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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tube cooling plans announced

London Underground must have been cursing the timing of
yesterday's plans to install a giant chiller in Oxford Circus, when we've had an incredibly cold Bank Holiday weekend with claims that Britain was colder than the Artic Circle.

Tube gets chilly

The chiller unit at Oxford Circus – a major hub which serves 63 million passengers on the Central, Bakerloo and Victoria lines every year – will blow cold air into the ticket hall. Similar chillers are also planned for Euston and Waterloo stations.

London Underground has also been working with Tube Lines and Metronet to upgrade the existing station ventilation fan network. 50 fans, which had been allowed to fall into disrepair, are now back into operation – doubling the capacity of the fan network and apparently giving us cooling benefits at a number of stations across the network.

Additionally temporary portable industrial fans will be trialled at Seven Sisters and Chancery Lane stations this year to increase air circulation and if successful will be rolled out to a number of stations in 2008.

But this still means we're being given the classic "hot weather advice" from TfL "Carry a bottle of water with you and, if you are feeling unwell, contact a member of station staff who will be able to help. Water will be available to passengers if it is needed."

Beat the heatLast summer temperatures on the Tube were as high as 47C (116F) and a bottle of water doesn't feel like the ideal way to tackle that sort of heat.

Check out Undergroundcooling.net a newish site which aims to "bring coolth and relief to overheated travellers and workers worldwide, on the Subway, The Metro or the Tube. We hope to 'hear' from people from around the world with ideas to make life easier for those of us who have to venture into the bowels of the earth to earn our daily crust."

Coolth is not a typo but appararently the opposite of warmth.

The site looks like a place to get heated without getting er... heated. "Political Panjandrums and even those who have never suffered the merciless heat and crowding of a subway in summer are also invited to have a say. Silly and 'off the wall' ideas are welcome."

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, May 30, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tube with ageing rockers at the helm

The Tube under Stringfellow?Apparently Mike Read the Smashy / Nicey DJ, former Top of the Pops presenter and all round Cliff Richard impersonator has made an unofficial shortlist of Tory candidates standing as Mayor for next year's elections. Infamous nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow is also thinking about it.

Neither have been particularly forthcoming about their transport policy. Mike Read said that bendy buses are a "crazy" idea as they clog up roads and that the congestion charge is "unfair" on people who forget to pay. Stringfellow isn't as developed as Read with his thoughts yet and only said "I feel so strongly that Livingstone has to be stopped from destroying London with his mad schemes that I have been giving a lot of thought about running".

In the unlikely event of either of them becoming Mayor I wonder what this would mean for the Tube.

Of the two I'd be more in favour of Read, as I hope that he'd be leniant on people who "forget" to pay for a ticket on the Tube. He might also think that tourists are a crazy idea as they clog up the wrong side of escalators. I imagine he'd probably kick Johnny Vaughan out of the Covent Garden lift voiceover gig and take on all the announcements himself.

Then again if Stringfellow came on board, he'd find it hard to stop himself putting poles to good use in non peak periods. Instead of buskers I'm sure we'd see more raunchy entertainment a la the subway pole dancer in Milan.

Any other celebrities who you'd like to see stand against Ken? What do you think they could offer to the London Underground?

; Posted by annie mole Friday, May 25, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Brown Punk Station

An alternative to Brooke Shield's Alphabet

Brown Punk(?) Station taken by Tom L

Many thanks to Tom L who sent me the following picture and said "Whilst travelling on a Hammersmith and City line on the 19th May (which was incidentally retired 4 stops later due to 'brake defects') I noticed that somebody had added a new station, called 'Brown Punk' to the line on the in-carriage line maps, between Royal Oak and Paddington. It seems a bit elaborate for graffitti. Some kind of subversive art perhaps, or a new station thats been well-disguised?"

Any ideas? Or will this be like Brooke Shields' Alphabet graffiti and remain a mystery?

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, May 23, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tube Twitter Updated

Stalking the Piccadilly Line

A month or so ago, I mentioned
Twitter in passing, as Tom Morris had created a London Underground feed for it.

Twitter Tube Feed

Now seems to be a good time to mention it again, firstly because I've got into Twitter a bit more and it's one of those things that you'll gradually begin to hear more people talking about (the FT even mentioned Twitter on its front page). Secondly because Tom's Tube Twitter feed is working again after TfL revamped their website.

In a nutshell, Twitter lets you tell everyone what you're up to in 140 characters, from either the web, IM or your mobile phone. You can also "follow" people or add friends and catch up with their various goings on (good way of finding out what people are having for breakfast if you're that way inclined).

Thanks to Tom you can stalk your Tube line. He said: "Every fifteen minutes, my server will check the Tube status and send any delays to the relevant Twitter accounts. You can then quite easily subscribe to individual Tube lines and get updates via whatever means you deem appropriate as you would as a Twitter user.

A neat side effect of this is that there is now Atom and RSS feeds for each Tube line which you can subscribe to and get these updates sent directly to your RSS reader too. Twitter can also serve as a historical home for Tube problems from now on

BTW my twitter account is here. As I'm not (quite) addicted to it yet, it's mostly updates on when I go to pilates, what I'm having for dinner/lunch, but also will give you a tweet with any other random thought I have.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 22, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tube Photo of the Week

Was this a stage direction? Perhaps some filming taking place that we didn't know about. Or maybe it was addressed to some other kind of artist on the Central Line?

North Actor taken by Loopzilla

Either way, it was very well caught by Loopzilla.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, May 21, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Not on the London Underground

Eagle eyed visitors to the blog have spotted some more Tube roundels not in their natural homes on the Tube.

The roundel often seems to be appropriated by fashion outlets and here's a couple more examples. One very close to home taken by Michael W in Jermyn Street:

Charles Tyrwhitt shop window taken by Michael W

He said that the whole window had Tube lines running across it as well. I'd be surprised if Charles Tyrwhitt hadn't got permission from TfL to do this as they're a reputable brand, but you never know perhaps the Tube's lawyers will be paying a visit.

The next shop's a bit further afield, so the lawyers might be a bit more keen to visit. Allan W said "I spotted this shop in Dubai yesterday. They had themed the entire shop on the Tube including the pointless inclusion of a travelator in
the store and some Tube maps with no station names

Dubai Shop taken by Allan W

Finally we jet over to Bangalore

Bangalore station taken by Callum

Callum says "Not sure if the Tube roundel is common on Indian railways, but if it is, then TfL only has to sue the second-largest organisation in the world (after the Chinese army....)"

Actually I think this must be a legitimate use as the jet setting Allan W had sent in one of the first pictures in the series from Tirusulam

London Underground Logo on Chennai Metro - Tirusulam, India

Anyway, keep sightings of the roundel coming in and I'll add them to the Flickr set. Thanks again to Callum, Allan and Michael for the latest round.

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, May 20, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Relief from leaves

No more leaves on the line excuses?No more leaves on line?

We could be seeing an end to the age old problem of dreaded leaves on the lines causing Tube delays thanks to some nattily named software.

The Adhesion Controller's Condition Assessement Tool (try saying that after a few beers) "calculates the likelihood of leaf fall problems, by examining data such as the risk of leaves falling, the quantity and condition of leaf litter and the resultant leaf litter mobility, moisture levels, and a real-time update of general weather conditions – in particular those which lead to light rain and moisture." Not sure what would happen to the software if there was the wrong type of wind, or wrong type of rain, or stickier than usual leaves though.

But even when bad weather is predicted will anyone from London Underground take any notice? Remember the very accurate snow forecast that still caught the Tube out earlier this year. Engineers will still have to decide whether to mobilise early morning "leaf squad" - a team of engineers who spray a gritty substance to break down the leaves.

ACCAT will initially be used on the Central Line "70% of the 74 km Central line is in open sections where leaf fall is a continuous threat to the smooth running of the line during the autumn 12-week period from October to December.

The problem arises when fallen leaves are rolled into a layer of crushed debris forming a coating as tough as Teflon. When damp, the layer is extremely slippery and adhesion is reduced below the levels on which signal braking distances are calculated, so ATO
(automated train operating) has to be suspended." said Metronet

However the predictive system may be extended to the Metropolitan line, and mainline train operators have expressed interest in using the system as well.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, May 17, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Where on the Tube?

One of my favourite photo sharing sites (not hard to guess which one) runs a group where you have to guess where certain shots in London were taken. I'm not sure how often London Underground related ones are featured but I love the picture from
Mags below

Who was Stanley Hunt? - taken by Mags

Have a guess at where it is (easy if you search), but more importantly any guesses as to who or what Stanley Hunt Ltd did or do?

And just in case that's too easy. Where did I take the picture of the following clock?

Self Winding Clock Co

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 15, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, May 14, 2007

Commuting Meditation

Is it possible to relax on the Tube?

Lotus Position on the Tube from the BBC

Apparently the UK has the longest average daily commute in Europe - 45 minutes. Rather than this being the cause for stress some researchers have suggested that we try to embrace our commute and use it as a chance to unwind.

Thanks to Matthew K for giving me the heads up to a feature from the BBC, which states that "for some, having a regular slot away from the pressures of home and work allows them time out to meditate."

A number of suggestions for commuting meditatation are given, with my thoughts in brackets

* Listen to light music or meditation commentary (this is only possible if some little oik next to you isn't listening to heavy music or hip hop commentary)
* Take slow, deep breaths (not too many on certain lines otherwise you'll end up with Tube snot)
* Imagine a relaxing place (difficult without noise reduction headphones as even if you're not sitting in a carriage with tourists or school kids, it's hard to relax with the constrant stream of blaring PA announcements both inside and outside of your carriage)
* Accept noise and confines of your journey (accepting confines during the rush hour when you are standing under someone's armpits would take the meditative skills of an experienced yogi)
* Write positive affirmations (such as 'the Northern Line being consistently rubbish is good for my mental health')
* If standing, put bag down and relax body and mind (just pray it doesn't get nicked or nudged out if you're near the doors)
* On bus or overground train, take in the view (this is about the only thing that works for me, but it helps that for about four minutes I have a view of a nice part of the Thames, when on the rest of the overground part of my journey, the 'view' to take in is the backs of people's house and offices and some hideous looking car parks - which don't really portray lovely open space)

Does any of the above work for you? Or would you like to share alternative commuting meditation or mantras and positive affirmations you use?

; Posted by annie mole Monday, May 14, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube Kitchen?

Can anyone help Jim M with this:

"A couple of weeks ago I was waiting for a tube at Whitechapel when the oddest train pulled into the station. It was much lower than a normal tube, the carriages seemed the right height but it appeared to be running on smaller wheels, so the doors sank below the level of the platform. It was about 3 carriages long and inside there was a kitchen, some seating/sofas and what appeared to be lots of storage. I'm guessing that this is a mobile unit for drivers/line workers to rest/have a cup of tea - anyone know?"

; Posted by annie mole Monday, May 14, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, May 11, 2007

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

It's Friday's look at Tube Fashion Victims, TFV's or commuters spotted on the Underground where the fashion police should have been following them, or those who've got a distinct sense of err style.

Punk Builder

First a guest spot from Michael W, who said "Some very strange dude, I'm hoping it was a fancy dress party, but in a leather top, collar and wrist spikes and very tight blue pants looked v.dodgy!"

Punk Builder taken by Michael W

I think he's a builder though, that's if the bucket with the blue bag inside belongs to him. The shoes look like worksite boots, but I'm very puzzled about the blue harnessy / lace up thing he's carrying. Any other theories?

Pretty in Pink

I didn't need to blur this picture as I was rushing when I saw this very pink lady complete with pink platform wedgies

Pretty in Pink 2

Short Uggs

Summer's on the way, but there's still an opportunity to wear Uggs

Short Uggs

I'm not sure if you can buy ankle Uggs, or if these have just been forced down by her jeans.


Finally someone ticking all the right TFV boxes


Bright patent red fugly bag, check. Flourescent yellow nails, check. Copy of Now / Heat / Closer / Whatever so she can work out what to wear next week, check

That's it for now. The previous victim can be found here and the complete picture gallery can be seen on the following Flickr set.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, May 11, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tube Photo of the Week

Ken Livingstone on the Tube

You can say what you like about Sheriff Ken but he certainly seems to "drink the kool aid" or practice what he preaches. I remember getting REALLY excited when I snapped a picture of him on the Tube many moons ago, but it seems he's now getting into fashion victim mode too - or is this a way of making sure he's not spotted

Ken Livingstone on the tube taken by Sergio Montini

Excellent picture by Sergio Montini who spotted him behind his snood. Sergio says he spots him almost every day on the Tube now. Which I reckon is something you wouldn't be able to say about many celebrities. Or is it?

I used to see Rob Brydon fairly frequently at Richmond and I still see Geeta / Gita out of EastEnders & Jack Doherty at least a couple of times a month, as they live near me.

Are there any "regulars" you see?

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, May 10, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Arty Tube Maps

What's the key to this map?

Thanks to
Geoff for sending me in the direction of yet more looks at the Tube Map.

Can you work out the key to the following map from designer, David Linton?

Memory Map from colourcountry.net - click to enlarge

"Four years in London, geographically summarized. The Tube is London in miniature: an organic being, a glorious mess of coincidences, and our attempts to organize it with coloured lines, way out signs, and gaps to mind, ultimately only add to the chaos. I'll leave it to you to figure out the key."

Also as we all know Harry Beck was challenged with straightening the lines and making the distances between more even.

275 from Colourcountry.net - Click to enlarge

"A drawing for those of us who think Mr Beck just didn't go far enough. Every station is exactly 1 unit away from four other stations. By necessity, these aren't often the stations which are actually connected to it, but I have tried to make all the interconnections as short as possible. Naturally, no interconnection passes through a false grid point on the way."

Bizarrely soothing to look at, but pretty impossible (for me anyway) to follow.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 08, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, May 07, 2007

Moving Trains on TV

Remember when they moved the new trains into the
Waterloo & City Line last April

Waterloo & City Line Lift - Photo by Stephen Knight

Ian's given heads-up about a TV programme on National Geographic tonight that shows how they did it. It's part of a series called "Monster Moves".

