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Annie Mole's, webmaster of Going Underground, daily web log (blog).
If you like this you'll LURVE One Stop Short of Barking, THE fun and informative BOOK about travelling
on the London Underground.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Map Mania

Harry Beck Night

Weird timing - I'm probably going to see Ken Garland who wrote a book about Harry Beck, creator of the Tube map, give a
talk in Kew tonight and on BBC2 at about the same time (7.30pm) there's a whole programme on him

"Modern explorer Nicholas Crane travels across eight maps that changed the face of Britain in a series of geographical challenges through some of today's wildest landscapes, telling the story of British mapmaking from the time of Chaucer through to the current generation of cyber-mappers. Inspired by a circuit board diagram, Harry Beck designed the London Underground Map, which has become an icon of London."

Beck simplified a hideous map


Loving the Punch Cartoon which shows what a the tube map used to look like and how "simple" it was to understand. According to Jill Britton, who found this cartoon - "PUNCH's cartoons regularly reflected the anxieties and spectacle of travelling by "Tube".

Also Mark Ovenden got in touch with me yesterday after reading my BBCi article on the history of the tube map. Mark wrote Metro Maps of The World and he is featured briefly on tonight's programme where Beck's map is compared to other subway maps.

Geoff n Neil are still muttering about coming to the talk in Kew with me, that's if they're not too busy signing autographs and basking in their publicity over the last few days.


; Posted by Annie Mole Thursday, September 30, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
http://london-underground.blogspot.com/2004/09/map-mania.html

One Stop Short of Barking on TV

London Tonight Feature

I don't quite know how she's not sent me the recording straight away but on Friday, Mecca's book about the tube -
One Stop Short of Barking - which I ably worked on, was featured on TV on London Tonight at 6pm and also previewed on the 3pm version London Today. I've got a copy of the video now which features a short interview with Mecca and Geoff has promised to work out a way of getting it streamed for the web. But in the meantime you can hear a recording of the afternoon feature here - this doesn't have Mecca's dulcet tones on it, but gives you a good idea of the way the book was covered.

See, Geoff n Neil, you're not the only media whores in town.


; Posted by Annie Mole Thursday, September 30, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Neil n Geoff in the news

Record breaking duo in the Standard

I know that they're such shy and retiring shrinking violets who never court publicity, so I'll blog this for them. My co-bloggers have made it to page 19 of today's
Evening Standard with their record breaking tube challenge.

I love the last paragraph "Mr Marshall will not reveal the route in order to protect the record. But it began at 5.29am in Amersham on the Metropolitan line and ended at 12.05am at Upminster on the District line. Ironically, after their mission they missed the last Tube home and had to take a mini-cab."

Well done Messers Marshall and Blake - you'll be on Newsnight next.

UPDATE

Not quite Newsnight but Geoff is going to be on the radio later not once, but twice - LBC at 6.20pm and BBC London at 6.40pm. Both have live streams. Wot a media whore.


; Posted by Annie Mole Wednesday, September 29, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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New tube map front cover

Combination of art history, design and collective memory

I could never be an art critic or an artist for that matter. Reading Metro yesterday I discovered that the new pocket tube map which is printed in millions has a commissioned cover design.

Detail of new Tube Map front cover design


It's a target made up with colours of the Tube lines, which is fine, colourful and bold - but is it really (as the arty press release would have us believe) "deceptive in its apparent simplicity with its own identity inextricably linked with that of London Underground" and does it "playfully combines the Tube line colours with art historical references, graphic design and our collective memory"?

Our collective memory of what? It's just our collective memory of tube line colours, as it "prompts a double-take as we work out why it seems so familiar".

The press release continues with this memory of tube line lark and I'm afraid it's just a bit too arsey, sorry, arty: "Emma Kay is interested in how objective facts and figures are subjected to the eccentricities of our memories. 'You Are in London' (the title of the piece) is Kay's own memory audit of the tube line colours. Combining a popular symbol with a familiar set of colours she lays claim to both."

Why not get a bit more surreal though? If something was to represent our collective memory of the Tube, I think it would have to be a bit out of focus (not just representing drunken nights on the underground). Pulling on my arty goatee beard I'd envisage something that combines speed with the dichotomy of a private company looking after a public service. Something which merges inner turmoil and ennui with the discordant echoes of Munch's The Scream. Something where Victorian values mingle unhappily with a 21st century phenomena struggling phoenix-like through a mire of bureaucracy, politics and public opinion.

Sorry, I had a bit of a Sister Wendy Beckett moment there. But if you had to artistically visualise the Tube, how would you do it?


; Posted by Annie Mole Wednesday, September 29, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
http://london-underground.blogspot.com/2004/09/new-tube-map-front-cover.html

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Tubebacca

Loving this picture

I know it's from last week's Metro and I should have blogged it earlier, but I just love the nonchalant way he's sitting with his copy of Metro



; Posted by Annie Mole Tuesday, September 28, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Monday, September 27, 2004

Just seconds out

Apologies as I'm going to be all 'Neil' sounding here, and divulge with you some of my daily travelling dilemma.

I got to Victoria this morning (already running late thanks to a cancelled South West Trains service which would have normally taken me into Waterloo) at 09.48

I work at White City/Shepherd's Bush - I don't mind which station I get to as they're both damn close to Auntie Beeb herself.

So what would be the quickest way from Victoria? Up to the Central line on the Victoria and then head west? Wait for a Circle line train and go round to Notting Hill and then head west? Or perhaps get a District to Hammersmith, and then change to the H&C and go north a couple of stops?

[FX: Adopts geordie accents - What would you do? You decide! ]

Sorry, I came over all Big Brother there for a moment.

Well in the end, I opted for the District/Circle platform figuring I would just take whatever came first. That turned out to be an Ealing Broadway train which was already on the platform as I got it. Now sadly enough I happen to know the exact times of the H&C trains out of Hammersmith at this time of the morning. They're at 10.04, 10.12, 10.20 etc.. 8 minutes apart - and so I'm doing rough mental calculations in my head, and I figure that I should be able to make the 10.12 with a couple of minutes to change - providing I run all the way and avoid getting run over at the crossing of Hammersmith's one way system.

Except - of course - just after leaving Gloucester Road, the driver cheerfully announced that his line controller had informed him that the train was now going to Wimbledon instead. "Aggh" I thought - if he'd of announced that a station back, I would of got out and got the Circle line train that was 3 minutes behind.

Instead I get out and wait on the platform at Earl's Court for the next District train to come through which is an Ealing Broadway one and will take me to Hammersmith. But it's only then that I realise that the smart thing to have done would have been to dash down to the Piccadilly line platforms and get to Hammersmith that way - more quickly as the trains don't stop at West Kensington! And I'm supposed to be the bloody tube expert around here!

The result? Well I hardly need to tell you, do I - because you know what's coming. I get to Hammersmith at 10.10 and a few seconds. I jump out - sprint up the steps in my big coat and work bag (not easy), and see my life almost flash before my eyes as I race across the crossing just as the the traffic starts to move, run into the H&C line station .. I can see the 10.12 waiting to leave! The signal is on green! I slide my ticket into the barrier (I live outside Zone 6, so no 'Oyster' for me...) through the barrier .. run towards the train ... just as the doors 'beep' and the doors close as I'm a few metres away ... Aaaagh!

I look at station clock and my watch. They're the same - it's 10.11 and 57 seconds.

Who says that the tube never runs to time?


; Posted by geofftech Monday, September 27, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Tubelation !

Is it right to talk up your own achievments? I'm not convinced that it is actually, so I did ask Annie to do this on behalf of myself and Neil, but she's not within internet-range all day and so I find myself having to talk ourselves up. What am I talking about ? ... This of course:





Yup.. they finally got back to us, with confirmation
our last attempt to break the world record. God bless them at Guinness. When I rang them two weeks ago to ask how it was going (and mention it was a shame that we'd missed out on the 50th anniversarry book that's just come out) then told me that 'They still hadn't looked at my claim yet' (Three+ months after I'd submitted it), but it now had 'high priority'.

High enough eventually, for me to be woken by my girlfriend this morning from my slumber with the words "Somethings just turned up in post that I you're going to want to see", and passed me a sturdy envelope which I quickly ripped open to find inside ...





So there you have it. We are official. 18 hours, 35 minutes and 43 seconds. Now for us to get our grinning mugs in ' Metro' I think ... :-)


; Posted by geofftech Thursday, September 23, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
http://london-underground.blogspot.com/2004/09/tubelation.html

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

From Edgeware to Amersham

And that's not a typo! It's deliberate.

I myself (as recommended by Annie) was reading her book of the moment (
see below) of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night" last night - in bed, and noticed that typo which every good writer about the tube makes once in a while. Yup - on the map plan of the Bakerloo line (towards the back of the book, he says without trying to give too much of the story away) they'd written 'Edgware Road' as 'Edgeware Road' by mistake. Tsk! Very shoddy.

Edgware Road, or even Edgware is not a place that exists in the Meaning of Liff though. This is a classic book that did the rounds a good 10 to 15 years ago, (and was quite funny then, but I'm not so sure about now) and was a dictionary of definitions for things which previously didn't have a word.

My favourite? A "Huby" - "An erection large enough to be a publically embarassing bulge in the trousers, but not large enough to be of use to anybody". You get the idea.

Anyway, a lot of the defintions are named after place names in the UK, and whilst browsing through the index, I couldn't fail to spot 'Amersham', which is listed as:

Amersham - "Is the sneeze which tickles, but never comes. (Thought to derive from the Metropolitan line tube station of the same name, where the rails always rattle but the train never arrives)."

Intruiged? You can download and have a look at it here.


; Posted by geofftech Tuesday, September 21, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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What were you doing last January?

Snow Fun

You know Metro run lots of small ads from the BBC and other television companies asking if people have had bad experiences with builders or banks or Brazillian waxers and want to appear on TV. Well, we have an appeal through Jag as a TV company (
Brook Lapping) are currently working on a "Cutting Edge" programme about how London ground to halt last January (30th Jan 2003, that is) because we had four centimetres of snow. I remember the date well as I broke my leg in two places the following day by falling on some ice outside a railway station.

It took Jag (from Route79 blog) 9 hours to get home and he chronicled his nightmare journey including letters to all manner of people on his site. He will be appearing on the Channel 4 programme and said: "the folks from Brook Lapping have indicated that they might "hire" some underground trains at night for use in filming a psuedo-reconstruction of my journey home! I haven't been given any details other than to prepare to take part in some "overnight" filming!"

