attended to but Vauxhall’s treatment is, as you suggest, unlikely to be sufficient given the planned development.

  96. Malcolm says:

    @Graham Feakins

    The answer may be obvious to some, but I do not understand how an observer on the platform can distinguish between a train being driven manually and one using ATO. The person in the cab, I would have thought, will be looking carefully at the platform in both cases, and exactly what his/her hands and feet are doing or not doing is not readily discernable to a stationary bystander, is it?

  97. Jeffy likes apples says:

    As a Blackhorse Road resident now but until very recently a Tottenham Hale one, a good point is made about the off peak service being better than the peak. I was surprised to be told there was a good service on the line the other day when I had a 6 minute wait in the evening peak for a southbound service.

    When waiting at King’s Cross in the peak (my usual embarkation point returning home) I do stare in amazement at the one train leaving and another immediately appearing situation. Makes me glad to be on a quick(er) tube line with no branches too – even if they do have those naughty Seven Sister terminators…

  98. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm – re manual driving. Remember this was in the days of the 67 stock that GF is referring to. You could tell by the speed and the missing destination on the platform indicator (!) that a train was being driven manually out of the sidings. You’d sometimes get a PA announcement too. Normally trains come in fairly quickly from Pimlico but one from the sidings positively crawled in. You could also see the driver, usually standing up, moving the controls. That was different from the usual stance of the driver slouched on a seat not doing anything very obvious. I agree that Mr Average might not notice but regulars probably could spot the difference. I exclude myself from the Mr Average category as a former LU employee and long time Vic Line user who used to recognise nearly all the line’s driving staff.

  99. Graham Feakins says:

    Thanks WW; I almost misread your platform indicator comment because I have had for decades one of the original 67 Stock destination blinds and I often wondered whether it would be missed! OK it had a tear in it and was given to me but even so…

    I can add that a train entering from Pimlico might also show the driver (in those days I hasten to add) reading or folding up his newspaper and invariably never with hands on any ‘handles’. You describe the sitting attitude well.

  100. Greg Tingey says:

    Escalators on Vic-line
    Would that they had, there are still central staircases @ Walthamstow C & Highbury & Islington,& the 2 escalators get very crowded.
    Other places, too!
    SEE ALSO: – WW’s pained & entirely correct complaint about the present state of affairs.

  101. Nick says:

    Heh. I’m not a train person at all, but googled this, as platform 4 at Seven Sisters has caused me great confusion on several occasions after coming home from after work drinks.

    Coming back on the Northbound Victoria Line, I miss my stop at Finsbury Park – no problem though! I think to myself that I will just hop back on the Southbound and go back a stop. A simple matter!

    But wait! It isn’t Southbound! It isn’t really Northbound either. *Does not compute*…

    Platform 4 + copious amounts of alcohol = bafflement

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