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Sequence of Platform Numbering


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Is there a rule that determines the direction of the sequence of platform numbers?

 

"Common Sense" would seem to dictate that Platform 1 ought to be on the side where the principal entrance is - because it would be the first platform encountered by the intending passenger, but in real life the opposite is often the case, as I noticed this afternoon waiting for a train at Weston-super-Mare.

Edited by Andy Kirkham
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There isn't a standard as such. On the former Eastern Region a two platform station generally has platform 1 on the up side, but there are variations where up and down swap over mid route to keep them all consistent for the announcers.

 

If there is a pattern on the former LMR then I haven't worked out what it is yet. 

Edited by Wheatley
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There are often anomalies, and in some places no platform 1 at all.  Practice probably differs between companies and may have been continued from 1948 right up to the present; altering platform numbers is a great way to confuse passengers, especially regulars who have got use to the same platform for years.  Other really good ways of annoying them are...

 

Look at the mess at Cardiff Central.  It's form as Cardiff General was, from the Central Square side, 4 island platforms, one serving up trains, one down trains, one Valleys, and one for the Riverside Branch.  The stairways and lifts were towards the eastern ends of these islands.  Numbered from the main Booking Hall at ground level, P1 was the first up platform, and 2 the second, then you passed in a subway beneath the through roads to the stairways for 3 and 4, the down platforms, and, until about 1970, a bay platform 5 let into the western end of the ¾ down island.  Next were 6 and 7,  up Valleys down Penarth/Barry respectively, and then, continuing the subway in a covered walkway, 8 and 9 curving away to the Riverside Branch from the main body of the station, 8 for Riverside and 9 for Penarth, Cadoxton via Penarth, and Vale of Glamorgan, and the St Fagan's Pullman to Pontypridd via the Barry main line.

 

After 5 was filled in (it's position is marked by different tarmac and the canopy) BR decided to retain the format.  8 and 9 had no booked passenger work as Riverside had closed in 1966 and goods in 1969, but was still used for rugex terminating from down line on home international days, and parcels/mail work which stabled on the disused branch.  Throughout that time, and still to this day, people occasionally ask after platform 5, as. there is no logic in going from 4 to 6.  Matters have been further confusticated by sectionalising the main line platforms for use by 2-car trains, 1a, 1b, 1c, etc, which is fine until a train is tannoyed as arriving at Platform 1, cue confused looks and 'which one, please?'.  The old fish dock on the west end of the up side has been opened as platform 0, an existentialist nightmare which cannot be accessed by the subway and you have to find a secret doorway and a flight of obscure stairs in the booking hall.  Cyclists, wheelchair users, and pram pushers are allowed to use the former parcels/mails subway and the lifts, but sometime emerge at the Penarth Road end looking confused.  And a new platform 8 has been added to the retaining wall on the Penarth Road side; old hands confuse it with the old Riverside platform.  

 

All roads are signalled for two way working and platform changes are common to keep to paths, which is a further confusion for old hands who took a while to understand that it was not a mistake that their Maesteg service, usually off 4, is going off 1 today; it feels impossible!

 

What has happened is of course the same thing that has happened in many places; platforms have fallen out of use and then been re-instated, not always in the same place, at a later date, in piecemeal fashion, out of sequence, and to no overriding pattern.  The answer is to take the bull by the horns and renumber from scratch; a new platform from a new 'upstairs' in the booking hall is proposed, and what is that going to be called.  Minus 1?

 

 

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Gourock station used to have 4 platforms, numbered 1 to 4 from the south side. It now has 3 platforms. What was platform 4 no longer exists, and the remaining ones are numbered 1 to 3 from the north side.

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At least most UK stations have all platforms in either ascending or descending order from one side or t'other ............. platforms on the new stations where the Cork Line out of Dublin has been quadrupled seem to have been numbered completely at random.

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2 hours ago, Wickham Green too said:

On the Southern, at least, No.1 is normally on the 'UP' side.

True, and exceptions are/were few. Purley comes to mind. 

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2 hours ago, Wickham Green too said:

On the Southern, at least, No.1 is normally on the 'UP' side.

Lewes no1 is the downside from London, 2 is the upside. 3 is from Brighton to Ashford, Eastbourne & Seaford, 4 to to Brighton from those and 5 acts as back to back bays towards Eastbourne & Seaford and towards Brighton. 

Seaford now only has one platform face - platform 2.

Brighton's low numbers are for the West Coastway services. The London services are in the middle, with 8&9 serving the East Coastway.

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A lot of the local stations on my line were renumbered a few years back for consistency for the station announcers, and renumbering has occurred over the years at many stations.  As a regular commuter I found it rather confusing for a while that trains that I knew full well could only run from platform two were announced as platform one and vice versa.  Commuters of course know the score and aren't going to be fooled by that, but it probably caused the staff to inadvertently misdirect a few passengers till they got used to it.

 

Numbers at stations don't necessarily follow any logical pattern and often changes are needed to meet traffic requirements.  At Kings Cross I think the current numbering dates from the suburban electrification in the early 1970s, as in steam days the numbering was completely different.  Some of the suburban platforms were taken out of use because the service from the Widened Lines was discontinued - the service to the Widened Lines having run via a platform just of the end of platform 1, but York Road Platform as it was called was considered to be a different station served in that direction only.  More recently Platform 11 (current numbering) was reinstated because of increasing demand.  When track was laid on the old taxi road, it was numbered Platform Zero to avoid renumbering the rest.  In both cases it was a question of the new platform being adjacent to but and outside the existing number range, so these numbers appear rational - but sometimes a new platform is inserted somewhere in the middle of the range, which gives rise to an anomaly unless existing platforms are renumbered.

 

... not forgetting platform 9 3/4 which is just a sign on the wall in the new concourse (and that has been moved from its earlier location on the outside wall of the Suburban station) - although the Harry Potter specials were filmed in the main train shed, with I believe temporary numbers whilst it was a film set.  And platform 9 got renumbered 9 3/4 (paper labels) for one day only to celebrate some anniversary.

Edited by Michael Hodgson
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15 hours ago, phil_sutters said:

....... Brighton's low numbers are for the West Coastway services. The London services are in the middle, with 8&9 serving the East Coastway.

That sort of follows the low numbers for 'up' pattern ( for London at least ) though I don't know, off hand, what is 'up' and what is 'down' between Brighton and Hove or Lewes.

London & Glasgow terminal stations are oddballs, of course, as few passengers / customers need to know what platform a train's arriving at so - effectively - all platforms are 'down' ................ the Southern's termini, though, are numbered east to west : maybe that's 'up' from, say Victoria to London Bridge or Charing Cross to Cannon Street ( or vice-versa ) or Waterloo to Waterloo !!?!

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My old maths teacher tried to explain to us why zero wasn't a real number. I always think of that when I see a platform 0

 

And of course Kings Cross has a platform 9 3/4

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4 minutes ago, TomJ said:

And of course Kings Cross has a platform 9 3/4

With a large shop, currently running a one-way entry system as Covid precautions. "See the magic wall - spend your money!"

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Then there's the mess at Stratford. 

 

Got off a North London line train late at night some years back and saw the next train home along the GEML was due in platform 10 in a couple of minutes so I legged it down the subway and saw the steps marked platform 10a, went up there to find my train running in (and then departing) on the opposite platform.

 

I now know that unlike everywhere else that 10A is not one end of 10 but a completely different platform to 10!   How many other people get caught out by that?

 

Apparently it couldn't be numbered 11 when it was brought into use as TFL wouldn't renumber their platforms which start at 11

 

Martin

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14 minutes ago, snitchthebudgie said:

Come to Redhill, where we now have platform '0'.  At least it is on the 'up' side!

 

As has been mentioned, Kings Cross has a platform 0 (added later) but is numbered from the up side - Rainham (Kent) had a new bay added two or three years ago with the East Kent resignalling but actually part of Thameslink as this is now the terminus from London Bridge via North Kent - it's also 0 - and in line with the stations on the Ramsgate-Victoria, numbered from the up side. 

 

The general rule seems to be lowest number on the up side with quite numerous exceptions - you only have to cross the road from Kings Cross to St Pancras to find numbering starting from the down side!!! Then walk up to Euston and it's from the up side!! 

Edited by MidlandRed
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Oxford's two through platforms were for many, many years 1 (Up) and 2 (Down); Now they are 3 and 4, 1 and 2 being the north end Up side bays. Why the new platforms could not have been 3 and 4, leaving the existing platforms alone, is beyond me, unless it was thought too confusing if 3 and 4 were not adjacent to 2 ?

 

In the Glasgow area convention is usually that 1 is the Glasgow bound platform, although there are exceptions, such as Motherwell (three of the four platforms there serve Glasgow-bound trains - but not Platform 1 !)

 

Haymarket also has a platform 0. 

Edited by caradoc
Clarification
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18 hours ago, The Johnster said:

Look at the mess at Cardiff Central.  

I believe this is explained by the platform numbers being displayed in nice art deco ceramics in the subway, and this being regarded as part of the listed (?) infrastructure.  If platforms were re-numbered these would either need to be hidden or confusing explanatory notices added as they have on some historic tiled railway company maps (York I think).  

17 hours ago, Mike_Walker said:

On the GWR the convention was to number from the Down side but, as with all such "rules", there were/are exceptions such as Bristol Temple Meads.

Wasn't the numbering at Bristol reversed sometime post-GWR?  

15 hours ago, Michael Hodgson said:

... not forgetting platform 9 3/4 which is just a sign on the wall in the new concourse (and that has been moved from its earlier location on the outside wall of the Suburban station) - although the Harry Potter specials were filmed in the main train shed, with I believe temporary numbers whilst it was a film set.  And platform 9 got renumbered 9 3/4 (paper labels) for one day only to celebrate some anniversary.

 

Another reason for reluctance to re-number platforms is that they often appear on signal theatre indicators so they are part of drivers' route knowledge as well as numerous safety-critical signal circuits.  They may be re-numbered on re-signaling when all the circuits change and everyone has to learn new layouts.

 

However "before and after" diagrams I've seen for the Kings Cross work currently in the early stages suggests that platform zero remains as such.  That's doubly surprising as re-numbering from 1 would put 9 3/4 in the correct place between 9 and 10!  

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29 minutes ago, mcowgill said:

Then there's the mess at Stratford. 

 

Got off a North London line train late at night some years back and saw the next train home along the GEML was due in platform 10 in a couple of minutes so I legged it down the subway and saw the steps marked platform 10a, went up there to find my train running in (and then departing) on the opposite platform.

 

I now know that unlike everywhere else that 10A is not one end of 10 but a completely different platform to 10!   How many other people get caught out by that?

 

Apparently it couldn't be numbered 11 when it was brought into use as TFL wouldn't renumber their platforms which start at 11

 

Martin

 

This is actually even more complicated - platform 11 is the Greater Anglia service round to Tottenham Hale and Bishops Stortford etc. 

 

The TfL overground is platforms 1 and 2 (which would be on the down side, but as they terminate there could be considered as bays with trains going towards London)!! 

 

I too have been caught out by platform 10a, the steps to which are located very enticingly on the corner of the subway when approaching from one direction. It appears only to be used for some of the Norwich fast trains whereas 10 is the down platform for virtually all other fast and semi fasts going beyond Shenfield. If you want to see a stream of freight trains (container trains), then 10a is great - I would be surprised if this isn't the boarding point for people 'surfing trains' round the North London line such is the volume of empty container wagons passing at very low speeds or even stopping, invitingly, next to the platform!! 

 

Now the Jubilee Line platforms, which leave at 90 degrees to the domestic station, are numbered from 12 upwards? Not sure about the two entirely separate DLRs lines (one of which I once caught in error, thinking it was the other)!! 

Edited by MidlandRed
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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Mike_Walker said:

On the GWR the convention was to number from the Down side but, as with all such "rules", there were/are exceptions such as Bristol Temple Meads.

I don't know about previously but immediately after the 1930s rebuilding the platforms at Temple Meads were numbered from the Down side with numbers ascending towards the Up side and this was definitely still the case as late as 1960. I'm not sure if they were renumbered before or concurrently with resignalling.

 

In some cases renumbering occurred at ex GWR stations when the signage was replaced by BR enamel signs.  This also saw an end to another GWR practice of numbering some bays in a separate series (suffixed 'Bay'). thus at reading Platform 1 (Down Main Line) became Platform 4 because the west end Downside bays were renumbered as 1, 2, & 3 in the main sequence instead of separately as 'Bays'. and since the most recent major rebuilding the old No 1, for a long while No.4 is now No.7 because the east end Downside bays have been renumbered in the main sequence and have a third one added.

 

Mind you for real confusion Calais Ville, as rebuilt ion the 1990s, is the one to beat because it was given platform (quai) letters and line/track numbers - doing that makes the 1960s renumbering of platforms at Newport High St (to align them with the new line numbers look positively simple).

