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Annie Mole's, webmaster of Going Underground, daily web log (blog).
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Underground Maps Unravelled

Tube map fans should be happy as London Underground map expert Max Roberts has another exhibition. "Underground Maps Unravelled: Explorations in Information Design" opens on the 3rd September at
The Minories Gallery, 74 High Street, Colchester, Essex.

His exhibition explores the success of Harry Beck's original map and the rules that it adopted, and asks whether today's networks demand fresh approaches.

Detail of Curvy Tube Map 2 by Maxwell Roberts

A collection of Max's own work will be on display. Including maps that break all the rules; maps that are easier to use (eg the Curvy Tube Map above); maps that teach us about good design; maps that challenge our preconceptions; and maps that are purely decorative (like the one below). Whether you are a graphic designer, transport professional, or just a frustrated commuter or tourist, maps will never seem the same again.

Detail of decorative Tube map by Maxwell Roberts

The exhibition is free and runs until 24th September 2010.


; Posted by Annie Mole Tuesday, August 31, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Friday, August 27, 2010

Out of Uniform - Tube Staff Art Exhibition

The first ever art exhibition organised by London Underground staff showing their own art work goes on display from 1st Septebmer 2010. 'Out of Uniform' is a unique event displaying paintings, photographs, poets and musicians who when in uniform work as Supervisors, ticket sellers, drivers and gate line staff.

Out of Uniform by version3point1

It will run until the 14th September at The 198 Gallery in Brixton Village SW2.

These staff are showing a completely different aspect of their daily working lives. It's often a surprise when we see their hidden talents revealed, as with the Caledonian Road Tube artwork featured earlier this week.

It looks as though this exhibition will uncover some real diversity, from a poetic Supervisor, a musical ticket seller, a photographing station assistant (the very talented Version 3 Point 1 who'll be displaying work from The Slumber Line) to a bonsai-loving train driver. There are also individual websites and a documentary film to view. Everything has been put together by the staff themselves - sadly with no official support from Art on the Underground.

For further details and a list of staff who will be exhibiting, visit Out of Uniform.


; Posted by Annie Mole Friday, August 27, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Oops upside your Tube - Filming at Temple

Interesting ad shot at Temple London Underground Station. I saw it at the cinema earlier this week, so not sure if it will appear on TV. I love the different perspectives of the Tube shown if your head was flipped around like a Rubik's cube.


Good seeing the Drench ad team shoot at a small working station rather than at the palatial
Canary Wharf or the disused Charing Cross platforms. The latter seems to be the station of choice for ads and stunts. Admittedly, it's a very shiny and clean looking Temple Tube, so I'm assuming it was shot pretty early in the morning before ordinary commuters started to arrive.


; Posted by Annie Mole Friday, August 27, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tube staff set dates for strike action

Up to 10,000 London Underground workers will walk out in strike action over the next few months. Members of the RMT and TSSA are in a dispute over plans to
cut jobs at ticket offices across the network.

Tube Running a Skeleton Crew

The first strike will be on Monday, September 6 2010 from 5pm and last 24 hours and involves maintenance and engineering staff. Then other workers, including train drivers, signallers and station staff, will strike for 24 hours from 9pm on September 6 and this will be followed by walkouts at the same time on October 3, November 2 and November 28.

RMT leader Bob Crow said "London Underground and Mayor Boris Johnson must understand that the cuts they want to impose are unacceptable to our members and will undermine safety and service for the travelling public."

"We have already had potential disasters narrowly averted, with fires at Euston and Oxford Circus and a runaway train on the Northern Line, and Boris Johnson's planned cuts would deal a potentially fatal blow to the ability to deal with emergencies."

In a press release today London Underground responded with the following "We need to change, but we will do so without compromising safety, without compulsory redundancies, and in a way that means all stations will continue to be staffed at all times and all stations with a ticket office will continue to have one.

"The weak mandate for strike action, which saw only around 35 per cent of TSSA members and less than a third of RMT members voting for a walkout, should resonate with the unions' leadership.

"These threatened strikes are in nobody's interest, and should not go ahead."


They claim that some ticket offices now regularly sell fewer than 10 tickets an hour. The quietest ticket offices include North Ealing, which sells less than six tickets per hour, and Latimer Road and Moor Park, which sell only around seven tickets per hour.

There is still potentially time for more talks to happen and the disputes to be called off or postponed, but with both unions announcing a number of dates, it will take some severe negotiations with ACAS for this to happen.

Update - 26th August - Just to make matters worse around 200 workers on the Northern and Jubilee lines will walk out on September 5th for 24 hours from 7pm, and then again on October 2nd, November 1st, and November 27th.

The staff in this case are up in arms about an "insulting" pay rise offer of 2%. Bob Crow said "The deal on offer is worth less than half of those won by other Tube workers this year, and the massive vote for action should tell Alstom all they need to know about our members' determination to win a fair pay deal."

Considering Bob Crow, had a salary rise of 12% this year (he now earns over £90,000), you can see why he thinks 2% is insulting!

Update - 26th November - talks to avert the Tube strikes have failed so the fourth strike takes place on Sunday 28th November and Monday 29th November.


; Posted by Annie Mole Wednesday, August 25, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Tube Photo of the Week - Caledonian Road Artists

Staff at Caledonian Road London Underground station have been flexing their artistic muscles again, with a lovely start to a Wednesday.

Beauty on the Underground by Anna Codrea-Rado

Anna Codrea-Rado spotted it this morning and said "What a great start to the commute! It definitely brought cheer to my day. All Tube stations should feature such messages".

There's a whole collection of Kim's artwork on the service information boards here, taken by Flickr snapper Caledonian Park.


; Posted by Annie Mole Wednesday, August 25, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Fruit and Veg added to Tube Garden competition

Unfortunately, if you don't live or work in the suburbs, many of you will think that a "Tube station garden" is a platform cleared of all its crisp packets, Metros, pizza boxes and pigeon droppings. The nearest thing to a London Underground garden you may have seen is some moss that's grown up between the cracks in the platform or weeds and buddleia trees taking over the sidings. However, it's time for the annual Underground in Bloom Awards.

Pinner London Underground Station Garden Winner 1966

Pictured above is the winner from Pinner in 1966. So resplandant with its 3,000 plants and flowers you can hardly read the station's name.

The Underground in Bloom awards aim to recognise Tube staff who have gone beyond the call of duty by making stations more attractive in their own time. Just in case you're feeling peckish, there's a new edible food category to support the Mayor’s Capital Growth programme which encourages organisations and communities to grow their own produce.

I'm not entirely sure if the green beans, sweetcorn, bananas, chillies and gooseberries grown at Hampstead, Tottenham Hale, Putney Bridge & North Acton will be shared amongst Tube commuters. Perhaps if you hang around the stations with a sorrowful look, the staff members might take pity on you and hand some out.

Extra points will be given to environmentally friendly gardens that attract wildlife or are water wise. Hopefully, the gardeners are putting their green fingers towards some ingenious uses for last night and this morning's heavy rainfall.

Let me know if you manage to get some shots of your station, if it's one of the 55 taking part and I'll update this post with some entries. The winning stations will be announced on 16th September at City Hall.

Update - Here's Rickmansworth's from Cormac

Rickmansworth "Underground in Bloom" Competition Entries by cormac70

He said "We're overall title holders, though I'm not massively impressed with the current state of the place. I think the hanging baskets are more impressive than The Tubs (which Ricky also won last year)"

West Kensington Tube - taken by 'Guest'

West Kensington Tube - Underground in Bloom


; Posted by Annie Mole Monday, August 23, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Tube Photo of the Week

Great spot by
@whatleydude of a service information board at Maida Vale London Underground station. Not content with just writing that the down escalators were err... down, the staff wanted to make things crystal clear.

TFL whiteboard @ Maida Vale  by whatleydude

James said "I love that they drew me a diagram explaining which was was down. Y'know, just in case... :)"

I only hope that no one tried to WALK UP the broken DOWN escalator after all that artistic effort!


