I got to thinking about my experiences when travelling on the London Underground Tube system (metro by any other name) in the last few years.

In one month, the Central Line, was totally disrupted by people throwing themselves in front of trains. I kid you not. (That’s the orange one on the tube map that goes from east to west and vice versa). That line, sadly, seems to have more than its fair share of such episodes.

We passengers were kept informed as much as was decent and sensible. There is every attempt to stop trains partially or fully overground,if possible. People talked to one another. One guy phoned his work to explain why he would be late in for his Sunday shift at Harrods. He admitted to me he wasn’t a good timekeeper and the work response wasn’t too sympathetic. We got to talking about other routes we might use to reach our destinations when we got to a station.

At Bond Street, a member of staff told me what he knew about events. Some people’s responses when such incidents occurred, he described as diabolical; like “finish the job off and keep moving.”

On the same line, late morning, on a school day,I have seen a smart young guy, say twenty-ish, push drugs at very young kids, who were there for the purpose. One tiny kid (possibly thirteen years old), was well away. I distracted my young sprog, who was with me, by chatting to an older girl who was not buying. I often wonder what her role was. Maybe she was the ‘look out’.

On the Northern Line, the black one, that seems to go just about everywhere and anywhere except where you think it will, but essentially serves North to South, I have chatted with a senior Caribbean lawyer on holiday; some African ladies in the most glorious of costumes, off to engagements or weddings; been offered a kiss by a dyslexic for helping him on his way; and was given the opportunity to ‘read’ an early development model of an electronic book. I don’t know who the manufacturer was. Its potential was obvious.

At a busy interconnecting station I have seen a sick person on a platform, a number of people besides me, checked what help if any could be given. Everyone, was careful not to get too close, but they were genuinely concerned and let their trains go. In her conscious moments she was able to talk, saying her friend was getting assistance.

I’ve had really little kids fighting to sit on my suitcase so they can peer over their peers, rather than be lost and frightened at below knee level, or be bumped around where no seats existed for mum or aunty or whoever, to seat them on their laps. We’ve had some great chats about the ‘pictures’ on the trains, and one time, a very bright little soul was beautifully describing what he had seen above ground. His mum apologised for the nuisance.!!!!



  1. I was on a Piccadilly line train years ago which was held up because of “a person on the track” somewhere in central. One woman’s response – “the train should just run over him!”

  2. I’ll be back to the joys of the Tube soon.
    They’re a bloody nuisance jumping on the track and holding everyone up, I tend to agree with woman above.

  3. Pee,

    You’re back, in full force and vigour, raring for a ‘go’ I see. How’s it been going or doing?

    Getting from a to b without problems, is the perfection striven for. It doesn’t always happen. I have molre empathy with the sick person, than I have for the ‘improvements’ and ‘technical work’ that constantly disrupt London travel for weeks and weekends on end. It will just about be due to end when the first part will need to be re-structured.

    I had a friend who killed himself on a train line. It was a complex story, as they all are.

  4. Sorry to hear about your friend. Obviously, if you stop and think about it, then it’s a terrible thing.
    Not so sure I relish the Tube again. Dunno. I used to ride my bike a lot. It will be strange to be back in London.

  5. I saw a documentary following tube workers and half way through the programme they had major signal failure that really screwed up the timing and delayed the whole line so they basically said tell the commuters it a person under the train. They use this so that there is less abuse and angry on the tube workers (which I see quite often as it is travelling on the tube) and people are more inclined to accept the delay than if you say signal failure. Statistics show there are only usually 3-4 people under the train a year. Hope this clears it up and you dont feel as bad as I realise I felt terrible before I saw this documentary about how many people under a train announcements there were.

  6. Have I said this before?

    I HATE public transport. Your Tube stories just reinforce this lifelong antipathy.

    Although, I’m hypocritical enough to apreciate averyone else using it!

  7. At your end there may well be some cycle routes now, how useful they are, if they exist, would be the point. I know Enfield didn’t do their bit with the EEC funding for such routes and have had to send the money back.

    Parts of the Tube are okay, when there’s no engineering work disruption. Weekends are favourite for that. There was a time a year or so ago, when whole sections of London were cut off for weekends, then the Victoria line didn’t go where it usually went, or didn’t run at all for two or three months worth of weekends. It is manageable and the bus lanes make alternatives much better than it used to.


  8. Oh heavens yes… there was a spate of horrible events when I lived and worked in the smoke. I don’t know if you remember the cases of people on platforms being pushed. Not long after a swift end to that terrible situation, lines were painted on platforms beyond which people should not stand. Not that, that in itself would have prevented anymore concerted assaults like that. Fortunately there haven’t been repetitions, as far as I know.

    The drivers, the staff and anyone close by, have an awful time with these things, and the emergency services, well, I have no conception of how they manage afterwards. I guess talking about an experience, in the way the member of staff did with me, must help a little. I was glad to hear his humanity.

  9. Interesting. Thank you for calling by.

    However, I do know that the incidents I was aware of involved people.

    There are statistics and statistics, the interpretation of them is poorly understood. I am willing to accept that there could be some manipulation of the public mood, but I find it hard to believe the numbers of suicides or attempted suicides are as low as stated.

    I have been on underground trains that have been delayed by signal failure and waited for underground trains, delayed for the same reason. The same has happened with overground and long distance travel. One time I arrived at destination 5 hours late because of both signal failure knock on effects in the Midlands, and a ‘person on the line’ in Northern England, which the police were dealing with. There was no option but to wait and be informed of progress.

  10. You are superb!

    Not all my experiences have been negative, as my post indicates. Some have been delightfully informative, wonderfully interesting and good fun.

    It is fascinating that most replies pick up on the negative. I wonder if people have read on beyond to the positives. It does not appear so.

  11. Yeah I know, statistics can tell a false story. The 3-4 a year related to London Underground only and that might be incorrect. I believe that overground and British rail lines have much higher levels and I too have had delays on trains going from Nottingham to London and I believe that they are completely genuine and it makes me very sad.

  12. Thank you.

    You are pretty cool yourself. 🙂

    I did read the positives but, as I hate public transport, I just thought I would mention it in case I hadn’t brought it up before.

    I hate public transport.

  13. Now, I am not at all sure if you have mentioned you have ‘reservations’ about public transport; I shall have to cogitate on that one. You do, however, seem to be saying something of the kind just now, or have I read you too decisively! 😉

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