The East London Line reappraised

In Brockley for the first time and its so nice !! Thanks @eastlondonline
- margotbowman on Twitter, yesterday

It's time for another East London Line article. Not just out of nostalgia for the good old days, when the question of whether it would or wouldn't be any good could keep Brockley Centrallers going for days, but because the service is now thoroughly bedded in and we'd like to know how you're all using it.

We surveyed readers a few months back and asked them which they would use, Southern or ELL trains, for their regular morning commute. Back then, about a third of you chose the ELL or whichever train arrived first, with the majority claiming that the London Bridge service would still be your usual choice. That tallied fairly closely with TfL projections too, which forecast a gradual shift in commuting patterns in favour of the ELL over the next couple of years.

But whenever we've used Brockley Station recently, we've noticed that the train service is relatively quiet, whereas the tube is pretty packed. Not uncomfortably so, like the pre-ELL days, when trains were like cattle trucks, but very busy, with more people seeming to board them than the Southern service.

So pleasant and hassle-free is the interchange at Canada Water that we've found ourselves letting trains go past so we can use the tube - and only paying half what we used to spend in the process.

So, have your travel plans changed since the ELL's introduction? Have you been surprised by your desire to switch. We're starting a new poll, please share your thoughts.

66 comments:

Will said...

I've almost completely switched to the ELL - it's just a more pleasant journey and the change at Canada Water to the Jubilee Line is so much easier than the crowded hassle to the Tube at London Bridge.

Even going to Leicester Square yesterday I got the ELL to Whitechapel and the District Line to Embankment rather than Southern via London Bridge.

The Cat Man said...

Funnily enough, I thought I would use the ELL all the time, actually I prefer the London Bridge route.

For me, its either a 20 min walk from wapping or a 15 min walk from london bridge. Now that most people are using the ELL, I even get a seat on the train to London Bridge so its much more better for me!

Monkeyboy said...

ELL, especially in this weather. Caught it late at night 23:00ish acouple of times,, so much better than the platform lottery at LB. Also have had a couple of social outings in the east end, you know buying crack and pretentious cocktails that kind of thing. Still need a few later trains though.

Not just saying this to annoy Lou, although it does have that advantage, it suits my travel patterns is all.

Anonymous said...

Likewise - I also allow trains to London Bridge pass by in the mornings for the extra comfort of the ELL interchange at Canada Water. And pre-ELL I would never have predicted I'd do that.
Mike

Richard Elliot said...

Is anyone changing at Canada Water during morning rush hour to head East to Canary Wharf? I think the East bound Jubilee line trains might be packed to the point you can't get on them?

Anonymous said...

I use the ELL much more than I expected to, it's just so much easier and more pleasant than the LB interchange particuarly coming back as you don't need to hang around waiting for a platform announcement and then get caught in the stampede to the platform.

Also nicer class of people - I was running over the bridge at whitechapel the other day to get a southbound ELL, a man ran past me far quicker than I could go and when I got down the stairs he was standing in the train door holding the door for me so I made the train which was very thoughtful - never had that happen on the southern trains!

Anonymous said...

It could be improved by having trains run later in the evening.

Mb said...

The delay in the jubilee line upgrade will help but that's months away. Not sure what it's like going east? The single escalator is also a bottleneck. Despite all that it's still a win for me.

Anonymous said...

anyone knows what happens if you forget to swipe your oyster card at Canada Water when changing to jubilee line... does it cost more?

david said...

If you're changing at Canada Water for eastbound Jubilee trains (to, say, Canary Wharf) in the mornings before say 10.15 then you need to either be willing to let a couple of Jubilee line trains go by or to annoy everybody on the train (and get a close look at armpits) by being the person that takes there's alway room to shove one more on approach ...

Anonymous said...

Re changing to eastbound Jubilee line at CW. If the service is running perfectly, then provided to walk to front of the train you usually get on first time. Varies from "in armpit" busy to pleasant.

If there are minor delays (ie trains are every 3 minutes) then it becomes a gamble. You might get lucky and get on, you might still be there 15 minutes later.....

Also the escalator down from ELL to Jubilee always has a queue. My trick - get on front of ELL train, go up escalator to ticket hall and come back down to Jubilee line - as well as avoiding queuing for escalator you come out near front of train where you can get on.

Paddyom said...

I use it to come home from work every evening as cant be bothered with the hike and scrum to get to Southern trains at LB. Plus the blast of aircon alone when stepping out of the rank Jubilee line at Canada Water swings it for me ;)
Find I am heading to East London a lot more that before to socialize. Hoxton last Thursday and Spittlefields/Bricking it Lane yesterday...

Bea said...

Re bottleneck at Canada Water - just have to wait 2 minutes and it clears for easy access to the platform. It's not like there's a constant flow of more people coming from the Overground line (as there might be a LB).

I second commets about rush hour access onto the East bound Jubilee Line. Just go to the very front and push.

And it is still way quicker than going to LB first.

can't be arsed swipe said...

Re swiping oyster at Canada Water interchange.

First time I spotted the reader and the notice I asked a guard, thinking I'd be damned if I was going to get charged extra if I forgot, and because I wanted to know WHY they were asking for an extra swipe. It's not like there is an expectation that passengers swipe at every blinking interchange is it?

The guard said it was totally unnecessary and that it was just a way for TfL to keep tabs on journey patterns, useage etc etc. he said this with a fair bit of eye-rolling.

Anonymous said...

I understood it to be something to do with demonstrating that the journey had all been within one zone (if for instance, a given journey could possibly be completed going through more than one zone). Or something like that.

Anonymous said...

So you definitely don't get charged more then?

Crofton Park Ranger said...

I commute on the scooter but use the ELL for socialising...

On the flipside:

I have quite a few east london living friends who have been persuaded down to visit Brockley for the first time...

They were suitably impressed with Jam Circus/Orchard/Toads Mouth Too etc

Typical comment "Shoreditch is great while I'm young but I wouldn't want to bring up babies there though... but this is nice with the park and cafes etc..."

Lou Baker said...

Even I've used the ELL a few times.

Every time I've used it, it's been late. Usually by around 5 mins but I sat outside New Cross Gate for 20 mins on a delayed train the other day.

The connection at Canada Water is easier than at London Bridge, but I still don't think it's any quicker
to the West End.

It is good for Canary Wharf and Brick Lane though.

I also always seem to bang my head when I sit down on the orange trains. Not sure if it's a problem
with the trains or my head.

And if you look carefully on the journey from Surrey Quays to New Cross Gate you can see where the track
spurs off ready to link to phase 2 to Clapham Junction.

So overall I think the ELL is an improvement - albeit a moderate one as I said all along.

Anonymous said...

Spin worthy of Alistair Campbell himself.

Heh, heh....

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why there's a pink Oyster validator at Canada Water. These are designed to let the Oyster system know that you've travelled on a route avoiding zone 1 (thereby making your journey cheaper). At Canada Water however, they seem pointless.

Even if you're changing at Canada Water and going eastbound on the Jubilee line, the system will already recognise that you haven't travelled via zone 1.

Don't worry if you forget to swipe - it'll make no difference.

Radio Rental said...

I've almost switched to the ELL as I've found the interchange at Canada Water much more bearable, although they could make the two escalators go down to the Jubilee in the morning peak to relieve pressure.

However, as I finish work early at lunchtime on Fridays, I use National Rail from Charing X/London Bridge as the Oyster PAYG price is £2 and the train back has plenty of seats.

The pink readers are to help National Rail customers from example Sutton or Lewisham who would otherwise get charged as a via London Bridge fare. I've been charged standard TfL fares when using it from our part of the ELL.

Bemused said...

HELP! Is Oyster a total rip-off or am I doing something wrong? I've spent this afternoon travelling around zones 1 and 2, on a combination of train, bus and tube. If I'd bought a one-day travelcard it would have cost me £5.60. Instead it's cost me over £10. The TfL website tells you it will cap the cost at the same as a travelcard but this seems not to be true. What am I doing wrong?

Tommo said...

@ Bemused

Sounds like you haven't touched out at the end of one of your journeys. You always need to touch in at the start and out at the end of each pay as you go journey or a £4 penalty fare is applied to the Oyster card.

The penalty fares are not limited by the daily pay as you go cap.

mintness said...

Top end of Brockley here, so St Johns to London Bridge and onward is still the more convenient option for most journeys. Loving the ELL when it lends itself to the journey at hand, though (e.g. going to anywhere along the Jubilee Line), and the better half works near Shadwell so is happy to have ditched the Deptford Bridge DLR option in favour of a nice empty train from New Cross in the morning.

Bemused said...

Thanks Tommo. That could only be on the bus, as there were barriers everywhere else. It kept flashing red and the bus drivers would say that I'd done it more than once and it had worked.

Is it possible I've got a faulty card? I was getting flashing red lights almost every time I touched a reader (holding it flat, touching it just for a second or less, until there was a beep), but getting a green light on other occasions doing exactly the same thing. If I've been fined that is infuriating, as I was relying on what the bus drivers told me.

Tommo said...

@ Bemused.

The touching in/out doesn't apply on the bus. On buses and trams you only need to touch in, not out.

This is because buses and trams have fixed fares, regardless of journey length.

If you've been overcharged, call the phone number on the back of the Oyster card and see if they'll refund some of the cash.

bemused said...

PS the woman at Brockley station told me after I'd queried the balance on my card that the daily cap is separate for trains and buses, and that I was travelling at peak time (5pm???) which costs more.

I'm getting my £3 refund from my Oyster card and going back to paper tickets.

Tommo said...

@ Bemused

Nah, the wman at the station's talking rubbish. The caps the same regardless of which modes you use. Brockley station staff aren't the best (I probably should say that as I work for TfL!)

Also, if you only travel in zones 1-2 after 9.30am, then your daily pay as you go cap will count as off peak (regardless of whether you travel in the evening peak or not).

My advise is stick to paper travelcards unless you are a regular commuter.

Bemused said...

Thanks again, Tommo - I will try that. I do not normally have any problems with this kind of stuff, and am truly p*ssed off - all the more because it's all done on trust (by the customer that is) and you can't really tell what's happening.

Unknown said...

@ Bemused.

I too have had a couple of > £10 pound journeys within zones 1 & 2 and its very annoying at the time. Being lazy about this kinda stuff, I never chase it up or do anything about it.

The mind boggles how much "extra revenue" tfl is making from lazy and confused part time commuters like myself...

Bemused said...

@Steve - well, quite! It's not a fortune, but never nice to feel you're getting ripped off. It's not as if I'm a total numpty when it comes to this kind of technology, either - we've had ID cards at work with almost identical technology for years that I've had no problem with whatsoever. Which is why I wonder about the card. Anyway, I think I'll try and get a refund.

Brockley Nick said...

@Bemused - I think part of the problem is that Oyster cards aren't half as smart as they think they are. There are a few funny kinks in the system, for example, if you enter London Bridge station via the gates near Tooley Street and then try and then exit so you can go to the Brockley train in the other part of the station, it will consider that you have somehow travelled to zone 6 and back and sting you for 6 quid and then charge you when you touch in again.

My advice is always watch what you are being charged as you touch out.

Bemused said...

That's terrible, Nick! Did you get a refund? Or are you in the same category as Steve?

PS sorry to hijack the thread. I'm very much enamoured of the Overground and that lovely, lovely interchange onto the Jubilee line - cuts 10 minutes off journeys into the centre of town. Trains all less crowded too.

Lou Baker said...

@bemused

Oyster should automatically charge you for a travelcard - however my understanding is that it does this at the end of the day.

So you may have been charged £10 so far but you should find a credit on your account in the morning.

I read somewhere it's because they have to wait for all the data for the buses readers to be downloaded overnight.

Whether that's true I know not but let us know.

PS: @ nick Oyster is more intelligent than most of the human ticket sellers I've come across.

Have you ever tried buying a ticket at Nunhead station - you just get a blank stare back with a faint hint
of 'what's a ticket' behind the vacant glare ....

Anonymous said...

re ELL, I love it and it;'s been great when I've used it, admittedly to get to and from work at C Wharf only and not late at night.

Re the Oyster card, this discussion is extraordinary as a group of us were just saying the other night how we had been charged penalty fares, as it were, and we were convinced we had always swiped it. I only realised when I got a print out of my pre paid card (necessary for claiming back costs of certain journeys but not others) and found two 6 squid charges.

I think it is a minor scandal actually.

Anonymous said...

Something else to consider that might have happened with your Oyster (this happened to me) is that when the station is uber-busy the guards open up the barriers to let people through. However - they often turn the barriers off when they do this so although you see all these people swiping the barrier (which is already open) thinking that their oyster is being read - it isn't. They then get stuck for a penalty charge later on their journey. This happened to me and I complained. The guy told me that the guards are not supposed to turn the barriers off but they often do - he said look for an orange light on the barrier - if it's on it;s okay. If it's a red light, use another gate/touch point.

Miss Adelaide said...

Brilliant for getting to work in Shadwell, but I've been stung too many times on last trains at the end of my shift and I'm now back to walking to London Bridge and getting a train. Takes way longer but much less heartbreak when once-per-20min overground trains are cancelled without warning, or the last train terminates early at New Cross, etc etc etc.

Anonymous said...

Will catch first train, whether Overground or Southern. I have noticed more space on peak services. Yay!

I really wish you would try to stop bumping Overground as Tube, as this is not the case?

Anonymous said...

In 2007 TFL made £32million in penalty fares from customers 'misusing' their Oyster cards.

Any guesses how much it makes now?

Personally I stick to paper travelcards. That way they can't dip their hand into my pocket whenever they feel like it.

BrockleyBiker said...

I have touched in when there have been engineering works. On touching out again a minute later I have been fined. Bloody annoying. And I didn't try and get it back because it is just such a hassle.

I have had a few problems with LO on the occasional times I have used it. Early terminations, faulty ticker boards, delayed trains. Still I prefer it to the post 11pm gamble that is London Bridge.

Brockley Kiwi said...

Generally brilliant. Especially love Sunday trips to columbia rd market. Couple of minor gripes: been caught out with last trains a couple of times and why can't we be told before we get off the train at Canada water (or even better before we get on the ELL at brockley) of jubilee line suspensions?

Headhunter said...

Yeah I've heard a couple of people mention that the Oyster system doesn't work properly and doesn't cap at the cost of a travelcard as it's supposed to. I heard a woman complaining at the Brockley ticket office last time I went through and one of my friends said she had been told that the Oyster/travelcard cap system no longer operates. Sounds like staff don't even really know the system.

Re the ELL, I have used it twice now, both off peak. I generally use the London Br trains to get to the West End or go to St Johns, seems quicker. I would perhaps use the ELL more often however there is never any information at Brockley station to tell you whether or not Canada Water/Jubilee Line is operating. I took the risk on Sun and took the ELL hoping that I could do a quick change at Canada Water but lo and behold as we arrived in Canada Water the driver only then decides to announce that it's not running.

I went onto Shadwell and took DLR to Bank and then changed again to the Central Line.... 2 changes, all a bit of a faff, I'll stick to the London Br and St Johns to Ch X trains until they provide more info in Brockley.

At the moment they provide info on the rest of the Overground only which is of little use.

NXG_Resident said...

I've been told that the daily travelcard price-cap on Oyster is not valid if you take mainline train services (eg Southern)

So let's say if you make four off-peak journeys within zone 1-2 (3 tube and 2 Southern trains), you will actually be charge for each individual journey and the price won't be capped at £6.50 or whatever the price is for a zone 1-2 travelcard is.

Any Oyster aficionados want to shed light on this?

PS: The new ELL is great until the clock goes beyond 10pm.

Bemused said...

I hope that's wrong - it would be crazy to have paper Travelcards being cheaper than Oyster cards for certain journey combinations.

Name said...

It gives extra options for getting to work, so for that I am grateful, as I like variety.

It can be a bit ropey- "lineside fires" being a source of at least two severely delayed journeys.

I am not keen on the lack of seating, and those perch things are dead uncomfortable.

As for Oyster cards on trains, this deal brokered by Boris seems to have more stings in its tail than scorpion.

Ed said...

Canary Wharf commute is so much better with cool, quick and regular trains, with a great interchange at Canada Water. I also use it for central London now and even went down to Croydon the other day. Next outing is north to untothislast...

Radio Rental said...

The Oyster cap should work regardless of if you use National rail services or not as the cap was brought in line with the price of a paper One Day Travelcard after PAYG was implemented on NR.

If you're not getting the cap, use a paper travelcard instead or contact TfL.

Tommo said...

@ NXG_Resident

The Oyster cap should be the same regardless of whether or not you use the mainline rail services.

Cap for zones 1-2 off peak is £5.60 per day.

Anonymous said...

Not sure how you can be paying half when a monthly train pass is £55 and a monthly 1-2 Travelcard is £99 - unless you're using payg?
London Bridge trains suit my commute better so have stuck with them - they're now much less crowded, which is great, although they're also now delayed by a few minutes very day.
Have used ELL once when coming back from Liverpool St, and was very impressed - especially since it was a very hot day. Can't use it that often though as it stops running way too early to be useful for me.

Brockley Nick said...

I usually cycle to work, so only take the train / tube 1-2 times a week. In the old days, I would have to buy a daily travelcard (7.20). Now I can get to work and back for less than £4.

Anonymous said...

Now that the new ELL services at Brockley appears to have been a success, let's concentrate our efforts on Crofton Park. The South London Line Study Findings produce a mixed picture:

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/corporate/south-london-line-study-findings.pdf

Soloman said...

Usually brilliant service during the day. Utterly atrocious at night, I had to wait 35 minutes for a train at Dalston the other day which then decided to terminate at New Cross Gate, completely ridiculous. Once again Brockley has been stitched up on the late services.

The straps on the bars are also too low, I'm not a giant but still manage to bash my head on them everytime I'm on the train...

Anonymous said...

Needs lobbying. I'm sure it will improve and I think they've committed to later services. Only caught it late a couple of times and been lucky so far

Name said...

That comment about a 'nicer class of people', is bemusing any situation where people are put under the levels of stress, that the overcrowding, late trains that occurred prior to the ELL's arrival, are not going to be the epitome of gentility.
People were competing for the resources; space and fresh air! The beauty of ELL it is both spacious, light and airy and currently, not too overcrowded.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Lou made the rather stunning point that it will be popular therefore will become crowded so is therefore a bad idea. I love the orange anaconda, just needs to run later please

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Lou made the rather stunning point that it will be popular therefore will become crowded so is therefore a bad idea. I love the orange anaconda, just needs to run later please

Brockley Nick said...

I know it's not a scientific exercise, but I think the poll scores so-far are amazing. One third said it would be their main form of transport, but it's actually more than two thirds who use it that way now. Testament to its success and makes a nonsense in the "we've been conned by the spin" line or argument. If anything, it was undersold.

Anonymous said...

Better undersold than overhyped.

Brockley Nick said...

Agreed.

Anonymous said...

I have just discovered that if you travel in zone 1 and zone 2 - but the default journey at oyster is zone 3 then you will have a charge added to your card - I have reported this to oystercard and look forward to the computer being amended asap - but when I gave the information was told that it's in the information that oyster can charge like this, and was given a list of unsuitable and impractical stations to travel via....

The problem for us is with the new east london line - first we were advised to let the computer know by validating the ticket at canada water - the next time it happened even though the journey had been validated at the beginning middle and end both ways an extra charge was added due to the computer 'default'

Think oyster ticket users should check carefully - I think you can request a summary

over at the east dulwich forum the station manager takes time to read the comments and deal with issues if he can -
would be nice

Radio Rental said...

Anon, The station manager on EDF works for Southern Railway and the stations on our line are not his resposibility. They have been since September 2009 managed by LOROL.

You can request an Oyster Usage Statement from any London UNDERGROUND station ticket office. Not Overground I'm afraid except for Canada Water and Whitechapel who's stations are managed by LUL.

Anonymous said...

Took it again tonight adn it was excellent.

NB if changing on to the Underground, you MUST zap your Oyster card at an "interchange" machine. THese are signposted but not clearly so you've got to find it - at Canada Water, at least there is one near the lift. Don't know about eg Whitechapel for the District Line. If you don't zap it, you will be charged a small fortune for the journey.

Anonymous said...

It's not even finished yet.

To the North it goes on to Canonbury in 2011 and Highbury & Islington in 2012.

&

To the South-West, after Surrey Quays it will go on to Clapham Junction in 2012.

Anonymous said...

Re the interchange validators, I would strongly recommend you use them when you pass them as they might not always gift you a cheaper journey, but in many cases they will, and it's well worth getting in the habit.

Also, regarding being mis-charged on Oyster for whatever reason, you should definitely always ask for the refund/clarification of the problem. It might seem like a hassle for a couple of quid, but only if everyone does this can TFL find all the kinks and bugs in the system and correct them (remember, the expansion of Oyster PAYG was massive and all-at-once, so there are bound to be bugs that haven't been discovered yet onthe system)

(Yes, I do work for TFL, though not personally connected with Oyster!)

And finally.... Regarding delays/lineside fires etc affecting Overground services South of New Cross Gate.... These will also affect Southern services as the trains run behind each other on the same tracks, so you would be delayed either way whether the train you caught was Overground or Southern.

Glad you're mostly enjoying the ELL. That is all

Monkeyboy said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jul/21/jubilee-line-upgrade-delayed

Bugger...!

overground virgin said...

So I used the Overground today, the south london line part was ok, but the north london, was crazy- they allow full bikes on peak time commuter trains.

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