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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

We're more stressed than fighter pilots

Do you get commuter amnesia?

Don't know about commuting but Blogger's been stressing me out lately very, very slow to load posts. Anyway, there's been another one of those studies released today which shows how commuting is really stressful

"Stress expert Dr David Lewis compared the heart rate and blood pressure of 125 commuters with those of pilots and police officers in training exercises.

"The study, part-funded by technology firm Hewlett Packard, found the stress levels of commuters were higher in extreme circumstances.

"Workers' stress is exacerbated by their inability to control their situation."

I'm very lucky with my morning commute of not having to get into work that early so I do miss the bulk of the crowds going in, although rush hour at night gets later and later so I face the scrum like everyone else. I do try to turn off when stuck in tunnels or facing boards saying 10 minutes till your next train, but you can always see people getting fairly frustrated.

"Dr Lewis, who measured the stress levels of the commuters for five years, has identified a syndrome he calls "commuter amnesia", where people forget large parts of their journey because of stress.

"The survey suggests an average commute is between 45-60 minutes," he said.

"That is at least a working day a week that you are losing completely out of your life.

"Switching off the mind, turning people into zombies for 90 minutes, seems to me a quite appalling waste of talent."

Too right. To read more of this story check out the
BBC's site.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, November 30, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Talking on the Tube

The Rabbit has the right idea

Euan from
The Londonist has just created a cool little flash animation which reminds you why you don't talk to random people on the tube.

click to view cartoon

It's not just Londoners being miserable. It's that the chances are that the first person you speak to will turn out being someone who was just too mad to make it into Little Britain.

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, November 28, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

52 day holiday for Tube Staff

No wonder they have so many applicants

That's it, now I know why so many people (including one of our very own co-writers) apply to work on the Tube. Where else can you get a 52 day holiday just because you work vaguely unsociable hours? Just so that we can run a tube service on New Year's Eve, there's been an agreement between the RMT and London Underground for a 35 hour week. Technically it remains a 37.5 hour week but two and half days can be "banked" towards more days off.

Well at least we will be having tubes running all night on New Year's Eve, no strike (which was being muttered about
earlier) and apparently it's also paving the way for later trains on Friday and Saturday Evening.

On the front page of today's Metro, Roger Evans, the Conservative's Transport spokesman was outraged by the deal and called it "an insult to every hardworking Londoner. Yet again are we seeing the unions holding the capital to ransom. They know the threat of strikes always pays off. The answer is to ban strikes on the Underground." For a fuller report check out The Scotsman.

I know we get a fair few Tube staff who read this blog and I'd be really keen to get their comments. Come on "thereisnospoon" where are you?

As Quin just noted in the comments in the previous post there is another poll in The Standard asking whether tube staff deserve 52 days holiday a year - currently it's massively in favour. Wonder how many tube staff voted?

I'll leave you with today's Oval Tube station thought which is kind of appropriate

More thoughts from Oval Tube Station here

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, November 24, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, November 22, 2004

Late Tube or Not Late Tube....

That is the question

Big news everywhere is that today Sheriff Ken announced plans that the Tube may well be staying open later at night from central London on Fridays and Saturdays (1.30am for the last tube) but it will mean opening an hour later the following mornings. That would definitely have my vote, as I have lost count of the times when I've had to leave somewhere at 11.30pm or earlier on Sundays just to get home.

According to
the Standard "Market research published by the Mayor's newsletter, The Londoner, claims 140,000 extra passengers would use the late service. If the Tube ran later into the night, trains would have to start an hour later the next morning to allow essential maintenance to be carried out."

I would have thought hardly anyone travelled early on Saturday and Sunday mornings (possibly people who missed their last train the night before and decided to make a whole night/morning of it) but I'm wrong as surveys show that 55,000 catch those early morning milk trains, with almost 60% travelling to and from work (so perhaps the other 40% are people travelling from the night before).

Ken said "We want Londoners to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of running the Tube later and we want to hear their views before a final decision is made."

Apparently we're going to be polled over the coming months and if the vote goes through the service will change in late 2006.

There's an online vote on The Standard, where, not surprisingly, it's way in favour of extending the hours. I should imagine a fair few mini cab and taxi drivers will be voting against this in their droves.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, November 22, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Blog in the USA

From across the Pond

Just a quick hi if you came across this blog from an article on the
CNN Money website of all places. They feature a number of websites that "offer information and diversions that can ease the pain of your daily slog." and for some inexplicable reason spend the end of the article on this blog - "Across the pond, Webmaster Annie Mole operates "Going Underground", a daily blog on the London Underground where posters ponder such mysteries as how seven stops and one change can be faster than two stops and one change."

Quite nice being the only site about the Tube on it.

In the article I really liked the site on carpooling (or slugging) etiquette as it was very similar to our tube etiquette in a number of ways. Slugs do not talk, they don't use their mobile phones for more than a short while, any time they do talk religion and politics are avoided and there's no smoking or eating by the driver or slug.

Perhaps people on really long Tube journeys should start tubepooling (or slogging). You could agree to actually properly share the journey with the people who get in the tube with you everyday (you must see people who get on your carriage every day). So you could share copies of Metro or other newspapers, take turns at using a seat if there's only one available, or even sit on each other's laps.

I think it could catch on.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, November 20, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A Good Service

What's the most infuriating thing when trying to travel on the tube? I reckon it's being told that there is "A good service - operating on all lines" when clearly there's not. What defines "Good service" anyway?

Good service was not happening (despite being told so) on the Bakerloo line this morning at Waterloo, where the first three trains were all going to Queens Park, at blank, blank and blank minutes time. In the end, the first train came up being 1 minute away, which then took 4 minutes to arrive.

I probably wouldn't have minded, but upon getting to Oxford Circus and being told that there was "A good service on all lines", the first westbound train was 5 minutes away, which - 7 minutes later was then showing "3 minutes". 3 minutes later, it was STILL showing "3 minutes" when the train pulled in and left - the indicator board sitll showing that it was "3 minutes" away, and the PA still announcing "A good service on all lines this morning".

And whilst I'm in a ranty mood - can anyone tell me what the point is of the stickers that have now appeared in all tube carriages promoting the Olympics saying "Back the bid - text LONDON to 80125" (or whatever the number is) - and that's it!

No reason as to why you should do it, how it will help London's Olympic bid, or what you'll get back on your mobile phone when you do, or how much it will cost you .. so .. what's the point? Has anyone seen one of those stickers and then (whilst underground) thought "Ooh - I know, the minute I get out in the open I must text that number" - no, I thought not.

Right, I'm finished now.

; Posted by Anonymous Wednesday, November 17, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Escalator Wobble

Too much time on their hands

Not quite sure why scientists at Imperial College have been doing this, but today Metro reported that they have got to the bottom of "broken escalator wobble". You know the sensation you get when you step onto an escalator that isn't working although you think it is and you lose your balance or get a bit dizzy. Apparently it's the conflict between what the brain knows is going to happen (no movement) and what it thinks is going to happen, based on previous experience (movement). We all speed up when approaching an escalator, so when it isn't moving we stumble.

The Professors at Imperial didn't test this on escalators though (although I'm sure they had plently of broken ones to choose from), but on sleds in a laboratory.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, November 16, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube Strike Threats

Only a matter of time

You know it's approaching Xmas and the New Year when the threat of tube strikes rear their ugly heads again. Apparently the Jubilee Line will be hit by 24 hour industrial action by Aslef on December 3rd and Christmas Eve, over a dispute with a depot manager. This is one of the network's busiest lines and is expected to cause a nightmare for around 450,000 people.

It's also possible that the District and Piccadilly Line drivers will walk out in separate rows over working conditions and the demotion of a fellow union member.

I'll keep you posted when the outcome of the ballots are announced later this week. Check out
BBC News for more on this.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, November 16, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, November 15, 2004

Today's Metro Momento

Railway Reads

Got into work in record time this morning (just over an hour) so with the various bits of legwork I have to do between stations I didn't have time to read more than Metro. Today they focussed on top tomes about the tube for Xmas stocking fillers (damn, though didn't include
One Stop Short of Barking) - it did include what looks like being a fab book of subway photography "Underground: Travels on The Global Metro" by Marco Pesaresi.

He's an award winning Italian photographer who when he lived in London in the early 90's. His work had previously focussed on immigrants, drugs, prostitution and life on the edge - so naturally he became fascinated by the Tube. He then travelled to Milan and Berlin carried on taking subway pictures and ended up with a display of pictures of 10 major cities.

Pesaresi said "I wanted to explore the world, and most of all was in search of freedom. In every city I found a different story, but in each one I found a cosmopolitan society living underground. In this society, you could go anywhere. You could talk to everyone. (really) Everyone was equal. It felt to me a little like a parallel world where I began to feel free."

Not sure how much freedom I feel I have on the tube when squashed with City bods on the Waterloo and Shitty line, but I can kind of see what he means. Apparently there's a brill picture of a man, ascending the stairs at King�s Cross with red balloons flying from the handrail, looking like poppies and acting as remembrance of the tragic loss of life in the King�s Cross fire.

Deffo on my Xmas pressie list and it has an introduction by Francis Ford Coppola, how kewell.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, November 15, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Body Parts

Feet and balls

Still getting used to my new journey into town involving the Waterloo & City Line

(which incidentally was the answer to one of a set of tube questions on University Challenge earlier this week -

1. What 14 mile line includes parts of the Hammersmith and City,
District and Metropolitan Lines?
2. What 1.5 mile line with no stations connects Waterloo and Bank ?
3. Which underground line connects with all the others? - thanks to Jon Allen for letting us know this)

It's probably my imagination but Waterloo and City Line carriages seem really small and on the way into work - I'm usually lucky enough to get a seat but yesterday it meant that the trouser parts of a brown suited City gent were completely at eye level for me for my five minute journey. It's that awful moment where you know you should be looking elsewhere but your eyes get magnetically drawn back to spot where you shouldn't be looking - Oh well, better than having a train journey with a
midget's bollocks in your lap.

On the way home on the DLR I was equally fascinated by a woman's particularly ugly long middle toes which looked like they were doing a V sign. Someone should tell her, she really shouldn't wear sandals ever - certainly not in the middle of November.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, November 11, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Why can't I get off at Oval Station?

These should be compulsory

Joanna Herman Oakley - kindly led me to the following brilliant pictures (via
The Londonist from The Big Smoker's Euan and Rob) taken at Oval station where there's clearly some Zen station assistants around

Learn from the mistakes of others - click to see more

There are others taken at the same station here going back to the 29th October. They rock.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, November 09, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Geoff n Neil are mad

How can seven stops & one change be faster than two stops & one change

Back in the UK where I faced the delights of a wet dark November day and a new job and new route to work (why, oh why can't I live in Goa - white sandy beaches, hot sun, mad Indians on motor bikes, no traffic lights, cattle in the road and no bloody tube).

Geoff and Neil assured me that it would be far quicker travelling from Waterloo to Shadwell by getting on the "fast" Jubilee Line to Canada Water and picking up the "new and efficient" East London Line, a couple of stops north to Shadwell. I personally thought Waterloo and Shitty Line to Bank - change on the the DLR and go one stop to Shadwell - sorted. And in fact that's what I did in the morning, it took about ten minutes. Coming home, I thought I would give the "tube experts" route a try, as they reckoned the time spent walking from Bank and DLR interchange would be the same as the extra stops involved.

They were wrong! The East London line was really smelly and crowded and stopped just before I needed to change, for no apparent reason apart from enjoying the view. The Jubilee Line was packed - I never realised so many people worked in the East End - it took about twenty minutes - remind me never to listen to them again.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, November 09, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

More District Ramblings

Right, just a few more days blogging on my new route to work, and I'll have got it all out of my system, and i'll go all quiet again. In the meantime, more things that have occured to me:

Is it me or is Earl's Court station looking much nicer these days? The brand new lift that spans the two platforms is now in operation and looks very clean and modern - but the rest of Earl's Court this morning just 'felt' a lot cleaner and spacious than normal!

At High St. Ken, I've got a brand new game that I play each day going home now, and it's similar to Neil's infamous "Chocolate Challenge". It's.. "Can buy a copy of the Evening Standard in less than 20 seconds".

That's right.. annoyed that i didn't have a paper to read the other day, I realise i was towards the front of the train near the 'Grab-a-bite' kiosk that is on the southbound platform of HSK. It lines up with the rear of the first carriage, or the front of the second.. and it can be done.

Train pulls in, doors open - hand over your 40p, grab a copy of the 'Standard' and jump back on the train all within 20 seconds. The other day that I did it, I even managed to get my orginal seat back before anyone else pinched it - much to the amusment of the lady sitting opposite me. So try it, next time you're passing through...

; Posted by Anonymous Tuesday, November 09, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, November 08, 2004

I don't like Mondays ...

Take a gold star and go to the top of the class if you can tell me who had an early 80's hit with that song title (Answer at the bottom).

Had a first 'celeb' spot on the tube this morning for a while - well i say 'celeb' but it wasn't A-list, it was merely BBC Londons local TV news reader, Emily Maitlis sitting on an Edgware Road bound district line train that I was on this morning.

I hopped off at my usual changepoint of Notting Hill, and whilst waiting on the westbound platform, spotted something that I've never seen before. About halfway down are some grills/gates at the edge of the platform, that if you peer into you can see an old corridor, stairs going off somewhere, and on the side - this old poster.

It's an old Childrens Society poster, where the amount of money is still listed in shillings! Pre-decimal! So at least 1960's... it's been their 30 years. Cool.

And yet someone has stuck up some plastic folders and some sort of information sheet/notice over the top half of it! Wonder where the corridor goes to though ... Anyone know?

Oh, and it was the Boomtown Rats. Easy.

; Posted by Anonymous Monday, November 08, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

This 'n' that

Had to go to Goodge Steet this morning.. skipped down the escalator at Waterloo, then the steps - could 'hear' a train in the platform, and ran round the corner just as the doors closed. Damn! Next train: 9 minutes wait!

Eventually got to Goodge Street. Up the steps from the platform... to the lifts - just as the lift doors closed. Damn! Ran up the steps to keep myself fit, to watch the woman in front of me actually DO that thing with Oystercards that is often joked about but I've never seen. She had hers in the bottom of her handbag and simply palced her handbag on top of the reader, and the gates opened! Nice.

Talking of gates, I saw these at Canarfy Wharf the other week and took a picture of them.

They're a new design that I haven't seen before.. anyone seen any other instances of these new gates anywhere on the network? Just wondered.

; Posted by Anonymous Wednesday, November 03, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Knots-in-hill gate

That's a terrible pun! Sorry. But you do feel like you could tie yourself in knots sometimes negotiating the corridors that LU want you to walk down, and this week we return to Notting Hill Gate.

Tell me - how much power has an LU employee got to stop you walking the 'wrong way' down a corridor? It's not breaking the law - is it a by-law? I don't think so .. so just because LU say "Not this way", or "No exit" doesn't mean that you can't, right?

Here's a (rapidly drawn) sketch of Notting Hill Gate as it was when I came through it this morning.

I changed from the District/Circle lines and was going down to the Central line platforms, so I was okay.

But if you're coming UP from the Central to go to the District/Circle, there is a 'rope barrier' (the green dotted line), where they make you take the much longer route of going up a second set of escalators, into the ticket hall area, and then down the steps to the D/C platforms. Why? When it's quicker to take the corridor that isn't blocked off (the red line being where there IS a gate to stop you) and get to the D/C platforms that way.

There was even a LU employee (brown blob) standing there looking menancing as if to tell you not to take the shorter, quicker route to the D/C platforms. So what would he do if you took it! Hold you back and restrain you? Maybe I should try it tomorrow morning and find out.

Obviously someone is going to come back and give me the 'safety' rant here, as it only happens during the morning peak, and say that it's 'good for passenger flow' (or something). Right?

; Posted by Anonymous Tuesday, November 02, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE