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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

We hate Tube train squeeze

London Underground Irritations

Yesterday's Metro had a small piece with the headline "We hate Tube train squeeze" and it was nothing to do with
overcrowding! Transport for London seemed to copy what my main site www.goingunderground.net started in 1999 by advertising a list of the underground's unofficial rules.

In the short feature the results of an online survey "designed to improve passenger etiquette and make using the Tube more enjoyable" - Metro revealed that five per cent of people surveyed, were irritated by others "simply appearing to own a squeeze box". These 5% must have been travelling on the District Line or westbound end of the Piccadilly Line from Heathrow into town as there are a number of gypsy looking kids who patrol those lines with an accordian and a battered McDonalds' cup begging for money.

Metro Publish London Underground Survey Results of Tube Pet Hates

I fully agree, these kids aren't really buskers but beggars, sent out by their parents to annoy the carriage with their miserable, half hearted snatches of song. As a gulliable tourist just coming in from Heathrow, you might be tempted to spare some cash - but as a hardened commuter who knows that busking on the tube carriages themselves is now clamped on (since busking was made official outside carriages at designated spots at Tube stations for years now).

"More obvious irritations topping the (TfL) survey included people getting on trains before everyone has got off (17 per cent), and people who fail to say 'excuse me' and 'sorry' (12 per cent).

Cartoon by Andy Vine from my main site

"Just eight per cent were bothered by beggars asking for money, while six percent found loud personal stereos beyond the pale. But mobile ringtones upset a measly one per cent of passengers
." Probably because most of the people who completed the online survey travelled mainly underground and couldn't hear them anyway!

So come on - give us your pet Tube hates, everyone. Quite a lot of them will probably be on my Unofficial Tube Rules page, but I'd like to hear them anyway and see what I've missed over the years.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, November 30, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Creative Accounting on the London Underground

Look we have one of the cheapest Tube fares in the World

Ralf The Cartoonist sent me this link from his blog

Ralf said "This Must be a Joke. From Ken Livingstone's new propaganda pamphlet 'London Loop, the new magazine for Tube and Bus users'".

As I said in his comments you can do anything you like with statistics really, so in some sort of way, we are among the cheapest fares if you use Oystercard pre-pay and if you base cheapness on potentially how many stations you can travel through for your £3.50 for a single.
(yup three pounds 50p for a single ticket - wot a bargain!)

We just happen to have a lot more stations packed into our miles than other countries.

London's Tube system covers a comparatively small area for the number of stations that it has.

Incidentally, has anyone come across this London Loop magazine (or rather London Loopy if it thinks we're buying their mad cheap London Underground fares argument)?

I'd be interested to know what else is in it.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, November 30, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wapping Fun Every Saturday in December

Thames Tunnel Tours each Saturday in December

If you missed the simply BRILLIANT
Wapping Thames Tunnel tours carried out by Robert Hulse, he's just emailed me to say that each Saturday in December they will be on again. "Every Saturday in December The Brunel Engine House is organising guided journeys of the Thames Tunnel, by tube train. By kind arrangement with London Underground, the Tunnel will be floodlit so visitors may see the columns, recesses and architectural features of the first underwater shopping arcade. At Wapping we descend a spiral staircase to the bottom of Brunel's original shaft. Travellers should meet in the ticket hall of Rotherhithe tube at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm or 4pm. Tickets cost £5 and include admission to the Museum, just behind the station." For more info check out the Brunel Engine Musuem site.

Me, Neil, Ann and Helene went back in the summertime and since then other readers of this blog popped along when they were repeated during the London Open House Weekend in September, and it seems they are sooooo popular they are now running this winter.

There's also something else on Xmas Shopping ideas, that I will launch from tomorrow in my own "advent calender" of Xmas Gifts for people who like this blog!

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, November 30, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Geisha Galore - Great Ads at Leicester Square

Gorgeous Geishas at Leicester Square Tube Station - or should all Tube ads be banned

Coming home from work last night, I saw a great wall ad for the new film
Memoirs of a Geisha (based on the bestselling book) which comes out in London in January 2006

Memoirs of a Geisha Film ad at Leicester Square Tube

I turned round and across the platform was an ad for Hitachi featuring a modern looking Japanese woman with part of her face in Geisha style, and although it was complete co-incidence these two ads were so close, it made for a very stunning effect.

Hitachi Ad featuring Geisha at Leicester Square Tube Station

Almost a week ago I was sent a link to a pledge site which basically said that all ads on the London Underground were rubbish and they were trying to find 350 people who would pledge £10 each and this money would be pooled to pay for an ad on the Tube which would be filled with art instead. I thought this was a laudable idea, yet wouldn't work and I said:

"Sort of a laudable idea - but you'll never get 350 people to cough up a tenner for this. People have already made the point that Viacom will get the money anyway. Also it's common knowledge that advertising revenue does help to fund the Tube to a certain extent - art doesn't!!

People may say "Oh yeah we hate ads" but in the main wouldn't want to have higher Tube fares and an even more rubbish service as a result of not having them.