Edited by The Stationmaster
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1 hour ago, caradoc said:

Oxford's two through platforms were for many, many years 1 (Up) and 2 (Down); Now they are 3 and 4, 1 and 2 being the north end Up side bays. Why the new platforms could not have been 3 and 4, leaving the existing platforms alone, is beyond me, unless it was thought too confusing if 3 and 4 were not adjacent to 2 ?

 

In the Glasgow area convention is usually that 1 is the Glasgow bound platform, although there are exceptions, such as Motherwell (three of the four platforms there serve Glasgow-bound trains - but not Platform 1 !)

 

Haymarket also has a platform 0. 

I believe the up bay at Oxford used to be No. 3. Seemed a bit odd being next to Platform 1.

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1 hour ago, MidlandRed said:

 

This is actually even more complicated - platform 11 is the Greater Anglia service round to Tottenham Hale and Bishops Stortford etc. 

 

The TfL overground is platforms 1 and 2 (which would be on the down side, but as they terminate there could be considered as bays with trains going towards London)!! 

 

I too have been caught out by platform 10a, the steps to which are located very enticingly on the corner of the subway when approaching from one direction. It appears only to be used for some of the Norwich fast trains whereas 10 is the down platform for virtually all other fast and semi fasts going beyond Shenfield. If you want to see a stream of freight trains (container trains), then 10a is great - I would be surprised if this isn't the boarding point for people 'surfing trains' round the North London line such is the volume of empty container wagons passing at very low speeds or even stopping, invitingly, next to the platform!! 

 

Now the Jubilee Line platforms, which leave at 90 degrees to the domestic station, are numbered from 12 upwards? Not sure about the two entirely separate DLRs lines (one of which I once caught in error, thinking it was the other)!! 

 

The first issue with Stratford is the way it has transformed over recent decades from a suburban interchange with the Central line but to a massive regional transport hub.

 

The second issue is the number of different organisations servicing the station - as has been noted above platform numbers feature prominately in signalling and other engineering documentation - changing them for ALL organisations comes at a cost - particularly if some parties have no need of change but are still required to engage in a massive updating exercise.

 

At Stratford things were basically stable until the early 1990s when a desire to add an extra platform so mainline trains to Norwich etc could call and provide links to Doclands via the new DLR. As this new platform was between 10 and 11 it was simply easier / cheaper for British Rail to call it 10A than renumber everything else. Now I guess they had the excuse that the signalling in the area was at the end of its working life and a 'temporary' number would do for a while. Unfortunately  privatisation got in the way and IIRC the resignalling of Stratford ended up being done in the early years of Railtrack.

 

The Jubilee line came next - adding its platforms 13, 14 &15 Frustratingly this has made doing anything about 10A now more difficult, (at the time it would have been possible to give LUL 14, 15 & 16 instead and leave a number vacant for future use) but Railtrack was hardly known for its railway foresight......

 

Then we got the conversion of the old North London line to another DLR branch. Now as the old low level platforms were called 1 & 2, it does actually make sense to retain those platform numbers for the new terminating platforms - i.e. trains from Stratford to Richmond used to go from platform 1 - and they still do so now even though the platforms have been moved.

 

This second DLR branch thus needed new numbers giving us 16 & 17. Coincidentally this fits with the Jubilee line platforms next door better than the previous situation with 1&2 being next to 13, 14 & 15.

 

Finally with the original DLR branch approaching from the west needing an upgrade, the ex BR bay platform (platform 4) was abolished and a new structure built containing 2 platforms. As with the low level / Overground platforms it was desired to keep the number so we got the creation of platforms 4A & 4B in a completely different place to the original platform 4.

 

Finally overcrowding on the platforms shared between the Central line and National Rail made LUL build a second platform for westbound Central line (thus making it into a Horsted Keynes style platforms both sides of a single track). To avoid the situation where one platform was much higher than the other this new platform was called 3A.

 

 

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43 minutes ago, John M Upton said:

 

Portsmouth Harbour is missing No 2 as well.

 

 

Platform 2 was abolished by British Rail so as to avoid expensive repair work to the supporting structure over the water by reducing the loads put upon it. IIRC half of the platforms at Portsmouth Harbour are on dry land and face no such problems while the other half are on a structure that extends out into the harbour.

 

Presumably nobody has seen it worthwhile to re-number the platforms during the problematic re-signalling a decade ago, though given the space still exists you could say it offers an element of future proofing as if the strengthening works were undertaken to the supporting structure then platform 2 could be reinstated.

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