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Friday, July 28, 2006

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

Here's Friday's regular look at our slaves to fashion on the Tube or people with their own unique style spotted on the underground.

So far a good number of people in California have been asking me about asking me about London's heatwave - I'm surprised it's newsworthy over here. But they then sigh and smile slightly to themselves as it's hardly a heatwave by Californian standards. The following two guys, I snapped earlier in the week, were both coping with the heat by displaying a fair amount of flesh.

Man Bags

I'm not sure how well the tight vests go with Man Bags.

Man Bags & Tube Fan

Although "Crusty Bint" spotted the photo as I put it up in Flickr and said - "It's a gentleman's sponge bag.... how very dare you ;)"

Tube Fans

I was also being particularly thick or slow or unobservant as it took me a little while to realise what the red item was in the guy on the left's hand. However, when they had both finished reading The Standard Lite, it became all too clear

Tube Fan

Actually I'm surprised I haven't seen more people carrying fans on the Tube this summer. Mostly people have been using newspapers as fans, but nothing beats the efficiency of a real fan.

I think London Underground ought to hire these guys as model summer commuters. They're carrying a bottle of water, they've got a fan, they're not wearing many clothes, they're reading the Standard. It's all very, very Metrosexual and they'd be perfect for a staying cool in the heat ad!

That's it for this week. The previous entry for London Underground fashion victims is here and all of them together can be seen on the following Flickr set.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, July 28, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

1950's London Underground Quiz

It's a nifty fifites quiz

Ben Apps kindly wrote and supplied the prize for this Friday's quiz, as I was wondering what to do from the States.

Please answer the following questions (please don't give any links proving that you know the right answers as that just helps everyone else!!!) and there is a bonus two points if you are the first person to answer your question correctly.

1. What Underground line was the first to have unpainted aluminium trains in 1953?

2. On what date in the 1950s did the last timetabled steam train run from Epping To Ongar?

3. Which existing Underground station was given its current name in the 1950s, and what was it called before being renamed?

4. Which station was last served by London Underground in the 1950s?

5. In what year was the following picture taken

Guess the year this was taken

To enter leave your email address and/or blog/website with your answers in the comments below. Please leave all your answers in one entry and you can only enter once! You have until 23.59 GMT, Sunday 6th August to enter.

Neil will do his paperclip selection from the people with the most points.

The prize is a 1954 tube map donated by Ben

And I'll also throw in a London Underground fridge magnet based on one of Fougasses cartoons.

Have fun!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, July 28, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bollox to all this - I'm off to San Francisco

Time Out plug blog

Any blogging over the next week and a bit will be from sunny California. I last went to San Francisco in November and sadly didn't get a chance to see very much of it at all. This time I hope to take
BART and do a little more travelling outside of Silicon Valley. Any suggestions of must see's would be appreciated!

Time Out London  - July 19th issue - London Website of the Week

Plus a belated thanks to Time Out Magazine who made this blog their London Website of the Week last week. Amongst other things, they said "On some mornings it can feel like the only reason to be grateful that the Tube exists". Was good to see they highlighted the Friday Tube Fashion Victims and of the Friday quiz said if you're really lucky you can win a Mind the Gap tie.

Now I have to live up to the challenge of finding more London Underground merchandise! Thanks guys.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 27, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tube Improvements mean fewer seats

Save our Seats Campaign

With the
new Victoria Line stock that I blogged about last week it was interesting to see that there would be "more standing room" as though this was a bonus. The Metropolitan Line seems to be going the same way with new S stock and the local residents are none too pleased about the 30% reduction in seating due from 2009.

New Metropolitan Line Stock

Over on Speakers Corner Blog - Russell says

"30% is quite a high figure, and they claim it is all down to meeting new disability legislation. This doesn't make sense at all, that is to be honest an over reaction, a serious over reaction. You might expect to lose maybe 15% at most, but what they are proposing is just mind-numbingly stupid.

To top it off, they are also proposing to have a single carriage instead of 8 separate ones. This stock will also be narrower, which for anyone who travels a large part of the Met line will tell you, that can't be a good thing.

This hasn't been thought out at all well, and I am pleased that papers like Harrow Observer, Pinner Observer, Harrow Leader, etc are trying to get something done. At least someone is thinking with their heads

The local papers that Russell mentions have a Save our Seats campaign on their front covers and apparently there's a petition at Harrow-on-the-Hill station for passengers to sign. "For those who travel through this station and don't want up to be in a situation where you are even more packed in like cattle in a truck, then sign up." he urges.

Whether you travel on the Metropolitan Line or not I'd be interested in your opinion as there does seem to be a worrying trend towards fewer (and in my eyes, smaller) seats with the new Tube stock. Is fewer seats the way to go to cope with increased numbers of passengers or wounldn't increased frequency of trains be a better option?

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, July 26, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Third PPP Annual Review

"On time and on budget"....... yet

Metronet LogoMust do better. That was the general opinion which came out of the third review of the Tube's maintenance firms yesterday. From a BBC report we learn that Metronet said they had "made progress" and Tube Lines claimed "robust improvement programmes are being moved forward", yet both firms were criticised. Metronet's failure to prepare for the heat resulted in a number of speed restrictions causing unneccessary delays and with the heat. Additionally the company's station renewal programme was way behind schedule "with only 14 out of a scheduled 35 projects delivered - all of which were late."

Tube Lines LogoTube Lines didn't escape criticism with the Northern Line still unsurprisingly under performing.

Tim O'Toole from the London Underground was far from happy. "Metronet and Tube Lines continue to disappoint in many respects and failed to meet the two key challenges I laid down in last year's report. All parties involved in the renewal of the Tube must commit to delivering improvement at a faster rate than we have seen so far."

Trying the make the best of a bad report a spokeswoman at Tube Lines spoke of the Misery Line as though it were a wayward child: "The Northern line continues to be a challenge and... we too are disappointed and frustrated by the slow progress being made with its reliability".

Perhaps they need one of those Nannies or child psychologists that seem to be invading TV at the moment to come in and sort out the Northern Line. I can just see the reality programme treatment.

"Dr Tanya in Tiny Tube Line Tearaways has more challenging & complicated problems to tackle with little Angel and Colin Dale. In this series she'll tackle not only the problems of laziness, tantrums and breakdowns which so many loving commuters experience, but will also be looking at selective delays, coping with communication failure in a family dynamic, and what to do if you suspect your Tube Line might have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder."

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, July 25, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Misery Line Quiz

Northern Line BookAnd the winners are......

Thanks again to Dmitri for supplying the prize for the quiz where we wanted you to sell the Northern Line - that's sell as in promote or advertise. (Goodness knows how anyone could really sell the Northern Line as who would be mad enough to buy it).

There was a clear winner in this case but Dmitri and myself also wanted to give some runner up prizes

So John B gets a prize for suggesting that Infernos night-club at Clapham Common is his favourite place to visit on the Northern Line. I've had the misfortune of visiting Infernos on a couple of occasions and I would say it's name is very appropriate as to me it was like a "hell hole". But John manages to see the positive side: "It's like the 1970s crossed with a Student Union nightclub, but good. This is an amazing feat." Coupled with this he managed to find a quote on the TfL website that said the Northern Line was "one of London Underground's most reliable lines". Admittedly this was in 2003!

Andrew also gets a prize for a slogan selling the Northern Line "Tranquility of Mornington Crescent may go up as well as down. London Underground is not responsible if you go mentally insane whilst at Camden Town trying to work out which platform to use." I suppsed it's more like the reams of small print you get on those financial services ads.

Jon Allen's slogan wasn't exactly a slogan more like an ode to the Misery Line - but sung to the tune, "Morning has Broken" it certainly deserved a prize:

"Morden has broken,
Like the first morning
Sonja has spoken ,
Like the first announcer
Praise for the Tube lines,
Praise for the Tube trains,
Praise for them running,
Fresh from the depot.

Sweet the leaves new fall, sunlit from heaven,
Like the first leaf-fall, on the first Tube tracks
Praise for the sweetness of the Tube drivers,
Sprung in full comfort in their train cabs

Mine is the Northern Line,
Mine is the morning
Born of Victorians, Yerkes saw play
Praise with elation, Praise every morning
Ken's recreation of a new age

The Archer at East Finchley StationBut the overall winner as a good all-rounder was Pete. As a favourite picture he highlighted the Archer at the top of East Fincley Station.

His favourite place is "The ArtsDepot - a lovely arts centre, gallery and performance space at Tally Ho Corner in North Finchley - I went to a Make Poverty History gig there, where the "Camden Cowboys" (half of Madness) performed."

And the simplicity of slogan - "The Northern Line, Gateway to Barnet" stood out.

So Pete wins The Northern Line book - very kindly donated by Dmitri and I will raid my Tube booty bottom drawer to come up with some surprise prizes for Jon, John B & Andrew.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, July 25, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, July 24, 2006

Frank Sinatra on the London Underground

Old Blue Eyes on the Tube

You may have seen a lot of these posters on escalators advertising the musical Sinatra.

Frank Sinatra on the Tube?

His copy of the Daily Telegraph is mocked up and I'd imagine the rest of it probably is to as even if Ol' Blue Eyes was on the Tube, I don't think the London Underground would have had in-carriage displays back then. It looks like a fairly youthful picture of Sinatra.

However, apparently Frank Sinatra did have an interest in public transport to some extent. I was on a London Walk a few weeks ago and we stopped outside one of those little green black cab driver "houses". Our brill tour guide regaled us with the following urban myth. Frank Sinatra was staying in a fairly swanky hotel in London and saw a little green hut outside and wondered what it was.

When he heard that it was where cabbies had a rest and a cuppa, he demanded to be shown inside. The cabbies were fairly nonchalant when he walked in, and carried on reading papers as though Frank Sinatra visited them every day.

One of them asked what he did and Frank Sinatra said, "Well I sing a bit". "Hmm" said the cabbie, "Give us a song then". Frank proceded to belt out one of his tunes and the cabbie reportedly said "If I were you, I wouldn't take it up professionally". I imagine the taxi drivers lived off that story for some time, as it was a good one to add to their "I had that xxxxx celebrity in the back of my cab last week" stories.

I suppose it's quite fortunate that Tube drivers don't really get a chance to see the passengers they carry. Not that you would get that many instances of celebrities boarding the Tube and being asked to sing, or act, or do an impression.

