Level incline stairs?

After making a Journey Planner API request from Aldgate (940GZZLUALD) to Greenford LU (940GZZLUGFD), one of the result’s walking legs listed level stairs as an obstacle.

The legs listed were:

  • Coach 735 from Aldgate to Cannon Street
  • Walk to Bank (with down incline stairs, level incline stairs, and down incline escalator as obstacles)
  • Central line from Bank to Greenford

I’m really confused about the possibility of stairs being level rather than going either up or down??

It means that the level bits of the stairs are level. Sometimes you find old stairs made from stone or concrete will decay where they are most used.

Also, sometimes you find - like at the back of the London Aquatic Centre - stairs that are long horizontally and then go down in normal sized steps, and these long sections are not level. but slope.

Yes but the stairs in both images you have included still have a positive (up) incline, not level (assuming you are moving in the direction of the camera - otherwise they’re negative/down) so they should still be reported as such?

A level staircase would just be… a walkway (which are also reported as an obstacle)


I take your point. The language used it clearly using external definitions that are unclear.

I think there may still be value to making a distinction between normal, steep staircases and these gradual ones, but while still giving a proper incline value. So maybe the incline values should be something “UP”, “UP_LOW”, “DOWN”, “DOWN_LOW” or something along those lines, or have an extra “gradient” value - but definitely not level for a staircase


But there are also curved stairs on the Underground too. There’s some at Camden Town down to the Northern Line, and there are some between the Central and Northern Lines at Bank, also the tube to exit at Finsbury Park.

Also Covent Garden, Belsize Park, Russell Square and Goodge Street

The emergency staircases aren’t returned as obstacles for walking/interchange routes, assuming because they’re not intended for normal use. For example at Covent Garden the exit obstacles are stairs up (small staircase from platforms to lifts) and lift up (to exit).

There’s not “emergency staircases” in most cases I can think of. You certainly can’t avoid the one at Bank (Northern to Central) because they are rebuilding the station. But the TfL planner doesn’t seem to know about accessibility at interchanges.

I’m guessing the reason that it isn’t shown at Bank is because, despite how long it’s taking, it’s only a temporary change.

As for this, staircases like the one at Covent Garden have signage saying that they should only be used in case of an emergency.


To be clear, there are spiral staircases that are in use such as the ones I listed. I think I got to use the ones at Archway when they were fixing the escalators last year.

Whilst they were rebuilding Finsbury Park you were mandated to use the spiral stators to get the National Rail platforms from the deep level tube platforms.

Just spoken to one of my contacts within TfL - they said the only spiral staircase that is not generally emergency only is the one going from the Piccadilly line to the Bakerloo line at Piccadilly Circus. They also said that, although not all spiral staircases have a sign saying that they’re emergency only, this is implied and the use of them is discouraged to help with passenger flow control (A lift or escalator carries a lot more people than a spiral staircase).

Yes, your examples at Bank and Finsbury Park are exceptions, but these are only temporary when the usual route is blocked because of construction work - usually they are also emergency only or their use is discouraged.

That’s “temporary” in the sense of several months to many years (Bank is going to 2022) It’s probably useful to be able to relay and use such information, which I think was the point about data representations.

Looking at the 3D layout of Euston station there does still seem to be a spiral staircase there which is a bit of a shortcut!


Yes I do definitely agree that these changes should be reflected in the API when they last for this long, my point was just that generally their use is discouraged wherever possible, so in the majority of situations they should not be added as an obstacle in stations.

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I guess. I knew someone who had a morbid fear of lifts and would certainly rather walk down 300 stairs that get into a lift for 30 seconds. I guess that humans have a wide range of behaviours.

Given where we are with this creaking ancient system of trains-in-a-drain… my main feeling is that we should have a much better standardised representation for all the interchanges so we can serve everyone, however “crazy” they may be.

“level incline stairs” = travelator? Bank has two does it not, one for the W&C and the other as part of the DLR?

I’m surprised no one has commented about JP’s instruction to use a coach 735 from Aldgate to Cannon Street instead of a 25 from Aldgate to Bank…

Thinking some more on the scenario above, if it’s directed you to Cannon Street would it be thinking you’d use the W&C line entrance which is (currently) the closest to Cannon Street (albeit closed for covid)? The W&C’s travelator is on an incline…


That is a good point, I completely failed to consider travelators. But wouldn’t a travelator be a level incline escalator though, not a level staircase? A level staircase is basically a floor.

I’ll admit the JP’s choice of a coach is weird, but I was testing this on the weekend when the sub-surface lines were disrupted and it was very early in the morning, so I wasn’t expecting a rational route to be honest.

Does this help?