please empty your brain below

The underground is filled with demonic lifeforms and snotty teens from Wembley. It would be best for everyone if the entire system was filled in with concrete and the aboveground areas surrounded by deadly high voltage razor wire.

There's a perfectly good reason for running rail replacement buses alongside regular bus routes, which is that they're much faster, as they only stop at stations and not at all the bus stops in between.

There are a number of occasions when lines are suspended that no RR services are provided, the advice being to 'use existing services'. I see little point in overlaying RR services on existing services.

Excellent post BTW, what I hope to see whenever I log in. When part 2 is finished how about you send it all to Boris?

I've been reading your blog for a long time, but until today I never had you down as a sadist.

Honestly I think you're mad for doing that although I suppose it's good to see the one picture you have is a modern bus. It was the case that a lot of rail replacement buses were at least 15 years old but I guess the low emission zone has put a stop to that within London.

I must admit if there are rail replacement buses I avoid making the journey at all as I've had too many bad experiences in the past. Particularly bad was a South West Trains service down in Devon where the driver somehow managed to drive the ancient coach onto a coned off lane of the A30 dual carriageway. Then stopped the coach to move some of the cones so he could pull back into the fast flowing traffic from stationary. Or another that refused to serve the station I wanted to get off at "because there is too much traffic" and told me to walk from the next stop instead (a mile away but up a steep hill). My confidence is also not helped by quite a few incidents over the years of double decker buses on rail replacements trying to go under low bridges and smashing into them. I remember another occasion in Cornwall when the rail company provided a single transit-van mini bus and seemed surprised it was not sufficient for the 100 or so waiting passengers!

It's interesting no one made any effort to collect the fares. I remember at the election one of the parties was proposing that rail tickets should be half price if any part of the journey was on a rail replacement bus. Seems like a good idea to me!

Steve, masochist surely?

If I was a true masochist I'd have attempted my journey on Sunday - there are 16 rail replacement buses blighting London today.

Few things annoy me about rail services but the appalling way rail replacement services are handled and the "don't care" attitude really annoys me. The thing that gets me about TfL is that they use "mystery shoppers" to make sure the "customer experience" is satisfactory or better for the trains but, it seems, that they never check out the place where they are really needed - the rail replacement services. A few horror reports and satisfaction levels less than 10% being regularly published for all, including their political masters, to see may galvanise people into action.

The annoying thing is wouldn't cost much money. A lot of it is down to lack of signposting and buses that seem to be inviting people onto a magical mystery tour to an unknown destination. Whereas I have my horror stories on National Rail as well, I must say that sometimes when the rail replacement is done on a regular basis it is incredibly well organised with staff who know what is going on, unambiguous helpful announcements and loads of strategically placed posters and helpful boards that they reuse.

Utter masochist, yes. YES! Not even i would want to do something as horrid as this.

Did you do the Met replacement services yesterday? Os is that for tomorrow's write up?

I once got on a rail replacement service at Rickmansworth, and the driver started going the wrong way - i had to get my iPhone out and show him on Google Maps the correct way to go... you couldn't make it up.

No Sunday services on the Overground to Stratford until late May: I can recommend the trip from Highbury & Islington to Stratford for a leaisurely diversion. It takes more than twice as long as the train and is one of the most motion-sickness inducing journeys you're likely to make.

I was travelling to Stratford yesterday and - with a bonus Saturday of rail replacement - found travelling via Holborn (drawback: Zone 1) instead of Highbury far less painful...

Not a complete waste of a Saturday then.

Did you see any kittens?

Today at midday, the announcer at Bethnal Green tube said "there is an excellent service on all London Underground lines, except for those that have planned engineering works." (i.e. all 7 of them. I had to laugh)

Gosh, that's hardcore.

Worst % difference between RRB and train I've experienced (on a semi-regular basis on Sundays in wintertime) is just outside London, on the c2c line, between Benfleet and Leigh-on-Sea. (Pitsea to Benfleet is bad, too, via Canvey Island, but I know you've done that - but the journey on to Leigh is worse)

It's one stop on the train, less than a 5 minute journey,. but the railway takes a lonely route across the marshes far from any roads. So the journey by road is lengthy, inland and back out again, and once you reach the (one lane in each direction) A13, subject to severe traffic jams. In general 25 mins is timetabled for the journey, but it often takes 40; plus waiting another 20 mins for the train onward beyond Leigh - and a 5 minute journey has become a 60 minute one. Definitely one to avoid!

I understand that TfL insists that all its RRBs are modern low-floor DDA-compliant ("don't-expect-a-seat-downstairs-unless-you-bring-your-own"), which seems over the top when many of the tube services they replace do not themselves have wheelchair access. NR replacement buses can be any old tat, unless, as someone above suggested, they have to penetrate the Low Emission Zone.

If you didn't put yourself through this hell for payment, your list of 'I've done it and got the T-shirt' list must be pretty hideous.
For the first time ever, I set out yesterday not having checked the TFL site. Was suitably peed off at Stratford after getting off the underground to transfer to the overground bit - only to discover a rail replacement service in operation. So, underground drivers don't consider the Silverlink service part of the underground although that is what it effectively is & don't warn you about it not being operational.
I considered getting on the bus for maybe a minute or so but then decided not to tempt fate!

I've been on rail replacement buses that have got lost before. It's an odd experience... mind that low bridge!

The way Southeastern organise theirs is comic - despite having a big bus station at London Bridge at their disposal, rail replacements to Deptford and Greenwich start from New Cross or Lewisham. The last rail replacement buses at night plough on all the way out to Gillingham, which must be a lonely old job.


People of London - stop thinking of rail replacement buses as annoying hassle, and start thinking of them as a free way to travel around town. spot on, though.

Bow local - They were playing the "there is a good service on all lines, except for those with planned engineering works" announcement at Bethnal Green at twenty past seven this morning. Followed by someone from the control room apologising that the first train had gone faulty and had to be cancelled.

Generally I find the Metropolitan Line replacement buses are pretty well organised; TfL put up direction signs for the RRBs so drivers shouldn't get lost, and the buses run at a good frequency. On the other hand, there was one occasion when the bus I was on from Northwood to Chesham missed the stop at Rickmansworth (which involved doubling back to serve the stop on the London-bound side of the road, then doubling back again); the driver had to do a several-points turn in a school entrance half way to Chorleywood to return to Rickmansworth.

Some National Rail replacement buses are not so well organised. The worst I remember was back in the days of Connex and a bus from Purley to Oxted. Having completely missed Riddlesdown, it was obvious when the driver missed the turning for Woldingham that he didn't know the way. Fortunately there was a party of Ramblers (myself included) on the bus, several of us with maps. We were able to direct the driver on to Woldingham and Oxted. The map the driver had was photocopied pages from the Bartholomew/Collins Greater London Street Atlas with the route in highlighter. The route highlighted included a farm track south of Woldingham station, and a very steep and narrow lane parallel to the main road at Titsey Hill.

Another wonderful aspect of TFL rail replacement buses non-ticket checking policy is having to travel with people who don't buy tickets (a bit like a double-deck, non-articulated, version of a bendibus). Loved the Somali youth who tried to nick my paper at Bow Road, then the white vagrant with a black eye who got on at Mile End stinking of piss and begged off passengers. One of the bus staff moaned about the later when he got off, pity he didn't stop him boarding.

@Steve Bird: "Fortunately there was a party of Ramblers (myself included) on the bus, several of us with maps."
Wonderful, sounds like an Ealing comedy :)

Timbo - there is no such rule in place. Older 'step-entry' buses are used on rail replacement however there is a growing customer expectation that ALL buses are low floor (thankfully they never use a bus outside London!).

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