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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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Epping Ongar Steam Railway Service to be Resumed from May 2012

It's been 150 years since the Great Eastern Railway formed the
Epping Ongar Railway. Now the longest heritage railway in Essex, will be resuming steam and heritage diesel hauled passenger trains on the branch. Volunteers have been working towards restoring on the track, signals, buildings and rolling stock on the former end of the London Underground Central Line. Starting with a special weekend from Friday 25th May 2012 the railway will be running services again.

The main locomotive
The main locomotive by IanVisits
Then, regular services will run from every weekend and Bank Holidays (including the Jubilee bank holidays) until the summer, then daily during the Olympics at nearby Stratford.

They were indeed running today
Photo by IanVisits

The railway intends to operate steam hauled passenger services between Ongar and North Weald, a diesel shuttle from North Weald into Epping Forest, and a heritage bus service connecting to Epping LUL Station and High Street.

Poster showing Epping Ongar Line by Alan Perryman

The last Epping-Ongar service ran in 1994.  At the time when passenger services were suspended, the line was only carrying a mere 80 passengers a day. The train that ran the final London Underground service on the line, a three-car unit of 1960 stock, has been preserved by Cravens Heritage Trains.  After a variety of special opening days, at the end of 2007, the railway was sold to a new private owner who was committed to bring steam back to the line.  Thanks to the owner the hard work of volunteers this will now be taking place.

London Transport - Central line extension leaflet - 21 November 1948
London Transport - Central line extension leaflet - 21 November 1948 by mikeyashworth

The photo above shows a leaflet issued by London Transport for when the Underground was originally extended on the Central line - west to West Ruislip and eastwards to Loughton on the way to Epping & Ongar.

Further details of timetables and gala opening weekend fares will be released. Tickets will be available shortly on this website or follow @eorailway on Twitter to keep up to date. Advanced booking for the first weekend is strongly recommended. Many thanks to Shell for telling me about this.

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Steam Train on the London Underground - Video - Test Run for 150th Birthday Celebrations
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; Posted by annie mole Saturday, March 31, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, March 30, 2012

Metrography - London Re-shaped & Visualised as The Tube Map

You've seen a lot of Tube Maps which attempt to show what they should look like if
geographically accurate. However, students Benedikt Groß and Bertrand Clerc, from Royal College of Art in Kensington, have turned this on its head somewhat. They believe that Londoners now have the Tube Map ingrained in their heads so much that we actually think London looks like the London Underground map. Benedikt said "We're visualising the imaginary, mental map Tube users have of London." As we know Harry Beck's Tube map for many is "more useful than the actual geography."

Geography vs London Tube Map - Benedikt Groß and Bertrand Clerc
Geography vs London Tube Map - Benedikt Groß and Bertrand Clerc
He continued "Similar to the process of my MapMap Vauxhall project, all real world geographical locations of stations, railway tracks and Thames riverbanks have been matched with the corresponding positions on the London Tube Map. In the image above this process is demonstrated, you can see the mapping of the River Thames, Victoria Line and stations."  The black dots are from the Tube map - the red dots are the real locations.

In a project called Metrography, they have taken 1,865,565 data points from OpenStreetMap & merged them with TfL's Tube map. The latitude and longitude of each point is then recalculated, keeping the positions of the Thames and stations as fixed references to produce a rather beautiful map below

metrography topology of London reshaped according to the underground map - Benedikt Groß and Bertrand Clerc
Metrography - topology of London reshaped according to the Tube Map - Benedikt Groß and Bertrand Clerc

Metrography wasn't designed for navigation, but Benedikt and Betrand think that maps like this could become popular. "In future an accurate map might be less important than an abstract map," says Bertrand. "And maybe we've started that process."  Hat tip to Wired who published this in their May 2012 issue. 

What do you think?  Is the quest to find or design a geographically accurate Tube Map actually quite redundant and pointless now?  If so many of us see London as the Tube Map, would a geographically accurate one be more of a hindrance than a help?  Or should the real Tube Map make more efforts to show that distances that look far away from each other are actually quite close?  Is this something that could encourage more of us to walk between stations (probably quite useful given the levels of Tube overcrowding predicted for the Olympic Games)?

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; Posted by annie mole Friday, March 30, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Olympic Tube Map Renames Stations with names of Sporting Celebrities

"Depart at Daley Thompson for the Lost Property Office".  "Next stop Cassius Clay". "Calling at Fanny Blankers-Koen and all stations to Richmond" Some of the phrases you might hear if drivers were to follow a new Tube map. With more than a large nod to The Great Bear where Turner Prize winning artist Simon Patterson changed Tube station names on the London Underground Map to celebrities, TfL are going to be doing a similar version for the
London Olympics. Stratford International station on the Docklands Light Railway will be re-named Cassius Clay, boxing legend Muhammad Ali's original name when he won the light heavyweight gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Brits Daley Thompson & Steve Redgrave, American athletes Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis, Australian swimming legends Murray Rose and Dawn Fraser and basketball great Magic Johnson are amongst other athletes who will have a London underground station named after them on a special map during the London Games later this year.

The Underground Olympic Legends Map was designed by Alex Trickett and David Brooks who said: "We love sport, we love lists and we love London, so what better challenge than to select 361 of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen and to fit them on to our iconic Tube map.

"There were heated debates and a few late changes of heart, but we are happy with the result: dozens of nations represented, all 2012 Olympic sports accounted for, and Ali and Phelps, two of the greatest Olympians of all time, guarding the Stratford gateways to the Games." 

"These things always divide opinion, so we are happy to discuss (and defend!) any of our choices"

Baker Street is renamed Daley Thompson for the two-time decathlon gold medallist, while Leicester Square is LeBron James and Knightsbridge is Steve Redgrave.

Track stars make up a good part of the map, running from west to east and all around the centre of London. Swimmers take up most of the Central Line. Basketball and tennis players run from north to south, with stops Magic Johnson and Sheryl Swoopes being followed by Roger Federer, The Woodies Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge, and The Williams sisters Serena and Venus.

Ian Thorpe is the new name for the Oxford Circus station. Piccadilly Circus is renamed Mia Hamm after the USA's gold-medal winning football player.

A watermarked sample of the full map is on TfL's site and a poster can be purchased for £4.99

Update - Fanny Blankers-Koen, a Dutchwoman who was one of the biggest stars of the 1948 London Olympics, was originally left off a new map of the London Underground dedicated to past Olympians, prompting criticism from the Netherlands.

On 4th April 2012 , the track star known as the ''FlyingHousewife'' was added to the list for future prints.
''We apologise if any offence has been caused by the omission of Fanny Blankers-Koen, who was clearly a remarkable athlete,'' TfL marketing director Chris Macleod said in a statement. ''We are speaking to the publisher to ensure that she features in the next reprint of the map.''  I had never heard of her until she was mentioned in the comments, but am delighted that Fanny will be on the Olympic Tube map.  If only they were real stations, I would pay good money to hear drivers announcing that the next train will be stopping at Fanny!

Related posts
New Tube Map Cover apes Patterson's Great Bear
Great Bear Jigsaw Puzzle
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; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 29, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

London Overground Stations to get WiFi in time for Olympics

After the announcement that
Virgin Media won the contract to provide wi-fi to the London Underground, now it's been announced that London’s Overground train passengers will be able to access 60 minutes of free wi-fi per day with the introduction of hotspots at 56 stations. The Next Web report that the hotspots will be managed by The Cloud which is owned by BSkyB and users will need to register once to access the service.

Shadwell London Overground station by Mr. Grossman
Shadwell London Overground station by Mr. Grossman

The contract will give travellers one hour of free online access every day, at any station on the network.  Some of the major London stations to get the service in time for the stations in time for the London 2012 Olympics this summer will be Dalston, Forest Hill, Hackney Central, Kensington Olympia, New Cross Gate, Norwood Junction, Shepherd’s Bush, Surrey Quays, Wapping, West Croydon, West Hampstead and Willesden Junction.  The rollout to all London Overground stations is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Access to the internet is no longer limited solely to home or to the workplace, and people’s expectation is to be able to work and communicate effectively and seamlessly while they’re on the move so we’re delighted to support this initiative which will bring reliable, free WiFi to London Overground’s customers,” said Steve Murphy, Managing Director of London Overground Rail Operations.

Virgin Media is building the wi-fi network on the London Underground from a total capital expenditure budget of about £640m for 2012.  There will be a period of free access during the Olympics, and then only Virgin Media's broadband & mobile customers will get continued access as part of their subscriptions. Other non-paying users will be limited to a site showing online travel information.

Related posts
Virgin Media win London Underground wi-fi contract
TfL say on track for Tube Wi-Fi to be enabled for Olympics
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; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 29, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Limited edition Jubilee & London 2012 Olympics Oyster cards

TfL are to produce a limited number of special Oyster cards to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee & the 2012 London Olympic Games. Around 250,000 cards with the Queen's face on them will be available from mid May 2012 and 1.5 million cards for the Olympics will be on sale from June 2012.

Queen on TfL-Limited-Edition-Oyster-Cards-for-Diamond-Jubilee

Boris Johnson gave the Queen her commemorative Oyster card yesterday as he led a delegation to Buckingham Palace to deliver a loyal address.  It's unlikely that she'll use it as I think she was last seen on the Tube when the Victoria Line opened in 1969, but you never know.

You'll be able to get your hands on both cards at all London Underground ticket offices & selected Oyster ticket machines within Zone 1, as well as TfL Travel Information Centres. The official designs   unveiled by TfL will have the normal  £5 deposit and £5 minimum top-up.


The second card, expected to be available in mid June, celebrates all of the events taking place in the capital this summer, including the London 2012 Games. Shashi Verma, TfL's Director of Customer Experience, said: 'Commemorative Oyster cards have been very popular with the travelling public in the past and we are delighted to be able to offer Londoners and visitors the chance to have a special memento of what will be a summer like no other.'

He added: 'Transport will play a vital role in bringing people out to see The Queen during her Diamond Jubilee, and in getting people to all of the sporting and cultural events during the London 2012 Games and so it is fitting that we have limited edition Oyster cards that they can use and keep to mark these wonderful, once in a lifetime, occasions.'

Boris was equally happy about people rushing to this summer's event and said in the loyal address "Londoners will flock to the banks of the Thames to see your Jubilee Pageant pass down the river and the whole city looks forward to the moment in the summer when Your Majesty will declare the Games open, in the heart of a renewed east London, now transformed from the devastation of the blitz and post-war decline."

Royal Wedding Oyster Card Official Design

The first "limited edition" Oyster card was introduced last year for the Royal Wedding and 750,000 were produced.  TfL are clearly hoping that sales of the new ones for the "summer of celebration" will be just as popular.

Related posts
Limited edition Royal Wedding Oyster cards
Certain Tube Journeys Affected by Games - Another "Get Ahead of The Games" Tube Poster
Can the Tube cope with the Olympics?
30 minute wait for Tube trains during 2012 Olympics
Olympics chiefs say avoid Tube

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, March 28, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Certain Tube Journeys Affected by Games - Another "Get Ahead of The Games" Tube Poster

The latest of the posters from the ‘
Get Ahead of the Games’ series is on the London Underground. Its all part of the campaign to ensure that tourists, Londoners & commuters can effectively plan their journeys during the Olympic Games. Two weightlifting people try to squeeze themselves out of Tube doors at the same time, with the caption "Certain journeys will be affected during the Games". "Certain" journeys? Why not try "all" journeys?

Certain Journeys will be affected - Tube Poster
Well unless you are travelling just a few stops on the outskirts of West, South or North London, your journey won't be affected.  So they're right.  Otherwise every other Tube journey during the Olympics will be affected.

Anyway, back to the advert, if you are free today - Tuesday 27th March 2012 - you can get the chance to star in a re-construction of the above ad.  The people behind the campaign are "looking for extras to appear with our two Weightlifters in a very special video and photoshoot. We'll be filming at a disused station, with our own Tube train and platform!"  It might be too late to apply now - but you never know -  if you're free at lunchtime and can get to Charing Cross, where the filming will be taking place on the old Jubilee Line platform, get in touch.

If you're one of the people going, please let me know how it went.  I'd love too see how they re-construct the old lady on the right of the picture with her cat (or is it a white squirrel) in the shopping trolley! 

Related Posts
New "Get Ahead of The Games" Tube Cartoon
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£2.5 million to show Tube Staff Olympic Park 
30 minute wait for Tube trains during 2012 Olympics
Olympics chiefs say avoid Tube

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, March 27, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Take away free travel from Rude Youths" - Boris Johnson transport manifesto pledge

Many of you will have heard Boris Johnson's transport manifesto for his re-election campaign. Most bloggers and press are focussing on his
pledge to introduce driverless Tube trains, however in the transport plan there's another rather bizarre pledge.

Boris has said as part of his plan he would withdraw the right to free public transport from young people (under-16's get free bus travel) who refuse to give up their seats for people who are elderly, pregnant or disabled.

Baby on Board Badge

Apparently the scheme, which would operate on a two strikes and you're out policy, would also apply to youngsters using offensive or threatening language on public transport.

Feet on Tube seats

A spokesman for the mayor said the plan would cost Londoners nothing and be "self-enforcing".

Self enforcing? So that implies that other people are going to have to report youths to someone - London Underground station staff, the BTP, TfL - who knows?! And say what? "I heard a young person using the F-word a lot". "A girl with hooped earrings kissed her teeth at me when I told her to take her feet off the seats".

Considerate feet on seat by Route 79

In all seriousness can anyone see this actually happening? Also who deems what is offensive. Certain people pepper their sentences with swear words all the time and actually don't mean to be offensive.

Many Londoners feel embarrassed enough asking people (youths or adults) to give up their seats for pregnant women or those who are elderly or generally look as if they are in need of a seat.

Also why just penalise youths for this behaviour?  If  Boris seriously thinks anti social behaviour in public transport is so awful why not ban everyone who is offensive on public transport.  He banned drinking alcohol, who why not just ban swearing in general and offer a two strikes on your out rule for people who don't give up their seats to those who need them?

TfL's new "considerate Londoner" campaign

Shouldn't more be done to make everyone behave more considerately to others on public transport?  Even though Boris believes his pledge "would cost Londoners nothing", he's wrong.  There is always a cost to policing something, even a fairly bonkers idea like this one.  Why not spend a bit more money on posters which are not as mawkish as the ones TfL introduced a few years back?

If you're near a radio or internet that has access to Radio 5 Live today at 5.20pm (ish) listen out for my dulcet tones on the subject.  But in the meantime feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. 

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Are you a considerate passenger? 

; Posted by annie mole Monday, March 26, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Final episode of BBC2's The Tube Documentary - Fluffers, Ghost Stations & Rats

The sixth, and sadly, final episode of BBC2's documentary on London Underground staff goes "Down in the Tube Station after Midnight" (with apologies to The Jam) tonight and looks at what happens in the four-hour window when the power is off.
The Tube, a six part series airing each Monday at 9pm, takes a behind the scenes look at the day-to-day running of the Underground. Tonight's episode focusses on overnight maintenance.

Hard Days Night by Peter Macdiarmid - Getty Images/Peter Macdiarmid
Getty Images/Peter Macdiarmid

The film crew follow a number of Tube workers "from hard-working Bulgarian cleaner Vladimir, who is amazed that the British government pays for people not to work, to 23-year-old Harry leading his gang of 'fluffers' picking fibres and lint from the tracks."  Fluffers is not what you might be thinking about the more modern day use of the term referring to adult films, but was (and apparantly still is) the name given to people who clean all of the fluff from Tube tracks.  This was very much a female occupation in the past & they were also known as Fluffies. The picture of the women below was taken in 1955.

Photographed by Dr Heinz Zinram, Dec 1955 - London Transport Museum

London Transport Museum says: "They are using special fluffer brushes that helped them collect the dust and fluff from around the rails. This was important because if the dust built up, it could affect the trackside equipment or cause fires. Fluffers went to work every night once the electricity to the tracks had been switched off."

Angel Fluffers - From Heart of the Angel

Even in 1989, thanks to Molly Dineen's Heart of the Angel film, it seemed these cleaners were mainly female. It'll be interesting to see how many women (if any) are amongst the cleaners featured tonight.

A pest controller, Mick, is also called in to investigate a smelly problem at Hounslow Central and emergency response worker Roy gets inside one of the Tube's disused 'ghost' stations, Down Street.

Down Street by Wyrmworld
Down Street by Wyrmworld

There's a huge fascination with abandoned "ghost" Tube stations and I've been lucky enough to go on an awesome tour of  disused Brompton Road station.

Brompton Road Platform 1 by Annie Mole

Tickets for semi regular / annual tours of Aldwych Tube run by London Transport Museum always sell out very quickly, so I imagine that tonight's episode will be intriguing and entertaining finale to the series.

Related posts
Down in the Tube Station after Midnight
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Video of TfL's Lost Property Office from BBC2's The Tube 
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Tube staff star in new BBC2 Documentary Series 

; Posted by annie mole Monday, March 26, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Circle Line Paper Cut Illustrations - Stations of the King's Cross

An anonymous artist has made intriguing paper cut illustrations depicting the 14 Stations of the Cross (showing Christ carrying the cross to his cruxifiction), arranged so they sit alongside London Underground stations on the Circle line. In
Stations of the King's Cross the illustrations have been reproduced into a free pamphlet & the orignals will be on display at St Mary’s Church, Somers Town - near King's Cross station.

Jesus is Condemned to death  - Stations of the King's Cross

The artist said he "found idle trains trips an amazingly fruitful time for prayer and contemplation". It's a non profit exercise and  "just a little idea for those Circle Line passengers who believe that pondering on the enormous mystery of Christ’s death [and mysterious enormity of His love] could be a good thing".

Stations of the Kings Cross Leaflet

Speaking to The Catholic Herald he said that a series of paper cut illustrations of Jianzhi pandas, given to him by his mother when he was eight, was his inspiration.

Paper Cutting - Stations of the King's Cross

They may remind many readers of Rob Ryan's rather wonderful paper cut illustrations which I'm a big fan of.  Moving clockwise or anti-clockwise on the Circle Line there's one Tube stop for each station  ending up at King's Cross.

Jesus Fails for First Time

After exhibiting, the original illustrations may go up for sale with proceeds going to charity. If you're interesting in exhibiting, contact the artist here. Many thanks to Ianvisits who originally alerted me to these illustrations. They'd also look interesting alongside the Poems on the Underground ads on the Tube. For me they make a diverting alternative to variety of religious ads on the London Underground we can ponder or stare at on our journeys.

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; Posted by annie mole Sunday, March 25, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, March 23, 2012

3D Tube Maps & 3D Cutaway Tube Station Diagrams

Londoners' fascination with London Underground & the design of the Tube map continues. I'm sure that
BBC2's The Tube documentary will help to make that fascination with what goes on beneath our streets even stronger. Matt Brown from The Londonist has recently been experimenting with Google Sketchup to see what a 3D Tube Map would look like. He said "it's a confusing tangle. As a navigational aid, it fails". However, my favourites are those lovely 3D cutaway diagrams of London Underground:

Piccadilly Circus cutaway view by magpie-moon

I originally blogged about these cutaway diagrams a number of years back but Matt's post prompted me to re-visit them. The one above of Piccadilly Circus is by Gavin Dunn from 1989 and you can buy a reproduction from London Transport Museum's poster collection

Here's the more achitectural one the lovely image above was based on.  It's from a book written & illustrated by Laurence Menear called London's Underground Stations - A Social and Architectural Study and it features a number of cutaway diagrams including the one below of Piccadilly Circus

Diagram of Piccadilly Circus - from London's Underground Stations

There's a lovely 3D cutaway illustration of Bank and Monument stations found via skyscrapercity

Here's one of Liverpool Street from Crossrail's website

If anyone knows where there are more 3D Tube station cutaway designs please let me know in the comments. Have you seen any other 3D Tube maps that would work & help us get around the London Underground?

Thanks to everyone who has added more images in the comments. Many thanks to Ivan who found one  I particularly like. It's an amazing one of Camden Town Underground by the cutaway artist Leslie Ashwell Wood.

It was the first of two illustrations he did of the station that appeared in The Eagle (© Dan Dare Corporation) in 1950 - more on this from Bear Alley's excellent blog post.

Ivan also found a mirrored site by Paul Mison of collection of many more 3D Cutaway drawings of London Underground station that was formerly on Geocities (remember them!).

There are some lovely illustrations in there too including the one above an official poster with a prediction of what the "new" Bond Street Tube station would look like after its completion in 1976. So check the link.

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Piccadilly Circus Tube Cutaway Diagrams
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; Posted by annie mole Friday, March 23, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Guardian's audio app Streetstories features King's Cross Station

The area around King's Cross London Underground has always been rich in history. I remember the days when you never really hung around the Tube station at night as it was the haunt of ladies from the oldest trade in the world! Now with the brand spanking new concourse & station the area's much brighter & open, yet the old history still lurks around the corner. I was intrigued to hear about
The Guardian's new audio app & guide - Streetstories - which helps you explore the area.

Guardian Streetstories at King's Cross London Undergound Station

If you're in King's Cross, your smartphone knows exactly where you are, and plays audio relevant to your location. You can also listen if you're not near King's Cross.  The app, can be downloaded via 3G, features ten stories, althought there is also a much larger version of the app, Streetstories Extra, available on iPhone which has over 70 stories and about two hours of audio material, downloadable via Wi-Fi.  I'm going to try the Android version when I'm next around King's Cross (I've still haven't seen the new station yet!)

The video shows some of the areas & stories the app features. There's stories about 7/7 bombing, all of the architecture of around St Pancras station and hotels, and Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter extracts with his use of platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station to get to Hogwarts.

platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station by Tiki Chris
platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station by Tiki Chris

Francesca Panetta, The Guardian's Special Projects Editor, said: "Streetstories is a great way to experience an area in a new way, and we found out all kinds of things about the area during this project - Charles Dickens lived here for some of his childhood, Thomas Hardy worked as a trainee architect helping to clear bodies from St Pancras Old Church, and along York Way, where our building sits, you would have seen cattle being marched down the road from the Caledonian market, once the largest cattle market in Europe."

As with most audio guides you don't have to play in a particular order, so can wander round as the mood takes you.  Nina Lovelace, their Content Development Manager, said "We're keen to get feedback from users, as well as talk to any potential clients keen to develop similar apps for their locations, organisations or travel routes."

I'd personally love to see something like this for the East End as I'm now there for work and really have no idea of lots of the background & history around Bethnal Green and Whitechapel.  It might also be useful for visitors to the London Olympics if they decide to explore these areas on days off from the games.

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Walking the London Underground, Overground
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; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 22, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Rubbish Tube Ads

The newspaper you're reading is rubbish, says TfL. Bit harsh to say that about Metro, but they may have a point with other papers. Actually it's the appearance of new London Underground ads in Tube carriages which are, yet another, attempt to get London's commuters to take their papers away with them.

Tube Ad - Newspaper You're Reading is Rubbish by Annie Mole

When I initially heard that M & C Saatchi had designed the campaign and initally only saw this pretty dull ad below, I thought "Meh, Saatchi could do better". But now that I've seen the in-carriage ones above, I think it's a good job playing on both uses of the term rubbish - ie rubbish as in "pants" one of Vicki Pollard's favourite words and rubbish as in litter.  Also look out for press ads with a similar message saying "This advert is rubbish".

According to TfL in 2011, 97 newspapers, 76 drinks cans and bottles, 20 fast food items and 61 other objects were caught in train doors causing delays to services.

Also there were 327 "litter related incidents" which caused disruption on the network last year.

Gareth Powell, LU's Director of Strategy and Service Development, said: 'Customers don't always think of newspapers as rubbish when they are on a train or at a station. Leaving coffee cups, fast food packaging or newspapers on trains can lead to these items getting stuck in doors or falling on the track. By taking their litter with them or putting it in the bin passengers can help us run the Tube more smoothly and improve reliability.

'This new litter campaign is asking people to dispose of their rubbish in a bin so it can be recycled, minimising delays for the millions of people that use the Tube a day. This will also make the Tube cleaner and more pleasant for everybody.'

Piccadilly Line Litter

Numbers of bins on the London Underground have increased by 25% per cent and there's also 1,600 plus bins that are in, or within walking distance Tube stations.  Sadly the press release makes no mention how much it costs TfL (and us) to pay for staff to clear up all the free-sheets and papers - although some would argue that it's creating jobs!

Either way, let's hope TfL's new rubbish advertising isn't rubbish and has some effect.

Related post
Recycling Metros on the Tube

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, March 21, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

All a Blur - Guess Where Tube 18 - Win a Mind the Gap Keyring

Time for another Guess Where Tube. Even though many people correctly guessed the last
Guess Where Tube (it was Great Portland Street), the winner never claimed the prize! So I'm going to carry it over again. You just need to guess from exactly where I took the photo from.

Guess Where Tube 18

For visitors unfamiliar with the "Guess Where Tube" game it's where I ask you to guess from exactly where on the London Underground, certain pictures from the London Tube Flickr group were taken from.  This is shot through a train as it's coming into the the exact place you need to guess.

So as the previous most accurate guesser never claimed his prize and as I'm still working on a way to import all the old comments to Disqus, the prize has been carried over. Like the previous one this is another that I think is reasonably easy.

mind the gap key ring by KeYmA78

The prize is a  lovely rubbery Mind The Gap Key Ring. You have until UK time 11.59pm on Sunday 25th March 2012 to make guesses. Try not to look at the comments before you when making your guess.

Make your guesses in the comments below and either leave your blog or twitter name or email address or some really obvious way I can get in touch with you if you're the lucky winner. The last person had a Google Connect account and for some reason I couldn't contact him through that. So if you're unregistered in Disqus or don't give a Twitter or blog name or email address you won't be included in the contest. The person who is the most exact will win & if there's more than one person who guesses the same most correct place, I'll put names into a randomizer & select from there.  Good luck.

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Guess Where Tube 13
Guess Where Tube 12
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Guess Where Tube 2
Guess Where Tube 1
Guess Where Tube Quiz
Guess Where Tube Quiz Round Two

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, March 20, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, March 19, 2012

5th episode BBC2's The Tube Documentary - Rush Hour, Fainting, Failures & Pigeon Control

The fifth episode of BBC2's documentary on London Underground staff promises a mixture of Tube delights tonight.
Brian Pigeon should look away right now as the Tube's most unusual employee, a hawk called Toyah, will be put to work on pigeon patrol. The Tube, a six part series airing each Monday at 9pm, takes a behind the scenes look at the day-to-day running of the Underground.

London Underground Pigeon warning by andrewgrill
London Underground Pigeon warning by andrewgrill

I've never really understood the fascination the London Underground have with maiming and scaring away pigeons. Perhaps tonight's episode will show why it is. They clearly spend a lot of time (and money) with "pigeon control".

Pigeon on Tube Seat - Hammersmith & City Line by Annie Mole

Also on tonight's episode: "Station Supervisor Bob Weedon at Bank has to deal with five injuries and faintings in a row during one rush hour crush." Remember the series was filmed in the summer time and there are loads of notices on the Tube then about carrying water and what to do when you feel faint on the London Underground. One of the nicer signs is below by the lovely station assistant Kim, of Caledonian Road Tube, whose arty designs brighten up the Tube station's white boards.

Hot weather alert by Yaili
Hot Weather sign at Caledonian Road Tube by Yaili

And you'll also see how "Chief operating officer Howard Collins must muck in when a power failure on the Jubilee Line threatens to disrupt the evening peak."

Jubilee Line - Power failure - people evacuated! by The Night Prowler
Jubilee Line - Power failure - people evacuated! by The Night Prowler

I'm not sure why the Jubilee Line seems to have more than its fair share of reported power failures. When I was looking for pictures to illustrate "power failure" the line popped up quite a number of times.  Hopefully Howard Collins will explain this tonight and I'm sure many Tube staff that read this blog will be interested to see what "mucking in" for the London Underground boss really means.

Related posts
London Underground boss apologises for track evacuation distress
Boris in Tube driver's seat to announce Jubilee Line progress 
Upgrades feature on 4th episode of BBC2's The Tube
Video of TfL's Lost Property Office from BBC2's The Tube 
Ticket Inspectors feature on 2nd episode of BBC2's The Tube
Tube drunks highlighted in first episode of BBC2 series - The Tube 
Tube staff star in new BBC2 Documentary Series 
Channel 4 - Confessions from the Underground - New Tube Documentary

; Posted by annie mole Monday, March 19, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, March 18, 2012

London Olympics Usain Bolt VISA Ad - The Tube doesn't feature

Anyone who's read this blog for longer than just this post will know that I'm not a big fan of the London Olympics. I can just about recognise Usain Bolt and that's where my knowledge of the games starts & probably ends. However, on Sunday I saw this very Londony focussed ad for VISA contactless credit cards and quite liked it:

The gist is that two men (one of them Usain Bolt, the other turns out to be the guy who'll be setting off the starter gun) are trying to get from an airport in London to the Olympic stadium and they race through the capital touching in and out around the city using their contactless credit cards and using various methods of transport too.

Screenshot from VISA Usain Bolt Ad - no running

What I love is  how the London Underground doesn't even get a look in. Usain Bolt can obviously run to the stadium faster than taking the Tube during the Olympics. Actually even me running might be faster than taking the Tube during the Olympics.  Even a paddle boat on the Thames at Richmond is seen as more viable than getting on the Tube!

NB Please PR agencies note I really am extremely unlikely to blog about your vaguely Olympics related Press Release on the back of this post. I also don't do paid blog posts & VISA haven't paid me to post this, I just happened to be watching I Robot on Sunday night and the ad was running in one of the breaks. However, if you have an anti Olympics post, it might be worth sending it my way!

Related Posts
Can you run faster than a Tube train?
Tube vs Foot - who will win?
FT say Experts want to keep transport out of London Olympics News
TfL offer Tube Staff £850 Olympic Bonus to avert strike action
Olympics chiefs say avoid Tube
£2.5 million to show Tube Staff Olympic Park
30 minute wait for Tube trains during 2012 Olympics
New Year's Fare Increases - UK Commuters pay almost 10 times more for trains than other Europeans  
Tube Union RMT reject Olympics Pay Offer as Mayor Launches Get Ahead of the Games Campaign 

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, March 18, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New Commenting System - bye Haloscan/Echo hello DISQUS

Blogger in its infinite wisdom has decided to give me (and all other blogs - more on all the issues
here if you also have a non custom domain blogspot hosted blog) a new URL of london-underground.blogspot.co.uk Fortunately the old URL london-underground.blogspot.com forwards so you don't need to change links or bookmarks. Unfortunately the rubbish commenting system I was using wouldn't let me add the UK domain as a new one, soooooo this meant that if you're in the UK you couldn't see any of the old comments.

I never really liked it when Echo took over from Haloscan and the support they offer for commenting is non existent unless you pay £100 a month purely for hosting comments - which obviously isn't happening.

So I've imported Disqus as the new way to comment - a number of London bloggers who I know many of you already visit, already use this, so it will be good for you as no need to build a new account. Also if it's good enough for "over half a billion people across some of the largest sites on the web", it's good enough for me!

If you don't already use Disqus you can still comment without having an account, but I'm sure people who are regular Disqus users will tell you what the benefits of having an account are.

Hopefully someone with more brains than me will be able to work out how I can import the old comments into the new system. I've just worked out how to access the XML file. But it took this developer half a day to then import the comments into a new system. That's worrying as it would probably take me half a year as I have very little technical abilities.

So if you want to see the old comments stay patient. A friendly developer has really helped me with getting Disqus onto the site so that it (now - as of Sunday 2.30pm 18th March) works regardless of which country you are in (all comments made yesterday on the index page & outside of the UK have unfortunately disappeared though).

All advice more than welcome in the Disqus COMMENTS LINK below

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, March 17, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Launch: Bob Angel Tube Cat's book is now on sale

London Underground's most famous cat, Bob, has a book which is available to buy from today. I still can't quite believe I'm saying this, because firstly, cats can't actually write and secondly, it's a story that's so strange you'd think it was fictional. Regular readers of the blog will know that Bob is a ginger tom cat who used to sit with his owner, Big Issue seller, James outside of Angel Tube.

James & Bob at Book Signing

Islington commuters and locals regularly saw James walking up & down Upper Street with Bob sitting on his shoulder.

Bob the Cat outside Angel Tube

The inseperable pair were a fixture outside Angel station or often seen travelling on buses in Islington. Bob was even given his own Oyster card by TfL.

Big Issue featured Bob's Book Deal

It wasn't long before they became an "internet sensation" and we learnt how by caring for, busking and travelling around with Bob, James life had been transformed. My posts on their exploits were some of the most popular posts of the year on my blog. The huge online cat community Catster covered their tale. Bob was featured in The Big Issue (see picture above) and there was much excitement when we learnt they had secured a book deal. So finally A Street Cat Named Bob is now available in book shops and as of today on  Amazon and if the signing & reviews are anything to go by, is set to be a best seller.  Today's Evening Standard has an interview with James and the writer says of Bob "he has entranced London like no feline since the days of Dick Whittington".

Queue for Bob & James Book Signing - Waterstones Islington

On Tuesday 13th March 2012, there was a book signing at preview at Waterstones on Islington Green.  I was pretty gobsmacked to see the size of the huge queue going out of the door. The signing started at  6pm and when I arrived at 6.30pm  I was told that all the books had been sold, but I could still take pictures if I liked.

Did someone say Film Deal?

I went inside and Bob was looking as cool as a cucumber loving the attention and James was clearly overwhelmed by the huge turnout but had a kind word to say to everyone as he signed the books, asking which name he shold put and adding a big heart to each signature. The Waterstones and Hodder & Stoughton (the books publishers) cleverly had a little cat footprint to stamp on the book alongside James's signature too.

I've never been to a book launch before were so many people had at least two copies of a book.  A number at three and there was clearly a huge amount of love & affection for the pair. Hodder & Stoughton have produced a lovely video of the pair briefly telling their story.

It's a heartwarming story and one that is popular not just in London, but thanks to sites like Catster and Madmikesamerica,  has a global appeal too. He's even big on Russian TV!

Bob Looking Cool

There's a few more pictures of Bob & James Book Launch in my Flickr set and you can keep up to date of all their news since the launch by following @StreetCatBob on Twitter.  Now , I wonder how long it was take to train my cat to sit on my shoulder &  travel on the Tube!

UPDATE - 28th March 2012 - Bob & James's Book is now in the Sunday Times Bestsellers list and they both appeared on BBC1's Breakfast Bites on 27th March

Bob doesn't look remotely bothered by all the TV cameras in the studio!

Related Posts
Update: Bob The Angel Tube Cat - Book Cover & Video
Bob The Angel Tube Cat - Update September 2011
Bob The Angel Tube Cat - Update August 2011
Bob, Angel Tube Cat, gets Book Deal
Tube Photo of the Week - Angel Tube Cat
Angel Tube's Thoughts of the Day go online

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 15, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE