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I assume you have been watching Geoff Marshall’s videos recently, learning which tube stations are the least used – as well as reading that he wont cover the Waterloo & City (W&C) or Emirates Air Line because these are single point to point trips – and cannot have a station that is more, or less, used than the other. Let’s have a look at these and see what can be done in terms of falsifiability and the problem of demarcation then add to this bizarre and curious mix something I would sort of describe as ‘The Roding Valley paradox.’ That wont be as exciting as the Monty Hall problem but it’ll be something of essence 🙂

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No Waterloo & City or Emirates Airline in the ‘least used stations’ series!

Let’s examine the Emirates Airline very briefly and get that out of the way. It isn’t equal in terms of station usage and it hasn’t even got the same entry/exits stats for both of its stations. There’s a simple answer. Greenwich Peninsula is the more used station. First all its services begin and end here for the simple reason the cars set out from here first thing in the morning and end their working day’s run here – for this is where the cars are stored overnight.

There is also an inequality in terms of the two stations used. Greenwich Peninsula has more passengers in terms of round trips (being those where one doesn’t need to get off at the other end, eg the champagne flights, discovery flights and so on) than Royal Docks has. So there we have it. There’s no need to make it the butt of April Fools jokes with regards to this either…

Now for the other bigger fry. Many people assume the Waterloo and City has the exact same numbers in terms of entry and exit and its quite true (apart from perhaps kidnappings of passengers or even entire tube trains – something which may well indicate its time to get Department S involved.) Certainly in a lot of ways the entry and exit figures for both Waterloo and Bank are similar, but let’s not assume having sight of any given figures suggests a finality.

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Look! No barriers at Waterloo’s W&C Line entrances.

We can see TfL has no real record of passengers’ complete journeys, with a few exceptions as Geoff Marshall has himself pointed out in his videos (such as getting from Heathrow to Upminster for £1.50 via certain routes and touching on certain Oyster readers) thus TfL does not know if passengers have used the Waterlooo & City when travelling between two points that could involve a run on the W&C or a number of other routes.

As TfL itself showed with a trial conducted in 2017, a lot of people travelling from King’s Cross to Waterloo used routes which involved other lines too.

It was found seventeen different routes were used between those two points, and just TWO of those seventeen routes involved using the Waterloo & City. Contrary to assumptions these two routes were some of the least used! This shows without any additional means it pretty difficult to measure actual traffic on the Waterloo & City (like it is too in measuring routes using other stations/lines combined.)

Thus exactly who or how many use the W&C is not known. Certainly the barriers at Bank can measure those coming straight off the W&C into the City but it cant measure those entering the system at Waterloo and effecting an interchange at Bank. But let me tell you if there were barriers at Waterloo W&C this would show Bank was the lesser used station! The simple reason for this is because the stats would show Bank as having a split between those exiting and interchanging, something which cant presently be done at Waterloo without major alterations.

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Blackhorse Road is a very busy station despite being the ‘least used’ on the Victoria Line!

Here are Geoffs figures so far from his videos (although these stats too can be gleaned from TfL’s somewhat outdated sources.)

Victoria Blackhorse Road 8.9 million.

Jubilee Canons Park 3.07 million.

Circle/H&C Goldhawk Road 2.14 million.

Northern Mill Hill East 1.3 million.

Bakerloo South Kenton 1.2 million

At the time of writing South Kenton was the most recent video in Geoff’s series.

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South Kenton on the Bakerloo.

The next ones that will come up are in descending order as follows:

Upminster Bridge 1.15 million.

North Ealing 0.83 million.

Chorleywood 0.75 million.

And the winner? Roding Valley with 0.37 million per year.

Thats quite low considering Buckhurst Hill nearby has 2.30 million and Woodford with 5.8 million. Both are far more popular than Roding Valley because they have bus services and car park facilities and major shopping centres nearby.

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Roding Valley – is it really the tube’s least used station?

However to suggest Roding Valley is at a nadir because of its location, lack of buses, car parks or frequency of services is not the entire story – and its time things were looked at somewhat differently.

I present the Roding Valley paradox….

One can deduct Roding Valley station is served by ONE tube route (this being the Central Line of course.)

What if we find a tube line that has lower numbers by applying the same philosophy as at Roding Valley – eg it must be the number of passengers coming off just one tube route. Its a bit of a tall order as Roding Valley is already the lowest denominator. So we need a different way of looking at this.

What about routes that share different tube services? There are several options around the tube system, however the Bakerloo/Overground, District/South West Trains and Metropolitan/Chiltern do not work because the second line isnt even a tube so these routes do not work.

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And no, its not Ealing Common even though its a District/Piccadilly station!

This leaves us with those sections of the Piccadilly/District and Piccadilly/Metropolitan lines that are shared. The former are quite well used whilst the latter are very lightly used and a number of stations on these routes are very the bottom of the least used stations lists.

The five stations between Rayners Lane and Ubxridge have considerably low usage and Ickenham is the lowest at 1.17 million, barely beating Upminster Bridge which is fourth from bottom in Geoff’s list.

What am I getting at here? This is what. Let’s divide the number of passengers off both the Metropolitan and Piccadilly and see what happens with those figures…

The Piccadilly generally provides six to eight trains in the rush hours plus three to four off peaks against the Met’s nine or ten peaks and eight off peaks so the distribution at first glance should be two thirds allocation to the Met and one third to the Piccadilly.

This generalisation means figures of 0.78 million for the Met and 0.39 million for the Piccadilly in terms of how each line serves Ickenham station. Thus using Ickenham as a single point entry/exit off the Piccadilly is not enough to beat Roding Valley.

However I am certain the figures for Ickenham are far lower than those I have given. Can we solve the ‘problem’ of having Roding Valley at the very bottom of the least used station ratings and instead find Ickenham to be the winning station?

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The Piccadilly used to have a more intensive service on the Uxbridge branch by reversing trains here at Ruislip sidings but not anymore.

To begin with the Piccadilly’s share of passengers should be much smaller because its Uxbridge services do not start until just before nine am at weekends – also the Met has nine trains that run in the am peaks before the Piccadilly even commences its services (apart from that very early solitary service.)

Let’s count the Uxbridge trains in total… The Piccadilly has 76 trains throughout a full weekday. The Metropolitan by default provides 76 trains by the time just half a day has been reached so this gets interesting… By the end of the day the Met has a total of 159 trains. This means the Met provides eighty four more trains than the Piccadilly. But do not forget the Piccadilly has hardly any services in the mornings on weekends… so let’s digress further…

On Saturdays the Met has approximately ten trains less than on weekdays. The Piccadilly however has 49 on that day – a big difference because that’s twenty seven trains less than on weekdays. On Sundays the Met again has ten less trains whilst the Piccadilly has just one less.

Using those train numbers as ratios plus the 1.17 million for Ickenham, in theory it means there are 323000 passengers coming off the Piccadilly Line, whilst 847164 come off the Metropolitan. I mean if you’ve ridden the Piccadilly to/from Uxbridge you’ll know its somewhat threadbare in terms of passenger usage out of peak hours…

By comparing these numbers Ickenham has 47000 less passengers coming off a single tube service than Roding Valley. The total number reaching the gate line is different of course as I’m well aware. The point I am making is the numbers reaching a station off just one tube line – even though there are two lines in question that inflate the numbers somewhat larger.

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Ickenham – the least used station? Source: Google Streets

Therefore the station with the lowest denominator is Ickenham and NOT Roding Valley. Let’s digress again. Roding Valley has 370000 for numbers from a single tube line and Ickenham has 323000, again from a single tube line.

These stats also show something of great interest. Far MORE people are using the fewer trains available on the Hainault loop!

In the day times there are approximately 74 on the Hainault loop against the Piccadilly’s 76 Uxbridge trains, so it beats me why the Piccadilly continues to serve Uxbridge when it barely props up the numbers.

By this reasoning the Hainault loop should have more trains – seeing TfL is to all intents and purposes providing a social benefit service running the Piccadilly down to Uxbridge and any increase in the Hainault services would not constitute a ‘social benefit’ – which should greatly please the top honchos at TfL!

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Hainault for the Roding Valley – are its passengers really being treated fairly?

Quite the opposite is happening. In fact the Central Line has a new timetable due this year or early next year and in that they revert to the four car shuttle services instead of the full length through trains from western destinations that have been the norm on the Hainault loop for quite a few years.

The Roding Valley paradox brings up this important question – why are its passengers being treated with a more cavalier attitude than those using the Piccadilly’s services west of Rayners Lane?

Certainly some people will say ‘look your figures are wrong because the Piccadilly Line takes people also to other stations including the Ruislips, Hillingdon and Uxbridge, as well as providing through services to South Harrow and points down to Acton Town and Hammersmith.’

Of course that is right! I haven’t any qualms with that but perhaps its time to look at some of these things in a different light. Besides, the point of this was to show how we could get figures showing a tube line which delivered far less passengers to a certain station than Roding Valley.

That isn’t anything to do with people being taken on past Ickenham towards Uxbridge, but what we can see is comparing Ickenham with Roding Valley, Grange Hill, Chigwell, there’s a perverse inequality and its something to consider.

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Should Rayners Lane once again become the Piccadilly’s terminus with peaks only to Uxbridge?

Enjoy the remainder of Geoff’s excellent series of videos!

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