; Posted by Annie Mole Friday, August 20, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Unusual London Underground Clocks

Did you know that the Tube has a variety of unusual clocks on the system? Up until now, the most unusual one I had seen was the one at Bethnal Green London Underground station from the 1940's.

Bethnal Green Tube Clock


Bethnal Green Tube clock by JazCummins
Bethnal Green Tube clock by JazCummins

JazCummins twittered this to me and I thought it was pretty unique. However, far from being the only one on the system, there's a number with the roundel design.

Redbridge Underground station by bowroaduk
Redbridge Underground station by bowroaduk

Bowroaduk has a whole collection of London Underground Clocks on Flickr including roundels for numbers at Redbridge (above) and Gants Hill.

There are also clocks encased in roundels such as the ones at South Wimbledon Tube and Tooting Broadway

Tooting Broadway Underground station by bowroaduk

His collection is well worth a visit and I'd be interested to hear if you've spotting any other unusual clocks on the Tube.

Clock on London Underground 1 by russelljsmith
Clock on London Underground 1 by russelljsmith

I wonder if anyone can identify where the photo of this encaged clock was taken? Russell James Smith took it and said "I thought all these cables "growing" around this clock looking kind of interesting. Can't remember which station it was (umm, yes I had been to the pub)."

You might also like

Time Travel on the Central Line - video of very strange timing on platform indicator!


; Posted by Annie Mole Tuesday, August 17, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Runaway Train on the Northern Line

I'm sure many of you have heard about the runaway engineering train yesterday morning on the London Underground. At around 6.40am the train became uncoupled as it was towed along between Archway and Warren Street Tube stations. The driverless train ran for nearly four miles before it came to a stop due to a slight incline at Warren Street.

Warren Street by lomomowlem

Passenger trains were diverted to another branch of the Northern Line while trains were cleared from the Charing Cross branch and that part of the line was closed for most of the day.

A passenger on the train in front of the engineering train described the experience to the BBC. Tom Redfern said: "As soon as we pulled away the driver came on the tannoy and said, 'There is an emergency, will everyone move towards the front of the train'. "There was a ripple of panic. I went from half asleep to a big adrenaline rush. I thought, 'Is this it?'"

The train went through all stations until Moorgate trying to keep ahead of the other vehicle.

Mr Redfern said: "We went full speed. We knew the situation was dangerous because we were going fast. Even by the driver's voice, we could tell it was serious."

London Underground are obviously making a full investigation as to how the incident took place and hopefully we will get to hear the results. I'll be keeping watch on the Rail Accident Investigation Branch site which investigates railway accidents and incidents on UK railways to improve safety.

As you may have also heard the RMT are going on strike in a row over staff cuts and safety. They were quite to make a statement after Friday's incident and said: "This horrific failure comes against a background of a systematic reduction in safety-critical jobs and safety procedures as a direct result of TfL's financial cuts programme. In the light of this morning's events it is essential that TfL call a halt to their cuts plans and bring an end to the dilution of Tube safety."

When the votes for strike action went through Bob Crow said its members would not "sit by while the tracks are turned into a death trap".

At the time London Underground's strategy director Richard Parry accused the RMT of "scaremongering". Now this (Friday 13th) accident has come at a time where Bob Crow must be thinking he's right. Whether there'll be any more public sympathy to the strike remains to be seen.


; Posted by Annie Mole Saturday, August 14, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Chivalry on Public Transport - London Transport Museum Ad

Last week's post on
London Underground Seat Etiquette led to lots of discussion on the rights or wrongs of giving up a seat. So I imagine my surprise this week, to see London Transport Museum have an ad on this. @Trixie spotted it on a bus stop in Camden.

London Transport Museum poster by Trixie

Trixie didn't like the poster and said it was "Massively inappropriate & too obscure a joke for the people who'd see it".

London Transport Museum who obviously thought otherwise and questioned this on Twitter "Really?", they asked.

What's your views? Laying aside whether women should or shouldn't be given seats - if you want to join the discussion on that leave a comment on the previous post, what do you think of the ad?

For a promotion for London Transport Museum I personally think it's very brave and I like the ex-King's moquette socks and tie! It's certainly eye catching too. But does it work better as an ad for public transport etiquette rather than a promotion for the Museum?

I'm don't know whether the ad will be placed on the London Underground and railway stations as well. Maybe Trixie's comment about it being "obscure for the people who'd see it" implies that it will be lost on bus travellers. Are rail or Tube travellers more likely to "get it"? Do you think more "appropriate" images for a "romantic age of travel" could have been used?


; Posted by Annie Mole Friday, August 13, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Seventies Japanese Subway Etiquette Posters

Looks like the Japanese have a history of being very creative (perhaps sometimes too creative) with their posters on how to behave on the subway.

Thanks to
@BlaiseGV, I came across some excellent 'vintage' posters of Tokyo Subway manners.

I'll leave you to try to guess what they are really represent (or you can click through to the link to find out), but here's my initial thoughts:

Warning Ninja Nuns on Board?

Warning Ninja Nuns on Board - April 1979

Beware of Charlie Chaplin impersonators

Beware of Charlie Chaplin impersonators - July 1976

Transformers will turn you into monsters if you behave incorrectly.

Transformers will turn you into monsters if you behave incorrectly.

The last one is actually from 1982 but was my personal favourite.

Compare these to "Please do this at home" campaign from 2008 and you'll see the Japanese have now gone for a more obvious approach. It must be a difficult balance from being clear & literal & maybe a touch patronising, to being so creative & running the risk of few understanding what you're trying to say.

Do you think these would work on the London Underground? Have you seen any posters which you think are too cryptic?


; Posted by Annie Mole Wednesday, August 11, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Monday, August 09, 2010

Oyster Card top up double charges

Watch what you're being charged when you top up your Oyster Card, as TfL has refunded £40,000 so far this year to people who have been over-charged by faulty machines.

Aliens take over Oyster Card Reader

Take particular note if you use machines at Victoria, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, and King Cross London Underground stations as these have had the highest number of complaints.

BBC London discovered the amount of refunds from a Freedom of Information request. So far 2,421 complaints have been made on over charging. Don't expect any errors on the machines to be magically refunded to your account as TfL explained that it will not be aware of any over-charging until the issue is reported by a passenger.

However they said "But we constantly check the screens on ticket machines and how the ticket machines are set up to minimise these problems."

Let us know if you've been over-charged recently and how you went about getting your money back.


; Posted by Annie Mole Monday, August 09, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Friday, August 06, 2010

Measuring Air on the Tube

Good to see this couple on the London Underground this morning measuring air at the foot of escalators at Holborn. The blades in the little "windmill" thing were spinning around like mad, making this area seem positively breezy in comparison to the stuffy air at platform level.

Monitoring air at Holborn Tube

Hopefully, this is a sign that TfL are working on improving the temperature at deep level platforms and trains running through them, despite cooling budget cuts. The Piccadilly, Central, Northern, Bakerloo and Waterloo and City lines were all marked as "high risk" from a heat point of view, if commuters got stuck on a stalled train.

The first air condtioned Tube train was launched earlier this week.

Notes from Cooling the Tube lecture by Director of Engineering at TfL


; Posted by Annie Mole Friday, August 06, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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National Railway Museum's Director of Fun

Did you know the National Railway Museum had a seven year old Director of Fun? He was appointed last year after applying to replace the
retiring director. Train mad Sam, decided to apply for what would be a dream job, and was pretty surprised to get a role.

Asked what qualified him for the role at the railways museum, he answered: "I've been on loads of trains, including the Eurostar." All we need now is a similar applicant for the London Underground

National Railway Museum - Director of Fun

Anyway, part of Sam's duties appear to searching around for bloggers to send rock too. I was lucky enough to be on his hit-list. I'm a sucker for rock (sorry!) and liked the puntastic "Chew, Choo, Choose, The NRM" label.

I visited the National Railway Museum in York many years ago before the internet existed. But I'd certainly be keen to visit again to see how it's doing under Sam's Directorship.

There's a load of Summer holiday activities for kids and kids at heart, including a sand sculptor making a train from 20 tonnes of sand and the opportunity to climb inside the steam engine "Olton Hall" from the Harry Potter films. Entry is free although is a small charge for some activities.


; Posted by Annie Mole Friday, August 06, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bond Street Tube to get £300m facelift

TfL have just awarded the contract to redevelop Bond Street London Underground station to a joint venture between
Costain and Laing O'Rourke. Construction is set to be mostly complete by 2016 in time for Crossrail in 2017. However, a £150M risk contingency fund has been added because of fears over inflation during the programme.

Artists impression Bond Street Tube eastern ticket hall

Currently over 155,000 people use Bond Street Tube station each day and that's expected to increase to more than 225,000 when Crossrail is finished.

London Underground's work will focus on the north side of Oxford Street in an attempt to increase capacity and create step free access to the station.

A new contract will be awarded by Crossrail in due course. This work will involve constructing two new ticket halls, excavations for two east-west platform tunnels with interconnecting additional access routes and escalator shafts. The western ticket hall at Davis Street (south of Oxford Street) will be built underground. The eastern ticket hall (an artist's impression pictured above) will be in Hanover Square.

The station will also get the benefit of improved pedestrian areas with new seating and lighting.

If you're worried this is going to stop people shopping in the West One centre, don't be. Work is due to start next year and the operations manager of the shopping centre said: "We will remain as we are. They will do the work around us. We are not closing."

For more on the redevelopment see TfL's site.


; Posted by Annie Mole Wednesday, August 04, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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Monday, August 02, 2010

First Air Conditioned Tube Train

This morning saw the official launch of the first London Underground train with air conditioning. It will run on the Metropolitan Line and is part of the 191 fleet of new walk through trains. However, many people were around on Saturday when the train made its first appearance at Watford.

First S Stock train in passenger service 31-07-2010 by londonstuff
First S Stock train in passenger service 31-07-2010 by londonstuff

Londonstuff was one of the first travellers and has a great set of photos and a couple of videos of the ride.

First S Stock train in passenger service 31-07-2010 by londonstuff
First S Stock train in passenger service 31-07-2010 by londonstuff



The eagle eyed will notice from the video that the doors have buttons. These were disabled on other Tube trains a number of years ago. The driver will have control of the doors, but will close them if the train has to stay on the platform for any length of time, keeping the cool or warm air in. So if that happens new passengers will need to press the button to re-open the door.

More about the air conditioned trains can be found on TfL's website and if you want to see the current one in action it will be running from Wembley Park to Watford from 2nd August. The roll-out on the Metropolitan Line will be complete by 2011. We'll start seeing them on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines from 2011. Then the District line will get the next lot in 2013 and all trains will be on the network from 2015.

Update - the point about door buttons had a number of us wondering why the door buttons were disabled. So I asked TfL who said "LU removed passenger door activation across all lines in 1998 to speed up station dwelling times, as the Underground was getting busier. The new S-Stock doors are opened by the driver but after 45 seconds they close to keep cooled air in during summer, or warm air in during winter. The door can be reopened by pressing the in-carriage button, but ultimately the driver has complete control of the doors and can override them."


; Posted by Annie Mole Monday, August 02, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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One Under - Channel 4 Documentary

We've probably all stood at London Underground platforms and heard about delays due to "a person under a train". Most of us don't think too much about them, apart from an irritation about being late, or wondering why the person couldn't have chosen another time or line.

One Under - Channel 4 film by Lucy Bennett

On Friday Channel 4 screened a 30 minute film by Lucy Bennett - called One Under. It looks at Tube drivers who give first-hand accounts of their experiences with the suicides. The interviews are moving and give an insight into the initial shock, anger, attempts at understanding, appearance at Coroner's Court, right through to the permanent marks the suicide left on their lives.

It's certainly a powerful contrast to the comedy film about one-unders - Three & Out - which led to demonstrations by train union ASLEF.

In One Under, you also hear from the widow of man who took his life by jumping under a train and how she tried to make sense of the events. "John no longer has the pain he was dealing with, but so many other people do", she said.

The film can be watched online for the next month on 4OD.


; Posted by Annie Mole Monday, August 02, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon
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