The Waterloo and City line doesn't have a rail connection to any other part of the London Underground or mainline network, so the only way of moving the 20 carriages and equipment was via a shaft on Spur Road.

So if you've ever moaned if you had to take out doors and windows to move large sofas, you've had it relatively easy. Also hopefully those Laurel & Hardy stylie piano movers from Chiswick might be able to take some lessons too.

Monster Moves is on National Geographic this evening at 8pm.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, May 07, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wapping Ghost Tour

7th May Thames Tunnel Tour

Thames Tunnel Tour

For anyone who's not had the opportunity to go on one of innuendo ridden Thames Tunnel Tours between Wapping & Rotherhithe London Underground stations, there's another on Bank Holiday Monday. The theme is "Haunted By Brunel" and remembers May, as the month when the tunnel was first flooded.

Curator Robert Hulse's normally chirpy comments are appropriately sombre for the occasion. When describing the digging of one of the oldest tunnels on the London Underground, Robert wrote: "The project took 18 years to complete, ruined Marc Brunel's health and nearly killed his son. There were five terrible floods, and some men died under the river, but drowning is quick. Some unfortunates succumbed to 'Tunnel Sickness' and were carried out, raving, to be locked in another cage at the local asylum. For some death was slow, painful and wasting: cholera, typhoid and worse. We will never know how many brave men died here."

Brunel Engine House Museum will also be holding a "Haunted London" display by artist Ksenia Dudareva. The Ghost Train tours leaves Rotherhithe Tube station at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm. Tickets cost a fiver each. For more details and to book online visit the Brunel Engine House Museum.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, May 03, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Zone 1 Tube Challenge

Zone 1 Tube Challenge 2007A date for your diaries - Friday 18th May

It's that time of year again and a guest post from Ric to explain:

"For most people I know, the Tube is a necessary evil to be braved twice a day as part of the bridge between the sleeping and the working parts of the day. But for one group of friends I've made over the last two years, the idea of spending a couple of hours on the Tube isn't due to a delay-filled commute, but is instead a competition involving a combination of physical, mental and decision-making ability: the Tube Challenge.

"The idea's dead simple: visit all stations on the London Underground as fast as you can. There's a Guinness World Record for visiting all the stations, curently standing at almost 18 and a half hours, set by two Swedes last year. However if that feels like too much like hard work, there's a shorter and easier version which might appeal slightly more, and that's the Zone 1 Challenge. There's going to be a mass attempt at this on Friday 18th May, as advertised on www.tubechallenge.com, and all readers of this blog are invited to come and join in.

"There are 63 stations last time I counted, and they all have to be visited by Tube, in whichever order you like. You can run/walk between stations, jump on a bus, or even the rail link between Waterloo and Vauxhall might save you precious minutes. You could plan a route involving several double-backs, or try a route which relies on getting between stations on foot. If there are delays on the day, will you change your route on the spot to get around any areas running slowly? You can have a go by yourself, or team up with others, and I'm sure we'll be able to form teams on the day when we see who is looking to join up. Most competitors will be hoping for a time of less than 3 hours...assuming that there aren't any delays of course!

"We'll be meeting at the Argyll St entrance to Oxford Circus tube station at 12noon on Friday 18th, and we then hope to have a celebrity guest to draw the station we must start from. We'll head over there and begin together at roughly 1pm. After visiting all the stations, head to the after-event venue, The Angel in the Fields pub, and see if your time was fast enough to win. There will also be some après-Tube activities going on in the pub, and it will be a chance to share stories of the day and to meet other underground afficionados".

Zone 1 Tube Challenge 2006

"If this sounds like your thing and you'd like to find out more, have a look
at the alternative challenges section of the forum on www.tubechallenge.com,
or email myself on tpfkar@hotmail.com, or Kevin Brown on kevin.brown@uk.tntfreight.com

"I hope to meet you on the 18th!

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 01, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube station too noisy

More clamp downs on Tube announcements

"Would you stop playing with that PA of yours, I'm trying to get to sleep!" (with apologies to George Michael). It appears the Tube is too funky for locals.

Last week we heard there are too many PA announcements, now they're too noisy. Earl's Court Underground station has been served with a noise abatement notice following complaints from residents and hoteliers that that its public address system is too loud. It's the first noise abatement notice to be served on a Tube station.

Metro report that apparently 'Both the volume and frequency of announcements were unnecessarily high, causing constant irritation to residents.' The council put pressure on the station and the system was changed in 2004 but the announcements became even louder. Val Weedon, national coordinator of protest group the Noise Association, said: 'There is no reason why London Underground needs to make their announcements so loud. We have even had passengers complain about the announcements so it is not just the neighbours who are unhappy.'

London Underground has 21 days to appeal against the abatement notice or comply with it within 60 days.

If if fails to do so, the council can launch a prosecution. So what would happen then, would Earl's Court get an ASBO?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 01, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE