Something I have been interested in doing for the last year or so is the tube challenge. Having failed to find an appropriate date (or challenging companion) for most of the period, Ben Wormsley and I agreed to attempt the challenge at some point this summer. Between holidays, trips and work experience, we managed to agree on Thursday, 17th July 2014. Ben did it for charity too.
— Tom Kell (@theTomKell) July 16, 2014
First train of the day was the 6.00am Metropolitan Line from Rickmansworth to Chesham. The driver seemed a little surprised that someone was actually getting on, but we left on time and arrived at Chesham early with the whole train to ourselves.
First train up to Chesham. Driver looked shocked. https://t.co/WKLc8oSpXY— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
The train left Chesham slightly late, although we had a generous connection time at Amersham so this was not an issue.
Up to Amersham where we talk to a friendly man to collect a witness statement (we stopped soon after), and down to Moor Park for a Watford train which was running almost 5 minutes late. Another statement was collected here from a woman. Thanks to both of you!
— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
We made our connection out of Watford, and exited the network at North Harrow to make our way to Rayners Lane. There, I saw an H10 bus labelled as ‘Harrow,’ forgetting the fact the H9 and H10 are a pair running in a circle, although luckily I checked with the driver. Onto an H9 within 1 minute, and off to Rayners Lane.
I then realised I had not left enough connection time to get our train to Uxbridge, so instead we ended up on the train behind. A man recognised what we were doing at this point, so a shout out to you! At Uxbridge, we ran across to a Piccadilly Line and had a slick 40 second turnaround. Back to Ickenham, for the popular, 15 minute walk/5 minute run to West Ruislip. But we were slightly too slow…
— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
Down the Central Line with the commuter crowd to White City instead of the originally planned East Acton for a reverse, which would save us a bit of time later. We collected our last witness statement on this journey from a male with a government email address, but unfortunately I can’t read it… Thanks anyway! In the meantime, I texted away with my good friend Sam Turner who would be waiting at Ealing Broadway, my home stop.
— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
We nearly miss Sam who is not paying attention whilst sitting on a bench, and leave on a slightly late District Line. Off to Ealing Common, where the Tube Challenge World Record holder, Geoff Marshall who I had been tweeting all morning said he would be waiting.
Ealing Common, and a slick 1 minute turn around onto a Piccadilly Line back to Rayners Lane, where Geoff gave us a few secrets about his world record run, although (unfortunately?) no hints on the route. Discussing various tube/life related things, we crossed over at Rayners Lane (with our first toilet stop) onto a Metropolitan Line. But…
Me: Wait a minute… semi-fast????
Geoff: It can’t be semi-fast, it’s from Uxbridge
Me: It said semi-fast… look it says semi-fast. Oh darn hopefully driver has made a mistake…
Arriving at Harrow-on-the-Hill, I discover we’re on a very late running train which is indeed running semi-fast (not stopping at Northwick Park or Preston Road), forcing us to change onto another train. 4 minutes later, we end up on another train which had come from Uxbridge.
Geoff leaves us to go to over to Kenton at Northwick Park while we reverse back at Preston Road, and we get some useful updates from him over the progress of a London Overground train up to Harrow & Wealdstone. A 3 minute run later, and crossing to the wrong side of the road (stupid sign) we make a slightly late running Overground, rejoining Geoff. Crossing over, we board a lazy Bakerloo Line which left 2 minutes late, and say our goodbyes to Geoff at Kenton. (If you’re reading Geoff, thanks so much for coming out!)
Still 30 mins down. Heading all the way to elephant & castle #TubeChallenge— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
Heading through Canary Wharf, Ben’s dad comes to meet us with some food and water, while his grandparents joined us from North Greenwich to West Ham with even more food and drink. Unfortunately, we just could not carry most of it so had return much of it…
3 minute c2c wait not too shabby 77/270 #TubeChallenge— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
We luck out at Upminster, catching a District Line within 5 minutes despite some severe delays earlier, although re-route at Mile End due to a possible long wait for a Circle Line train at Aldgate.
We crossed London, and catch the Overground south. Having planned to ‘cheat’ Olympia anyway, it was even more of a pain to see that, due to the earlier delays:
Oh my god saw a train coming into ken Olympia as soon as we were leaving on the overground #TubeChallenge— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
Train: I mean a District Line one… Click here to see the Olympia District Line story if you do not understand why this bothered me so much…
We waste time at West Brompton while I attempted to work out if we could get back and catch it (we couldn’t) and headed down to Wimbledon, meeting Nicolas Weninger on route who joined us for the next few hours. Ben also met two representatives from the charity he was supporting, Back Up Trust, at East Putney.
We catch a perfect, late running 93 bus outside Wimbledon station, and head to South Wimbledon. We turn at Morden, accidentally running onto the unused side platform having ducked under a barrier, although luckily still make it out within 2 minutes.
We head back to town, with a slick 30 second Brixton turnaround, and head to Aldgate. Thanks to the delays, while we just missed a Circle Line train by 2 minutes at our turnaround station, another was 4 minutes behind. At Tower Hill, I was busy discussing S stock train differences with Nick when a passionate member of LU staff, who was apprentice on the A Stock and seemed very fond of it got chatting to us. Thanks for talking to us! We do the short run to Aldgate East and catch the District Line back to Mile End.
We get a quick connection onto a Central Line terminating at Newbury Park, but we then get held at Leyton for nearly 10 minutes due to driver problems at Leytonstone.
Slow moving central, but only 5 minute wait for Hainaut loop behind the Newbury park terminator for a toilet stop153/270 #TubeChallenge— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
However, we don’t have long to wait for the once-every-20-minutes Hainault loop, and pass through Roding Valley, the least used Underground station.
At Woodford, we have a 5 minute wait for an Epping train, although when there we turn around in an amazing 3 minutes on the very same train due to the delays and a very speedy driver.
At this point I read of the tragic air disaster of MH17 in Ukraine, and take a moment to worry about the fact I am travelling on Malaysian Airlines in 3 weeks time…
Across to Leytonstone High Road on the Overground, and we catch a train just 15 minutes behind schedule. Another slick Victoria Line ‘in-and-out’ at Walthamstow in just 45 seconds, and down to Warren Street, where we say goodbye to Nick. We reverse at Goodge Street within a minute, and catch a direct Edgware train.
We meet another friend, Varun Jeyachandran at Golders Green, who greets us with two much appreciated bottles of water and joins us up to Edgware.
— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
We get stuck in traffic near Canons Park, which cost us a train (or maybe even two) and I was not quite bold enough to plead with the driver to let us off as I have done in the past…
In and out of Stanmore in a rather poor 2.5 minutes, and whilst we head back to town. Another friend, Yuki, quickly says hello and drops us a bottle of water at St. John’s Wood (much appreciated, once again).
At Baker Street we have to play ‘guess the first train East.’ I think we caught the right one, but I do not think it would have made a difference anyway.
Doubts are beginning to sink in, and we sit relatively silently on the S8 stock enjoying the air conditioned train…
Down to the Northern Line, where we are greeted by a busy platform and had to wait 7 minutes for a train. Which was heading to Edgware.
We headed up to Camden Town where another man heading to Euston for a London Midland service to Watford recognised what were doing and got chatting to me.
We dashed up to the High Barnet platform, where we had another 3 minute wait. At this point, I was seriously doubtful about our ability to finish, but was still hopeful and so did not say anything to my travelling companion…
Archway. Not sure if going to make Mill Hill East #TubeChallenge 210/270— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
Drat 13 minute wait for mill hill east #TubeChallenge— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
At a low, we headed up to High Barnet and managed to catch a late running 307 bus. But the doubts continued, and we stopped at the toilets at Oakwood where I checked working timetables on my phone. Over 5 minutes later, a train for Cockfosters finally arrives…
Having to wait for same train to leave from Cockfosters. Humph. #TubeChallenge 219/270— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
This put us down even more, meaning we were now running over half an hour late once again… We trudged back through town, luckily with very few other people on the train.
At Earl’s Court, we catch a train up to Edgware Road within a few minutes. Strangely, it had been described as Mansion House, even though the longer S Stock trains would not fit in the bay ‘terminating’ platform there…
We get a good Hammersmith and City Line connection at Edgware Road. But at this point, it fully dawned on me that we had a serious problem…
Paddington H&C 244/270. Can we do this? #TubeChallenge— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
At Hammersmith, we miss an Ealing train, even if we might not have got on it. If I had been thinking straight (it was 11pm…) I probably would have gone to Chiswick Park and run to Gunnersbury…
We catch a supposed Richmond train, running a little late. However, on departure from Hammersmith, I realise something strange is happening…
District Line train to Gunnersbury wat??? #TubeChallenge— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
Had this been a normal day, I probably would have filmed this unusual occurrence for my train videos channel. But I was tired, and had realised we could not finish, so I broke the news to Ben…
By this point, we could not face the 10 minute wait for another train to Richmond, and so we headed back to Turnham Green. We then decided that it would be pointless to head to Heathrow Terminal 5, not being able to get back and having not completed. And so, we bailed out, catching a late night District Line train to Ealing, and home, completing two more stations, on route passing the last train out of Ealing to run all the way through to Upminster. It was late, we were very tired, and I got my mum to pick us up from Ealing Broadway.
Well things didn’t work out. More tomorrow. Goodnight. #TubeChallenge— Tom Kell (@tkell97)
Stations visited: 257/270
Start time: 06:32.21
Finish time: around 23:40
Click here to read my thoughts about the day and some thank you messages.