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

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Give us a Brake

Tubes too DangerousServices are suspended completely on the Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines and partially suspended on the District line as drivers are refusing to drive trains due to concerns about the emergency braking.

Trains stopped running on the District Line between High Street Kensington and Edgware Road from 1740 BST on Wednesday.

And services were suspended on the Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines at 1910 BST and 1940 BST respectively.

A TfL spokeswoman said: "Local trade union safety representatives have raised concerns about the design of the traction brake controller on the C stock trains used on these lines.

"As always, we are addressing the safety concerns of the trade unions.

"However, these trains have been in safe operation for over 25 years, and there is no reason for the service to the public to be disrupted whilst we seek to address the issues raised."

There's been no comment as yet from Aslef and the RMT. However keep an eye on Tube's site and good luck if you're using any of those lines this morning.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, September 27, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Shakespeare Tube Map.....Tu Be or not Tu Be?

Just when you thought it was all quiet on the official Tube Map mashing front, along comes the Royal Shakespeare Company with their
Bardic Tube Map.

Detail from Shakespeare Tube Map

Thanks to Heather who sent me a link to The Guardian's Blog who initially reported this. The RSC commissioned designer Kit Glover to produce a new range of RSC products. Kit had a dinner party discussion with his friend who believes that many of Shakespeare's characters are interlinked and show similar character traits. Kit thought about he could depict this graphically and the London Underground map seemed to be the best way of mapping their relationships. The Guardian have a larger version of the map on their site.

We've seen this a number of times before (Simon Patterson's Great Bear) and more recently The Guardian's Music Tube map and even a Web 2.0 map based on Tokyo's Subway Map.

The lines in Shakespeare's map include: strong and difficult women (turquoise), lovers (red), mothers (pink), fathers and daughters (green), villains (light blue), heroes (dark blue), warriors (black) and fools (orange). The RSC point out "Interesting intersections include Henry V who meets on the warrior and hero line, and Lady Macbeth on the strong and difficult women and warrior line".

My Shakespeare's currently at Sally Webster out of Coronation Street's level - but I like Ophelia being on the stop for the riverbus. I'm surprised to see that Lear's daughters Goneril & Regan, aren't nearer towards him on the map. The Guardian offer some missed opportunities with geographical mapping - "That notorious bear from The Winter's Tale must surely pursue passengers from Paddington and Macduff undoubtedly gets off at Caledonian Road, while the Falstaff of the final scene of The Merry Wives would more naturally alight at Royal Oak". However it's all easier said than done.

I'm not sure that Shakespeare had over 270 characters in his plays, then connecting them by relationship to each other and adding some puns with station names would have been beyond the Bard himself (well it probably wouldn't).

Forsooth, if thou desires to acquire for thyself a bag, mug, poster, set of postcards and my heart quickens.... a tea towel, with Shakespeare's map gracing them, do not tarry, venture with haste to the RSC's webeth site.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, September 26, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tubes as soothing as birds

Apparently us city dwellers find the rumble of overland and Tube trains just as soothing as birdsong.

Tubes soothing as birds

To quote Victor Meldrew "I don't believe it". My house backs onto a railway line and I would vote for the sounds of birdsong to calm me down a thousand times over the rumble of trains. However, because I initially saw this as a snippet in yesterday's londonpaper initially, I thought it could do with a bit more research before I came over all Meldrewish.

The noise study was conducted by Salford University as part of a £1m, three-year research project. Dr Bill Davies led the team who are building a database of noises that people say improve their environment. Surprisingly agreeable sounds for urbanites were car tyres on wet, bumpy asphalt (I'd agree with that, but only when I'm indoors tucked up in bed), the distant roar of a motorway flyover, the rumble of an overground train and the thud of heavy bass heard on the street outside a nightclub.

Dr Davies is looking for members of the public to take part in mass 'sound walks' through cities or in laboratory listening tests, where his researchers will plug them into MRI scanners & measure participants' brain activity as they are played a variety of urban noises.

Apparently what's key to our dislike of noise is being able to identify what it is. Davies said "In the laboratory, many listeners prefer distant motorway noise to rushing water, until they are told what the sounds are."

I wonder if Transport for London will use this as an excuse to do nothing about the noise levels of Tubes. Only two years ago research was proving that regular Tube passengers on the Victoria Line should consider wearing ear-plugs. Earlier this year Earl's Court Tube station had a noise abatement order made against it by local residents (admittedly this was about loud public announcements - but it's a similar point).

Perhaps TfL might also use the research as a nice little earner and produce "Tube Lullabies for your Baby" or "Victoria Line Squeals to Sooth you" CD's.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, September 25, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, September 24, 2007

London Blunderground

Many thanks to
Jo for spotting the following sticker on the Central Line

London Blunderground taken by Jo

She said "Sorry for the bad picture quality! Had to zoom in and try not to take too many photos of the bad-tempered man sitting underneath it by mistake. I didn't use flash, either - of course."

In the meantime Metronet's blunders & its eventual collapse mean that Transport for London could be footing a bill for up to £1.07bn. On Friday PPP arbiter Chris Bolt published initial findings from his review which stated that TfL might be liable for a pretty hefty amount. Which we all know that if TfL take over Metronet's contracts somehow that billion quid will be found from taxes, raised fares or cut backs on station upgrades.

TfL are seething about the report being published and said "We cannot understand why the arbiter has decided to conduct this exercise outside of the formal extraordinary review process. He has based his ruling on the hypothetical performance of a company that is languishing in administration. The whole thing is bizarre." The same spokesperson maintained TfL's position that it should not incur any of the bill for Metronet's cost overruns.

Watch the saga continue.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, September 24, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Guess Where Tube Quiz

London Flickr users might be familiar with the "
Guess where London" game, well IanD has very kindly made us his own version.

He said: "For the past couple of years I've been visiting each Tube station on the network and taking photos of the exteriors and now that I've almost finished (just some of the Eastern Central line stations to go) I was wondering what to do with the photos. To pass away a boring Friday afternoon, I knocked up the attached picture quiz to circulate around the office. Only one person got full marks but not many people here are as fanatical about the Underground as your readers who I am sure could do better."

Mmm, I wouldn't say we're fanatical - well not all of us, but they're certainly a challenge and too be honest I only got about three of them.

He has given some pretty helpful clues, but I think you can manage without them. All I'll say is there are 12 stations in total, one for each Underground line. 5 stations are in zone 1. 6 stations are in zone 2. 1 station is in zone 3. 1 station is in zone 5.

There are no prizes, just the satisfaction of seeing how many of them you can get. Try not to look at the person or people before you when making your guesses in the comments below. I'll put up the answers next week:

Picture 1
Picture 1

Picture 2
Picture 2

Picture 3
Picture 3

Picture 4
Picture 4

Picture 5
Picture 5

Picture 6
Picture 6

Picture 7
Picture 7

Picture 8
Picture 8

Picture 9
Picture 9

Picture 10
Picture 10

Picture 11
Picture 11

Picture 12
Picture 12

Enjoy and thanks again to IanD for devising the quiz.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, September 20, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pantless in Prague

Photo by Josef Vorisek, BleskNo, the National No Pants Subway Ride hasn't become bi-annual and it's not some sort of weird art installation - the nudity on the subway is down to a bet and some kind "friends".

Dennis W, kindly sent me a link to this story which shows how commuters on Prague's Metro are just as blasé as London's Tube travellers.

When the naked man boarded the subway everyone pretended that nothing was wrong:

" 'People were looking everywhere but at him', one of the passengers said later. After a while someone must have alerted the metro staff because the police arrived, covered him up and led him off for questioning.

It emerged that the poor man had lost all his clothes in a bet and his friends had pushed him out of their car in the middle of Prague stark naked. 'He was only trying to get home as fast as possible and he was dreadfully embarrassed - so we let him off the hook' a police spokeswoman said later. "

Lucky that a photographer was on hand to preserve the moment!

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, September 18, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, September 17, 2007

Would you rename this station?

A London Assembly Member is calling for one of the Edgware Road Tube stations to be renamed to something more intuitive. There are two stations called Edgware Road on the London Underground, one on the Bakerloo line which Murad Queshi believes should be called, "
Church Street Market" and another on the Circle, District and Hammersmith & City Line.

Both stations have entrances on Edgware Road but they are about 150 metres apart and separated by a flyover and dual carriage way, so it is a bit galling if you meet someone at the wrong Edgware Road.

Mr Qureshi said: "Whenever you invite friends and family over via the Tube and you tell them Edgware Road, you always end up going to the wrong one to pick them up because they're at the other." The simple answer is to tell them which Edgware Road you mean and I don't think that Qureshi is going to have a lot of luck with this particular campaign.

He's right in saying that there are "lots of anomalies like this", but if the station names were changed to give a more helpful description to where they literally are that would mean changing, well, err, quite a lot of them. Gunnersbury would be renamed to "Chiswick High Road near that horrible carpark".

TfL apparently get several requests a year to change station names, but very rarely agree to them. The last change was made in 1989 when Surrey Docks on the East London line was renamed Surrey Quays. There's an ongoing campaign for Arsenal to revert back to its old name of Gillespie Road (so far about 4,000 people have signed an online petition).

Fortunately there's is going to be some renaming in Shepherd's Bush which also has two Tube stations currently with the same name. The station on the Hammersmith & City Line will be renamed Shepherd's Bush Market in 2008. This makes a lot of sense as it's a good five minutes walk away from the Shepherd's Bush station on the Central Line.

With so few changes it looks like Mr Qureshi will have a long wait. Many thanks to regular commenter John F for giving me the heads up on this.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, September 17, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tube Photo of the Week

It's not that common to see temporary signs on the Tube about subjects other than signal failures, delays and strikes, so it was heartening to see the following picture from
Martin Deutsch taken yesterday morning. At King's Cross a person fell onto the tracks and several people managed to stop what could have been a tragedy, so it's amazing to see a public thanks for their action.

Photo taken by Martin Deutsch

Well spotted by Martin and if anyone notices any more cheerful temporary signs on the tube, please let us know in comments.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, September 13, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oyster card Barclaycard (l)ondoner-card

The combined Oyster card, Barclaycard and errr, lunchtime snack, booze, book & paper card launched yesterday. We first heard about this new card in
December 2006. The Onepulse card combines an Oyster card to use on London Transport, with a credit card and a cashless way of paying for items under ten quid. These currently include Books Etc, Chop'd, Coffee Republic, EAT, Krispy Kreme, Threshers and YO! Sushi. So you'll be able to swipe the one card at the aforementioned shops to pay for your food and drinks.

Barclaycard Oyster card

Sean Gardner, chief executive of a price comparison service site, said it was another step towards a cashless society. He enthusiastically called it

"a genuine advance in the credit card industry and looks set to cause a real stir in London. Experts have been predicting the end of cash for years and this looks set to be another step in that direction."

Hating to be pedantic (as anything that involves carrying less cash around is fine in my books), but why is Londoner spelt with a lower case "l" in the Tube ads? I can understand stylistically keeping everything in lower case, but then why not start the sentence with a lower case "i"? It's looks even weirder because the words: Oyster card, Credit and Cashless underneath the card are capitalised.

Maybe it's just me.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, September 11, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bumper Harris was my great, great, grandfather

I was really disappointed when I read in
Time Out (possibly via wikipedia) that one legged escalator tester Bumper Harris didn't exist - or at least that the London Transport Museum had no evidence to back it up. I wasn't convinced then, and am even less convinced now, as I received a message from Aaron who claims that Bumper Harris was his great, great, grandfather.

From One Stop Short of Barking courtesy of Hulton Archive

Bumper arriving for work?

The idea that someone was employed by London Transport to spend their days travelling up and down the first escalators at Earl's Court to prove that they were safe, sounds barking when you first hear it, but why would you want to make it up? And why would Aaron want to devise an elaborate story that fits in so well with all the other things I had heard about the legendary Bumper (that he retired to Gloucester to make make cider & violins)? Judge for yourself from the tale below and if you're a distant relative of Bumper let me know:

"Just thought that you would like to know that Bumper Harris was my great, great, grandfather. He was originally from just outside Bristol and saw a job advertised in a paper at Salford for an engineer. He walked from Bristol to Salford just outside of Manchester to apply for the job, by the time he got there he had worn his shoes out and the man who ran the engineering business felt so sorry for him he gave him the job.

He eventually ended up marrying the company owner’s daughter and moving to London where he went to work on the new underground. Whilst working some of his friends played a rather unfortunate joke on him and his leg was crushed between two carriages carrying rubble and he lost his leg. He was then employed to ride the escalator at Earls Court and made quite a bit of money, eventually ending up owning a number of properties in Greenwich.

After the underground he went on to work on the Severn Tunnel and was in charge of all of the drainage systems at Standish Hospital in Gloucestershire where he retired in Stonehouse to make cider, violins and became a watercolour artist.

When they were excavating the tunnel at Earls Court they found a seam of prehistoric oak that had not yet fully decomposed and 6 walking sticks were made out of it with silver handles, he was given one and it is now with relatives in Stonehouse

Admittedly the last paragraph is almost too good to be true, but stranger things have happened.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, September 10, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, September 07, 2007

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

It's Friday, time for another look at commuters on the Tube who've taken a style and made it their own.

String pants or string vest?

I only spotted one this week which would have put the Tube Fashion Police on alert

String pants

He'd taken low slung jeans to a new level of lowness. Guys I've seen before are usually happy displaying their Calvin Kleins or tails. But this guy was proudly showing off his string ... err .... well I initially thought it was a long string vest, but now I think it could have been string pants (and I use pants in the English sense of the word pants - ie underpants).

Who can say. But I bet from the front he looked somewhat like the man who was too baggy up front, who I spotted last year.

Baggy Jeans

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

; Posted by annie mole Friday, September 07, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tube Strike Off

After Bob Crow's fighting talk, there's been an agreement and the current 72 hour strike by the RMT has been called off (well at least this round). Nine hours of discussions which finished at 11pm last night led to the clarified assurances the RMT were looking for.

BBC report that "Although strike action has now been suspended, TfL warn that commuters will still face delays on Wednesday morning..... Union officials will meet again on Friday before deciding whether to press ahead with a second 72-hour strike next Monday.."

A TfL spokesperson said "We are pleased the RMT has suspended its strike action at Metronet following the clarification of all jobs and pensions issues. We will now work to provide the best possible Tube service on Wednesday."

However, it's best to check the Tube's website for the very latest to see how the ten lines that were affected will get back to normal.

Tube Strike Over

Bob Crow was in fighting form at a demonstration outside the Department of Transport yesterday.

He said: "We said we will strike three days this week and three days next week. We are only 24 hours into the strike and already it is causing massive disruption. Let us see what Metronet have to say when we meet them. If they do not meet our demands then further action is likely. We will carry on as long as it takes."

Standard Loves Fighting Tube Talk

As he continued The Evening Standard must have been positively salivating:

"We recognise we are causing massive disruption but our responsibility is to our members. Our apologies are real, these are not crocodile tears we are shedding. But we have two options: either we roll over and cave in or we fight it.

"I do not believe the public is against us. I think a very significant number of passengers support what we are doing. You only have to talk to people to find that out
." Mmmmmm, what people?

Crisis negotiations resumed yesterday and led to a resolution of the London Underground strike which had been due to continue until 6pm on Thursday evening.

Tube Refund form - look out for how to claim over the strike

Definitely bookmark the Tube Refund page - apparently the Customer Charter which offers a refund if your journey is delayed by more than 15 minutes has different rules for delays caused by industrial action. But TfL said "A relevant form will be posted shortly" - let's hope the site's servers hold up to the demand.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, September 05, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In ur toob syztem

Blokkin ur toobz

Tube Strike LOL Cat

I 'spose I had to do it.

Other Web 2.0 Tube strike stuff - which is sadly a lost cause - the If 100,000 Londoners join then maybe we won't have another tube strike! Facebook group. I think Bob Crow is Facebook proof, the "anti Bob Crow Facebook group" is getting a spurt in membership though.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, September 04, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube Strike - Thank God for the Northern Line

I cannot believe that I would be so pleased to get onto a Northern Line train. I smugly set off home yesterday evening thinking the strike wouldn't be too bad for me, as I'd be able to get the Piccadilly Line back most of the way. After all
Mr Tim O'Toole had told me & hundreds of thousands of other Londoners that the Piccadilly Line would be "expected to be running normally". Sadly he was wrong.

Piccadilly Line Industrial Action

Me and a number of other commuters stared at the notice at Leicester Square. Our strike free Piccadilly Line had suddenly found itself under RMT control - or rather the section between Hyde Park Corner & Acton Town and Acton Town & Uxbridge had. Why they couldn't just say Hyde Park Corner and Uxbridge is beyond me.

Fortunately the Northern Line was running like a dream. A pleasant dream and not the usual nightmare that one tends to naturally associate the Northern Line with. So I hopped on at Leceister Square and took a mayhem free journey to Waterloo to get a mainline train back.

Tube Mayhem in London Lite

On the Tube I read the rest of the article covering Ken's blast. Tube bosses are unable to estimate how many trains will be running for the rest of the strike. They "warned that stoppages would increase as the strike progressed" and "refused to rule out complete closure of the network". So don't be too smug like me and think you're alright Jack if you're travelling on Piccadilly, Central and Jubilee Lines.

As usual try to check the live inaction updates on the Tube's site before leaving.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, September 04, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, September 03, 2007

Three day Tube strike will go ahead

Tube Strike Notice

Unless there are any last minute negotiations and agreements with the RMT, it looks like Monday's Tube strike will be going ahead. From 6pm on Monday 3rd September, more than 2,300 of RMT's members will go on strike for 72 hours. Apparently the only lines that won't be closed are the Jubilee, Northern & Piccadilly Lines - although as the sign above and email (below) from Tube MD Tim O'Toole says - expect them to be much fuller than usual.

Email from Tube MD

Unions UNITE and TSSA were also due to go on strike with Metronet but both have called off the strike as they were happy with the guarantees over pensions, redundancies and any forced transfers made as a result of Metronet's collapse. Mayor Ken carried out discussions with all union leaders and wrote a letter stating that all of their demands had been met:

"I outlined my views on how we should proceed following the collapse of Metronet and, specifically, that no Metronet staff should suffer any loss of pension, employment or be transferred. You indicated that you would need these commitments to be confirmed by the current employers, Metronet and the Administrator.

"The Administrator and Metronet have written to you today giving you the necessary assurances that there will be no reduction in jobs or transfers of employees from Metronet during the period of administration and that your members pensions will be fully protected.

"I can confirm that no Metronet employees will lose a penny of their pensions. The guarantees provided to members of the TfL Pension Fund under the Greater London Authority Act and the London Transport Pension Arrangements Order 2000, will remain and be abided by Metronet and the Administrator and that the Metronet business will be transferred to the subsequent employers on this basis, as part of a full Scheme Rescue and ongoingly."

After further reassuring comments he concluded "With clear assurances from the Administrator and Metronet that there will be no job cuts, transfers or losses in pensions as a result of the collapse of Metronet, and my clear commitments for the future security of all Metronet staff, it would be unreasonable to proceed with strikes which will disrupt the lives of millions of Londoners and lose Metronet employees considerable sums in pay."

And yet Bob Crow from the RMT states that the Ken's comments are "not enough" and that letters from Metronet & the adminstrator fall "way short" of what was demanded. Stating that "the guarantees we need can only come from the employer."

He said "What we sought was firm, unequivocal guarantees, but frankly our members are being asked to stake their jobs and their pensions on a pig in a poke...... When the jobs and pensions of our members are at stake - not to mention the Tube upgrades that the capital cannot do without - vague assurances are not enough, and the strike by our members will go ahead at 6pm on Monday".

Keep an eye on the Tube's site and listen out to the news on Monday morning for how this will effect your journey home from Monday night and the following three days.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, September 03, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE