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Labyrinth Feature Film

19th December 2014

Those lovely people at Art on the Underground have put out a feature length video (26 minutes long) on the whole Labyrinth project with interviews with everyone involved in it, and people that love it.  It’s worth a watch if you love your Labyrinths (As we do!)

TfL introduces “Track Retrieval Device”

17th December 2014

We hear more regularly these days, horrifying tales of people getting down onto the tracks to retrieve personal items that have been dropped onto the tracks themselves.  Often, these people escape with their lives by just seconds.

According to TfL the number of reported incidents of items being dropped onto the track is increasing (by 62 percent from 2009/2010 to 2012/2013) so in the run up to the festive season, TfL are introducing a new tool to help staff to safely retrieve small, high-value items such as mobile phones and handbags from the track.

The tool is called the “Track Retrieval Device” and has been designed, built and tested by London Underground staff themselves.

TfL Track Retrieval Device

TfL Track Retrieval Device. (Image: TfL)

The TRD is designed to be used without turning off the power supply to the tracks and without staff having to step down onto the track.

Track Retrieval Device in use

Track Retrieval Device in use. (Image: TfL)

Last year dropped items on the track were responsible for 195,000 hours of delay.

Nigel Holness, London Underground Operations Director Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Lines said:  “We’re committed to running the safest and most reliable service possible, particularly at this busy time of year. When we examined the type of incidents which cause delays, it was clear that customers dropping items onto tracks has a disruptive impact on services. We recognise that possessions are very valuable to people so we encourage everyone to take care of them when they’re on the platform. If you drop anything of value on the track, please speak to a member of staff and we will do our best to retrieve it for you. We hope that our staff, using the Track Retrieval Device, will deter customers from attempting to pick up items themselves.

New 2015 Cycle Hire Fees

16th December 2014

TfL have announced a price increase, starting January 2015, for the costs of hiring a Boris Bike.  The 24 hour access fee is staying the same (at £2) but then after the first free 30 minutes, every additional half an hour will cost you a flat fee of £2. We’ve done a comparison of how much it costs in the table below, compared to now – and also what it cost when first launched (when the access fee was half what it is now).

Note that this table is for people that hire a bike using the 24-access period only, you can still get a yearly membership access for £90 – although note the weekly access rate will be scrapped from 2015 onwards.

Cycle Hire cost comparison

Cycle Hire cost comparison

The scheme was launched on the 30th July 2010, and the prices remained unchanged until 2013, when in January, the access fee doubled (so a free 30 minutes cost you £2 access instead of £1).

In January 2015, the prices go up again – with the access fee staying the same, but the price for longer than the first free 30 minutes becomes a set £2 for every half an hour.

Leave your Oyster card here

15th December 2014
Drop your Oyster card here

Drop your Oyster card here

We’ve not seen one of these before anywhere else on the network until we walked past this one at King’s Cross the other day – targeted presumably at people leaving London on the Eurostar.

Rather then leave unspent money on an Oyster card (and apparently there’s quite a lot of it sloshing around the system) you can drop your unwanted Oyster off here and any money on it will be taken back (including the £3 deposit, we wondered?) and given to the Railway Children charity.

We haven’t seen them anywhere else, but I wonder if there are also similar boxes down at Heathrow airport too …


No Angel

14th December 2014

We were amused to see that the lovely charitable cause Christmas Tree at Angel station… has got a star on top of it!  Surely the Christmas tree at Angel should have an Angel on it! Or maybe the one at Star Lane (on the DLR) has got it instead, and the two got swapped round?

Angel Christmas Tree

Angel Christmas Tree

Gloucester Road reopens

12th December 2014

Piccadilly Line trains haven’t been stopping for the best part of the whole year, but on schedule this week, trains started stopping again with the completion of the new lifts, looking all, er… new and shiny as they do here.   This is Gloucester Road – where you can now use the Piccadilly Line again!

Gloucester Road Lifts

Gloucester Road Lifts

The Victoria Line is broken … in 1989

10th December 2014

We delightfully found today that ITV/Thames News has uploaded a whole load of archive footage to YouTube of old news reports, including a few from the the Underground. There’s one on overcrowding at Angel, even one about the Clapham train disaster, but we like this short piece on the cancelling of Victoria Line trains due to wheel issues!

Ye Olde Tube Mappe

8th December 2014

Matt Brown from the Londonist website has released this today – a fun Medieval Tube map, from a time ‘Utterly untroubled by signal failures; and a time when you might be imprisoned for swiping an Oyster

Medieval Tube Map

Medieval Tube Map

Way Out

5th December 2014

With the Northern Line escalators currently out of action at King’s Cross and passengers being diverted the long way round, there are lots of posters up on the platforms to say ‘This way..’ and take you to where you want to go.

Except that here, the arrow pointing to the right is odd, because visible to the left is the staircase that takes you up to the Piccadilly Line.  If you follow the sign, it will take you at least five minutes to get to the Piccadilly platforms, however, if you take the stairs that you can see in the background of this photo, it will take you 30 seconds!

Not this way

Not this way

New December 2014 Tube Map

3rd December 2014
December 2014 Tube Map

December 2014 Tube Map

So have you got your hands on the new Tube map yet? Art on the Underground commissioned French artist Daniel Buren to create the artwork for the twenty-first edition of the Tube map cover series, called ‘From a Single One to Millions‘.

It’s a blend of many roundels all mixed together, and we were surprised when we thought about it that the roundel symbol hasn’t actually appeared in any of the previous AotU series of map covers.

Map-design-wise itself, Embankment is now open again on the Northern and Bakerloo lines, the Central Line is NOT stopping at Tottenham Court Road (as it won’t be from January 3rd 2015), and the Covent Garden dagger gives a warning as to the fact that it’s going to be exit only again for most of 2015 as they replace the other pair of lifts.

The new station building and ticket office at Tottenham Court Road for the Northern Line opens on January 12th, and they’ve built lifts at the new station too – so how long before a ‘step free’ wheelchair blob appears for TCR on the map?

Diamond Geezer has some further thoughts here,