An intriguing audio announcement at Covent Garden came over the PA system when we were there the other day. Far from being told to mind the gap, report anything suspicious, always touch out, or any of the other mantra that’s continually spouted at you, we were told that ‘Entering the lifts from the wrong side is contravening a by-law’, and from the sounds of it could get you in trouble.
Covent Garden is of course hugely busy, and I suspect there’s a plan being mooted within TfL towers to make it exit only – a bit like Camden Town already is at the weekends. And indeed, the fastest way out of the station is to walk up the ‘entrance’ staircase, against the flow of people, and nip into the empty lift, moments before the queues of people who have been waiting on the proper side enter it and give you filthy looks for jumping the queue.
The other alternative of course is to walk up the 193 steps, which (as another of their famed audio announcements informs you) is the equivalent to a fifteen storey building. And their advice isn’t to be taken lightly – we once saw a man halfway up sat down, looking very red, out of breath, and a member of station staff and paramedic coming the other way down the stairs to assist him.
So we were rather surprised the other day when visiting Hampstead station – the deepest on the whole of the network, with the highest number of steps on its emergency staircase, in this case there are 320 of them (There are exactly 320 of them – 298 on the spiral, 22 flat – so why the sign says ‘over 320’ is another thing that is wrong), which by TfL’s maths at 12.8 steps per storey must mean it’s the equivalent to a twenty-five storey building .. right? RIGHT!
Oh. No. Wait …
It seems that ’15 storeys’ is the generic sign. Either that or TfL have a magic calculator that always gives the number ’15’ no matter what you type into it?
Expect to see a sign at Chalk Farm shortly informing you of it’s 54 steps being the equivalent to a 15 storey building …