September 11, 2004
West London Tube

Three different modes of transport. That’s my journey to work. One or two buses, one or two tubes - and one train. The “one or two” really depend on my mood - and the weather. It’s one if I want to go for a longer walk - it’s two if I want to avoid it. And it’s the same for the journey home.

Alperton is the place I usually switch from bus to tube. Picadilly Line. The tube trains at Alperton are usually quite crowded in both mornings and evenings. But on some occasions if I’m travelling into work later than usual - they can get very quiet and spacious indeed. As was the case the other day. Taking advantage of the space - I gazed all around myself - and admired the “art” that makes up the environment of a tube-train carriage.

Looking down the carriage

The upholstery, the armrests, the windows, the doors, the poles and hand grips, the discarded newspapers, the signs, the logos and the way people sit. We take it all for granted really, and it’s everydayness that makes it disinteresting - but there is a lot to admire when you stop to actually notice it all.

Discarded metro newspaper on seat opposite.
(Unlike most people - I’m NOT going to grab it - because I hate it.)

Posted by jag at September 11, 2004 03:38 PM

At least those seats look clean . The last time I rode on a train up in New York USA, the last thing I wanted to do was sit down , the trains there are filthy.

Posted by: Fritz on September 11, 2004 04:23 PM

Yeah, but they run every couple of minutes, unlike the Tube.

Posted by: Xofis on September 11, 2004 04:43 PM

Why hate the metro?

Posted by: JC on September 12, 2004 01:31 PM

Fritz: yes - having travelled many different subways around the world - I’m actually quite surprised that London Underground use “fabric” upholstery - most seats in other subway systems are plastic. I remember New York subway being quite dirty - but that was in the late 1980s. I’m hoping they are a lot cleaner now …?

JC: the “Metro” newspaper is just plain crap journalism. I know I’m speaking like a middle-class Guardian-reading-class bigot - but I always find that the best way to consume the Metro is by examining the headlines of the person who as the paper sitting opposite me. I would rather concentrate on the music of my MP3 player in my ears than concentrate on reading the petty, sensational journalism of the Metro - which is a bad version of the previous-day’s Evening Standard!

Posted by: Jag on September 12, 2004 10:00 PM

Looking at these photos, what strikes me is the constancy of the London Underground design over the decades, in particular the check patterns used on the seats that are similar but vary across the different train stocks. Also the rigid, shiny armrests. What’s missing are the ridged floors. They even used to be made of wood. I’m glad that these things stay in a kind of tradition. Elements like this contribute to each city’s identity.

Posted by: David on September 13, 2004 10:11 AM

Hi David - you’re absolutely right - the traditional design quirks of each of the different lines and train stocks appear to have been upheld over the years. I remember the wooden ridges floors - they were only replaced within the last 10 years - instead they are now ruggedised plastic covered - some ridges there too - but probably more easier to maintain than the wooden ones. And I agree with you completely - it’s little things like these that contribute to the the identity and “iconic” nature of the city.

Posted by: Jag on September 14, 2004 09:11 PM
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