However, this might happen if they travelled on the Jubilee Line. The infamous tube driver Richie seems to get a lot of fun watching the passengers and announcing what they're carrying on board. He invited passengers to have a bit of a sing-a-long in car number 4 as he saw someone with a guitar. Also car number five had a person with an ironing board and Richie saw this as an opportunity for people to get their ironing done.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, July 24, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Not on the London Underground

More Tube roundels in strange places

It's great to see you spotting the Tube's famous logo in some unlikely places. Thanks to
Geoff's Mum - Tina for sending an 'Underground' sign in Napier, New Zealand when she was there earlier this year.

Back Street in Napier, New Zealand

She said "It didn't seem to lead anywhere, was just in a side-street at the back of a shop. Might be a secret entrance to night-club perhaps!"

Chris McKenna has just come back from the Channel Islands where he visited Jersey.

Vowden Sports Shop Jersey

He snapped a rather err... classy looking sport shop in St Helier "with a logo that is obviously derived from the LU roundel - although from the picture you can see it isn't identical, the intention is clear enough."

Thanks to both Chris and Tina and if you spot any roundels on your travels please send them in and I'll blog and add to the growing set.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, July 24, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, July 21, 2006

Cockney Rhyming Tube Station Quiz

He's a bit of an Elephant

As far as I know there are very few Tube stations that have made it into Cockney Rhyming slang or slang at all. The phrase above comes from Elephant & Castle - so you can guess what it means. I think that some station names are just crying out to become slang. For instance - "You're 'aving Tufnell aren't you?" (Tufnell Park - lark). Or "Remind me to take my Notting tomorrow" (Notting Hill - pill)

I'm sure you can come up with some better ones than those.

1. So that's this week's challenge - you can give up to two suggestions involving a Tube station name or the London Underground or a London Underground character in some way, but they must be different from everyone else's guesses. One point for each suggestion so a maximum of two points.

2. Plus there's a bonus point if you can work out how "I don't give a Pinner" might have evolved using rhyming slang convoluted rules.

To enter leave your email address and/or blog/website with your answers in the comments below. Please leave all your answers in one entry and you can only enter once! You have until 23.59 GMT, Sunday 30th July to enter.

Neil will do his paperclip selection from the people with the most points.

Cycle Bag

The main prize has been kindly donated by Fimb and is perfect for using when you're on your Turnpike. I'll probably throw in some suprise prizes for particularly inventive ones.

So get your thinking caps on and have a Bob Crow!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, July 21, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

Here's Friday's regular look at our slaves to fashion on the Tube or people with their own unique style spotted on the underground.

Despite the ridiculously hot weather I haven't really spotted anyone wearing their underwear as outerwear - which can happen with some women in the summer time. However there a definite nod to the high temperatures with the three pictures below.

Why not wear shorts

There's the tattered jean look and then there's jeans which as so torn apart you may as well just rip the bottom of them off

Why not wear shorts?

Still she has the legs to just about carry this look off.

Pink Penguin Pumps

Pink Penguin Pumps

I actually really like these and hopefully there was a sense of irony of wearing penguins when the temperatures has been in the high thirties most of this week.
This person's feet must have been quite hot in the socks though. But does pump/Vans/Converse wearing mean that you have to wear socks to stop your feet from sticking to your footwear?

Parisian Fashion Victims

Last time I went to Paris I tried desparately to spot some Metro victims. But the Parisians were all remarkably chic. However the girls below made it onto this post only because I marvelled as to how the one going for the patent leather French maid look managed to walk in those boots.

Le Metro Fashion Victims

Stripy tights girl as also in "Goth on a summer holiday" mode but her boots didn't look quite as difficult to walk in.

That's it for this week. The previous entry for London Underground fashion victims is here and all of them together can be seen on the following Flickr set.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, July 21, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Every Tube Line has Severe Delays

ALL Tube Lines have faulty communications equipment

Severe Delays on all Lines

Erm good luck getting home tonight. If anyone could let us know what's been happening on the Tube since about 4pm (I think), it would good to know.

Unless "faulty communications equipment" is a euphemism for "We're too hot and we can't be bothered to run a full service tonight".

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 20, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Victoria Line - Have your say

Wet the head of the new Victoria Line trains

If you've ever wanted to be one of the first people to sit in a new Tube carriage and feel some new hard-wearing, vandal-resistant moquette under your derriere, now's your chance.

You have the opportunity to err.... "test sit" the new Victoria Line trains which are on show in Euston Square Gardens before they go into general release from 2009. Thanks to Martin for the heads up on this.

New Victoria Line carriages

Quite how you give feedback on them isn't really explained, but according to TfL's press release the market research process aims to ensure that London Underground's (LU) passengers are satisfied with the design of the new fleet. Stephen Hall, of Metronet, said the new trains will be "larger, faster and more comfortable with improved accessibility and security features."

The features include a "multi-purpose area" with tip-up seats with space for wheelchairs, pushchairs and luggage and hoorah, hoorah more standing room for rush hour. More seats coping with the increased frequency would be nice rather than more standing room - but I spose we can't have everything.

The Victoria Line makeover also includes new tracks, a new signalling and control system and a more robust power system. "When the upgrade is complete in 2013, the frequency of rush hour trains is likely to increase by 17% and journey times should improve by 16%" continued Mr Hall.

"I believe Londoners will welcome this new breed of train."

I quite like his use of the word breed there as I imagine old Tube trains getting it on to create brand spanking new carriages. So if you get a chance to visit the new offspring of Metronet, let me know what you think.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 20, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Shorts - Tube Drivers allright Jack

Rail & Bus Drivers in the Wrong Trousers

Ahh, the hot weather and once again the Evening Standard gets the opportunity to thank the heat fairies so they can come up with the usual "London Fries" and "Tube hotter than hell" headlines. However for once London Underground drivers haven't got something to moan about as they are allowed to wear shorts while working and can also drive with their cab doors open.

Not so for bus and train drivers though, where there is no leniency given with the clothes they have to wear to work.

So I wonder how Tube drivers manage to have this privilege? According to most reports, buses seem to have the same "EU cattle transportation regulation breaking temperatures" as the London Underground. On some Tube lines air cooling units have been installed in drivers' cabs. The overland trains that I've travelled on the past few days (including the Eurostar) seem to have an amount of cool air being rotated around them, so perhaps drivers' cabs are not quite as hot. However, it still seems unfair that there's a distinction between the transport drivers.

Any other theories as why this is the case? Do you think we might see Bob Crow calling for strike action if the heatwave and shorts ban continues? Particularly as the TUC have launched a
"cool work" campaign encouraging employers to let their staff "dress down a little for summer". They say "Bosses should only stop staff from wearing shorts to work if they have first carried out a proper risk assessment, and only people whose jobs could prove hazardous should still be made to work in long trousers."

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 20, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Police prosecuted under health & safety laws for Stockwell shooting

Graffiti of Stockwell London Underground Station on tube mapHealth & Safety breaches but not manslaughter

A year ago this week Jean Charles de Menezes was shot eight times and killed in a Tube carriage at Stockwell station by anti terrorism officers. It's sad that it's taken a year to come to a conclusion and undoubtedly the press will be more concerned with the lack of a manslaughter conviction rather than the serious health & safety breaches.

The senior lawyer on the case Stephen O'Doherty summed up by saying that the police shot "because they thought that Mr de Menezes had been identified to them as a suicide bomber and that if they did not shoot him, he would blow up the train, killing many people,"...."while a number of individuals had made errors in planning and communication, and the cumulative result was the tragic death of Mr de Menezes, no individual had been culpable to the degree necessary for a criminal offence."

To successfully prosecute for manslaughter it would have to be proven that the officers did not "honestly and genuinely" hold beliefs that de Menzes was a terrorist, which Mr O'Doherty said was impossible to prove.

From that standing the prosecution were onto a loser from the start. However it's still a fairly damning situation that there was sufficient evidence to show that the police were guilty under sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing to provide for the health, safety welfare of non-employees. The non employee in this situation being Jean Charles de Menezez and I'd say that shooting someone at point blank range eight times isn't going to do too much for their health & safety.

Although, Ian Blair was not personally singled out for attack here, he's not going to be too wild about the outcome. However, putting on a brave face the police issued the following statement "Clearly we and our national police colleagues will need to consider issues raised by this prosecution and for the implementation of the Kratos policy, which has already been the subject of extensive review since 22 July.

"We believe it remains a legitimate policy and, in the absence of a viable alternative, we will continue to use it where necessary to protect London and Londoners from any threat posed by suicide bombers."

The full statements from the police and Stephen O'Doherty are here.

I'd be interested to hear your views on this. I'm all for protecting the public in the face of a legitimate terrorist threat, but in this instance it's now been proven that mistakes and errors in communications were made. Whatever apologies or statements the police make about this is not going to bring an innocent man back to life. Thankfully we're not used to innocent people getting shot by the police. It doesn't fit in the public's psyche that well. But there have been so many cover ups and leaks of altered log books and dodgy CCTV surrounding this case. You have a feeling that someone ought to be held responsible - but who?

Surely there is something that can be learnt from Jean Charles' death and it saddens me to see the police still taking a defensive stance of the Kratos "shoot to kill" policy - particularly when mistakes in carrying out that policy can lead to the death of innocent people.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, July 18, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

What's in a name quiz results

And the winner is

For once I shouldn't get one of the Ians (IanD) saying "I was robbed" as he didn't enter
this quiz.

However, those who entered did pretty well with station names that contained people's first names and there was some interesting & inventive answers. But a number of the famous Tube People pictured below weren't even guessed at.

The answers are below

1. Harry Beck
2. Charles Tyson Yerkes - the American tycoon repsonsible for electrifying the Tube who makes JR Ewing look like a pussycat
3. Billy Brown - the London Underground's most exemplary passenger
4. James Henry Greathead - inventor of the Greathead Shield - pretty essential for tunnelling
5. Hannah Dadds - the Tube's first female driver
6. Ken Livingstone - amazing how you can recognise someone by the back of their head
7. Edward Johnston - inventor of the Tube's font
8. Frank Pick - MD of the London Underground resonsible for commissioning the above font and also bringing an artistic flavour to the Tube using famous artists to create posters
9. Millie from Underground Ernie - John B guessed Lady Penelope who as far as I know has jib all to do with Tube
10. Redd Pepper - former Tube driver whose distinctive booming voice was discovered by the film trailer producers. He is now the voice behind the Sci Fi Channel and lots of Hollywood horror trailers (can't believe no one recognised him!)
11. Charles Holden - station architect and responsible for the Bahaus look of many stations on the northern stretch of the Piccadilly Line
12. Sir Eduardo Paolozzi - designer of the weird and wonderful mosaics at Tottenham Court Road Tube

The lucky person who was pulled from Neil's paperclip selection is Heather! I was pretty impressed that she'd got Billy Brown too. So very well done to Heather who wins a copy of "What's in a Name".

