As promised here are the answers to the Christmas Quiz. Comments are based on a limited number of responses sent in. Please mark your own work and tell us how you got on. The limited consensus available suggests the quiz was much harder this year. Answers are highlighted in bold.

If you haven’t tried the quiz and fancy doing so before looking at the answers you can find it here.

Some people chose to send in answers. Apart from being helpful in gauging how people got on it mad the question setter appreciate issues of unanticipated plausibly correct answers and where to set the threshold of exactness when awarding the point. As this gets taken into account when considering a marking strategy there is some small advantage in sending in your entry.

Question 1

We asked you to identify two similar mistakes in the Elizabeth line diagram shown and explain why technically they might not be regarded as errors.

This was meant to be an easy obvious question but it turned out not to be so with some plausible convoluted answers. One wrong answer concerned a failure to show interchanges with Heathrow Express at Heathrow and another argued that the symbols for disabled access at Ealing Broadway and Paddington were too simplistic and therefore wrong whilst admitting they were correct in the context of the Elizabeth line.

The intended answer was subsequently more-or-less given to you in this comment.

Errors circled in red

The correct answer to the first part, or at least the one intended, is that Ealing Broadway and Hayes & Harlington are shown as interchanges with other National Rail services by means of the red ‘double arrow’ symbol. Since May 2023 this has not been the case. 2 Marks.

We are sure this is just an oversight by TfL but you could argue that since the stations are served by three GWR services in each direction in each 24-hour period then, technically the symbols should be there. These GWR trains run in the middle of the night and the Elizabeth line does not run during these hours so there is no meaningful interchange and the symbol is unhelpful. It would be far more sensible to show these GWR trains in the Elizabeth line timetable whilst making it clear that these were GWR services terminating or starting from Paddington main line station and not Elizabeth line trains. 1 mark.

You could argue that the positioning services to and from Paddington to service the Greenford – West Ealing also provide some kind of interchange but this is a pretty useless interchange and these trains generally run empty or nearly empty anyway. Furthermore, they don’t serve Hayes & Harlington.

Question 2

The MP for Slough was upset by the ”dissatisfactory” service to and from London in the peak direction due to the removal of all non-stop GWR peak-period trains in the peak direction between Slough and Paddington. 2tph used to run to Paddington calling at various stations on the relief (slow) lines and 2tph that provided the fast service to and from Oxford used to call at Slough but this was removed in the 2023 timetable. 1 mark.

The essence of the answer needed for the point is that it was the loss of GWR services that was the issue and nothing to do with the service provided by the Elizabeth line.

Off-peak and against the peak flow in the peak period there is still a 2tph non-stop between Slough and Paddington but now it is provided by the GWR semi-fast trains and uses the relief lines.

This press report reports the MP’s dissatisfaction.

Curiously, the railway press (including ourselves) appear to have failed to notice this at the time and there seemed to be few complaints from Slough commuters who appear to be more than satisfied with an additional peak-hours limited stop Elizabeth line trains that run all the way to and from Central London as a replacement.

In an article in Modern Railways in August 2023 it was reported that GWR stated that they couldn’t path the semi-fast trains (Didcot – London Paddington) to call at Slough in the peak hours in the peak direction. Whilst not doubting this is true, one suspect GWR is quite happy not to have short distance (by their standards) crowding onto longer distance trains. For one thing it makes their semi-fast trains (all stations to Reading then Twyford, Maidenhead and London Paddington) more attractive to longer distance travellers who would pay considerably more.

Question 3

The exact missing words were Signalling Software Upgrades. Anything that makes it clear we are talking about a software upgrade to the signalling system is acceptable. A simple test would be if either part of the answer to this question mentions the word ‘software’ then the gist of the question has been answered. We were looking for something that was, as stated in the question, “a sign of the times”. Signalling upgrades are almost as old as railways. Closing the railway for software upgrades is a relatively new phenomenon which will become more common. 1 mark.

On 11th November 2023 the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines were closed entirely and the District and Metropolitan lines had partial but substantial closures. The Jubilee line was also closed. Note we asked for either the date or the lines involved. 1 mark.

The specific reason we were looking for to explain why this update was needed was to update the signalling system on both the Sub-Surface Railway and the Jubilee line so that Jubilee line trains could reach Neasden depot by crossing the southbound Metropolitan line in automatic train mode in readiness for the next phase of implementing automatic train operation on the Metropolitan line.

Alternatively, and equally validly, you could argue (as some did) that the update was needed to test the interface between the Hammersmith control centre (Sub-Surface lines) and Neasden control centre (Jubilee line).

However, if you made it clear that it was necessary to update the signalling software then that is good enough for the point as it is specific – just not the answer we were really looking for. 1 mark.

Question 4

TfL is intending to proceed with the West London Orbital Railway with a proposed opening of 2030. This will initially be run using diesel trains according to current plans so will add to diesel emissions to the ULEZ area. 1 mark.

Note that the question stated “for which some passive provision has already been made”. The Silvertown tunnel has got a little further than that. Passive provision has already been made for the West London Orbital Railway at Brent Cross West station which was opened in December 2023.

Question 5

D) 750,000 responses to ticket office closure proposals. 1 mark.

Question 6

Not surprisingly Heathrow Express that had a decline in usage in 2023 in contrast to all other TOCs (except Lumo). The figure was around 6%. Expect the decline to continue in future years as international travellers become more aware of the Elizabeth line services. 1 mark.

Question 7

This question concerned the westernmost exit possible on the DLR on London Underground strike days. We would not have been surprised if no-one got this correct although a look at the very careful wording of the question may have given a substantial clue.

The generally supplied answer was incorrectly given as Tower Gateway – unless you have evidence this was the case on some of the strike days. The DLR ran a full service which would appear to be incompatible with all trains terminating at Tower Gateway which only has a single terminating track sandwiched between two platforms – to allow passengers alighting and passengers boarding to be segregated.

In fact, trains terminated at Bank as normal even though Bank station was closed at street level. However, in order to enable passengers to enter and exit the DLR platforms to and from street level, there were sufficient staff on duty to enable passengers to use the Monument station entrance and exit. One person got this correct. 1 mark.

Question 8

Euston HS2 platforms started off as 11 planned then 10 then 6. If Euston rebuilding does not take place then there will be no HS2 platforms at all. 1 mark.

Question 9

If Sherlock Holmes in 2023 found something missing in Baker Street and located it near a museum it could only be the TfL lost property office which moved from Baker Street to a temporary location in Pelham Street by South Kensington station (the station for the Science Museum, National History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum). 1 mark.

The Lost Property office has now moved to its new permanent residence next to West Ham bus garage. 1 mark.

Question 10

The locations where the pictures were taken are:
a) Finsbury Park station Victoria line platforms. 1 mark.
b) Finsbury Park station Piccadilly line platforms. 1 mark.
c) Acton Depot (TfL museum depot). 1 mark.

The model at Acton Depot is supposed to depict a scene at Earl’s Court station. 1 mark.

The theme in common with all four pictures is that they depict a myth or at least something that is highly unlikely to be true. 1 mark.

When the Victoria line was built each station had a mosaic depicting something about the station to help passengers on the train more readily identify the station and also to provide a bit of artwork. For Finsbury Park a pair of crossed duelling pistols was chosen to symbolise the duels that supposedly took place in Finsbury Park.

The trouble with this is there is absolutely no evidence than a duel ever took place in Finsbury Park and it seems unlikely that the gentlemen of London would travel out to Finsbury Park for a duel when there are more convenient locations available nearby. And the local population was probably not the sort who would settle questions of honour by means of a duel.

It is thought that Finsbury Park was confused with Finsbury Fields (now Finsbury Square) in the City of London which seems a far more plausible location for duelling to take place.

In a similar manner the mosaic of balloons at Finsbury Park Piccadilly line platforms are allegedly supposed to depict hot-air balloons taking off from Finsbury Park. But again, it seems strange to chose this then out-of-the-way location a few miles from central London. Furthermore, it is well documented that the first hot air balloon flight in Britain took off from Finsbury Fields. There seems no reason for later flights to use Finsbury Park.

According to this Londonist article Why Are There Hot Air Balloon Mosaics At Finsbury Park Tube? the artist merely wished to give a feeling of elevation in a very deep tunnel. It is funny that of all the locations available to give this feeling, Finsbury Park station was chosen. Ironically, it is almost as if Finsbury Park was chosen for the balloon mosaics to make amends for getting the duelling thing wrong.

Many history books on London’s Underground have, in the past, reported as fact that the first baby born on the tube was given the names of Thelma Ursula Beatrice Eleanor. In fact, it is well documented that this is not the case and the name was only a humorous suggestion.

Finally there is a myth that a one-legged man called Bumper Harris rode up and down an escalator all day on the first escalator installed in Britain at Earl’s Court station to show how safe it was. Not surprisingly some people suggested this would not have the desired effect and in fact achieve the opposite effect.

The first trivial problem with the Bumper Harris story is that the escalator could only run in one direction. More suspiciously, despite the availability of cameras at the time and many pictures taken of the Underground there isn’t a single picture of Bumper Harris on the escalator. Surely this would have been a newsworthy item? There is a picture of someone who it is claimed is Bumper Harris but his legs aren’t in the picture! There is also a lot of hearsay evidence of people claiming to have known Bumper Harris but, again, this is not backed up by evidence.

Question 11

In 2023 the bus route 607 in North London was rebranded SL8 as part of the SuperLoop Network. The number 607 was given to the route because it replicated the limited stop service of the former tram number 607. 1 mark.

It could be argued that route 207 was the actual replacement of the tram service and the limited stop route 607 was named after route 207. Either way, it owed its number to the 607 tram.

The reason route 607 was not a true relic is because it was only inaugurated in 1990. You don’t need to get the year correct – just the fact it was not a direct replacement for the tram route. Other similar reasons concerning a lack of continuity would also be acceptable as an answer. 1 mark.

Alternatively one could argue that semantically relics and remnants only apply to physical objects.

Question 12

This picture was taken at Bank Junction which is now Buses and bicycles only Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. 1 mark.

Threadneedle Street for part of its length at the Bank end is now bicycles only. Identifying the road was made more difficult by being a photo taken at night but only Threadneedle Street is consistent with the exact layout depicted. 1 mark.

Question 13

Stratford International has been joined (since the pandemic) by Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International in not having any international trains. 1 mark.

Question 14

Yes. Trains do stop at City Thameslink on Sundays. 1 mark.

Northbound trains stop briefly in the platform to change traction power source from 750V d.c. third rail to 25kV a.c. overhead. The passenger doors of the train do not open. 1 mark.

Changing power source has to take place at City Thameslink so that, in the event of a problem, the train can either be diverted out the way into Smithfield sidings which it can do using 750V d.c. (ideal solution) or be reversed back to Blackfriars.

Question 15

City Airport DLR station is staffed during the day because it has a DLR-run information centre. It is not known if the staff present have any operational role (e.g. assist with station evacuation should that be necessary). 1 mark.

Question 16

The screenshot of an underground train (note lowercase ‘u’) is clearly of the Waterloo & City line in its British Rail days as indicated by the distinctive profile of the cab end. The screenshot is from the 1965 film ‘The Liquidator’ – a classic 1960s spy thriller sprinkled with black comedy that wasn’t a great success. One answer was not only correct but they also named the film it was from. No bonus point for naming the film but kudos deserved. 1 mark.

The screenshot was taken from around 30 seconds from the start in the trailer on YouTube.

Question 17

61016 is the non-urgent text number for British Transport Police. If said as 6-101-6 then the probable origin should be clear. 101 is the non-urgent (i.e. not 999) phone number for the police. 1 mark.

The answer given by the Sir Herbert Walker team (who seem to be one of only two entrant who have provided the fully correct answer) cannot be bettered.

101 is the non emergency number so they added a 6 (commonly used for texting) at each end.

Question 18

We believe this to be a LEZ/ ULEZ camera with suitable protection against those determined to destroy them. It certainly looks like a ULEZ camera although the detail cannot be seen in the photo. 1 mark.

Question 19

This is clearly going to be controversial.

It doesn’t matter how carefully one tries to word the question there is always the possibility of ambiguity. The instructions stated ” The intention is that they are genuinely useful intended interchanges not ‘coincidental’ ones. Both services must be in the same direction unless otherwise stated“. It would have been better if the latter sentence was worded ‘Both services must be travelling in the same direction unless otherwise stated ‘. This ambiguity led to an additional possible answer to question 19 C).

The question clearly stated cross-platform interchange. Changing trains on the same platform doesn’t count.

A) The only known example we can think of that meets the conditions is Barking (platforms 2/4 and 5/6 to interchange between the Underground and c2c services via Upminster
B) This is the classic case of Highbury and Islington (Victoria line and Great Northern Electrics on the Moorgate branch
C) The intended answer was Elmers End (tram to British Rail). Overlooked was the obvious answer of New Cross. Crystal Palace was not intended to be a valid answer as it was planned for cross-platform interchange in both directions. However, it is only actually timetabled to be available in one direction except for a couple late night trains so we will have to allow that. If you interpreted the instructions differently (as described above) then you could argue that there is a genuinely useful cross platform interchange at Richmond between the London Overground (platform 3) and the SWR service to Waterloo at platform 2.
D) West Ealing when leaving a train from Greenford and continuing to London on the Elizabeth line
E) Wimbledon. Trams arrive at platform 10 (A + B) from which there is cross platform connection to Thameslink services which serve platform 9 in both directions
F) Greenford (the other end of the West Ealing – Greenford shuttle) in a central bay platform for onward travel on the Central line in either direction

1 mark for a correct answer for each section giving a total of 6 marks.

Question 20

A difficult question. The route going along the Thames for a short length suggests it has to be an aircraft of some type. The sharp turn would suggest it is not an aeroplane and the specific route suggests controlled flight. It is, in fact, the route of an early R101 airship flight which was made for publicity purposes. 1 mark.

The diagram is taken from the book ‘Fatal Flight – The true story of Britain’s Last Great Airship’ which is an excellent read for those interested in the subject.

Some people did get this answer correct and one person even identified it as the route of R101.

Question 21

We thought this would be almost impossible but at least two of you got it. It is the Step Short memorial in Folkestone. The planning document submitted with Folkestone and Hythe district council (ref Y12/0742/SH) refers to the font as ‘London Underground Font’. 1 mark.

Let Us Know

You may like to tell us how you got on. Let us know in the comments. If you got most of the answers correct then how many did you get wrong and which ones were those?

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