Given the amount of money generated by the fare box, it is easy sometimes to forget that this is not the only source of revenue for TfL. One of the more interesting things lurking in the last TfL Board Papers was the suggestion that the opportunity was there to radically increase TfL’s non-fare income. Currently, the organisation draws in approximately £233m a year from various sponsorships, advertising and retail activities, but TfL have indicated that they wish to increase total non-fare revenue by £1.1bn, cumulatively, by 2022.

Some of TfL’s recent commercial experiences have not necessarily garnered a great deal of praise. The sponsorship deals with both Emirates for the Cable Car and Barclays for the cycle hire scheme came in for criticism from various quarters, including the London Assembly, largely for the lack of transparency surrounding the contracting process and their award. TfL and CBS Outdoor, responsible for much of the advertising on the Underground, also found themselves engaged in a long-running battle over the timing of upgrade works and the value of the advertising contract. TfL also came under criticism for payday loan company Wonga’s sponsorship of free travel on New Year’s Eve last year.

With all the above in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising that in recent months TfL have been looking to overhaul their approach to both sponsorship and retail. The remit for doing so largely falls to Graeme Craig, TfL’s Commercial Development Director, who yesterday appeared before before the London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee. The resulting session can be found here, and is well worth a watch, as it provides quite a detailed insight into just what TfL are looking to change and do. A summary of the key points raised, however, can also be found below.

What’s In A Name

One of the overriding themes of the session was the need to formalise and improve TfL’s approach to sponsorship. With a new three-person TfL sponsorship team now in place, the goal is not only to identify more opportunities for sponsorship, but to ensure that previous issues of transparency and a perceived poor choice of partners is addressed.

Craig asserted that, broadly speaking, there were ultimately three areas over which TfL would be looking to increase its corporate sponsorships and partnerships. These were assets, such as the Cycle Hire Scheme and the Cable Car, ad hoc sponsorship of particular events, and finally broader corporate sponsorship across multiple areas perhaps aligned to specific themes such as sustainable transport (something Craig described as the “Champions League” approach). In all areas going forward, he asserted, there needed to be an increased focus on more than just the bottom line, and must always be in the “public interest”:

“Sponsorship shouldn’t be that someone gives us a cheque in response to their name being on something,” Craig explained, “or their brand being on the side of something. It should be something that’s much more of a partnership where there is much more of a tangible improvement in service as a direct result of two organisations whose brands align. Whose aspirations for that service come together and they are working jointly in order to deliver a tangible improvement or a tangible saving – something that the public can see the benefits of.

“If TfL were seen to be, simply, selling off the family silver, or devaluing the brand I think we’d get fairly short shrift from the travelling public for doing so. I think we have to be in a position where we can articulate what the benefits are of the sponsorship arrangement, and it has to be more than just a simple advertising deal.”

Just what kind of assets might find themselves open to sponsorship was naturally a subject that the Budget Committee were quick to enquire about – and just how the definition of “public interest” might be applied. If a company offered to provide enough money to allow a fares freeze, Committee chair John Biggs asked, would they be able to acquire the naming rights for an Underground station?

“Personally, I think no.” Replied Craig.

“You think no?”

“Well I speak to a lot of people about these sorts of issues. There’s a very strong sense in which people feel that it’s their system. I think if we were looking to hawk round the name ‘Oxford Circus’ to, say, Oxford Landing who have approached us before, about selling the name of a tube station simply for the sake of a pun then I’m not sure that people would see that as being a TfL who is interested in the long term reputation.”

Biggs was quick to ask whether this might have been one of the failures with regards to the Emirates Cable Car deal . Craig, however, asserted that there was a clear difference between between existing infrastructure and new.

“You could sell off naming rights for the Crossrail stations then?” Asked Biggs.

“I personally think that the idea of doing, as they’ve looked at in some other cities around the world, of going along the line and selling off the name of tube stations is something about which I am instinctively uncomfortable.” Replied Craig. “I think we’ve got fantastic heritage, we’re in the 150th year, and we do need to find funds to innovate, transform and expand the network. Personally though I’m not sure that I’d feel comfortable, myself, doing that by selling off station names that have been in place for a long time.”

Given the sensitive approach that clearly needed to be taken with regards to sponsorships, the Committee was keen to know where, ultimately the buck stopped when it came to decision making. Craig admitted that the ad hoc nature of previous deals had left this unclear, but asserted that the new strategy would lead to a clearer governance process, and any large sponsorship deals would likely be signed off by mayor, in his role as head of TfL. He was also keen to stress that the number of sponsorships and partnerships that TfL would engage in was intended to be relatively limited.

“There is, apart from anything else, a market appetite. What we would look to do is get the maximum value for those assets and that, I think, will always limit us to a relatively small number of sponsorship deals.”

He was also keen to stress that there’d need to be more to them than just the attachment of a high-value brand to an existing asset. It couldn’t just be a case of selling space to the highest bidder.

“When it comes to assets if we have… I don’t know… it could even be a local institution or a museum which wants to drag some of the excitement that surrounds our stations into the station itself.” He continued, “Or wants to look at what more we could do in terms of customer information or something – if you’ve got an organisation or institution which is keen to see improvements on the transport system and is willing to invest their intellectual and financial capital in order to do so, I’m not averse – let’s be clear about that – to improving our existing assets and working with others in order to improve those assets. What I don’t see it being is an auction for naming rights for long-cherished stations.”

Did this mean, the Committee asked, that the emphasis would be on businesses that could claim some relevant link to stations already – “Knightsbridge for Harrods” being suggested by Richard Tracey in particular, or attractions like Madame Tussauds.

“I think there are some examples of… associations… that could be seen to be both commercially viable and potentially attractive to the public.” Craig accepted. “I think there are some that would be seen to be absolutely tacky. ”

Just what an association might constitute, Craig admitted, was something that still needed to be documented. Not least because, as the Committee rightly highlighted, there was a potential overlap between the quest for such associations and the need to highlight certain attractions for ease of passenger experience. The O2, for example, currently do not pay for their presence on station signage, yet directions to the venue are clearly marked. Should they pay? Should these be removed if they don’t?

“Part of the challenge we have as an organisation is that we want to help people move round London.” Admitted Craig “And, you know, as anyone who is a regular user of Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus will know, it’s not always easy to tell which exit is the one that you need to be going out by. Particularly if you’re new to London. So there is commercial value, for organisations, in TfL pointing people to that organisation. Sometimes I think it is entirely appropriate for TfL to retain some of that value, working with those organisations.

“In other cases, it’s absolutely the right thing to do for TfL to point out the major attractions nearby at stations.”

Ultimately, Craig asserted, it was key to remember that TfL was emphatically not declaring open season on its assets, or waiting for offers. More that it was now more open to conversations about possible partnerships and needed to get its policies in order to support that.

Picking up on Craig’s point about the existing Tube network being relatively protected, the Committee push again as to where the boundaries would lie with regards to new stations and extensions.

“Would you consider sponsoring the Northern Line extension,” asked Richard Tracey, “because that’s a new piece of kit?”

“We have no plans to.” Craig said. “I come back to the view that the primary purpose of the Underground network is to navigate round and we, at our peril, do anything that gets in the way of smooth travel around the system and that includes geographic naming.”

Picking Your Friends

Moving away from the “what”, the Committee pushed on the subject of “who” with several elephants that had been residing firmly in the room addressed.

“Under the new arrangements,” came the first question, “would TfL still do a sponsorship deal with Wonga?”

“The whole issue of payday loan companies is the Treasury’s.” Replied Craig. “They launched a consultation, 6th March, they are… we know… and working with the OFT, Advertising Standards on the industry to look, more broadly, at advertising of payday loan companies. I think this goes to the point of advertising as well as sponsorship.”

“Here is a clear example of where the government has signalled a consultation that they’re keen to undertake. Quickly, as I understand it, working with the ASA to offer their views on payday loan companies and that will have implications, I am sure, for advertising as well as sponsorship – I just don’t know what the outcome of those things are, pending the outcome of the consultation process.”

The current draft of the documents pertaining to potential sponsors, the Committee highlighted, included a clause that indicated that sponsors should not be engaged in pornography or “immoral activities.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, this led to a brief discussion as to whose morals these would be. Would they be the morals of whichever mayor was incumbent? Boris Johnson’s morals several committee members suggested, perhaps not entirely innocently, might be potentially different to those of his eventual successor. Similarly, Barclays’ banks recent role in the financial crisis could leave it open to accusations of immoral behaviour.

Craig’s answer was simple: “It’s not about defining a small amount of organisations with which we would not work and then work with anyone else.”

Contracts, he explained, would include provisions to allow TfL to terminate a relationship should a scandal strike mid-contract, and as sponsorship will only ever contribute the equivalent of perhaps 5 – 10% of fare revenue, the pressure to maintain a contract in order to meet financial demands should be relatively low.

Moving onto the value of sponsorships, the Committee asked how the potential value of deals would be assessed, and how they would likely be tendered. Craig asserted that all sponsorships would include a value for money assessment, with that done by an independent third party in the case of large deals. In the majority of cases, they would also go to competitive tender.

“In almost all cases we would [tender competitively].” He explained. “Specific examples where we might not do would be if there was something like an event that might be valued in the low tens of thousands of pounds, let say, and we were looking for existing suppliers to help sponsor an event. In a situation like that it may not be – well, I’m sure it would not be – the case that the process of going through an open market competition would cost more than we’d get in terms of sponsorship.”

Getting Smarter in Retail

Moving beyond the topic of sponsorships, the subject turned to other areas of non-fare income. Here, Craig asserted, there was the potential for substantial growth – in part because of the extensive station assets TfL possess, and the huge potential customer base.

“The combined populations of the top six cities out of London,” Craig highlighted, “in terms of numbers of individuals, equates to a quiet weekday on the Tube in February.”

Currently TfL make approximately £23m from retail, and it was clear that Craig believed this was far too low, resulting from the lack of an effective and forward-thinking strategy. It was also clear that Craig believed that TfL’s current approach focused too heavily on the acquisition of upfront capital, rather than developing its retail assets into sources of ongoing income.

“We should be employing an approach that’s similar to the estates like Grosvenor Estate, Crown Estate, and be an organisation that invests in its assets and looks to deliver a long term return from its assets.” He claimed.

Later in the session Craig would go into more detail about what this really meant.

“In the past we’ve entered into arrangements where we’ve disposed of assets, and developers have come in and done what they thought was appropriate. I think the view was to minimise the risk to the public purse, which I understand. But also because TfL has seen developers at being better able, I’m not sure whether it’s to get commercial value or to get the best opportunity from the sites. I think there are lessons, I think I mentioned earlier, that we can gain from people like the Crown Estate, who instead have a tendency to invest in their own assets and work with others in order to get a long term return. So I think moving away from capital receipts and thinking more about a TfL that’s willing to invest, and a TfL that’s more willing to look at recurring revenues, is one that’s more likely – much more likely – to recognise the transport requirements, the broader requirements in terms of sustainable developments, and to sit that alongside commercial activity.”

As several Committee members pointed out, Craig seemed to be advocating an approach more similar, in future, to that now taken by Network Rail at its terminals. Craig confirmed that there was some inspiration there, but ultimately there needed to be more to the strategy than that. TfL had the locations, but just wasn’t putting enough thought into how it used them.

“There’s a variety of factors at play here.” He said. “We have guidelines for retailers but we don’t either sufficiently enforce those guidelines nor do we have the carrot to accompany the stick whereby we, for example, might work with retailers for them to invest in their estate in order to get the return that they could do. It is, as you know, predominantly independent sole traders and we’d be keen to retain independents as part of the estate. But I think there’s also more opportunity for TfL to work with national and international brands in order to provide more… recognisable retail offerings, and more consistency across the network.

“I think fundamentally this is a network with huge footfall, in which the retail on the stations bears little relationship to the people who are using the stations, or very often to retail that’s immediately available outside the stations – and that relates to both convenience but also to places where people can stop and have a coffee as well. There’s a load of places where, you know, very many places where people meet at the station. Too infrequently do those people who meet at the station choose to stay on the station in order to have a coffee. They’re then taking their patronage elsewhere, and I think there’s a fantastic opportunity for us to invest in the stations in order to get a long term return.”

The Committee asked whether a TfL behaving more aggressively in the retail space would represent a threat to the high street, something Craig dismissed. The vast majority of TfL’s retail spaces, totalling approximately a thousand, were relatively small. Their focus, he also explained, should be on something he referred to as “hyper-convenience.”

“London’s transport system should be a place of innovation in retail.” He explained “It should be somewhere where we’re using technology and networks in order to provide the very best retail that we can for, again, the time-poor people that use our services in huge numbers every day.”

Technology, it soon became clear, is key to Craig’s vision of where the future lies for TfL in the retail space – with click-and-collect something foremost in his mind.

“Someone could order something on their way to work, for example,” he said, “and then pick it up at their home station on the way home. Those are the sort of services that we, uniquely almost, can offer Londoners and those are the sorts of things that we should be doing.”

Naturally, the conversation soon turned to the topic of telephony and WiFi on the Underground. Just what role, the Committee asked, does WiFi – and free access to it – play in this? What of voice and data services beyond that?

“This is an increasingly interconnected world.” Craig answered. “The vast majority of people on our services at the moment have a smart phone or some form of tablet device. Giving people a mechanism in order to do what they want whilst on the network feels at the heart of what an innovative transport network should be doing – and it’s a means for us to make money.”

For regular travellers and commuters, he explained, it was important that the current and future WiFi deals were structured so that the cost was picked up by the mobile operators rather than TfL . Visitors, however, were a different issue and could perhaps buy pay-as-you-go. Ultimately it was about seeking a balance between commerciality and keeping things free in support of the broader aspirations for using technology to boost retail.

“From a commercial perspective,” he explained, “the amount of money that we can make from giving people access to services whilst they’re travelling on our network will outweigh any money that we might make from trying to ‘fleece’ people for access.”

On the subject of more general voice and data services on the Underground, however, Craig was less enthusiastic.

“That would be an expensive thing for TfL to undertake.” He said. “I see no likelihood, given the other pressures that I recognise across the transport system, that TfL would choose to invest the very large sums of money in order to put out infrastructure for voice and data on the Underground and then simply to give that away for free. There’d have to be some mechanism in order to ensure that, for example, those mobile network operators who would have access to voice and data underground, I would argue – but then I would wouldn’t I – that those mobile network operators should make a contribution.

“And I think that if we get to a point where voice and data could be put into the Underground at nil net cost to TfL, and wrapped up into packages that the customers on the Underground would pay as part of their deal, then that may or may not be achievable but that would be my aspiration.”

With the example of Network Rail raised, and the suggestion of a more sophisticated and active retail policy on the table, the Committee were also keen to draw out whether this meant the Underground was destined to become a network populated by generic brands at the cost of character and independent shops. If TfL was looking to get more market value for its spaces, for example, would it also commit to establishing a percentage of spaces that should have affordable rents?

Craig seemed keen to make clear that TfL were not looking to take a “one size fits all” approach to station retail, which would mean taking into consideration local needs and local affordability.

“I wouldn’t characterise it as saying that a proportion of the units will have affordable rents,” replied Craig. “I’d say it’s more about looking at the tenancy agreements in order to make sure that we’re working with our existing tenants and others in order to give them more opportunity to invest in their estate. It’s taking more of a view on turnover, so that we’re not looking to maximise return but working with retailers where they’re successful. But fundamentally it comes down to a view on the tenant mix and the merchandising mix for each station so that you have an appropriate combination of brands and independents – an appropriate mix of different types of unit. Those are the sorts of things that any retail landlord would expect to do across their asset base and what we need to be doing.

“So it’s not just focus on affordable rents. It might be that at particular locations there’s not a commercial return, but actually thinking about it from a CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] opportunity that there is a mechanism to enable, you know, either a start up business or some other means of employing space. Either way if we have space we should be looking to make the best use of it, and that’s not generally going to be simply looking at the best way of maximising the upfront commercial return.

“One needs to have an answer station by station effectively, to gauge the right use of that space. Is it a crèche? Is it a doctor’s surgery? Is it retail? Is it residential? Part of what we need to do is to be willing to take a long term view and understand how around our stations we can build more a sense of community that over time might help retailers and others.”

He also admitted that TfL needed to be more aware of how its retail related to the community than it had perhaps been before.

“In too many cases it can feel, historically at least, that people feel like they’re defending their network from TfL. TfL should be as interested in every station as local residents.”

Given Craigs clear desire to make better use of TfL’s existing assets, it was perhaps no surprise that during the session Murad Qureshi asked Craig how the current situation surrounding Shepherd’s Bush Market fitted in with this vision. The market is a subject which we will cover in more detail in a later post. It is located alongside and beneath the arches of the Hammersmith & City Line and is currently TfL property, but plans appear to be afoot to sell it, possibly for redevelopment.

It was a topic that appeared to catch Craig by surprise.

“I’m aware that we have had discussions,” he admitted, “I don’t know where we are with those discussions, and wasn’t aware that this would be raised.”

“Is it in TfL’s interest to dispose of this lively market which brings in regular revenues?” Qureshi asked. “When I’ve asked before it actually makes money for TfL.”

Craig proceeded to explain, in general terms, the approach that TfL now looked to take with regards to assets such as the market, and what would be considered when looking at their future.

“One – what the ongoing revenues are from existing use.” He said. “Two – what the potential income would be if the site were to be developed. And what capital receipt could be gained from an outright sale. Overlying that would be a decision as to whether strategically this would be an asset that we would look to retain an interest in, or indeed whether it sits outside the portfolio of assets that we would expect to retain. There may be other considerations in discussions with local authorities and others, but essentially it comes down to the strategic fit of the asset and its fit in the portfolio, and an economic view of the existing income and how that would relate to the disposal.

“In general, and across the estate, I am keen to move away from disposal and to understand how we can get long term return from our assets, but part of what we have to do across the estate is understand how, looking across the broader portfolio, one can look to, for example, divest TfL of some assets in order to generate money that goes to be spent on assets that are more strategic. I don’t, as it happens, know exactly where we are on Shepherds Bush Market but I can find out.”

The market is a subject to which London Reconnections will also return at a later date.

With regards to specific assets, the Committee also asked Craig to explain where Lillie Bridge Depot, and its potential sale, fitted into the current Business Plan.

“Lillie Bridge depot – there are assumed revenues in the business plan. Not £200m, as it happens, from development at Earls Court.” Craig explained. “But the business plan doesn’t assume any disposal of Lillie Bridge depot. That’s in part because we haven’t yet carried out the work on – or the work hasn’t been completed – on the feasibility of removing the operational infrastructure and the stabling at Lillie Bridge Depot. So there’s work underway on Lillie Bridge Depot and we should know by the end of this year as to whether it will be developable as part of the wider Earls Court Masterplan.”

