Just Because It's There...

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Just Because It's There...

Post by vimchallenge » 16 Oct 2015, 12:49

Hello all, new novice challenger here seeking all the advice he can get.

I am looking to do the challenge simply as an achievement. I have no interest in breaking records, I just want to do it. Of course, without a certain amount of pre-planning the whole thing doesn't seem to be possible, so I am interested to note all the tips and advice here.

I will probably have several questions once I get more into the planning process, but I have two initially.

Firstly regards the (apparently) often discussed problem of Olympia. I am interested to hear the current thinking of it, as my limited research shows only two evening trains. The problem of this is that getting to Olympia at a specific time in the evening really does go against my semi-ad hoc approach to the challenge. By "ad hoc" I don't mean completely without planning - I certainly will have a preferred route, alternates and ground travel etc. What I mean is the idea of planning the whole thing to the extent of being on time that many hours after starting at a particular station. Sure I will do that at the start, but for me that detracts a lot from the fun of the whole challenge. I do realise that I'm talking to a lot of very well prepared and scheduled people here, who probably will just tell me to get on with it!

But are there alternatives? I hear of Olympia trains very early in the morning - though I can't find them on the journey planner - and also think they would be difficult to catch if I start up in Chesham first thing. Do those trains still exist? People have also mentioned exhibition service days, but I couldn't find an indication of when they would be running - though of course I might be searching for the wrong thing. I'd certainly prefer to go on an exhibition service, even if it means waiting at Earl's Court, knowing that I could do that at any time of the day rather than taking on the very daunting (for me) idea of planning to arrive for the 19:61 train or whatever.

Secondly I read in a few places that overground trains are used. I see from the rules that you can use national rail trains if they use "same tracks". Not sure exactly what that means or where it comes in. Is this something I have to find out for myself? I don't want to use illegal transport and invalidate the attempt. I heard mention of C2C to (or back from?) Upminster (possibly). Does that count as the same track? I also read of a group heading on foot from Snaresbrook to Walthamstow Central who picked up the overground at Wood Street. Not sure how that is ok, as that certainly doesn't match an underground route! So please tell me if I have misinterpreted that one.

Anyway, as I said I'll probably have more questions later, just wanted to say hello and get the benefit of others' experience of the challenge.

EDIT: Actually just thought of another question. Does anyone have an idea (even approximately) of how many people have completed the challenge?

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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by The Orange One » 16 Oct 2015, 13:34

Welcome! I'll attempt to answer your questions to an extent.

1) Olympia has trains in the early morning - 5 trains FROM Olympia to Earl's Court only. It also has the evening trains, which run in both directions. Exhibition days are very rare nowadays, but it's easy enough to complete without one.

A very common plan for people looking for a completion is to start from Heathrow and finish in the North West; this gives you several possible Olympia trains. This usually involves running to Olympia from Barons Court or West Kensington.

2) To visit stations, you must use either tube trains or trains running on the same tracks, which is (currently):
- London Overground between Queen's Park and Harrow and Wealdstone instead of the Bakerloo
- London Overground between Gunnersbury and Richmond instead of the District
- Chiltern Railways between Amersham and Rickmansworth instead of the Metropolitan (and possibly also Harrow-on-the-Hill; but certainly not any intermediate stations between Rickmansworth and Harrow).

For a station to count towards your 270 total, you must visit it in this way. You are allowed to use other services (e.g. c2c back from Upminster), but you must visit any stations called at in the correct way (e.g. you must visit Upminster on the District Line as well).

You are allowed to use any form of scheduled commercial transport during the challenge; this includes buses, National Rail trains, commercial flights, but does not include Boris Bikes.

3) There's a Top Times thread containing all known valid completions according to the challenge rules.
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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by vimchallenge » 16 Oct 2015, 15:16

Thank you for the prompt and informative reply. I would certainly prefer to do Olympia as early as possible rather than go for the evening trains, so thank you for that particularly. If that means finishing in the North West than so be it. I didn't get the bit about using overground trains at all, for some reason I thought they were off limits, hence my surprised when someone reported taking the overground from Wood Street to Walthamstow.

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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by The Orange One » 16 Oct 2015, 15:34

The point is to make sure people don't say "Oh, I can visit Kensington Olympia on the Overground, no need to use the District"; you can visit Kensington Olympia on the Overground, but it won't count unless you use the District.

That's an ridiculously common mistake.
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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by RJSRdg » 16 Oct 2015, 18:54

The other option with Olympia is to plan to do some of the other nearby lines immediately prior to Olympia and if you're running late, do those afterwards instead.

Alternatively aim for the first of the evening Olympias and even if you run a little late you may well still be in time for the second one.
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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by vimchallenge » 30 Oct 2015, 12:51

I don't see any prospect of being within 20 stations of Olympia at the time the evening trains run... except by fluke! My planning just isn't that good. There are way too many variables to make any meaningful calculation for me, especially since this will be my first attempt.

The only option that seems viable is to try and get a morning Olympia, of which there are more, and being close to the start of the timetable, perhaps even I can work it out! Having said that, I read somewhere that someone said they started at Heathrow in order to get a morning Olympia - but I can't work out how that was possible. I looked at the morning timetables and I can't see how it can be done, partly because of course the train runs from Olympia not to it. This means I guess getting there from Shepherd's Bush or something like that.

I wonder if anyone can tell me that I'm reading the timetable wrong, or give me some idea of how this can be done! I very much appreciate any help.

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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by The Orange One » 30 Oct 2015, 13:15

The classic Heathrow start is this:

0502 Heathrow Terminal 4 :arrow: 0508 Heathrow Terminals 123 [1]
0511 Heathrow Terminals 123 :arrow: 0516½ Heathrow Terminal 5
0523½ Heathrow Terminal 5 :arrow: 0559 Hammersmith
0602 Hammersmith :arrow: 0605 West Kensington [2]
Run to Kensington Olympia (13 minutes walk by Google Maps, but should be able to run in 10)
0615 Kensington Olympia :arrow: onwards

[1] This connection appears impossible, but is supposed to work. If it doesn't, you end up 20 minutes down but that's still enough time to get the 0645 from Kensington Olympia.

[2] Another popular option is to stay on the Piccadilly Line to Barons Court, then run from there (also takes 13/14 minutes walk by Google Maps, but again should be able to run in less). This has the disadvantage of missing out West Kensington, but the advantage that you have a bit of slack (if your Piccadilly Line trains are being particularly slow).
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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by A Challenge » 30 Oct 2015, 13:25

The Orange One wrote:The classic Heathrow start is this:

0502 Heathrow Terminal 4 :arrow: 0508 Heathrow Terminals 123 [1]
0511 Heathrow Terminals 123 :arrow: 0516½ Heathrow Terminal 5
0523½ Heathrow Terminal 5 :arrow: 0559 Hammersmith
0602 Hammersmith :arrow: 0605 West Kensington [2]
Run to Kensington Olympia (13 minutes walk by Google Maps, but should be able to run in 10)
0615 Kensington Olympia :arrow: onwards

[1] This connection appears impossible, but is supposed to work. If it doesn't, you end up 20 minutes down but that's still enough time to get the 0645 from Kensington Olympia.

[2] Another popular option is to stay on the Piccadilly Line to Barons Court, then run from there (also takes 13/14 minutes walk by Google Maps, but again should be able to run in less). This has the disadvantage of missing out West Kensington, but the advantage that you have a bit of slack (if your Piccadilly Line trains are being particularly slow).
Doesn't it involve Richmond (Chiswick Park :arrow: Gunnersbury Run and Richmond reverse) and then you get Chiswick Park, Stamford Brook and Ravenscourt Park before last Olympia?
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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by The Orange One » 30 Oct 2015, 13:42

vimchallenge is looking for certainty. Slipping in the Richmond branch is a common variation to speed things up, but the risk of missing the morning Olympia train after slipping the Richmond branch in is substantially higher than the risk of missing the Richmond branch out later.

After all, hardly anyone (possibly nobody at all, but Andi may well have) slipped in the Richmond branch back when the last train to Olympia was at 0632, and that didn't really make the challenge hard to complete back then. You can go back and get it when you go and do the Uxbridge branch, for example.
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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by Iain » 30 Oct 2015, 18:31

I know of at least one attempt that fitted in the Richmond branch before the 6:32, and it wasn't Andi.

Now that the last Ken O train is later, it's less risky, and there is a way to save time
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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by palkanetoijala31 » 30 Oct 2015, 19:24

I despaired when I saw that para olympic team going for the bus at south ealing I knew it was wrong to do. And I have known others to do Richmond before Ken o even including knocking out chiswick park but not Acton town.

If u need a nice slowish route and don't forget at moment u have to compromise for autumn timetables met there are many ways to do Ken o at the times u need I have seventeen routes including a 15h 37m which has Ken o evening wise.

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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by jbom » 03 Nov 2015, 21:02

The Orange One wrote:After all, hardly anyone (possibly nobody at all, but Andi may well have) slipped in the Richmond branch back when the last train to Olympia was at 0632, and that didn't really make the challenge hard to complete back then. You can go back and get it when you go and do the Uxbridge branch, for example.
Presumably you could do the Richmond branch from Willesden Jn or from Vauxhall.

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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by The Orange One » 03 Nov 2015, 21:03

Would probably not be particularly economical to do it from either, but yes, you could.
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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by jbom » 07 Nov 2015, 19:08

The Orange One wrote:Would probably not be particularly economical to do it from either, but yes, you could.
I absolutely agree. If your start involves doing everything from Heathrow to Earls Court and Olympia, but you miss the Richmond Branch, then the only remaining ways of getting those three missing stations are inefficient (including doing it from the Ealing direction, or from East Putney/Putney).

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Re: Just Because It's There...

Post by vimchallenge » 12 Nov 2015, 13:21

I have just started "exploring" the timetables, and I fail to see how you can fit in Richmond if you are heading for Olympia in the morning. Presumably this is not the case for you tubechallenge gurus! Also I note the comment that it is "inefficient" to do it later, but at the same time I presume you have to pick up Ealing Common and (maybe if there is a way I haven't thought of) Chiswick Park, so if you go back for them that isn't efficient either is it? Please bear with me, I'm new to this so may be talking rubbish! Also having planned several routes now, I am not getting that close to finishing in Chesham/Amersham before the network shuts! Will keep working...

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