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Not fair and balanced but a 100% critical review that is my opinion of the LU - basically 10 reasons why I hate it so much. (If you work for LU or is an American you will be easily offended).
1) Rush-Hour: If you want to know how 3rd World cattle is transported through the desert on a hot summer's day, try the tube between 7am and 9am. Yes, it is an experience - but not necessarily a good one. It is the time of day where everyone files on the tube and you are either inevitabley elbowed by someone, who has not discovered the magics of soap and a shower, for the whole journey or the doors crash into you as you try and board. "Let people off before you board" - this should be on a loop through the PA and plastered everywhere to get this message across. Also, if you don't suffer from claustophobia - you will.
2) Nutters: No matter how hard you try, a nutter always ends up sitting by you. This is probably because everyone is nutty as the next one for taking the tube in the first place. Ranting on about religion and women, it does make for an entertaining journey except when he (or sometimes she) turns into a mugger and is after your mobile phone - holding a very sharp knife. One way to avoid a nutter is to BE the nutter or simply wear a pair of suinglasses and listen to your walkman.
3) Tourists: They should wear a sign - "I'm an American, Get me Out of Here". "Stand on the Right of the Escalator" does not mean to Stand on the Left and especially not to stop at the top whilst fumbling around for their ticket so the rest of us piles up on the escalator. Another lesson to be learnt is to "Let people off the train first." Even though most (American) tourists do not obey by the rules of the the Tube etiquette - still it is fun to watch an (American) tourist asking if this is the train to
Heathrow whilst going up the District Line passing East Ham - true story.
4) The Circle Line: Back in the Victorian era a bright spark thought of an idea for the Underground that was called The Circle Line - a line that would go around in the circle. Of course all things look better on paper as in fact today it is lucky to go round at all with delays, cancellations, engineering works or more simply if it doesn't turn up at all. Delays between stops are so common that all Circle Line trains have been graffitted as the graffiti artists are so bored that they attack the inside of the train, fed up of trying to get to their destination - like everyone then.
5) The Tube Map: All those different coloured lines - its like a rainbow... until you come to the interchanges. Bank and Monument is a classic example - a mile walk between the Central and District/Circle Lines through dingy tunnels. At least its better than Hammersmith that is practically a joke that is just not funny. Imagine this... you are laden with heavy luggage from Heathrow and you want to get to Paddington. You take the Picadilly to Hammersmith and want to change on to the Hammersmith and City Line to get to Paddington... this is where the fun starts! First you have to carry you bags up the stairs, fumble for your ticket and go outside. Then you have the privilage of walking to the end of the road, past shops, gettng squashed by a bus - ok press the button first and wait for the green man... and then into another station. Ridiculous.
6) 'Cleanliness: Apparently a team of scientists had removed some seats from a Central Line train for an analysis of its cleanliness - so here is what they found on the surface of the seats. > 4 types of hair sample (human, mouse, rat, dog). > 7 types of insect (fleas mainly). > Vomit from at least 9 different people. > Human urine originating from 4 people. > Human & Rodent excrement > Human Semen and underneath....: > Bodies of 6 mice and 2 large rats > A strange mushroom growing. Therefore it is unsurprising that it is more hygenic to wipe your hands on a recently-flushed toilet then eating than wiping your hand on an tube seat. Note I used the word 'apparently' but it would not be any suprise from the vomit that lingers in the air and the mice you see scatter on the tracks at Oxford Circus. Also I should mention that an average tube journey is the equivalent of smoking 2 packets of cigarettes and when you sneeze it is black! BBC London have also reported that sound levels on the tube are dangerously high and regular tube users should wear earplugs! One final thing to mention on the very long list of health issues is the commuting pigeons.
7) LU Staff: Grumpy, Unhelpful and Selfish (i.e. the number of ever-increasing strikes). Although This is not stereotypicalism but a tube driver should not be paid more than a nurse. How hard can it be? Push the handle to go Forwards, back to go back, brake to speed up... D'oh! From the moment your tickets have been thrown at you (the machines are much nicer) to when you 'glide' through the barriers at the end - you would not see a smile (apart from the adverts for teeth whitening toothpaste or dentures). In fact it is no wonder LU staff are so fed up, suffering with verbal abuse from us - not like it is there fault the system runs like a cattle market.
8) PA Annoucements: "MIThh the GAhh" and "Thith trn wi noo stoip abbroltluy" not forgetting "Plith sta clee of the clopthie doo" all make the experience slightly less beareable. However it is amusing when tourists are looking for "clopthie doo" while the door squashes them and they lose their phrase book. Central Line users have the privileage of listening to an automated recorded woman stating every stop. She's called Sonia ('cos she gets on yer nerves).
9) Flashers/Gropers: If you are a woman, travelling late at night on the tube with a sleazy looking man sitting opposite you this is all to common. In the rush hour, the all too popular excuse is "I'm sorry I thought your breast was a handrail" or "Sorry, the train is crowded." In reply, Kick. Late at night however, is an all different non-contact approach. "I'm playing with myself behind the newspaper and your to embaressed to say anything" or possibly, "I'm wearing shorts with my legs wide apart, oh and my genitalea is hanging out - Oops." Yeah right. A tip is to stamp on his foot or shins with a loud "Not another pervert."
10) Signal Failure/Suspected Packages/Strike: The big one for delays. If a driver decides he has the despeate erge for a nicotine dose, the LU needs an excuse i.e. signal failure. Occasionly the signals do fail so the whole line shuts down so the driver can have his fag. If someone leaves their shopping on the platform the whole station and line closes as well and even the whole system - on alert for Selfridge's bags. This causes delays for everyone as a Bomb Squad is scrambled to check through the remains of a BLT sandwich for any sign of terroist activity. Is it an Al-Qaeda tomato? No, here's the reciept... its from Tesco. Lets hope the supermarket giant is not a terroist group as UK consumers give 1 pound in every 4 pound spent. Still the line is closed until an elderley person reclaims her shopping and it is all go again until the next one. What would it be - a dangerous croissant and chocolate body paint. Finally, Strikes. Everyone hates them but then it is an excuse not to turn up to work or discover the joys of walking...
This is right, all really true. The only thing that is good about the Underground is yeah, it CAN get you around London quickly when its OK, but when is that? A blue moon? Sorry to the member of LU down there, but this is true. I work at Fenchurch Street for c2c and we have always constantly got people people sent from Tower Hill because LU staff haven't got a clue what they are on about.... Or they just can't be bothered.
perfect 02.10.2004 18:33
I've just written a Tube review, but yours is much better than mine.
I do like a scientific review!!!!!
benjy1 05.09.2004 02:02
I am an employee of LU, and as you state in the start of your 'review' I am offended by this onslaught.
Right, the tube has major infrastructure and service problems, this is due to years of under investment and neglect. But as a member of staff it gauls me to see someone generically ripping ALL tube staff to pieces. I agree there are some pretty awful staff out there but the majority are helpful, curtious and have everlasting patience.
So I leave with this -- 1) find a quicker way of getting accross London, 2) do some real research into the Underground and hw it's run then re-write your review!!
Which was the first underground line built? Where are the abandoned âghostâ stations on ... more
the network? Which underground station has the longest escalator?Find the answers to these and many other amazing and extraordinary aspects of the London Underground in this absorbing collection of stories and trivia. From grand and impractical visions, colourful characters and shady dealers, to political wranglings and financial disasters, there is something for every enthusiast to dip into.Written by Stephen Halliday, a historian specialising in British and industrial history.
The London Underground is a pioneer and an institution. The first underground railway in ... more
the world, and incorporating the first ever deep tunnel `tube` lines too, it is at the heart of London life, with millions of commuters and tourists using it every year and its tentacles extending into the suburbs it helped to create. Its turbulent history reflects the trials and tribulations of London itself: it provided a network of life-saving shelters in the Blitz, but has also faced many logistical challenges, with constant improvements necessary to keep the Tube fit for purpose. This book is not a recompilation of facts and photos published elsewhere, however. Taking a fresh approach, it is a history that focuses on the interesting and quirky aspects of the subject. To transport you more vividly back to the past, well over half the illustrations are in colour, including many rarely seen photographs.