Beyond retail space in particular, Craig was also keen to assert that TfL would look to make more use of the airspace over stations. He also indicated that, especially with the arrival of 4G services and small cells, there were potential uses to which existing street infrastructure could be put.

Making the Most of Advertising

As well as sponsorships and retail, the Committee sought to delve into the details of TfL’s advertising deals, past and future. Discussion naturally turned to TfL’s relationship with CBS Outdoor.

TfL and CBSO have not always enjoyed an entirely amicable contractual relationship. At the end of 2011, CBSO threatened to withdraw from their advertising deal if contract terms were not renegotiated. At the time they were unhappy with the overrunning upgrade works and other promised infrastructure changes. Whilst these were the official reasons, however, it was generally accepted that CBSO, who had signed the long term contract before the economic downturn, had likely found themselves sitting on a contract that was far less profitable than they’d hoped. Ultimately the two organisations reached an undisclosed settlement in January 2012, and relations have seemed to be far more cordial since then.

“TfL, having signed a deal at the height of the market with CBSO, had a guaranteed income.” Explained Craig, shedding some light on what had happened. “It’s been a fantastic deal for TfL. CBSO, to be fair to them, are a great bunch of people who invested in the estate. They’ve transformed the estate from what it was not so many years ago with wet-posted sites. We’ve got digital sites now making a significant contribution to the network. They had a very good 2012 leveraging the games, but also working better with TfL than they ever have done in the past in order to maximise the opportunities that came from the games.

“We have a positive working relationship with CBSO and they do a very good job of maximising the opportunities from across our estate – not just on London Underground but on the other contracts they have with us.”

Given that the previous deal was signed in more affluent times, the Committee asked, was there a risk that when the contract came up again in 2015 that advertising revenue would fall?

“I think it’s a racing certainty that we wouldn’t get the same contract again,” confirmed Craig, “and there are assumptions at the moment that the amount of money that we’ll get from advertising will fall. Part of the £1.1bn additional revenues is the mitigations that we could put in place in order to the impact that might otherwise accrue from the expiry of the existing contract in 2015.”

“It was a difficult contract for them to live with.” Admitted Craig, when pressed on what the disagreement (and settlement) with CBSO had ultimately been.

“The settlement was effectively one that gave both of us something that we were most interested in, which was that TfL maintained its [fixed revenue] guarantee and CBSO saw more of a return on digital technology. So, you know, as ever on a contract renegotiation both parties sort to get, and in this case got, what they were most interested in. We’re certainly satisfied with the outcome. CBSO were satisfied with the outcome.”

As the end of the session approached, the committee sought answers on two final key questions. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, should TfL achieve its goal of substantially increasing its non-fare revenue, would the Government seize on this as simply an opportunity to reduce TfL’s grant?

It was something to which Craig had to admit he was unable to provide an answer.

“I think I can only say that within the Business Plan, looking at 2022, there is a not insubstantial increase required in terms of commercial development in order for us to balance the books. I know that there is a huge amount of investment that is required in order to get us to where we want to get in terms of transport for London. Let’s not pretend that I’m party to any discussion about what may happen in terms of long term government grant.”

Finally, discussion returned briefly to the issue with which the session had started: transparency. In all of the above, the Committee asserted, TfL clearly needed to overcome something that had previously proved to be its major failing: a lack of transparency both with regards to strategy and contracts.

Craig’s response was emphatic – as far as he was concerned transparency was absolutely critical to moving forward, especially with regards to sponsorships. That’s why they were coming up with a public policy, and indeed talking to the Committee.

“These things are much more straightforward when everyone understands from the outset that things are going to be transparent,” he asserted, “and I think I said in my letter to you [the Committee] that we will have a presumption of full transparency in anything with us and our commercial partners and an understanding, up front, that we are going to be transparent about this activity. This will mean that we will be open, in the future, with all the activity that we’re doing. I’m nothing if not conscious of the interest that people have in the commercial arena, and I think that there is a large amount that we can do, and that we have started to do.”

Craig’s intentions thus seemed clear. The committee’s final question, however, highlighted how big a change for TfL this may prove to be.

“What success have you had” Asked Biggs as Chair, “in getting Barclays to make more details of the cycle hire contract publically available?”

“Discussions continue.” Craig admitted. “I’m sure that they will be. I’m just not in a position yet to say when that’s going to happen.”

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There are 79 comments on this article
  1. Valentine says:

    Wasnt there talk of turning dis-used underground stations into restaurants, bars, etc? Would love to see that, a little bit of Musee D’Orsay magic on our shores.

    Would be good also to see some future TFL shopping areas built to a higher design standard than the usual private-sector corner-cutting you get from many developers in the UK, e.g. Westfield. Can TFL do for shopping/dwelling areas what they did for rail with the Overground?

    Take a look at the proposals at the shopping/station complex of Les Halles in Paris, looks pretty good to me:

  2. [email protected] says:

    “Sponsorship shouldn’t be that someone gives us a cheque in response to their name being on something,” Craig explained.

    I am a bit puzzled why Craig should say this. Why not, if it pays some of TfL’s bills?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve commented on Network Rail’s stations masquerading as shopping centres before, and, done with balance, I agree with it. It’s all about that balance though – a station is a station, after all, and if it becomes more difficult to use it as such due to the shopping centre, then they’ve failed. London Bridge will be interesting to watch develop.

    As for over railway developments, again, it’s about doing it right. Blackfriars’ intertwining with Puddledock frustrated the design of the new station to me, despite being a very convenient site office. Cannon Street is a grim station to use once on the platforms, but the new concourse is ok. Victoria is Jekyll and Hyde – a hodge podge of eastern platforms with a small concourse, and well planned central platforms with a huge concourse. If the eastern side ever wants to go 12 car, they’ll have to remodel the entire station and the office above, at great expense, as there is insufficient space in the throat in its current configuration. It’s only by reducing the central concourse and enlarging the eastern that the throat will again be big enough for 19no 12car platforms. Birmingham New Street seems to be heading the same way – the new shopping centre above it seems to be changing the roof without sorting out the platforms below it. This is a once in a generation or two opportunity, take it!

    Crossrail will do well to look at City Thameslink – there are too many turns involved in getting from the platform to the street given it’s less than 10m underground, and it is very frustrating. You can also be next to a window (at the southern end) and yet have to walk for more than a minute to get to the other side of the window! As Craig admits above, NR and TfL are in the business of getting people around London, so let me get where I want to go as simply as I can. If you can sell me something on the way – well done, but don’t slow me down to do it.

  4. Anonymous Duck says:

    @ “Sponsorship shouldn’t be that someone gives us a cheque in response to their name being on something,” Craig explained.

    I am a bit puzzled why Craig should say this. Why not, if it pays some of TfL’s bills?

    Profit today loss tomorrow. trading goodwill today for money generally means annoying customers and customers being annoyed and awkward means extra cost or lack of money in the future. Awkwardness usually not only affects local area but overspills across whole system, so small local gain can mean huge system loss.

  5. swirlythingy says:

    I hate to be a pedant, but… oh who am I kidding. You typed “sort to get” instead of “sought to get”.

  6. DW down under says:

    There’s a thread over at DD’s following this press release:

    I wonder if its timing was aimed to co-incide with the GLA Committee meeting?

  7. Dr Paul says:

    I guess that sponsors for stations could be found. Football teams are one almost ready-made example. Some are already named — for example, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Charlton, Brentford. Others could be adapted with a word or two — for example, Leyton only needs to have Orient added to it, Watford Junction could lose its suffix. White Hart Lane is so well associated with Spurs that it doesn’t need any changing. There might be a few problems, as Millwall’s Den is on the other side of the Thames to Millwall, Queen’s Park is miles from QPR’s ground, Fulham’s ground is closer to Putney Bridge than to Fulham Broadway, which is practically next-door to Chelsea’s ground, and West Ham would have to be renamed if Upton Park became West Ham, but I’m sure that something could be sorted out.

    As for others, Pedigree Pet Food could sponsor Marylebone for their Pal dog food, remember the advert: ‘Pal Meat for Dogs: Enriched with Marylebone Jelly’?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dr Paul

    Wonderful idea! I think it was “enriched with nourishing Marylebone jelly” – but thanks for the memory! I’m pleased I wasn’t the only one who heard that…

    And don’t forget that Watford FC had its own station on a line to be re-opened, but I’m not sure about using Crystal Palace to get to Selhurst Park.

  9. Greg Tingey says:

    OK First idiot question: HOW MUCH MONEY does the sponsorship from what used to be called “Boerclays” (in the bad old days of Apartheid) & for the “Arab-fly-Dangleway” actually raise in a year?
    And is it worth it for all the BAD publicity & pointed sneering, as demonstrated above?
    So, Gaeme Craig thinks (you should excuse the word) that commercial FOOTBALL is a desirable model to follow, does he? Presumably, he is/was an “Olympic” enthusiast, as well … and I’m afraid the political & social implications of that fill me with utter disgust. The open exploitation of the gullible & stupid, the nascent fascism of both activities listed above, the condescension to the plebs & morons of the general public. Yes, that’s all of us, you & me included, since we are EXPECTED to follow our masters’ norms, and we will be regarded as “queer” (NOT – homosexual, more the psychological aspect – perhaps) or subversive or dangerous if we don’t … the vile “jolly team games” rubbish that is pushed at us, but especially males, from about the age of 5.
    More relevantly: …If TfL were seen to be, simply, selling off the family silver, or devaluing the brand… Well, that is exactly what they have been doing, I’m afraid, and it fills me with contempt.

