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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
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Monday, April 30, 2012

Dara O'Briain Maths Tube Ad

I was always rubbish at algebra and probability type tests at school.  So no matter how many times I stared at Dara O'Briain's ad on the London Underground for his new maths TV show (
School of Hard Sums), I knew I wouldn't get it

Dara O'Briain Maths London Underground Ad

I actually got the ones seen on the inside of Tube carriages about next symbols or letter in a series. But the minute I'm asked about "if" something usually travels or moves at "y", then when would "z" happen, something in my brain disconnects and I can't do it. I want to say 59 minutes but I know that seems too obvious and there's going to be some trick about British Summer time or clocks going forward or the Tube not having a timetable anyway.

Visting the site (at time of writing) currently provides no answer either, but there are more puzzles involving moving matchsticks, joining dots with the fewest number of straight lines and working out next symbols in series.  Maybe the answer will be revealed later today, or in the following weeks.  Although I'm sure tons of you will know the answer anyway.

It would be good to see more train related brain teasers to pass away a few minutes staring across a platform.  Perhaps the next ads will be placed around Stratford and ask how long you have to wait for the next train during the London Olympics based on the probability of TfL's latest predictions having various degrees of accuracy.  Or how to make a journey from x to y using as few of the Olympic hotspot stations as possible - now that would a brain teaser.

You might also like
TfL Publish Tube & Train Stations to avoid during Olympic Games
Next-Gen London Underground on-platform display - Tells how crowded next Tube is
CBS Outdoor Tube Ad Campaign - "Urban by Nature" - Animals on the Underground, anyone?
Tardis or Tube? Alex Kingston spotted on the London Underground 
The Doctor Who Tube Map 

; Posted by annie mole Monday, April 30, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, April 28, 2012

London Underground style map for Scotland's Munros

A new map of Scotland's highest mountains has been inspired by the layout of  the London Underground map.

Peter Burgess, a former geography teacher from East Ham, created the
MunrOverground after the success of Tubular Fells, a topological map of England's Lakeland Fells.

The map shows Munros - mountains higher than 3,000ft - and landscapes such as Linn of Dee in Aberdeenshire.

Detail fom MunrOverground by Peter Burgess

On the map, as with a Tube map you can see Scotland's mountains grouped into a number of lines, including the Skye Line, the Knoydart, Skye and Affric Line and the Southern Hills.

Peter said "I've thoroughly enjoyed mapping Scotland. It's a place with a great heritage and landscape to boot.  I've not climbed many Munros, but a tally approaching 40 isn't too bad. In creating this map, I've not only learned a lot about Scotland and its fantastic mountains, but like the Tube map itself, it begins to make sense."

The John Muir Trust and Scottish Mountain Rescue will receive a donation from every map sold. John Hutchison, chairman of the John Muir Trust, said: "The MunrOverground is hugely inspiring, I'm sure that anyone who loves Scotland's wild places would be glad to hang it on their wall."

Thanks to Jon Allen for alerting me to this.

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The Brighton Line
London Underground Tube Map of Music
Olympic Tube Map Renames Stations with names of Sporting Celebrities

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, April 28, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, April 27, 2012

Adult Toys & Underwear found on Trains for Sale

Those of you who watched BBC2's The Tube documentary may remember
an episode on London Underground's Lost Property Office, where a number of items left behind appeared to be of a rather .... err... unsavoury nature.  Underwear seems to be left behind quite frequently.  Also somebody left a case filled with adult toys and sent their wife in to collect them. 

Well in Switzerland it appears people are a bit more embarrassed about retrieving lost items like this and an enterprising company has decided to sell these unclaimed pieces.

People probably do not dare to go to the lost and found when they lose certain movies or dildos," said Roland Widmer, CEO of Fundsachenverkauf.ch

Widmer said he receives approximately 20,000 items per week, some 95 percent of which come from the Swiss rail operator SBB. Many of the products found are for adult use only. Thankfully they are washed and disinfected by the company before being put out for sale. “Sometimes there are whole suitcases full of toys and latex clothes," Widmer says.

A collection of lost objectsby London Transport Museum
Items at TfL's Lost Property Office

For one reason or another, the used underwear is no longer available at Fundsachenverkauf.ch – whether it has been removed or simply all sold was not clear, 20 Minuten reported via The Local.

Thanks to IanVisits for alerting me to this story & perhaps this could be a new revenue stream for TfL? Anything to stop a fare increase would be welcome, wouldn't it?

You might also like
Video of TfL's Lost Property Office from BBC2's The Tube
Lost Collection: Art left on Public Transport
Weirdest Things Left on the Tube
Bizarre stuff left on the Tube showcased for Lost Property Office's 75th Birthday

; Posted by annie mole Friday, April 27, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tube cleaners may strike over pay

Tube maintenance staff on some lines are in a 72 hour strike over pensions & other benefits, the RMT are getting Tube cleaners to ballot for strike action in disputes over pay, benefits & pensions.

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

Union leader Bob Crow said: “Once again RMT is forced to move to a ballot for industrial action to secure a fair deal for our cleaner members and to end the exploitation of these groups of staff who work round the clock in the most appalling conditions to keep the tube running. 

“These cleaning staff are an integral part of the London Underground team and should be properly rewarded as such and not just seen as a money making tool to be exploited for every last penny in the interest of private profits. 

Cleaning Pimilico Station photo by Peter Macdiarmid - Getty Images/Peter Macdiarmid  
Getty Images/Peter Macdiarmid

The RMT is calling for above-inflation pay rises, substantial bonuses for working during the Olympics, free travel passes for all personnel, a Sick Pay policy and improvements to the companies' pension schemes. All members employed by Initial and ISS will be balloted shortly.

Piccadilly Line Litter

Crow continued “In the run up to the Olympics it is simply scandalous that the staff who will be keeping the transport system clean for the millions of visitors to this City are being treated like dirt.

.....RMT would urge Londoners to back this campaign for justice for our cleaners and join us in forcing the Mayor and London Underground to drag ISS and Initial back to the negotiating table to resolve these disputes.”

As yet there is nothing on ISS's site about the prospect of being dragged back to negotiating tables by Crow and his union friends.  In the meantime maybe TfL could consider an idea that was tested in the Netherlands where cleaning smells infused through train carriages led people to drop less litter.

Related posts
72 hour Tube Strike from April 24th 2012
Bob Crow believes Tube have Secret Privatisation Plan
Final episode of BBC2's The Tube Documentary - Fluffers, Ghost Stations & Rats
New Rubbish Tube Ads
Would infusing Cleaning Smells on the Tube lead to Cleaner Carriages?

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, April 26, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bob Crow believes Tube have Secret Privatisation Plan

Maintenance staff from Tube Lines began a
72 hour London Underground strike from 4pm on 24th April 2012 in a row over parity of pensions & other benefits.  However, RMT leader, Bob Crow, believes he knows the reason why London Underground are not giving Tube Lines staff (who worked for a once privatised organisation) the same benefits as their Transport for London colleagues. 

Bob Crow on strikes in the Guardian

In a short but emotive statement he said: "The inexplicable refusal of London Underground to agree to equalise pensions and benefits rights for our maintenance members is deeply suspect and points clearly to a secret plan to reprivatise this work in an action replay of the PPP disaster. 

"We understand there are already vulture companies hovering in the wings for another shot at robbing London blind through PPP2 and reducing the network to chaos. 

"Instead of playing these political and ideological games with our members pensions and benefits Tube bosses should be getting round the table and resolving this straightforward dispute."

At time of writing TfL have made no response to Crow's statement and are playing down the effect of the strike with just two sentences on the home page of their website.  "Some Tube Lines maintenance staff on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines, plan to strike from 16:00 on 24 April to 16:00 on 27 April. We expect all lines will be running with no significant impact on services."

Crow had said previously “Former Metronet employees have been allowed back into the TfL Pension Fund (TfLPF) and now also have the same travel facilities as other LUL employees.  Tube Lines is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London and there is simply no excuse for refusing to give equal pension and pass rights."  Tube Lines staff voted in favour of strike action in very clear majority.

While Crow tends to have a persecution complex, and I like the image of the "vulture companies hovering in the wings", it will be interesting to see whether & how TfL will respond to his claims.  In the meantime keep an eye on TfL's website and status updates.  While the Tube is running normally, as commuters we may not notice the strike.  The picture will be very different if/when there are problems on the Northern, Piccadilly & Jubilee Lines in this strike period.

Update - I've just received an email from TfL's press office who said the following: "there are no plans to repeat the PPP structures of the past. We’ve recently taken the maintenance of the Jubilee fleet of trains back under our direct control, so our actions speak for themselves.

We’re committed to proper discussions on the future of Tube Lines and that includes all our staff. Since Tube Lines transferred to TfL in June 2010, we have been fully focused on the upgrade of the Jubilee line, which the PPP totally failed to deliver. It has now been delivered, with faster, more frequent services for Tube customers."

Related post
72 hour Tube Strike from April 24th 2012

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, April 25, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Music from Train Tickets - Sound of the Underground

Ever wondered whether the act of putting train tickets into gates could be turned into a musical experience? Millions of tickets go through London Underground & railway barriers each day. Inspired by watching BBC2's
The Tube documentary & how Thoughts of the Day on Tube white boards brighten up our daily commute, Product Design students from the University of Dundee wondered if they could get us to think about what might happen if our collective tickets could play music. What they came up with was the protoype of an Underground music box.

Using a microcontroller programming system called Picaxe, Abi Brown, Eilidh Price and Jonathan Lawrence produced ‘Sound of the Underground’ an innovative reuse for train tickets, challenging the way we think about everyday objects. They said "People spend so much of their everyday lives rushing about, beetling their way too and from their destination without stopping to notice people or objects around them. 

We use exciting products everyday yet with extensive use these items become mundane and boring, blending in to the dull background. Our aim is to make the mundane exciting, making people stop and interact with their environment and in turn making their everyday experiences that little bit more exciting. This will challenge the preconceptions of those who use the products and we aim to take people by surprise, make it enjoyable and overall provoke discussion."

Working around the idea that train tickets are never reused and are often binned straight after they are purchased, they came up with the concept  of running a line of tickets through a sensor that detects changes in the tickets.

They said "We were thinking about detecting the magnetic strip or the text but Mike, our lecturer, suggested sensing the hole punched in the tickets by the conductor. We also want it to connect to people going through the ticket barriers, producing more or louder music when more poeple are passing through. We also want the sound to be relaxing as train stations are busy, stressful places."

Looking at other playful uses of ordinary objects they built barriers themselves which would connect the tickets with the Picaxe system: "An LDR (Light Dependent Resistor) is fitted in each of the three barriers, this is then triggered as someone places their ticket in the slot. This will then be programmed to make the display move and make sound. The idea is that as the user puts the ticket in the slot, it will trigger the LDR, turning the motors and playing music  through the boxes."

Here's a video of their prototype machine in action

I think it's rather lovely.  Visit their blog Sound of the Underground to find out more about their project including videos of all the concepts that inspired them and more illustrations of how they made the prototype

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Downing Street Lord asks Mayor to Replace Tube Escalators with Slides
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; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, April 24, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, April 23, 2012

TfL Publish Tube & Train Stations to avoid during Olympic Games

London Bridge, Bank, Earl's Court, Waterloo, Mile End, Greenwich, Charlton, Blackheath and Stratford  stations are on a hit list of London Underground & mainline stations TfL say should be avoided during the London Olympics. For the first time Transport for London have published a list of congestion "hotspot" stations across the capital.

Full details and warnings of all the hotspots are published today on
www.getaheadofthegames.com - which provides details of all 88 stations affected. TfL say they've updated and changed some of the advice previously given to us and have said they're now "confident" people have all the correct and relevant information.

Walking part of your journey may be quicker

At most stations the worst time will be between 7.30 and and 9. 30 am - the height of the morning peak. Journeys in London will reach six million on certain days, which is almost double the amount of the 3.3 million who already use the Tube every day.

TfL also warn that there will be no let up during the Paralympics Games either with many parts of London  just as busy.

TfL's Director of Games Transport, Mark Evers said "We have the challenge of people coming back from summer holidays during the Paralympics. I'd encourage people not to think that once we're through the Olympics everything returns to normal London will still be very different during the Paralympics. There will be a concentration of activity more towards the East of London but in those areas and services particular the DLR its going to busy for people getting to and from work".

Another TfL spokesperson said: "The impact of the Games on the public transport network will be tackled by a reduction in those planning to travel; through working at alternative locations including home, staggering working hours, working longer or fewer days, taking annual leave or swapping to alternative forms of transport - including walking and cycling."

Take different route for Olympics

Ads like the ones pictured above are in full force now and I've also seen ones with cycling grannies zooming across the capital . I particularly like the one of the chilled out guy travelling down an empty escalator as he takes a different line than normal to avoid the crowds.  I'd love to know which London Underground that was as I can't imagine many escalators will be as empty as the one in the cartoon.

Related Posts
Certain Tube Journeys Affected by Games - Another "Get Ahead of The Games" Tube Poster
New "Get Ahead of The Games" Tube Cartoon
London Olympics Usain Bolt VISA Ad - The Tube doesn't feature
Tube Union RMT reject Olympics Pay Offer as Mayor Launches Get Ahead of the Games Campaign
Can the Tube cope with the Olympics?
£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 Monday, April 23, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mail Rail Open Day - Post Office London Underground Railway

Fans of abandoned & disused London railways have a special treat this Saturday.  There's a free
Mail Rail open day on Saturday 21st April 2012 where you can see some rolling stock of  the old Post Office underground railway (Mail Rail). The Museum Store of the British Postal Museum will be opening its doors for a great opportunity to see a range of material relating to this now disused London underground railway.

the VIP carrier on Mail Rail by cakehole
Mail Rail Carriage photo by Cakehole

Mail Rail used to carry mail beneath London's streets from 1927. Driverless underground trains transported mail between sorting offices and London's major railway stations up until 2003 when the system was suspended. However, in 2012 the British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) will carry out some conservation work on a 1930's Mail Rail train retrieved from the network in 2011.

"The BPMA now holds three rail cars in its collection, one being the only known complete example of the original 1927 car. Two of the rail cars are being actively conserved and there are plans for the third. During the event on Saturday there will be chance for visitors to witness conservation first hand and to speak to the conservator undertaking the work. BPMA curators will also be on site to answer questions about the railway and there will be some formal talks and tours about the network and also the pneumatic rail system that preceded Mail Rail. The only known survivors of the 19th century underground system will also be on display." said curator Chris Taft on the Museum's blog.

mail train by cakehole
Mail Rail Photo by Cakehole

On Saturday's event you'll have the opportunity to speak to their team about the preservation of this object, take part in talks, tours, film screenings and other family activities.  You'll also learn about the history of the Mail Rail network through historic items from the Archive and Museum Collections.

Post Office underground railway - train waiting at loop crossing. (POST 118/386)
Post Office underground railway Train waiting at loop crossing (BPMA archive)

The open day will be at The British Postal Museum Store in Debden and starts at 10am and runs throughout the day until 4pm.  Booking isn't necessary and you can just drop in.  For more details see their site.

You might also like
Epping Ongar Steam Railway Service to be Resumed from May 2012
Steam Train on the London Underground - Video - Test Run for 150th Birthday Celebrations
Is Brompton Road Tube even closer to Re-Opening? 
Photos of Ghost Tube Station Brompton Road Tour
Inside Disused Tube Station: Brompton Road - Pictures 
Re-opening disused Tube Stations - a step closer 

; Posted by annie mole Friday, April 20, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tube Toilet Seats?

Have the London Underground decided to offer priority seating for people who get caught short on the Tube? When going out last night, I glanced up from my newspaper and had to look again when I saw the sign pictured below.

Tube Toilet Seat

It was one of those occasions where for a split second I thought TfL had decided to test a new area. But no, it's those pesky Spoof Tube sticker people up to their antics again. I spent the next couple of stops trying to get a decent shot of the sticker with my fellow commuters wondering why I was so interested in taking pictures of the top of someone's head.

Tube Toilet Sign Spotted

Particularly as I was giggling so much about me momentarily thinking it was real.  I also spent the next five minutes wondering if they should have used the more common spelling of  diarrhoea (that's if it is more common?)

Bank weeing sign
Genuine London Underground sign at Bank Station

Which then made me think again about why there aren't toilets on London Underground carriages?  Some Tube journeys can take a long time, particularly if you are travelling from one end of the line to another.  TfL have produced a Toilet Tube Map, but is that enough? There are also signs like the one above where you could be "dealt with by the Police" if you're seen urinating in passages on the Tube.  So what do people with bladder problems do?  Specially when faced with ads for bladder control that are currently on the Tube.  Doesn't that just make you feel like you want to go to the loo, like hearing the sound of running water?

Text Toilet by Wendy
Photo by Wendy

I always try to make a point of going to the loo before I'm about to go home as I worry what would happen if my train was stuck in a tunnel for ages and I was desparate for a wee. Do other people do the same?  Or am I just paranoid about the idea of wetting myself on train?  Perhaps if you were stuck in a tunnel for hours on end, someone wetting themselves might be the least of your problems.  But it wouldn't be very pleasant now would it?

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; Posted by annie mole Thursday, April 19, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Underground Overground : A Passenger's History of the Tube - Book Review

I get sent a lot of press releases of books about the London Underground or railways to review.  Most of the time they're variations of "Fun Facts you never knew about the Tube (version 50)" or "A Little Book of Tube Etiquette (version 10)", in other words books that do little more than re-work what's already been published.  However, it was with more than some interest when I was sent an email by Andrew Martin's, publishers, asking if I'd be interested in a review copy of his new book "
Underground Overground - A Passenger's History of the Tube".

Underground Overground by Andrew Martin

I was a very big fan of Andrew Martin's weekly "Tube Talk" column in ES magazine back in the early noughties.  In fact a lot of his observations were the inspiration for features in Going Underground (my static Tube site before I began blogging).  To my shame I never knew that since then he'd gone on to write seven  historical thrillers about Jim Stringer, a railway detective of the early 20th century.

When I got a copy of the book, it was one of those books where I thought, "I wish I'd written that".  Andrew has produced an informative, well researched and yet extremely engaging story of the London Underground.  A book that will have you nodding in empathy.  A book that truly understands that any history of the Tube must involve a thorough look at the people who made the London Underground.  That's not just the engineers, designers, inventors ("seldom entirely normal"), politicians and staff, but in equal measure the people who actually travel on it every day.    

The blurb on his publisher's site - Profile Books - gives a good intro "Underground, Overground is a highly enjoyable, witty and informative history of everything you need to know about the Tube .... The London Underground is the oldest, most sprawling and illogical metropolitan transport system in the world, the result of a series of botch and improvisations. Yet it transports over one billion passengers every year and this figure is rising. It is iconic, recognised the world over, and loved and despised by Londoners in equal measure"

 Excerpt Underground Overground by Andrew Martin

They go on to say that  Andrew "attempts to untangle the mess that is the Northern Line, visit every station in a single day - and find out which gaps to be especially mindful of. "  You'll also find the "definitive" account of the Mind The Gap announcement - I discovered that it involves Michael Winner!

Inside, Underground Overground by Andrew Martin

The book follows a chronological social history of the Tube.  Beginning with the perpertually busy Charles Pearson, the "gadfly" solicitor who ardent campaigning in the 1840's and 1850's led to the early development of the London Underground.  Moving onto the expansion of  The Metropolitan Railway and the various political & engineering wranglings for deeper level lines and a whole chapter on Texan Charles Yerkes who was responsible for electrictrifying the Underground.

"Yerkes introduces a welcome note of loucheness to our story, and the only mentions of sex you'll find in most Underground histories are associatated with his name. He was twice married and had many affairs.... Yerkes, was an American, and that ought not to surprise us.  American tourists on the Tube seem rather gauche sorts, delightedly photographing each other in front of any old station roundel, but really it's their Tube.  We have seen that Americans were the pioneers of electric traction, and most of the unfortunate investors in Yerkes schemes would be American."

Andrew commends & sums up the principles that Yerkes laid down for those "who would escape a life of drudgery" which are quoted in a book on Yerkes called Robber Baron, written by John Franch

1. The worst-fooled man is the man who fools himself.
2. Have one great object in life. Follow it persistently and determinedly.  If you divide your engergies you will not succeed.
3. Do not look for what you do not wish to find.
4. Have no regrets. Look to the future. The past is gone and cannot be brought back.

Wise words from an Edwardian time and something you might recognise amongst today's radical thinkers and mavericks - it sounds like it could have come from Steve Jobs moving Stanford speech, quoted many times after his death last year.

But I digress, although if anything, that's the one "problem" with this book, it makes you think so much about the people behind the Tube, that those looking for a straightforward history (I wasn't) may find it not to their taste.

Frank Pick and Albert Stanley (better known as Lord Ashfield)  are also given a chapter for their work in "making London what it is today", note that Andrew says "London" what it is today & not the Tube, as it shows the main point that most good London Underground historians & writers recognise - London would be nothing without the Tube. This sprawling pervasive system that is equally the bane and the boon of our lives has shaped London like no other transport service introduced to the capital.

Tube fans and people who are generally interested in the social history of London will find this book a delight.  There's also enough Tube trivia in it to keep those who like odd stories very happy too.  You'll find answers to essential questions such as "What inspired the famous Underground roundel logo?" and "Would you die if you urinated on the power rail in the centre of the Tube tracks?"

"Underground Overground - A Passenger's History of the Tube" is published on 3rd May 2012 at £14.99.  You can pre-order discounted copies as a hardback or eBook on Amazon now.

You might also like
London Underground: Architecture, Design & History Book Review
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; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, April 18, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

72 hour Tube Strike from April 24th 2012

Following yesterday's votes, the RMT have confirmed they will be holding a 72 hour Tube strike from 4pm April 24th 2012 in a row over pensions.  RMT has been demanding that all Tube Lines staff, be allowed to join the TfL Pension Scheme and receive the same travel concessions as those who work for LUL, including former Metronet staff.  This will affect the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly London Underground Lines.

Baker Street by DesheBoard
Photo by Ofer Deshe

RMT say "Parity would bring Tube Lines staff free travel within London and 75 per cent of the cost of travel on the mainline railway – the concession that all Tube staff, including ex-Metronet people, already get."

A positive ballot result to achieve this parity means many Tube Lines staff will not be working from 16.00 on Tuesday 24th.   RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:  “This is a massive mandate for action following a straightforward demand for parity with other Tube staff. This dispute is about justice and about ensuring that all groups of staff under the umbrella of London Underground receive the same rights and benefits.” 

“We have gone through all the negotiating channels on both these issues but Tube Lines has refused to budge and have refused to engage in meaningful talks and that pig-headed approach has raised the temperature on the shop floor and is reflected in this result. 

“Former Metronet employees have been allowed back into the TfL Pension Fund (TfLPF) and now also have the same travel facilities as other LUL employees.  Tube Lines is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London and there is simply no excuse for refusing to give equal pension and pass rights."

There is still a potential opportunity for it to be called off as Crow said:  “The union remains ready to talk, and this strong mandate for industrial action shows Tube Lines and TfL the depth of anger there is over this blatant lack of fairness and justice.”

Watch the news and keep an eye on TfL's site for the latest on this.  There's more on this announcement in The Telegraph.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, April 17, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, April 16, 2012

Book Swaps for London coming to the Tube

Last week I heard about the new "
Book Swaps for London" campaign which has the ambitious aim of a London-wide book sharing scheme in London’s Tube and train stations in time for the London Olympics. They said "By providing our network of volunteers with books, shelves, expertise and support, our first aim is to reach as many of the 700 London Underground and rail stations in Greater London as we can".

Morden and Tooting Broadway book swap prototypes

In December 2011, the campaign was the winner of the first #ideas4Mayor competition at the London Policy Conference. Boris said:  “I think it’s a very good idea and would say something powerful about the kind of city we are and our commitment to literacy, which obviously we are trying to demonstrate in lots of ways particularly with young people

It's an interesting yet simple idea. The group are proposing that shelves are set up in Tube & overgrounnd stations, and commuters can use them to pick up books they would like to read and drop off books that they want to give away.  This scheme builds on already successful ones like Bookcrossing and local pub and hostel swap schemes.

Morden and Tooting Broadway book swap prototypes

They said "By some estimates, up to 13 million books are sent to the UK’s landfills every year. Given current resource and landfill constraints, this just isn’t sustainable. In order to keep books in circulation, we want to combine people power with something that most people do in London every day – use the Tube and trains. Station swaps will be used by hundreds of people every day to swap their unwanted books, and to discover new ones to read.

We want to establish train and Tube stations as the heart of a capital wide scheme for book swapping, with shelves and permanent and semi-permanent swaps in as many stations as possible. We need local volunteers to run these station swaps!"

So far there are (or have been) prototypes set up at Wimbledon, West Ealing, Tooting Broadway, Raynes Park and Morden Tube stations.  The group are running meet up groups around London to see how they can get more volunteers on board to help set up a swap at their local stations.  They've also had a meeting with TfL to establish the feasibility & safety aspects of the service.

I wish them the best of luck with the idea.  If you'd like to find out more or help follow them on Twitter @londonbookswap, and keep an eye on their blog  & Facebook Group.  If you're a publisher or some other organisation who can get involved by donating books or shelving they'd love to hear from you too.

You might also like
CoverSpyLondon - Tube Reading
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; Posted by annie mole Monday, April 16, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, April 13, 2012

Is Brompton Road Tube even closer to Re-Opening?

The Mayor and Transport for London have said for a while now that in principle they are in favour of Ajit’s proposals to
reopen abandoned & disused Tube Stations, provided he presents suitably detailed and properly funded plans. Well now Ajit has, starting with funded plans for purchasing of the disused Brompton Road London Underground Station.

Brompton Road Platform 2

On the back of countless meetings with private investors, MP's, TfL, the Mayor's office and Boris Johnson himself, Ajit has received private funding to buy Brompton Road for tours and potentially other entertainment.

Boris has pledged many times now his support of the plans to re-open the "ghost" Tube stations and now that Ajit has funding this is obviously a crucial step to seeing the plans finally come to fruition

Ajit Chambers and Boris Johnson
I wish Ajit the best of luck in the negotiations he's having with all parties. The interest in exploring disused stations is not just amongst Londoners or trainspotters. MP's are keen to visit and Ajit has support from a number of key transport commentators like Christian Wolmar for his proposals too. Look out for a number of features in national & international press coming soon with more on the plans.

Related posts
Parliamentary Early Day Motion Supports Disused Tube Re-openings
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Inside Disused Tube Station: Brompton Road - Pictures 
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; Posted by annie mole Friday, April 13, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tardis or Tube? Alex Kingston spotted on the London Underground

There's been quite a lot of press recently about celebrities using the London Underground. Rihanna's been spotted several times now. Most recently when she was papped with blonde tresses, skimpy hotpants and wearing sunglasses underground (that's a big no no Ri-Ri - just makes you look more self conscious than you already do). This prompted The Sun to say that she was Tube obsessed & close to becoming a "
greasy haired trainspotting anorak".

A couple of days ago London's own Alexandra Burke ran into trouble on the Tube as she had no permission to film her latest video there. She was pictured on an escalator smiling before officials booted her off & threatened to arrest her if she didn't go.

But I prefer celebs who use the London Underground just like your average commuter. 

Alex Kingston on the Tube 2

Take Doctor Who's time travelling Alex Kingston for example (rumoured to be returning to the show as River Song soon). Here's a lady who would be more at home on the Tardis than on the Tube. Last month I spotted her travelling back from Heathrow on the Piccadilly Line.

Alex Kingston on the Tube

Just like the rest of us she looked pretty bored on her journey, but thankfully she didn't have that "look at me, look at me" air about her. She wasn't even wearing shades!

Let us know if you've spotted any celebrities (that aren't Rihanna or Alexandra Burke) on your Tube commute.

Related Posts
THE Doctor Who Tube Map
Rihanna on the Tube
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; Posted by annie mole Friday, April 13, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Would infusing Cleaning Smells on the Tube lead to Cleaner Carriages?

Could this be the answer to less litter on the London Underground? A team of Dutch social psychologists have proposed a solution to the litter problem on trains - infuse subway carriages with the citrus scent of cleaning products. Martinijn de Lange and colleagues carried out a
field experiment where they concealed seven small containers of cleaning product (spiced up with a little Capitaine perfume oil) in the luggage racks of two carriages on a train travelling between Amersfoort-Schothorst and Enkhuizen, a journey of one hour and forty-four minutes.

Piccadilly Line Litter
Based on measures taken over 18 journeys, the average amount of rubbish on the unscented carriages was more than three times the weight of the rubbish collected from the scented carriages (35.6 grams vs. 11.7 grams). In terms of individual rubbish items, there were on average 5.1 in the control carriages per journey but only 2.7 in the scented carriages.  Their findings are published in a paper "Making less of a mess: Scent exposure as a tool for behavioural change"

"It seems to be possible to change the littering behaviour of people in a train environment using a simple and relatively cheap intervention," the researchers said to the British Psychological Society.  "The positive results of our scent manipulation in a field setting provide support for the idea that the cognitive route of scents to behaviour can be used as a tool for behavioural change. Merely dispersing a scent seems to trigger related goals and influence subsequent behaviour."

Thanks to Ianvisits for alerting me to this research

In 2001 TfL trialled exposing commuters to a perfume called "Madeleine" at St James's Park, Euston and Piccadilly Circus stations (presumably they felt those stations were in more need of fragrance than others).

The fragrance was "a fresh, watery floral bouquet of rose and jasmine combined with citrus top notes. Tiny touches of fruit and herbs give way to strong woody accents and a hint of sweetness in the base." and was said to counteract the "interesting collection of odours in stations, reflecting all aspects of London life, some nice, some not so nice." It was withdrawn after a day as it made passengers feel sick.

The experiment that the Dutch researchers carried out could also be subject to the same conclusions.  Maybe people just didn't like being in a carriage that smelt of cleaning products and moved to ones with more "natural" smells.  This could have also been why there was less litter!  Any other theories as to why there might have been less litter?  Do you think an idea like this could help to reduce litter on the Tube?

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; Posted by annie mole Thursday, April 12, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Real Inspector Sands Spotted on the Tube

Finally I think I have spotted the real Inspector Sands on the London Underground. We hear calls for this character quite a lot on the PA system on the Tube.  "Would Inspector Sands please report to the Control Room", "Would Inspector Sands please attend platform 2".  There have been a
number of theories as to what this call means.  Is it a subcoded message for a fire?  Has an alarm been triggered somewhere?  No, he's clearly a yellow bloke who looks after the secret stash of sand bags at Tube stations.

The Real Inspector Sands by Annie Mole

Last week I spotted him at Bank Station just before joining the Waterloo and City Line. Sadly I only had my mobile phone to hand so took a quick snap before making it onto the train.

I love how he's proudly guarding the line of sand bags and the look of slight surprise on his face is probably down to him having been finally photographed.

Sand Bags at Bank Tube
Anyone else seen Inspector Sands on their Tube journey?  Anyone else seen sandbags on the Tube?  I never knew that Bank Station was particularly prone to flooding or perhaps there was just a leaky roof.

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; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, April 10, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, April 09, 2012

Windows 8 Metro inspired by London Underground Signs

The upcoming Windows 8 operating system was in some way inspired by London Underground signs. Sam Moreau, who oversees the new Windows design drew inspiration from Tube, subway, airport and traffic signs. The team’s conference room has an entire wall covered with images from the London Underground, New York City's subway and airports across Asia.

Way Out a rama

Windows 8 (rumoured to launch in October 2012) will use a new user interface (UI) based on Microsoft's Metro design language. The Metro environment will feature a new tile-based Start screen similar to the Windows Phone operating system.

Moreau and the 11 other managers wanted to give Microsoft's products "a more cohesive -- and alluring -- design". "Drawing inspiration from signs in hubs like the London Underground that use simple symbols to orient travelers, the Metro design uses bright colors and basic shapes to help users navigate phones, tablets and computers" reported Bloomberg today.

Most Dangerous Door on the London Underground
Perhaps these will be some of the new Windows 8 warning signs

"Since the advent of the graphical user interface, designers have tried to help customers understand computers by modeling graphics on tasks outside the world of technology. That explains why the icon for discarding files became a trash can, and Windows began using drop shadows and transparencies to give them real-world depth. Windows 8 Metro does a complete turn with its flat squares and lack of shadows and shading."

No entry Danger of death by ax2groin
No entry Danger of death by ax2groin
It will be interesting to see just how much  many of the Tube's more familiar signs & icons will have made their way into the new Windows 8 interface.  Maybe before you're about delete a file you'll be warned with a large "Mind the Gap" sign complete with booming voice from the Tube's shouty man. Or a large "Danger Risk of Death" sign may appear if you're about to visit a site that may contain a virus.

Any other Tube signs that may be useful to a new Windows operating system much appreciated in the comments!

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; Posted by annie mole Monday, April 09, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, April 07, 2012

More 3D London Underground Cutaway Diagrams

Following on from my post about 
3D cutaway diagrams of London Underground, a number of you seemed to really like the diagrams and Ed found a poster & postcards of more illustrations from London Transport Museum we he very kindly scanned and sent to me to share:

Charing Cross District Line Cutaway

The one above is from a poster when the "new" Charing Cross London Undereground station on the District Line opened in 1914 and is by C. Shand

I particularly liked the gorgeous postcards below of Tottenham Court Road, Bank and Monument stations all by Duncan Lamb

Tottenham court road cutaway
Tottenham Court Road cutaway by Duncan Lamb

Bank Cutaway
Bank Modernisation - Cutaway by Duncan Lamb
Monument Cutaway
Monument Cutaway

Also here's a wider illustration from the modernisation which took place at Bank & Monument
Bank Monument Station Modernisation Cutaway
Mordernisation at Bank and Monument by Duncan Lamb

The poster for the illustration immediately above is available at London Transport Museum's shop

Laurence Menear has written a book London's Underground Stations - A Social and Architectural Study which features a number of cutaway diagrams including some of the above.

Big thanks to Ed, and I'll upload some more in the future, but in the meantime check out a mirrored version which has more cutaways from an old Geocities site.

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; Posted by annie mole Saturday, April 07, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Only 23% of Tube adverts with QR codes work on mobiles

What's the
point of QR codes on Tube Ads? This was something that Ged Carroll @r_c covered on this blog a while back.  Now both The Next Web and Marketing Week report that only 23% of display ads on London's public transport with a QR code or URL on them actually work on mobiles.

Worst. QR code. Placement. Ever by whatleydude
Worst. QR code. Placement. Ever by whatleydude

Jamillah Knight wrote "As few people are likely to shoot a QR code with their laptop while they are in transit, it begs the question, if so much money is thrown at advertising around the capital, how could this have been missed?"

As Tim Ocock of Steely Eye writing for Marketing Week rightly points out, “We can’t imagine the designers of these ads really expect people to write down the URLs to check later at home. Even when QR codes are used they are rarely practical to scan on a busy Tube concourse – but you would think that anyone putting a QR code on their ad, as some of the afore mentioned culprits do, would be expecting visitors to be browsing on their phones.”

US Subway ad with QR Code by littlelazer121.
US Subway ad with QR Code by littlelazer121
Steely Eye have an app called “Works on Mobile” for iOS and Android that helps to identify where bad mobile advertising exists. Admittedly mobile marketing linked to physical advertising is at an early stage but , there are things that would make the process a bit easier. Not putting QR codes in strange places like across platforms in the Whatleydude's photo above at Kilburn Park Tube, and at least having a mobile site to go to would be a good start.

So, what do you think?  Do you use QR codes on the move or at Tube stations?  Have you seen people trying the scan the ones above other people's heads? How many QR codes on Tube ads that you managed to scan actually then worked on your phone? 

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; Posted by annie mole Thursday, April 05, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Walk the Tube Lines Central Line Walk - 8th April

Fancy a stroll along the Central Line this Sunday afternoon?  Well not actually walking along the Tube Line itself.  Following part of the route the line takes.  Writer, Mark Mason, set himself the challenge of walking the entire length of the London Underground – overground – passing every Tube station on the way. His efforts were the subject of a new book "
Walk the Lines" published last summer. All together the 11 Tube lines total 291 miles (although 403 miles were actually walked), which if you added all of his walking time together took 174 hours, 50 minutes or 1 week 6 hours and 50 minutes. He's now running the first of a series of guided walks

He says "The stretch I've chosen - Bank to Chancery Lane - was very near the start of my second day on the Central Line. By that evening I'd done 27 miles out to West Ruislip (having completed 35 miles in from Epping the day before) - but don't worry, we won't be that ambitious. Just a pleasant 90-minute meander, taking in trivia and oddities from 2000 years of London history. Obviously there'll be plenty of Tube stuff in there (such as why Chancery Lane has the shortest escalators on the network) - but we'll also learn how far the sound of the Bow Bells travelled ... see a pub where a WWI soldier's bayonet left an unusual mark ... and discover a secret oasis of calm right in the middle of the Square Mile."

Future walks will include "the District Line where we’ll learn how long it's going to take Big Ben to fall over ... the Piccadilly Line will reveal why Paul McCartney is the only person allowed to whistle in the Burlington Arcade ... while walking the Bakerloo Line we’ll discover how all-American Marlboro Man actually owes his name to Soho."

Reading Walk the Lines on the Tube

Each walk takes approximately 90 minutes and costs £8. Mark says that's "Unless you’re older than Churchill was when he became Prime Minister (65), or younger than the number of stations on the Victoria Line (16), in which case you’re welcome along for £6."

For this Sunday (8th April 2012)'s walk which starts at 2.30pm, meet outside exit 3 of Bank Tube station (by the statue of Wellington) or contact Mark for more details.

Also if you're in the Mill Hill area and free this Thursday morning 5th April 2012 - Ben Pedroche who wrote the book "Do Not Alight Here" a lovely walking guide book for London for anyone with an interest in the disused & ghost Tube stations, old buildings, urban exploring and London's history - will be doing a talk about one of the walks from his book at Mill Hill Library at 10.30

Related  Posts
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; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, April 04, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Latest Figures show Tube Delays at their ‘lowest since 2003′

The latest figures on the Tube's performance were published last week by TfL. The figures, covering the period from 8th January to 4th February 2012.  Average delays for the financial year to date - as measured by the number of customer hours lost to disruption - apparently are at their lowest since 2003/04, when TfL took responsibility for the London Underground.

Long wait for Kenningon Tube - Photo by @Michellelutes22

TfL's website says this is the "sixth consecutive period where delays are down compared to the equivalent periods during the last financial year. 

Slow lift by Owen Blacker
Slow Lift photo by Owen Blacker - Not sure what a fast lift is by comparison
The latest figures also show accessibility improvements around the network, with more than 98 per cent of lifts available at LU stations during the period".

Included in these improvements was the work returning Earl's Court Tube station to full step-free status. The lifts there returned to service four months ahead of schedule following a nine-month programme of works to increase lift reliability.

What do you think?  Have you seen any noticeable decrease in delays in the last nine years?  I started this blog in 2003 and really don't think that delays are any less frequent than they were back than.  Obviously it depends on which line you regularly travel on.  This District Line, my regular line is just as rubbish as it's always been in my opinion.  I do think the Northern Line has improved though and definitely deserves to lose the "Misery Line" title it used to have.  Do you have any contenders for worst Tube Line?  Also on a positive note, which ones do you think have improved?

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; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, April 03, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, April 02, 2012

Weightlifting Tube Ad for London 2012 Olympics Re-created

Life imitating ads? Last week a number of people went along to a re-creation of the latest ‘
Get Ahead of the Games’ poster on the London Underground. The ad features two weightlifters trying to squeeze themselves out of Tube doors at the same time, with the caption "Certain journeys will be affected during the Games". Its all part of the campaign to trying to ensure that tourists, Londoners & commuters can effectively plan their journeys during the Olympic Games.

Charing Cross by Peter Meade
Charing Cross Re-creation by Peter Meade
Peter Meade went along as one of the "extras" and took the photo above at Charing Cross on the old Jubilee Line platform.  The original artwork for the poster has an old lady with her cat in a shopping trolley.  You can see the old lady but Peter tells me that the cat wasn't there!

TfL's agency got Rob Frampton England’s Strongest Man and British Strongest Man top competitor, and British and international weightlifter Rich Gorvin to be the two weightlifters. You can see a video of the re-construction here

Rich Gorvin said in the video: “It's nice that they're giving the information out, so you know what to expect. And if you know what to expect you can plan around it.”

Certain Journeys will be affected during the Games - Tube Poster
With 3 million extra passenger journeys taking place over the London 2012 Games. New research showed that despite 84 per cent of Londoners being aware that travel will be affected during the London Games, less than one in eight have actually decided how they may need to change their travel plans. So the Get Ahead of the Games people have got their work cut out. I'm planning to work at home as my expected two hour journey (at least) each way isn't exactly filling me with delight.

Has anyone else started planning yet or are you going to leave it until nearer the time?

Related Posts
Certain Tube Journeys Affected by Games - Another "Get Ahead of The Games" Tube Poster
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Olympics chiefs say avoid Tube

; Posted by annie mole Monday, April 02, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Sun says Rihanna's becoming "greasy haired trainspotting Anorak" & obsessed with the Tube

Apparently Rihanna has become obsessed with the London Underground since her recent visit. You've probably spotted pictures of her travelling inconspicuously around on the Tube last week, standing on the right side of escalators and using her travelcard (not sure why she hasn't got an Oyster card yet).
The Sun gleefully reported that her "interest in the London Underground is one step away from turning her into a greasy-haired, trainspotting anorak." Why's that The Sun?

Rihanna on the Tube
Photo from MTV

Well she's put a load of Tube furniture from London Transport Museum's shop on her wishlist - presumably for one of her many abodes. Her mates told her about BBC2's The Tube documentary, she watched a number of episodes, found many of the characters funny and after "necking a few glasses of wine" Googled the Tube and came across the furniture from the Museum's shop.

The Sun describe the store as selling "everything from a £3k patchwork sofa using all the retro-patterned seat fabric — known by anoraks as moquettes — to a Travelcard pillow. Just the trick if you are at a loss over what to get the missus for her next birthday."

Rihanna on the Tube 
Photo from MTV

 This story amuses me on so many levels. The headlines "Tube gets a Jubi-Rih Line" & "Singer takes her Underground obsession Tube far" must have taken seconds to compose and are laughably lame.  Also the Rihanna travelling on the Tube part is possibly the least interesting part of the story for me.  She found she made the headlines last October when she was snapped by commuters inside a Tube carriage and posed quite naturally with a number of fans. 

Fast forward a few months and she now travels on the Tube somewhat more self consciously, striking poses by roundels and wearing hot pants. Yeah, yeah, this is all good stuff for the paparazzi to be all over and it makes her "one of the people".

Rihanna at Waterloo Tube
Photo from The Sun
What I find the most amusing is how The Sun have managed to get a Showbiz story out of this.  One of her mates told her some of her mates they'd been having some drinks together and watched The Tube on iPlayer. The "source" who could be several times removed from Rihanna said "Rihanna had sunk a few bevvies by the time they started looking through the Tube furniture. She thought it would be hilarious to bring some of it back home to LA with her. 

"She loves using the Underground because it means she can skip all of the traffic, but also because she reckons it brings her closer to the capital city."

I love how The Sun also think that liking or buying Tube furniture somehow turns you into a "greasy haired trainspotting anorak".  Nice! They will probably be laughing on the other side of their faces when Rihanna spots some of the Tube underwear and poses in a Mind The Gap thong or some Animals on the Underground knickers whilst seductively dancing around with her London Underground moquette umbrella ella, ella, ella, hey, hey, hey.  In the meantime us "anoraks" who already have such items will be smug in the knowledge we were ahead of the curve.

Anthony on District Line Moquette Sofa - Acton Museum Depot Open Day
Come on The Sun surely you know that nerds and geeks are the new trendsetters. You only need to look at the number of oversized dark rimmed glasses the fashionistas are wearing to understand that.  Soon Rihanna will be hanging out with Gwyneth Paltrow and asking how she perfected her London accent when she was in Tube film Sliding Doors.

And one final thing The Sun - "retro-patterned seat fabric" isn't just "known by anoraks as moquettes".  That's its name and it's moquette without the "s", to say moquettes would be like saying sheeps.  If you're going to mock trainspotters at least get the terminology correct!

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; Posted by annie mole Sunday, April 01, 2012 Permalink COMMENT HERE