But good luck with it, I won't be pledging for the above reasons but may blog it in a couple of weeks to see what the people and commuters who visit my site think

I got my head bitten off by someone who hadn't read my comment properly and called me defeatist. I couldn't be bothered to continue the argument as I thought his reasoning was fairly lame - so I left Mr Justice to do his best instead!

However, in the meantime the person who made the pledge - Austin Plunkett - emailed me urging me to publicise their cause on my blog. So this is me doing it.

Remember that London Underground's Platform for Arts already exists, also remember that the London Underground is in part funded by advertising revenue and that the ASA (Advertising Standard Authority) exists to make sure we are not misled, harmed or offended by rubbish adverts.

Advertising Standards Authority London Underground Ad

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the whole "let's pay to put up art instead of ads" debate, plus any comments you have on the Geisha ads.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, November 29, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

No delays on the Northern Line?

The indicator shows BIG Northern Line delays

No Northern Line Delays!

And yet while I was standing on the platform at Waterloo yesterday morning, I heard the station assistant reel out a whole host of delays on other lines, but he seemed to think that a 12 minute wait for the next Northern Line train at 9.50am wasn't worth mentioning. Is it another case of the station assistants not bothering to mention a blip in the system in the hope that it will clear up before people notice?

Even though I only had to wait a couple of minutes for my train, there must have been delays, as it was packed when I got on, and normally I can get a seat at this time in the latter part of the rush hour.

Packed Northern Line Train

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, November 29, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

"Last Tuesday" - a play about bus passengers staged on a bus

London Transport Theatre on a Bus

I learnt the following from yesterday's Metro "Theatre happens on London Transport every day - those small dramsa that play out between passengers while everybody pretends not to listen in. So director Paul Higgins has the nifty idea of stging a show on a bus while his Theatre 503 venue gets a makeover"

Bus Theatre - Venue 503's - Last Tuesday - in Metro

"Six people travel home after a busy day. Palm pilots, picking the kids up, dinner and book clubs. So much to think about and so little time. But what's happening on the other side of the world. Do you think about that? Take a few minutes out of an hour last week, what did you think about?

A short play about the consequences of political actions and how they pervade everyday life
." says the theatre company's own website.

The performances start this evening and run until Saturday December 3rd and they are FREE - donations can be made to the London Bombings Relief Charitable Fund. Basically you need to turn up at Cleopatra's Needle on the Embankment WC2 at 7.45pm and the bus leaves at 8pm when the performance begins. They are also putting on extra performances at 8.15.

Check out Theatre 503's website for more information.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, November 29, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, November 28, 2005

OMIGOD My blog's been nominated for World's Best Urban Blog

Well there's a nice surprise - a nomination without knowing it

I must thank whoever it was who has nominated this blog for The World's Best Urban Blog in the Urbs: 2005 Urban Blogging Awards.

Apparently "even if a blog you like has already been nominated, it's worth your time to nominate that blog again - only those top blogs with the most total nominations will make it into actual voting. Nominations will be accepted until midnight EST on December 3rd."

The top prize is $500 worth of i-Tunes (and I haven't even got an iPod, but, hey I won't knock an award).

So if you feel like adding to my nomination, skip over to this page to see who is in the running and nominate (London Underground Tube Diary) and any others of your choice by send an email to tips@gridskipper.com by 3rd December. Then in a similar way to the Bloggies those that get the most nominations reach the final and voting for those finalists takes place from 5th December - 26th December.

For the judges' purposes, "an urban blog is a regularly updated blog site with over half of its content focused on a city, cities in general, city living, urban lifestyles, urban travel, or something of the sort."

Cheers and I'll keep you posted!

; Posted by annie mole Monday, November 28, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Women only subway carriages

Should women only carriages be "re-introduced" on the London Underground?

What do you mean - re-introduced? Surely there weren't women-only carriages on the London Underground? Well there were, and in case you are thinking this is an outdated Victorian idea, women-only carriages continued until the 1960's on some suburban rail lines.

John left a comment on my "Womens's Tube Tips leaflet pulled for being sexist" post, saying "At least LU hasn't felt the need to add women-only carriages on trains (unlike Japan that does have them on an increasing number of routes now)"

Excellent pictures from the Tokyotimes blog below:

Women only carriages in Tokyo 2005 - From Toykotimes' blog

Women only carriages in Tokyo 2005 - From Toykotimes' blog

I managed to find a picture I had taken of the women-only carriages on the Metropolitan Line, from a visit to the London Transport Museum a few years ago:

Ladies Only Carriage on the Metropolitan Line

Also as recently as November 2002, people were talking about their re-introduction - see The Evening Standard:

"Women-only Tube carriages were proposed today as the best way to make late-night travel safer and cut fear of crime. But the suggestion was met with opposition from London Underground, which said the scheme could make matters worse rather than better......"

"The call came from Tory mayoral hopeful Nikki Page, who said the front carriage of each Underground train should be reserved for women after 10pm."

