It’s back! After a brief hiatus (sorry about that) it’s time to resume watching the BBC’s ode to the underground, documentary series The Tube that aired early last year. This episode is a special one for us commuters; it’s centred around rush hour. You might even spot yourself looking sweaty and disgruntled! What a treat.
1:55: We’re plunged straight into the rush hour madness. One station worker explains that the tube makes people crazy: “If you get em on their own they’re nice and polite; in a crowd, they’ll hang yer.”
2:11: “You can’t plan your life because they can’t provide a proper service!” says one angry commuter. How about you take it easy, lady?! If you’re so into planning may we suggest a little thing called a contingency plan?
2:17: Uh-oh, some serious discontent among the ranks. “I hate commuting, I hate London. Look at this, it’s crap.” Aw, come on, dude! This’ll help you fall back in love with the underground.
2:29: So commuters are not being portrayed very favourably so far. Another station worker says: “There’s a lot of very angry people travelling around on the underground. And everyday they have to suppress it, to push it down. They’re right on the edge.” We’re not that bad! Are we?!
4:00: The voiceover says that all commuters want is to “get to work on time and unscathed”. Unscathed?! It’s not the Crystal Maze.
4:54: Some commuters have their journeys down to a fine art, says the voiceover. THAT’S US! THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT US, GUYS!
6:03: Each day senior managers go through the tube’s performance the previous day. And you thought your meetings were boring?
9:44: Meet Metropolitan line controller Simon “I’m a juggler” something-or-other. He says “we influence like half a million people’s lives every day”, and calls himself “the silent force”. I feel faintly unnerved.
11:29: Tracey Howard, a worker at Canary Wharf tube, describes the underground as a “massive heart with all these veins going in to it”. How… anatomical?
11:44: Oh no! There’s a ventricular blockage – I mean, a problem – on the Circle line, which means that the line is no longer circular. People cannot seem to handle this.
16:49: “I don’t even know what everyone does in the city to be honest with you,” admits Mark Davis, control room assistant at Liverpool Street. You and me both, Mark.
18:00: We meet Alan Wallwork, an actuary, who really knows his stuff; he explains how he chooses his seat – it’s close to the heater, out of the way, and close to the door. “You have to plan these things properly,” he says. We couldn’t agree more, Alan.
20:16: Now we’re following Lance Stewart, who made an app for tube users so they could find out which doors opened nearest each tube exit. That’s right: he turned riding the tube into his job. Is the guy mad?! He admits he’s “definitely a tube geek”. We glad you recognise that in yourself, Lance.
26:44: We meet designer Paul Marchant, who helped to design the various signage we see around tube stations (yeah, sometime DESIGNED those). He says “we give passengers enough information to make a decision at that point but not so much that we overload them”. They’re signs! Telling us which way to go! What more information could there possibly be?!
30:14: Someone’s fainted and fallen down the spiral staircase at Bank – the second casualty of the day. Apparently 300 passengers a year faint on the underground. I’m struggling to think of a worse place to do it than the spiral staircase at Bank.
31:55: Oh no, another fainter. She’s called Carly. Poor Carly.
33:00: “Are female passengers common fainters?”, the interviewer asks one station worker. “Yes.” Why? “Because they’re female. Because they don’t listen. They don’t have breakfast.” Way to stereotype women, dude! We totally know that skipping breakfast is unhealthy and counter productive!
33:46: Oh. Carly admits she didn’t have breakfast this morning.
34:22: Another one down!!! “It happens a lot,” she says. I say “You should see a doctor, madam.”
35:42: You’ll never believe it. There’s another fainting woman. This is getting a bit silly now.
35:56: At last! An incident that isn’t just a woman fainting! This time it’s a woman losing her shoe under a train! Much more sensible.
40:03: Paul the designer is back, showing us the design of a new fabric for train seats. He points out that you can see some of London’s landmarks in the designs; apparently we should be able to make out the London Eye, St. Paul’s, and Big Ben. I’m struggling.
41:25: Some cheeky pigeons at Hainault depot are being dealt with by TfL’s resident hawk,Toya. Named, of course, after Toya Wilcox.
41-50:00: I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve switched off slightly. Something is happening with wires.
50:23: We’re back with the troublesome Jubilee line. Have I mentioned the troublesome Jubilee line? Anyway, it’s still seriously misbehaving.
53:43: Surprise, surprise. A grumpy commuter. What’s new?! God, we sound like idiots when we moan about stuff. “It’s ridiculous that we can’t control the underground,” says one. Is it? Is it really ridiculous that we can’t control every little nut and bolt in a vast network of miraculous engineering? Shut up, dude.
53:49: Another ray of sunshine at Canary Wharf says “It’s outrageous that the tax payer is being forced to pay additional fares for a service that is inefficient and doesn’t actually work.” I hope he’s not a banker because his limited economic understanding troubles me.
55:15:Turns out that the problems on the Jubilee line was caused by the circuit that indicates that there’s a fault being faulty. Isn’t that ironic?! But seriously, that’s a good existential question – how do we know something’s wrong if the thing that tells us that something’s wrong has gone wrong? Dwell on that until next week, my friends.