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, July 18, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, July 17, 2006

Multilingual London Underground?

How many languages should the Tube cater for?

I'm off to Paris tomorrow evening and whenever I go to another major city I'm always shamed that London in general has so few multi-lingual signs around. With my limited knowledge of French I still find enough signs in English to negotiate Le Métro. The Tube's a confusing enough place at the best of times but most non English speaking tourists must struggle finding their way, so no wonder they sheepishly follow the crowds.

So I was really surprised to see a random sign in English and Italian at Warwick Avenue on Saturday.
Neil & I were heading off to Little Venice and we were greeted with bi-lingual instructions on how to find it:

Warwick Avenue Italian Sign

This puzzled me. Neil thinks that lots of Italians live in Maida Vale hence the sign - but then surely they would know how to find Little Venice anyway. If that was the case why not have bi-lingual signs on other parts of the Tube network if many people of a particular nationality live there?

The only other place that I've seen bi-lingual signs on the Tube is at Waterloo when people are arriving from Eurostar.

Waterloo Sign

Southall apparently is the only station in England which has a bi-lingual station name sign. Even the Tube's website has the map translated into 12 other languages including Vietnamese, Urdu, Panjabi, Greek, Spanish, Hindi, French, Gurjarati and Chinese (although not Italian). There's no translations of the station names themselves, only the keys to symbols and explanations of partial closures.

Has anyone else seen any other bi-lingual signs on the Tube? Or do you have an explanation as to why the Italians are catered for at Warwick Avenue? Perhaps it's down to very vocal residents or some bi-lingual station staff or just a tribute to the winners of the World Cup!

; Posted by annie mole Monday, July 17, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, July 14, 2006

Another Misery Line Quiz

Your chance to "sell" the Northern Line

Do you think I give the Northern Line too much of a hard time? It really isn't called the Misery Line for nothing, but
Dmitri would like to try to redress the balance. Last Friday I met up with our favourite commenter from Amsterdam, when he was over to pay his respects to the bombing victims. He wanted to give away a prize related to the Northern Line, and challenges you to paint a good picture of it.

So three parts to the competition

1. Show us your favourite picture of the Northern Line or a Northern Line station. It can be a picture you have taken or created yourself. Alternatively find something on the internet that sums up the Northern Line to you. Dmitri wanted to make it harder and get you to take your own picture, but I'm being a bit more generous here.

2. Tell us your favourite place that you can visit from the Northern Line. It can be a boozer in Burnt Oak, a watering hole in Waterloo or a hip place in Hampstead.

3. Let's say Ken Livingstone wants to increase the numbers of people travelling on the Northern Line. Can you help the Sheriff come up with a slogan or by-line or jingle to get people to travel on it? How about The Northern Line: Faster than a speeding snail?

Just one answer or suggestion for each section please.

Northern Line Book

Dmitri and I will put our favourites into Neil's paperclip selection and the overall winner gets Dmitri's prize of The Northern Line book. I'll probably throw in some more surprise gifts for the best entries in each section.

To enter leave your email address and/or blog/website with your answers in the comments below. Please leave all your answers in one entry and you can only enter once! You have until 23.59 GMT, Sunday 23rd July to enter.

Have fun and thanks to Dmitri for the prize and competition!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, July 14, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

Here's this weeks's look at our slaves to fashion on the Tube or people who're trying to set or follow a trend but not quite carrying it off.

My Plait's longer than yours

It's not very often that you see not one but two incredibly long plaits on the same day. Please tell me that growing your hair to your knees or longer isn't making a come-back.

London's longest plait ?

This lady is doing fairly well, although she seems to have added some blue threads to the end to increase the length.

However she's clearly been beaten by the next lady

London's longest plait

I was sitting next to some women who had also noticed her and we all started giggling as I took the picture of her. I think she's definitely aiming to get her plait to touch the floor.

Del Boy

Del Boy

Some excellent Peckham styling here from Del Boy in the Eighties. Sadly you can't see the little bits of diamante on the shoes though. As that really gave them the "Just going to play a round of golf with Boycie" feel.

Pretty in Pink?

Pretty in Pink?

Do you think this woman likes pink? She's got one of my favourite bags slung over her shoulder in a errr nice shade of metallic pink. Coupled with some flip flops in pink flip flops and some err "interesting" dragon combat trousers - in pink. It's all a bit Bruce Lee meets Britney Spears.

Madness, Madness, We call it Madness

I almost thought the next set of girls were off to a 1980's fancy dress party. But in the end I was convinced they weren't, mainly because of the trendy Urban Outfitters carrier bags.

Madness & Nurse

Firstly we have a girl in what looks like a naughty nurse's outfit, complete with black seamed stockings. But the headscarf is very Dexy's Midnight Runners. Just in front of her is a reject from a Madness tribute band. How many years ago were braces on women trendy?

Their mate was also following the Madness look with the braces but decided to go even more retro and wear a sailor suit shirt

Sailor Leggings

She's also doing that mini skirt and leggings look, which I don't think does anyone any major favours.

Can someone help me out of these balloons?

Finally we have another guest entry. This week it's from Gert who pictured a prime example of when the leggings and skirt look really doesn't work

Neon Pink Leggings

If you are going to do this look, I think it helps if your leggings don't make you look like you're wearing neon pink balloons.

That's it for this week. The previous entry for London Underground fashion victims is here and all of them together can be seen on the following Flickr set.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, July 14, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Maps after Beck

Has the London Underground Map lost its way?

Central Line stickers going mad

On Tuesday night I went to Max Roberts' excellent talk about the Tube Map after Beck, hosted by the London Underground Railway Society. It's remakably hard to summarise an informative and fascinating speech in a blog post and if you missed it, I'd suggest you try to hear Max speak again or buy his book "Underground Maps after Beck".

When I last heard Max speak he gave an extremely entertaining round up of various countries versions of the Tube Map - mainly when they were too tight to pay TfL for the rights to use the map. But on Tuesday he talked about the development of the map in London itself post Beck.

It was quite an eye-opener to me that politics, passenger numbers, branding, customer pressure and Collins diary could have as much an influence on the make up of the map as the physical reality of the stations and lines.

For instance, you might be puzzled as to why the North London Line (which isn't actually part of the London Underground) is on the Tube Map. It's the result of some of the first "map mashing" that we've seen. In the early Seventies there was a passenger campaign to get the North London Line included on the map. Interested parties put stickers superimposing the line on as many station maps as they could.

The campaign culminated with a letter to The Times on the 6th November 1972, declaring their outrage as to why the map didn't contain this line. They were very proud of their sticker work on the map and concluded by saying that "London Transport could not have done this better themselves even if they wanted to".

In 1977, the GLC finally gave in and also wanted to give publicity to the line so it was put on the Tube Map. But you'll notice from then the North London Line did a bit of a "now you see it, now you don't" act, depending on London Underground's mood at the time.

Detail from Harold Hutchinson's hated 1963 Tube Map

Block capitals used to mark important station names, but as Max said "Even Chigwell station is important to some people". This led to everything going CAPS LOCK in 1977, which put diary manufacturers into a bit of kerfuffle, as the map grew in size and when reduced to fit diary pages, the typeface became too small to read. Not wanting to lose out on the free publicity from diary manufacturers (this was before LU started charging for the reproduction of the map), London Underground produced a separate version for diaries, leading to loads more complaints from staff and the public alike and calls for one definitive version.

Max believes we've now got to the state with the map trying so desparately to please everyone (wheelchair access, station closures, North London Line, partial station closures, zones, future extensions - how many more stickers will the Central Line need?), that it's become a bit of mess. The network has grown so much that even Harry (or rather Henry) Beck would have tearing out his hair.

Now more than ever we can see the tension between the map's need to be legible, usable, attractive and simple and its counter need to convey information. The addition of Cross Rail and the Olympic Line will only make matters worse. Take a look at TfL's own projection of what the Tube Map could look like in 2016 and you'd need a pretty big diary map to cope with that.

Before joining commenting regulars, Jon Allen, Mr Justice, Alantan for a quick post-talk bevvy, I had a brief chat with Max. We'd been emailing about the possibility of Max doing another talk in the future as he's got more than enough slides and entertaining stories to speak elsewhere. So watch this space for details and let me know if you'd be interested in seeing him next time he's in town.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 13, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Yay - got my Customer Charter Refund

London Underground's Ears Must be Burning

Just before Max's lecture, I was asking
Jon Allen and SK how long it took to get a refund from London Underground under the Customer Charter. It seemed to be anything from weeks to months and in some cases ones from the post appeared to disappear completely. Then lo & behold, mine arrived in the post yesterday.

Customer Charter Refund

It was from my infuriating journey home from Hammersmith on the 6th June and I'm almost tempted to frame it. I wonder if it was deliberately dated a month from the delay?

Anyway I'm pleased that LU very much regretted letting me down "on this occasion", although it was a shame no one at Hammersmith felt the need to be so polite on the day. Will definitely bookmark the very well hidden refund page on the TfL website for the inevitable future occasions when they let me down.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 13, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

London Underground ETA Boards

Could Tube Estimated Time of Arrival be improved?

An ill Platform Indicator

Last night I was on my way to see Max Roberts talk about Maps after Beck (more on that tomorrow) and I lazily changed at Liverpool Street to go one stop to Aldgate East. When I was there the ETA platform boards, rather than giving the amount of minutes to the next train, simply displayed "delayed". This isn't really very helpful and wasn't something I'd ever seen before. SK who also came to the talk gave me an explanation as to why this only happens around Aldgate East, but this morning my pea brain can't remember the reasons.

But yesterday Richard Cameron emailed me a related question:

"I wonder if any of your readers happen to know if there are any webcams pointing at any of the overground section of the Tube? I live on the District Line, which TfL's "ETA" web site doesn't cover. Rather than spending yet more interminable hours waiting at Chiswick Park station - many of which would shake any man's faith in the existence of a God - it would be nice to spot the damned train a little further up the line, and then be able to leave the office just in time to stroll onto the platform as it actually arrives.

Of course, maybe the existence of such material which could be used to derive sensitive information (like an actual train
"timetable") would be deemed of such potential use to terrorists that it should be outlawed by the Government at once? Who knows?" I imagine Richard's theory is correct, but maybe not.

More realistic platform indicator by S Lawson

Or does anyone have any other theories as to why the Tube's ETA boards only cover a limited amount of lines? It's been the same five lines for months and as I travel on the Piccadilly & District Lines I feel very left out.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, July 12, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Yet another Tube Challenge

Faster than a speeding subway train

Superman Returns very soon and I remember the first Superman film where young Clark Kent had fun racing trains. A number of years ago an event took place in London every April called "Beat the tube race"

A chartered surveyor called Richard Guthrie, thought it might be fun to outrun a Tube train.
Eccentric Britain wrote: "A group of determined young professionals, wearing braces and pinstripes, board a Victoria to Wimbledon train, get off at South Kensington and sprint like hell down the Fulham Road to try to get back on it at Fulham Broadway. 1.6 miles and four stops down the line".

SPT Subway in Glasgow by stugoo7We are talking a District Line here with its constant stops between stops and delays, but very few people managed to beat the Tube. However, Alantan found a video where a group of students tried a similar idea with a SPT subway train in Scotland

"You are on the Glasgow underground (subway), travelling clock-wise. The journey time between Buchanan St. and St. Enoch is approximately 55 seconds. Hmmm. On the surface it's a downhill journey, down the busiest shopping street in Glasgow with 2 road crossings. Can you get off a train at Buchanan St. and back on the same train the next time it stops at St. Enoch?"

Well it's not totally man against subway, but watch the video (wmv or mpeg4 - the wmv only seems to work for me in IE) to find out if they did it. I particularly like the lazy Jamie Cullum soundtrack as the subway is ambling along, compared to the frantic music when the student is racing against it outside.

Back to the Beat the Tube Race, the author of Eccentric London reckons they would stood more of a chance cutting across "the Circle Line from Farringdon down to Blackfriars where you can virtually see the other end. You could do it on crutches, or pogo sticks and still beat the train".

Not that I'm suggesting that you try to outrun trains on a regular basis, but are there any other parts of the London Underground network where you think you would be able leave a train, leg it and then catch the same train again?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, July 11, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Moquette Quiz

And the winners are.......

It appears you do know your moquette even though the Jubilee Line appear to be cheapskates and use Piccadilly line moquette on certain trains, and the Bakerloo line moquette has also been seen on the Victoria Line, just to confuse the issue.

The answers to the
tube seat upholstery quiz were:

Guess the moquette1. Metropolitan Line
2. Central Line (only now seen on dog coats)
3. District Line
4. Bakerloo Line
5. Northern & District Lines (or pencil cases)
6. Central Line
7. District Line
8. Jubilee Line
9. DLR
10. District Line
11. Circle/Hammersmith & City Line
12. Piccadilly Line

Also the first four designers of moquette were Marion Dorn, Norbet Dutton, Enid Marx and Paul Nash.

I decided to give some bonus surprise prizes for inventive moquette names to Munks, for Carpet Chaos, Bapps, for Sea of Sharks and Rich for Autumn Fleet, but the winner of the Mind The Gap socks is Jonny Lyon.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, July 11, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, July 10, 2006

This is Davina from Big Brother please do not swear

Commuter Fined for Swearing - MetroSwearing on the Tube gets you fined

You may have already seen this story in Metro or from The Register and it originated from Jo who writes for Londonist. She wrote

"My friend Phil and I were going through a metal detector on the way out of Highbury & Islington Tube on Friday evening around 8.30pm, on our way to a gig. Phil, who has a degree in physics, said to me in a low voice that the metal detector was a "piece of shit that wouldn't stop anyone". Obviously, someone was listening, as all of a sudden, half a dozen policemen jumped on him and hustled him over to the corner of the Tube station, where he was detained for about 20 minutes for the grave crime of swearing in public, and fined £80 for the privilege. For swearing! On the Tube! "

As Jo rightly says: "If it's such a crime, then I owe them about a million pounds, as swearing on and at the Tube is the only way to deal with the pain of having to travel on the dratted thing every day......

The police were f**king rude, too, and treated Phil like he was a hardened criminal - they were really aggressive, and clearly wanted him to lose his temper so they could charge him with something worse. They said repeatedly he was very close to being arrested. For the terrible crime of swearing and calling their machine a piece of shit - which, as a physics graduate, he actually knows about

This is the second story I've heard of someone being pounced upon near the Tube by police, just for something they happened to be saying. I'm with Jo in agreeeing that yes the police ought to be out trying to find terrorists, but using the word "shit" when referring to a metal detector, hardly warrants six police and twenty minutes of their time.

I wonder what sort of recording equipment they have at Tube stations now? If you can get fined for saying shit in a low voice, like Jo, I feel that I - and thousands of others - would be fined a shed load of money for the amount of times we swear about the Tube. Jo beleives the fact that they were in Goth clothing may have been a contributory factor, but you never know.

So Big Brother is not only watching you but listening to you on the Tube too. Next time you feel the urge to swear when the Misery Line is up to its normal tricks, count to ten instead or perhaps come up an alternative swearword like err... Ian Blair instead (second thoughts that's hardly likely to go down too well with his law enforcers).

; Posted by annie mole Monday, July 10, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, July 07, 2006

July 7th - one year on

My thoughts on 7/7

Today you are going to see & hear lots and lots and lots from a variety of news sources, blogs and websites about July the 7th. A number of people have asked me what I would blog about with the anniversary of the bombings and there's almost too much too blog. So I will try to be brief. This time last year I was
blogging virtually every half an hour trying to keep people informed. Then for about a month following the horrible day virtually every day's post was about the aftermath as the London Underground had changed so much.

So one year on and how has the Tube actually really changed? It hasn't. Obviously as a city we needed to go back to "normal". We needed to stop looking suspiciously at people with rucksacks, or beards, or men of a particular race. We needed to stop being anxious every time a train got stuck in a tunnel. We needed to travel on the Tube with the same "freedom" and in the same numbers that we did in the past. We needed to stop seeing pictures of people in Bermuda wearing "We're not afraid" T-Shirts.

However, the threat of another terrorist attack on the Tube remains as strong today as it did a year ago (many thanks to yesterday's badly timed video release of one of the 7/7 bombers, saying that this was just one of a string of attacks). The Government have been paying lip service to attempts to keep people safe on the Tube with talk of scanning machines and more CCTV. Although, as we know, none of this will keep us totally safe. If anyone had an answer to preventing another attack on the London Underground, they would be a rich person.

July 7th changed me in a variety of ways, but fortunately I am still alive to be able to think and talk about those changes. Hopefully this blog is able to make people think a little more about the Tube journeys they share with 3 million other people every day - the good things & the bad.

I would love to hear whether you changed your behaviour on Tube as a result of 7/7 or if it affected you in a particular way, or any personal thoughts on July 7th that you'd like to share.

Today, there will be a national two minute silence at noon to remember the 52 people who were killed. There is also a memorial service at Queen Mary's Gardens in Regent's Park from 6pm. Floral tributes can be left from 8am. Also tributes will be placed by relatives and friends of the dead at the five sites of the bombings. Memorial plaques naming each victim will also be unveiled at each site.

Let's hope that today will mainly be a day without blame, or finger pointing. A day to remember those who lost their lives and also a day to support all those who were seriously injured, both physically & mentally. Ordinary commuters whose everyday Tube or bus journey turned into a nightmare. Please take some time out for the two minute silence.

Thank you.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, July 07, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube People Quiz

What's in a name?

A two part quiz this Friday.

1. Name ONE of the people below - three points for being the first person to guess one of names correctly, one point if you give the same correct guess as someone else (so get in quickly to get those points - and don't be a swat and give more than one name - you know what happens!)

Name this London Underground characters

2. Give names of up to two stations on the Tube map that has a person's first name in it - eg Royal Albert. The station name can be longer than the person's name - eg Debden. Popular abbrievations of names can be used - eg Deb in Debden. You can also use anagrams of the staton name - eg Dawn is part of Kew Gardens. You get a point for each name (please don't give more than two) and a bonus point for not giving the same name as someone else.

To enter leave your email address and/or blog/website with your answers in the comments below. Please leave all your answers in one entry and you can only enter once! You have until 23.59 GMT, Sunday 16th July to make your guesses.

The people with the most points will go into Neil's paperclip selection.

And the prize for the lucky selectee - it has to be a copy of "What's in a Name?" - a fab little book which give the origins of the name to every London Underground Station. which explains the origins of every London Underground Tube & DLR station name. It's also got other information including the year the station opened, and the name changes that have since occurred. Plus black and white photos of many of the stations or their immediate surroundings.

Good Luck!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, July 07, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

Here's this Friday's look at our slaves to fashion on the Tube or people with their own personal style when it comes to clothes.

The Last of the England Shirts

Taken last Saturday when England got knocked out of the World Cup. Let's hope that these shirts get knocked out the these ladies' wardrobe

End of football shirts

I've never been wild about women wearing football shirts and I think with this picture you can see why.

Platform Shoes 1

Someone is bound to like these (obviously apart from the woman wearing them), but goodness knows why

Red Platform Shoes

There's a lot of velcro attachments going on with these things (she's coming out in sympathy with her male friend on the left). But hers look like trainers that got mixed up with some 1970's style patent leather red platforms with a nod back to school plimsolls as well.

I don't think the black lace skirt does her any favours either.

I'd like to finish with some brilliant guest entries

Twiggy Dungarees

Twiggy Dungarees

Nice shot by Fimb of a guy with some short dungarees. Fimb said "I know crop trousers are rather fashionable, but crop dungerees, with knee length socks?! I chased him all round Waterloo trying to get a decent shot after we saw him on the Tube (but not in a position that I could easily takes pics) It looked much better from the front, but the escalator shot was all I could manage!"

Platform Shoes 2

Platform shoes

This couple were taken by Martin who said "They are dressed in what could probably best be described as "goth chic", but the fella's shoes really caught my attention. Mainly because they appeared to be more like planks of wood than shoes. Part of me likes to think he made them himself, but it's more likely that he paid a
hundred quid for them

Words fail me!

That's it for this week. The previous entry for London Underground fashion victims is here and all of them together can be seen on the following Flickr set.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, July 07, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, July 06, 2006

London Underground Shower Curtains?

Where are they?????

I have lost count of the amount of times people have asked me where they can buy a shower curtain with the Tube map on it. New York have subway map shower curtains, but where are London's? They certainly used to exist as I saw them from a link in
meish's blog many moons ago (link unfortunately broken and I can't retreive it from archive.org)

There must be a market for them to go along with the very expensive tiles. So if anyone knows whether you can still buy them, please, please let me know. Or better still if you're a shower curtain manufacturer get in touch with TfL and see if they'll give you a licence to produce them - you'd make a mint!

In the meantime perhaps those looking for one can improvise by sewing some waterproof London Underground map aprons together.

London Underground Map Apron

UPDATE - at last London Underground Tube Map shower curtains are available

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 06, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE