Metropolitan Line “emergency timetable”

Status
Not open for further replies.

AJW12

Member
Joined
20 Feb 2018
Messages
103
Location
Ickenham/Edinburgh
I’m a regular commuter on the Uxbridge branch of the Met Line, and on my way out the door this morning checked the TfL status on their website, “good service”. Arrived at Uxbridge station to see a sign showing an “emergency timetable” was in place, with services cut to all stations every 15 minutes, until further notice. A quick look on Twitter and it seems the Moor Park lines are down to every 20 minutes.

Would anyone happen to know quite how long this mess is going to continue for, exactly why this is happening and why TfL’s communication to customers on this is so completely abysmal?
 

Attachments

  • 6FE16E4B-CD09-4BEB-BD3B-0232C628A0FC.png
    6FE16E4B-CD09-4BEB-BD3B-0232C628A0FC.png
    1 MB · Views: 173
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

Journeyman

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2014
Messages
6,278
It's fairly obvious why. Where have you been for the last 18 months?
 

AJW12

Member
Joined
20 Feb 2018
Messages
103
Location
Ickenham/Edinburgh
I’ve been working throughout so I’m very aware. What I’m not aware about though is the utterly poor communications throughout though? And what’s actually being done about it? It’s seriously hampering “back to work” initiatives across the board now.
 

172007

Member
Joined
2 Jan 2021
Messages
340
Location
West Mids
Londonder complains about rail being only every 15 or 20 mins. Smell the roses, to the rest if the country that is a substantial uplift.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
71,771
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
I’ve been working throughout so I’m very aware. What I’m not aware about though is the utterly poor communications throughout though? And what’s actually being done about it? It’s seriously hampering “back to work” initiatives across the board now.

It's not the right time for such initiatives unless you want your company half shut down due to "pings", so maybe that's doing the companies foolish enough to be following such initiatives at this point a favour?
 

rebmcr

Established Member
Joined
15 Nov 2011
Messages
3,583
Location
Cambridge
TfL describe 'good service' as one where trains are still moving, and have regular intervals between them. Apparently from the philosophy of "these passengers don't need to reroute" which is somewhat reasonable.

Unfortunately, I can also see it is somewhat reasonable for a passenger to interpret 'good service' as the regular intended frequency.

Perhaps an extra status is needed to fill the gap between 'good service' and 'minor delays' — something like 'good amended service'.
 

matt_world2004

Established Member
Joined
5 Nov 2014
Messages
3,638
TfL describe 'good service' as one where trains are still moving, and have regular intervals between them. Apparently from the philosophy of "these passengers don't need to reroute" which is somewhat reasonable.

Unfortunately, I can also see it is somewhat reasonable for a passenger to interpret 'good service' as the regular intended frequency.

Perhaps an extra status is needed to fill the gap between 'good service' and 'minor delays' — something like 'good amended service'.
Reduced service or minor delays would cover it when there are minor delays passengers don't have to reroute.
 

Starmill

Veteran Member
Associate Staff
Events Co-ordinator
Joined
18 May 2012
Messages
17,972
Location
Manchester
It's pretty weird that if they're running a reduced service in accordance with a timetable described as "emergency" they still think "good service" is appropriate.

I cna understand what they're trying to get at with "good service", but no ordinary meaning of the words "good" and "emergency" appears to be compatible in this context.
 

Watershed

Established Member
Joined
26 Sep 2020
Messages
3,551
Location
UK
TfL describe 'good service' as one where trains are still moving, and have regular intervals between them. Apparently from the philosophy of "these passengers don't need to reroute" which is somewhat reasonable.

Unfortunately, I can also see it is somewhat reasonable for a passenger to interpret 'good service' as the regular intended frequency.

Perhaps an extra status is needed to fill the gap between 'good service' and 'minor delays' — something like 'good amended service'.
I think a more useful term might be 'no disruption'. But I doubt TfL are about to rip up their service indicators for an amended timetable.
 

rebmcr

Established Member
Joined
15 Nov 2011
Messages
3,583
Location
Cambridge
It's pretty weird that if they're running a reduced service in accordance with a timetable described as "emergency" they still think "good service" is appropriate.

I cna understand what they're trying to get at with "good service", but no ordinary meaning of the words "good" and "emergency" appears to be compatible in this context.
I think it's definitely a result of departmental silo-ing:

• The planning/timetabling/rostering departments at TfL solve the problem of reduced staffing by creating the emergency timetable.

• The service control department then runs that timetable just like they would any other timetable, with no further issues, and to them, that's 'good'.

Joining the dots seems obvious to us on the outside (and it would certainly be better if they did), but I can understand why it's hard to see for them looking out.
 

Nym

Established Member
Joined
2 Mar 2007
Messages
8,733
Location
Somewhere, not in London
It used to be when it wasn't politicised that Journey Time Capability and headways available defined how "Good" service was.
By the handbook back in my day, this would be "Special Service"
 

matt_world2004

Established Member
Joined
5 Nov 2014
Messages
3,638
Tfl Rail use the term reduced service when engineering works prevent the Hayes terminators running even though that's timetabled too
 

riceuten

Member
Joined
23 May 2018
Messages
217
I'm just waiting for someone to blame "lazy tube drivers" and quote their pay/annual leave entitlement and my day will be complete.
 

Journeyman

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2014
Messages
6,278
It used to be when it wasn't politicised that Journey Time Capability and headways available defined how "Good" service was.
By the handbook back in my day, this would be "Special Service"
I worked in the Network Operations Centre when the current "good service-minor delays-severe delays" terminology was introduced. Generally it works, but there was a bit of debate and argument about it - this is one of the times it's not so good.
 

Mojo

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
7 Aug 2005
Messages
18,799
Location
0035
The Service status matrix has been released under FoI in the past and also shared on this forum before (https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/transp.../foi-request-detail?referenceId=FOI-1999-1920).

In effect it’s the equivalent of every other train (at least on the Uxbridge branch) are being cancelled, which as per the above pdf would still display good service.

It is quite frustrating how this level of information is always provided at stations but seemingly very rarely online. See also the other thread where there’s often posters at stations advertising an early shutdown due to lack of night turn service control staff, but information is rarely provided online.

I do however note that the present status on the Uxbridge branch is displayed as Minor delays, so there must be even more missing. I did note as I was shopping in Sainsbury’s at Uxbridge this morning 3 Met trains in the sidings there - it’s usually completely empty during the middle of the day, save for the Piccadilly line train doing the rusty rail / training moves.
 

Snow1964

Established Member
Joined
7 Oct 2019
Messages
1,246
Location
West Wiltshire
When was the term Special Service discontinued, as this would seem more appropriate.

TfL are seriously misusing the term good, as dictionary defines it as having the required qualities or of a high standard, which doesn’t seem appropriate to a heavily thinned service
 

bcarmicle

Member
Joined
11 May 2018
Messages
39
The problem with Special Service is that Special is not a particularly descriptive adjective. For example, any of the following could be legitimately described as special:
  • A peak-level service during the off-peak e.g. due to an event taking place
  • Alternate trains stopping at alternate stations, e.g. for crowd management
  • Services with different routes/stops/termini to normal, e.g. the District/H&C service described in this thread
  • A planned part-line closure
To be clear, I don't think good service is appropriate in this case; I'm just not convinced special is a better term.
 

Surreytraveller

Established Member
Joined
21 Oct 2009
Messages
1,989
The problem with Special Service is that Special is not a particularly descriptive adjective. For example, any of the following could be legitimately described as special:
  • A peak-level service during the off-peak e.g. due to an event taking place
  • Alternate trains stopping at alternate stations, e.g. for crowd management
  • Services with different routes/stops/termini to normal, e.g. the District/H&C service described in this thread
  • A planned part-line closure
To be clear, I don't think good service is appropriate in this case; I'm just not convinced special is a better term.
Special would prompt someone to enquire, though!
 

AJW12

Member
Joined
20 Feb 2018
Messages
103
Location
Ickenham/Edinburgh
It’s more about the communication I have the issue with. For example - I’ve attached one of the comms that was sent out during the lockdown when they changed the timetable because nobody was travelling. This is useful because you then know what to expect. And, as mentioned above, it was described as “Special Service”.

But this was done without any notice, no communication and the TfL website has either read “minor delays” or “good service” when realistically, 15 mins on the branch is much longer than usual. The website did actually temporarily this afternoon say “Special service - a temporary timetable is operating with longer gaps in service” but it’s mysteriously gone again. All the trains’ running numbers tonight are 7xx (as they were earlier) rather than 4xx so it’s obviously an amended timetable.

It’s also, particularly on the Met line, irritating when we get such woolly service statuses, and we can’t see which trains are/aren’t running. If it was National Rail you’d be able to see specific cancellations and a specific timetable of running trains, whereas it doesn’t seem fair that TfL just runs with a “wait and see” approach.
 

Attachments

  • 5BA77CF7-23A7-404C-AF86-C8EF72CBDB61.png
    5BA77CF7-23A7-404C-AF86-C8EF72CBDB61.png
    1.2 MB · Views: 77

Surreytraveller

Established Member
Joined
21 Oct 2009
Messages
1,989
It’s more about the communication I have the issue with. For example - I’ve attached one of the comms that was sent out during the lockdown when they changed the timetable because nobody was travelling. This is useful because you then know what to expect. And, as mentioned above, it was described as “Special Service”.

But this was done without any notice, no communication and the TfL website has either read “minor delays” or “good service” when realistically, 15 mins on the branch is much longer than usual. The website did actually temporarily this afternoon say “Special service - a temporary timetable is operating with longer gaps in service” but it’s mysteriously gone again. All the trains’ running numbers tonight are 7xx (as they were earlier) rather than 4xx so it’s obviously an amended timetable.

It’s also, particularly on the Met line, irritating when we get such woolly service statuses, and we can’t see which trains are/aren’t running. If it was National Rail you’d be able to see specific cancellations and a specific timetable of running trains, whereas it doesn’t seem fair that TfL just runs with a “wait and see” approach.
Probably someone's tried to put information out there to the public, but some manager has objected because it gives a bad impression. Its all about PR these days, rather than accurate information
 

AJW12

Member
Joined
20 Feb 2018
Messages
103
Location
Ickenham/Edinburgh
Probably someone's tried to put information out there to the public, but some manager has objected because it gives a bad impression. Its all about PR these days, rather than accurate information
You’re probably right there. The whiteboard sign at Uxbridge has now been replaced with a proper printed poster saying there’ll be temporary timetable “into next week”, saying the effect is “there may be longer gaps between trains”.

Just seems to significantly understate the size of the reduction, which amounts to a 60% cut in peak time trains, 50% off peak.
 

Mojo

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
7 Aug 2005
Messages
18,799
Location
0035
Just seems to significantly understate the size of the reduction, which amounts to a 60% cut in peak time trains, 50% off peak.
Also not very helpful is the later first train. I’m a regular user of the first train on the Uxbridge branch & like on most Underground lines, it is very busy. At the present service usage level, probably the busiest train of the day, and it’s been completely axed from the schedule.
Hopefully this will be sorted soon, as I’d not actually be able to get to work on time if it doesn’t run, and given the high number of users I’m probably not alone. Not really an ideal state of affairs given that the only way of finding out is a scrawled whiteboard at a station - it isn’t detailed online, which isn’t very good given that one of the few times of the day people actually rely on a timetable on the Underground.
 

philthetube

Established Member
Joined
5 Jan 2016
Messages
2,867
I am waiting for large bungs to be offered to recent retirees for them to come back for a couple of months. :D :D
 

Horizon22

Established Member
Associate Staff
Jobs & Careers
Joined
8 Sep 2019
Messages
3,517
Location
London
Londonder complains about rail being only every 15 or 20 mins. Smell the roses, to the rest if the country that is a substantial uplift.

London is also substantially busier and densely populated than the rest of the country.

The reasons for this reduction I think are obvious, but TfLs normally stellar passenger communications have definitely been a bit second rate recently.
 

Taunton

Established Member
Joined
1 Aug 2013
Messages
6,871
In think the whole thing is tied up with management objectives leading to bonus and performance assessment measured against percentage of "Good Service". The criteria for this seem to have been dumbed down over the years. You might as well make it a painted sign and save the electricity. A bit like those "Crossrail opening 2018" notices that could be still seen around in 2020.

I did comment a while ago that a planned "all service cancelled" would lead to a "Good Service", because it is measured against the plan.

It's not only frequency. Disruption on the Jubilee Line westbound in the morning peak at Canning Town, with fewer trains than normal, led to passengers being unable to get in there, train after train, as they were all arriving already crush loaded, to the extent that the station entrance had to be closed, but the signs there still read "Good Service". I wrote about this a while ago.
 

stuu

Member
Joined
2 Sep 2011
Messages
583
It would be better to have:
Normal/timetabled service
Reduced service
Minor delays
Serious delays
Don't bother

Or something. Calling it a good service when there is only a third of normal trains is clearly well outside most people's definition
 

Hadders

Established Member
Senior Fares Advisor
Joined
27 Apr 2011
Messages
9,116
This analysis from Diamond Geezer is worth a read

If you've ever found yourself sitting on a delayed tube train while a loudspeaker on the platform booms out "There is a good service on all lines", you may have wondered what the hell a 'good service' actually means.


TfL have an official definition as part of their Service Status Criteria, a set of documents which has recently been revealed through a Freedom of Information request. As you might expect, it's complicated.

First of all, as you probably know, a sliding scale of delay and disruption exists. Suspended is the worst, then Part suspended, then Severe delays, then Minor delays, then Good service. Good service is the default if none of the others have kicked in.

An extra (secret) category exists, visible only to TfL staff, and that's Initial Service Alert. Here's the definition:
"When an incident occurs that results in the service coming to a stand for a period that is likely to be five minutes or less, an initial service alert (ISA) may be issued. Where an ISA is issued, minor delays will be declared automatically if there is no train movement after the five minutes has elapsed. The start time of an ISA is wheel-stop time or incident start time."
Sometimes the incident which caused the Initial Service Alert goes away quickly, and the public are none the wiser. But if the clock ticks past five minutes, 'Minor delays' kicks in and the new status is broadcast to the world.

The rules for what counts as a delay vary from line to line, and are usually different in peak hours to off-peak. To keep things really simple, let's start off with the Waterloo and City line. With only two stations, it all comes down to what time it is and whether trains have been cancelled or not.

Waterloo and City line - service status
Core time
(8-9am, 5.30-6.30pm)
Other times
MINOR DELAYS
1 cancellation​
2 cancellations​
SEVERE DELAYS
2 cancellations​
3 cancellations​
SUSPENDED
No movement for 15 minutes
Derailment
Person under a train​

At the height of the rush hour it only takes a single cancelled train for the W&C to exhibit Minor delays. It takes two trains to hit Severe delays, whereas at other times two cancelled trains is only enough for Minor delays. No trains at all for quarter of an hour, or an unfortunate incident, is enough to escalate the official status to Suspended.

The Circle and Hammersmith & City lines are the next simplest.

Circle and Hammersmith & City lines - service status
MINOR DELAYS2 consecutive cancellations
3× normal headway
Stoppage between 10-15 minutes
70-85% of scheduled trains in service
SEVERE DELAYS3 consecutive cancellations
4× normal headway
<70% of scheduled trains in service
SUSPENDEDNo movement of trains for 15 minutes

Four different factors are now in play to determine the status of the line - the intervals between trains, the speed of trains, the length of time trains have been stopped and the percentage of scheduled trains in service. Someone in the control room is checking all these conditions, and as soon as one is triggered the appropriate line status is declared.

Trains on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines are generally timetabled ten minutes apart. One cancelled train triggers nothing, despite leaving a 20 minute gap on the affected line. Two cancelled trains trigger Minor delays and three cancelled trains trigger Severe delays. A gap of three times the normal headway automatically triggers Minor delays all by itself. At its most extreme, there can be a gap of 29 minutes on the Hammersmith & City line and the service status will still say Good service.

The Victoria line is the next simplest... and it's not simple.

Victoria line - service status
Core time
(7-9.30am, 4.30-7pm)
Other times
MINOR DELAYSHeadways3× normal lasting >10 mins4× normal lasting >15 mins
Trains moving slowly>10 mins of blocking back with 3× normal headway>10 mins of blocking back with 3× normal headway
Stoppage/Sit downup to 5 minutesup to 10 minutes
Scheduled trains in service75-85%70-85%
SEVERE DELAYSHeadways4× normal lasting >15 mins5× normal lasting >20 mins
Trains moving slowly>15 mins of blocking back and/or trains terminating early>20 mins of blocking back and/or trains terminating early
Stoppage/Sit down5-10 minutes10-15 minutes
Scheduled trains in service<75%<70%
SUSPENDED
No movement of trains for 15 minutes​

Ouch. Perhaps it's easiest to consider this the other way round.

If you see Minor delays on the Victoria line off-peak, this could mean a 15 minute period with long gaps between trains, it could mean a 10 minute period with trains being turned back early, it could mean 5-10 minutes with no trains moving or it could mean only 70% of the timetabled trains are in service.

If you see Severe delays on the Victoria line during the rush hour, this could mean a 15 minute period with very long gaps between trains, it could mean a 15 minute period with trains being turned back early, it could mean 5-10 minutes of no trains moving or it could mean less than three-quarters of the timetabled trains are in service.

Service status is a catch-all headline with a myriad of possible causes.

I won't delve into the intricacies of the other tube lines because they're even more complicated. Every other line is divided into central and peripheral sections, with different rules for each as well as different rules at different times. For example on the Central line any 10 minute stoppage between White City and Leytonstone triggers Severe delays, whereas that takes 20 minutes on the rest of the line. The furthest branches of the Metropolitan line stay on Good service for longer when trains run slowly, but move to Minor delays more quickly when there are cancellations.

Night Tube services have their own rules - for example here's the Piccadilly line.

Piccadilly line (Night tube) - service status
MINOR DELAYSSEVERE DELAYSSUSPENDED
Trains at a stand
over 30 minsover 45 minsover 60 mins
Gap in service
over 30 minsover 45 minsover 60 mins
Consecutive cancellations
234

One missing train, i.e. a 20 minute gap, still counts as Good service. A 30 minute gap is only Minor delays. Meanwhile it takes a full hour of stoppage for the Night Tube service on the Piccadilly line to be deemed Suspended. This might be worth knowing if you're ever trying to get home in the early hours.

If you're interested, the Freedom of Information request also includes the official Service Status Criteria for the DLR, Trams, TfL Rail and the Overground, each of which takes a slightly different approach.

As a final example, if you see Severe delays on the Overground this could mean trains at a stand on the main East London Line route for over 20 minutes, or at a stand for over 30 minutes on any of the other lines, or a gap in service over 20 minutes on the main East London Line route, or a gap of three times the line frequency on any of the other lines, or a train running over 30 minutes late or two consecutive trains cancelled or two consecutive trains turned short on any of the other lines. Basically, Severe delays on the Overground tells passengers bugger all.

The system behind these Service Status Criteria may be complex, and a blunt-edged tool, but has at least been designed to be objective based on hard data, and to avoid unnecessary escalation. And that's why you might see or hear a Good service being announced when the immediate evidence looks somewhat different. Minor delays aren't always that minor, and Severe delays can be particularly severe.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top