    Never mind Horrids, what about ‘Arvey Knickers – at de uvver end orv Knightsbridge er, oops, meant Harvey Nichols @ the other end of that station?

    Apart from the inevitable “ooh-eer missus!” reaction to “immoral activities” it is worth remembering that the church, until about 1450 regarded lending money at interest as “immoral” in the same way as (most) muslim sects do today. Totally unworkable, of course, in practice. Mind you, a “sponsorship for one of the stations nearest to Soho could raise (ahem) interesting possibilities, couldn’t it?

    Yes, more could be done – but NOT at the expense of passenger circulation & free-flow. Given that more redevelopments OVER tube stations would be good … as long as they are NOT like the current Bond Street, where it is almost impossible to ACTUALLY FIND THE STATION ENTRANCE!
    Technology, it soon became clear, is key to Craig’s vision of where the future lies for TfL in the retail space – with click-and-collect something foremost in his mind. He’s just re-invented “Red Star Parcels” ??
    Whatever you do DO NOT SELL Lille Bridge or Earl’s court or anything at all: – RENT it out – that’s what Grosvenor & the Crown Estates do ….
    Advertising – yeah – projected moving adverts on tube-station walls, with the bloody great projector units positioned so that you can’t read the destination displays, where they aren’t obscured by air-con units or other signage, to the point of uselessness. Like Diamond Geezer says: “Installed by cretins”. Moving & dynamic displays in crowded tube corridors & escalators, causing more disorientation, never mind anyone with epilepsy.
    Valentine – they are, errr .. DEEP UNDERGROUND, with limited access & egress. Going to comply with current fire/safety regs are they & make a profit & get lots of people in? Oh yeah….
    Had a quick look at the “RailCo” piece. I’m still deeply dubious – I understand that, according to some, admittedly politically-hostile opinion, Adjit Chambers is one of “Boris’ friends” & that they do not trust him. Please note that this is second-hand hearsay!

    Anon @ 21.03
    It CAN be done, but it is difficult. Real actual thought needs to be put into it, rather than glib Saatchi-style unachievable promises.

    Anonymous Duck
    Because it induces permanent contempt & what’s worse total distrust.

    Dr Paul
    Arrrgh! Now I’ve recovered from the pun ….
    Maybe. But. Football (at the “top”) has huge amounts of money sloshing around, & getting a slice of that might, just might be a good idea. But, there are the other associations (Pun NOT intended) which one should be very careful of.


    Not easy, is it?
    But then, if it was easy, anyone could play!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Personally I think that I, and a significant proportion of other users, would be more than willing to accept a number of concessions or inconveniences for a sponsored fare freeze…

    I think that to say otherwise shows a lack of recognition by TfL of most users’ attitudes to transport, especially fares.

  11. John Bull says:

    Have your morning coffee before posting Greg!

    I highly recommend you watch the session actually, I reckon you’ll find that Craig is actually behind you on most of your points.

    OK First idiot question: HOW MUCH MONEY does the sponsorship from what used to be called “Boerclays” (in the bad old days of Apartheid) & for the “Arab-fly-Dangleway” actually raise in a year?

    Barclays is £50m over 8 years. Craig actually confirmed that in a side comment during the session.

    The real problem, of course, is that we don’t (and almost certainly won’t) know whether that was the sum originally agreed, or whether it has been scaled back due to Cycle Hire underperformance in some way. Basically the issue is the aforementioned one of transparency – because they won’t disclose the contract details on this, or on the Emirates deal, no one (including the assembly) can properly scrutinize the deal.

    If the one thing that comes out of this sponsorship team is transparency, then I’ll consider it a win because of the above.

    Presumably, he is/was an “Olympic” enthusiast, as well … and I’m afraid the political & social implications of that fill me with utter disgust. The open exploitation of the gullible & stupid, the nascent fascism of both activities listed above, the condescension to the plebs & morons of the general public.

    Sticking my “Football Journalist” hat on for a second you’re doing to football what you accuse others of doing to transport – oversimplifying. Basically there’s a myriad of different styles of sponsorship in football, and the “Champions League” model isn’t necessarily a bad one. “Sustainable Transport Scheme, in association with E.On” is what it looks like Craig is going for, not “you can only buy evian water on station concourses.”

    If TfL were seen to be, simply, selling off the family silver, or devaluing the brand… Well, that is exactly what they have been doing

    Indeed – reading between the lines that’s something on which I suspect Graeme Craig would absolutely agree with you – hence the need to really sort out sponsorship and advertising so its not so ad-hoc.

    Whatever you do DO NOT SELL Lille Bridge or Earl’s court or anything at all: – RENT it out – that’s what Grosvenor & the Crown Estates do ….

    That definitely seems to be the plan, where practical. By the sound of it that won’t extend to Lillie or Earls Court though. I’m more interested in what happens to Shepherd’s Bush market to be honest.

    Had a quick look at the “RailCo” piece. I’m still deeply dubious – I understand that, according to some, admittedly politically-hostile opinion, Adjit Chambers is one of “Boris’ friends” & that they do not trust him. Please note that this is second-hand hearsay!

    As am I, mainly because of the practicalities.

    Adjit isn’t, to my knowledge, “friends with Boris.” He’s just a man with what isn’t an entirely bad idea, but who has perhaps gone the wrong way about trying to action it. By that I mean that he took a “publicity first, logisitics second” approach which, whilst it earnt him column inches, isn’t an approach that tends to earn you much in the way of credit with the transport engineers and organisations who’d actually need to do the logistics.

    The Mayor’s involvement is mainly because, as things like cable cars and floaty airports demonstrate, he’s a man who never misses an opportunity to mutter some vaguely latin phrases in support of a fun idea, regardless of the actual practicalities.

    Basically there’s a lot more puff than plan to Adjit’s scheme, at the moment at least, and until I see more of the latter it won’t be getting much in the way of explicit coverage on here.

  12. Kit Green says:

    The problem with a sponsored fare freeze is that it is a once only possibility. When the sponsorship period ends it will seem as if a double fare rise is imposed. If the sponsorship is renewed after a year at the same cost to the sponsor then the normal annual fare rise will still happen and the “feel good” for the passenger will evaporate.

    On the subject, as mentioned by Greg, of a Soho area sponsorship this could be combined with the City and result in a Coke Line connecting them. Should this be sponsored by a drinks company or a money laundering bank?

  13. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Talking of the financial industry and Soho… This is the area where the Woolwich Building Society once attempted to open a branch but City of Westminster Council turned the application down because “it was not appropriate to the area”!

  14. Greg Tingey says:

    Well, excuse my bitter cynicism, but I remain profoundly unconvinced. Possibly because of over-exposure of this sort of thing and advertising hype, generally.
    And what is the Champions League” model when it’s at home, then?
    Doesn’t mean a thing …….
    I think you missed the point about “football”, completely. I really don’t care, what sort of “style” it has … it’s football. This is probably the very worst of the whole “team games” set of supposedly “popular sports” that are gratuitously foisted on unwilling and uninterested people, who are then expected to conform to this model, or else. The whole Kraft durch freude thing, in fact.
    OK, so maybe, G Craig has realised that “selling off the silver” is a bad idea – I had not appreciated that, & thanks for the correction.
    Yes, but a new development at Shepherds’ Bush Market would be so much TIDIER, wouldn’t it? Think of how the urban planners would drool over that, all neatly packaged up as social engineering? Rather than the wonderful jumble there is today …..
    A re-run of the revival folowed by exploitation & devaluing of the sort of thing that has already happened with the “Borough Market” brand, in fact.
    Agreed er. practicalities of deep(ish) underground (or even UndergrounD) stations as “attractions”

  15. c says:

    In Japan, some of the busier stations have little noodle shops with stools on the platforms, where people can get a quick dinner (and even have a beer!) – as well as the convenience stores.

    And some stations have food courts and so on (within the paid barriers) – all about the convenience.

    Could this tie in with our street-food craze somehow? Especially if areas are relatively sheltered already…?

  16. JamesC says:

    I dont see the problem with increasing the amount of retail space within station developments, as long as they are quality outlets (I.e. not betting shops/ pawn brokers etc) and as long as they don’t impeed on passenger flows.

    I must admit that this sort of thing can be taken to extreme – I write this waiting for a flight in Abu Dhabi Shopping Centre (Airport)

    The other issue would be the term of the lease, as many firms may be put off renting from tfl if their opening hours are subject to change, or they are kicked out at short notice. – The word I had from a number of the smaller buisnesses under london bridge was that they were given very little notice (around a month) which was their lease stated before they were kicked out for the redevelopemnt works (this may or may not be entirely correct)

    Newsagents and convenience shops would be welcome in many areas – however the temptation to sign a contract for 150 Tesco Expresses should be resisted in my oppinion (especially if there is a local shop just outside the station)

    As for sponsorship – I guess you get what you pay for in this respect – Whats more damaging Alcopops sponsoring news years or payday loan company…….. (ill leave this to your own oppinion) but clearly there is money outthere within buisness but with advertising bugets being squeezed accross the board, it badicly comes down to, do you put ethical buisness practises from advertisers before lower fares/fare increases – I suspect the vast majority will go for the latter (be that right or wrong) – I will leave you to form your own oppinions (which im sure you will all want to share with us 🙂 )

  17. Malcolm says:


    Adjit isn’t, to my knowledge, “friends with Boris.” .. Do you mean that you know he is not, or that you do not know whether he is or not?

  18. Anonymous says:

    DarjEeling Broadway could be sponsored by a tea company

  19. Alan Griffiths says:

    There once was a young man from Ealing
    Who boarded a bus in Darjeeling
    A sign on the door
    Said don’t spit on the floor
    He leant back and spat on the ceiling

    Not some thing you’ll read on Poems on the Underground

  20. Anonymous says:

    @ Alan G

    Why not??

    It’s better than most

  21. Valentine says:

    Would be really nice to see TFL as a developer actively seek out smaller businesses for their future shopping/dwelling areas.

    Imagine a developer prepared to take a slightly lower rent from a small business rather than a higher rent from a chain like Starbucks or Pret-Manger.

    The corporate supporting press would cry its a waste of public money. But I think the public would actually recognise the value of these smaller places, who can provide higher quality produce and genuine choice than the rigid famous names.

    TFL could source some great local independent tenants who would create character and add value.
    Finding them might require some effort on TFLs part (maybe take a look around the food markets) but I believe the results could help create a better sense of place.

    Why not use this opportunity to establish a precedent for a more progressive and social way of doing business, rather than dried out status quo chains?

  22. Dave says:

    In Croydon we have two consecutive tram-stops effectively named after shops.
    ‘Reeves Corner’ is fully justified by long-term usage.
    ‘Centrale’ is utterly meaningless as a location – it doesn’t exist – the stop is located by the entrance to yet another bland shopping mall and sponsored by the developers. Much more appropriate would have been ‘Tamworth Road’ or ‘North End’.
    TfL are not to blame in this case, but I like to think they would have chosen a more appropriate name and foregone the sponsorship money.

  23. Greg Tingey says:

    Several Circle Line stations USED to have a bar at platform level.
    IIRC Liverpool Street & Sloane Square & at least one other ,,,,

    Is Reeves Corner going to re-named “Burnt Ash” anytime soon? /snark

  24. Anon5 says:

    Wasn’t Ampere Way on Tramlink named Ikea Ampere Way for a year or so?

  25. Anonymous says:

    But where will this get TfL? Think of all the money it must have saved from the introduction of oyster (everyone pays in advance to use transport, we’ve all had to pay to have an oyster (£5), countless people, notably tourists get one and never us all tje credit, even more of us being fined for niot using it correctly – how much does all this add up to ovet say 10 years?).

    Thats just one example – hasn’t Network Rail been encouraged to go diwn this road – in fact, didn’t this rot set in when Thatcher was PM with BR? And look at the result: we have a completely bankrupt railway in Britain – Network Rail is £28 billion in debt. Thw transport policies of this cpuntry have been a complete failure.

    IMHO, the cheapestand most realistic solution for TfL is to take it back into full public ownership – but that ain’t gonna happen soon is it?

  26. jamesup says:

    Retail space in stations would seem to be tinkering at the edges of potential, when you consider the oversite development that was planned for and failed to be delivered – why has Southwark Tube never been built over? I asked in 2011, for an article that never came together:

    “The possibility of an over station development was allowed for within the original construction of the Jubilee Line station but has not been viable although it is anticipated that it will be developed at some future date.

    “At this stage there are no firm plans regarding the development or a timeline for when development will take place.”


    “I have confirmed the position with our property team and I can confirm that there have been a number of attempts to secure an over station development at Southwark. Undertaking such a development above an operating station building has a number of technical challenges and, in recent years, the market has been unfavourable. TfL continues to review opportunities across its portfolio to enhance its assets and so create funds to invest in its operational infrastructure, opportunities such as this are being reviewed.”

    So the market was unfavourable, from 2000 to 2007, durring the greatest property boom in British history…

    And why did it take 12 years for anything to happen on Borough High Street, and then that was only to provide TfL with more offices for itself (all of five minutes away from it’s existing offices in Palestra).

    It’s great that new focus in being brought to bear on this – TfL doesn’t seem ‘hungry’ enough to make the best of it’s assets.

  27. Rational Plan says:

    They may talk about more non fare income, as it will be hard to keep pushing above inflation fare increases and there won’t be any more big increases in government handouts.

    But I can’t see much scope for sponsorship for existing infrastructure. They have only managed it for new tourist heavy small scale projects.

    Advertising is already pervasive on the Tube, all we are talking about is more interactive screens as the price of moving displays fall further.

    Unlike in Japan or Hong Kong, the tube does not own a lot of land around it’s stations. Most of the Central London stations are relatively small and sit under roads, with small station buildings in the street.

    TFL will see no profit from surrounding development unless section 106 agreements are so large as to contribute significantly to a larger station entrance or new escalators etc. Considering the cost of such works the scope of the property works would need to be huge to be able to pay even a small part of a real congestion relief scheme.

    The only reals cope will be outside the core where there are surface stations and probably chunks of underutilized land. I imagine there is scope for small apartment blocks or small shopping centres or supermarkets.

    The problem here is that there are lots of little sites that are time consuming for them to go through and monitor and the nimby opposition from the surrounding suburban residents. Besides TFL is pretty much focused on zones 1 and maybe 2, everything else is just basic maintenance to it. I don’t believe it’s that interested.

  28. JimJordan says:

    Greg “Several Circle Line stations USED to have a bar at platform level.
    IIRC Liverpool Street & Sloane Square & at least one other ,,,,”

    At Liverpool St you stood on the platform, there was no bar room – the bar was on the platform. The Bass was of excellent quality. So too Sloane Square which I used a lot when I lived in Kew. One had to whip out of the door onto the platform when a train was heard coming to check the headcode – remember? – and then go back to get another pint if it was not the one you wanted. Virtually every Circle Line station had a bar but mainly outside the barriers. I can’t remember any others inside.

  29. solar penguin says:

    Talking of sponsorship and football, I’m still trying to work out exactly which part of London is called Emirates. The stadium there is nowhere near the dangleway. They must get a lot of confused away fans arriving in London, looking at the Tube map, and thinking “Ah, that’s where we need to be!”

    (OTOH the park in Finsbury is nowhere near the circus there, so at least there’s a precedent for this sort of thing.)

  30. stimarco says:

    @solar penguin:

    Oxford Circus isn’t anywhere near Oxford, Clapham Junction is actually in Battersea and Leeds Castle isn’t anywhere near Leeds. Loads of rural branch line stations on Britain’s rail network are miles away from the towns and villages they’re named for. Kelvedon is a bit of a walk from its namesake station, for example.

    Even Penge, in south London, has two stations, neither of which are even within sight of the town’s High Street. (Penge West would be better renamed to “Crystal Palace South Entrance” if appeasing tourists was the only purpose of naming stations.)

    Of all the justifiable criticisms that can be laid at the door of the Emirates-sponsored cable car project, having a slightly confusing name is by far the least of them.

  31. stimarco says:

    @Greg Tingey:

    (Don’t bottle it up, sir. Tell us what you *really* think!)

    “OK First idiot question: HOW MUCH MONEY does the sponsorship from what used to be called “Boerclays” (in the bad old days of Apartheid) & for the “Arab-fly-Dangleway” actually raise in a year?”

    The first silly question is: do these sponsorships reduce the amount of money the taxpayer is paying towards either project? If so, it’s a win. The “how much is it being reduced by” aspect is a detail given that neither project has had much impact on commuting and travel patterns in London. Both are essentially expensive marketing projects, so any sponsorship at all is better than none.

    Personally, while I have little time for the finance industry, I do feel that Barclays is an apt choice given London’s major industry appears to be legalised gambling and banking.

    Even Emirates are an interesting choice given how much of London is owned by people who live in oil-rich desert countries. For all the talk of the “booms” prior to 2007, it’s surprising how little ordinary Britons benefited.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Wasn’t there a bar within the barrier line at Baker Street?

  33. Serious Wonga Zone says:

    Blimey there I am with a G(&)T in hand (sorry Greg?) on a Saturday, and there’s everyone worried about what extra moola TfL can extract from willing punters. Jeez.

    More the moola the better, keeps my Oyster under control, better than a Lobster… [What’s that I hear you exclaim? – London and Outer Boroughs Oyster, obviously upmarket pricing].

    More income = better service or more services or more investment, what’s the problem?

    Who cares if Mr Selfridge tries to rename Bond Street again, I’m told he tried and failed in the 1900s with the Central London Railway, would that have made it the ‘One and Three-Quarter-Penny Tube’ instead of the ‘TwoPenny Tube’, I don’t think so, just that possibly the Liverpool Street extension might have been afforded sooner.

    Ditto now, my judgment is that this about another 5-10% on gross income (and not a lot of outlay) in order to help for new things in the real world (TfL is cutting its own current costs). If Graeme Craig is serious about 5-10%, then that is another £200-£400m per annum. That could pay for a helluva lot if pinned down.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I’m all for finding alternate methods of generating revenue if it keeps down fares and taxes. I think that increasing revenue by building over stations and by increasing retail are good ideas.

    But naming sponsorships is a very bad idea, even if it increased revenue.

    The problem with naming sponsorships is that the sponsorships will only last for a fixed time so that when the sponsorship is finished the station needs to be renamed. What happens if the corporate sponsor is bought out? Dose the station need to be re-named? I can image the confusion that could arise after 3 or 4 name changes within a couple years. Station names need to remain consistent. Even in newer stations, farther from the center.

    P.S. I also remember a bar at Bakers Street, I think it was within the barrier line, but I might be wrong.
    I’m all for finding alternate methods of generating revenue if it keeps down fares and taxes. I think that increasing revenue by building over stations and by increasing retail are good ideas.

    But naming sponsorships is a very bad idea, even if it increased revenue.

    The problem with naming sponsorships is that the sponsorships will only last for a fixed time so that when the sponsorship is finished the station needs to be renamed. What happens if the corporate sponsor is bought out? Dose the station need to be re-named? I can image the confusion that could arise after 3 or 4 name changes within a couple years. Station names need to remain consistent. Even in newer stations, farther from the center.

    P.S. I also remember a bar at Bakers Street, I think it was within the barrier line, but I might be wrong.

  35. Malcolm says:

    “Leeds Castle isn’t anywhere near Leeds”

    Oh yes it is. It’s just down the road. Indeed, the village is probably named after the castle.

  36. Dan Lockton says:

    One (potentially) complicating aspect of increased ‘retail destinations’, coffee shops, etc, within TfL stations could be the Oyster PAYG maximum journey duration. If you’re encouraging people actually to break their journey to sit and have a coffee or a meal, while still touched in, then it’s likely people will go over the journey time and get charged more than they expected.

    It happened to me at Clapham Junction (which I appreciate is not run by TfL, but is within the Oyster area), where meeting a friend at one of the new cafes (with seating, and tables) which have opened on the footbridge (within the barriered area) led to going over the time – even though I touched out, went out into the street, and touched in again a few minutes later, I still ended up getting a maximum fare charge. TfL resolved it after phoning them up, but the person on the phone admitted that this was a potential problem for anyone actually using the cafes / shops within the barriered area.

  37. Kit Green says:

    Baker Street

    I remember stopping off at the cartoon cinema in the 1960s. Was this also within the barrier line?

  38. Kit Green says:

    I also bought my first copy of “Rail;way Magazine” on the platform at Baker Street in July 1968. I believe the newsagent’s kiosk is still there, although no longer a W H Smith.

  39. timbeau says:

    On the Deep tubes, there is still a kiosk between the platforms at Bank on the Waterloo & City Line.

    Misleading station names include Tottenham Court Road (nowhere near Tottenham, or even Tottenham Court, which was at the far end of the road, near Warren Street station), Finsbury Park (nowhere near Finsbury) and of course the various parts of London named after the nobility who owned the area (Leicester Square, Oxford Circus, Gloucester Road, Liverpool Street etc)

  40. Lew Finnis says:

    Far more likely that Leeds Castle is named after the village that it’s near, not the other way round.

  41. timbeau says:

    It appears that there was a fortress at Leeds (Kent) before the village. One theory of the etymology is that Leed was the name of a 9th century nobleman. another is that it relates to the “Loud” stream running through the area, or for an Old Englsih word for a hillside

  42. JimJordan says:

    I have been reliably informed by a CAMRA member that the bar at Baker Street was inside the barriers. I did use it but my memory is not what it was. Could be too much Bass in the 50s/60s. I am fairly sure the cinema was outside the barriers. The history and location of the Circle Line bars would make interesting reading. No doubt H&S would not approve! My project to visit all of them in one day luckily never came to fruition. A good friend of mine had his wedding reception in the Chiltern Rooms (is that right?) above the station.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Recently ex-NR employee with significant exposure to NR retail plans and operations.
    Shocked to see how little Tfl are realising from retail.
    NR earnings from the Managed stations (principally London termini) are a multiple of this.
    TfL with ambition, and focus, could raise their revenue from this source by many times within a decade.

  44. Anonymous says:

    I for one decry the abolition of both the one day bus pass and single zone fare. I really resent to having to stump up for a multiple zone ticket when I might only be going one zone beyond my current 1 and 2 ticket. I now go as far as my ticket will take me and switch to the bus for the rest of the journey.

    On the subject of non-fare revenue, TfL will listen to the weasel words of ad men, public relations, spin doctors and come up with a scheme which will be desparate in its intention to appear ‘relevant’. Hence the talk of sports (meaning) football sponsorship, itself a broken model as most clubs are technically bankrupt.

  45. Greg Tingey says:

    If they are bankrupt – why aren’t they bloody closed down then, with tthe ground-area sold off for housing, so the rest of us can have some peace & quiet?
    I know HMRC are “after” seveal clubs – more power to their elbow!

  46. johnr says:

    Has there been any suggestion that Drayton Park station should be re-named Arsenal, and Arsenal Station revert to Gillespie Road?

  47. John Bull says:

    Once again I’ll say that there seems to be the kind of gross generalisation with regards to the finances of football here that LR readers would be up in arms about if someone did the same with regards to transport.

    For those genuinely interested in the subject, I heartily recommend reading the Swiss Ramble before waving around comments about club bankrupcy and assuming that sponsorship is “one size fits all” (both on a club and a competition level).

  48. Milton Clevedon says:

    I suggest that assessment of the merits will rely both on (1) qualitative topics, some of which have been raised already and are subjective or emotive to an extent, and on (2) the numbers game which will be influenced by station passenger footfall and actual sq.footage available to use (whether with the existing station premises or new construction).

    @ Rational Plan points out that a lot of Central London (therefore nominally high worth, high footfall stations) are mostly under the streets so might be constrained in stimulating new income. The former Yerkes tubes and some others have seen most of their street-level booking halls built over (indeed they were designed for that, though a few like Lambeth North seem to have eluded the developer). Unfortunately the transport temples that Frank Pick caused to have built in the 1920s and 30s look architecturally fine but weren’t built with an eye to maximising sq.footage income. Can anyone comment on how Crossrail is addressing the income opportunity (or not) – it looks like there is fair activity on that front?

    Taking the 2011 London Underground station passenger footfall for entry/exit combined numbers, not interchange, gives the following table in descending order of usage down to about number 61. These volumes are way ahead of most National Rail stations in London except termini, and eclipse almost all major city stations outside the capital:
    (Sorry this is a longish list but the points will emerge)

    LUL entry/exit annually in round millions, at:-

    Main line termini etc (15): 84 Waterloo, 82 Victoria, 77 Kings X St Pancras, 65 London Bridge, 64 Liverpool Street, 46 Paddington, 35 Euston, 22 Tower Hill (Fenchurch St), 21 Moorgate, 21 Old Street, 21 Vauxhall, 20 Charing X (and 20 Embankment), 19 Farringdon, 18 Elephant & Castle.

    West End stations (8): 77 Oxford Circus, 41 Piccadilly Circus, 39 Leicester Square, 36 Bond Street, 32 Green Park, 24 Tottenham Court Road, 20 Covent Garden, 17 Marble Arch.

    City-type stations incl Canary Wharf (5): 48 Bank & Monument (many more with DLR), 47 Canary Wharf (ditto), 32 Holborn, 17 St Paul’s, 16 Chancery Lane.

    Other Zone 1 stations (13): 31 South Kensington, 27 Baker Street, 21 Earl’s Court, 21 Westminster, 21 Knightsbridge, 18 Angel, 17 Notting Hill Gate, 16 Warren Street, 15 Sloane Square, 15 Russell Square, 14 Gloucester Road, 13 St James’s Park, 12 High St Kensington.

    Inner & middle suburbs Zones 2 and 3 (18): 49 Stratford, 38 combined Hammersmith stations (includes LUL interchange), 24 Finsbury Park, 23 Brixton, 22 Shepherds Bush Central Line, 21 Camden Town, 16 Highbury & Islington, 16 Ealing Broadway, 15 North Greenwich, 15 Bethnal Green, 14 Mile End, 14 Walthamstow Central, 13 Leyton, 13 Whitechapel, 13 Seven Sisters, 13 Tooting Broadway, 13 East Ham (Z3/4), 12 Wimbledon.

    Outer suburbs Zones 4/5/6 (1): 14 Barking.

    I draw several conclusions from this:

    -The audiences might vary in different parts of London in relation to the merits of different promotional advertising, etc, depending on the predominant types of station user.

    -The main line termini and West End stations could be very fruitful but may be highly constrained in available sq.footage (though Crossrail may open up some sites).

    -The City doesn’t look too great for maximum footfall, and will also tend to have peaky usage so less impact during offpeak/ weekends – Canary Wharf could be good though.

    – There is potentially greatest scope for commercial yields at ‘Other Zone 1’ stations including those with high residential/visitor footfall, and at busy Inner and Middle Suburbs stations which may also have greatest redevelopment potential.

    -Also it would be unwise to ignore the Outer Suburbs where more premises sq.footage might be available, though I doubt they would have priority unless a specific opportunity arose.

    Note that Stratford and some other interchanges are exceedingly busy, and indeed busier in total when the National Rail and/or DLR passenger flows are combined with LUL’s. Stratford is now in the top 10 busiest stations and rail interchanges in the whole of Britain, when all rail flows are added together – though of course TfL or LUL does not own the freehold or even the leasehold there (though they might when Crossrail comes along and increases the number of TfL-sponsored services)… Similar marketing complexities will arise at other tube/rail interchanges.

  49. Greg Tingey says:

    Not according to ORR’s useless figures last year it (Stratford) isn’t!

    NOT listed as a busy interchange at all.
    It is to be hoped that they have more believable figures this year.
    Mind you, they came in for sharp criticism from people like user-groups for consistently under-estimating passing trade, so to speak.
    Which make one question their methodology, amomg other things.

  50. Fandroid says:

    Greg. You will be pleased to know that Stratford is now listed as 13th busiest station in GB (based on National Rail figures), one behind Clapham Junction, which is roughly where most of us would have put it. ORR have just issued their 2011-12 figures, based on analysis by Steer Davies Gleave, who have had a go at eliminating some of the more blatant anomalies that previous years’ figures included. As Milton Clevedon mentioned, it certainly moves into the top ten if you include Tfl figures, however many of those would have been interchanging between the two systems, so will most likely have been counted in the ORR numbers.

  51. Fandroid says:

    My suggestion is for Tfl to sell the naming rights to Stratford-in-the-hole DLR stop to Westfield and call it Stratford City. No more barmy a name than the current one, and at least giving newcomers a clue as to what might be nearby.

    It’s strange that given the miles of underground passages included in recent redevelopments like at Kings Cross, there hasn’t been a much bigger effort to include room for commercial activity. I think that there are only two, quite small, on the main passage leading to the Northern Ticket Hall. Contrast that with what goes on beneath many continental stations, often on more than one level.

  52. Walthamstow Writer says:

    A couple of remarks. I find it quite interesting that people believe that additional 3rd party revenue will bring some sort of boost to TfL coffers. It is more likely that it will simply be used to try to top up for cuts in government funding and / or the never ending pressure from the Mayor for “efficiencies”.

    The main thrust of Crossrail “exploitation” at present is selling the air / development rights above stations. Several deals have been done and I’d expect to see some more. However some will accrue to Network Rail rather than TfL. I believe there is a “retail strategy” for space within Crossrail stations but I would expect that may well have been overtaken or subject to review as a result of the wider TfL initiative that is the subject of the article.

    On the subject of developing suburban stations I think it is rather more difficult than might be imagined. Far too many stations are now jammed full of people in the peaks. There is no space for more retail – especially if it means people standing in circulation space to be served – in many LU stations. The “holy grail” is, of course, to close ticket offices and the associated accommodation to turn that space into shops. It remains to be seen if TfL can ever shift *all* transactions away from ticket offices and still retain a convenient service for passengers. How many commuters would want to lose the ability to deal with more complex transactions in their locality and perhaps be forced to go to a Z1 station or an area office? To take two examples close to me – I cannot see LU ever being able to squeeze out more retail space at Walthamstow Central or Leyton tube stations. Network Rail is “developing” (ahem) some of the land by the surface station at Walthamstow Central and what an appalling mess they’ve given the area. If that sort of development is what is in the mind of the planners then let’s hope it stays in their mind and never reaches reality. There is no benefit to passengers actually using the station as no facilities are being changed or improved despite the money that Network Rail have undoubtedly received.

    The only place where I have seen reasonable and “tasteful” integration of retail and station space is on the HK MTR. There are often shops in stations but they are small in scale, nicely presented and have space inside the shops for purchases rather than stealing circulation space which is often at a premium. Shops are also always outside the paid area thus maximising the potential for footfall and avoiding ticketing issues. HK has the advantage of relatively new infrastructure and coherent design standards. Where circulation space is needed the MTR does not fill it full of promotional outlets and coffee bars! The big retail developments are “over station” and also usually linked to housing development too but that’s what is pretty much standard practice in HK. The only issue being that once you’ve seen one HK shopping mall you’ve seen all of them!

  53. Milton Clevedon says:

    Stratford station group is about 6th in Britain on a comparable basis including published interchange volumes. Info below combines ORR 2011-12 data and LUL 2011 data, it isn’t perfect because each operator counts to their boundary, so effectively counts journey stages, not a single integrated journey across operators. But providing you count everything the same way, then numbers are at least comparable between station groups.

    Waterloo SWT 94.0m entry+exit (EE), 9.5m interchange (IC)
    Waterloo East 6.7m EE, 1.5m IC
    Waterloo LUL 84.1m EE (no IC stated either between tubes or with main lines)
    = 195.8m, and you can also add Southwark (11.1m) with its link to Waterloo East.

    Victoria National Rail (NR) 76.2m EE, 9.2m IC
    Victoria LUL 82.2m
    = 167.6m.

    Kings Cross NR 27.9m EE, 3.0m IC
    St Pancras Domestic+Thameslink 23.0 EE, 3.7m IC
    St Pancras (Eurostar) ca. 9.7m x 2 for EE – this number of passengers used Eurostar in 2011
    Kings X St Pancras LUL 77.1m
    = 154.1m.

    London Bridge NR 52.6m EE, 8.7m IC
    London Bridge LUL 65.4m

    Liverpool Street LUL

  54. Milton Clevedon says:

    Ooops hit sent button too soon:-

    London Bridge total = 126.7m

    Liverpool Street NR 57.1m EE, 2.4m IC
    Liverpool Street LUL 63.6m
    = 123.1m

    Stratford NR 21.8m EE, 2.1m IC
    Stratford LUL 48.6m
    Stratford DLR 6.9m (before West Ham line opened)
    Stratford International 0.6m EE, almost no IC.
    West Anglia Route Group surveys and LUL figures show continuing large increases in demand with Westfield and Stratford City in 2012, so safe to project current volumes as higher
    = north of 80m, can be over 90m with growth and assumptions about ORR undercounting.

    Then next busiest is Oxford Circus, LUL only at 77m.

  55. Fandroid says:

    Interesting that Network Rail want to take on Reading station as directly managed, so as to get some return for the zillions they are spending there. However, they are in danger of being frustrated by the franchising fiasco, as FGW will have their franchise extended and so hang on to the lease for the new station. Also interesting that “deeply inefficient” BR built loads of retail space (the Brunel Arcade) into the station as part of the 1990 rebuild. Nothing new under the (British) sun.

  56. stimarco says:

    Crossrail’s Canary Wharf (or whatever it’ll be called) station has multiple floors of retail according the plans I’ve seen around the web. The railway itself is quite deep at this point, so there are something like six or seven floors you have to go down to reach the platforms. If the barriers and ticketing are positioned on the mezzanine level above the platforms, that leaves something like 5-6 floors of “shopping experiences”. (Not something that area is crying out for: it already has tons of shops.) I could see a cinema or some other leisure use being popular though. I don’t think there are many of either in the surrounding area.

    For suburban stations: isn’t there one on the Leatherhead route via Sutton that has a shop that also sells tickets? I know I saw one when I was commuting to Guildford from Lewisham via New Cross Gate over ten years ago.

    A ticket is just a product like any other, so why do we even need a completely separate ‘shop’ for them? Computers can trivially solve the “find the cheapest / quickest ticket between A and B” problem when given accurate information, so no need for someone to memorise every possible combination of travel options between Plymouth and Inverness. There’s really no need for dedicated ticket offices for this. The fact that the ticketing system is so ridiculously complicated is a political problem, not a technical one. There are, in fact, no ticket offices at all at 90% of the metro stations in Rome. (You’ll find a couple at the major mainline stations, but nowhere else.)

  57. stimarco says:

    Re. Oyster and ITSO:

    There are some trials going on with integrating ITSO with Oyster. I think this is why some people have seen strange notices at some stations about being careful with certain cards: the NFC technology used by both systems is still in its infancy and is likely to have quite a few teething troubles at this stage. Oyster was never meant to interface with it, while ITSO itself was originally bus-focused and needs some work to make it work in the UK’s insane rail racketeering system.

    Personally, I think charging at the point of use is a stupid way to pay for permanent infrastructure that has a major impact on local and regional economies. It’d be better to have a system whereby each city, town and village paid a sum (raised from local taxation) towards service provision to the railway operator, rather than paying for thousands of ticket machines, revenue inspectors and the like. We already pay for our emergency services, street lighting and road maintenance (sort-of) like this, so why not apply it to rail too?

    This would also shift the burden of finding the money to upgrade infrastructure in, say, London or Manchester to those cities, rather than having to go begging to Westminster each time.

  58. Malcolm says:

    “Free” public transport. Wonderful idea, if only it would work. And particularly if redeploying all those ticketing/inspecting staff could actually save a lot of money.

    Sad part, though, is the question of whether all the people who don’t particularly want to go anywhere much, who live near their work, or don’t have work, be happy to pay for other people’s long distance commuting?

    There’s a sort of mini-trial of the idea right now, with over-60 bus passes. I don’t think these show much evidence of excessive pointless wandering. But they are limited, effectively, by how far you can get on local buses. (And you cannot cross the Innere Britische Grenzen, either!).

  59. stimarco says:


    A similar system is already in place in Tallin, Estonia. So there is precedent. They charge tourists and still require residents to show an “I’m a resident!” token of some sort, but for once, the UK has an advantage in being a bunch of islands: we have a limited number of border crossings, so tourists entering the UK can buy an annual “transport pass” ticket, much as motorists have to buy a similar annual sticker when entering Switzerland in order to use their roads.

    Given that transport is already heavily subsidised in most countries, this isn’t a big stretch politically either. The NHS doesn’t demand payment at the point of use. Neither do British drivers have to pay at the point of use when driving along the nation’s road network as the French do for their autoroutes. And we’re already used to paying monthly fees for things like internet access or satellite / cable TV.

    Not paying for something at the moment you need to use it doesn’t make it “free”. It just makes it easier to budget for. It also eliminates the problem of fare-evasion, as well as that of creating new fare-paying technologies (ITSO vs. Oyster, anyone?) and all the related infrastructure and expense needed to maintain it all. Those ticket machines and Oyster card readers cost a pretty penny. Each. If you don’t need them, you don’t need to install them, maintain them, and upgrade them.

