Archive for the ‘Transport’ Category


Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Wyl asks:

Would like to know if you have a view on why Greenwich has no access to the London bike scheme and has not been included in any expansion scheme.

The Phantom replies:

Why yes, oddly I do, Wyl, thank you for asking. I think the answer’s simple: cash.

Bascially if they were to include Greenwich, they would have to send those little trucks trundling all the way round from the town centre via one of the bridges or the tunnels to bring bikes/take them away and by road it’s a bloomin’  long way.

I often see people bringing Boris bikes over to Greenwich and think ‘ you poor things, you do realise you’re going to have to take ‘em right back afterwards – there’s no dock to be had here.

It would be great to have a dock at the Cutty Sark so people could bring their bikes over to see the sights or even for us to bimble around home town but to do it in isolation would be hugely expensive, and to roll it out all the way from London Bridge to us, via Bermondsey/Rohtherhithe/Deptford, desirable as it might be, nigh-on ruinous.

I know – it seems such a short distance from Island Gardens, but with the Thames in the way and no viable river crossing that doesn’t involve a heck of a long way round I can’t see any expansion happening soon, much as I’d like it.

But maybe someone else has a different idea? Maybe I’ve got it all wrong and it wouldn’t be that pricey after all?

Why I Love the #Dangleway

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Okay, it’s not the quickest way to get to anywhere other than Victoria Dock itself, and yes, the cash could have been spent on other things – but I hold up my hands – I love the new cable car with a passion.

I wasn’t convinced I was going to – as a sickly Phantom who suffers from both vertigo and motion sickness I had my doubts. About a week before it opened I took a trip on the Roosevelt Island ‘Tram’ in New York, which isn’t nearly as high, but at least similar (it, too, goes to somewhere that is already served by other transport, and only has a bunch of flats, an old tram shelter and a hospital once you get there) just to see if I was going to freak out.

I didn’t. Still, the first time I used our own local cable car for local people, I used my Oyster, just in case. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately bought a season ticket. Then I bought a bunch of other season tickets so I could persuade my friends to come.

Why do I love it?

I love the views. I love the way it stops and steadies itself in high winds. I love the cheery chaps that arrange who’s going to sit where like something out of a stop-motion kid’s TV programme like Bob the Builder or Postman Pat. I love looking down on Anthony Gormley’s Quantum Cloud and realising that you can still see a human figure in it even from above. I love looking across at the boiler-suited climbers huffing and puffing their way up and over the Dome, desperately pretending that they’re on Sydney Harbour Bridge, and smugly thinking ‘ha, ha, cheaper, easier, higher, sitty-downier than you…’  I love the screens with the creepy films of ‘locals’ waving for just that little bit too long as you’re waiting to have a podule allocated to you. I love that the season tickets are so lo-tech that you actually have to have them punched with a proper puncher like back in the 1950s and the guy on barrier duty has to stop everything to let you out.  I love the air-con blowing round my bare ankles (or is that just a draft?) I love the way it speeds up as you’re going down so you get that little rush of adrenalin (I know, I know, I haven’t been out much recently.) I love that the quickest way through to North Greenwich station is through a busy car park and nobody seems to think that that’s going to be a problem.

I’m such a kid that I find myself scrambling about over the seats to make sure I don’t miss anything, then I realise I’ve missed loads and the first thing I want to do is get back on again. I even used it to actually get from A to B a couple of times, albeit in a slightly roundabout and more expensive fashion than it would have been if I’d just gone from North Greenwich to Stratford on the Jubilee Line.

I know. I’ve heard all the white elephant/ should have spent it on other things/ Mayor’s vanity project/ in the pocket of a certain airline/ frivolous waste/ already served by plenty of transport/ will be unused after the ‘Lympics arguments and in my head I hear them. Trouble is, in cases such as this my heart always, always wins. I just love the cable car.

My one regret is that I haven’t actually had a podule to myself yet. Never mind – shouldn’t have to wait long for that…

Building Bridges

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Bit of a hooray! Boo! post today. We’ve all been waiting to see whether or not that Section 106 agreement that would see a footbridge linking the Greenwich and Deptford ends of Deptford Creek being built as part of the New Capital Quay development would be honoured. Well, anyone who visited HMS Ocean the other day will have seen that after years of bloomin’ nothing it’s finally beginning to take shape

and a lot of people have been asking if the footbridge might actually happen. Well, there is an application for one going through planning now, but it may not be quite what we had in mind.

The people I’ve been talking to have been assuming it would be a low, movable bridge, either in a swing or raised style, a bit like the ones going across the docks further up around Bermondsey/Rotherhithe, but this is neither – as you’ll see from the designs, they’ve gone for the cheaper, fixed version that just goes over the top of all the river traffic.

Some residents the other side at Millennium Quay aren’t happy about it because they’re worried it will be an intrusion on privacy – Sadia says “I have to say I am very concerned for the safety of the residents of millennium quay next to the bridge as the bridge will be right on top of us and pedestrians will be able to look straight into our flats! “and it does seem that the only artists’ impressions are from NCQ side (obviously – it’s being built by NCQ developers, they don’t care about what MQ people think; they don’t have to sell flats to them) so it’s hard to see just how close to people’s balconies it’s going to be.

Personally, it still feels a little far away from actual buildings to be very invasive of privacy – but it does seem to be quite invasive of view (though I guess you’d get a good view from it…)

I’m convinced they’ve gone for this version because it’s cheapest – something along the lines of the one Leonardo da Vinci designed – elegant and simply operated (though I guess I would worry about who would fix it if it went wrong or if it would it just be left open by boat users) would be wonderful, but pricey.

I certainly wouldn’t want to lose the opportunity of linking the two parts of the Thames Path with a footbridge – it’s something we’ve hankered for (and discussed at length) for years but I rather wish they’d gone for a simple swing or self-raising bridge like they have further upriver.

What do you think, guys? Is it going to be an eyesore and invasive for MV residents, or does the convenience of actually having a bridge at last trump looks?

Foot Tunnel, for James

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

James asks:

I’ve been working in Argentina since last July & regular visit your site to keep unto date with happenings.

I’m figuring that since the Cutty Sark has since re-opened that the refurbished foot tunnel has also?

Have they done a good job? Have they refrained from installing barriers in the middle to prevent the odd silly cyclist from being a bit of an arse?(I really hope that have not messed with the tunnel too much!)

The Phantom replies:

Well James, your wish has been granted re. their not ‘messing with the foot tunnel too much’ – as you can see from Paul’s photo, they’ve done absolutely bloomin’ nothing with the tunnel itself – not even sending someone down with a bucket and sponge.

That isn’t quite the whole story though. The entrances are looking pretty handsome – here’s the south one from the Cutty Sark (the stuff around it is the preparations for the Queen’s visit last month)

and the lifts – well, they sort of work.

They look good inside, they’ve retained the wood panelling and they’ve got glass doors:

Sadly one of the doors smashed within days of it re-opening – I’ve heard it wasn’t vandalism, it was badly fitted, though I don’t know if that’s true.

The lift seems to be as intermittent as ever, frustrating the hell out of cyclists who have to carry bikes up and down steps that are still encased in wooden hordings, though the entire tunnel closing, forcing cyclists up to Rotherhithe, is thankfully rare. You need to keep an eye on the council’s twitter feed (@royal_greenwich) for random closures and lift malfunctions which given the amount of time and cash spent already, is a bit depressing.

I suspect that the tunnel will be magically sparkling by July, the date by which all civic projects must be finished – or they never will be…

Greenwich Transport During the Olympics

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Just been taking a (very quick) look at LOCOG’s transport plans for this summer’s events.  In general, it’s nothing I didn’t expect and we, as hosts of an international sporting event must accept, but forewarned is forearmed. At the moment it’s at ‘consultation stage’ but they’ve not got much wriggle-room if there’s a problem – I suspect this is deliberate on LOCOG’s part. I’m expecting this to be railroaded through pretty quick. The one thing I would be VERY keen to know is that we will be given plenty of clear, focused information so that we can work around whatever we have to suck up.

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel by going through it all here, but on a quick perusal I note a few things we should look out for:

South Eastern claim they’ll have a max capacity of 11,000 per hour, but bad luck if you want to use Maze Hill station to travel away from London am or to London pm – trains just won’t stop in those directions in the rush hour.

There’s a whole bunch of bus alterations too, mainly locations of stops. I guess as long as it’s well-publicised (and there are notices on the affected stops so people know where to wait), this should be dealable with.

Cutty Sark DLR will be closed because of short platforms.

Residents parking zones, on the whole, will be as usual, with extended hours. I guess businesses that have customers parking outside will have to deal with it.

One thing that will annoy some residents is a list of parking suspensions on various streets around the park who will lose their resident status to allow sundry coach parking/ set down / spectator walking routes/ taxis/ ‘venue operations/ one way systems and ‘games family’ parking (which includes the notorious ‘marketing partners’ –  but then I’m sure Park Row residents will be only too delighted to give up their parking spot for the CEO of MacDonalds…) I wonder if anyone will have the guts to dock their residents’ parking badge payment on a pro-rata basis…

Times of controlled parking zones where residents bays are not suspended will be standardised – 08.30 – 19.00 during the games (something I hope will not become a regular feature)

Similar restrictions will be imposed on the Isle of Dogs so that spectators will not be able to park on the other side and walk across.

I won’t go into road closures – you can find them on the document.

All in all, it’s generally reasonable stuff. We always knew this bit would be unpleasant and frankly, there is no way around some traffic disruption.

But I repeat – we MUST be told about this. I will be expecting something in writing through my door; I don’t want to have to rely on hearsay.

Peninsula Accident

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

I understand there was a horrible accident on Bugsby’s Way yesterday, between a pedestrian and a 486 bus, at the crossroads where the Odeon is. The Twitter feeds I saw claimed it was fatal, and if so I am thinking of that person’s relatives today, and what they must  be going through. I can’t imagine what that must be like or what I could say to make it any better at all.

Thing is, though, this isn’t the first accident there by any means. Jon tells me that  “this happened 3 weeks ago at the same spot with a 108 bus and a pedestrian” but despite the air ambulance’s attendance there “was no mention in the local papers or anywhere else” – certainly it wasn’t mentioned here as I didn’t know about it. Nor did I know about  the incident a year ago at same spot when a school girl was hit by a bus.

Clearly the proverbial ‘something’ needs to be done about this junction. There’s certainly a very odd piece of road management for car drivers coming from the direction of the O2 and wanting to turn right to go to B&Q /Sainsburys/Comet/ Odeon, where the ‘obvious’ place to turn is actually a bus-only lane; drivers are required to take the one immediately left of that. It is marked with No Entry signs, but isn’t clear if you’re seeing the junction for the first time and I’ve seen dozens of cars taking the wrong route over the years. I’ve never made that mistake myself (though I have accidentally driven down the bus lane on West Parkway thanks to duff signage) but I have to stop and think every time.

But this wasn’t between a car and a bus, as far as I know, but a pedestrian. Now, part of the problem could be pedestrians jay-walking because there’s a long wait between green men, or because there’s only an official crossing between GMV and the retail park on one side – if you’re coming from, say, Moseley Row and wanting to cross on the side near Holiday Inn, it’s pretty tempting to nip across the bit that doesn’t have a proper crossing. I know I’ve done it on occasion, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

According to Jon, even that’s not the issue. He lives at GMV and tells me that he watches, day in, day out, buses speeding and running red lights. If it’s that, then short of cameras at the traffic lights to catch people doing that (and I’m not even sure if it counts for buses?) then I’m a bit stuck.

Whatever, yesterday’s tragic incident is the third in two years. With building resuming on the peninsula, this really needs to be looked at.


Don’t Cross the Streams

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Chas asks:

Any idea why the escalators at North Greenwich tube station are configured the way they are? At the moment you get off the bus at the north end of the bus stands, then have to cross a stream of people coming out of the tube on the ‘up’ escalators which are also at the north end, to get to the ‘down’ ones. The people coming out of the tube then have to cross the flow of us ex-bus passengers heading for the ‘down’ escalators so they can get to the buses on the south end of the bus stand. It’s particularly problematic when there’s something big on at the O2 and there are lots of people coming out of the ‘up’ escalator.

Surely switching the up and down escalators would make the flow much simpler?

The Phantom replies

You know it’s never occurred to me before, but since you mention it, yes, that does seem like a simple switch that could be made. I don’t think it makes much difference to the flow of people going to the O2 as there’s room both sides and they have to go back on themselves anyway. Of course they’d have to switch the in and out turnstiles at the bottom, but I bet that’s an easy fix.

Can anyone think of a reason why a switch like that would be a bad idea? If not, I think I’ll drop TfL a line…

Train Lengths

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Blimey – a real, live reply from Southeastern. Remember the missive I sent a little while back about their not announcing train lengths any more, which results in overcrowding in some carriages or an undignified 100m dash when the train arrives halfway up the platform?

Well, here’s their reply…

Train lengths
I am sorry that the lengths of trains are no longer showing on our platform displays before a train arrives. This is due to the current limitations of our information system which is used for updating the platform displays.
Due to our system not being able to hold manually inputted data changes (such as coach lengths), every time the system is shut down for updates this data is lost and must be manually entered again. As a result, we have not been entering train lengths. However, we are investigating other ways of automatically updating the system with train length data, and we hope that the information will be available later this year.
Thank you for bringing your concern to our attention.
Yours sincerely
Daniel Westlake
Customer Relations Officer

So – not holding my breath but maybe later this year..?

The thing that I don’t get is that they always used to do the train lengths thing – so have they at some point managed to ‘upgrade’  their former software with less sophisticated kit?

Train Lengths

Friday, April 15th, 2011
Dear Vince Lucas

I am wondering whether it would be possible to reinstate the useful additions to the train announcement displays, whereby waiting passengers are told the length of the train expected. This allows people to distribute themselves along the platform in advance, according to how many cars the train has.

At most stations the length of the train means that it will stop at different places on the platform and not knowing how many carriages there are means either a concentration of people hedging their bets in the middle or an undignified sprint once the train arrives.

There always used to be notice of the number of carriages on the display boards – so clearly Southeastern has the technology to do it. I have no idea why the practice was stopped – but is there any chance of getting the advance notices back?

I think this is quite a polite letter – don’t you agree? It’s not earth-shattering stuff. I’m not haranguing or screaming for something unreasonable, or at least not in my humble opinion. I sent it a couple of weeks ago, and so far no reply, but I’ll let you know if I ever hear anything…

Oyster Update

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Folks – amazingly, I got a reply from Oyster this morning about the email I sent them after my bad day on sundry forms of transport. Due to an ‘operational issue’ I am owed a refund of £9.30, which sounds about right to me.

So -clearly it IS worth complaining. Hurrah.

HOWEVER. Much as I’m told that network rail IS included in the capping system, I’m edgy about it. I’m going to be buying paper tickets more often than not now.