Friday 8 March 2024

Completing The Incomplete

The Not So Super Superloop

Removed from the above (by fbb!) are three routes SL4, SL6 and SL8 which are not part of the "Loop" and never will be. Nobody can offer a good reason why they are numbered in the Superloop sequence.

(click on the map to enlarge) For those of our readers who have been exiled on the planet Zog for several months, or for those who only have a passing interest in things of the Metropolis, the above is a crude (it's VERY crude) diagram of Mayor Sadiq Khan's vanity project in his election year.

Perhaps fbb's cynicism is misplaced, but your perceptive blogger (?) imagines a conversation something like this at London's mayoral HQ.

KHAN : I ned something spectacular to win me votes in the Toryland suburbs.

SPIN DOCTOR : How about putting on lots of new Express bus routes running in a circle through all the leafy Torylands? It will cost a bob or two but should win you at least a few tens of thousands of votes.

KHAN : Great. My dad was a bus driver. Get it done as quickly as possible; don't worry too much about the detail.

So, after one renumbering and one second thought south of the Thames, the whole caboodle is now operating. Publicity has been poor, as usual, with no timetables or maps and the last to appear (SL2) couldn't even manage proper destination blinds!
Above is from Roger French's blog about the last super link recently added.

Loopily Looping The Loop

So for this posting, fbb has planned an intellectual but imaginary full circuit of the "Loop" starting with SL1 and finishing with SL10.

Because TfL keeps its timetables secret, fbb has again used the excellent resources of Robert Munster to which he has added an all stops diagram created by Geoff Marshall. In due course fbb will aim to create a proper geographically accurate map.

SL1 - North Finchley to Walthamstow
A bus boing it ...
... and a timetable extract.
The planned journey:-
North Finchley 0958
Walthamstow 1041

SL2 Walthamstow to North Woolwich
This, of course, is where the loop doesn't. It is also the route that was launched recently with no blinds and no departure lists at the stops. Sadiq's secrecy stands supreme!
But Mr Munster has a proper timetable!

The planned journey:-
Walthamstow 1053
North Woolwich 1203

The Yawning Gap ... 
... and 472
The gap is actually much more yawning than the Superloop super circle diagram suggests. You need to insert another bus route in addition to tunnel/ferry from Woolwich to Thamesmead to "mind the gap"

fbb has chosen the 472 to fill the yawning as it stops near the Woolwich end of the fluvial super interruption!
He has allowed 30 minutes for the river crossing which gives a backup if the foot tunnel is closed. The Free Ferry can be much slower. 

Woolwich Arsenal station times are shown.
The planned journey:-
Woolwich Arsenal 1233
Thamesmead 1259

SL3 - Thamesmead to Bromley
All stops diagram
For some reason this timetable has a very large number of time points!
The planned journey:-
Thamesmead 1308
Bromley North 1415

SL4 - not a Superloop route

SL5 - Bromley to Croydon
This is the only single deck Superloop route ...
... and it is also the shortest.
The planned journey:-
Bromley North 1420
Croydon 1453

SL6 - not a Superloop route

SL7 - Croydon to Heathrow
This is a straight renumbering of the former X26, once part of Green Line 726. 
To make it super for Superloop, the frequency was doubled to every 15 minutes. 

Consistency is a fine thing, but all the other SL services are every 12 minutes (15 mins evenings and Sundays)!
It is also the longest route which makes the circular route diagram a bit of a nonsense.

The planned journey:-
Croydon 1508
Heathrow 1658

SL8 - not a Superloop route

SL9 - Heathrow to Harrow
This was formerly X140 and before that 140. A simple renumbering ...
... with an increase in frequency again.
The planned journey:-
Heathrow 1711
Harrow 1808

SL10 - Harrow to North Finchley
The final map ...
... and the final bus in what would be a very long day!
 The planned journey:-
Harrow 1815
North Finchley 1902

The whole circuit, using Saturday times, would take a smidgen over nine hours with a generous easy interchange at Woolwich.

Extra breaks would be needed for "personal purposes pertaining to the letter P" and some form of refreshment would also be essential. The bonus of Mr Khan's profligacy is that frequencies will allow multiple breaks without compromising the total circuit.

It is more likely to be compromised by the participant running off from an interchange screaming with an onset of omnibological insanity!

There is a bit of detailed research to be done at Woolwich and Croydon but with those exceptions, buses arrive and depart from the same locations.

fbb will, as time progresses, take a look at each segment, with an eye to revealing all the excitement that can be seen en route and at the interchange points; and yes, very yes, the old bloke would just love to have the energy to do the whole lot in one go.

But, simply, that energy level is gone for ever. It has to be a dream.

Whether the whole circuit remains, as Transport for London wrestles with repeated budget crises, is very debatable indeed. It is odd, is it not, that at a time of increased stringency, TfL can pour resources into, possibly, up to 100 extra buses** on these routes when cut-backs are the order of the day elsewhere in the city.

Vanity project indeed!

See also "Borismaster"!!
Nuff said!

Advice from fbb to Mrs fbb.
Wouldn't the fried eggs cook better without their shells?

It's Election Year For The Mayor!
And everything is really lovely!

up to 100 extra buses** is misleading and fbb is grateful to Roger French who replied in meticulous detail to a panic enquiry. PVR (peak vehicle requirement) for each Superloop route is as follows. But you need to delete other routes that have been reduced and the previous requirements when SL7 was X26.
Even so, 78 extra buses, most of which are working long, long days, is a huuuuge extra cost. fbb was quite pleased that he guessed "up to 100" even if the overall total was only 98!

 Next Variety blog : Saturday 9th March 


  1. I suspect most "loop-the-loop" journeys made by enthusiasts won't start at SL1 - they will start with either the SL2 and go anti-clockwise finishing with the SL3, or the other way round. It's worth noting the TfL's 2023/2024 funding settlement with the Government explicitly allocated £6 million for increasing bus services in Outer London, hence the seeming rush to get the Superloop routes into operation (TfL managed it all* in less than nine months).

    * except the SL4 which will start when Silvertown Tunnel opens next year.

  2. I tried to do Bromley - Harrow on the SL5 followed by the SL7 and then the SL9 in one hit . . . I managed the SL5 and the SL7 to Kingston before I gave up . . . there's only so much sitting in traffic on an "express" bus that the bottom can manage!!
    Good luck to the first circumnavigatory adventurers . . . I have a life !!