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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Moving ads on moving stairs

Thanks to the Londonist I discovered that Viacom Outdoor (the people responsible for ad placements on the Tube) are going to trial animated posters on escalator walls, showing different advertisements depending on the time of day and update the content remotely. Tottenham Court Road or TCR to those of you that love acronyms will be the first station to "benefit" from this.

As Will from
the Londonist says though:

"The really chilling aspect of this story emerges when you consider what sort of products and services escalator ads endorse. To be specific: we're talking, mostly, West End musicals. Soon you will be forced to watch extracts of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as you ascend and descend."

Moving escalator ads

Jon Lewen, account director for digital at Viacom Outdoor, said the escalator panels would enhance consumers' experience of advertising on the Tube and provide new creative opportunities for advertisers.

"We are committed to exploring new and innovative ways to capture and captivate London Underground users," he said.

Capture us eh? I think the Tube capture us every day during umpteen thousand signal failures. Perhaps they should pipe through some ads for anti depressants and beta blockers, during the times we are "captured" while the drivers are making their tannoy announcements. They'd sell a shedload.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 31, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, March 26, 2005

ETA Jubilee

I noticed today (ok, I had someone tell me!) that the 'ETA' service on tfl/tube website is now up and running for the Jubilee line as well as the Bakerloo which was the first one to have it.

This is the system that presents the information that you get on the platform dot matrix screens onto your webpage, so you can see where and in how many minutes the trains are due.

This is the information (real time updated!) at Bond Street for example right now:

Bond Street

Visit the ETA page at tube.tfl.gov.uk/eta

; Posted by Anonymous Saturday, March 26, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, March 25, 2005

Sunday Service Friday

I've had to come into work today (Good Friday), and was convinced that today the regular trains would be running a Sunday Service and got to the station with a minute to spare .. only to find that I'd missed the train as it was in fact running a Satuday service. Arse!

Anyway, I was highly amused (and annoyed at yet again not having my camera on me) to look at the posters on the train this morning, and there was one which was a recruitement poster for South West Trains, saying what a company and happy place it was to work for, whilst there was one immediately next to it saying that six memebers of train staff get assaulted per day, and we're out to get you.

Uhh.. surely someone should have spotted that and not put them side by side?

Anyway, I'm having fun playing with my Oystercard at the moment (as mentioned by Neil below) and have already managed to confuse it my going on the tram at Wimbledon and forgetting (despite mass publicity) to Oyster 'in' on the tram platform.

Now I didn't know you could do this (cue: sarcastic comments from people that have had pre-pay for ages), but you can check your journeys at a ticket machine, which I think is really cool, like this:

Now I live in Epsom - on National Rail, outside of Zone 6, but have discovered that is IS cheaper (off peak) to buy a day return from Epsom to Wimbledon, and then use my Oystercard from Wimbledon to White City where I work. But of course, this means that I have to go OUT of the barrier with my NR ticket, and then back IN the barriers with my Oystercard! Just to save 60p a day.

Final thought: Neil and I were at Baker Street the other night, and I took this picture which is right next door to the entrance. Point is .. what is or was meant to be opening last year, and clearly isn't ?! Anyone?

; Posted by Anonymous Friday, March 25, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Buffy the Sleep Slayer

Coming back on the Tube late last night after seeing
5 x 2 at the Curzon and was on the Piccadilly Line from Leicester Square trying to have a bit of a nap. All was well for a couple of stops, when I felt someone's elbow moving very quickly against my side, which was disconcerting to say the least. I opened my eyes ready to aim a Paddington bear hard stare at the person next to me and wondering what the saw-like movement was. It was a bloke, who I initially thought was filing his nails. But no, that would have been a bit too conventional. He was buffing his nails with a Body Shop buffer. I have never, ever in my life seen a bloke buffing their nails (certainly not in public). I found it fascinating.

Some people really freak out when they see people (usually women I must add) filing their nails on the Tube as the nail-dust flies all over the place. But at least buffing is fairly deposit free. I'd love to know who he was going off to see at that time of night, but he would have arrived with the most immaculate and shiny nails ever.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, March 23, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Ooh, my first post on here for a while (but as I said before, I don't live in London at the moment so my tube experiences go as far as buying Smarties).

Anyway, an Oystercard question which myself and a couple of others were discussing in the pub last night when Geoff got out his brand new pre-pay Oystercard that he'd just purchased.

First, let me set the scene.

