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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
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Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Xmas Tube "tradition"

Looks like last year's
Camden Road graffiti on the London Underground's only shut down on Christmas Day has sparked off some copy cat "artists" this year.

Caledonian Road, 26/12/07 photo by Nicobobinus

Caledonian Road (above), Old Street, Arsenal, Holloway Road (below) and Angel (& here) all got their dose of graffiti as the taggers sent pretty deliberate messages to the British Transport Police & the Tube, taking advantage of the day's closure.

Holloway Road Graffiti 004  photo by ewpb

Holloway Road, 26/12/07 photo by Nicobobinus

As ewpb who took some of the pictures said: "They must have packed turkey sandwiches and spent all of Christmas Day doing it."

Last year the clean up operation was very speedy and didn't take the "several weeks" initially predicted. However, with more stations targeted this year you may still see the remains up on your travels.

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

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas Eve

Eerily quiet on the Tube today with most sensible people taking today as a holiday. Covent Garden station was virtually empty at 9.30 making it look like the set for 28 Days Later or some other apocalyptic end of the world film with Will Smith in it.

New Year's Travel

So instead of showing the ghostly platform (it was too miserable to be reminded that I'm working today) here's a reminder of the free travel for all you New Year's Eve Tube Revellers. Rather than the responsible drinking or irresponsible boozing sponsors of years gone by, Nat West again have the honour of giving us free travel from 23:45 on New Year's Eve to 04:30 on New Year's Day.

Happy Xmas to the Tube on Christmas Day - the one day in the year when there's no trains running (the last time they ran on Xmas Day was in 1979) and the time's ripe for the graffiti artists to have fun again.

Christmas Day graffiti at Camden Town photo by Dave Knapik

And on that note, Merry Xmas to you all and here's to a peaceful 2008!

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

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tube refund taken to extremes

Customer Charter RefundThis year I've probably got around thirty quid back from making claims against the Tube under the Customer Charter Refund. A few of my colleagues are surprised I've got this much back, as they can never remember to fill in the form. I forget a lot of the time but one guy has not only been remembering but made 7,105 claims. However, this wasn't just a normal year on the Northern Line. He was running a scam which London Underground took some time to check.

Civil servant, Trushar Patel got his family to fill in thousands of the forms and managed to claim back £22,000. He's now been jailed for 18 months and some family members received shorter sentences. The prosecutor said the scheme's execution was a "shambles of Monty Pythonesque proportions" and Tube staff failed to check if there were delays.

The family claimed refunds averaging eight delays a day on the Jubilee Line. But it appears that no checks were carried out on the services claimed and some forms were incomplete.

Judge Peter Fingret said the case showed "a high level of incompetence on the part of Transport for London and London Underground ".

"I can only comment and hope that these sentences may deter other people from obtaining cash benefits out of public funds illegally," he said.

Many times I've wondered if London Underground actually check the delays and from this it appears they don't... or rather didn't.

However I'm surprised that the family were able to launder the money (according to the BBC £4,000 was laundered) as you only get paper vouchers for more travel. Although I have seen some vouchers for sale on e-bay, so perhaps this was the deal.

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tube bans blokey breast feeding

There's a joke here somewhere about breast feeding and Nanny state. An ad for bookmaker Paddy Power featuring a man looking as though he's about to breast feed a baby, has been banned from appearing on the London Underground:

You won't see this on the Tube

A spokesperson for the company said that the poster, which uses the strapline "Where have all the women gone?", was banned on the grounds that it had the "potential to offend public decency".

Obviously Paddy Power's official stance on this is personal affront and they said to the press "We are completely astonished by the reaction of the London Underground to our advert. Fun is central to the Paddy Power brand and we strive to communicate this in all of our advertising."

However, they're well known for controversial ads and having a quick look at their blog (yes Paddy Power have a blog) they're less astonished and more aware of the extra publicity they'll get from the ban:

"The Man Boob ad seems to be causing particular offense with several companies, including Dublin Bus and the London Underground, refusing to run it in its uncensored hairy nippled glory.

"Of course all this fuss helps the ad to do exactly what it was intended to do by drawing attention to PP Bingo, so it's doing its job admirably

"Is it all that offensive though? We show a bit of man boob and people begin to squirm in their seats. Unlike some previous ad campaigns which were run with the full awareness that they would cause controversy and debate, this new series was seen as being a bit cheeky but well within the modern scope of what is politically correct. Or so we thought."

Personally, I think they're right. The ad stopped me in my tracks for a few seconds when I originally saw it in Metro or londonpaper. It's got minor shock value. But I completely forgot about it and didn't have a compulsion to rush out and play bingo or call the decency watchdogs.

How it could offend public decency is beyond me. But then again quite a lot could "potentially" offend public decency, especially as far as the Tube is concerned.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, December 19, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, December 17, 2007

Santas on the Tube

More Santae having fun on the Tube in the annual London Santacon on Saturday. Where hoards of Santae zoom around central London and give parents nightmares trying to explain how "there's really only one true Santa Claus and the people taking pictures of each other on escalators and cramming themselves into phone boxes, are only pretend Santas"

Photo by  Jai-to-Z

Photo by  Jai-to-Z

Not quite sure what the bondaged Santa on the Tube was up too in that last picture, but he or she seems too tired or bashful to face the camera.

Many more London Santae on the Flickr stream for the event.

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

Friday, December 14, 2007

Madness Tube Map

Clare who's a Madness fan told me that the "nutty boys" had used a
graphic for their current Transport From London tour. I'd been sent a version of it before and initially thought "yeah it's alright, seen better though". However my virtual ears pricked up when she wrote the following: "after their Belfast concert this weekend I got a goody bag which had a fly-poster with a mischievously altered map inside, it looks great and harks back to their use of the roundel back in the day."

Mmm, a mischievous map from the Nutty Boys? Clare kindly got the poster photographed and sent to me and it rocks!

Photo of Madness Tube Map - click to see full size

It's not been totally altered which works well, as you look out for slightly altered stations like "Wemberley", "Yellow City" & "Green City" where White City should be, "Busker" and "Sax Solo" around Baker Street, "German Mansion" near Swiss Cottage, "Gettingonour Wick" next to Hackney Wick, "Abba" replacing Waterloo and I sure you'll spot loads of others.

Madness Tube Map Detail

They've obviously had permission from Transport for London to do this, and they've done a great job. Wonder if Madness would sell them after their tour - or if we'll see a few on ebay?

Thanks again to Clare for the heads up and sending the picture.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, December 14, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bombed Tube trains to go back in service

A Hammersmith & City Line Tube train wrecked in the 7/7 London bombings is being rebuilt in Budapest, apparently because there are no facilities to carry out the work in Britain.

Bombed Tube carriage removed from Edgware Road

Six people died in the bombing when the train passed a tunnel close to Edgware Road station on July 7th 2005. It was one of four attacks on Tube trains and a bus that killed 52.

The repairs will cost about £9 million and the train is due to go back into service in May 2008. One of the survivors of the attack is upset about this decision and told Heart FM she would never get back on those trains.

A London Underground spokesperson said: "None of the Tube carriages in which the bombs exploded will be used again in passenger service. They have been scrapped and disposed of securely. Other carriages and parts will be brought back into use."

An industry source added: "They will be virtually new carriages. In an ideal world this train would also have been scrapped but they don't make them like this any more and we desperately need the stock back. We cancel on average six trains a day on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines and need every train possible."

The Evening Standard has the full story on this.

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

Tube PR sacked over Mind-The-Gap-gate

The Mind the Gap announcer "sacking" saga continues, as the head of news at Transport for London has reportedly been sacked following his response to the Evening Standard. Most of you know the story,
Emma Clarke, the former voice of the London Underground "Mind the Gap" announcements, was relieved of her post after the Tube didn't see the funny side of spoof announcements and supposed critcism of the system.

Tube PR Man sacked over Emma Clarke sacking

Dan Hodges told the Evening Standard that Emma could be "experiencing severe delays" in getting more work out of TfL. It appears that this wasn't the best way to announce the news about Emma and now he's been put on "gardening leave".

Emma Clarke herself feels sorry for him and said to Metro "Ye Gods, that's awful. I think he misjudged it. I was quite surprised that in their statement they had chosen to draw attention to arguably a negative to their service. Poor Dan."

Personally I wouldn't feel too sorry for him as it appears that he's now in line for a nice pay off, even though he'd only been in the role for a few months and is on a six figure salary.

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Naked Train Drivers Calendar

Perfect Christmas gift for any train fans:

Drivers in the Buff photo by Peter Alvey

Forget the Women's Institute, 13 train drivers (12 men and a woman) from First Capital Connect's Bedford depot decided to strip off for a calendar to raise money for children at the Ahotokurom Centre in Ghana and the Railway Children’s platform appeal.

Drivers in the Buff photo by Peter Alvey

Elaine Holt, Managing Director, said: "Let me tell you the final product makes for very interesting viewing. No month is quite the same! We are very proud of these drivers who have bared all. I hope that people will dig deep into their pockets for these two fantastic causes. I'm sure that people will have a giggle or two when they turn over the pages each month, all the time remembering just how brave they all were to bare all at our train depots."

Train's naked Driver Sacked - MetroJust as long as they don't drive the trains naked and then take pictures of themselves otherwise they might be in trouble. Perhaps the drivers here should have said they were posing for a calendar shoot and they might have got away with it.

To buy Drivers in The Buff - visit First Capital Connect's site and remember there's a discount for bulk orders.

Alternatively you can order the calendar from any First Capital Connect stations. Must be fun at the ticket office at the moment with choruses of "I'll have a return to Luton Airport and some naked blokes please."

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, December 12, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Lego Tube Map

Some people's devotion to Lego never ceases to amaze me:

Lego Tube Map by talltim10

Lego Tube Map detail by talltim10

It's a laudable London Underground map made from lego by Duncan Titchmarsh. Yeah he seems to have a few problems spelling or perhaps he's run out of Dynamo. But otherwise it rocks!

If only he could make a mini version to go with The Schla La La's breakdancing animated Lego Tube Lego commuters:

click to watch video by Ben Cowell

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, December 12, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tube Ambience ruined by freesheets

Apparently London Underground commuters leave behind nine and half tonnes of free newspapers behind every day and that's just on the Piccadilly, Northern and Jubilee lines.

Discarded Metros on the Piccadilly Line

Yesterday, maintenance contractor Tube Lines blamed the growth of freesheets as one of the reasons for narrowly missing its "ambience target". Ambience measures things like the cleanliness of carriages, levels of customer information and how secure passengers feel during journeys.

"There has been a huge increase in the numbers of free newspapers being left on trains; typically 9.5 tonnes are picked off trains each day now, compared with three tonnes in the past," a spokesperson at Tube Lines said.

Discarded papers in Tube Carriage

Even though there are a number of cleaners who sweep up the morning Metros and then clear out the evening londonpapers and London Lites, it's putting a strain on resources. Tube Lines has hired an extra 23 cleaners to put the papers into recycling bags at the end of each journey.

"There is very little that we can do other than ask London Underground to encourage people to take their papers with them," the Tube Lines spokeswoman said.

I must admit that I often add to the freesheet "mountain" in the mornings as I think it's a public service to leave behind papers for people. About 50% of the time I leave my Metro on the little ledge behind the seats, but for the other half I take it into work with me and throw it away there.

In the evenings I can't say I always take freesheets home with me, although I feel there's less of a public service leaving them behind, mainly because it's hard not to get on a Tube in zone one without getting past the over zealous distributors. One woman used to give me several copies, such was her enthusiasm to get rid of the papers and I always gave them back saying "one's enough thanks".

A spokeswoman for Associated Newspapers said: "London Lite is committed to acting in an environmentally responsible manner and seeks to actively encourage readers to recycle their copy once it has been read. London Lite is working closely with Westminster council and transport partners to try to address concerns regarding litter." It'll be interesting to see how they do this as they messages in the papers themselves clearly aren't doing enough. Perhaps we can have some more "Big Brother" style public announcements by LU reminding us to take our papers off the trains with us along with all of our personal belongings.

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

Monday, December 10, 2007

London Transport Awards - your vote counts

It's the X Factor for London Underground staff. Your chance to vote for station staff that go the extra mile, put in 150%, give the public what they want, look like a diva, sound like a diva - sorry getting to carried away with X-Factorness now.

You have until December 13th to vote for the station that has the best customer service and you could win an Oyster card with £100 worth of free travel for your trouble:

Photo by Duncan Soar from One Stop Short of Barking

Just pop along to TfL's site who say : "If you think the staff at your Tube station have provided you with extra special care, now's your chance to let them know, by nominating them in our annual online vote. The winning team will be presented with their award at the London Transport Awards in February 2008....

When deciding which station to vote for, you might like to think about the helpfulness of staff – do they go out of their way to help you in both everyday situations and out of the ordinary circumstances? Do staff keep you well informed? Are they well presented and the station clean and tidy, with up to date information on display?

Here's a few that could be in the running:

Cheerful by Mike of Surrey

Travel Info by Bruno Girin

Hi Ho Hi Ho... by Martin Deutsch

Have fun voting.

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

Friday, December 07, 2007

Signs of Xmas on the Tube - Part Two

It's certainly beginning to look a lot like Xmas on the Tube. I came across an excellent picture by
Niamheen of two gentle looking ladies who looked like their "revelling" had left them a little worse for wear

Niamheen didn't just take the picture but adds "I did try to wake them to see if they'd missed their stop at Finsbury Park but they were conked out and like statues."

She's a brave lady to try to wake them in my opinion. They're perfect candidates for the "wake me up at X station" stickers which are still a bobby bargain at four quid.

Wake me up at stickers

Thanks again to Niamheen for a great shot. Look out for more signs of Xmas on the Tube (like the busking Santa) over the coming weeks.

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

Win a month's free Oysterness

Oystercard walletThe nice guys and gals over at the local review site Qype.com let me know about a top new competition that gives you the chance to travel around London for free, for the whole of January (handy time for a prize as we'll all be counting the pennies).

I like Qype and you'll find the odd review on it from me from time to time. You can give your opinions on your local haunts - pubs, clubs, shops, parks, museums and even Tube stations.

To enter their Oyster competition, you need to be a member of Facebook and then become a "fan" of Qype. This doesn't mean having to wear a Qype T-shirt or stalk them when they're shopping. Just click the "Be a fan" link / button on the Qype Facebook page and they'll enter you into the prize draw. On Boxing Day - all the names go into hat and every 100th name pulled out gets a month's worth of free Oyster payment covering Zones 1-3!

The competition closes on 25th December and full Ts and Cs can be found at point 9 here.

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

Thursday, December 06, 2007

World Metro Map

To mark the paperback & US edition of his great book
Transit Maps of the World (formerly called Metro Maps of the World) Mark Ovenden has a special offer for the first 50 people who buy a new copy of the book through amazon (.co.uk or .com) - a signed copy of the World Metro Map promotional poster for the book.

World Metro Map by Mark Ovenden

To qualify for the signed poster simply email a copy of your amazon sales confirmation to poster@markovenden.com and remember to give your postal address.

The poster which is the opening page of Mark's book about the graphic design of worldwide subway, metro, underground and U-Bahn system maps and diagrams. He calls it a "playful diagram" showing "all the cities which have, are building or are planning to construct an urban rail system.".

Thanks to Jon Allen for reminding me about the map and also to Mark for giving me a sneak preview of the map last year!

The New York Times gave the following review of Transit Maps of the World earlier this week as one of their top Xmas books:

"While navigating this jampacked book can be a tad confusing, the overall effect is more than impressive. Ovenden does what no other design history book has ever done: he visually chronicles the evolution of the New York subway (plus other major subways including the Tube) - the world's largest - from its 1905 map, with only a few train lines, to the intricate 1948 version, which is barely legible, to the much-criticized 1972 Massimo Vignelli diagram map, which evolved into the current version. For this alone, 'Transit Maps of the World' is a must-have."

Mark's also let us in on a little secret in that there's a tiny spelling mistake on one of the cities on the world map above. I'm sure someone here will spot it, although no prizes for finding the correct, or rather incorrect one.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, December 06, 2007 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Signs of Xmas on the Tube - Part One

Coming home from the
Juno blogger's film screening I knew that Christmas had arrived on the Tube with my first sighting of a busking Santa at Leicester Square:

First busking Santa of Xmas

I don't think he was even playing anything Xmassy, but was certainly bouncing around his spot with great gusto and with a number of people stopping to watch.

Look out for more Santa Tube spots particularly when hundreds of them invade London on December 15th for the annual Santacon UK.

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

Monday, December 03, 2007

Most expensive Tube Line for Property

I wonder if Kirsty, Phil or Sarah or anyone else from the growing portfolio of TV shows dedicated to helping us find better homes would make the correct guess of the most expensive London Underground Line to buy a house on. I would have put money on it being the District Line - as its got Richmond, Wimbledon, Fulham, South Kensington and Sloane Square on it. But I'd have been wrong. The Circle Line is the most expensive Tube line with property prices averaging around £1.2 million.

The research came from over 3,500 estate agents listing London properties with FindaProperty.com.

Tube Line and Property Price Analysis

As the Circle line runs exclusively in Zone 1, I suppose I shouldn't have been too surprised about the result. The least expensive stop on the Circle Line is Aldgate, with average property values hovering around £396,000.

The Victoria Line came as the next most expensive line to buy property on, with average prices reaching £1,109,107. Green Park was most expensive stop for property on the Victoria Line with average house prices above £2 million. The least expensive stop was Tottenham Hale.

"We were somewhat surprised to find the District Line appear in the seventh position, given it includes areas such as Fulham, Richmond and Wimbledon and follows the Circle Line through many parts of Central London. It would be interesting to see where the East London Line would rank today if the 2010 extension was already in place." said Michael O’Flynn, from FindaProperty. Apparently the Essex parts of the District Line weakened its overall average.

The Waterloo & City Line came in at last place as there are "minimal residential pockets" around Waterloo and Bank stations.

In other research, I had always thought that it was a benefit to live walking distance from a Tube station. Apparently not if you're after a quick sale as one in eight buyers would consider a property 30 minute's walk, (the equivalent of one and a half miles), away from a Tube station purely because it's cheaper.

Research released by HotProperty.co.uk found that property within a five minute walk of Tube station can be up to 21% (or £80,000) more expensive than a similar property 30 minutes away. The research shows just how much location affects property prices in London; for every five minutes closer to a Tube, house prices increase by 4%.

HotProperty MD Shawn Luetchens said: "Walking an hour to get a to a Tube station seems an extreme measure, however with mortgage affordability at an all time low and little relief in sight, people are having to make compromises."

However there is some balancing argument as he continued: "Interestingly, however, one in four people were still not willing to buy property that was more than five minutes walk to a Tube. Maybe they would change their minds if they considered that just walking an extra five minutes could save them up to £29,000 on the price of a property?"

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