Main menu: Home Features 3D Maps User Guide Support Buy Now Disused Tube Blog

Notting Hill 3D

As we get closer to the next version of the App which will have all 270 tube stations drawn in 3D, we’re still going through some of the older designs and refreshing them to make them look a lot nicer and up to date.

Here’s the latest redesign for Notting Hill Gate, looking all splendid in 3D, and how it will appear in the App update.



17 May 14

New tube map out

There’s a new tube map out, and whilst we don’t know what changes have been made to the map itself yet, the cover art has been updated (as usual) and this time has been done by artist Rachel Whiteread.

Rachael Whiteread Map

Rachel Whiteread Map

16 May 14

Gloucester Road Closure

Not stopping at Gloucester Road

Not stopping at Gloucester Road

We spotted this last week, but forget to mention it .. so let’s mention it now – another ‘last minute’ closure that TfL have snuck up upon us (normally in the past there’s been a lot of notice on these things, but not this time) Gloucester Road will not have Piccadilly Line trains stopping at it for six months between Saturday 24th May until December whilst they replace the lifts at the station.

Circle and District Line trains will stop as per normal, meaning you’ll have to change to these lines if you normally get the Piccadilly Line here.

There is a full news article about in on the TfL website.

That now means there’s quite a few closures in the Zone 1 area at the moment – Covent Garden is currently exit only, at Bond Street – Central Line trains aren’t currently stopping (and when they resume again, Jubilee Line trains then won’t stop) and of course at Embankment, the long term works there means that Bakerloo and Northern Lines still aren’t stopping. That’s a lot of Zone 1 disruption!

15 May 14

Mail Rail

We’re giving the Mail Rail video a plug today – something which Station Master Geoff got to go and visit for the Londonist website a couple of weeks ago, but we never mentioned it on here – so we’re doing that now.

It’s London’s forgotten underground railway, that runs for several miles from west to east across London, the hub of it (where we visited) being at the Mount Pleasant sorting office.

14 May 14

TfL Contactless Cards Pilot

contactlesscardWe previously reported, that Barclays had sent us an email invite to the contactless payment pilot and had some questions about the way the system would work.

Having been through the signup process and read some of the associated information, things are now a little clearer.  However, we’ve been unable to use contactless as a method of payment so far (although we do know someone who has been successful), and have discovered that it will be of little practical use compared to your current Oyster card.

The sign up process is very straight forward.  Log into the new TfL portal with your existing email address and password that you use for Oyster (or create a new account if you haven’t already got one).  We presume this portal will replace the current Oyster one in time.

Our existing Oyster card was already loaded, although clicking it linked in to the existing Oyster portal.ContactlessOysterCard




Adding a contactless payment card is as simple as clicking the “Add a contactless payment card” button and filling in your card details which are checked with your bank.




Once you’ve completed this step your card is listed, and you are “Ready for travel”.ContactlessCardList

When we actually tried to use our contactless card, though, we got Error 89 from the ticket barriers – “Unknown card type“.  Fair enough, this is a pilot (and not available on the buses, as they already have contactless payment) and we expected some initial problems.

We went back and read the small print in our invite from Barclays, where we discovered that we have to wait for a welcome pack and a membership card to arrive. “It’s important that you wait for your personalised membership card from TfL before making contactless payments for travel. You’ll need to carry your membership card with you whenever you travel, as you may need to show it to a member of staff if asked.“.

Another card to carry? we think that’s ridiculous.  It’s all down to revenue protection. TfL tell us that you’ll get an £80 penalty fare if you are using contactless payment and are not able to show your membership card!

Since we wrote this, TfL have tweeted that “You won’t need a membership card, this is just part of the initial pilot and serves to identify the user.”

But a big issue of contactless payment that we think will make it of little practical use day-to-day compared to your Oyster card is the security check.

If you’ve used contactless for payments in a shop, you’ll already know that once have used your card contactlessly a certain number of times (in our case it seemed to be the 4th time – however we were rejected on the next transaction too!) the contactless payment is rejected and you have to revert to the normal Chip & PIN transaction (which resets the count).  How do you do this on a bus (where contactless payments are already accepted) or on a Tube ticket gate?

You can’t.

Even TfL’s information on contactless for buses acknowledges this shortcoming and offers a solution:

“From time to time your card issuer requires that you enter your PIN as a security check. If this happens when you are on a bus you will not be able to use your contactless payment card to pay for your journey”

Use a different way to pay for the journey. Make a chip and PIN transaction at another retailer and try your card again on another bus journey. If necessary, contact your card issuer for advice”

That’s very unhelpful!

So, if you were expecting to replace your Oyster card with a contactless card, forget it.  You will never be sure when your payment card will be rejected because of the security check.  I asked TfL about this and they said that they “don’t recommend you use contactless all the time” and that contactless wasn’t a replacement for Oyster.  They also said that if I wanted to use contactless to travel I would have to ‘keep track of how much I’d spent and reset the card in a cash machine‘ (or by a purchase).

In practice this is going to be almost impossible, and completely impractical if you wanted to dedicate a contactless card to travel in London instead of Oyster!

ContactlessJourneyAlthough we have been unsuccessful using contactless payment and have not received membership cards yet, we do know someone who has, and he kindly sent us a screenshot of it.

He also received a membership card.



(Update: 12th June 2014)

We’ve since heard, unofficially, that when contactless payments do actually go live properly, that the bus and tube card readers will not actually perform a transaction on your card (perhaps a £0.00 “free” transaction to get the card details).  Your card details and journeys will then be processed in TfL’s system and a charge made on a weekly basis, with your Monday to Sunday fares rolled up to the best value ticket for that week.

This will get around the bank security check problem presently seen on the buses.  The card issuers have been working very closely with TfL to make sure that this all works properly as they see this as the “killer application” of contactless payments.

The Oyster card, despite rumours, is not going to go away entirely as there will need to be an alternative method for people without contactless bank cards (children etc) to be able to travel, but the majority of us should be able to carry one less card around.


13 May 14

London Underground Haynes Manual

London Underground Haynes Manual Cover

LU Haynes Manual Cover

The serious London Underground aficionados amongst you, might like this Haynes Manual that’s coming out at the beginning of June.

You can pre-order it on Amazon here.

Or if you can wait, we also hope you’ll be able to pop into the London Transport Museum Shop in Convent Garden in person and pick up a copy from there too.


12 May 14

S Stock Collision

S7 Damage

S7 Damage

Details have now come out about a minor collision between two District Line trains last week.

It occurred near Putney Bridge between two of the new S7 trains running on the branch between Wimbledon and Edgware Road, and all new S Stock trains were immediately withdrawn, whilst an investigation took place.

It also led to the unusual occurrence of some C Stock trains not running to Wimbledon and being sent to Ealing Broadway and Richmond instead.

D Stock trains continued to run to Wimbledon as normal.

The story appears in the Evening Standard and on the BBC News website.


10 May 14

New lifts at Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath became a fully accessible station the other week, with the introduction of two new lifts to both platforms bringing step-free access to this Overground station.

The ticket hall area has been redesigned as well with a wide gate, newer regular ticket gates and a step free entrance.

We of course went down there to have a look (photos tomorrow) but immediately you can have a sneak preview of the 3D map of what it looks like which will be in the next update of the App.

3D map of Hampstead Heath

3D map of Hampstead Heath

08 May 14

Piccadilly shortcut gone!

Oh no! One of our favourite shortcuts on the tube system – at Piccadilly Circus – is blocked off at the moment, the infamous blue hoardings blocking our way.

This is the view from the Piccadilly Line side (which is signed to the Bakerloo Line!) which lets you nip up part of the emergency spiral staircase to the northbound Bakerloo Line platforms.   We can assume that it is blocked off in a similar fashion on the Bakerloo Line side meaning you can’t use it as a shortcut down to the Piccadilly platforms anymore … let’s hope it’s temporary and not permanent!

Blocked off access

Blocked off access


07 May 14

Tube Strike Suspended

nostrikeThe Unions and TfL sat down again for talks this morning over the current modernisation plans, and by lunchtime they came to an agreement and the RMT have suspended their planned strike.  The TfL Press Release is here.

So no tube-strike map this week! And hopefully we won’t have to bring you another again in the near future …

05 May 14