I live outside Zone 6 and use Thameslink to get into London. Thanks to the new capping which is being introduced to pre-pay Oystercard fares, I worked out that if I use a PPOC (get used to the acronym people) inside zone 6, then LU will charge me up to the price of a 1-6 Travelcard if I make multiple journeys (I think I've got that right).

So, I could buy a paper ticket to Boundary Zone 6 and then use a PPOC inside the LU zones. But Geoff pointed out that in order to buy a ticket to boundary Zone 6 and then use a PPOC inside that, I would need to be physically able to board the train at the first station inside Zone 6 on Thameslink (which is Elstree and Borehamwood).

But the trains I get from my station don't stop there. The line is split into two services - slow and fast. My station is serviced by fast trains which run fast (duh) from St. Albans to West Hampstead. I would have to change at St. Albans and get a 'slow' train to London which calls at Elstree. I am led to believe that if I did that then a PPOC would be accepted on Thameslink between Elstree and wherever I get off.

I'm trying to work out if it would be cheaper to buy a paper ticket from my station to Boundary Zone 6 and then use a PPOC on the tube OR keep using a paper travelcard from my station for the whole thing.

Does anyone have any idea what I'm talking about?

; Posted by Anonymous Tuesday, March 22, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, March 21, 2005

Don't you get tired of being a dick?

What a kerfuffle

Walking down a broken escalator at Bank to get the DLR this morning, me and another guy were slightly surprised to see another guy walking up the same escalator. He passed me on my right hand side muttering away to himself and went slap bang into a rather bigger guy behind me. "Wotch it mate", said the guy behind me. "Don't you get tired of being a dick?" said the muttering smaller guy, seemingly unaware that he shouldn't really be walking up a broken escalator when the normal up escalator next it it was chugging along upwards quite happily. Fortunately, the larger guy decided to ignore this question, even though many other questions relating to his parentage and his general IQ were put his way. Happy Mondays - a minor altracation and it wasn't even 9.30 am.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, March 21, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Daily Mail readers re-joice

Is this just at my Tube station?

I thought that I had badly mis-judged my timings going to work this morning when I saw people at the top of the stairs at Richmond station at the Evening Standard stall selling papers. But instead of the lunatic that frightens most people to death screaming "STTTAAAAAAAANDAD", there were a couple of guys selling The Daily Mail. I know they're owned by the same company, but is this going to be regular? Maybe it's just Richmond. Maybe Associated Newspapers will be taking over the entire Tube network soon. Metro and the Standard are at least "London" rags, but the thought of the Daily Mail being the last paper I could possibly buy if I have a second to spare before running to the train doesn't really do a lot for my morning. Perhaps I was dreaming and in the meantime I'm going to have a diverting five minutes at the
Daily Mail-o-matic headline generator.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, March 21, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Real time service updates, step by step

Good morning. It's early and today upon arriving at work (at 7am), I found that the promised office moved that we'd been told would happen at the weekend has gone ahead (we cynically predicted that it wouldn't), and I've managed to find a desk which has a working telephone, computer and has a view of the TV (we get to watch BBC News 24 all day, which is ok..).

More importantly though, I'm by the window and I now looking directly down onto where the Hammersmith & City line crosses over the Central Line - just where trains come in and out of the tunnel by White City.

The Central line trains 'whistle' everytime they come in and out of the tunnel, and the H&C has that nice familar 'clackety clack' sound as it rumbles past. So yes, I can sit and look at tube trains all day, and have a fair idea on how well those two lines are running.

So for real time service updates on those two lines - who know who to call, right? (And no, it's not "Ghostbusters").

Also, can I mention a slightly bizarre thing I saw at the weekend. I travelled up the Victoria line to Seven Sisters to go to the Tottenham match, and I had to duck and half avoid a guy who was getting out of the carriage as I was getting into it at Vauxhall .. and he was carrying a 7 foot long step ladder! Umm... surely that can't be allowed can it? "Not in the current climate sir, step ladders contravent Section C, Paragraph 12 of Things-You're-Not-Allowed-To-Carry-On-The-Tube" etc.. etc..

Anyway, I probably wouldn't have felt the need to blog it, had it not been for the fact that on the way back down, I changed at King's Cross and as I walked to the exit, that was a (different) guy standing by the doors of the next carriage down ... who also had a stepladder with him!

What the hell is this - "Bring a step ladder for half price on the tube day", or something? Bizarre. I've never seen someone carrying one before, and then I see two on the same day on the same line.

Right, better go and do some work then.

; Posted by Anonymous Monday, March 21, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, March 18, 2005


Did anyone else see this? I've been on holiday - that's my excuse, and only my reading up on some of what happened whilst I was away for two weeks did I discover that the Oystercard system crashed last Friday, meaning that lots of pre-pay users had free journeys to work in the morning.

The fault occurred when the size of a computer file - sent every day with the latest information about which cards had been disabled - had caused the Oyster readers to fail. So come on - own up! Who got free journeys to work last week?

Read the
full story on the BBC news website here.

; Posted by Anonymous Friday, March 18, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Where have all the stations gone?

Test yourself

Just received the following email from Roger Lewis: "I'm looking for an underground map with the stations blanked out so I can test myself - do you know where I could get one?" I'm not exactly sure what Roger is testing himself for, perhaps there's a new initiation test for London Underground staff or would be station assistants.

However, being a fountain of all Tube knowledge I happened to know that our very own Geoff had spent minutes of fun creating just the map that Roger was looking for

Tube map with stations blanked out

As Geoff said on his funny tube maps page: "I did this one myself! Why? Because I thought it would an excellent test for when my mates are pissed down the pub one night. A blank tube map! See how many stations you can (correctly) fill in within ten minutes."

Now there's a challenge.....

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 17, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Holiday Snaps

The most unlikely place to see the London Underground roundel ... ? Durban, South Africa.

I'm used to seeing place names and places in the UK mimic a London Underground sign (e.g. there's a clothes shop up in Manchester which name escapes me right now, but I know uses the classic symbol as it's shop signage), but I was pleasantly pleased/suprised to see this one whilst on holiday in SA recently.

It's in the 'Pavilion' shopping centre, about 10Km west out of central Durban on the N3, it it would appear to be a traditional english pie shop! I didn't buy any (it was too hot), so I just took the photo and scurried off before someone mugged me for my camera.

I can also recommend a couple of good 'tube' related books as your own holiday reading .. first is Ian Marchants
Parallel Lines which is a travel journey around the UK in general, but contains an amusing chapter where he goes out to travel on as much of the tube in one day as he can. His weak bladder, caffeine and nicotine addiction don't make it easy for him though.

Also on my recommended list is the excellent Underground London - Travels Beneath the City Streets by Stephen Smith, which talks about sewers that you can ride your bike down, the governments secret network of escape tunnels and of course the good old tube system. Oh, and me and Neil get a mention as well with that world record thing ...

Anyway, available at all good bookshops near you, and Amazon of course.

; Posted by Anonymous Thursday, March 17, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Another Circle Line "Party"

Circle Line Knitters

I don't know what it is about the Circle Line but it gets more than its fair share of weird and wonderful
parties. I know a few knitters from the States (Wendyknits and CreatingTextiles) link to this blog which is flattering but puzzling, but perhaps now I know that there is a link between knitting and the Tube. Helene/Stroppycow sent me a link to a wonderful site of a group of knitters called Cast Off and a link to some pictures of a "knitmeet" they had on the Circle Line.

In all my Tube travel I've never seen even one person knitting on the Tube, although I believe it's quite common and I've seen people on British Snail knitting. I would have loved to have seen the whole carriage knitting - must have puzzled the tourists (or anyone for that matter).

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, March 13, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Film Location Tube Map

Sainsbury's Going Underground

Not that I'm usually in the habit of promoting Sainsbury's - but just received a pretty good email from them about their new monthly DVD package (nice offer - might do it) but they had this nifty tube map showing the DVD's they have on offer with the
locations on the tube map that the film was shot at.

Film location Tube Map

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, March 09, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Leaked reports and grilled bosses

You can't really, have opened a London paper today without knowing that there's a whole raft of repairs that are way behind schedule on the Tube.

By now 30% of old tracks were supposed to have been replaced, but to date only 4% have been.

Targets have been lowered for the lifts and escalator renewals - "revised down" seems to be the positive Tubespeak for this one.

Only 10 out of 31 station refurishments which should have been completed by the end of this month look likely to happen.

Tube bosses are going to be given a public grilling at a meeting in City Hall tomorrow by the London Assembly's Transport committtee. Chairperson Lynne Featherstone is "shocked" by the report and Tim O'Toole - LU Managing Director and the private firms that look after the Tube - Tube Lines and Metronet will be made to account for the figures.

Apparently we've got to "
grin and bear it" and apparently things aren't as bad as the nasty report has made out.

If you want to read the full doom and gloom check out the BBC's site.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, March 09, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, March 07, 2005

Baby on Board

Badges so mums-to-be can get a Tube seat

Personally I think it's a great shame when some people think they need to wear badges in order to be given a seat on the Tube when they're pregnant. But that's where we are from an item in today's Metro and this evening's

I am genuinely amazed when people don't offer their seat to pregnant women. I know that sometimes you can get carried away with your book or paper or you just end up staring into space and don't notice. But if you're not going to notice someone's large stomach in your face, how are you going to notice a tiny white badge with "Baby on board!" and the tube roundel logo?

According to a recent Tube poll the vast majority of people (92%) think that seated people should offer seats to pregnant women without being asked. However, a similarly large amount of people (85%) said that a woman should ask if she needs a seat. Not sure how those statistics quite tally, specially when you then throw in a confusing 78% of pregnant women who say they never asked when they needed to sit down.

Someone from London Underground said that "although people feel seats should be offered to pregnant women, no one is communicating. Therefore creating a visual prompt could help. Offering a badge gives pregnant women the option to identify themselves to other customers as someone who may require a seat. This eliminates potentially embarrassing situations."

If someone offers me a seat I must admit I never take offence, I just take the seat. If I was fat perhaps I might take offence as they may think I'm pregnant. But that's not a crime, is it?

Sometimes I offer seats to clearly pregnant women and they say no. I then spend about 15 seconds thinking "bollox to you then", but then I get on with my life. It's not the most embarrassing thing in the world.

My mate did a piece for BBC London News last year to flog her Tube book and she stuffed a cushion up her jumper and was filmed trying to get a seat. Just to make it even more obvious that she was "pregnant", she carried a Dr Spock baby book and huffed and puffed a lot, and still sometimes didn't get a seat. If LU think the badge may make a big difference that's great. The byline for the picture of the badge says "Wear the badge in a visible place and you'll get a seat". Don't count on it!

The spokesperson also said "We want to find out if pregnant women will find these badges empowering, encouraging them to ask for the seat they need. We also want to find out how their fellow Tube passengers will react when they see the badges, encouraging them to offer a seat when they know it will be appreciated". A final decision on distribution of the "Baby on Board" badges will be taken once reaction to the trial has been gauged.

Priority seat stickers on Tokyo subway

Perhaps they should bring out badges for the elderly saying "Oldie on board", or people with crutches "Broken leg on board".

; Posted by annie mole Monday, March 07, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A view of the Tube from New York

New Yorker Cartoon

Continuing with the New York theme this week, still being blown away by
Travis's daily photoblog of the subway there, and he asked whether I had seen an article from last year's New Yorker about Bob Kiley and whether "the former CIA agent who saved New York's subway could get the Tube back on track". I had been kindly sent a copy by Richard Carreno of Junto Ezine, but I'd never got round to blogging about it at the time.

I love the cartoon below with the back of Tony Blair's head and a not too brilliant likeness of Gordon Brown.

The thing about this is the wild view of people who use the Tube. I know it's a cartoon and therefore there's some amount of caricature in it, but when was the last time you saw someone in London wearing a bowler hat? How many people in London wear flat caps too, unless they're doing the Guy Richie/Will Young thing?

The general gist of the New Yorker feature is that Kiley has a tough time on his hands and similar themes including Kiley's initial surprise at how everyone quietly puts up with the delays and overcrowding is shown in an article from SFGate. Can't say I've been particularly impressed by Bob Kiley to date. Perhaps I'm missing something.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 03, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Security posters

Reporting suspect bags gets you shouted at

I went out to Baker Street last night and going up the escalators noticed the variant of the security posters that will be appearing across the Tube. (They don't seem to have made it to the DLR and Waterloo and City Line yet)

The funny thing (or not at all funny really) is that when a passenger stopped a train because she had seen a suspect bag, she was badly told off for holding up the Tube at Bank station - see the
Evening Standard. Not the greatest piece of PR the week the posters were launched.

It's bad enough having the general English - "well I don't want to be the one to make a fuss" attitude, "someone else will report it" without having Tube staff shout at you and telling you to get back into the train when there's a dodgy bag on board. Nightmare.

BTW - general question and I'm sure people will say "of course you can - eejit", but can you get through to 999 on your mobile phone if you are sub surface or in a tunnel?

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, March 02, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE