The Sun newspaper recommended a tube site as their site of the week. The
Evening Standard newspaper regularly give us tube news, The Evening
Standard's magazine - ES has deemed the tube to be trendy. (ES magazine also used to run a regular weekly feature on the tube "tube talk" and I'll highlight the best of that later on.) Most of the four page feature was about a new film called "Tube Tales" which I told you all about in January 1999! Carlton TV had a TV series devoted to the tubes in July 2000, and now The Guardian have published a no holds bar feature from tube station assistant Jesse Fuller telling us what it's like to work on the tube. More of that later, but first there's a section from the Evening Standard article I mentioned earlier which sums up what my site is about:
people enter the London Transport Museum shop they either turn
left or right. The ones who turn left and head for
publications like Rails Through the Clay or Light
Rail Review are, to put it bluntly,
The ones who turn right, however, are a
much funkier crowd. They might buy a 'babe vest' with the word
'Angel' on it, or a pair of boxer shorts decorated with 'Open
flap for ventilation', 'Hold Tight' or 'Stand on the Right'.
They might be after a 'Mind the Gap' record bag that
immediately turns anyone suitably bespectacled into Jarvis
Cocker or some clodhopping black shoes as modelled by the past
hundred years by guards on the Northern Line.
the museum shop sold more goods per square foot than Marks
& Spencer and its success is symptomatic of an outrageous
phenomenon - the Tube has become trendy." (Actually if you want to buy a range of trendy "Mind the Gap" tube inspired clothing click here).
So with my
site don't expect too much on maps, timetables (which the underground
never really follows apart from the first and last train!) and
pictures of trains (you can find these amongst my links
page if you really want them). What you should expect is fun,
the latest views about what it's really like to travel on the
tube and a good laugh. If you were in the London Transport
Museum shop you'd certainly be turning right!
wouldn't go as far ES magazine to say that
"The Underground logo has ceased to evoke downbeat
words such as 'late for work' and 'person under a train', but
instead evokes words that marketing people like, such as
'young', 'street' and 'urban'....the Underground logo is a
pre-eminent symbol of what is - thanks to the spin-doctoring of Blair - the coolest city on earth." (Although I don't think he's too happy about public transport at the moment - click here to find out why.)
should provoke some debate and I'd be delighted to hear your views in the guestbook
I'm also currently working on a
number of stories about underground systems outside of London.
So watch this space, or better still, if you have any overseas
stories or know of any overseas sites like mine (not just
pictures of foreign subways, timetables or maps, as I've seen
most of those and they're not really in the spirit of this
site) let me know through the guestbook below.
Must tell you all that I'VE WON MY FIRST AWARDS. You'll see more about them
by clicking one of the buttons on the bottom of the page. And just like London buses just when you've been waiting a
while for one, three come along at once.
My third award is not a travel related award so I've put in on
my page about tube
etiquette (don't ask me why), but the webmaster for this
award said the following of my site :
"I had a really good time wandering the pages of
your web site, which apart from looking really good, is
clearly the result of a lot of hard work. I am more than happy
to offer you my cool site award.
the Queen on the Victoria Line,
who obviously looks like
she approves of my awards!
However is she breaking a
My other award is named after a
famous cartoon character who appears on my page about tube
animals. Anyway enough of this basking in my own
glory (but if you want more awards & accolades click here), onto the important stuff, please read
Ad campaign of the moment
Brilliant and highly topical ad right now for Abbey National - things that they can't make happen in the summer but they would like to. It would be great if there were free icecreams to make up for the current delays we're getting because the tube system can't cope with the heat and the lines are buckling. Perhaps Mayor Ken Livingstone should spend less time offering £100,000 rewards for air conditioning and more time one giving us poor commuters free iced water or ice-creams.
Have you seen this man?
If you're a Londoner, you have probably seen this ad for Tropicana orange juice in tube carriages and in Metro newspaper and it must have rung true. It's the tube loony - the one person that no one wants to sit next to on the tube. It's part of a series of ads which seem to have struck a chord with Londoners.
I spoke to Nick Alford from "Banks Hoggins O'Shea FCB" - a leading London advertising agency - who were responsible for the campaign. "We wanted to position this mini sized bottle of fruit juice as a tonic against the irritating things that Londoners face on an hourly basis. We see Tropicana as being part of London's Urban Survival Kit. The ad is targeted at those people who work in London and have a latent love for the City but face many irritating situations on a regular basis." he said.
Other ads in the campaign include two people wandering down a street filled with coffee bars with a somewhat manic "caffeine overdose" look on their face and the other is on my tube rules page and shows a number of back packers with rather large rucksacks. The agency did some research as to what most irritated Londonders and these three seemed to be the most popular irritations. The one with the tube loony says it all to me. Note the empty seats either side of him and the strange look on the face of the man on the left. It's top!! Many thanks to Banks Hoggins O'Shea FCB and the photographer Dean Marsh for permission to use the images.
If you've seen an ad on the tube which you think typfies life on the tube let me know through the guestbook and I'll try to get a comment from the agency responsible. For more on tube ads hop over to this page.
Is this you?
Have you ever taken a picture of yourself for a travelcard in one of those tiny "Photo Me" booths on the Underground? Have you then rushed for a train and left your picture behind? Have you ever lost your Travelcard photocard? If you have, the Internet's answer to the Baker Street lost property office could help. Isthisyou.co.uk, is a collection of passport sized photos found on the Underground. It's quite a wacky study of people in itself. You know how you never really look like yourself on these passport sized pictures. Check it out, who knows, you might find your lost picture there.
Claim if you are delayed - TEXT YOUR CLAIM
What a fantastic new idea. After the debacle over the Central Line closure and the many claims for compensation, Tube Refund have come up with a great way of making your claims to the London Underground under the Customer Charter easy. The Customer Charter seems to be little known on the tube.
"The London Underground Customer Charter offers a very straightforward
refund system for an individual journey delayed more than 15 minutes
(except in circumstances outside LU control such as freak weather or
security alerts). Claim forms are available at any
London Underground station. The refund amount is the standard single
fare for the Underground journey you were undertaking."
Paul, from London Transport
Thanks Paul for clearing this point up.
At present, London Underground receives only one compensation form for every 1,700 passengers that travel. The problem is that it's quite a hassle to remember to pick up a form, fill it in, post it back, so now, thanks to Tube Refund with a simple text or email, you get a form created and completed in minutes and you send it off the to London Underground by freepost. Up until the 1st November 2003 the service is free, so make the most of it. After that point it's a fiver for 25 forms and considering you could get from £25 to £92.50 for those claims it's still a bargain.
If anyone else has views on delays, compensation etc let me know through the guestbook.
B Gower signed my guestbook recently with this excellent message which could take out some of the pain of filling in the claims forms
"Having spent many hours trapped in delayed trains on the Underground, I attempt to gain a level of retribution by completing the Customer Charter Refund Form. This too I find a total bind, so I have developed a small computer program to assist in this task. The system operates by retaining my personal information, as well as that relating to my season ticket. I then simply complete the details relating to that particular claim and insert a claim form in my printer. The program has been set up to fill in the appropriate blanks, except for the last line which is too close to the edge of the page. I then can simply post off the claim and wait for the return.
"In addition, the system then records each claim so I have a record of what claims are outstanding, and how long it takes London Underground to process them, as well as a record of the 'value' of my vouchers.
"This project started out as a bit of fun, simply for my own amusement. I was however quite appalled when I discovered that London Underground process some 21,000 claims a week. The cost of processing these claims in terms of stationary, manpower, and loss of revenue to London Underground must be horrendous. If anyone, especially from London Underground can corroborate these figures, I would be interested to hear from them. And if anyone is interested in my program please contact me. Who knows, there may be something in this yet!"
Sounds like a top idea!!!!
Here's a few more views on claiming from the uk.transport.london newsgroup
"I think people should (claim). The Customer Charter allows for refunds
under such circumstances; therefore it makes sense to claim them.
Of course, LT have probably some weaselly get-out clause that
says you can't claim if the station is shut or something....
"However, I always claim if I am held up for >15 minutes for any
reason, and LT have always been very good about sending me a
refund (which, incidentally, is transferable, so you can pass it on to
someone who needs to buy a Tube ticket). The forms are usually
kept in racks with other leaflets and entitled "Customer Charter", so
it's not altogether clear that that's what they are.
"Mind you, if I were whoever orders such things, whenever a train
gets held up because of a breakdown, or person on the line, or
fouling the points (which is what happened at Brixton recently), I
think their people should be standing at the exit gates handing out
refund leaflets, instead of hoping most people won't bother!....
"if your train gets held up through a
breakdown or something similar, LT will happily refund the cost of
your journey. Well, I don't know about happily, but they'll do it.
Whereas when it's a massive system failure that shuts down
most of a line, well.... one trainful is a very different matter from a
whole lines worth of angry commuters!......
"I wonder how many people would, like me, have assumed
there would be some frightfully good reason not to pay under
these circumstances, and not bothered claiming? As I've said
before, the forms aren't at all obvious, and you have to know you
can claim - I bet 90% of Tube travellers don't know. They don't
exactly hand them out with a "So sorry you were delayed!" when
you get off after a train breakdown, do they?"
And a very reasonable reply from Paul (can't believe I'm saying someone from LU is reasonable!).
"At the risk of chasing a lost cause I don't think you can blame LU if
people choose to make their own mind up about whether it is claimable
or not. Believe me for those that think like you there are plenty that
claim for absolutely everything !
"Unless you took the time to explain it to people leaving the station -
and how much extra delay would that cause - most people would drop
them (the leaflets) on the floor straight outside. Additionally, a little known fact is
that only 1 in 10 of the claim forms we distribute at stations gets
returned - where on earth do they go? You may say, so what, but these
forms cost money to print - public money ! You are right some people
don't know about the charter refunds, most probably wouldn't bother to
claim for odd delays anyway.
"Extra point - if I get delayed on the Northern line to central London,
when I change trains and alight at Covent Garden how do the staff
there know that I have been delayed?
"I don't disagree with your point but there are some fundamental
Paul from London Transport
"The only things not covered by the Customer Charter are Acts of God,
Industrial Action and previously announced Engineering Work. Every time I've claimed, which hasn't been very often, I've always
received a refund."
More on this from Andrew McAleer who recently signed my guestbook:
"I have a comment on customer refund forms. I regularly fill these in, and keep a stack in my drawer at work to hand to annoyed colleagues who might not think of it otherwise. I have received a voucher for every single on I have filled in, which would be great if only the people in the ticket booths knew what they were. Every time I have tried to use them to partly pay for my travelcard, the 'friendly' person has spent ages reading the instructions on the voucher and then has had to go through a lengthy system of signing and dating the back of every one. I get about ten of these a month, so this means by the time I've got my ticket there is an enormous queue behind me, which makes ME feel guilty and loathe to use them the next time!"
I wonder if this is a deliberate ploy!!!!
And if you have any travel queries, call 0207 222 1234 (The 24 Hour LT information line) and ask them for advice and the latest news. Apparently (as well as speaking English) they have operators fluent in Spanish, Italian, German and several Asian languages so you may be able to practice your language skills too!!
Is this what PPP will bring us?
Check out www.new-tube.co.uk for a view of what the tube might look like under the new PPP scheme - Public-Private Partnership (privatisation basically!). Let be known that I'm saying upfront that this is a spoof, but it's a pretty good spoof, promising carpeted carriages, a refreshments trolley on board, well off travellers not being ‘inconvenienced by common people’ etc etc. It's all by the guys from Reclaim the Streets and has nothing to do with me - honest guv, I'm not responsible for the content, blah blah, legal blah, I'm not endorsing it or Reclaim the Streets blah blah, follow the links at your own risk/peril blah blah. If you want more on the PPP debate check out this page on my site.
Seen someone you fancy on the tube?
An absolutely brilliant new site was bought to my attention which is perfect for a common tube encounter. Picture this, you are sitting opposite someone you really think looks the business. They look like the man or woman of your dreams. But what do you do? You can't talk to them as talking is not allowed. Even if you do you will suffer the embarrassment of the rest of the entire non talking carriage listening to your chat up lines.
Fear not as a website has been launched that is just for you.ISawYouToday.com is exactly for this situation. The webmaster of this delightfully wacky site says:
"It can't really be pigeon holed, but I guess the best way to describe it is as a kind of introductory service for people who have already met.
"Does that make any sense?
"It was created to give people who have already seen each other (at the moment restricted to the London Underground) the chance to actually get to know each other...... ."
"Once you've left a short message describing who you are, and who the object of you affection is, along with the tube line you were travelling on, and the time, you're almost home and dry. Now just sit back and wait for the other person to have the same idea as you, and Bob's your Uncle."
Top idea - only wish I'd thought of it first. Check it out today, you might meet your Angel at Angel, or your Josephine at Waterloo!! For a true story about a couple who met on the tube and then got married check out this page on my site. Altogether now, let's sing: "People all over the world, join hands, start a Love Train, Love Train".
Mind your seat.
There's an email currently doing the rounds about the tube as follows:
"During Autumn of 2000, a team of scientists at the Department of Forensics at University College London removed a row of passenger seats from a Central Line tube carriage for analysis into cleanliness. Despite London Underground's claim that the interior of their trains are cleaned on a regular basis, the scientists made some alarming discoveries.
"The analysis was broken down. This is what was found on the surface of the seats:
4 types of hair sample (human, mouse, rat, dog)
7 types of insect (mostly fleas, mostly alive)
Vomit originating from at least 9 separate people
Human urine originating from at least 4 separate people
"When the seats were taken apart, they found:
The remains of 6 mice
The remains of 2 large rats
1 previously unheard of fungus"
The email gets worse apparently it's far more hygienic to wipe your hand on the inside of a recently flushed toilet bowl before eating, than to wipe your hand on a London Underground seat before eating. Do you smell a rat here - and not from the tube seats?
Some of my friends saw the email and thought of me (not because I remind them of the stuff found on the tube - but because of this site!).
Anyway before I decided to share this all with you I thought I'd put on some journalistic integrity and do a bit of research and I'm sorry to say it's all rubbish. I love it as an Urban Myth but basically it's just too disgusting to be true! However all of these things are definitely on the tube. You'll see why if you explore the rest of this site - vomit, rats, mosquitoes and more - it's just not so concentrated! So many thanks to the people who run the Urban Legends website and if anyone wants to see the full email or learn about why it's false check out their page here. Or you can check out an interview with an tube official on LBC radio who confirms that it's all a hoax!
Go Jesse, Go Jesse, Go Jesse!!!
It had to happen and I must applaud Jesse Fuller a tube station assistant for telling The Guardian newspaper what it's like to work on the tube. This feature (published 20th November 2000) is so in the spirit of this site that I make no apologies for nicking loads of it, but you can find the links to the full story later.
A bit of background, Jesse's been an tube station assistant for 3 years, I'm not sure whether he still is or whether Jesse is just a pen name but his story makes a great read, here's the best bits:
"when I told a friend I was applying for the job of station assistant he warned me, quite accurately, that underground staff rank alongside traffic wardens in the London public's hall of disdain."
Apparently the money was reasonable so Jesse got the job
"I took the job in good faith, with a half-formed plan to let all the fare evaders off, take night walks in the tunnels and even be friendly to the weary public. I was, after all, one of them, born and bred in the shadow of the underground roundel, and I had this dream of a station where the locals would know we were on their side - a place where only tourists would buy tickets and we would have a friendly word for the regulars at the end of their journey."
Obviously Jesse could not fulfil this plan!!!!
"I found that the general public seemed to be, for some unfathomable reason, pissed off all the time. Once, early in my career, a man laden with luggage approached me at the barrier and asked to be allowed through the gate. Naively, I asked for his ticket. Luckily, the gentlemen was happy to put me straight, at no charge. "You f?***&%g c**t. You want to see my f?***%g ticket do you. You want me to put all my bags down to show you my f?*&&g ticket? I'll show it to you when I'm f?***g through, you
f?***g c**t . . ." Meekly suggesting that showing me the ticket either side would require him to put down his luggage made no difference. .....
"Rudeness comes in many forms, from the tramp who wants to beg in your ticket hall to the young whippersnapper who wants to get himself and 13 mates through the gates with one child's travelcard. There is also the faux-rebel who wants to prove himself by being rude to a uniform. This kind of person saunters straight past you at the barrier as though he is hard and bunking the fare and then, when you pull him up, gives a great big sneer and produces his monthly travelcard."
That's top I must remember that one myself. Anyway, Jesse continues:
"You soon develop tactics to maintain your self-esteem. Some are noble, but the most effective is simply to be ruder, faster - which is no mean feat - and the experts at this game are the booking clerks, secure behind bulletproof glass. The clerk's life is an exercise in frustration - trapped at the window, doing a job that requires concentration but little actual intelligence, faced with hordes of incomprehensible and indecisive idiots who are all trying to maximise the amount of effort you have to put in just to sell them a ticket. After days or, to be honest, hours of £2.10 tickets bought by credit card and unintelligible tourists on top of a rush-hour crowd of miserable Londoners, the more sensitive clerk starts to wilt, and only dishing out tongue lashings, not always appropriately, can restore his sense of pride.
"Why are you always so rude?" one customer asked the ticket clerk on my duty. "The others here are always nice." "Well come back when they're here then," he replied. On another occasion a customer couldn't believe what he had been hearing. "I've never heard such rudeness in all my life," he exclaimed. "You want to get out more," came the response.
Jesse to be fair realises that beyond the "rudeness", "acute stupidity" and "braindeadness" of passengers, we've actually got a lot to put up with:
"Of course, the familiarity Londoners have with the tube tends to be familiarity with overpricing, overcrowding and under-running. The consequences of 30 years of efficiency savings has left a skeletal system that has no slack to accommodate the inevitable mishaps. In addition, the inexorable rise in passenger numbers means that even a fully functioning train service is bursting at the seams......
"The current crisis on the national rail system is a sure indicator of the direction the underground is taking as management fragments and the staff are required to be multiskilled, in order that one person can do three people's jobs. If the underground has avoided the catastrophes of the train network, it is only because it has not yet succumbed to the full-blown idiocy of privatisation."
I would love to put the whole article on this site but as mentioned you can see it on the Guardian's website. Thanks, Guardian and thanks Jesse.
A Prediction on Tube travel from 75 years ago
Metro newspaper recently reported on Professor Archibald Montgomery Low (top name)
who almost 75 years ago tried to guess what the Underground would look like by 1999.
Funnily enough his predictions mean that the current tube system is well behind the
times, however, we are currently seeing some of the stuff he predicted.
He predicted 100mph trains, mobile phones, solar energy, Eurostar and the
Travelcard...and an end to spitting on the Tube!. But in 1914 writing for the transport
magazine Trains, Omnibuses and Trams he said
"In 1999 every station will have comfortable waiting-rooms, with all the trains, the news
of the moment - and perhaps the picture of the moment - thrown upon artistically
He also believed that Londoners in 1999 would be more polite. However a Tube worker
replied to him in the magazine:
"Will the Underground passengers of 1999 try to enter the stations by the exits, ignore
the notice to stand aside on escalators?" (see my page tube rules for
He mentioned passengers abusing station staff after going beyond their destinations
(shame he didn't know about the nun that was recently sued after going past her
destination on a bus!!) and added: "Will they exhibit the same tendency to forego the
rules and regulations, as do a large proportion of the travelling public of today?"
Certainly. It's nice to see that transport staff had the same happy frame of mind in 1914 that they do today. Until London Transport staff get less of an attitude problem and
stop suing nuns for going past their stops, and start taking lessons in customer service
and start having a bit of sympathy for people who've been stuck in overcrowded hot
smelly carriages that you wouldn't even transport cattle in, I think you're going to be
stuck with a ordinary 20th century passenger well into the 21st century too.
This train is not going to Parsons Green
Thanks to whoever took some of the following quotes from my website and sent them out in an email as this has now been passed on to thousands of people which is great!!! (If you could give the URL of my website when doing this next, it would be even better www.going-underground.net). It was most surprising too when I received it at work myself and two days before my ex-husband did and at the weekend some of my friends were talking about it too. Seems to have really touched a nerve with the Londoners (Chris Tarrant on Capital FM radio even read some out - and you may have come here from the feature in The Evening Standard) and people have been signing my guestbook with more announcements, so keep em coming in.
Here's the announcement that started it all off, much funnier ones follow.
District Line, hometime, me and several hundred other passengers and indeed the station announcer at Earl's Court were thoroughly confused by the signal men. I hopped on the tube at Victoria thinking that I was on a Richmond bound train. At Earl's Court, the platforn indicator said Parsons Green. I ignored this as ...well, when did you last believe what the indicator at Earl's Court said? Anyway, there were several loud announcements and it turned out that the train was going to Parson's Green. Unfortunately the carriage was packed with Italian students who didn't get off. Now maybe they knew something I didn't, because they all carried on to Parsons Green, which is completely in the wrong direction to Richmond. Perhaps I should have been public spirited and said "Are you sure you all want to go to Parson's Green", but my Italian is non existent, so I didn't!
Anyway on the platform of Earl's Court, the female announcer was beginning to get a bit harrassed and apologises for the boards and enthusiastically tells us that the next Richmond train is just leaving South Kensington and will be with us in four minutes time. She then gave us minute by minute updates apologising for the confusion.
Four minutes later and the train appears with 'Richmond' on the platform indicator. We're all about to pile on the train, when lo and behold it changed to 'Parsons Green' again.
"I am sorry," the announcer says "I was told this train was going to Richmond and the signal men have changed their mind and this train is now going to Parsons Green".
The same thing happened with a train that was supposed to be going to Ealing Broadway and ended up going to Wimbledon instead.
Another four minutes and a Richmond train appeared. The announcer was now in full swing "The train at platform three is not going to Parsons Green but to Richmond. The train approaching platform two is also not going to Parsons Green but to Ealing Broadway. These trains are not going to Parsons Green despite what the signal men think."
So onto the much funnier announcements from you all......I thank you:
Rob from the newsgroup uk.london.local heard the following on a Northern Line service...:
"Beggars are operating on this train, please do NOT encourage these
beggars, if you have any spare change, please give it to a registered
that, give it to me!"
Paul from uk.transport.london heard the following on the Piccadilly Line
"to the gentleman wearing the long grey coat trying to get on the second carriage, what part of 'stand clear of the doors' don't you understand."
Here's one from Matt in Hammersmith which strangely enough I heard on the same day on the Piccadilly line.
"Whilst travelling Eastbound on the Piccadilly Line the driver announced "This is Knightsbridge Station... All change here for Mr Fayed's little corner shop.."
Laughs all around, apart from the Americans sitting opposite who didn't get the joke!"
STOP PRESS TOP DRIVER'S "AUDIO" ANNOUNCEMENTS - COMING UP
Nik Fox recorded a really, really, TOP London Underground driver who was clearly either on drugs, or delirously happy, or both. It's a classic, he talks about people singing along with buskers, getting someone who's come on the train with an ironing board to do the ironing, and how every man on the carriage should stand up for any Mum as it's Mother's Day tomorrow.
So (drum roll) for the first time, you can hear some hysterical driver's announcements HERE (1.20MB file - large but worth it)
In a way that only the internet could, the actual tube driver - Richie - has tracked me down. Here's his story in his own words:
"I had recieved a phone call from my colleague a train operator at Wembley Park depot on the Jubilee line. He told me that he had heard my rather over the top announcements on this web site. I of course immediately went online and have to say I'm for once speechless. That could be a first for me. In case you're wondering I'm the guy you've taped and called the really really top train operator. I'm glad and I know the majority of passengers enjoy the odd banter or five and just to confirm I am sane not on drugs, generally happy and smiling and that's not wind. There is lots more to come maybe even the Friday night request ride announcing birthdays etc for those who wish. Maybe even tonight when I start at 5.00pm. Catch me if you can.
A big cheers!"
Nik Fox - I'm indebted to you (you can read my interview with Nik here), and now back to the rest of the announcements.
Here's one from Oliver Page with more goings on at Parsons Green
"A District Line train To Parsons Green the driver said over the intercom (whispering) This train is for Parsons Green calling at all the f***ing STATIONS to Parsons Green"
Then about 5 mins after the driver shouted loudly down the intercom "I AM VERY SORRY FOR MY LANGUAGE I HAVE BEEN SACKED YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER DRIVER AT FULHAM BROADWAY!!!!!!"
Mark Rae gave the following story:
"There had been a problem on the Central Line and as usual at Leyton you can see the trains queued back down the track, but one train was still standing at the platform even though he had a green light. I was beginning to wonder why the driver wasn't moving off when he made this announcement.
"Sorry for the delay ladies and gentlemen but there is a queue of trains ahead of us so I have decided to wait here, because I'm sure you don't want to sit in a tunnel getting hot and sweaty"
Also on the Central line, unfortunately I didn't see the people it was directed at.
"Next time, you might find it easier to wait until the doors are open before trying to get on the train"
And from the guard on a GNER train which broke down before it managed to leave Kings X.
"This train is completely broken, it isn't going anywhere"
And "airwaves" heard the following on the Victoria Line
"this is Brixton, err, no, it's Victoria!"
" "This is like that tv advert, I hope the person next to you is wearing a good deodorant!"
Many a snigger"
"One Sunday afternoon at Camden town station - which gets very crowded indeed due to the Camden Lock market - I heard the platform announcer giving the usual 'Please let the passengers off the train first' request. He repeated this request about four or five times becoming more audibly frustrated each time with the customers obvious reluctance to do so. After his final exasperated and rather shrill 'let the passengers off the train FIRST!' He gave up... 'Go on then, stuff yourselves in like sardines, see if I care, I'm going home.' Cue uproarious laughter from the whole station.
Love the site, keep up the fantastic work.
"I take the Hammersmith & City Line every morning from Hammersmith to Moorgate. This morning the trip took me about 20 min longer than usual. Long stop in Paddington, long stop in Baker Street - but no explanation. It stopped again in the tunnel just outside Moorgate. After having sat there freezing for about 10 min the announcement came at last: "I apologise for the delay but the computer controlling the signalling at Aldgate and Whitechapel has the MONDAY MORNING BLUES" I have heard a lot of excuses before - but a depressive computer??"
R D Kramer - who signed my guestbook 20/12/99
"Re your 'Amusing announcements heard' section: This one doesn't really qualify, but I feel a compunction to tell as many people as possible about what happened on a Jubilee Line train about a week before Xmas. Bear in mind that I'm STILL waiting to hear back from the Jubilee Line Head Office and the LU website, despite contacting both the day after this happened.
"It was a pretty average day on the Jubilee line - I'd had to wait over 10 minutes at Bond Street at the height of the evening rush hour. Eventually a train signalled for Wembley Park turned up, and we all piled on. Unfortunately, when we pulled into West Hampstead, it was announced that the train was terminating there. It was a freezing cold night, and by the time the next train turned up 8 minutes later, nobody was in the mood to wait for the next train which was signalled for an impressive 13 minutes later. So again, we all piled on - squashed on like sardines as usual - only to hear the driver come over the intercom about 30 seconds later to say (and I quote): 'We can't move off because some c*** has their f***ing hand stuck in the door'. Unbelievable!"
Danielle from North West London who signed my guestbook 6/1/00
I'm indebted to Horst Prillinger from The Vienna Subway site on this one, who spotted the following announcment on the uk.transport.london noticeboard, posted by Simon Hewison:
"I was at Mill Hill East the other day, a quiet tube station, and the driver of the train said something like
"Hello this is xxx speaking, I am the captain of your train, and we will be departing shortly, we will be cruising at an altitude of approximately zero feet, and our scheduled arrival time in Morden is 3:15pm. The temperature in Morden is approximately 15 degrees celsius, and Morden is in the same time zone as Mill Hill east, so there's no need to adjust your watches."
It caused a laugh from all the passengers."
Risque one here from Jo from Earls Court, heard on the District Line
"I apologise for the delay leaving the station ladies and gentlemen, this is due to a passenger masturbating on the train at Edgeware Road. Someone has activated the alarm and he is being removed from the train."
Another in a similar vein from Liz W from Lewisham. "Waiting for the train at Lewisham Station one morning during the usual rush hour when the following announcement was heard.
"Could the guy who has decided to defecate at the end of Platform Two, now please be aware that all the rest of the passengers waiting for their trains know you are there and you will have to walk past them to leave the station. There is no other means of escape. "
He then went on, a couple of minutes later to tell us all when the chap in question was leaving and where to look.
I was very surprised to see that he was a well dressed man in a suit carrying a brief case. Must have been a very bad case of the trots.
Haven't seen him again at Lewisham station. 'spect he has now left the country. "
This one's from Amy Lang from Essex who signed my guest book
"Taking the Central Line from Epping one morning, there was a delay (fairly inevitable these days) in starting the journey. The driver, or 'train operator' as they prefer to be known as, came on the tannoy and said he wasn't sure of the delay, but was making enquiries. We then heard his radio crackle into life and he proceeded to have a discussion with his colleague over the radio regarding the hold up of departure. Whether it was deliberate or not, the driver failed to switch off the tannoy system, and an already full train of commuters heard the comment "bollocks to the lot of them, I don't care if they don't make it to work."
Sad but true, they don't.
These gems are from Chris Thomas from London who signed my guestbook
At Whitechapel on a H&C train: (Stuck at Whitechapel for 10 mins...)"Apparently, this train is no longer terminating at Barking, but is in fact, terminating here. I'm sorry about this but I too was under the impression that this train was going to Barking, but 'they' have other ideas. I mean, why tell me - I'm merely the driver..."
On central line train: (Very slow moving...)"We have what is technically known as a Frank Spencer Situation... Hmm Betty, we've got a little bit of trouble..."
On East London line train: (Heard the guy say this a couple of times when I was working in Lewisham)
[In deep voice, and with heavy, laid back West Indian accent:]"We are now approaching New Cross station... Please make sure you have all your belongings with you when you leave the train... I hope you enjoyed your journey and you found it nice and relaxing... And I hope you have a wonderful day today...good bye..."
Classic one from John from Kilburn:
"Today while travelling on the jubilee line Gary our rather amusing driver gave out the following announcement, "Ladies and Gentlemen do you want the good news first or the bad news?...... The good news is that last Friday was my birthday and I hit the town and had a great time. I felt sadly let down by the fact that none of you sent me a card! I drive you to work and home each day and not even a card. The bad news is that there is a point's failure somewhere between Stratford and East Ham, which means that we probably won't reach our destination. We may have to stop and return. I won't reverse back up the line simply get out walk up the platform and go back to where we started. In the meantime if you get bored you can simply talk to the man in front or beside you or opposite you. Let me start you off "Hi, my names Gary how do you do?"
Good on yer, Gary.
This one's from Elizabeth Gilliard from London
"I heard this waiting for a train from Paddington to Oxford Circus: "This is the Line Control Room at Baker Street. The Bakerloo Line is running normally today, so you may expect delays to all destinations." "
Here's one from someone who calls herself Bluddymary (also close to my heart as I used to travel on the Waterloo & City line too):
"I heard on this on the Waterloo and City line heading to Bank one morning. There was quite a bit more, but unfortunately, I can't remember it all. 'Well good morning everyone and welcome to your Waterloo and City Line service on this lovely, yummy, lemon-scummy day. This is your Waterloo....' then realising that he had already said Waterloo and City Line service, 'train...service...thingy'. Then as we approached Bank,'Well ladies and gentlemen. I can see a light in front of me which I think is probably Bank station, so that's good isn't it? But I personally was hoping for Calais. Perhaps next time, eh?".
Two more Waterloo & City Line classics here from Nic (also from London)
Northern line: "Ladies and gentlemen we will shortly be arriving at Waterloo, then I think we will carry right on through the channel tunnel and spend the weekend in Paris".
Waterloo and City Line: "Good evening ladies and gents, and welcome to the Waterloo and City line, sights to observe on the journey are, to your right, black walls and to your left, black walls. See the lovely black walls as we make out way to Waterloo. We will shortly be arriving at Waterloo where this train will terminate, we would like to offer you a glass of champagne on arrival and you will notice the platform will be lined with lapdancers for your entertainment - have a good weekend."
Hannah Mummery from Lewisham came up with these:
Heard at Aldgate East one busy morning "Please use all available doors, there are some really good ones at the front of the train!"
Also at Canada Water on the East london Line "we're going to wait here for a bit so I suggest you stretch youre legs, it's alright I won't go without you" later on the same journey at Wapping "Sorry ladies and gentlemen we'll have to wait here for a bit I've been told a computer has fallen off a table somewhere and all the signals have gone wrong so we're stuck"
This one from Claire Singleton (top name) is dear to my heart as I live in Kew Gardens:
"I was prompted to find your site after receiving the famous 'drivers' quotes' e-mail. I heard this one, sweet rather than stunningly funny, while travelling home on the District Line one night in late August. Waiting to depart from Tower Hill, sitting on a train that had terminated there and was turning around to go back, the driver said 'welcome to this lovely train - taking the scenic route to Richmond'. I'm sure you can imagine the ironic tone of voice with which it was uttered.... Great site."
And a question on a train driver from Nic
"I remember stories a few years back about a rastafarian guy who used to work at Camden Tube but was sacked after making announcements like 'the next train is arriving from another dimension'- or words to that effect. Anyone know any more about him?"
If you do can you let me know through the guestbook
Thanks to Eleonar Sullivan for this one:
"I was on the Northern line one evening and when it stopped at Borough station, the doors opened and the announcment came through. "You have 5 seconds, 1...2...3...4...5." Then the doors slammed shut again. Also, one morning in rush hour, I was on the Northern line again, and we all got chucked out of the tube because it was broken. Obviously when the next tube came along, we all tried to get on, and there was lots of "Please stand clear of the DOORS" before we could get going. When we finally started moving again, the driver says over the tannoy, "This is a customer announcement, please note that the big slidy things are the doors, the big slidy things are the doors".
Most recently from Alec Roxburgh
"I heard this on the Northern line recently: "Ladies and gentlemen this train has 22 doors on each side, please feel free to use all of them, not just the two in the middle".
Thanks to Phil Marshall from Herts for this
"I too have experienced the "too many trains ahead, don't want you to get hot and sticky" while waiting on the Circle line at Kings Cross. However, more amusing was the announcement at Liverpool Street Circle Line from the platform staff: "This is information for passengers waiting on platform 2. There is no information. I'm hoping to have some soon and as soon as I do, I'll let you have it.". Brought a welcome smile to many faces."
This one's from Damian from Rainham, Essex
"Enjoyed the site, particularly for the station announcments. I have a couple to add, both on the District Line eastbound. On one occasion, the train had stopped at Barking (Upminster bound), and seemed to pause for a long time. Eventually there came the announcement, "We're ...erm... sorry for the delay. This is because the train is waiting for a new driver. Not that there was anything wrong with the old one. But, ..., well. we're waiting for a new one."
"Another occasion, I had just boarded the District line at Mile End, and the train had just pulled out of the station when it ground to a halt. There was a short pause before the driver said, "We're sorry for the delay, but there's a doggy on the track in front of us" (yes, he did actually say "doggy"!!). "In a minute the lights will go off, while we get the doggy moved to a place of safety." Lights go off, we all sit in anxious silence. 3 minutes later, lights back on. "You'll be pleased to know that the doggy has now been removed from the track and is safe and well, so we can resume our journey."
Here's two from Philip Graeme Brown from Borehamwood
"Got another announcement one for you. 23 October around 6:40pm, Baker Street had been shut due to overcrowding (personally the easiest way around that is to let the trains stop, but never mind). As my Met line approached heading towards Amersham an announcement came over from the driver saying. "We are now travelling through Baker Street, as you can see Baker Street is closed. It would have been nice if they had actually told me, so I could tell you, but no, they don't think about things like that"
"Also, way back in the early 90s when the DLR first opened to Bank the Captain could be heard of the tannoy saying. "We are now approaching the new tunnel, so after three...1, 2, 3 wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Anyway, great website!
This one's from Poppy from West Hampstead:
"On my way down the Northern Line, the train stopped in a tunnel. After a few minutes, the driver's voice came: "sorry for the delay, but there has been an incident at King's Cross. Someone has attacked the driver (*big sigh*) 9.15am on a Monday morning and there's been an incident already. The police have been called. (*Pause*) It's a good thing I'm not a policeman, because I'd lock them all up for life. (*pause* *lower voice*) either that or shoot them."
Ok, here's a good one from someone who calls themself Krime Spree
"While they were finishing off the Jubilee line extension, having told people it would be out of action for yet another few months, I heard the following announcement on the Victoria line:
'just to remind passengers, that owing to management incompetence, the Jubilee line will not be open until... I repeat, the Jubilee line will not be reopening until... this is due to management incompetence'
I forget the exact reopening date, but the message continued...
'also, I would like to apologise for the delay to your SO CALLED Victoria line service, this was due to ... errr the wrong kind of rain!!' "
Not a train driver but it's so brilliant it needs to be added. It's from Pippa in Cricklewood:
"A friend of a friend (etc..) worked as a station assistant at Warren Street station and one day whilst making a public announcement re busking/begging on London Underground, got the two slightly confused and came up with the following gem: "London Underground would like to remind everyone that buggering is not allowed at any Underground station!"
Here's a brilliant one from Catherine:
"About 2 years ago, I was on a Central Line Eastbound train at Bank. The driver had been making jokes about 'minding the doors' and 'waiting for passengers to leave the train first', since I'd got on at Oxford Circus. But the best one was at Bank Station.
"He asked the passengers for the second time to 'mind the doors' (and the gap!) and then added 'Yes you, the woman in the long brown coat, love. I suggest you should shave your legs in future, it'll stop the hairs getting caught in the doors. Look at her everyone! Mingin!'. (PAUSE) Anyway, have a safe journey please, mind the doors, the doors are closing.' I promise you this actually happened. I remember it as if it was yesterday!"
This is from Stefane from Earl's Court:
"During the security alerts brought about by the IRA in the early-mid 90's, our westbound District Line train waited for some 45 mins outside Westminster station "due to a security alert". The following was a genuine announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, we apologise for the delay, but there is a security alert at Victoria station and we are therefore stuck here for the foreseable future, so let's take our minds off it and pass some time together. All together now.... Ten green bottles, hanging on a wall...." And yes after a couple of green bottles, most had joined in and we completed the song. The driver then went mysteriously quiet."
Here's a little something from Dave T who's from Cornwall but heard this when visiting London:
"We were held outside of Green Park on the Victoria Line, cue this:
'Well, well, well, ladies and gentlemen, it's happened again. Delays on your Victoria line and all sorts of trouble on the Jubilee. Gawd only knows what's going on there, it's gonna take more than Ken Livingstone to sort that tube out. By the way, Green Park is our next stop. Thankyou."
We eventually rolled into Green Park to this merry announcement...
"This is Green Park, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Grrreeeen Park. Change here for ..... and the Jubilee line if you're desperate. Hope you've got plenty of time if you go for that one. This is Grrrrreeeeen Park"
Seemed to brighten up everyone's day. The driver was similarly eloquent all the way along the line.
Here's one from Nathan in Slough
"Reminded me of one heard on the Central Line a few months ago. I was sitting in the front carriage, right behind the drivers er.. "compartment" and heard: "Oh for f***'s sake!", followed by a PA announcement something like "Apologies for the delay but we have lost power to the train as you can tell by the blinding speed at which we're travelling. I'll give more information as soon as I get any!"
Here's one I heard recently, and the driver had a particularly dreary voice
"We are taking the scenic route to Upminster on the District Line." Yeah, Yeah - I think I've heard that before, but then he said "All stations to Upminster with the exception of Cannon Street, which does not stop there on Saturdays due to ....(PAUSE) ...total lack of interest."
A rather good one from Naomi from Plaistow: "Welcome aboard the Flintstones railway, once I get my feet on the floor and start running we should be on our way".
Here's a few from Owain Sutton from Manchester
On the Circle Line, bottlenecked south of Liverpool St:
"I apologise for the delay, caused by trying to fit too many trains onto too little track."
Virgin service London-Manchester, heavily delayed: "We are now approaching Manchester Piccadilly. On behalf of Virgin Trains I'd like to apologise that you had to put up with such an awful journey, and can only hope that your day doesn't get any worse."
Central Trains, Norwich-Liverpool (in strong Norfolk accent):
"We apologise for the late departure from Norwich, which was a result of the driver having had his car wheel-clamped."
A great one here from Luca from Putney:
I have my own particular favourite announcement. I was going back to Putney on a late night District Line train. There were some guys smoking in one of the carriages so at Putney Bridge the driver announced "May I remind all passengers that there is strictly no smoking allowed on any part of the Underground. However, if you are smoking a joint it is only fair that you pass it round the rest of the carriage".
Heard on the Jubilee Line from Alan in London
"The auto announcements weren't working so the driver was making the announcments himself. We arrived at Green Park and heard the following: '
Change for Pictoria and Vicadilly Lines'! Much laughter in the first car!"
Here's a story from Jo in Morden: "I use the District line everyday (worse luck) and there have been a few classics, the most notable being the morning the driver made his usual "stand clear of the doors announcement" and forgot to turn off his PA! It was great fun, as he was effin and blinding all the way to East Putney (I dunno who he was talking to!) when some kindly soul spoilt our fun.
Another good one was during a spate of the dreaded points/signal failures at Southfields - after we managed to pass Southfields (in only 40 mins from Wimbledon) the driver said "we are all clear now, and should be fine. Until the next bloody problem that is"
They suffer as much as we do!"
More sardonic tones in this one from Audrey in London: "On a Northern Line train last week the driver made this announcement..."Due to an overpowering smell of sewage, this train will NOT be stopping at Highgate. I repeat, this train will NOT stop at Highgate". then, a minute later, "Ladies and gentlemen...this train IS stopping at Highgate, and of course I'm the last to know"
Slightly sadistic one here from Jo
"I was on my way home from work a few months ago (travelling through Oxford Circus tube station), when a bored voice came over the tannoy "Please note that begging is not permitted in any part of London Underground", there was a short pause and the voice continued "however to the gentleman busking away happily next to the escalators, please carry on and enjoy yourself. The transport police have been called and should be with you shortly..."
Here's a little rant from Tom near Wood Green
"Just a quick note about the Victoria Line Driver noted by Dave T earlier on the site. (Grrrrrrreen Park). I'm glad he's been spotted. Militant striker or not - his enthusiastic delivery of station knowledge certainly brightens up every journey I share with him ...
As an example: "High Berry ... and .... Is Ling Ton!"
"Then he runs down what seems the complete list of stations you can travel to from the place, and on which train companies.
"He completes: "Ladies and Gentlemen: High Berry ... And ... Is Ling Ton!"
"To break the monotony of him not speaking, he plays those pre-recorded little messages so that we "Please remember that smoking is not permited on any London Underground train."
etc etc. Mr Victoria Line Driver, you are a top bloke, and brighten the days of many ordinary commuters, visitors, and tourists. I salute you!
"If you and your employers could encourage some of your miserable colleagues to follow similar, and actually use their personalities for the good of humananity, it would be appreciated. In my opinion, driving a tube can't be that hard (I formulated this opinion the day after the first strike on "safety" earlier this year, when my Piccadilly Line driver pulled into Turnpike Lane station reading a copy of The Mirror)."
Here's some from the Guardian's website - they nicked some from here, so here's a few in return
"Ladies and gentlemen, upon departing the train may I remind you to take your rubbish with you. Despite the fact that you are in something that is metal, fairly round, filthy and smells, this is a tube train and not a bin on wheels."
"Your delay this evening is caused by the line controller suffering from elbow and backside syndrome, not knowing his elbow from his backside. I'll let you know any further information as soon as I'm given any."
"I am sorry about the delay. Apparently some nutter has just wandered into the tunnel at Euston. We don't know when we'll be moving again, but these people tend to come out pretty quickly. In bits."
To all footy fans here's one from Stevinho from North London
"On a journey from Central London to Arsenal for an important mid week Champions League game the driver made the following announcement: 'The next stop is Arsenal, For those of you that wish to see Tony Adams standing around for 90 minutes with his arm in the air please get off here. Not my cup of tea but there you go!'
Here's a few from Damien from Bow.
"Travelling west one Friday evening on the District line, there had been a suicide at Mile End station. The driver made the following announcement as we were about to leave Bow Road. "Mile End station is closed. This train will not be stopping at Mile End. The next stop will be Turnham Green". Which was perhaps a little excessive, given the 20 odd stations in between. Perhaps he meant Stepney Green!!
"More recently on an east bound district line from Embankment: "We're sorry for the delay. This is due to the incompetence of the signal operators in the Aldgate area".
And then the driver who sounded so fed up when he said, "Please allow the passengers off the train first. It's easier that way."
Here's one I heard on the Piccadilly Line "Please note that the beeping noise coming from the doors means that the doors are about to close. It does not mean throw yourself or your bags into the doors."
Lucy from Lewisham shares this little gem with us
"During a last-tube journey on the Victoria line, my boyfriend and I were in the front carriage, and whilst stuck in a tunnel we heard every sound in the driver's cab, as the driver stood up, undid his trousers, and peed out of his cab window. "
A Christmassy tale from JoJo
"A fairly normal morning on the Jubilee line, about twenty minutes late and the train stopped at Baker Street. The usual announcement and then "and as I am sure you all know folks it is now only xx shopping days till Christmas and everyone is getting in the mood for festivities. If any of you would like to send my a Christmas card my names is Richard, I usually do this run on the Jubilee line and you can find me at the front of the train." Only me and this other girl actually laughed. Everyone else looked appalled!!!
Here's a couple Jo heard at Rickmansworth station on the Metropolitan line:
"In the mornings, there is always a change of driver at Rickmansworth. This changeover always seems to take forever, and one morning we found out why from the station announcer:
"Mr Adams, would you please stop gassing to Mr Farnham and get this bloody train out of the station!"
Also one morning from the station announcer to a bunch of schoolkids on the platform:
"You lot sitting where you think I can't see you - put that fag out, what would your parents think?"
It gave me something to smile about for the day..."
Thanks to Hugh Morrison from London for these:
"Here are some comments I've heard from tube drivers:
"During an extremely hot rush hour on the Central Line, the driver announced in a West Indian drawl 'step right this way for the sauna, ladies and gennelmun...unfortunately towels are not provided'.
"On the Northern Line, when a teenager had pretended to jump in front of the train, the driver announced: 'you should have done it mate, it might have knocked some sense into you'.
"On the Jubilee Line, when most of the train was stuck in a tunnel but the driver's cab was just outside: 'well ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to tell you it's a lovely sunny day outside...but of course you wouldn't know that, because you're sitting in the dark'.
Richard from Guildford left a couple for us
This was at Holborn tube, 18:45 Friday: (Emphasis in caps)
"This is a TRAIN, get ON IT, go HOME, see you Monday."
And another from a long time ago on a northbound train at Kennington, where the Northern Line splits to go via the City (Bank) of the West End (Waterloo) in a very deadpan voice:
"This train is for all stations to Edgware via Waterloo, which means that if you want to go to Bank you're on the wrong train."
You do worry that some of these drivers are in charge of the trains. Here's a surreal ones. Firstly from Liam (originally from Birmingham)
"I think it was on a (delayed) Jubilee line train to Green park, when over the tannoy came:
"this train is delayed due to err... someone upset the computer while playing alex harvey music on an MP3... oh, if anyone meets a guy called Cory Berry, tell him that he stinks"
The next is from a signalman from the Piccadilly Line
"Got on a District Line train home one afternoon, and got to Earls Court with no problems. After about 5 mins and God knows how many "Mind The Doors" announcements, the driver proceeds with the following announcemnt:
"Would the person with the black bag please put it in, I don't get it what is it with you people? You have a big bag and you have to accommodate for that on the train, you can't leave it hanging out of the doors. It's hot, I wanna get home, you wanna get home, so let's all co-operate, keep our hands,legs and bags inside the train and we can get home quickly, OK?"
And one from Michelle in Kennington:
Here's a classic for your tube announcements section.
I was waiting on the Jubilee line platform at London Bridge Last night (13/2/02) and heard the following announcement from, what I imagined to be the station controller:
"To the person skateboarding down the southbound platform of the Northen Line - I suggest that you stop. There are approximately 640 volts going through the line beneath you, and if you care to fall off the skateboard you will find out!"
Here's one from Kate from North London, heard on the Piccadilly Line
"Please allow the doors to close. Try not to confuse this with 'Please hold
the doors open'. The two are distinct and separate
Ruth Smith tube free Catford has an early morning message for us
"Earlier in the week a "Passenger Service Agent" (I think that that is what they are called) kindly did his bit for the London tourist industry, informing us that "The next station is Cutty Sark for the Greenwich Maritime Museum". This put a smile on the faces of a lot of still sleepy commuters. It was 6.45 in the morning....."
One from John Whitehead in the City of London, heard on the Victoria Line
"We apologise for the delays to services tonight, this is caused by extended intervals between trains." Really!
A great one here from Jonathan Lovett:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I do apologise for the delay to your service. I know you're all dying to get home, unless, of couse, you happen to be married to my ex-wife, in which case you'll want to cross over to the Westbound and go in the opposite direction".
Provoked a laugh from the whole train. Can't remember which station it was heard on, but I think was on the Central Line."
Here's one I recently heard at Baron's Court on the Piccadilly Line: "Please mind the gap when leaving the train. If you're not leaving the train, there's no need to mind the gap. It's all right, you're safe." Surreal and slightly worrying!
Nice one from Neill Ireland
"Staggering off a all night flight from America I got on to the tube at Heathrow with a number of bleary eyed fellow travelers. After 5 or 6 minutes the tube doors closed but nothing happened. A slightly threatening voice then came over the intercom "Welcome back to life in the fast lane" and with that the train took off!"
Another one from me, from a lady driver (not too many of them around), she was top and was full of wry comments throughout my journey on the Piccadilly Line from Hammersmith to Covent Garden.
Firstly "To the gentleman with the camera who just took a picture of this train, I am happy to pose for any photographs, but please make sure you do not use flash as it can cause a distraction to us drivers and I'm told your pictures will come out better with no flash"
Later in the same journey when the train was really packed, doors close on some people getting on, open again quickly and lady driver's dulcet tones "As much as I don't want to separate friends, please mind the doors, the train is about to leave".
A brill one here from Jane from East Finchley:
On leaving the Victoria train I heard the platform assistant say:
"Welcome to Euston. You can change here for the Northern line, go upstairs to the mainline station or just wonder around the area. But hey, it's Friday so lets all be happy. Good afternoon passengers...You were meant to say good afternoon back. I'll say it again. Good afternoon passengers"
At this point there were a few calls of "Good afternoon" from inside the train.
"Sorry that was rubbish.I could hardly hear you. I can keep this train here all day you know. So come on... Good afternoon passengers".
At this point a loud "Good Afternoon" was heard from the train. "There, now that didn't hurt did it? Have a good weekend"
I could hear much laughter from the passengers as the train as the doors closed. Who need to wait for Christmas for pantomimes."
From Martin a regular passenger to Walthamstow:
"I heard one on the Victoria line once at Seven Sisters I supposed to be on a train to Walthamstow, but it stopped short at Seven Sisters. The Driver announced "All change please, this train terminates here, if you wanted Walthamstow you were on the wrong train in the first place. Please cross over to platform 3 for the next Walthamstow train" Really made me laugh all the way home!!"
Here's one from Matt from Adelaide but now in London: "I was once travelling on the Victoria line during peak hour, when I had the fortune of having a humourous driver who said:
"This is the northbound Victoria line train. Please move right down inside the carriage to allow more people to get on." Normal so far. Then he continued "Move right down inside please - it's a Friday afternoon, the weekend has just started, and we all would like to get home. Please move inside the carriages so everyone can board the train. I know it is a bit squashy, but you never know, you might make a new friend to spend the weekend with. Mind the closing doors, please". There were many chuckles, and it raised everyones spirits a bit!
And another Matt gives us this: "Whilst having a night out up town one evening, my mum and dad were standing on the platform waiting for a train. As the train was approaching, the guard piped up "Would everybody please take one big step backwards please!" After a small pause, the guard made a different request "Anybody with their back to the platforms edge, who are on the yellow line, please ignore my last message!". To which the platform of people burst out laughing and the humorous guard piped up "Heh, I'd thought you'd like that one!!!"
Someone who calls themselves Potato Chip came up with the following: "On a lazy Monday afternoon a couple of weeks back there was a rather entertaining announcement at London Bridge on the Northern Line branch by the one of the station announcers. There was a man on the end of the platform bouncing his basketball. He recieved this message. "To the man bouncing his ball on the platform, please take yourself and your ball to the nearest playground! In other words, the middle of the road right outside the station!" I hope you'll be glad to know he DIDN'T die by being run over after that incident, though he has been recently spotted (with his ball) at Canary Wharf having trouble holding it going down the escalators!"
Heard on the District Line by Alan in London: "We were arriving into Victoria when a young man decided to drop his pants and show us his bottom. Quick as a flash the driver said "To the hilarious gentleman who just showed me his bum, can I suggest that you join a gym or go on a diet before waving it around in future!" Nice!!!!
Another top one at Victoria station from Alyx J: "My favourite announcement occured on the Victoria Line. The driver announced, "This is Victoria Station. Please leave your valuables on the train and I will collect them at the end of my shift." The train must have been full of tourists because my fellow passengers looked confused!"
During the recent Central Line crash Nat reports: "Well I'd just like to say thank you to my train driver who made us all laugh (except the two deaf ladies sitting next to me) when the accident happened on the Central Line. I wasn't in the crash thankfully but I was stuck on the train for a very very long time. So the driver was great and made the best comments to make us all relax. I remember him saying 'You might have to pull out a pack of cards or do the unthinkable and talk to your fellow passengers.' There's nothing like a fun train driver, so thanks to the Londoner who made me smile. Good 4 you, you deserve a promotion!!"
From East London comes Matty with this: "There was me and two other blokes in the elevator going down to that last train towards Edgware a few years ago at Mornington Crescent, as as we were going down that elevator the speaker came out with 'This is Big Brother, there will be no voting in this room, please wait until you arrive at the diary room'.
needless to say we were all chuckling by the end of that.
Says Justin: "Here is one from the Jubilee line: After being stuck in a tunnel for about ten mins, the driver came over the PA and said: "I am afraid this train is being delayed, if possible please arrange for alternative transport". I tried to commute on the Astral plane, but it didn't work out!
Jenn from Camberwell seems to have spotted a pattern: "London Bridge announcers appear to have got it sorted (from earlier entries I read). My friend was waiting the other night for the Northern Line when the tannoy burst into life with the following, which I think sums up British understatement: "When the gentleman urinating on Platform 3 has finished, would he ask the attendant for a mop and bucket. Thank you"
I can imagine the tone that was delivered with!
And we have one from Jeff down under in Melbourne:
"Your site reminds me of the one I heard one Sunday morning on the first tube out of Brixton. As anyone who's been at Brixton Station on a Sunday morning knows, that first train is full of dishevelled-looking clubbers all nursing hangovers (and comedowns). I think the train driver must have known this when he got on the announcer and said "Ladies and Gentlemen, this train will be leaving in...10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1...we have blastoff!.....please mind the doors." It was the only way to get a reaction out of any of us lot....
The wonders of mobile phones from Dan:
"A few years ago whilst waiting for the late-nighter one evening at Paddington tube. The PA came on and we heard "When the gentleman on platform four has finished his phone conversation, would he kindly tell us how he gets mobile phone service down here when the rest of us can't? Thank you."
Nice one from Matt Jarvis:
"Covent Garden has been closed due overcrowding. Please alight at Leicester Square and wander around aimlessly with your huge rucksacks until you get to your destination. You never know, they might install escalators one day!"
Good one from Trevor Garner from Grays:
Got a funny announcement on the District Line one evening, the driver announced "This train willl not be stopping at Mansion House as no one ever gets on or off there. If you did want Mansion House it's tough cos I'm not stopping."
From John in Londontown, heard over the tannoy:
"Would the lady going down the escalator please lower her umbrella, it doesn't rain underground."
Nice little story from Annetta Pirinen:
This happened a few years back. Oxford Circus, Victoria line platform, hot summer afternoon, the rush hour well on its
way, no trains are shown to be coming. Moment by moment more and more people, the platform is
already packed but somehow people get on. It is hot, becoming hotter every moment, as are the tempers... And
suddenly, there is the voice of the station announcer: "Welcome to the happy hour!" General laughter. It felt like it saved the day.
And another story of driver woes with the delays from Joe:
Comment heard from very tired driver outside Acton Town on a train that had been stopping every 200 yards from Hammersmith:
"I apologise for the delays to your service this evening. This is due to..... well, it's just a crap service isn't it?"
This is from the Docklands Light Railway - real tube buffs don't think of it as the tube, but I do. Thanks to Ali for sending it in:
"Whilst going to London Arena to see some bands, we were held up along the way, I can't quite remember where. The doors opened and shut a few times in our carriage before the driver said, "Could the lightweight who can't hold his drink get out of the way of the doors. Yes you, move it." Much cheering from all the gig goers! "
An excellent one from Hans:
"Last year December, I was waiting at Stratford for the train when I heard the following announcement: "Your next train on Platform 4 will be the 22:01 to Romford. To the guy that has been in the waiting room since 20:00 : Wake up and go home".
A longish, but good story from Afsheen in London:
"My friend and I had alighted at Piccadilly Circus to go to Kings Cross, and our train driver was a rather peeved lady. At every stop and throughout the journey, her voiced boomed through the tannoy: "Passengers are advised not to enter the middle carriage as it has been sealed off."
Seeing as one whole carriage was empty while the rest were packed full, there were some passengers, ignorant to her request, who attempted to enter the empty carriage.
As they tried, the tone of her voice rose, becoming more irate and aggressive. "The middle carriage has been sealed off - do NOT enter it!" Again, no one listened so at the next stop, she stopped the train completely!
"I keep telling you NOT to enter the middle carriage as it has been sealed off! Somebody has puked in it, OK??"
She then proceeded to describe the content of the aforementioned 'mess' before continuing her rant. A few minutes later, she returned to apologise for her rude behaviour to all the passengers who just laughed in response. "
A very dangerous sounding announcement from Ed:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I`m sorry for the delay, I have just been informed this is due to people on the ROOF of the train ahead.....(long pause.....very quizzical sounding): "Yes, you are probably thinking some of the things I am, but thats what I`ve been told by my control"
More clueless drivers from Suzanne:
"Travelling to work one morning on the Picadilly Line when the train stopped in a tunnel between stations. The driver came on the tannoy after about five minutes and said "My apologies for the delay - I haven't got a clue what's going on". After another five minutes he was back on the tannoy and still clueless as to why we were delayed. He apologised once more and we sat there for another ten minutes. Finally he came back over the speakers and said in a fed up voice "Apparently we are delayed here, on the Picadilly line, due to earlier delays on the Metropolitan Line... Go figure!"
A great announcement from Tony in Amersham heard waiting for everyone to pile on the Metropolitan at Baker Street during rush hour .
"Yes, that's right people - this IS the last tube of the day. There will be no more trains. Everybody pile on. There won't be another in 5 minutes! Keep pushing and you might make it!"
The irony was wasted on some - which made it great as they started asking people around them whether that was right, and would the buses still be running????? Had me in stitches!!
And a massive thanks to Alex Gazzola from Midweek magazine who heard the following announcements on the Jubilee Line and it lead him to write a double page feature on the funny driver announcements (see my awards and accolades page for a summary of the feature) Also thanks to Russell Becker for letting me use his brilliant illustration of the LU comedian for the feature:
"Keep your appendages inside the doors, please" says the driver..... "I hope that if you're changing here to continue your journey on anaother line that your next journey is as nice as this one was. That's if this one was nice of course, which it probably was if you were standing alongside an attractive person".
Followed by "When you're leaving the train, ensure you elbow your way out so that you get to the escalator before anyone else does....that was irony by the way" And: "
That's right - kill for seats. You've only been sitting down all day after all" And "I'm not an axe-murdering, baby eating lunatic who's going to drive this train off a precipice, you know. A smile would be nice." And finally before Alex alighted: "Come on - smile! It could be worse. You could be stuck on a plane being struck with deep vein thrombosis."
Thanks to all, please add any more to the guestbook and I'll get them on the site as soon as possible. Keep em coming. Also check out One Stop Short of Barking - Uncovering the London Underground - it's in all good bookshops from September and features more drivers' announcements and a load of other fun stuff on the tube. Alex Gazzola's article confirmed my thoughts that train drivers are also beginning to copy each other and use some the quotes from this site. I have heard on many occaisions other drivers moaningly say "What aspect of 'Stand Clear of the Doors' don't you understand?"
Shave minutes off your journey
Way Out Tube Map
This is brilliant for old timers and tourists alike. For
tourists it shows the tube map in relation to main streets
in Central London. For old timers it shows you which carriage
to sit in to be the nearest to the exit - therefore you
can save that vital few seconds if you're running late.
your moans about the Tube
Found out about Grumbletext
- basically it's a site where you text (SMS) them all
your moans about UK companies that have pissed you off
or, generally you think give bad customer service, and
have call centres operated by morons. You get chance to
rave and rant, everyone else gets a chance to see them.
Then, apparently, when there's enough texts on a particular
subject the guys at grumbletext create a news story about
it and try to get it published in the wider media. So
the company in question are shamed enough to reply or
at least give and answer as to why they're so rubbish.
Interesting concept. Let's see if we can make the London
Underground a Grumbletext
Also The Evening Standard have started a new section
in each Friday's issue called Protest.
It's an opportunity for your to share commuting stories
good and bad (although funnily enough most so far have
been bad. You can text your stories to them too, by texting
87202 and putting the word PROTEST at the start of your
message. I'll be looking at this section each week and
posting my favourites in my daily london
Spoof London Underground
You have been warned there are profanities in what you
are about to hear................
We all know the huge kerfuffle that's been going on
about BBC2 broadcast of Jerry Springer the Opera. Well
someone has had the bright idea (I am sure off the back
of this) to re-write The Jam's classic Going Underground
and make it about our wonderful London Underground Tube
drivers and the Tube in general. You can download the
spoof song here
and if you want more you can sing a long to the London
underground song lyrics - or watch the brilliant flash
video to the song too.
I've counted the profanities in this song and there
are 16 "outrageous" swearwords in this short download.
I think we should all burn our Oystercards in protest
or as the song ends:
"Take your Oystercard and shove it up your arsehole!"
Overheard on the tube
Eavesdropping on the tube is a great pastime, mainly because
hardly anyone speaks on it so any conversations have a
"dayglo" and compelling effect. The guy behind themanwhofellasleep.com
website has put together weekly quotes supposedly overheard
on the tube & in conjunction with goingunderground.net
we present my favourite five each month for your "delight".
The question is, would you like to be sitting next to
1. Did you see the paper? They've caught Nasser Hussain.
2. Nowadays they want to be performance artists, but what's
wrong with just being an old-fashioned magician?
3. Yeah, they've started doing a broadsheet version of
The Sun. It's a nightmare on the tube.
4. We're going to Cairo for Christmas.
5. I f**king hate the Northern Line.
For more check out themanwhofellasleep.
An alternative tube map for Londoners is from the "Have
I got News for You" (satirical TV quiz show) team in a
diary they produced for 1997. Like all good diaries it
has to have a tube map in the back but this is one with
a difference. It really gives you a flavour of life on
the tube in a similar vein to this site. You'll find station
names such as "Busy", "Full", "Squashed", Elephant & Castle
(real station name), "Elephant & Chips", "Elephant & Tuxedo",
"Out of Centre", "Further Out" etc etc. The Circle Line
is a real circle and guess what Oval station looks like? See
How well do you know your tube station names?
Here's a quiz with clues to the names of stations. Who was not amused? Where's Heidi's house? Where might you find a flockwatcher's fauna? 50 clues to 50 stations. Give it a try here.
50 fascinating facts about the tube
Who was the only person to be born in a tube carriage?
What's unique about St John's Wood tube station?
Which stations get the most suicides?
Which station has Lara Croft fighting rats?
Who was the tube's first legal busker?
What's the Fish and Parcels line better known as?
The answers to these questions and more can be found here.
Excellent Travel Advice
On a serious note and in light of the world we're living in at the moment. I've got some advice from a Jubilee Line driver who regularly visits this site:
"Please, if you're travelling on the tube network, TAKE YOUR LITTER OFF THE TRAIN with you! I am a Jubilee Line driver, and a few times a week I've had to call for a supervisor or even the BTP to investigate 'suspect packages' which turn out to be rubbish.
Obviously, at the moment, we are on high security alert, and it doesn't help anyone if people leave CLOSED BOXES on trains. Even carrier bags and coffee cups have to be checked.
Thank you, rant over."
Onto less serious stuff:
Many of the drivers quotes were taken from my site and made it onto an email that was doing the cyber rounds. However, I'm now indebted to Ian Wright from London (I'm assuming it's not the footballer) who came across this gem and sent it to me through the guestbook. It comes from something on advice for tourists and is labelled simply "Transportation". Read and enjoy :
"For those travelling on a shoestring budget, the London
Tube may be the most economical way to get about, especially if you are a
woman. Chivalry is alive and well in Britain, and ladies still travel for
free on the Tube. Simply take some tokens from the baskets at the base of
the escalators or on the platforms; you will find one near any of the
state-sponsored Tube musicians.
"Once on the platform, though, beware! Approaching trains sometimes disturb the large Gappe bats that roost in the tunnels. The Gappes were smuggled into London in the early 19th century by French saboteurs and have proved impossible to exterminate. The announcement "Mind the Gappe!" is a signal that you should grab your hair and look towards the ceiling. Very few people have ever been killed by Gappes, though, and they are considered only a minor drawback to an otherwise excellent means of transportation."
If you are a tourist there are lots more things to look out for on the tube check out my Tube Rules page where you'll learn more about "Mind The Gap". Also for more on creatures which live in the Underground check out Tube animals and Tube Ghosts. For more on buskers look at my Tube Music page.
Real Heroes of the Tube
I thought I would add a
section on some real tube heroes.
We must start with
the wooden legged man 'Bumper' Harris, who in 1911 was
employed to ride up and down the first ever Underground
escalator at Earl's Court, just to show people how safe it
Andrew Martin from the Evening Standard notes
"Not only, you see, were the early escalators made of wood,
but so were the limbs of the people who demonstrated them".
After his job he retired to Gloucester and made cider and
Then there is this story from Howard
"I have been collecting underground maps
from around the world for several years now. I live next door
to where the founding father and original designer of the
London Underground map, lived, Harry Beck, in
Courthouse Road, North Finchley, N12. I collect all variants
of tube maps from all over the globe(mainly helped by
travelling friends) and you will see that, with only few
exceptions, they all follow Harry's orginal concept design.
"You simply MUST read the book about Harry Beck, Mr Beck's Underground Map by Ken Garland, it is the
seminal definitive book on intelligent, lateral thinking
design (see how he incorporated the Victoria line as a
perfectly straight line in his orginal approach, by just
moving orginal tube lines slightly). The book ponders on
Harry's frustration, until his death,(in the mid 70s) how
London Transport never officially acknowledged his copyright
or contribution. A Grey Plaque (the Underground equivalent of
London's Blue Plaques which show where famous people lived)
was put up at Finchley Central Station 2 - 3 years ago,
together with a replica of his orginal map. Too little, too
late, and probably more as a result of LT's guilt over the
Now onto a more modern hero - Christopher Ross. He wrote the brilliant book Tunnel Visions. Ross was previously a lawyer, oriental carpet smuggler and Japanese soap actor, and took a job as a station assistant for 16 months on the London Underground. The book is a collection of his thoughts and musings whilst working there. He observes the commuters, sings with a busking act, witnesses a man emerge from a train tunnel after being told at the previous station that it would be quicker to walk. He learns why green grapes, are more deadly than banana skins, though not as lethal as suicidal "one-unders" (or "track pizza", to use a "lovely" piece of New York Slang). There's more stories about passengers travelling with strange companions an ugly, baby turns out to be a monkey, and a dog on a lead a domesticated fox.
The Daily Telegraph said it was: "The best book about the London Underground since the knockabout picaresque of John Healey's Streets above us . . . Tunnel Visions succeeds on several levels; as information; as a collection of anecdotes; as Zen lectures. It is also very funny . . . a parable of our times."
And this wouldn't be an online review of a book without a word from an Amazon reviewer
"I simply can't understand how anyone might think this book is a disappointment. I couldn't put it down. It is moving, funny, and Christopher Ross is clearly a very interesting - if slightly eccentric - man who appears to see things in a fresh and distinct way. So different from the usual "philosophy" books which merely rehash old ideas we've heard a million times round the dinner table. We want more books like this please. And if he's ever in Cornwall he's more than welcome to come and share his insights with us down here. We may not have an Underground, but his ideas are just as relevant for us as they are for Londoners."
I got in touch with Ross's publishers (4th Estate) and got to interview Christopher Ross. Check out my interview here and there's more reviews of the book on that page too.
Onto another modern day hero - Simon James.
There's an interview with Simon on this site and he's a remarkably talented photographer who has just published a book of photographs (called 'Mind the Gap') of those strange stations on the tube which thousands of regular travellers miss - the end of the tube lines. (Not to strange to me as I travel to Richmond every day and also regularly go to Ealing Broadway). The pictures of these tube stations do make an interesting study of the "buddleia-strewn hinterlands at the edges of London". The Evening Standard used to interview celebs and ask them if they'd ever been to the end of a tube line - so the subject does seem to have an enigmatic mystery to it (try
telling me that when I'm cursing delays at Richmond station). To read my interview with him - click here.
And another tube author Keith Lowe who wrote a really fun novel about the tube - Tunnel Vision. The central character Andy is about to get married and makes a drunken bet which threatens to ruin everything. His task is to travel to every tube station on the system in a single day. As part of the challenge his passport, his honeymoon tickets and his credit cards have been hidden in various places along the way - he has just 20 hours to find them all and complete his journey or the wedding is off. I was lucky enough to get Keith Lowe to agree to an interview. Check it out here. You'll also be able to read Chapter 1 from the book too.
Yet another interview with a tube author. Robert Griffiths has worked on the tube for over 35 years and has turned his experiences into a book "Mind the Doors". Check out my interview with him here.
If you want a really interesting and entertaining fictional book about life on the Underground check out King Solomon's Carpet by crime writer Ruth Rendell's alter ego, Barbara Vine. I read it last Xmas and it's a cracker!!! It has all the hallmarks of Vine - weirdness, suspense, ordinary characters doing extraordinary things and she's put a huge amount of research into it. I was hooked from beginning to end.