Jag and the production company will be popping by from time to time so post any nightmare stories of how you got home that night - whether by tube, train or car - here.


; Posted by Annie Mole Tuesday, September 21, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Monday, September 20, 2004

Date for some diaries

Harry Beck Map author talks at Kew

At the risk of sounding like someone from the Women's Institute or the Vicar of Dibley, I'm going to post some news of a talk that's being held in a church hall. Next Thursday - 30th September 7.30pm for 8pm - Ken Garland, the guy who wrote "
Mr Beck's Underground Map", will be talking about the creator of the Tube map, the Tube map as well (and his book - I imagine) at The Barn Church in Kew. For a modest two quid you get a glass of wine or a soft drink too. I don't know whether they're selling tickets on the night, but you can get them in advance by sending a cheque made payable to "The Kew Society" to Stephen Enthoven, Flora House, 81 Kew Green, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AH - don't forget to enclose an SAE.



Many thanks to Will Dyke for alerting me to this.

As Kew is a stone's throw from where I live I'll try to pop along myself too.


; Posted by Annie Mole Monday, September 20, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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That was just terrible

Well, now I know what it's like to be a contestant on Pop Idol.

I failed. Yep - nil points, nothing, nada, chuff. But I didn't run out of the room crying to Ant and Dec saying "I really really wanted this" in a Geordie accent.

"Regrettfully," I have been "unsuccessful on this occasion" in my attempt to get a job at LU, which has REALLY surprised me because I thought I'd done quite well in each of the four elements of the assessment day.

I don't know exactly why yet because they are going to write to me and tell me where it all went wrong. You're only told yes or no on the day, not why. We were told that even if you do badly in one element you can recover it in the other three so I either failed abysmally at something in their eyes or I was rubbish in all four and I KNOW I answered all the numeracy questions correctly and I'm sure my handwriting wasn't THAT messy. I'm of the opinion it was probably the role play because at the interview (stage four) I answered all the questions very fully and the interviewer was scribbling furiously as I spoke!

And when I do find out I probably won't tell you because I have some pride left you know!

So, if I still really want to work for LU in that particular post, I have to wait one year before I can apply again. I'll be back (and I'll know what to expect next time unless they radically change their assessment procedure).

Anyone got a job?


; Posted by Neil Monday, September 20, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
http://london-underground.blogspot.com/2004/09/that-was-just-terrible.html

Friday, September 17, 2004

Gloomy Friday Tube Haiku

Revellers beware
New Year may be a wash out
Bobby Law killjoy

Here we go again.


; Posted by Annie Mole Friday, September 17, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Who's the goat then?

Fare's fair? (sorry a pun worthy of Geoff)

In the Standard last night and in Metro this morning it was announced that we're going to face above inflation fare rises on the Tube and buses. This is despite a certain person claiming that fares would be fixed at the rate of inflation for the next four years.

Lynne Featherstone chairman of the London Assembly's transport committee (we like Lynnne she replied to my small campaign about security issues
last year) said:

"The failure to tackle the transport funding black hole shows that leaving XXXXX to manage a budget is like leaving a goat to tend the cabbages".

Nice one Lynne, and no real prizes for guessing who XXXXX is.


; Posted by Annie Mole Thursday, September 16, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
http://london-underground.blogspot.com/2004/09/whos-goat-then.html

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Alice in Under-land

Just a quicky - because I've got a strange aversion to long blog posts at the moment :-) ,as a colleague pointed me in the direction of this today:


"Lewis Carroll's Alice has been transported to contemporary London. She lives in a run down estate with a mother who isn't coping and, rather than disappearing down a hole by the riverbank, this Alice runs away to the Underground where she meets an equally bizarre collection of characters.The modern day transformation works well and the energetic music quickly creates all the strange people she meets: drug addicts, gospel singing enthusiasts, isolated commuters, muggers and country music singing prostitutes with a heart of gold. The cast rapidly change from character to character, apart from Emma Cambridge who movingly creates the confused and lonely Alice who welcomes all these strange people into her life."

Yes, it's a musical based on the Tube! It's at the Queen's theatre, Hornchurch (Nearest Tube, er.. Hornchurch) but is only on for a couple of more days! See the
BBC Essex website for complete details.


; Posted by geofftech Wednesday, September 15, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Celebrity Station Announcements

Please let the Tube do these

Coming home through Waterloo mainline station last night I heard this booming Big Brother style announcement - saying "Hi I'm Nick Ross, please look after your belongings as there are lots of people around interested in nicking your stuff"....well they weren't the exact words but definitely that was the sentiment. Not sure how many people in the station knew who Nick Ross was and in fact with the announcement he sounded more like Tony Blair, but he's one of the people who presents
Crimewatch on BBC.

Perhaps it would have helped if he'd have said (Simpson stylie) "Hi I'm Nick Ross, you may remember me from the popular BBC series Crimewatch....", but I spose that makes for a rather long announcement.

So is this going to be a new trend? Getting celebrities to make relevant voiceovers on PA's. I'd quite like someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger to do a "Mind the Gap" one.


; Posted by Annie Mole Wednesday, September 15, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Tube Challenge Hell!

OK, it's blogmania today but I've just come up with this (with a little help from my friend, and no, it wasn't Geoff given that it's a tube thing).

