We'll make no secret of the fact that we started at Chesham - up in the top left hand corner of the tube map. Most previous attempts have either started or ended here (or at Amersham) as it's quite a way out, and it's not something you can really go and do in the middle of the day, so you have to either start with it or aim to end at it.
As we want to keep our exact route a secret for the moment, I'm not going to go into details here as to exactly at what times we went from here, but I can tell you that all was going well until about 8pm in the evening when we got to West Kensington, when we discovered a problem.
Thinking about it, maybe it had all been going too well. We'd just had some brilliant changes of train at Brixton (in and out in 14 seconds) and Earl's Court (Olympia trains timetabled for every 15 minutes and there was one pulling into the platform as we got there), so maybe our luck was due to run out.
It happened at West Kensington. We'd got off at Olympia and run down to West Ken (going via a pub en route to use their toilets!), and when we got the station we just had a feeling that something wasn't quite right.
Sure enough within a few moments came the announcement that there was a signal failure at Gunnersbury and there were no trains running down to Richmond. We were gutted. At this point everything had worked superbly and we were 20 minutes ahead of schedule. So we had to carry on and hope that we would have time to come back and do the Richmond branch later.
We carried on up to Ealing Broadway, across to White City and then up to West Ruislip where we ran on foot to Ickenham.
We had our second bit of bad luck here when we missed a train to Uxbridge by a few seconds and so had to wait for the next one. That train turned around at Uxbridge and as it came back down at South Harrow, there was an incident with some local youths who decided to cause some trouble on the train. Result? That the emergency communications alarm was pulled and the train was delayed by a full 15 minutes whilst the kids and the station staff & driver had a rather loud shouting match.
When the train eventually moved over (about 10.15pm) and we came down the Piccadilly Line towards Acton Town, we were busy studying the timetables and realised that if we were to make our connection to go to Heathrow Airport and back, then we did not have enough time to go back to Turnham Green and do the Richmond branch.
We carried on nevertheless, as we knew that if it was just those three stations we missed out, then we would still do 272 stations - 98.9% of the total on the system.
More galling though was the thought as we made the last eastbound Central Line train which connected with the last Northern Line train at Bank to take us down to the finish at Morden, is that if we had of done the Richmond branch as planned, then we would have caught the same last train home and we would have broken the world record by about 7 minutes. Dammit!
So, it's for this reason, that we will be doing it again - probably in a few weeks time. We came so close to doing it, we feel that another crack at it is the sensible thing to do. Watch these webpages for news on that one!
Aside from the fact that we didn't do it, it was a fun day and there were a few moments that stuck out in my mind.
The people that chatted to us we're all brilliant - our matching 'tubechallenge' T-Shirts were a bit of a giveaway, as was the fact that we took photos at every stop, and people would ask us what we were up to. I'd actually foreseen this happening and had printed out a whole stack of leaflets that explained to people that we were going for the record, and everyone was very supportive. If you're on of the people that we gave a leaflet to and you're now reading this, then hello to you!
A special mention though to Clare that we met between Camden Town and Edgware who worked for Cancer Research UK. You'll be pleased to know that we're looking good for giving the charity almost £2000 from our sponsorship.
The lovely lady that gave us some of her biscuits from her shopping on the Victoria Line train just before Seven Sisters - M&S chocolate topped biccies, and they were yum - thank you!
The bunch of 14 year olds at Woodford who were too cool for words as obviously we were "A bunch of sad tossers wearing tube T-shirts". Well I think you're a bunch of tossers too.
The old man who got in a fluster as we charged passed him at Green Park changing from the Piccadilly onto the Victoria Line. "Can't you young men slow down!" he shouted after us, no we bleedin' well can't mate... world record at stake! (Although I liked the fact that he called me a young man)
The woman that I think I completely knocked over at Gloucester Road! We'd just come off a Circle Line train and we're changing to the Piccadilly line and as I jumped off the train and ran towards the steps, I swerved to avoid an old lady who was doddering her way in front of me. I expertly dodged round her, but SMACK! my rucksack on my back hit another poor woman coming the other way behind me and I think I might have knocked her over, I didn't want to look to confirm it in case I had. All I remember is her shouting at me, and I yelled back "Sorry! I'm really sorry!" and ran on. Well it is for charity, right?
The beggar who came down the Upminster train looking forlorn, shoving her "Give me some money please" card into our faces. I pointed to our T-Shirts and said "But we're doing this for charity - how about YOU give US some money?" and held my hand out. Was that a bit cruel do y'think?
The bizarre incidents that were ...
At Aldgate East we're running up the steps to exit the station to go on foot to Aldgate, and some girls who we're running past says to us "Oooh, are you doing that tube challenge thingy?". "YEEESS!" we all yelled at her, but later wondered how she'd cottoned on so quickly as we ran past her what we were up to - was is that obvious?
At Ealing Broadway. As we're getting off a district line train to change to the central line, a group of giggling girls (late teens?) said to us "Ooh we like your T-Shirts... bet you'd all look better with them off though!", and so as we ran off the train and up the stairs, I recall shouting back "We'll take ours off if you take your tops of too...".
A pissed woman going eastbound on the last Central Line train of the night. She starting talking to me at Bond Street all the way through until Bank, with the conversation going something like this:
Her: "So are you doing to do it then?"
Me: "No, we couldn't do the Richmond branch earlier, we've missed out three stations"
Her: "Oh right. Bummer. But you still might do it though eh
Me: "No, we've missed three out. We can only do 272 now. Not all 275"
Her: "Uh hu.. so have you got to go back and do them then?"
Me: "We can't go back, this is the last train. We're not going to do them"
Her: "So do you think you'll do all of the stations then?"
Me: "No... we missed out the Richmond branch..."
Her: "Oh right. So you still might do it then?"And so on ...
For some reason we ended up saying "Hey! let's take some photos" whilst we sat waiting to turnaround at Goodge Street.
So, left to right (first picture) is Peter, Chris, Ross, Jono and then me sprawled on the floor as I run back from putting the camera on timer mode.
Left to right here (second picture, below) Peter, Chris, Ross and Jono.
Stations visited: 272/275
Start time: 05:25.15 Finish time: 01:14.26
Time taken: 19 hours, 49 minutes, 11 seconds
Robert Robinson's Record time: 19 hours, 59 minutes, 37 seconds
(Would have beaten by 10 minutes, 26 seconds, but doesn't count because we missed out three stations)
Number of people: 5
Support team: 1
Tube 1 | Tube 2 | Tube 3 | Tube 4 | Tube 5 | Tube 6 | Tube 7 (World Record)
Tube 8 | Tube 9 (Tube Relief) | Tube 10 | Tube 11 | Tube 12 | Tube 13 | Tube 14 | Tube 15 | Tube 16 | Tube 17 | Tube 18 | Tube 19 | Tube 20
At the time that every attempt is done - the route is always a secret as I think it's the "winning" route. But I've learned the hard way that a lot of my routes had room for improvement, and so I'm happy to 'give away' some of the old routes that I've taken.
For the first three attempts, I started at Chesham and ended at Morden. Ending at Morden now seems like a ridiculous prospect to me and one that I wouldn't do again - you won't break any records by ending there, which is why I'm happy to tell you that the route we took was ...
Starting in the top left hand corner on the Metropolitan Line at Chesham.
We then went to Chalfont & Latimer, up to Amersham where you turn around, change at Moor Park to go up to Watford. Turn around there and get a train down to North Harrow where you get out and go on foot to West Harrow.
You should be able to run it in about 6 to 7 minutes.
From West Harrow head east to Preston Road where you turn around and go back one stop to Northwick Park. Go on foot from here (in about 4 minutes) to connect up with the Bakerloo line at Kenton. Catch a train going north one stop to Harrow & Wealdstone and then head south into central London.
Go all the way the length of the Bakerloo line, and change at Elephant & Castle onto the Northern Line. Head north up the Bank branch.
From Kenton, go up to Harrow & Wealdstone turn around and go the whole length down south to Elephant & Castle.
Change onto the Northern Line and get a Bank branch train to Edgware.
At Edgware, take a bus over to Stanmore to connect up with the Jubilee line. Go south to Green Park, change onto the Piccadilly and head up to Cockfosters.
Turn around at Cockfosters and go back one stop to Oakwood. From here take the 307 bus to High Barnet to connect up with the Northern Line again.
At High Barnet go down to Finchley Central, up to Mill Hill East and back, and then down on a Charing Cross branch train through Mornington Crescent to Goodge Street where you turn around and go back one stop to Warren Street.
Change onto the Victoria Line and go north all the way through to Walthamstow. Change onto the National Rail service and get a train into Liverpool Street.
Change onto the Central Line and go up to Epping. Back down to Woodford and change to go round the Hainault loop. Change at Hainault and keep going down to Mile End and get an eastbound District train all the way up to Upminster.
At Upminster get National Rail back towards London and get out at West Ham and get onto the Jubilee line through to Westminster. Go west on the Circle/District, turning around at Sloane Square and go all the way east to Stepney Green. Turn around there, go back one to Whitechapel, and do the East London Line. Up to Shoreditch, down to New Cross - on foot to New Cross Gate and back up to Whitechapel.
West to Aldgate East where you go on foot to Aldgate. Circle line anti-clockwise all the way round through Edgware Road to South Kensington. Onto the Piccadilly up to Green Park, then change there again onto southbound Victoria down to Brixton. Turn around at Brixton and go back up to Vauxhall.
At Vauxhall get onto National Rail south to Wimbledon. Connect up with the District Line north up to Earl's Court. Change and get the Kensington Olympia train. From there, go on foot down to West Kensington.
The Richmond train (which we missed out due to the branch being closed), but would have gone here and back again changing at Turnham Green. District into Ealing Broadway, then east Central Line to White City where you reverse.
Central Line up to West Ruislip, on foot to Ickenham to Uxbridge - turn around and come down the Piccadilly all the way to Acton Town. Change onto the Heathrow branch, and go to Terminal 4, then 1,2,3 where you change to take the Heathrow Express into Paddington. (A regular travelcard does NOT cover the cost of the Express - you have to buy a separate ticket).
At Paddington, change to the H&C south down to Hammersmith. Turn around and go back a couple of stops to Shepherd's Bush. On foot to the Central Line Shepherd's Bush station ... east to Bank, and change to the Northern Line and get a southbound train which terminates at Morden.
Other Attempt Writeups:
Friday 17th May 2002
And we're back! Alive and just about in one piece having spent just under 20 hours on tube trains all day on Friday 17th May.
And so, the big question that you're asking is did we do it ... yes?
Well, good news and bad news - The bad news for us is that no, we didn't. We managed to do only 272 out of the 275 stations - i.e. we missed out just three stations!
But it was through no fault of our own - there was a signal failure on the Richmond branch of the District line which meant that we couldn't do Gunnersbury, Kew Gardens and Richmond.
The good news is that most people have already indicated to us that they're prepared to pay us the full amount that they sponsored us for in the first place, and furthermore we've decided that the route we have (which we're keeping secret for the moment!) is so close to working that we're going to have another crack at doing it in a few weeks time!