After the rollercoaster ride that was episode 1, I’m not sure what to expect from episode 2. I’m almost relieved when I find out this week’s subject is ‘revenue’. Thank God! No stabbings this week, then.
2:00: I’m already questioning the tactics they use to deal with fare evaders. Generally if you ask Londoners if they think they should have to pay for anything, they’re probably going to say no. I’m not sure that’s the best way to get through to them.
3:49: One cheeky evader is unapologetic. “Nobody buys a ticket in London!” he says. Right on! Except, erm, most people do? Because it’s sort of the law?
5:50: Meet Glen Sutherland, customer service assistant at Oval station and custodian of the Thought of the Day board. He says that the board brightens up everyone’s day, and that “a lot of people come out of their way to go to Oval station to see the thought of the day board.” Today’s quote is “Once we choose hope, anything is possible”, said (apparently) by Christopher Reeve. Glen explains why he chose it: “He was paralysed, and he probably hoped that he would get better,” explains Glen. He probably did, Glen. He probably did.
6:36: We are introduced to fearsome revenue inspectors, Diane and Denise. Their approach is basically just being really nice, and it seems to pay off.
10:00: “Fare evasion isn’t the crime of the century,” admits Denise. Wait? It’s not?! What am I even watching? This isn’t Britain’s Most Wanted?
12:00: A man called Doug James reveals a softer side to train… people… (I’m sorry, I didn’t catch his profession and I can’t go back and check because it’s a liveblog and I think that’s against the rules?) by confessing that he’s sad that the old trains are… old? Or something?
12:40: OH, right. The Metropolitan line is getting new trains. That’s sad. Apparently.
14:40: I’m confused. Steve Jenkinson, the service introduction manager, is really happy about the new trains. “How can the public not love this train?!” he asks, enthusiastically. “It’s the train of the future!” I’m not sure it is, really. Sure, it has air conditioning, but I always thought trains of the future would be a bit, I dunno, flashier?
15:50: Brendan Gallagher, is the station supervisor at Finchley Central, which is a hotbed of fare evasion. And Brendan takes it very seriously, I’m sure.
15:55: Brendan is laughing gleefully as he tells us about one man who has managed to avoid paying to travel from Barnet to East Finchley for four years. He continues to chuckle – “Oh, there’s another one!” – as he watches live CCTV footage of people not swiping in . Hang on, Brendan! Ticket evasion is a very serious crime! I’m not sure you’re treating this with the gravitas it deserves. Diane and Denise would not be happy.
20:20: Apparently riding the tube is expensive. Who knew?!
23:00: Ah, right. Running the tube is also expensive. Every year it requires £3,000,000 worth of stationery and racks up a £100,000,000 electricity bill. I suddenly feel less bad about spending £60 on as yet unused running gear.
26:12: Two ticket inspectors are working undercover. They are called Ben and James and are the nerviest undercover ticket inspectors I have ever seen. They chat about their working relationship while tucking into some porridge (James) and a fry-up (Ben). Classic James and Ben!
28:00: They’re called to Latimer Road to catch a particularly determined fare evader. He’s described as a tubby white guy in his mid forties, wearing a flat cap. Of course they nab him, and he’s not happy about it. He shouts a lot so I turn the sound off.
31:12: Oh, hang on, sound back on: it’s cut to James and Ben chatting about how little they care about people shouting at them.
32:00: We’re back at Latimer Road; somehow the lads have diffused the situation and tubby flat cap man is putty in their hands. BUT WAIT! Just as he is leaving, apparently pacified, he turns on the people behind the camera, calling them “fucking slags” and brandishing his Tesco plastic bag threateningly. I think I hear the cameraperson giggle?
32:00 – 36:25: Ah, this is familiar: people getting grumpy about not being able to get the train. I really hope I’m never like this (although am almost certainly like this).
39:30-40:30: A strangely touching moment when they introduce a new train to the Metropolitan line. I’m not welling up. Honest.
42:00: Oooh, we’re at lost property! Apparently 1000 things get lost every day. A clearly distraught man is desperate to find the John Grisham novel he left on a train this morning. The man behind the counter does a valiant job of not laughing in his face. Mark Bennett, lost property assistant, tells us he once found a broken crack pipe in a bag that belonged to an old lady. He also moans about women and their handbags, saying that he found a pair of worn knickers in a handbag once. I have no idea why he got close enough to find this out. Just grab the purse and get out of there, man!
46:25: Ben and James are back on the case! James (or Ben) is terrible with computers, apparently; he hasn’t even finished explaining the case before Ben (or James) has found the culprit on CCTV. I can’t help but wonder whether it’s wise to be showing everyone how to commit Oyster card fraud…?
50:21: Apparently the new Metropolitan line trains are controlled by something called a ‘dead man’s handle’. That’s reassuring.
54:45: After a tense stakeout, Ben and James have got their man! Was there any doubt?
56:30: Back at Oval Glen has another uplifting thought of the day: “Love hurts more than hate”. “People might feel happy when they see it,”says Glen. Will they?! Really?
57:40: Hurray! The new trains receive rave reviews! Except from one straight-talking Irishman: “A train is a train. Once you’ve seen one train you’ve seen ‘em all.”
On that note, that’s all for this week. Check out next week’s liveblog at 8:00 on Sunday 17.