Aldwych station tours
If ever you wanted to take a look around the disused station at Aldwych, now's your chance; limited places are available now to visit the station for a guided tour on Friday 25th, Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th November, and on Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th December.

Tickets are available to buy now and must be booked in advance.

Admission: Adult; £20.00* Concessions; £15.00 (students, seniors and London Transport Museum season ticket holders) *This price includes a free one day pass to London Transport Museum which must be used by Sunday 4 December 2011.

Please note that visits to the station are not suitable for children under 16 years of age or anyone with breathing or walking difficulties as there are 160 stairs to the platform and no working lift.

For further details see the web page here.
Tickets can be booked online here.

Regarding yesterday's runaway train incident
Yesterday a runaway engineer's train caused massive disruption to London Underground's Northern Line. There is a BBC report on it here, but there's so much more to the story than what you can read there.

In order to explain more fully what happened, first I have to give some background and explain a few things about how certain systems work on the Underground.

To begin with, for the record, I used to be a line controller on the District Line, and did half of my training at Baker Street where the north half of the Circle Line, the upper part of the Hammersmith & City and the whole of the Metropolitan Line are controlled from; the Bakerloo Line is run from the control room down the hall from the Met. Both the District & Piccadilly Lines are run from the same room at Earl's Court. The Central Line control room is at White City, and the Northern & Jubilee Lines are run from Cranbourne Street. The East London Line and the Waterloo & City are run by, effectively, glorified signallers - they're not very complex and don't require the special touch of an LC or SDM.

So this whole incident was being monitored from Cranbourne Street by the Northern Line SDMs and signallers - principally the signal operator on the Camden Town desk. Remember this person - they become incredibly important during the story.

Now, the next bit of info concerns the braking systems - and specifically the train protection systems as used on all London Underground trains, with very few exceptions.

Next to each signal, there's a device down on the track called a trainstop; when the signal is red, the trainstop is raised. It's a pneumatic device designed to fail to the up position, just as any failure of a signal results in it turning red.

There is a trainstop and associated signal at each end of a station platform, to govern movement both forward and reverse from that platform.

On the underside of each tube train there is a trip cock; it is connected to the brakes so that if the trip cock hits the trainstop, the brakes are automatically applied and the train stops. There's one at each end of the train as trains can be driven from either end. Like the trainstops, a train's main brakes are operated pneumatically and are designed to fail with the brakes fully on.

Engineer's trains are slightly different; many of them don't run on electricity for a start, being diesel-driven, and not all of them have trip cocks.

Yesterday's incident involved an engineering train that became defective and had to be towed by an out-of-service passenger train. Unfortunately as it was travelling northbound towards Archway, the couplings broke and began to run back down the track towards Camden, out of control and without brakes - they had been isolated so it could be towed, so it ouldn't have stopped even if it had had a trip cock. Thankfully it was just before the start of peak time so the service was spaced out and there were no northbound trains in its path at that point.

One of the handy things about the platforms at Camden is that trains can be reversed from any platform to pretty much any other. So the Camden signaller set up the points so the runaway train would cross from the northbound High Barnet branch platform to the southbound track on the Charing Cross branch (which at that time of the morning would have had fewer trains than the southbound Bank branch).

The SDMs at the same time ordered all southbound trains on the Charing Cross branch to nonstop stations as far as possible until ordered to stop, to increase the distance between them and the runaway train. The driver of the rearmost train also requested all his passengers to move up to the front car, so if the engineer's train caught up to them it would minimise injuries; however due to the prompt actions of the service control staff and the excellent response fro the drivers, the runaway train never came any closer than half a mile to the nearest passenger train.

The track at Warren Street goes up a slight incline on the approach to the southbound platform; this is to slow the forward speed and aid the braking of a train coming into the platform, and it was that incline which halted the engineer's train.

The service was disrupted for quite some time afterwards as the service had to be rerouted through to run only down the Bank branch and up to Edgware, with services on the Charing Cross branch and up to High Barnet suspended until the engineer's train could be safely moved again.

I do hope the signaller, SDMs and drivers concerned all get the commendations they so justly deserve for their quick thinking, professionalism and outstanding teamwork during this incident.

Fire at Liverpool Street station
Liverpool ST station is on fire. It's been declared a major incident. The TfL site simply reports it's closed due to a fire alert.

BBC News is reporting the fire broke out in a restaurant on the upper floor, which is consistent with the photos.
There are no mainline rail services into or out of Liverpool Street at this time; all services arecancelled.
Underground services are not affected at this time, but there is no exit from the Underground station to the mainline station.

40 firefighters are currently in attendance. No reports yet of any confirmed injuries or extent of the damage.

Update at 00:56: Liverpool Street station has just reopened; first departure will be the 0103 to Chingford. All services in and out of Liverpool St station will be subject to delays and cancellations. A City of London Police spokesman said roads in the surrounding area of Bishopsgate are closed from Great Eastern Street in the north to Wormwood Street in the south.

acton open weekend
This weekend, London transport museums depot at Acton has it's open days and also modellers display.

Well worth a visit.


Why the Underground has ground to a near-halt
This is an excellent explanation of why the whole London Underground network goes down on days like today, written by a Bakerloo driver.

London Travel affected by snow
At present there are no buses operating an and around London at all; the bus service across the capitol has been cancelled completely by TfL due to adverse and dangerous driving conditions.

There are no tram services in operation today.

Tube services:

BAKERLOO LINE: Suspended between Queens Park and Harrow and Wealdstone with severe delays on the rest of the line due to adverse weather conditions.
CENTRAL LINE: Severe delays are occurring due to adverse weather conditions.
CIRCLE LINE: Suspended.
DISTRICT LINE: Suspended between Edgware Road and Wimbledon, Earls Court and Kensington Olympia, Earls Court and Richmond, Earls Court and Ealing Broadway due to adverse weather conditions. Minor delays are occurring on the remaining operational line due to the adverse weather conditions.
JUBILEE LINE: Suspended between Waterloo and Stanmore with severe delays on the rest of the line due to adverse weather conditions.
METROPOLITAN LINE: Suspended between Harrow on the Hill and Amersham/Chesham due to adverse weather conditions. Minor delays to rest of line.
NORTHERN LINE: Suspended between Finchley Central and High Barnet due to adverse weather conditions.
PICCADILLY LINE: Suspended between Acton Town and Rayners Lane with minor delays on the rest of the line due to adverse weather conditions.
VICTORIA LINE: Good service operating normally.
WATERLOO & CITY: Suspended.

Train services:
All services are currently suspended until further notice on Southeastern Trains and there is no service on Gatwick Express. Southern and First Great Western are running reduced services.

Note that tube services are likely to deteriorate as the day progresses due to drivers and station staff failing to make it in for their shifts later in the day.

Depot open day.
Family Open Weekend at London Transport Museum's Acton Depot 1st and 2nd of November. Might be of interest.


Sad news
I am sorry to say that one of our community members has died. blue_condition passed away earlier this week, it is believed due to a heart attack.

Further information has been posted here and here.

He will be sadly missed as a valued member of this community and as a friend to many of us.

Rest in peace, Pete.

How they do it in Taipei.
nice cup of tea and a sit down, gosh!, news

(not very gothy, admittedly ... not in the least, really)

Actin Depot
The LOndon transports Museum's Acton depot is open this weekend, I went yesterday and was well impressed. It is open today from 11am and costs £8. I Q'd for about 15 minutes to get in, and this weekend there are a selection of model displays of London Transport as well as access to what essentially is the museums store room.

Access to a number of Tube trains is allowed, so one pretend to drive a variety of stock, but I found the model's used to show the public how something will look to be the most fascinating.

more details here, its a rare enough thing to be open, once or twice a year I think.



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