Yes they were pretty boring much of the time but they were at times useful too! Perhaps that’s why TfL decided to get rid of its many Twitter accounts! It didn’t want us to think we were being cosseted from the front door to the office desk. But that’s where things have changed. It actually depends on one’s view of what the current crisis is all about and whether people really want to experience cattle like conditions on public transport once again. TfL say they actually decided on this move having consulted with stakeholders some time back. But nevertheless the timing of it is showing us how public transport of any sort is taking a mad mad tumble as people relegate themselves to working from home and find that life is exceedingly good a million away from the daily hum drum of the office.
TfL said it had engaged with external stakeholders including accessibility groups, before making the decision to close the Twitter accounts, and had undertaken an equality impact assessment. (Source: Railway Gazette)
Clearly we can no longer refer back to these timelines and claim that TfL said something or other or that some event or incident or other occurred at a certain time and the rest of it. So sad! Or is it? Maybe we are actually better off without these Twitter timelines!
Each of the tube lines had their own Twitter handle – Bakerloo, Circle, Central, District, Hammersmith, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria – plus the Waterloo & City. TfL has jettisoned all of them – and what that means at this very moment as I write – is anyone can register any of these as their new Twitter handle! I tried one of the expired accounts and sure enough the now rejected Twitter handle was easy enough to register! Except I don’t have a mobile phone anymore so I couldn’t get past the various verification stages sadly! What would I have done with it anyway? Pretended to be a parody TfL account? Wouldn’t have worked because I’m not even any good at remotely being funny.
The only TfL Twitter timeline that was going to be closed but still live is the TfL Access one. That is because there was a strong backlash against its closure as many disabled people complained it would deprive them of a useful source of information. TfL has insisted its new ‘tools’ app will replace the TfL Access timeline – but clearly no-one’s satisfied with TfL’s assertion – especially the claim it had conducted an equality impact assessment. The TfL Access timeline is still online for now, but not actively being updated.
Concerns had been raised by several followers about the announced closure of the @tflaccess feed, which has been ‘temporarily paused’ while further engagement with accessibility groups takes place. (Source: Railway Gazette)
The TfL Access Twitter is still active but not currently being updated – pending an investigation into whether it still has a role to play – or not.
Missed these TfL Twitter timelines? Not to worry because all of its Twitter timelines still exist as records on the Internet Archive! There’s one warning however – the rendering of the accounts are slow because its not Twitter (which means its not running the various scripts which calls upon the text and then quickly grabs the various other bits such as the images or videos or attachments off the different servers Twitter operates around the world.) The newest tweets would be the more easier to find – most like the Bakerloo are recorded as late as May 2020 – but that means June to the start of September is missing however with the exception of a handful of accounts such as the Piccadilly Line which were archived to a later date. What it means is if one wants to find older tweets its probably better to go back in time on the Internet Archive and try and find whatever it is within an earlier year.
One odd thing with some of the former TfL timelines is a number are rendered in the Kannada language (used by the people of Karnataka in south west India) although the main text is thankfully in English! Others are rendered in Dutch, German, Korean or some other language…. however the more recent ones are fully rendered in English. Again it depends on which internet archiving engine is being used as Twitter will probably think that particular search engine needs to have the pages rendered according to the IP it is originating from.
One surprise is that for the Waterloo & City Line. Despite its closure (due to COVID) in March 2020 (and at the time of writing – September 15th – not reopened) that timeline continued doing some tweets as the latest page on the internet for the W&C shows! Not only that on Google’s cache the normal timeline is shown in Hungarian but the media timeline is shown fully in English. Again this is a result of Twitter’s attempt to fully cater for every language across the world but it doesn’t always work. I mean if you suddenly see your Twitter page rendered in a different language its probably because you clicked on a Tweet that came up in that language and Twitter thinks you want that language always! The new Twitter style implemented in the past year thankfully doesn’t seem as prevalent with this bugbear!
TfL Rail is an oddity. Unlike the others it hasn’t been so intensively recorded for the web archives. Its been ‘saved’ a meagre 13 times between 2016 and 2019 and none in the past year and half to September 2020. I dont know why that is. However the ‘saves’ themselves are even nefarious because when one clicks on the earlier or later ones the Internet Archive invariably goes back to the latest properly saved version which was made on 3rd April 2017. These are actually redirects which means possibly although the pages were saved on those dates they were perhaps not rendered thus the server takes one back to the earliest properly rendered saved version. In fact the copy made on 3rd April 2017 is the ONLY archive there is of TfL Rail’s Twitter account.
TfL Rail – as seen on 3rd April 2017 at Internet Archive.
What that means is any desire for further evidence of tweets made by TfL rail means one will have to go to Google’s search engine and hope they can find what they are looking for there. Even so, Google has little in the way of TfL Rail tweets, so its not looking good!
Google still has some of TfL’s tweets cached including the latest ones with the announcement these were closing. Some of them in Google’s cache are quite old as well but there’s gems to be found too! A trawl through Google will reveal what the search engine giant has – there’s lots to be found but be sure as time goes on the number of cached tweets will dwindle.
The following images are screencaps from various years of TfL’s former Twitter timelines from both Google and the Internet Archive.
Twitter timelines (the most recent – usually May 2020) listed on the Internet Archive. For the other years select the options at the top of those pages: