Tuesday, 9 January 2018

How to determine how far railway stations are from your house ("as the crow flies")

I've been thinking about a new quest for 2018, and inspired by Vicki Pipe and Geoff Marshall (@allthestations / www.allthestations.co.uk), I've been considering National Rail stations, but all 2563 stations is a bit much. They've made me realise that I don't know much about many of my most local stations. For most of them, I've only been through them on a non-stopping train. But what constitutes local? I needed to work out "as the crow flies" what are my closest stations? Now that I've figured out a method, I've decided to share it so that you can make use of it yourself. Why not endeavour to visit all the stations within X kilometres of your house? If you're a Londoner, the closest stations that you can't use your Oyster for? What radius would you consider close?

I live in Southampton and I'm considering a radius big enough to cover all stations in Hampshire, about 63 kilometres, which would also encompass some stations in Wiltshire, the Isle of Wight, Dorset, West Sussex, Berkshire and Surrey.

How to determine how far railway stations are from your house ("as the crow flies")

A good source for the location of every railway station is the ORR statistics of passenger usage which include the Ordnance Survey co-ordinates of every station. So go to http://orr.gov.uk/statistics/published-stats/station-usage-estimates, then download the Excel spreadsheet from the link "Station usage 2016-17 data". The main page of all the statistics is "Estimates of Station Usage". There you will find 2560 stations, one per row. Columns G & H contain the OS co-ordinates. Now, three stations have opened recently (Low Moor, Ilkeston and Cambridge North) so they aren't included in the statistics. Also, Kenilworth was due to have opened, hasn't yet, but should shortly. You'll probably want to add these four stations to the list.

Name in Column CEasting in Column GNorthing in Column H
Low Moor416361428191
Cambridge North547371260586

Now, you'll need to know the OS co-ordinates of your house. You can measure these from an Ordnance Survey map, of course. Digitally, a good way is to use streetmap.co.uk. Put in your postcode or address and it should show your location on a map. In small text under the map it should say something like "Location is at 528953, 179679" - those numbers are the easting (528953) and the northing (179679). This is to the nearest metre by the way, so more than accurate enough.

Now you can add a formula to the spreadsheet that will calculate the distance. If you add it to the end of the first station (Abbey Wood, row 2), you can then copy it down through all the other rows. So in cell AA2 enter the formula =SQRT(POWER(G2-528953,2)+POWER(H2-179679,2))/1000, replacing 528953 with your easting and 179679 with your northing. This cell will then tell you the distance, in kilometres, from your house to Abbey Wood, the future terminus of Crossrail. The formula is simply an application of Pythagoras' theorem. Select cell AA2, then hold down a Shift key as you scroll down to row 2561 (or row 2565 if you've added the four new stations). Press Ctrl+D and the formula will be copied down all the rows, with the row references changed. Column AA now shows the distance of each station from your house. You should label cell AA1 "Distance".

If you want a more flexible spreadsheet that you can change your "home" location for, put the easting (528953) in cell AB1 and the northing (179679) in cell AC1, then make the formula in cell AA2 be =SQRT(POWER(G2-$AB$1,2)+POWER(H2-$AC$1,2))/1000. You can copy this formula down as described above. In this way you can change the values in AB1 and AC1 to get distances from a different point.

Now you can use Excel's Sort command, which you will find on the Data tab in recent versions. Select that you want to Sort by "Distance", if you've added the label, and make sure that "My data has headers" is ticked. Select "Smallest to Largest" order to see which stations are closest.

With the example co-ordinates of 528953, 179679, which are for Buckingham Palace, as you might expect it tells you that Victoria is closest at 681m, followed by Charing Cross at 1.49km and Waterloo at 2.12km.

As an exercise, can you find the station closest to the centre of the network? That is, the one with the smallest radius that would cover every other station in the country. Stations that are no more than 500km from all other stations in the country would be good. The best I've found is just under 486km from all other stations - I'm not certain that's the best of all.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Chronoyster - missing details

I've recently bought the map/book "The London Underground - A Diagrammatic History" by Douglas Rose (highly recommended if you like that sort of thing), which has revealed to me that my Chronoyster posts up to now have been lacking a bit of detail. Such as stations' former names and the fact that when they opened some stations were in a different location. There is also one branch opening that I've missed altogether because all the stations involved are now closed. Below, I've summarised the history so far, with all the extra details added.

10 January 1863 - section of Circle / Hammersmith & City between Paddington and Farringdon opened - Paddington (Bishop's Road) [now Paddington]; Edgware Road; Baker Street; Portland Road [now Great Portland Street]; Gower Street [now Euston Square]; King's Cross [now King's Cross St. Pancras, east of current location]; Farringdon Street [not same location as current Farringdon] (Open stations: 7)

13 June 1864 - section of Circle / Hammersmith & City between Paddington and Hammersmith opened - Notting Hill [now Ladbroke Grove]; Shepherd's Bush [now Shepherd's Bush Market, north of current location]; Hammersmith [north of current location] (Open stations: 10)

1 July 1864 - section between Ladbroke Grove and Kensington Olympia opened - Kensington [now Kensington Olympia] (Open stations: 11)

23 December 1865 - section of Circle / Hammersmith & City / Metropolitan between Farringdon and Moorgate opened, Farringdon relocated to current location - Aldersgate Street [now Barbican]; Moorgate Street [now Moorgate] (Open stations: 13)

1 February 1866 - new station opened- Westbourne Park [west of current location] (Open stations: 14)

13 April 1868 - section of Metropolitan from Baker Street towards Finchley Road opened, no stations remain open - St. John's Wood Road [later Lord's]; Marlborough Road; Swiss Cottage (Open stations: 17)

1 October 1868 - Kensington [now Kensington Olympia] renamed Kensington (Addison Road)
1 October 1868 - section of Circle between Edgware Road and Gloucester Road opened - Paddington (Praed Street) [now Paddington]; Bayswater; Notting Hill Gate; High Street Kensington; Brompton (Gloucester Road) [now Gloucester Road] (Open stations: 22)

1 December 1868 - Line extended south as Hammersmith relocated to current location

16 December 1868 - new station opened - Latimer Road (Open stations: 23)

24 December 1868 - section of Circle / District between Gloucester Road and Westminster opened - South Kensington; Sloane Square; Victoria; St. James's Park; Westminster Bridge [now Westminster] (Open stations: 28)

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Chronoyster - 24 December 1868

On 24 December 1868, the Metropolitan District Railway extended from Gloucester Road to Westminster.

South Kensington

Around the corner from South Kensington station, in Thurloe Square, there is almost a "Leinster Gardens" situation except that instead of the railway running beneath it runs behind. This, however, is a functional property - just very thin front to back.

Sloane Square

The large pipe that carries the River Westbourne.


Not actually in the tube station, but in the mainline station, a couple of original maps of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway.

The new Cardinal Place entrance.

St. James's Park

Missing S.

55 Broadway, finished in 1929, still headquarters of London Underground, once the tallest office building in London.


At Exit 3, this revolving door leads to Portcullis House. Pass Holders Entrance Only.

Next: 12 April 1869

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Chronoyster - 16 December 1868

On 16 December 1868, a new station opened.

Latimer Road

There is nothing to take a photo of at Latimer Road. Absolutely nothing. That would be ghoulish.

Next: 24 December 1868

Thursday, 7 September 2017

"Triple Crown" challenge

There is a new concept of tube challenge called the "Triple Crown", which I like to think of as the tube challenging equivalent of a triathlon.
It involves completing the three individual challenges as follows
1. Visit all the stations of the Docklands Light Railway
2. Visit all the stops of the Croydon Trams
3. Visit all the stations of the Circle Line "bottle" (all the stations on or inside the bottle shape of the Circle Line, plus Edgware Road and Marylebone for historical reasons)
one after the other!

Two of these I'd done before, and I've linked to my previous posts above, but I'd never even been on one of the Croydon trams before!

A competition day was organised for Saturday 12 August, with prizes for the best times on each phase and the overall time as well. I was attending the World Athletics Championship that day, but I did manage to complete it earlier on Monday 7 August.

Beckton, dep. 08:28:36
Poplar, arr. 08:47:24, dep. 08:49:14
Stratford, arr. 08:59:26, dep. 09:08:19
Stratford International, arr. 09:10:44, dep. 09:14:17
Woolwich Arsenal, arr. 09:37:54
Southeastern to Lewisham, dep. 09:44:39, arr. 09:58:00
Lewisham, dep. 10:03:44
Bank, arr. 10:29:57, dep. 10:32:02
Shadwell, arr. 10:35:30, dep. 10:40:40
Tower Gateway, arr. 10:43:09
Time = 2 hr 14 min 33 sec (Personal best)

Circle line "Bottle"
Start at Aldgate
Circle to Gloucester Road, dep. 10:58:22, arr. 11:19:36
Piccadilly to Kings Cross, dep. 11:22:35, arr. 11:41:46
Metropolitan to Liverpool Street, dep. 11:43:15, arr. 11:50:50
Central to Notting Hill Gate, dep. 11:51:51, arr. 12:09:00
District to High Street Kensington, dep. 12:13:15, arr. 12:14:59
District to Edgware Road, dep. 12:21:00, arr. 12:29:35
Walk to Edgware Road (Bakerloo)
Bakerloo to Regents Park, dep. 12:36:30, arr. 12:40:12
Walk to Great Portland Street
Metropolitan to Euston Square, dep. 12:45:37, arr. 12:47:02
Walk to Warren Street
Northern to Charing Cross, dep. 12:53:10, arr. 12:57:55
Time = 1 hr 59 min 33 sec (Personal best)

Wimbledon, dep. 13:30:16
Reeves Corner, arr. 13:53:57
Walk to George Street
George Street, dep. 14:07:19
West Croydon, arr. 14:13:28, dep. 14:14:36
New Addington, arr. 14:40:49, dep. 14:42:26
Sandilands, arr. 14:58:10, dep. 14:58:55
Arena, arr. 15:05:22, dep. 15:11:23
Elmers End, arr. 15:13:43
Walk to Harrington Road
Harrington Road, dep. 15:33:00
Beckenham Junction, arr. 15:42:15
Time = 2 hr 11 min 59 sec

Total Triple Crown time = 7 hr 13 min 39 sec

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Chronoyster - 1 October 1868

On 1 October 1868, a new branch of the Metropolitan District Railway opened between Edgware Road and Gloucester Road

Paddington (Praed Street)


Bayswater gave me an opportunity to visit the "houses" at 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens. When this branch of the MDR was built using cut-and-cover, an open gap was required so that the steam locomotives could "vent off". Rather than leave a gap in the terrace of houses, fake facades were used at numbers 23 and 24 to match those of the properties on either side. Complete with fake doors and black painted "windows".

Leinster Gardens was mentioned in the season 3 episode "His Last Vow" of "Sherlock", although I doubt there is even space for the narrow corridor they show.

When I visited it was raining hard and I didn't stay any longer than necessary. The street cleaner in my photo is sheltering in front of one of the fake doors. He obviously knew there were no residents that would mind.

Notting Hill Gate

Still raining, so I was rushing to find anything to represent Notting Hill Gate, and settled on this wiry elephant.

High Street Kensington

Have you ever looked up at these motifs? "MR" for Metropolitan Railway, "DR" for District Railway and "AD 1906" for the year when the original station was replaced by the shopping arcade.

Gloucester Road

Next: 16 December 1868

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Chronoyster - 1 February 1866

On 1 February 1866, a new station opened.

Westbourne Park


Exits only used for extra capacity during the Notting Hill Carnival.

Next: 1 October 1868