It's called the Chocolate Tube Challenge and here are the rules what I came up with:

1. The challenge is played by individual competitors; 10 would be an ideal number.

2. The game is played in rounds.

3. Round 1 - the competitors travel around the underground system on the same train until it arrives at a station with a chocolate machine on the platform. The position of the chocolate machine in round 1 should be directly opposite a set of train doors.

4. As soon as the doors open, one person runs from the train and attempts to purchase a chocolate bar from the machine and return to the train before the doors close. None of the other players are allowed to hold the doors for him or her and he or she must return to the train holding the chocolate bar in his or her possession. (See rule 15).

5. Players are allowed to use the correct change (50p) for faster transaction times.

6. Players continue taking it in turns at subsequent stations to run out and buy their chocolate. Round 2 will not begin until all the players have attempted to purchase a chocolate bar in round 1 and so on throughout the rounds.

7. Should a player not make it back onto a train before the doors close he or she will be eliminated from the game (and will have to find their way home, to the pub or back to join the others somewhere else).

8. Once a player has bought a bar of chocolate he or she must consume it immediately.

9. Once every player has had a turn at getting chocolate, round 2 begins. In this round players must alight from the train ONE SET OF DOORS further from the chocolate machine to make it more difficult.

10. Any player throwing up will be immediately disqualified.

11. If, for any reason a player returns to the train WITHOUT a chocolate bar (broken machine, wasn't fast enough, has no fingers so can't type in the number for Dairy Milk) then that player will not be allowed to take part in the next round but will have to wait for the round after that (meaning he'll have to run even further next time). Players can abandon their attempt and return to the train at any time but will suffer the "missing round" penalty. Confucious he say "No chocolate bar, no next round." The number of missed rounds must be noted down for later (see rule 14).

12. Every set of doors on a train counts as a "set of doors", not just the big double ones in the middle where such trains are used for the challenge. Players must choose a direction to move once round 1 is over and continue moving in that direction until the end of the challenge. Players may not move back towards the chocolate machine.

13. The winner is not simply the last person left at the end of the game. That's too easy. The winner is the person who collected and ate the most chocolate bars without throwing up, being locked out of a train or being arrested for dangerous platform behaviour. Once the last but one player has been eliminated and there is only one player left, that player MUST make an attempt from the door position attempted by the player before him. Regardless of whether he or she is successful, the winner will be determined as detailed above. This method also ensures that each remaining player gets a go in the current round.

14. Should two or more players be level on chocolate bars collected after the final round then their stats will be compared:

If one tying player has no failures to collect a chocolate car and the others do, he is the winner. Otherwise, the player with the smallest number of failures is the winner.

Should more than one tying player have the smallest number of failures, or more than one tying player have no failures then the number of missed rounds is taken into account.

The player with the fewest missed rounds is the winner. Should no tying players have any missed rounds then the game is tied between the players with no tying rounds.

If there are still two or more tying players with the same number of missed rounds then forget the whole thing and go down the pub. It's getting silly now and it's only a stupid game.

15. Players must purchase item number 11 - Dairy Milk from the vending machines. Any player returning to the train with any other chocolate bar will be disqualified.

16. Players may take their turn at any time during a round so long as they only make ONE attempt per round. The order in which players go in can therefore change between rounds as the winner is not simply the last one left (see rule 13).

17. Once a tube line has been chosen to travel on, all players must stay on that line to ensure the running distances from the doors remain synchronised.

18. Comments to this post suggesting rule changes will be ignored or, at best, replied to in a brusque fashion. It's MY idea so these are the rules. So ner! I may also tinker with the rules prior to this actually happening one day.

Obviously, there is no time limit to this. You just travel up and down your chosen line stopping at stations with machines. You will need to travel the line beforehand to work out the door positions for each station's machines and be in that position for each round at the station before.

Anyone up for it?


; Posted by Neil Tuesday, September 14, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
http://london-underground.blogspot.com/2004/09/tube-challenge-hell.html

Going for a ride on the tube

I saw something last night going home on the District Line that I don't think I'd ever seen before - someone taking on board a bicycle!

When I first saw the woman on the platform at Earl's Court, I thought "Surely she's not about to take that with her, is she?", but yup .. she did, right onto a (admittedly not packed) quite busy trains, where she stayed all the way down to Wimbledon.

It wasn't even as if it was a small bike, and she had a box strapped to the back of it which kept slipping off .. and then to make matters worse, she then prompted to spend the whole journey inadequately holding up the bike with one hand whilst reading a document or similar with her other. Result? Twice the bike fell over hit people... nice!

So are bikes allowed on the tube? Well according the the
TFL website, they are allowed on certain lines, and that DOES include all of the 'cut and cover' sections (e.g the District) but only between certain times - Not between 07.30 and 09.30 in the morning, and not between 16.00 and 19.00 in the evening.

And the time of this last night? It was five past seven! So I'm guessing she must of known about the time restriction, but it still to me seemed a little awkward and she annoyed many other passengers who gave her menacing looks as if to to say that they thought she obviously shouldn't be there.

Me? Well, I'm going to stick my neck out and say that I don't think she should have been there either .. to me it seems daft allowing bikes onto a busy metro train service where there are a lot of stops and lots of people frequently getting on and off. So yes .. I would totally ban all bikes on all lines in the central zones ... your comments?



; Posted by geofftech Tuesday, September 14, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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New Route Analysis (Part 3)

After the St. Pancras fiasco of yesterday I decided to do the tube to West Hampstead and got to New Cross station at 06.40 to find that the 06.32 was late leaving and was ready to go. So, 5 minutes up already. Got to Canada Water, got straight on a train, got off at West Hampstead... Oh, does anyone actually care? Do you give a shit?

I can't be bothered pursuing this pointless narrative any more. I'm sure you're all bored by it too, so here's something more light-hearted.

Is it a sin to make fun of a man of the cloth? Well tough if it is because t'other day, whilst on the Jubilee line I saw this rather racy Catholic priest resplendent in purple shirt, oversized crucifix and Doc Martens, obviously fresh out of another invigorating mass (or something):



It's just SUCH a pity he chose to sit in the seat he did.

But at least he's smiling as he reads "Which Rosary?". I wonder which font it's printed in? (Geddit??!!)

He may have gone home and logged on to
www.getfed.com/index.cfm?&AID=185&new=yes (yes, there's a website for everything these days). I particularly like this item. It'll look dead classy in my display cabinet with all my Princess Diana plates.

Hmmm, Ocean Finance Ad Chic. "Well, me and the wife went to Ocean Finance to buy some new furniture to replace this gaudy tat. We also ripped up the green carpet and took the textured wallpaper down."

Sorry, going off at a tangent now.


; Posted by Neil Tuesday, September 14, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Monday, September 13, 2004

Working for LU

So yes. I've applied for a job with LU, helping get the tourists to places at stations and making sure people know where they're going.

For some reason, applying for a job with LU provokes strange reactions from my friends.

Geoff, naturally is very excited. He advises me not to mention the fact that we've set the world record for travelling to all the stations (
www.geofftech.co.uk/tubechallenge/tube7.htm - I'm the one with no hair) when I go for my final interview and gets turned on by the prospect of me getting my copy of LU's internal magazine/newsletter (I suppose he reads enough corporate crap in Ariel every month so he needs a change of scenery).

My ex-girlfriend-who-I-live-with (yes, it can be done successfully) is also very excited and thinks I should mention the tube challenge to show that I know about the tube (but my argument against that is that I didn't need to do the challenge to know all about it anyway).

Now, I'm somewhere in the middle. I don't want to voluntarily mention it but then again I've got a slight urge to tell them. What do I do? Is it best to just get the job on the strength of my undeniable charisma and fantastic customer service skills or do I play the geek card and make them think I'm a 'nutter'?

Anyway, the interview is on Saturday at West Kensington station (which is where these things take place) and should I successfully pass I'll be off to the training centre to learn how to climb a ladder and step over a rail whilst carrying up to 4kg of equipment. I would also need to prove I can see with both eyes and have perfect hearing.

I would also receive the magic all-zones Oystercard (muhahahahah) and never have to pay to travel round London ever again (unless I get a taxi or one of those rickshaw deathtraps from outside Covent Garden but you know). I've already got an all-zones travelcard paper ticket but I have to pay for it. Plus you get 38 days' holiday a year including Bank Holidays.

And, of course, once I've been there a while (6 months I think, I'm not entirely sure how it works at the moment) I can apply to become a driver (sorry, 'Train Operator') which is what I REALLY want to do. Naturally, Geoff wets his pants over this too and no doubt if I ever became a 'Train Operator' he'd pester me to let him ride in the cab with me (sorry sir, it's more than my job's worth - against regulations - what would the unions say etc etc).

Now, of course, there are drawbacks. If you're on the early shift, it's up at 4am or something and if you're on lates you finish at 1.30am or thereabouts and have drunk twats to deal with. And with earlies you can't get the tube to work cos it's not running so it's the nightbus or the bike. (I think I'm going to get a bike because then I can ride through red lights and kill commuters - fantastic). But it's all part of the job and I'd rather do shiftwork than 9 to 5 to be honest since a few of my previous jobs have been early starters and I've always been an early person (up at 8am at weekends - I just can't do lie-ins).

Despite getting sent a message by Capita (who administer the online applications so I wasn't full of confidence it would go tits up) saying that my 'application was expiring on the 31st of August' they're still advertising for station staff since they always need them - either the turnover must be high or they're just increasing the staff levels for better service. So if you fancy a go yourself, apply!

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/jobs-customer-services.shtml

(They've got to give me the job now - I've just given them a free ad!) :-)

I'll let you know what happens.


; Posted by Neil Monday, September 13, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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New Route Analysis (Part 2)

So then. This morning the new Thameslink timetable started. Northbound trains terminate at Kings Cross Thameslink and southbound trains terminate at St. Pancras. If you want to carry on using Thameslink you have to walk between the two via Euston Road.

What I hadn't realised is that they've completely rebuilt the platforms at St. Pancras. Or, should I say, built completely new ones with a new canopy over the top of them, replacing the original Victorian one.

So, new station, new timetable, commuters doing it for the first time. What do YOU think it was like? It was a nightmare. There were about 50 to 100 station staff there all with timetables trying to work out which trains were stopping at all stations and which ones weren't. You had trains arriving and hundreds of people crowding through the platform barriers (an invention I've never understood) whilst people were trying to go through the barriers in the opposite direction to get onto the train on the adjacent platform (good logistics there).

You had people tutting and sighing as usual and that bloody annoying "Would Inspector Sands please report to the control room" OVER and OVER again for 10 minutes. (Ask someone what it means -I can't be bothered to tell you).

So I walked out of Kings Cross Thameslink station and down Euston Road, past Kings Cross mainline station and then completely missed the turning for the new entrance to St. Pancras. I only realised once I was past the huge station building (which, of course, they can't rebuild because it's Grade I listed). So I turned round, ran back and missed my train by 30 seconds. Arse.

Never mind. At least I know for tomorrow now. I might even get to New Cross a few minutes early and get the 06.45 East London Line train to Canada Water and see if I can get the Jubilee line to West Hampstead for 07.40. NC to Canada Water - 6 minutes. CW to West Hampstead - 27 minutes. Allowing a 4 minute change at CW and a 5 minute walk at WH, I make that a total travelling time from NC of 42 minutes. So I should get to the Thameslink platform at WH at 07.22 so I may even make the 07.25 from WH. Perfect. Sod St. Pancras.

So, here's a picture of the 'new' St. Pancras platforms from far end of the platform near the front of my train (you can just make out the old St. Pancras station in the background beyond the temporary white wall):



; Posted by Neil Monday, September 13, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Sunday, September 12, 2004

Prom diddly prom prom prom ...

Ever seen Marble Arch station overrun with 20,000 people all trying to get out at the the same time? I have!

Hello, and welcome to BBC Proms in the Park which I went to yesterday and squeeeeezed myself onto the Central Line along with absolutely every other bod seemingly all at the same time, such was the lack of breathing space that I had. I learnt my lesson and walked to Green Park afterwards and got the Jubilee line home instead though.

On my carriage - which was still quite busy - I noticed that the next one down had quite a lot of empty space, which puzzled me for a second until I squeeeeed down to the end of the carriage and peered through the connecting doors to discover the reason - Ah! A tube drunk/nutter - available from all good shops - but accessories not included.





Fortunately this drunken nutter had gone and got his own, courtesy of his local NHS outlet, and thus he'd got the most space I've seen on a packed train for a while as he slurred his insults and waved his crutches around for a few minutes before then passing out. And SNAP that's when I took my picture, and a few other people then braved to rest their weary legs by sitting vaguely near him, but still leaving a crutches length of space between him and them. Hmmm, I wonder if he had a valid ticket?

I also feel the urge to give a quick mention to something which caught my eye last week - so much so that I took a picture of it.

So many times I hear people complain and grumble about the tube saying that it's horrible, dirty, smelly and late and blah .. blah .. blah .. okay get off your soapbox already! And when you do, get your head out of your Evening Standard for once as well and look around and trying walking instead of rushing and you'll see a lot of cool stuff around the tube of things from yesteryear that you probably walk by everyday and don't pay a moments attention to.

So this is from the terminus station of Hammersmith when I went through it the otherday, and there's the remains of what was obviously a huge advertising slogan for something many years ago - so long ago that it cost an amount of money that's done in shillings and pence which is something even I don't have a concept of - and I feel like I'm old! Which makes this even older.





So there you go. When you're at your local tube station this week, just stop for a second and take a look, for old maps, adverts etc... telltale signs of what once was once on the oldest metro system in the world.


; Posted by geofftech Sunday, September 12, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Thursday, September 09, 2004

Just finished THE book of the year

The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night Time

If you've not read the above book yet, please, please, please do. It's fantastic. I finished it in a day and a bit. I know there's a current trend for adults reading books aimed at children (from Harry Potter - shite in my opinion - sorry, to Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials - brill), but this breaks the mould as it's not set in some fantasy world. It's about a teenage boy (Christopher Boone) with Asperger's Syndrome (a type of autism) who knows "a great deal about maths and very little about human beings". There's a particularly pertinent part (well for this blog anyway) about his first visit on the Tube. Ruth Rendell opened her Tube novel King Solomon's Carpet with someone's first visit on the Tube (where they die at the end of it - rather extreme), but Christopher's view is equally as fantastic and frightening. Here's a tiny piece from Christopher's journey - take yourself back to when you were a child and I'm sure your first trip on the Tube would have seemed like Hell (or perhaps your everyday commute is like this):

"then there was a sound like people fighting with swords and I could feel a strong wind and a roaring started and I closed my eyes and the roaring got louder and I groaned really loudly but I couldn't block it out of my ears and I thought the little station was going to collapse or there was a big fire somewhere and I was going to die. And then the roaring turned into a clattering and a squealing and it slowly got quieter and then it stopped and I kept my eyes closed because I felt safer not seeing what was happening. And then I could hear people moving again because it was quieter. And I opened my eyes but I couldn't see anything at first because there were too many people."

Christopher is so freaked out by this, he closed his eyes again, concentrates on some Kuoni ads, closes his eyes and then "I opened my eyes and I looked at my watch and it said 8:07pm and I had been sitting on the bench for approximately 5 hours but it hadn't seemed like 5 hours, except that my bottom hurt and I was hungry and thirsty". Wish time would pass like that for me on the Tube.

After losing his pet rat on the tracks and almost electrocuting himself when rescuing it, he manages to successfully get on the Tube (noticing every sign, ad, person and piece of upholstery) and travels to Willesden Junction from Paddington. For someone who never normally goes further than the end of the road by themselves, his complete train ride from Swindon to London becomes like a voyage to another planet - as he'd always dreamed of being an astronaut - you can really sympathise with his journey.


; Posted by Annie Mole Thursday, September 09, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

New Route Analysis (Part 1)

Well, last night I decided to test out a possible route home (thanks to everyone who suggested ideas for how I should get to and from work from Monday).

My route was Thameslink to West Hampstead, walk to the Jubilee line station, Jubilee line to Canary Wharf, walk to Heron Quays DLR and DLR to Deptford Bridge.

Now I had to miss my usual train south because it doesn't stop at West Hampstead. So I caught the next one 10 minutes later. The tube was relatively quiet at West Hampstead - by the time we were leaving Westminster it was heaving. The only downside to this route is the fact that I am joining the DLR halfway along its route to Lewisham so it's packed and there's nowhere to sit. When I get on at Bank I'm always first on so I get my usual seat but I can live with that.

I arrived at Deptford Bridge at 18.30 after a total travelling time of 1 hour 15 minutes. Using my usual route I get home at 18.15.

So despite leaving St. Albans 10 minutes later than usual, I got home only 15 minutes later than usual. So I think that's going to be my route home form now on. Now I have to test a route TO work.

Oh, another downside - I won't be able to play "race the bus between Moorgate and Bank". The roads between Moorgate and Bank (which are cunningly called "Moorgate" and "Princes Street") are so busy with traffic when I walk between the two stations that I usually beat the buses which drive down there. I like looking at the faces of the poor sods on the bus as they watch you walk past them for the third time as they stop at red lights AGAIN.

Try it yourself. Go to Moorgate station today at 17.45. Walk southwards down Moorgate and bear left into Princes Street at the Bank of England. If there is a bus anywhere near Moorgate going south when you leave the station you will get to Bank before it without having to walk too quickly. Crazy times. Just don't try to race the bus between Bank and its final destination because the traffic clears up after that.


; Posted by Neil Wednesday, September 08, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Err, which platform am I on?

Notice anything unusual about this picture?



; Posted by Neil Tuesday, September 07, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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More Map Madness

I got told about ANOTHER tube map variation last night! A friendly email last night pointed me in the direction of a direct German translation of the tube map - and this is (as far as I can tell) for real and not an attempt at a gag!

Click on the map to to to the site of the author at
http://www.aardvark.at/




; Posted by geofftech Tuesday, September 07, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Monday, September 06, 2004

Sometimes I get caught out too ...

People often say too me "So tubegeek... you must really love the tube then huh?".

Well no actually - it pisses me off big time on the many occasions that it does break down.

Take today for example. I have a lunch hour. It should be perfectly possibly for me to travel from White City to Ealing Broadway, spend 20 minutes in Ealing and then come back again in time.

Not today ... apart from the fact that there were three out-of-their heads on god-knows-what
chavscum in our carriage abusing everone (They were drunk, loud, abnoxious, and one of them REALLY DID have a fake burberry cap on) which made me change trains along with several other people - by the time I came back a 'signal failure at Stratford' was mucking up the whole of the central line.

I fail to see how a signal failure that far down the line can have an effect as far back as White City. Perhaps if the volume that the drivers PA was set to enabled you to HEAR what he was saying on the occasions that he did try to tell us, then everyone wouldn't have got so annoyed.

Instead, it took me 47 minutes to get back between Ealing Broadway and White City, 20 of those minutes were sat agonisingly outside White City station itself - and it drives me mad. So yes... even tubegeeks get affected sometimes.

I remember when Jack Welsby last got the tube record, the LU press office put a big positive spin on it saying "He was able to do this due to the improvements that we've made under PPP". This is bobbins! (That's a real word, btw)

If Guinness ratify us (any day now, surely?), then I can tell you now that I'm going to say "A lot it is just pure luck on the day that nothing breaks down on this ageing and underfunded system", because all too depressingly often something does break down almost every single day. Siiiiigh.


; Posted by geofftech Monday, September 06, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Cor blimey guv it's today's Metro Momento

Walford East

There's a
new family arriving in Walford tonight who I can assume will be causing loads of problems in EastEnders. So it's kind of appropriate that Metro did a feature today on the Tube's most popular station Walford East.

"Based on Maida Vale tube station and taking the place of Bromley-by-Bow on the District Line, the fictional Walford East Underground station was built to provide another backdrop for all the drama from those famous EastEnders.....

Walford East was officially born in 1996
".

Fans outside Walford East last September, when the station got its last face-lift - the addition of Metros


Quite a long time for them to go without a Tube station as the soap started in 1984. You always saw people in the soap jumping on and off buses, but now the Tube seems to be the preferred mode of travel (next to the taxi of course when they usually leave and never ever return).

There's one guy at Transport for London (Nick Triviais) who's actually responsible for updating the timetables and poster campaigns at Walford East. Now poster campaigns I can well believe, but timetables. Is anyone really eagle eyed enough to worry about the timetable of a fictitious Tube station?

Trivias says "Walford East has every iconic London Underground feature fitted into one station in order to make it instantly recognisable as an Underground station to viewers who might have never been to London"

"Every iconic London Underground feature".....hmmm, I suppose their definition of feature is a bit limited. As there's no escalators, no buskers, no rats, no litter, no British Transport police, very few people at the station and probably, most noticeably, no trains.


; Posted by Annie Mole Monday, September 06, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Friday, September 03, 2004

Upside down Underground

I'll start by giving a shameless plug to myself, on a page where I do like to
collect all the different variations of tube maps that are floating around the internet.

I once spent a rather dull and rainy Sunday afternoon reversing the tube map and writing it all the names again using the correct font, so that Mill Hill East and High Barnet appeared at the bottom of the map, and Morden at the top. They're on all this page here.

Well today I discovered a brand new variation! I can't take credit for it, but I don't know where it came from either - perhaps if the author of it is reading this he could let us know?

Anyway, they've obviosuly spent a long time doing it, and it's what the tube map would look like if applied in a way where more of south London had tube stations instead of the north. Neat!

(Click on the image to see the rather large full version)

South London Tube Map


Updated - Its from Colour country's site!


; Posted by geofftech Friday, September 03, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Thursday, September 02, 2004

Laptops

Pose or a bag of onions

No, my cold hasn't addled my head completely, but in this morning's Metro I read one of those snippets of news which said that someone paid �250 for a laptop which some men were selling from the back of a lorry. However, when the guy got home he found that the laptop bag contained onions. Now, call me ridiculous, but wouldn't a laptop bag filled with onions feel like it contained something that wasn't a laptop? However tightly the onions were packed together, wouldn't it feel a bit lumpy against your shoulder or your lap?

I see loads of people with laptops on my travels and a lot of the time I spend on the tube I'm lugging round a laptop myself, but I've never found enough space on the tube to actually use the laptop. Mainly cos I don't get on with those little sensitive panels or nipply things that replace the mouse. I do love looking at what people get up to with their lap tops on trains though. On Tuesday a guy was spending his whole journey playing Patience (very exec), yesterday a man was doing a table plan for an event at his local cricket club (very exec) and this morning I saw someone who was actually putting together a PowerPoint presentation.



Is it just the people I sit next to or is only a small proportion of people who actually use their laptop for work on the tube?


; Posted by Annie Mole Thursday, September 02, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Escalator Question

Someone's bound to know this

Just received an email Trevor Gilles:

Hi, I trust all is well on your side of the planet.

I have visited your fair city twice '89 & '96 and the tube system is one
thing that I admired equally, if not more than the usual touristy landmarks
and has left lasting memories. I followed the updates on the Jubilee extension with a passion and I'm always keen to learn more about the system.

I have a question.

We walk on the left hand side of a footpath. Our trains run on the left. The people of your country (and mine) drive on the left, allowing faster
moving vehicles to overtake on the right.

Do you know why it is that on London escalators the rule is reversed: i.e. Keep right and allow any faster commuters to overtake on the left ?

Perhaps this was adopted from your European neighbours.

The rule in Australia regarding escalators is the same as our road rules..... Keep Left, unless overtaking.

Is there a logical answer? I'd enjoy any views you or others have.




I don't have a logical answer (Tube rules are not always logical) and as I'm a bit addled with a cold at the moment (Damn that Scottish rain), maybe you can help.


; Posted by Annie Mole Wednesday, September 01, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Thames-no-link

Ms Mole has rather generously allowed myself and Geoff to post whenever we like to this blog which is like giving a bag of sweets to a child and err, telling him to eat them (that's not quite right is it?)

Anyway, why do bad things happen on September the 11th?

This year it's Thameslink's turn to mess everything up as they're splitting their network in two whilst they rebuild St. Pancras as part of the new Channel Tunnel rail link terminus there.

Here's what the network normally looks like in the central area:



And here's a diagram of what the situation will be from the 11th:



On the top diagram, St. Pancras would be a "spur" coming off to the left between Kentish Town and Kings Cross Thameslink.

So, my current route to work involves me walking to New Cross station, catching a South Eastern train to London Bridge and then changing to a Thameslink train which takes me right through to St. Albans (which is off the top of the diagram). On the way home I catch a direct train into Moorgate, walk to Bank and catch the DLR to Deptford Bridge (I don't go home the way I come because London Bridge station is a nightmare after 4pm - see earlier post. Also, I don't get the Northern line from Moorgate to Bank because it's too crowded and the exercise is good for me).

The new service pattern will have northbound trains terminating at Kings Cross Thameslink and southbound trains terminating at St. Pancras and if you want to use Thameslink after that you have to walk the rather precise 570 metres between the two. Sod that for a game of soldiers. It also closes the Moorgate branch - most inconvenient for my trip home.

So, I invite you, the humble reader, with the aid of a London Connections map,

http://tube.tfl.gov.uk/content/tubemap/images/london_connnections.gif

to come up with a new route for me to get to and from work. It doesn't have to be the same in both directions - I like diversity and my current route isn't the same both ways anyway. Here are the facts you will need to help in your deliberations:

I live within easy walking distance of the following stations:

Deptford Bridge DLR
Deptford
New Cross
Greenwich

I travel to St. Albans (just north of Radlett and zone 6 at the top of the London Connections map). It shouldn't tbe too hard to see the current Thameslink route on that map given the diagrams above.

So, get to it! You've got 10 days to think of something for me.


; Posted by Neil Wednesday, September 01, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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