    As for those who complain that they have no kids / never fall ill / don’t use trains, the solution is, as always, better education. More railways means less need to widen motorways and trunk routes. More trams means longer, articulated vehicles without the problems created by bendy-buses, which can’t be ‘stretched’ as much and have a less predictable ‘sweep’. Thus a tram extension to Croydon could, in theory, carry far more passengers than simply relying on, say, articulated buses. (Especially if it’s an articulated, double-deck, tram!)

    And all that is before we get to near-future technologies, such as PRT and self-driving cars. Both technologies not only already exist, but the latter are actually a type of the former that doesn’t require building separate infrastructure. Once they hit the mainstream – something that is likely to happen within the lifetimes of most readers here – the concept of private vehicles will change radically. We’re already seeing ‘shared’ cars with networks like ZipCar and its competitors. A whole generation will have grown up with such networks within 10 years.

    Tomorrow’s definition of “public transport” may therefore include what we, today, would consider “private transport” too. Who’s going to want to buy a “ticket” for a car?

  60. Anon5 says:

    Didn’t Connex trial a convenience store combined with a ticket office?

  61. Rational Plan says:

    Those cities that have experimented with free public transport have tended to be cities with already extremely high subsidies and where only a small percentage of the population uses public transport compared to the car.

    I think one city only had a farebox recovery ratio of 17%

    Considering most of the UK’s bus services run without subsidy , and that’s before we get to trains and the tube.

    Can you imagines the level of subsidy required. We are talking easily £20 billion a year. And for that we don’t get a single extra bus or train.

    Can you imagine how crowded our trains and buses would be.

    The reality is that highly subsidised fare leads to a system that is designed to provide coverage of an area rather than cover the heaviest demand. Like what happens in most US cities. The reality is no one has enough money for a proper system when so much is spent on fare support.

    Plus a system that is heavily reliant on subsidies to provide service is vulnerable to cuts at time of government cut backs.

  62. Disappointed Kitten says:

    Aaaaagh! “Going forward” – That hated phrase has infested these hallowed columns!! Howl ye, therefore!

  63. Greg Tingey says:

    You would also have the “Ship Money” otherwise known as the “Selfish stupid LB of Bromley” problem ….
    There was an article on Crossrail, with new photos, in yesterday’s Torygraph …
    Spot on, some stupid whinger from sarf ‘o river was moaning on about he was paying for it & getting no benefit, so why should he?

  64. Ian J says:

    The lack of space underground points towards shops selling products that don’t require much shelf-space, or else ingenious solutions like this branch of Tesco in Seoul:

    There also seems to be a trend towards “station domination” type advertising campaigns where one advertiser buys every single advertising pitch at a station. It certainly makes you notice. This one’s quite a nice example:

    Could vending machines make a comeback in stations too? It always added to the excitement of the journey once you put money in and waited to see whether the machine on the platform would dispense chocolate before your train came. Or at all.

    But I agree with Walthamstow Writer that money from this kind of thing is more likely to be used to shore up the existing service than for any improvements, given the financial situation.

  65. peezedtee says:

    @Anon5 “Didn’t Connex trial a convenience store combined with a ticket office?”

    Dunno, but even as we speak, Merseyrail has these at some stations, modelled on the Dutch ones of NS, the parent company of Abellio, currently joint Merseyrail franchise-holder. I gather they are regarded as a success.

  66. Stuart says:

    @Anon5 “Didn’t Connex trial a convenience store combined with a ticket office?”

    The idea of Connex ticket offices being in any way linked to convenience is a novelty from my recollection

    On the earlier comment about the Reeves Corner tramlink stop, the issue is not so much with TfL as Croydon Council who seem to have officially adopted the name many years ago. Perhaps some councillor took a back-hander for that 😉

  67. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @pzt – I was in Liverpool a few weeks ago and did see one of those combined shop / ticket office units. I went inside to try to find some relevant travel info before getting a train. While the “shop” was bright, clean and fairly spacious it didn’t actually stock very much nor did it have the info I wanted. There was also a queue of people buying pop and sweets so it wasn’t exactly convenient to ask if they had the leaflets I wanted. I walked out empty handed. Not sure if I consider the concept to be sensible or not. Visually it looked fine but the reality of the “service” was poor. The dedicated Merseytravel travel centres were of much more use with helpful staff and loads of information. This is why I am a supporter of properly equipped and resourced “expert” travel centres not half baked concepts.

    The same applies if I need to make a moderately complicated ticket transaction. I want reassurance that the transaction will be done properly and I get everything I require / am entitled to (for the product being purchased). An example would be knowing that my Oyster Card has its Gold Card capping discount set on it – not something that is always done automatically and which cannot be done if you order on line. It also apparently takes a month for the Gold Record Card to be sent through the post if you buy on line – I checked this with TfL before renewing my last ticket. I opted to use my local station rather than a computer on my lap! I understand why people are willing to see ticket offices closed down – there is some economic logic to it if the space released can earn TfL some money. However the replacement facilities need to work very well and offer equal or better facilities. Not much sign of that being achieved just yet.

  68. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I am sure that some very quiet railway booking offices used to double as post offices but cannot produce any proof. I was told that is why some stations had post boxes built into the building. The one I particularly remember being told about is Sole Street which is a very quiet station near Meopham.

    I am not sure what ORR would have thought of the quietness of Sole Street. Because it was the first station outside the London area ticket offices sold loads of tickets to Sole Street in the morning peak period because the fare from London was off-peak all day and so much cheaper than a ticket to a nearer station the customer was actually travelling to.

  69. peezedtee says:

    On the question of commercial sponsorship of stations, is this sort of thing acceptable? —

  70. Brock says:

    @PoP “I am sure that some very quiet railway booking offices used to double as post offices”
    Martin Mill (near Dover) used to have a combined signalbox, ticket office and post office.

  71. 0775john says:

    Like Michael Donovan on the website linked to above, I stayed in a camping coach at Martin Mill at about the same time – 1961 I seem to recall – and having the post office so near made sending postcards so much less of a problem. We usually returned home from holidays in other coaches with a bundle written but never posted owing to the odd opening hours of some village post offices and of stamps being never available anywhere else…or so it seemed!

  72. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I didn’t know that Martin Mill (also very quiet) was once a post office or if I did I had forgotten.

    Despite their safety critical role it was not that uncommon for signal boxes to have another purpose such as to sell tickets. I have always presumed that this was a limited range.

    Unofficially in remote locations they did all sorts of things – watch repairs, cobblers, haircuts etc. I am told that one of my earliest holidays was at Gara Bridge where I would accompany my father in the morning to the signal box to buy the paper. My parents would wistfully recount the story if is was the trigger event that would mean that they would never after that have a normal child. This was complete nonsense of course and we spent later normal holidays at Westgate which just happened to have a signal box with a manual level crossing operated by a signalman’s wheel.

  73. Anonymous says:

    In a recent trip to Paris I noticed how much more advertising was splashed across stations on the Metro compared to the Tube. There appeared scarcely a blank wall in connecting tunnels. Similarly, in Budapest I noticed that even the handles attached to the train handlebars had advertising. There is undoubtedly diminishing returns per each advert, but I suspect the total value is still high. I also wonder whether, say, having 5% of the network’s rolling stock splashed with advertising – like how some Met trains are with the 150 years message – could bring in income without damaging the ‘brand’ (similar ratio to the number of black cabs that are covered in adverts).

  74. Anonymous says:

    This seems highly relevant:

    Even though I’d suspect the Underground to get a higher amount than Madrid for any prospective deal, I don’t think it would be close to high enough to risk the damage associated from such a move, not least because line names on the network here are far more iconic than the generic line 1, etc.

  75. leytongabriel says:

    Isn’t it time ‘Arsenal’ reverted back to its original name? The football club could always have Drayton Park instead lol.

    And don’t TfL buses now terminate at Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s or Asda’s rather than the coy ‘Superstore’ of yesteryear ( expcept for multi-store complexes like Angle Road) . Does Tfl get any revenue from this?

  76. Greg - says:

    My thoughtpiece on the rebranding of stations and sponsorship from the London Underground –

  77. JimF says:

    Linking back to Shepherds Bush Market. Here is a local blog where TfL state their opposition to the SBMarket redevlopment. At least until they have agreed a deal with Orion.


  78. Walthamstow Writer says:

    There was a snippet of an update in the FT about TfL’s secondary revenue plans. It set out a bit more detail about TfL wanting to expand “collection points” for retailers at stations and car parks including the use of “surplus” ticket office space. It also said that TfL wants to explore charging rentals based on turnover rather than floorspace. Another innovation was to have some form of wifi / GPS based detection “grid” so passengers could order ahead and then as they approach a retail space quickly collect whatever they’ve ordered as their presence would be notified to the retailer via their mobile device. Sounds a bit space age to me but I guess that’s where technology is taking us.

    There also seems to be growing pressure for land sales or developments on LU owned land to raise more funding. It’ll be interesting to see how TfL manages to strike the balance between safe station operation, accommodating retail demands and securing a good commercial deal with businesses that are renowned for their aggressive commercial approach to everything they do.

  79. stimarco says:


    That “WiFi / GPS based detection ‘grid'” already exists, so it’s not even science fiction any more. It’s actually based on Bluetooth Low Energy, which is only now appearing in mobile kit, but even that will be commonplace within 3-4 years given current hardware upgrade cycles.

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