"But an LU spokesman said perverts might wait on station platforms late at night, knowing where a lone woman would be likely to alight. Rowdy gangs of male drunks could also be tempted to storm the all-women carriages, leading to fights.

"Under Mrs Page's plan, a guard could ride in the carriage to ensure safety. If that proved too expensive, a closed-circuit TV camera could be fitted and monitored by the driver. Private firms would be approached to sponsor the carriages to meet the extra costs. Mrs Page believes fashion and healthcare firms would be eager to provide sponsorship
(see recent post on the whole idea of corporate Tube sponsorship), allowing the carriages to be fitted out more comfortably than standard rolling stock."

I quite like the thoughts of the guy who writes the Tokyotimes who said this of Tokyo's current system "This proposition, despite making a lot of sense, could however open a huge can of worms, with all manner of people and social groups pushing for their own carriages. And in an attempt to get in first, I've already sent a request to Japan Railways for a "British blokes in their 30s carriage".

Any more thoughts on this whole idea of women-only carriages on the Tube.....?

; Posted by annie mole Monday, November 28, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

King's Cross Bomb Survivor in Sunday Times

London Underground bomb survivor Rachel in Sunday Times

Regular readers will know that I only discovered
Rachel's King's Cross Bombing Victim's survivor's blog a relatively short time ago (October 11th). However, whenever anything that reminds me about the attacks on the Tube, the victims and the survivors (eg the recent St Paul's Memorial, Blair's anti-terrorism proposals) I look at her blog. Every time I look at her blog I feel grateful for the fact that there are still people like Rachel in the world, who can look beyond their own problems and not see themselves as a victim. People who have compassion and sympathy for others and try to see them as individuals rather than bunch them together in a group.

Once again she has shocked and yet totally humbled me, as from the front page of yesterday's Sunday Times, I learnt that not only did she go through the hideous events of the July 7th bombing, but also a few years earlier was violently raped. Indeed she was reading an article about her rape, that she had written for Marie Claire, only minutes before her carriage was blown up by terrorists.

If you have the chance to read the Sunday Times article please do - or at least visit her blog to see what she has said about the article and read other people's comments. Thanks

; Posted by annie mole Monday, November 28, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Stockwell Tube Shooting - Police Officers may escape charges

Police Chief Sir Ian Blair faces Inquiry over Stockwell Tube ShootingPolice who shot Brazilian on London Underground may 'escape charges'

Just learnt the above from today's Sunday Times - "Senior Scotland Yard officers and Whitehall sources are convinced prosecutors will accept the defence of the marksmen who shot Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician, at Stockwell Tube station on July 22."....

"The two were said to have been interviewed last week by investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). They are thought to have used the defence that they 'honestly believed' he was a terrorist and say they used 'reasonable force' to stop him endangering the public.

"The IPCC is also examining statements made by the Metropolitan police after the attack. Within hours of the shooting, the Met said of de Menezes that "his clothing and his behaviour at the station added to [the officers'] suspicions" - a statement that turned out to be false."

Meanwhile Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair's actions come under fire!

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, November 27, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Anasticia's Big Pants!

Top Tube Ad Picture

Coolly observed, picture found recently on
Flickr taken by Andrew Bulhak where an ad for Tussaud's - Chamber of Horrors which features a large pair of Underpants (the Dungeon is so scary you will need a new pair of pants quite quickly - I don't think I need to explain this joke any further) has been put on top of a poster advertising Antastacia's Greatest Hits and the people responsible for removing the London Underground ads, & putting up new ones, haven't got far with scraping them off yet!

Anastacia's Big Pants

Here's the original ad for you to compare:

Madame Tussaud's London Underground Underpants Ad

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, November 27, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, November 25, 2005

The right kind of ice - Railways prepare for Arctic conditions

Let's hope the Tube's prepared too

For once it looks as though we may not be having delays on the railway due to the icy weather and snow that's predicted in the UK this weekend. From yesterday's Standard Lite, I discovered that British Rail claim to have a "magic" de-icer which will be used to prevent tracks and points jamming.

Railway prepared for Arctic temperatures - Evening Standard 24th November

We can only hope that the London Underground have the same type of de-icer. Otherwise there will be loads of delays due to the "icy conditions" "frost on the line" and the wrong type of ice which seems to take London Transport by surprise every year.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, November 25, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube Fashion Victims Week 6

London Underground Fashion victims are back with a vengence

Yay, it's Friday, yay, I'm back in the UK (loving the freezing temperatures after sunny CA, let's see what "frost on the line" excuses the Tube have as it's bound to have caught them by surprise - unless they are using the railway's magic de-icers). So it's time to spot this week's people on the London Underground or rail in London who are victims to fash-e-on. The pictures were taken over the last two to three weeks as we missed a week while I was away.

Let's start with some people who are trying to brave the elements. Remember faces are blurred or not shown to protect the victims' identities.

