Monday, March 23, 2009

deep-set tube lines

This post shall revolve around the bane that is London public commuting.
(References: here, there and another one.)
If you aren't familiar with London Underground, I'd recommend reading the reference material first to benefit from the added knowledge. Anyhoo, here it comes.

Victoria Line

Having lived on and around the Victoria line since my early days in London, I know a tube line's reputation can change: it used to be the reliable line I rely on to get around on weekends when the unsalubrious duo of Circle and District lines are "closed for engineering works" (God knows what is fundamentally wrong with the design of these two lines) before it started to close early at night to help Victoria line cope with more people being crammed onto its platforms at peak times.

Changing for the Victoria line at Victoria in morning rush hour is possibly comparable to the feeling of sardines being crammed into a tin can - except that we're alive, wriggling and there's that chance of having one's face wedged into someone else's sweaty armpit. Sometimes I had to let two or three train services pass before I could get onto the platform edge, and it took two good minutes for people to unload and more people to hopelessly crush themselves into the carriages (myself included, plus portfolio.) This was one of the reasons why I moved to Holborn. When I moved to my current place, I discovered (to my pleasure) that I could still get a seat on my way to internship if I get onto Victoria line before the service passes Victoria station. Those on District line, eat your heart out ;))

Central Line

Always busy in the morning.
There are odd times when a 9:40AM Eastbound service from Oxford Circus station is busier than one at 9:10 (considering offices start at 9), but in general cramming is more necessary when the gaps between services are longer - 5 minutes means no seats whereas 2-3 minutes still leaves plenty of room to breathe.

Not my favourite line, but reasonably reliable and has possibly the best track record for all deep-set tube lines. The main irritation these days comes when I make trips to Shepherd's Bush on a Saturday, which means the carriages are packed with strollers, excessively sized shopping bags and people who try to act posh and cool because they are planning to spend part of their day at Westfield. It means I have to jostle for seats and space - a problem I never had in the past, even when I have four bags of fabric to lug.

Northern Line

A working train comes every 2-3 minutes, which (for my standard) is really good. There's a good selection of places I can get to (college/Southbank/Soho/Angel), but travelling for classes in Shepherd's Bush was a hassle and takes 90 minutes. Services on both northern branches are pretty good, but the carriages are much less crowded on the more west-leaning Edgware branch and I can still pick and choose seats even at morning rush hours.

I used to live on this line, until the daily twelve-minute hike to the station and twice-weekly disruptions took its toll and I decided it was high time to move. No more Northern line for me now, except for trips to KY's and other necessities.

Jubilee Line

I once tried to ingratiate myself to this line by taking a service from Baker Street (home to Sherlock Holmes) to Stratford (future Olympics-related rejuvenation site)... only to learn that I have to touch in and out (and got an extra charge) to change to Central line at Stratford. It's a strange line that has two different types of looks: the 1930's art deco lines observed on the northwest half, and the concrete-steel-glass aesthetic apparent on the southeast extension.

Lately, it's been having its share of engineering works over the weekend, making it rather unappealing and counter-productive in terms of having interchange lines for a Soho-roamer like me. Moreover, I've been making two trips on this line in the past week, and both were quite disastrous in terms of timeliness. One time it was partially closed exactly where and when commuters most need it, and earlier today due to "a person who has been disallowed on deep-set tube lines" being asked by the train driver to get off at Westminster. To that person, congratulations on succeeding to make others wait for you. To the CCTV operators, I didn't expect that style of Big Brother health and safety supervision to actually intervene with my commuting. So in short, Jubilee line is strange in a non-comforting manner.

Piccadilly Line

Let's leave this for another day - it goes to Heathrow for the airport, therefore its services are reliable and it is most supervised to prevent gaffes and harm to the national/regional injury from being done. As for self, avoid Knightsbridge station at Harrods' closing time, and avoid the Piccadilly Circus - Kings Cross section as much as possible. There are way too many commuters, platforms could be closed if they were overcrowded, and the services run at substantially slower speed. Moreover, who'd like to tube it from Leicester Square to Covent Garden when you can spend some leisurely time walking?

In general

London Underground is quite unreliable, but luckily its deep-set are quite okay. Well, it's okay when compared to the 15-plus-minute wait I was subjected to in Melbourne. Its carriages are a bit on the short side for taller people, and nobody really wants to know what colour Victoria line's seat covers were like originally. But, despite Big Brother-style monitoring, there's one thing I can do:

Bring strange objects into the tube and take pictures within the carriages.

sitting on seatless chair
So yes, with the picture today's rant ends here!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sha... You cut you hair short!!
You look so young! :)