Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

A bit pointless, or so you’d think

Posted in Commuter, London by Chairman Pip on 2 November 2010

Despite my excitement over the opening of the East London Line Extension, I will have to admit that, for my own personal use, it is a bit pointless. Not pointless in the way that the terminus at New Cross is pointless, though I still maintain that it is pretty pointless to have trains terminating at New Cross, given what a tiny little stub branch it is, and that there is another station in New Cross that people could just as easily use. No, it’s pointless in that the old ELL did exactly what I needed – I used it to go to work in the morning by using the Jubilee Line from Canada Water, and I used it to go to football by getting the District Line from Whitechapel. And these things I still do. But, once the extension is completed in full, as far as Highbury & Islington, then it will assume a greater relevance. I have little need (or even desire) to go to Dalston much. The only possible reason I could see is that a friend of mine lives in Stoke Newington, which is around half an hour’s walk from Dalston Junction. But, there is something else. The Emirates Stadium is about 15 minutes walk from Highbury & Islington, meaning that getting to away games against Arsenal will become so much easier than having to schlep all the way into Central London. So, even though the link isn’t yet ready, I thought I’d have a dry run of this journey last Saturday. This involved a train up to Dalston Junction, then changing (with a two minute walk along the street) to Dalston Kingsland and getting the train from there to Highbury. First of all, I would hate to think what trains on the North London Line on weekdays during rush hour. The trains that I use in the morning are rarely less than eight cars long. While it is true that the NLL doesn’t run into a central terminus (more’s the pity), three and four car trains are rapidly overwhelmed, as I was able to see on Saturday. That’s why I had to let the first train from Dalston Kingsland go and get on the second one. It’s a good job it was only two stops. But I got there, and I have to say that Highbury & Islington is a lot different to the last time I was there, with its fancy new platforms and its building work. Of course, the outside is just as crap as it ever was. Nevertheless, Highbury & Islington’s importance as an interchange seems to be burgeoning. Which led me to a question – given how many extra people turn up for Arsenal home games (the Emirates has a capacity of 60,000), why isn’t use made of the Northern City Line? This line, which runs into Moorgate, operates from Monday to Friday only, but is physically separate from the rest of the network as far as Finsbury Park. So why can’t a special matchday shuttle timetable be run between Finsbury Park and Moorgate, reducing the congestion (that doubtless occurs) on both trains into King’s Cross and NLL trains?

Anyway, that’s beside the point. I decided to take the same journey back home again, and boy what a surprise. From walking out of the stadium to walking through my own front door was barely an hour, and that was with the ten minute walk down the Holloway Road and the change in Dalston. So as far as I’m concerned, sod getting the Piccadilly Line to Arsenal, at least at the weekend. And certainly sod going home on the Piccadilly Line, because that ain’t happening again. By the next time we play Arsenal, it’s likely that the connection between the ELL and the NLL will have been completed, and one train will get me there and back. It’s almost enough to turn me into a Gooner. Actually, it isn’t really.


One Response

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  1. Claire said, on 3 November 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Good idea about the matchday shuttle. When there are that many people travelling there, it would seem almost essential.

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