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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
If you like this you'll LURVE One Stop Short of Barking, the fun and informative book about travelling
on the London Underground.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy new ...

Am I the only person at work today? It felt like it this morning when I sat in a District Line carriage at Wimbledon all by myself waiting to leave.

I was sat on a City bound train waiting to leave this morning (having just missed a previous City bound one by a couple of seconds) as the board marked it as the next train out. But then an Edgware Road train came in on the far platform, and then promptly left again (with passengers) before my train did. Great!

Then I get to Earl's Court to discover that no Olympia trains are running this week due to bridge repairs, so I end up waiting for the next Edgware Round bound train anyway. It comes in (it's 'C' stock style train), but the board says it's going to Barking! "Oh no it's not" I think to myself, and it's only at the last minute that there is an announcement that it is in fact going to Edgware Road, and not everyone hears it, or pays attention - so at the next stop (High St. Ken) loads of people look up from their papers and think "Eh?", and get off wondering why they've come the wrong way.

Sssseeshhh... and no wonder people moan about the tube.

; Posted by Anonymous Friday, December 31, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Get snapping

We're all living in a Tube map

Interesting title for an interesting project. Jon Allen sent me an email this morning on a feature in Metro encouraging us to take pictures around tube stations that we don't normally visit - "Sometimes it takes a foreigner to help the locals see the obvious and everyday with new vision" or blogs for that matter - I can't really imagine any more widespread medium that gets people to navel gaze at their own lives or areas and then get other people interested in that navel gazing by return.

Anyway Astrid Kirchner originally from Austria but now living in London has built a website -
tubemap.org where people can upload photos of an area around a station in an effort to "share the discovery you make. It's good to try and capture an area - it makes you concentrate on it. This is about filling in the gaps between the stations".

There's not many stations on there at the moment but I'm sure with the many digital cameras people got at Xmas it will fill up soon.

By the way, big thanks to my brother for my new digital camera - you should see more piccies on this blog in the future.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, December 30, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, December 24, 2004

Where's your camera when you need it?

Santa Driver

Out last night with Geoff n Neil and Chris and Stephen (and as Neil mentioned in the comments, the Mind the Gap thong wasn't thrown into our Confidentially Clause bag - although there were London Underground tattoos, a Mind the Gap T Towel, a tiny tin of tea with the tube map on it, a Jubilee Line book and some shot glasses). A good time was had by all, although both me and Neil were suffering from colds.

After some bevvies, grub and quite a bit of tube talk, we found ourselves on our way to the BBC (don't ask) on the Westbound Metropolitan Line from Baker Street and it appeared that at least one driver in London had some Xmas spirit and wasn't thinking about the latest thing to strike about. He was wearing a jaunty little Santa hat, Geoff waved and pointed "Santa" and the Santa driver waved back.

None of us had our cameras to hand and Geoff spent some time at Edgware Road, where the train always stops for an age, wondering if he had time to leg it to the front to take a piccy, by the time he decided he didn't, our festive driver had nipped off the train, presumably to find Rudolph, and was replaced by another less red hatted driver.

Anyway, hope you all have a fantastic Xmas and a great New Year, which hopefully will be even better now the
New Year's Eve strike has been called off as LU staff are now at the "at the top of the industry pay league in Britain" as RMT Union leader Bob Crowe smugly said, each time I watched the news. Lucky bastards.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, December 24, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Strikes still on

Driving home for Xmas

Well the Piccadilly Line drivers won't be driving you home for Xmas tomorrow as that 24 hour strike is still on for Xmas Eve, although apparently a tube service to Heathrow will run every eight minutes.

According to
The Standard: "LU said there are "behind the scenes moves" taking place today to try and prevent tomorrow's strike.

"Steve Grant, Aslef London district secretary, said: "There are no new meetings planned for today and as far as we are concerned tomorrow's strike is going ahead."

Fantastic. I'm sorry but I really have no sympathy for this strike. If a driver travels through red signals several times surely he deserves to be demoted not have all his mates striking in protest.

Also the whole network looks like it will be down on New Year's Eve still too.

In the meantime me, Geoff and Neil are having Xmas bevvies tonight with their friends Chris and Stephen. We're doing a Secret Santa or "Confidentially Clause" as Geoff and Frank Skinner now call it and apparently there's a Mind The Gap thong in the mix. I got one as a leaving pressie and there's only so many Mind The Gap thongs a gal can have so I'm really hoping one of the guys gets it.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, December 23, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Festive London Underground Strikes

No signs of them being called off yet

I hadn't reported on the potential tube strike (by the RMT) for New Year's Eve as I was hoping it was going to be averted, but talks yesterday ended with no agreement. I'm sure tube staff who read this blog know where they stand, but there's been a whole round of letters in Metro over the last few days from people getting a tad fed up with all the strike threats. One from the sister of a tube worker who was anti strike and his New Year's Eve plans are going to be cocked up too.

More doom and gloom as there's another set of strikes planned by Aslef on the Piccadilly Line for Xmas Eve and January 5th. Another Metro letter writer summed up very briefly what that potential action is about:

"Let me get this straight - London's public transport will once again grind to a halt because: a) a staff member who made a life-threatening mistake four times was demoted; b) someone doesn't like where they drink their tea; and c) after agreeing to more than eight weeks of holiday, one of the unions is upset that someone else got ten weeks."

So I don't know whether they're all still taking place or not - very confused. The BBC seem to sum up the whole
strike situation the best and I'll try to keep you updated.

Oh and you may well be one of the commuters going on strike on Monday (yes, yes, I did say commuters) - although I can't see that really taking off, but you never know.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, December 18, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Mobile Phone Users on the Tube

Is it your pet hate?

I'm not sure where I stand on loud mobile phone users on the tube. They used to drive me mad and made it into my
etiquette page what seems like donkeys years ago, but I must becoming more tolerant in my old age. Probably because I may be a culprit myself. But Coudal Partners and Aaron Draplin have designed a whole load of stickers which you can download and pass on to the offenders

Loud Mobile Phone user stickers - download here

Like some of the commenters I don't like the use of "Yer" as in "Everyone is forced to listen to yer conversation", but otherwise the Society for Hand Held Hushing or SHHH could certainly take off.

Cheers to Ralf - The Cartoonist for bringing this to my attention.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, December 15, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Confusing Tourists again

Yahoo posters

Nice spot from
Thisisn't London:

"I was working in Epping today (argh). On my way home I spotted one of those Yahoo "Found" posters, with a purple arrow, that you occasionally put on your site; it said "Theydon Bois", the next station along the line.

The funny thing is, it was pointing in the wrong direction!

I took a (crap) photo on my phone, but the story is entertaining enough without it. And the poster has been seen by thousands of Eppingites.

Come on Yahoo poster putter up guys, at least get the direction right.

Just a reminder of the Yahoo ads we're talking about - yes, yes, I know it's Pimlico

I've been trying to get a picture of the one at Bank station pointing to Shadwell for ages and at least that is going in the right direction. But I must apologise for the lack of piccies from me recently. I have a new digital camera on my Xmas list as my current one is knackered. If anyone has any recommendations for small pocket sized one let me know - must have a microphone on it so that I can tape the buskers in the Waterloo and Shitty Line interchange.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, December 15, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Olympic Train-ing (geddit??!!)

I'm sure Annie won't mind two posts in one day especially as firstly, I haven't posted for a while and secondly, there are cool pictures below!

Yes, it appears that Ken has decided to push the 2012 Olympic bid down our throats even more than before by commissioning a C-Stock train and painting each carriage in different colours. Further, he's replaced all the seats with new yellow ones (which should be nice and dirty by the time the winner is announced) which have "Back The Bid" printed on them and a text number. Finally, in case you hadn't noticed that we're bidding for the 2012 Olympics, they've replaced all the cardboard overhead ads with Back The Bid ones and stuck "Back the Bid" stickers to the insides of the windows.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if LU had instructed the drivers of this train to make annnouncements such as "Good morning ladies and gentlemen. We are now arriving at Edgware Road where this train terminates. All change please. Upon leaving the train please take a good look around at all the publicity for the Olympic bid and text your support to the number printed on the seats."

I had the pleasure (?) of travelling on this train on Saturday evening and I'd seen it earlier in the day at Edgware Road where the outside picture was taken. If you want to see the colours of the other carriages then worry not - I took a video of it leaving the station on my camera and Geoff has kindly hosted it on his website:

Click here to see how your council tax is being spent

; Posted by Anonymous Tuesday, December 14, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, December 13, 2004

A chill in the air

Winter's here! And it's officially cold. And just last week as I sat waiting for my District Line train to leave at 08.30 in the morning, and the wind and the cold swept though the train, I cursed London Underground for having trains with four open doors on the side.

Well not so this morning! I've never seen this before, and wondered if this is a new practice they've started doing, but the two trains waiting to leave Wimbledon this morning had just ONE set of doors (out of the four) on each carriage open, meaning that it was distincly less chilly as you waited for your departure! Is that a good idea or what?

When the train came to leave though, all the doors had to momentarily open before 'beeping' shut, but I just thought I'd say "nice one" to LU for doing that because it's such a simple and yet effective thing to do.

Now - Has anybody seen that Olympic coloured customised Circle Line train that's going round . . . Neil?

; Posted by Anonymous Monday, December 13, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, December 10, 2004

Circle Line worst commuting route

It's official

Surveys carried out by private companies are always a bit dubious and are usually done so they can drum up a bit of PR for themselves. Well today's survey from cheapflights.co.uk (published in
The Standard) asked 1,000 people at key commuter spots to vote on the most horrendous commuter routes in London, including travel by road, rail, Tube and bus. The Circle Line won hands down - for its constant stops between stops ("mysterious halts in the no man's land between stations") and the bumpy ride. The Jubilee Line came fourth and there were a couple of bus routes from Waterloo which I can certainly vouch for. If you want to check out the full top ten terrors here you go.

With a question designed to bring no surprises with its answer commuters were also asked how they pass the time "reading a paper or book was the most popular option, followed by daydreaming about their next holiday (Oh quelle surprise the survey was sponsored by cheapflights.co.uk, remember), texting or phoning a friend, deciding what to do at the weekend or planning the day's work".

Let's hope they weren't reading a book or paper while travelling on the A1 between the North Circular (A406) and Junction 2 of the M1 (number two on the crap commuting routes).

; Posted by annie mole Friday, December 10, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Party, party, party

UK Webloggers Party tomorrow - 11th December

That time of year again - it's the end of Year Party for anyone with a blog (plus various hangers on, I'm sure). Yes it's in London, (as we all know the UK revolves around London), but there is talk of more parties being organised in Birmingham and even further north. I'll definitely be there. Geoff is still thinking about it. Neil has been silent on it. But there's a list of people who will be coming and details about where it is and what time it starts on
the following site.

Don't worry if you feel you're not going to know anyone, as there's probably names on the list where you've been reading about their lives for the past year or so, so you do know them anyway. Lots of commenters and regular visitors to this blog will be there - including Jag, Jack from GreenFairy, Ann from Pixel Diva, Tom from Random Acts of Reality, The Funjunkie Crew, This isn't London, The Londonist and James from Oddblog.

So may well see you there and to regulars who can't now come (you know who you are), hope to see you at some other blogmeet.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, December 10, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, December 09, 2004

It's a Wonderful District Life

Annie's great "
Drivers announcements" was one of the first things that got me to this site, but I have to say that I've never actually been on a train where the driver was jolly enough to announce silly things - until yesterday morning.

Coming up the District Line from Wimbledon again on a completely packed train, the driver thought he'd have some fun by announcing at Parsons Green:

"Well as you can see now ladies and gentlemen, the train is completely full, so if anyone at Fulham Broadway is going to get on you're going to have to huddle together just that little bit more aren't you?"

And when we got to Fulham Broadway and some more people did manage to squeeze on, he came out with:

"Now I know you're all squashed together back there, but it's a cold day so at least you're all keeping each other warm"

At West Brompton, where he knew he was going to be held at a signal for a while:

"This is West Brompton, just one tantalisingly short stop away from Earl's Court which is where I expect most of you want to go, but instead we've got to sit here for a minute. When the doors do eventually close please don't get any of your body parts stuck in the door"

And eventually, as we approached Earl's Court, he announced:

"We are now approaching Earl's Court where you can if you want change for the Piccadilly Line. Or why not change to another wonderful District Line service? The District Line is marvellous isn't it! Or you can stay on my train, where I'll have the pleasure of taking you up towards Edgware Road."

On a cold Wednesday morning, on a packed train, he caused many people to look up from their 'Metros' and smile. Nice one!

; Posted by Anonymous Thursday, December 09, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Spare Tube Parts being bought on Ebay

Too early (or late) for an April Fool

Geoff sent me a link today about a story in today's
Standard saying that Tube bosses are having to buy spare parts for the Northern Line from ebay. Anyone travelling on the Northern Line this morning will know that it was generally cocked up due to problems with aging cab radio systems.

But ebay????? Sounds like a major cut back. If people now know the bits and bobs they were selling on ebay had the potential to mess up hundreds of thousands of commuters journeys they could have a field day. Forget internet hacking and viruses you could just sell spare parts of the tube at sky high prices.

A dot matrix indicator is currently going for about �180 and I assuming that it's the components that the Tube are after rather than the sign itself, otherwise we might be seeing - "Sale Now On" or "Half Price Bargains" rather than the usual "Ealing Bdwy - 13 mins"

Dot Matrix indicator the Tube have their eye on

Check out the full story here.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, December 08, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, December 06, 2004

I heard a rumour ...

Just summating some information that came my way today, as I do like a good bit of gossip. I can't reveal my sources, (or rather my source wouldn't reveal their source) except to say that, as far as I know this all true ...

There is a distant plan that the District Line will not run to Ealing Broadway any more - services would be taken over by Piccadilly Line trains instead. The District Line would then run up to Rayners Lane instead, the aim being to segregate sub-surface and deep-level lines.

The Jubilee line could start a peak-hour service back to Charing Cross station again, until the whole of the Jubilee line is re-signalled, getting it to the spec that the JLE should have been built to in the first place, rather than done on the cheap as it was. There's also discussions currently taking place that westbound trains will not stop at London Bridge during the morning peak.

The Nothern Line was proved statistically to have run better when it operated as two seperate lines after the Camden Town derailment. It could be split permamently into two lines.

And with Chiltern trains wanting to run a 'Metro' style service to Amersham within a few years and having also offered to completely rebuild West Hampstead station to include Metropolitan, Jubilee and mainline platforms, stations north of Moor Park (except Watford) could end up being run by Chiltern instead. The Metropolitain line may drop its connection at Finchley Road in favour of West Hampstead. Only peak time Metropolitan serices would run south beyond Baker Street.

There, that's all I know.. take it or leave it at your own desire!

; Posted by Anonymous Monday, December 06, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

It's Christmas Time, there's no need to be afraid....

Unless you're on the Tube

When I was going through Waterloo station on Friday I noticed what I thought was the usual "Let's be careful out there" poster about watching how much you've been drinking when you travel on the tube. But they'd gone one step further and had said there were 29 drink related incidents at that station last Christmas.

I actually thought that was quite a low number, but after searching around on the net it appears to be the highest

"Waterloo tube station comes top of a "list of shame" for incidents involving drunk and abusive passengers at Christmas, with London Bridge not far behind."

Overall there were 406 drink related incidents last year and unfortunately one of them included a death. So if you see one of the posters saying how many drunken incidents were at your station, you'll know it was one of the worst, and extra police will be patrolling the station to keep an eye on drunken revellers.

Check out
SE1 for more on the figures.

By the way, the above poster isn't me after a few drinks, it's a nice little effect to show what the escalators look like when you've had some bevvies.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, December 06, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Still here, still commuting

Just when you were thinking Annie had got shot of us and neither Geoff or Neil has put in an appearance for a while, I'd like to confirm that we ARE still here! In fact, I've been spotting loads of things all over the tube for the last two weeks, but just haven't been reporting on them - oops!

But here's my favourite from the last week - it's at Notting Hill Gate (again) where I seem to spend half my life waiting for Wimbledon bound trains these days.

It's an advert/poster at which you can point your mobile phone at (with the infrared turned on) and it'll send you a business card with the LU travel number in it! Is that cool or what? You see that little red blob in the poster? That's what sends out the IR business card. It worked on my Nokia - presume it will work with most other major phone manufacturers - try it, it's on the southbound platform at NHG, but I guess might also be at other stations around the system!

Also saw something quite scary coming up the District Line this morning - the train was 100% full, absolutely heaving - people unable to get on - that sort of thing, when at Fulham Broadway, some people wanted to get off, so a guy by the doors stepped back to let them off - and promptly stepped down the gap between the train and the platform! He yelled out, a nearby woman screamed, and a couple of other people rushed to his aid and pulled him back up again - it was quite a scary moment and felt the need to mention it.

; Posted by Anonymous Thursday, December 02, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Coughs and Sneezes

Keeping Healthy on the Tube

I have got the beginnings of a cold coming which isn't surprising it's really cold at the moment. When I was on the Piccadilly Line a couple of days ago I'm sure the heating wasn't on, it was freezing. But now my only days of really being in a cold ridden scrum with other sniffling, coughing and sneezing commuters is going home on the Drain (Waterloo & City Line).

Thereisnospoon however kindly sent me a link to a feature on the
BBC about how bugs are spread on public transport.

"BBC News has learnt the Rail Safety Standards Board is investigating the impact of overcrowding on trains and the Tube, including how much passengers share bugs.

No scientific research has yet been done on this but experts in virology believe poor ventilation and a lack of space can make some forms of public transport a fertile breeding ground. However there is a strong argument this fear may be over-hyped."

No surprises really but interesting that the Standards Board is looking into it.

"The London Underground must be an absolute goldmine for viruses trying to find someone to spread to because it's so packed," says Dr Rosy McNaught, a consultant in communicable disease control for Sheffield.

"The closer people are packed together and poorer the ventilation, the more likely people close to you will get a face full of it when you sneeze."


Luckily there is some hope though and the article gives some sneezing and coughing etiquette and also recommends "avoiding cramped spaces" when travelling (yeah right) and sound advice about washing your hands when you get to work or home.

Was also encouraging to read "The Health Protection Agency says there is no indication that passengers in London and the South East - where public transport is more crowded - suffer more respiratory illnesses than other parts of the UK."

Check out the full article here with comments from commuters at the bottom including my favourite: "I can't believe there really are people being paid good money to make a study of this nature. I am not a doctor or a scientist but I can see that any germ will spread among a load of people crammed into an unventilated bus or train."

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, December 02, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Take two announcers

Compare and contrast

Coming home on the DLR yesterday (I only take it one stop, but it really is a bloody civilised way to travel and if you sit at the front of the train you can pretend you're driving it - there are no real drivers), my very polite guard/person who opens the doors (what are people on the DLR called?) said:

"Thank you for travelling with us today. We are now at Bank and I'd like to wish you a safe onward journey on your way home. Have a nice evening".

DVBoy sent me an email where he heard the following at Warren Street station saying that Piccadilly Circus was closed "cos of a fire alarm or summink".

It's like comparing Vicky Pollard to Joanna Lumley.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, December 01, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Oval Thinkers in Metro

Tao and the Art of Tubing

After all the stressful thoughts of yesterday, it was nice to see Tuesday's Metro reporting on the guys at Oval station with their "Thoughts of the Day". This station was first brought to my attention a few months ago and there's
a site which shows all of the "thoughts" which appear at Oval station.

London Underground Philosophers

The motivations behind the station assistants were to improve relations between staff and passengers, and they were very surprised at the positive reaction they got.

It�s a break in that routine which everyone gets into, of rushing into the Tube and ignoring everything around them. It�s unexpected and catches them by surprise.

No one has ever said they don�t like it. We get at least three good comments a day. One woman regularly takes a photo of it with her phone and sends it to her husband.

We�ve made so many friends through it. People come up and speak to us. Without the �Thought of the Day�, we would not have had that interaction. People look for it now. We never expected this sort of reaction.

It works both ways - it shows customers that staff are not faceless and vice versa. It says we do care about how they feel about travelling on the Underground. And we care about how they feel about us.�

Nice one guys. But I wonder now that they've had fame through Metro whether the posts will change or become wackier? At the moment they come from the ancient Chinese Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu. Perhaps they'll become more widespread across the system. One can only hope.

More thoughts at The Separatist's site

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, December 01, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE