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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Queen makes rare Tube visit

The Queen visited Aldgate London Underground station yesterday, as part of her City of London tour. It was also to view a memorial plaque for the July 7th bombings, where seven people were killed at the station. She thanked the station staff for all they had done to help the injured.

However, staff felt that they ought to give her a more pleasant memento of one of her infrequent Tube visits & produced a personalised roundel for Buckingham Palace:

Queen at Tube in Metro

Howard Collins, London Undergrounds chief operating officer, said: "The Queen thought it was marvellous. She said, 'What a fantastic gift.’ There was a big smile on her face.

"She was saying about how busy [the Underground] is. She travelled on the Tube as a young lady. She recognised it was very busy."

The Queen first travelled on the Tube in May 1939, when she was 13 years old and still a Princess. She was pictured with her governess Marion Crawford and Princess Margaret.

Ironically, she might have been better off travelling by Tube yesterday, as her car broke down during the City tour, and she had to cadge a lift with the police. The Telegraph have more on this.

Perhaps she may be more used to London Underground travel than she lets on. Crash Calloway said: "I am led to understand that she has her own private underground stop anyway, doesn't she? Some kind of secret Tube stop/tunnel in case of Nuclear War or Revolution... " Stranger things have happened.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 25, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Suburban Golders Green Tube Walks

It's the second round of
Golders Green walks starting this weekend. Seven residents from the area created a series of walks about what their suburb means to them to tie in with the London Transport Museum's latest temporary exhibition Suburbia.

A place of delightful prospects by RachelH

Golders Green was apparently the first Tube-created suburb in 1907 when the green fields of Golders Green were transformed by the coming of the Tube.

The locals have created three walks, which run to the end of March, along the themes of tasty places to eat, places of reflection and green spaces that highlight the diversity of their community today and what makes it unique.

The free guided tours start from 27th February 2010, (bookable online or over the phone on 020 7565 7298), which start at Golders Green London Underground Station. There are pdf self-guided walks that can be downloaded from the London Transport Museum's website.

The museum have also set up an interactive Flickr map. Anyone going on the walks is invited to take pics and then add them to the growing map of Golders Green. Click here to join the Flickr group & find out more about the walks.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 24, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

3D Subway Floor Tiles

Looking to re-tile your bathroom? Or for something to match your
Tube Shower curtain? You may remember that there are some pretty expensive London Underground tiles that could do the trick. However, if you've got the patience, it would probably be cheaper to create a whole 3D effect for your bathroom based on a section of the subway map.

Subway bathroom tiles

Floorcrunch spotted this amazing abstract effect where and "artist changed an abstract subway map into a concrete (or rather: glass and ceramic) tiling project covering three walls and the floor of this otherwise unremarkable bathroom."

3D Subway bathroom tiles

The Dornob blog spoke to the artist Christoph Niemann who "started, of course, with a generic map of the New York City subway route system and abstracted it until arriving at a configuration that could be applied in straightforward square tile installation (art). Somewhere between pop art and abstract decor, this tile pattern is custom and unique to the place – but there is nothing to suggest that the savvy do-it-yourself type could not replicate the process in some form to crate a likewise personalized mosaic tile pattern for their own home bathroom interior (for that matter, would these not look neat in, say, the bathroom of the subway stations of NYC?)."

Or Tube toilets? Come on TfL, you know you want to, it would brighten them up no end! Although I imagine they'd be a bit disorientating, if you wandered into the loo slightly worse for wear & got hypnotised by the spiralling Circle Line. It might also encourage drunk blokes to follow certain routes, a la writing one's name in the snow!

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 23, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

CoverSpyLondon - Tube Reading

The secret book club that is the London Underground has inspired a new site that chronicles what people are reading on the Tube.
CoverSpyLondon is a team of "publishing nerds" (their words not mine) who are hitting the Tube, streets, parks and bars to find out what Londoners are reading now.

Book Twins on the Tube

It's not very often that you see two strangers reading exactly the same book, side by side, but I'm sure like me, you've been in several Tube carriages where people have been reading the same book as each other, or even yourself.

CoverSpyLondon is a collaborative site where you can follow what people are reading, chronicle which line they're on & there's even a short demographic description of their rough age and what they were wearing. Whether there's any links between fashion & reading habits, it's hard to say, but if you'd like to contribute with news on who you saw reading what, email the team on london@coverspy.com. You can also follow them on Twitter & send @ messages if you're Twitterly inclined.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 23, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 22, 2010

Underground Maps Unravelled

London Underground map expert, Maxwell Roberts, will presenting a collection of his maps at South Essex College of Further & Higher Education from Friday 26th February to 8th March. Max has written a number of guest posts for this blog (remember his brilliant
curvy Tube Map) & his exhibition explores the success of Beck's Tube map & asks whether the increasingly complex networks of today need new approaches.

Max Roberts 45 degree Tube map

Curvy Tube Map Detail by Maxwell Roberts

At the exhibition you'll see Underground maps that break all the rules, maps that are easier to use, maps that teach us about good design, maps that challenge our preconceptions and maps (like the art deco looking one below) that are purely decorative.

Detail of decorative Tube map by Maxwell Roberts

The exhibition is free and Max will be on hand to answer questions on the 26th and 27th February and the 6th March. Further details and directions to the college can be found here.

As Max says "Whether you are a graphic designer, transport professional, or just a frustrated commuter or tourist, maps will never seem the same again".

; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 22, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Central Line stranding & radio fail

Sometimes radio presenters have Freudian slips which reflect real sentiments. A presenter was doing a news round up of an stranding Thursday night. Passengers were stuck on a Central Line train near Liverpool Street Tube station for almost two hours in the evening rush hour.

Trying to get on Crowded Tube

However the presenter slipped up and a much longer delay was described, which you can listen to here on Radio Fail.

Incidentally, London Underground apologised for the incident and said "We worked to get people off trains as quickly as possible, but due to a number of trains in tunnels it took some time to get passengers off some of the trains."

London TravelWatch have asked for investigation to take place. Jo deBank told the BBC "Getting stuck for that length of time is horrendous." Just as well she didn't hear the radio report!

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, February 20, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, February 19, 2010

Biggest Tube Fare Dodgers

When I received an email with the subject line "Fare Dodging Photo for You", I thought it would be an instance of "tailgating" - those people who walk really closely behind someone with a ticket to get through the barrier. Or it was David Cameron
getting out of paying for a London Underground fare again.

But no, it was our feathered err.. friends at it once more. John Bull from London Reconnections said "Saw this little guy get on a District Line train this morning at Edgware Road.

It was very obvious from the way he was behaving that he didn't have a ticket, but the LU staff on the platform made no attempt at all to stop him. Disgraceful.

Tube Pigeon by John Bull

Hopefully the gateline staff at Wimbledon nabbed him!"

I'm sure he got away with it.

Pigeon at Baker Street

If you see any pigeons on the Tube (the Hammersmith & City Line, District & Circle lines are the best places), let me know, as I feel another Flickr Group in the making - Feathered Fare Dodgers on the Tube.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 19, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Empty Underground

The majority of my blog posts about the London Underground involve people & their interaction with the Tube, whether that's staff or ordinary commuters. With more than three million people using it every day, it's rare that you get to see the Tube empty (unless you're travelling at a strange time very early in the morning or after a terrorist attack). However, there are times when an empty Tube can look calming, interesting & mysterious - even if it is in a kind of post apocalyptic way.

Holborn Tube. Taken with the N86 8MP by Whatleydude

Whatleydude noticed that since he started commuting in central London again, he'd been snapping the "absence of occupance".

He said: "This in turn led to the creation of a Flickr group - Empty Underground.

A collection of photos taken of London's underground rail system all in that rarest of moments; emptiness.

There's a whole bunch of amazing images from many different photographers. If you have some time, go check it out – and if you have any of your own, why not add them to the group?

See you around .... on the empty underground.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 17, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Running every Tube Line

Tim Moss runs adventure website
The Next Challenge. His next challenge is running the length of every London Underground line. He told me why he was doing it:

"Bored of repeats on TV and leftovers at Christmas, I decided I needed a new challenge to keep me sane as I entered 2010. And what could be more sane than running the route of the London Underground train lines?

Not convinced? Well then, here are some other reasons that I've decided to run around London's transport network...

1. To explore London – The Tube's a fantastic method of transport but by travelling underground you miss out on all of the wonderful places that the tunnels connect. Running overland combines a great bit of exercise with the opportunity to explore some new areas and build new memories for the familiar ones.

Tim & Laura at Hammersmith Tube

2. For an adventure – It's easy to get stuck into the routines of daily life, especially in a big city like London. I'm using one of its great icons as an excuse to embrace my surroundings, do something new, exciting and challenging and live life as a bit of an adventure. (This is part of my campaign to get people having an adventure everyday).

3. To raise money for the British Lung Foundation – The idea for this challenge came from Laura Tomlinson who is doing all of the runs with me. Laura lost her granddad to asbestosis in May 2009 and so the British Lung Foundation is a natural choice for us to support. You can read more and donate here.

Tim and Laura aim to complete all 12 Tube lines by the end of 2010. So far, they've completed four of the shorter ones and, to clarify, they are running overground (rather than in the tunnels which would be really weird!).

You can keep track of their progress, including mileage (if that's the correct term for runners), time taken, follow live Twitter updates and donate at www.thenextchallenge.org/tube

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 16, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's on the Tube

Great spot from
@sweetpea1981 who saw that staff at Clapham North London Underground station getting into the spirit of things yesterday. She saw it on her way to a romantic meal.

Valentine's message at Clapham North by sweetpea

Wonder if this led to any smiles to fellow passengers & a returned smile, leading to anything more than that?

You might have also seen the puntastic ad for Valentine's Day by 118 118

118 118 Valentine's ad

It features foodie stations such as Mussel Square, Charinig Croissant, Puddington & Piccallilli Circus. It's also being re-used for a general restaurant booking service, so expect to see more food & Tube station name puns for a while and not just for Valentine's.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 15, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's Jennifer Aniston got in common with a toilet?

Kew Gardens' Tube's (almost) daily updates decided to tell us that Ms Aniston shared her birthday with the opening of Britain's first public female toilet!

Kew Gardens Tube - Jennifer Aniston & female public toilet's birthday

Nice to see the London Underground temporary signs remaining at Kew. The handwriting on this one was the neatest & most precise. Previous days have been a little more freeform and also relegated the service information to second billing.

Kew Gardens Tube - Joe Pesci birthday

It has been bringing a smile to Kew commuters' faces though. I see a number of people stop briefly to read them. I'll keep adding them to the Flickr pool for Temporary London Underground Notices & highlight any that I think you might enjoy!

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 11, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Tube bans Massive Attack's Album

No, the London Underground haven't started to ban people's choice of music on the Tube. But the band's artwork has fallen foul of the censors because the artwork for the album below looks too much like graffiti.

TfL ban Massive Attack Cover

Robert del Naja, the band's artist explains "They won't allow anything on the tube that looks like 'street art'. They want us to remove all drips and fuzz from it so it doesn't look like it's been spray-painted, which is f**king ridiculous. It's the most absurd censorship I've ever seen."

He's obviously not seen previous censorship on the Tube, which included making a Nip/Tuck ad less sexy, making buns that covered Kelly Brooks boobs bigger, temporarily censoring a nude work of art, not allowing a poster of a fat Jesus and there's more since I've been blogging.

As Londonist said "TfL appear to be taking the lowest common denominator approach over their advertising guidelines and applying the somewhat dubious assumption that such posters will inflame latent graffitical tendencies among us, when the only graffiti most Tube travellers would be tempted to undertake would be to correct the service information board with accurate updates."

Do you think TfL have a point? Are there other ads that you've seen on the Tube which you think should be banned as they might encourage anti social or illegal behaviour?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 09, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 08, 2010

Tube Photo of the Week

For the people who think the London Underground shouldn't be a place for putting on make up. Over spotted this on the Central Line last week and said: "I looked to the warnings on the carriage window and, at first, everything seems normal. But then, looking it again ... Well, I took a snap of it. There was another on on the door as well."

No Make Up on the Tube by Over

Probably would have been less spoof like and blended in better if the sticker maker hadn't used "dodgy stuff". The real poster on the subway in Japan may have been an influence.

Please do it at home poster by Hyougushi

These semi passive aggressive notices in public places, have to turn the "You wouldn't do this at home" message on its head, which is sometimes quite hard. Our office manager sent out an email about keeping the kitchen tidy last week & said "leave the kitchen as you like to find it. On second thoughts, if you're a slob at home, scrub that and just keep it tidy".

Perhaps more Tube notices should be written in this tone.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 08, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, February 05, 2010

TfL delays Tube newspaper contract

The race appears not be on for a new free morning paper for the London Underground. Metro's contract with TfL runs out in March 2010 and prospective bidders were supposed to have heard by December last year, whether they were successful or not. Associated Newspapers, who own Metro are thought to have bid for the contract. However as we've seen the closure of a number of evening free sheets, it appears that other usual suspects aren't interested.

Recycle your Metro ad in Metro

News International (who published the Londonpaper) and the owner of the Evening Standard are understood not to be bidding - according to Brand Republic.

An announcement as to who will get the contract (which was worth £1 million) will be made in due course. Who knows, maybe the publishers of the mysterious London Weekly (a free sheet due to launch this evening and every Saturday) will make a bid?

Discarded Metros

It certainly looks like there won't be worry about another new morning title being left on the Tube and that Metro will be the only one. Wonder if Metro will able to get the contract for less if there aren't any other bidders? I believe it was the only profitable London free-sheet, so they could make even more out of it.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 05, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube maintenance workers strike

The first in a series of 24 hour
strikes by London Underground workers started today (Friday 5th February 2010) at 6.45am. Fortunately, this will only cause disruption if there are problems to signals as they won't get fixed during the stoppage. At time of writing the Piccadilly Line is suspended between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge and the Metropolitan Line between Hillingdon & Uxbridge. This is leading to delays on the rest of the Uxbridge branch.

Metronet staff by Su--May

Keep an eye on TfL's website and local news to find out if more problems develop throughout the day.

The 750 workers will stop working from the same time every Sunday from February 14, until the dispute over rosters and handing work to external contractors is resolved.

TfL are condemning the strike and are "astonished" by union RMT's behaviour over this. "It is simply astonishing that the RMT issued a press release confirming their plans to strike while we are still negotiating with them at ACAS.

"This questions the RMT's claims that they wish to talk and shows they are intent on disrupting London rather than resolving this issue

Phil Hufton, the London Underground's Chief Maintenance Officer continued: "We have consulted fully with staff and unions on the proposed changes and we are prepared to continue discussions with the RMT. They should stop threatening industrial action at every opportunity, when all that will do is lose their members more pay.

"Despite this unjustified threat, it is our intention to operate a good service across the network during any industrial action

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 05, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Teaser Ads on the Tube

My friend
@whatleydude asked me whether I'd seen any ads with a big X on the London Underground. At the time I hadn't but typcially, the very next day (yesterday), I saw the one below at Old Street.

X marks the spot - Tube Ad

If anyone knows what it's for or wants to hazard a guess please do. Maybe it'll be followed up by a giant Y and then a giant Z. have you seen any other variations? Is it just limited to Shoreditch or the Northern Line?

The similar looking 'item on a black background' cryptic ad campaign by The Times on the Tube drove many people mad a couple of years ago.

Poster photo by Roo Reynolds

There's always a mild let down whenever you find out what these teaser campaigns are actually for. Doubtless the same will be the case here.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 03, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Kew Gardens vs Warwick Avenue

Looks like Kew Gardens London Underground station is taking on
Warwick Avenue. Maybe this has been happening while I've been away, but this morning I noticed Historical Facts and Born on this Day added to the normal Service Information board.

Kew Gardens Tube - Service Information

I particularly like the addition of Del Boy in brackets, just in case people had no idea who David Jason was. Shame about the typo on Farrah Fawcett's name (it's a common mispelling) & the lack of apostrophe on Charlie's Angels (Lynne Truss would be proud). I love these signs of being human on the Tube & so shouldn't complain, as typos / grammatical errors are all too human.

But aside from that, I look forward to seeing if this continues and whether the staff at my station will become as infamous as Mr Warwick Avenue or Tim Pinn (even though my email slipped through the net he was interiewed by the BBC).

I still wonder if there is an unofficial competition amongst Tube staff to see who can create the best temporary notices? Let us know if your station is adding daily notices. The pool for London Underground Temporary Notices on Flickr is getting quite big now.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 02, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Time Travel on the Central Line

At Bond Street Tube
@LJRICH saw a rather unusual form of time measurement on the Eastbound platform. Luckily she had a camcorder and when her eyes popped back into her head, was able to record:

She said: "Deep underneath London, at Bond Street Station, there's a wonky clock on the Central Line.

Either that, or there's a rip in the space-time continuum. No wonder the trains are so unpredictable

Another example at how time on the London Underground is in a dimension all of its own.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 02, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 01, 2010

Northern Line could become even more miserable

The Northern Line (aka the Misery Line) could shut every weekday evening from 8.30pm for a year due to engineering works. TfL and Tube Lines are currently wrangling over plans to introduce improvements on one of the most congested lines on the London Underground. Commuters could face similar closures that travellers on the Victoria Line had from February 2008 (although that line only closed from 10pm).

Private Eye comment & cartoon on the Northern Line

"Sources close to the talks say Tube Lines wants to do the work from 11.30pm between Sunday and Thursday for 16 months, starting next month. According to TfL, this would mean closing the line north of Stockwell from 8.30pm onwards to get trains back to depots." report The Guardian

Tube Lines said the schedule for the Northern Line upgrade was still being discussed with TfL. "We have worked very closely with London Underground to find a way of getting access to the track while producing minimum disruption to the service. It is an ongoing discussion between us," it said.

Dave Hill from the Guardian's London blog said "It's another chance for Boris to bash Gordon over the PPP. And, frankly, who can blame him?"

; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 01, 2010 Permalink COMMENT HERE