Arctic conditions

This man is clearly expecting this weekend's predicted snow, with his thin jacket being countered with some headgear that Sherpa Tensing would be proud of.

Arctic Conditions

Also loving the perspective on this picture, as he kindly emphasised the thickness of the hat for me

Arctic Conditions 2

Red, red and more red

I sort of think this woman has a gone a bit over the top in the red colour co-ordination. I know it must be hard being "a Ginger" (apologies to Anthony, Mags and Liz and any other ging'ers, whether natural or by design!!!) It must be difficult finding colours that go with your brilliant Titian hair. But do you really think that you would wear boots, a handbag, shawl and remarkably strange shorts to match your hair colour?

Red, red, red and more red

Tooo much colour matching here!

Casual Smart - Combat and Court shoes

Not sure why this woman decided to mix the causual combat skirt and track suit top with the pointy purple kitten heeled shoes and the diamond etched black opaque tights. It's too completely different looks if you cut her in two (from the calves down!)

Combat Skirt and smart shoes

BTW is it me, or hasn't this woman got large hands compared to the rest of her body?

Sandals and socks

I don't care how cold the weather is. Sandals and socks are soooooo, soooooo, wrong!

Sandals and Socks

UPDATE - You might want to check out the tights of the red shoed woman sitting next to him - unfortunately the picture was really blurry as I was so disturbed by shoe and sock man than I only saw red shoed woman's hideous two toned tights as I was about to get off the tube. Hence the rubbish picture.

click to see more of red shoes woman's tights

Designer Sleeves

Two pictures now to illustrate when going designer works and when it doesn't. I love this woman's pointed sleeves on her camel coloured coat, it's a nice design detail that is slightly pantomimish, but I think it works really well

Designer Sleeve

Whereas this designer look doesn't:

Designer Sleeve 2

The guy wearing this was also wearing sunglasses! (Sunglasses? On the Underground? At night? In November? - I think you see where I'm coming from) A true fashion victim who looks as though he's leaned against some of Banksy's more rubbish graffiti!

However, I know this jacket with words on it, is not as remotely bad as this number, spotted a fair while back:

Vile Offwhite Jacket

Nothing can top that and I'm still laughing at Mags' brilliant comment at the time: "Off White jacket - I have no words. Unless someone with some black paint stood behind him on the Tube and painted it on..."

Lou One

And finally. Major echoes of Little Britain going on here. We have the great chav fashion as often demonstrated by Vicky Pollard - the high pony tail, the hideous chavvy belt and the great tracksuit top/hoodie with, possibly her name, "Lou", on the back:

Lou One

Chavtastic - "Yeah I know" as Lou's mate, Andy might say!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, November 25, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

World versions of the Tube Map - From the Metro Maps & Archictecture of the World Talk

How the London Underground Map looks to other countries

Another post from
Tuesday's talk. This time it's from Max Roberts' fascinating look at how overseas guidebooks who can't afford the license or can't be arsed to apply for it, design their own versions of the Tube map.

There are tons and tons of them if you look - although Max would still like to know of more - where the local knowledge of London's Underground stations isn't quite up to scratch and we get wonderful typos, stations left off or removed, colours of lines all over the place and other weird anomolies. If you spend an afternoon in Stanfords flicking through international guide books to London, and looking for the Tube map, you'll see what he means.

French Version of the London Underground Map

However, thanks to Jon Choo who was also at the talk, I've found my first online version. Take a look at just a section of the map above from Subwaynavigator a French website, and try to spot the mistakes.

I'm no expert in the Tube Map, but I've spotted three errors in just that section alone. And if you're wondering what that strange orange line is, it's the Central Line and I really haven't messed with the colours! Enjoy and, no prizes for spotting the other mistakes, just the satisfaction of knowing that you're right!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, November 25, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Bob Kiley steps down as Head of London Transport

London's Transport Commisioner Bob Kiley stands down"Old" Bob bows out in January - who will take over?

Thanks to Simon I've just learnt that former CIA agent, Bob Kiley, London's transport commissioner, will be standing down from his post in January 2006 - three years earlier than he was supposed to.

"BBC London's political correspondent Tim Donovan said he believed Mr Kiley's age and the amount of work needed to get London's transport system ready for the Olympic Games were partly to blame.

Mr Kiley will be 77 in 2012 and it was felt a new commissioner should step in to take on the project, he said.

Mr Livingstone also pointed to Mr Kiley's age, telling BBC News the commissioner would still be a key figure behind the scenes but with a smaller day-to-day workload.

It is known that the commissioner has been frustrated by the Public Private Partnership (PPP) contracts

Join the club Bob, aren't we all?

I wonder who will replace him?

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, November 24, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Jubilee Line Extra Carriages - What will they look like?

London Underground slowly unveiling the new Jubilee Line carriages

Oooh er - London Underground and Tubelines are gradually unveiling the fact that from January 2006 longer trains on the Jubilee Line will be rolled our with a 7th car in the hope of easing some of the overcrowding on this line. It will allow "an extra 6,000 people to travel each hour when the Tube is at its busiest". Some readers have already been
discussing the impact of this, to a certain extent:

Jubilee Line Extra Carriage Ad

I saw this ad for the first time a couple of days ago (it may have been up longer as I've been in the States for a week), and we still have little ideas as to what the trains and carriages will actually look like. A number of you guessed that the mobile phone ad was shot in the new carriages (last Friday's quiz), but considering they weren't brought into the Jubilee Line's Depot at Stratford until as recently as November 2nd, that would have been unlikely.

Keep your eyes peeled if you're on the Jubilee Line, was who knows maybe you will see one of the new longer trains and carriages, sooner than 31st December 2005 when they are being rolled out!

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, November 24, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Gadget Man - E-Reading on the London Underground

Does anyone know what this gadget is?

On the Northern Line yesterday morning, I sat next to a guy reading from this strange "laptop" electronic device:

Gadget Man - Interesting e-reader on the Tube

He was holding it like a book and was reading the right hand page (which I couldn't see) with great interest. Does anyone have any ideas what it is? (No competition on this one, I'm just curious to know as it's one of the weirdest e-readers I've seen on the Tube).

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, November 24, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Metro Logos - From the Metro Maps & Architecture of the World Talk

Subway & Underground Logos

Mark Ovenden spent some time of his talk discussing subway logos and how most countries around the world actually use the letter M for Metro or U for Underground as their logo or the initial letter of the subway's name. The London Underground logo or roundel seems to be one of the few exceptions to this "rule".

Subway Logos From Around the World

From Edwardian times, transport operators quickly realised the power of logos and how the logo should try to convey speed, reliability and safety. The logo was mainly used to identify where the subway station was, as in the main, entrances to subways are holes in the street taking the commuter down some stairs to the underground. The logo therefore, was used to prominently point out where the tube station could be found.

St James Park (the station where the London Underground's head office still is), started testing a variety of logos in the early 1900's. The "Bullseye" was rolled out from 1908 onwards. However for a while the Metropolitan and District Lines used their own "Diamond" version.

Variety of London Underground Logos and Roundels

However, the roundel that we are used to today, didn't come along until the 1920's and utilised the brand new London Underground font which Edward Johnston produced in 1916 - the familiar Johnston Font, which we still use today.

From the London Transport Museum Site

Also, the London Underground is pretty unique in that we are one of the few subway systems that use the logo as part of the station name sign.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, November 24, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Booze, booze and more booze

Alcohol on the London Underground

midnight tonight, pubs that have applied for a licence can open for 24 hours. British Transport police expressed some concern over this - "Violent crime on the UK's rail network rose by nearly 12% last year, much of it fuelled by alcohol, police say.

"There were 9,748 cases of violent crime on the UK's railways in the year to March - up from 8,727 - while violence rose 14% on the London Underground.....The figure prompted British Transport Police's chief constable Ian Johnston to voice "serious concerns" about the extension of pub licensing hours".

I also made a post a while back on railway pubs and pubs on the platforms of Tube stations like the Hole in the Wall at Sloane Square (which don't actually exist any more).

In October, I also posted about the idea being mooted of banning alchohol on public transport (which would appear bizarrely to include no booze in the buffet cars of National Rail trains too - leaving the Government to back down on this proposal). In a survey carried out at the time: "Half of North Londoners admitted to drinking until they fell down and worryingly, they then went home by Tube. East Londoners were also most likely to go home by Tube, although only drank 2-3 units of alcohol. South Londoners were also light drinkers with 2-3 units but then they would go home in a mini cab. West Londoners drank higher levels of alcohol 5-7 units, but then walked home."

However, only a couple of days ago I saw something on the BBC website about the incidences of drunken staff on the London Underground - an equally worrying thought.

"More and more Tube staff are turning up for work under the influence of drink or drugs, BBC London has learned. London Underground, which has a "zero tolerance" approach to alcohol in the bloodstream, is looking at increasing random testing of employees.

Last year, 1,150 people were tested on the job and eight failed. This year 1,100 were tested and 27 failed

However, a counsellor for London Underground staff, Nigel Radcliffe said that he din't think that drink problems were limited to the Tube's employees: "I have been aware that what we are picking up at London Underground reflects what's going on in wider society, particularly within urban areas and with working people".

The BBC reminds us though that "Last year, several Tube workers were sacked after 86 beer cans and an empty cognac bottle were found at Farringdon underground station."

And the liklihood is that a drinks company will be sponsoring any free New Year's Eve travel on the Tube this year as they have in previous years - or perhaps Ken will now look for a different, drier sponsor!!!!

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

Metro Maps and Architecture of the World

Subway maps and metro architecture talks were excellent

Last night a group of us (
Neil, Fimb, Jon Choo and SK) went to see Mark Ovenden talk about subway maps from around the world and the architecture of subway stations. His speech packed into less than two hours was really amazing. He was joined by Max Roberts who spoke about what became fascinating subject of how countries around the world draw, rather peculiar and inaccurate, maps of the London Underground for their guidebooks.

There was so much in both speeches that I'm going to do several posts about the information they covered, although I'll focus mainly on the London Underground, even though they covered international subway sytems.

I'll start with my first contact with Mark, who saw an article I had written for the BBC on The Life & Times of the London Underground Map. He emailed me to ask if I would plug his appearance on a TV programme last September - Nicholas Crane's Map Man. I duly plugged it, along with a talk that I went to in Kew Gardens by Ken Garland on Harry Beck's original and classic Tube Map from the 1930's which revolutionised the way subway maps are designed and are still dependent on his original diagram today.

Cartoon from Punch showing the simplicity of the old London Underground map

Interestingly Mark used the same Punch cartoon in his presentation last night to illustrate how complex and confusing the London Underground map looked before Beck came along and "straightened it out". Removing streets, distorting geography, straightening out lines and exaggerating the size of central area where there more stations closer together, are all things that make Beck's map great and usable.

London Underground Boxer ShortsSome of you will know that Beck's original map was rejected in 1931 but later London Transport came round to the idea, as Beck persistently badgered them with revisions of his beloved diagram and they said "You had better sit down. We are going to give you a shock. We are going to print it" and the rest is history! Since then Beck's map has been as much of an icon of the London Undergrond as the Tube's logo (roundel) itself and is printed in millions each year. It also adorns a huge variety of merchandise such as socks, boxer shorts, umbrellas, mugs and even showwer curtains!

Watch this space for more on Mark and Max's talk.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Would you use free London Underground travel if it were sponsored by McDonalds?

Free Tube travel for New Year - on or off?

Last night's
Evening Standard carried a small news item on free travel on the London Underground after midnight on New Year's Eve. This has been a bit of a tradition over many years and usually some drinks company sponsor the travel so that we can all travel home for free after New Year's revelling (God, I hate that word, but it's a word often used with New Year's drunken festivities). However, a Tube union are saying it's not 100% certain this year, as a deal has not been struck with drivers who normally receive bonuses for this: "Steve Grant, Aslef's London district secretary said: "We are still having discussions about working all night".

Free Tube Travel for New Year - On or Off?

In the BBC Radio London Transport debate I went to a couple of weeks ago, Robert Elms rather enthusiastically said - "I know how we can make transport a lot cheaper, why don't we get McDonalds to sponsor station names. You know how we get free transport over the New Year cos of companies like Smirnoff and Fosters who sponsor it." So instead of Piccadilly Circus it could be called Ronald McDonald's Circus and loads cheaper travel or even free travel to that station. Interesting idea, which actually met with with a good laugh and approval in the studio audience. But I wonder if it would ever work?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, November 22, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Trains are overcrowded - shock horror

Perhaps this is why SilverLink fares have been doubled

Also in yesterday's Evening Standard they carried the "shocking" feature that National Rail trains in London are heavily overcrowded and have "cattle-truck" conditions. As someone who daily uses South West Trains (SWT) for half of their journey into town, this comes as no surprise. The Standard said "trains are 4.3% over capacity in the mornings and 1.5% over capacity in the evenings".

Cattle-truck conditions on London's railways - Evening Standard 21st November

Looking closely into their league table of over-crowders we see that SilverLink or North London Line is one of the worst offenders with almost 6% of its rush hour passenger numbers being overcrowded. So perhaps they feel that in doubling their fares it will somehow mean that fewer people will travel on them and their overcrowding figures will be lowered?

London Rail Travel Excess Passengers - Evening Standard

London TravelWatch (the new name for London Transport Users Committee) said "The Government and train companies need to consult passenger groups as to how to solve the overcrowding" and not surprisingly a new survey showed that "High fares and overcrowding are the biggest complaints for train travellers. The survey was conducted for the MTR corporation which is bidding to run a number of British Rail franchises. 66% of travellers said overcrowding was their number one irritant"

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, November 22, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Metro Maps of the World talk tonight

A quick reminder - tickets may still be available

So far a small group of us (
Neil, Fimb, SK and Jon Choo) are going along to Mark Ovenden's talk on Metro Maps & Architecture of the World tonight at St Martin's College - full details here if you fancy going along, but call for tickets rather than just turning up as it may be sold out.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, November 22, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, November 21, 2005

And The Winner Is ... (Part 3)

Orange Ad Tube Train Quiz

Yes, the coloured paperclips are back!

My high-tech system has once again produced a worthy winner. This time it was the yellow paperclip that was chosen and I can exclusively reveal that the name assigned to that colour was ..... Marc!

So well done to him etc etc. I'll let Annie sort out the
prize as she is doing with the prize for the other competition now she's back from America.

The paperclips await the next mind-busting competition ...

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

North London Line Price Increase

Fares set to DOUBLE on North London Line

What a wonderful welcome back to the UK, not only is it freezing the gonads off the proverbial brass monkey, but thanks to a reader, I learnt that from January fares on the North London Line (which runs from Richmond to Stratford) will be doubled and as Oyster pre-pay can't be used on that Line either (despite the fact that all of the line runs within London Transport zones), there is no cheaper option apart from a paper travelcard or an Oyster travelcard (which as far as I know costs the same price as a paper travel card).

This is Local London said: "While Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has frozen most prices for those using Oyster cards from next year, passengers paying cash for tickets will see the cost of trips within a single zone rocket from £1.30 to £3.

And because Oyster readers have not been installed along the North London Line, passengers cannot use their pre-pay Oyster cards and will be forced to buy the more expensive cash ticket
." - or use the travelcard route as mentioned above.

So yet another reason why Ken ought to try harder to force National Rail to get fooking Oystercard prepay installed on stations that run through London Transport zones. "Mr Livingstone is discussing with the Department for Transport whether he can control National Rail services within London, and the spokesman said that if this gets the green light, then the equipment will be put in place."

"Darren Johnson, Green Party London Assembly member, has branded the price hikes 'unfair', and believes that Mr Livingstone should suspend the inflation-busting rises until the Oyster sensors are installed."

Too right!

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

Name this train type - answer and finalists

The answer's in the blog

Friday's competiton posed by Neil was a good experiment to see how far back people read the blog - and not very far seems to be the general answer.

Neil asked which type of train ie which rolling stock was used for the ad for the well known mobile phone company below. People may recognise that it looks remarkably similar to the carriage that was used in the Madonna Hung Up video which both me and Londonist did a blog post about a mere couple of weeks ago.

If you had whizzed back to that post - November 2nd where we were also trying to guess where it was shot, you'll see that the answer was in the updated post.

"the video was filmed on a Jubilee line train between Charing Cross and West Hampstead and back. There is a page on the LU intranet that details any filming that has taken place, and Hung Up is mentioned here." Says Alansslonep."

and in the comments SK gave the most complete answer on the 3rd November. "I've just compared this picture from the video, with pictures of other tube stock, and it is absolutely 100% definately a Jubilee Line 96TS. The handrails, the roof, and the bulkhead are different on the Piccadilly's 73TS, and the Northern's 95TS has tip up seats instead of perch seats as well as different seat moquette."

So getting back to this Friday's competition - I almost thought that Jag had given the game away when he even mentioned Londonist's competition and wondering if it was the same stock but fortunately my "maybe it is, maybe it isn't" reply put some of you off the scent!

Anyway the correct answer to Friday's quiz is Jubilee Line 1996 or Jubilee Line 96TS is you want to be really precise or even 1996 would have done as only the Jubilee Line put out new stock in 1996.

So the finalists one of whom will be selected from a hat later today are:


Anyone who guessed "new" or 2005 Jubilee Line stock isn't eligible as they've not even been released yet and rolled into the depot at Stratford on the 2nd November, way after both the Madonna video and the ad for Orange were shot. (Jesus - just how geeky can I be for first thing on a Monday morning in the freezing cold?)

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

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Friday Competition

Which type of London Underground Train was this taken in?

OK people, I was instructed by Ms Mole to post this at some point this week owing to her being in America. However, since she's been there, she's done nothing but post to this blog, leaving me no room to get it in (oo-er).

However, she doesn't appear to be about at the moment so I'll sneak in now with this one while she's not looking.

It's Friday, so it's competition time! We both spotted this ad in a magazine the other day and in the true tradition of "can you tell what it is yet?" you have to guess which kind of tube train they used for the photoshoot (addition by Annie - he means type of train - ie the rolling stock). It's not all that difficult for the geeks out there but if you all comment on it you'll feel good about yourself for the rest of the day (honest).

I have no idea if there is a prize for this one but just in case there is, one answer only please (Mr. Justice) :-) (addition by Annie - the prize is a copy of
Poems Not on the Underground - A Parody - top book of funny poems about travelling on public transport. Leave your website/blog/email address in the comments if you want to be eligible to win (closing date midnight GMT Sunday evening 20th November - in the event of more than one person getting it right - correct guesses will be drawn from a hat!)

Advert by a well-known telephone company


PS From Annie - by the way, I fly back home today, so the flight attendent in the London Underground carriage is quite an appropriate image - very reminiscent of the Business Class Tube carriages spoof from Reclaim the Streets protesting against PPP.

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

Metro Maps of the World - a talk by Mark Ovenden

Metro Maps of The WorldSubway maps talk - 22nd November 2005

Next Tuesday at St Martin's College, Mark Ovenden, author of "Metro maps of the world" will be giving a talk called "Metro maps and architecture of the world".

It starts at 7pm and it goes on until 9pm, and is £6 for a ticket or £4 for concessions. You can book a ticket by phoning 0207 379 6344.

Neil, regular commenters, Fimb, Jon Choo, SK and me have already booked our tickets!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, November 18, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tube Tips for Women Leaflet Pulled for being Sexist

Ken pulls sexist Tube Tips for Women leafletKen pulls patronising Tube Tips leaflet

This has made my day!

Many thanks to Londonist for spotting a small feature in today's Guardian saying that Sheriff Ken has pulled the ridiculous Tube Tips for Women leaflet. I originally saw the poster for the leaflet a month ago on October 17th and it's almost too easy a target to ridicule with statements such as making sure London Underground trains did not rock us ladies to sleep and to eat breakfast to ensure that we do not faint, as we have such delicate constitutions.

The Guardian said: "Lady Hamwee, who raised the issue, said: "Transport for London should produce information campaigns and action that don't use outdated stereotypes."

Hoorah for Lady Hamwee!

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

Good service and better spelling on other London Underground Lines

Excellent Photo

From Frankie Roberto

From Frankie Roberto on Flickr.

Spelling not a strong point at South Kensington Tube station!

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Why it's time to stop moaning about London Transport.....

Robert Elms' BBC London Debate

Last week, me,
Liz and her boyfriend were part of a studio audience for a BBC Radio London debate chaired by the fab Robert Elms and here is a late report of the night.

Firstly, let me say it was great fun and I would highly recommend you attending the next one (whenever it may be). The studio wasn't exactly full, but I'd say around 70 people were in the audience and there were enough "professional" studio audience people - ie people who seem to spend their lives going to these things - for the debate to be lively.

Robert Elms was fantastic, aided by a bottle of red wine and the most cheeky school boy smile I have ever seen on someone in their late forties (goodness, he may be even fifty now, which really makes me feel old), waxed lyrical on his views of London transport, before introducing each of the panellists. It's great to see that Londoner's favourite Camden boy, had lost none of his wit and wisdom. And great to see how a good radio presenter can just talk about anything and still sound funny, interesting and involving.

Obviously, the London Underground came in for a lot of stick. The dreaded Oystercard with its inconsitencies and inequalities for people who travel into London by National Rail was quite rightly derrided and the poor guy from the Transport Committee who was trying to defend Ken Livingstone on this one, failed miserably. "But, but, but - we've offered National Rail loads of money to try to incorporate the Oystercard through their stations in London. We've really tried" he said.

Overcrowded Train from Getty ImagesWell try harder, matey. Or offer them more money - you get loads from the congestion charge. Or why doesn't Ken say - "Look guys, I'm mayor or Sheriff in this town and what I say goes in London, so start accepting pre-pay Oystercards or I'll send my mate, Tony Blair round. Or failing that I'll set my newts on you". That should have National Rail quivering in their boots.

The audience were also pretty clear on the fact that although the congestion charge is supposed to encourage more people to travel by public transport and stop using their cars, that the Tube is basically stretched to full capacity right now.

You can't really fit more people on London Underground in the way it exists today. We have a mostly Victorian mode of transport which is now carrying around 3 million people every day and it simply can't cope. OK there's going to be longer trains on the Jubilee Line for the benefit of the London Olympics and the East London Line is going to be extended south - but big deal. What about the rest of the system? What is being done to increase the capacity of important lines that run through the heart of zone one. The Central Line? The Northern Line? Are we going to be sardines and squashed in the rush hour for the rest of our lives? Will we hear Ken Livingstone say "They are not squashed in, they squash themselves in" - like Sir John Elliot, Chairman of London Transport in the 1950s notoriously said (Quote from One Stop Short of Barking's timeline of the London Underground).

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, November 16, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Dirty War - HBO film about terrorist attacks on London

How freaky is this?

Right I am just about to go to bed and in the background I have had HBO on TV in my hotel room in California. They are currently screening a HBO made for TV film called
"Dirty War" made in 2004.

Here's a summary from amazon - "After years of meticulous planning, a terrorist operation is reaching its final stages. The authorities have received no intelligence; they are in a race against time but don't yet know it. As the operation unfolds, we see the working lives of men and women directly affected by terrorism. Among them: a firemen worried about the increasingly dangerous conditions he and his men are expected to work under; the head of the anti-terrorist branch whose responsibility it is to protect London and a female Muslim detective brought into Scotland Yard to investigate another suspected terrorist cell. But it is too late to stop the attack.

Outside Liverpool Street station suicide bombers detonate a large bomb, killing scores of commuters and sending a radioactive plume high into the morning sky. For the police, a desperate struggle to find and stop secondary attacks begins. For the fire service, the difficult and dangerous task of carrying out search and rescue in a heavily contaminated area. And for emergency service controllers, a mammoth operation to contain and decontaminate thousands of terrified people caught up in the aftermath of the explosion. Based on extensive research, DIRTY WAR asks whether as a nation we are prepared to face such an attack

I've just heard a top quote a journalist is making to the female minister for London "You're open and transparent to the public, except when you choose not to be". and "If you start issuing gas masks to everyone using the Tube, you really risk causing panic". Too tired to watch the whole thing but there's lots of reviews of it in amazon, the most interesting are made after the attacks on July 7th.

I wonder if it will ever get shown in the UK?

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, November 16, 2005 Permalink COMMENT HERE