Wednesday, 20 September 2017

To what extent does the economy depend on car parking?

The Bengal Lancer, a popular Indian restaurant in Barking which closed its doors for the last time on Sunday 17 September 2017 after about 27 years trading, cited (on Facebook) as one of the reasons for its closure 'car parking issues'. The 'issues' euphemistically referred to are not spelled out, but we can take an educated guess that there is deemed to be inadequate car parking for diners. In the comments, the council, generally held responsible for everything that goes wrong, were described as 'useless', though no particulr suggestion was proferred as to how to alleviate the claimed problem.

The restaurant had a vertiginous Public Transport Access Level, being located 4 minutes' walk from Barking Station (Underground, c2c National Rail and (usually) London Overground Barking-Gospel Oak line), according to Google, and it is on a main road well-served by buses: 5, 62, EL1 and EL3 (and N15 at night). It could hardly have been better placed for travellers from outside the area, but even so there is private housing nearby all around it. There's a minicab office a few doors down (one of several) and a taxi rank at the station and I believe there is no shortage of Uber capacity.

So how significant is the shortage of private car parking really? In another area would car parking deficiency on this level be critical, or claimed to be? And how come a relatively poor area like Barking got to be so car-dependent, if indeed it is? And would addressing this deficiency (assuming that to be possible)  really have prevented this closure?

Personally I suspect not, but the council is under constant pressure to provide more, free parking throughout the borough. Ironically, down at Barking Riverside - a new development that will have 10,800 homes in a few years, if all goes to plan, there is land available that could conceivably be used for car parking, though many residents require their car to be visible from where they sit in their house. There is no rail service to the development yet, but the schools are open and filling up. How are the teachers supposed to travel to the school, except by car? The desire to have a healthy town with non-car transport chosen as often as possible is apparently a poor relation to the (perceived) need to accommodate a private car based transport solution.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Barking and Gospel Oak Line (London Overground) long term closure. c 2 years before we see electric trains

The line will close for around 8 months so that electrification and related works can be carried out. The details below (slightly edited) were provided by the Barking & Gospel Oak Rail User Group. The closure will also be used to carry out other necessary works unrelated to electrification

* Last day for through Barking - Gospel Oak trains will be Friday 3 June 2016
* Gospel Oak - South Tottenham trains will continue running on weekdays only until 23 September 2016
* The whole line will then be closed until 7 February 2017 when rail passenger services resume with 2-car diesel trains but with continuing weekend closures until the overhead catenary is cleared for use by electric trains in June 2017
* The existing 2-car diesels will continue to operate until early 2018 when new 4-car electric trains enter service
* Around 500 Overhead catenary support masts are required.
* The pedestrian route across Walthamstow Queen's Road footbridge will closed throughout the works
* About 1500m of trackbed will have to be lowered by up to 0.5m through Walthamstow Queen's Road and concrete slab track used to create required clearances.
* Road over rail bridges at Upper Hollway, Harringay Park Junction and Walthamstow Queen's Road will have to be rebuilt.
* platforms will be lengthened to accommodate 4-car trains
* The long delayed step-free access scheme at Blackhorse Road was expected to be completed by the end of 2016 but the DfT are now reviewing the funding they provided for this.

RAIL REPLACEMENT BUS SERVICES every 15 minutes increased to every 10 minutes Mon-Fri peak times

 ROUTE 'T' BARKING - WALTHAMSTOW CENTRAL from 4 June 2016 until 7 February 2017
* Barking Station
* Woodgrange Park Station
* Wanstead Park Station
* Harrow Green (for Leytonstone High Road station)
* Leyton Midland Road station
* Walthamstow Central ROUTE 'J' GOSPEL OAK - SEVEN SISTERS weekends from 4 June 2016, then daily from 24 September 2016 until 7 February 2017
* Highgate Road (for Gospel Oak station)
* Upper Holloway [?Station]
* Hornsey Road/Hanley Road (for Crouch Hill station)
* Finsbury Park Station * Harringay Green Lanes station
* Seven Sisters station

 There is currently no information regarding any ticket acceptances by other bus or rail/Underground services.

Charity furniture and white goods re-use project near Ilford-Barking border is based at the Barking end of Uphall Road, Ilford.

They collect and refurbish furniture and white goods and sell them on at low prices with discounts for benefits claimants.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Money saving tips for London train commuters

Since about now is a popular time to renew season tickets to miss the Jan fare rise, two - hopefully useful - tips. 
1. If your season is an Annual Travelcard costing GBP 1500 or more, buy it at Marylebone Station from the Chiltern ticket office. It then counts as a qualifying season for unlimited weekend travel on the entire Chiltern network. 
2. If your season is an Annual Travelcard, it'll come with a Network Gold card giving you a third off some fares on trains in the South East. However, it won't be coded onto your Oyster card, so you won't get a third off cash Oyster fares (eg the extension fare charged when travelling beyond your Zones). Go to an Underground ticket office (where they exist) or a roving member of staff (where they don't), ask nicely and they'll sort you out.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

New Rail Journey Planner

Fares supremo Barry Doe is recommending - see Rail Magazine 786. This is by Paul Kelly and Nick Brown, the creators of the website which can find you significant fare savings by showing you where to spilt your ticket (NOT your journey).

Barry continues to recommend, but future plans for fastjp are for "a major new system that will incorporate fares as well [as times]".

I like the fact that up to 5 start and/or end stations can be specified - useful for those times when there is more than one convenient station at either end of your journey (though places like (say) Manchester with several stations called Manchester something are - as is usual - grouped together as if one station  as an alternative to the separate stations.)

Barry dislikes the fact that most train fare websites constrain you to entering journey times, even if you plan to buy an "any time" ticket. We look forward to a site that allows the user to select ticket types before train times, if s/he wishes.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Gospel Oak Line Woes with rail and path closures

The Victoria line is closed between Walthamstow Central and Seven Sisters until 30 August, and there will be a reduced service on the rest of the line.

Instead of Blackhorse Road, then, change between the B&GO and the Victoria at Seven Sisters / South Tottenham. This is an official out-of-station interchange and the shortest route for walking/cycling  is (unsignposted) via Stonebridge Road, opposite S Tottenham Station.

This closure is likely to mean even more people attempting to use the already badly overcrowded B&GO between South Tottenham and Walthamstow Queen's Road, though there are rail replacement buses.

To add insult to injury, the not long opened direct walking route between Walthamstow Central and Queen's Rd - via Ray Dudley Way - is closed until 6 September, and according to the B&GO user group, the diversionary route (via Shrubland Road) has not been [well] signposted as at 8 August.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Railway Working timetables

These are the actual timetables that the railway works to, as distinct from what it shows to the public. There are dozens of pdfs at I was a bit surprised to find, on a schematic map, "Gospal Oak" for Gospel Oak and "Leyton Road East" for Leyton Midland Road.

This information is presented in a more user-friendly way at: and

I'm in the habit now when catching a train from a large or unfamiliar station, of noting which platform the train is booked to use. The train doesn't always use the booked platform, but this information is likely to be useable in the majority of occasions when they do.

You can get an incredible amount of detail - including about non-passenger trains - from this information.