The Waterloo Shuffle

Created by Mark Dransfield, Excel Guru of

Campbell Nash

Process Optimisation Consultants

What is the Waterloo Shuffle?

Do you get the train home from Waterloo East? Imagine if I told you that there are a set of ‘secret’ trains that you could take home, without changing, which not only guarantees you a seat, but lets you pick your favourite seat, at no extra cost? You can avoid the usual scrum, relax, sleep, watch a movie, read a book, and reclaim some civility and quality of life. The downside: these trains take about 25 mins longer. Interested? – you need to learn the Waterloo Shuffle!

When will I want to use this?

You probably have your favourite trains that you aim for most days. These will be get you home fast, usually get you a seat, and are fine if everything runs on time. But sometimes:-

  • You miss your train by a few mintues: maybe the tube was busy and you cut it too fine, and so you’re faced with waiting on the platform for 20/30 minutes, or
  • You head to the station at an unfamiliar time, not knowing what the next train is, and so you take pot luck, and then you find you’ve got quite a wait, or
  • The trains are completely up the spout, which to be fair isn’t all that often, but when it is it can be a real mess / scrum / squash / stand until the first few stops.

…and it’s at these times that you’ll be glad you remembered the Waterloo Shuffle!

Just tell me what it is!

Okay, here’s the secret, it’s quite simple, yet ingenious: You get a train going the WRONG WAY. That’s right: a train to Charing Cross. But ideally you don’t want just any train, the coolest thing is getting the inbound train that will turn into the next outbound train. You just get on it at Waterloo East, pick your favourite seat on the entire train, and chillax until you get to your home station. How cool is that??!!

How do I do the Waterloo Shuffle?

The key is knowing which Charing Cross train to get from Waterloo East. Obviously the display board at WAE will simply show a bunch of trains going to Charing Cross, but which one? And so you look at this site from your phone, it will tell you which one to get; which one is the ‘shuffle train’ which will eventually convert into the next outbound train.

Give me an example:

Example 1: Missed by a minute: I arrive at WAE hoping to catch the 17:17 to Staplehurst, but I miss it by one minute. If I didn’t know the Waterloo Shuffle I would now have a 25min wait until the 17:42. But instead I look up the “Waterloo Shuffle” on my phone, which tells me that the next “Shuffle” train is the 17:23. I look up on the departure board and see “17:23 Charing Cross Platform D”. I get on this virtually empty train, choose my favourite seat, and relax all the way home. I barely notice as it pulls into Charing Cross, sits there for 10 minutes, leaves, and calls into Waterloo East as the “17:42”, before taking me to my home station.

Example 2: Signalling problems at London Bridge – Trains all up the spout: I arrive at WAE hoping for the 18:06, but everything’s delayed (inbound and outbound), crowds are building up. Instead of waiting with the masses for the inevitable ‘scrum and stand’, I look up the “Waterloo Shuffle” on my phone. I can see from the board that the next shuffle train is the massively delayed “17:23 Charing Cross Platform D Expected 18:15”. I simply hop on that. No waiting, no scrum, no standing, and a very civilised recovery from the problem!

Here are the Shuffle Train times for  Route 1 – Tonbridge & Ashford Intl:-

(more routes on request)

Shuffle Trains Normal Trains
Wae Chx Chx Wae Marden
In In Out Out Home
16:49 16:55 17:14 17:17 18:08
17:23 17:29 17:39 17:42 18:38
17:49 17:53 18:03 18:06 18:56
? ? 18:20 18:24 19:15
18:18 18:24 18:41 18:44 19:39
18:48 18:52 19:10 19:13 20:07
19:19 19:24 19:40 19:43 20:34
19:48 19:52 20:10 20:13 21:04
…then at 18 & 48 minutes past until the last WAE train at 23:43Cannon Street trains included for completeness:-
In In Out Out Home
? ? 17:24 first 17:28 18:19
? ? 17:45 17:49 18:38
? ? 18:06 18:10 19:02
? ? 18:32 last 18:36 19:23

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