Getting hot in here? If you’re on a tube at Oxford Circus, then yes, probably


Image: TfL. Click for the full map

There’s nothing us Londoners love more than a bit of sun (except maybe free stuff). But be warned: while the sunshine makes the post-work Friday pint far more pleasant, it makes commuting a whole lot sweatier. If you’re prone to perspiration you might want to check out this map from TFL, showing the tube’s hottest stations (do not confuse with The Hot Line).

The map is based on data from 2010, but we doubt it’s changed much (global warming won’t kick in until we’re all dead, right?). If you have the time and the inclination you can use the map to plan a sweat-free route to work for those balmy summer days. Or you could just use deodorant, you slob, you.


The most pointless Instagrams of St Pancras

The most pointless Instagrams of St Pancras

As you know, St Pancras holds a special place in my heart because it is my commuter station. Which also happens to house the Eurostar, a champagne bar, designer shops, a piano and art installations. What does this mean? Photos Instagrammed to within an inch of their lives. Enjoy.

  1. Nothing like a bit of #hashtag #overload…
  2. Omg! St Pancras has a roof! Who would have thought it?
  3. Oh, look. People who have time to hang about. With suitcases. Bastards.

TFL and some Graphic Grumblings

It’s no secret that we at London Locomotion enjoy some commuter complaining. It’s a time to revel in our community, to stand arm in arm with our fellow tube-goers (like we have a choice) and say: “Hey TFL, go eff yo’selves!…luv ya really xxx”

But it seems that, when push comes to shove (as it always does), we commuters eschew the official channels of complaint. According to TFL records, they receive very few complaints about the London Underground. Like, very, very few. In fact, 2012 saw just was 2.27 people per 100,000 complaining for the full year. Now, call us crazy – loco even – but this just seems pitiful. Come on, commuters, think about the delays! The smell! The rats! Rise up and complain, for god’s sake!

In the meantime, here’s a pretty graph to show you how ungrumbletastic our community really is. And if that doesn’t stir you, think about this….CYCLISTS moan more than us. And they’re supposed to be hippy happy all the bloody time.

Meanwhile, as a means of inspiration, here are the top reasons for complaint made to TFL about the Tube. ‘Other’ takes the biggest slice. I’m hoping that includes at least one person complaining about the lack of tube-complaining.

24 Hour Party People? Not in London, you animal

Image: doug88888 on Flickr

Image: doug88888 on Flickr

Last week the Evening Standard reported that a 24-hour tube was vital to London’s vibrant West End economy. Ever on the pulse, we went below the line and checked out the comments, to see what London’s tube-using comment leavers had to say about the underground going round-the-clock. One comment in particular caught our eye. Stand up, Mr FlemingDH! We’re talking about you!

You’re in luck, Mr FlemingDH. London Locomotion has a fantastic track record of answering our readers’ burning questions (e.g. Which line has the most attractive men? and Why is the underground so romantic?) and we are entirely  at your service. Mr FlemingDH, we will answer your question (okay, fine, indirect musing) to our fullest ability, possibly using explanatory pictures (but don’t get your hopes up). We’ve even set the answer to an appropriate soundtrack. Sometimes we cannot believe we don’t get paid for this.

We’ll keep it simple. There are many reasons why it would be difficult for the tube to run 24/7, but here are the only ones you need to know:

1. Money money money

Economists might say something like the demand wouldn’t match the cost of supplying (or something); we say it would cost too much. Our dear old tube already needs billions of pounds spent on it a year just to keep functioning, much of which is spent on necessary upgrade work to keep the old gal in tip-top shape.

A 2011 report by the London Assembly estimated that the cost of upgrading signalling on the Jubilee, Northern and sub-surface lines is £2.4 million per kilometre of track. (The Northern line is 58 km long, so to upgrade the whole track would cost £139 million.)

A 24-hour service just wouldn’t make economic sense; the cost of running an overnight service wouldn’t be matched by the income generated by sporadic late-night tube-users, and the money would be better spent on upgrading the existing service. Which leads us nicely to…


2. Upgrade U

The 150-year-old tube wasn’t built to carry the number of passengers it does today, and so is constantly playing catch-up. However, the past few years of investment are beginning to pay off; last year saw lost customer hours (hours passengers lose while travelling due to delays) fall by 20 per cent.

Due to the tube’s two-track system, there’s no room to do this vital maintenance while the tube is running – unlike in New York, as the knowledgeable Mr FlemingDH mentions, where the subway has four tracks. So if the tube ran for 24 hours, the essential maintenance usually done during four hours overnight would have to be done at other times. (Probably during every sunny weekend in August and for the entire Wimbledon fortnight.)

Essentially, the routine checks and maintenance done every night – which includes removing tonnes of dust made up of human skin particles – are the tube equivalent of checking the oil in your car, or pulling the hair from the plughole. Although it’s boring, inconvenient, and kind of gross, it’s a relatively straightforward way to keep everything in proper working order – and to prevent more inconvenient, boring, gross things becoming necessary in the future.

3. It would encourage all of the littering drunks

Never ones to slack off, we did full and proper research to bring you all sides of the argument. We found a number of less persuasive but far more entertaining reasons why the tube can’t deliver a 24/7 service, but we think this one is most worthy of your time

“Keeping the system in passenger service through the night would encourage drinkers to stay in the pubs for longer and consume more alcohol. When they then enter a station, they will pose a greater danger to themselves and others. For example, drunks often drop items onto the track, then go down to retrieve it. When you hear announcements like, “services are suspended because of a person under a train” it is just as likely to be this situation as, say, a suicide attempt. Sometimes they just fall over edge of the platform.”  (Source)

So, to conclude, the simple answer to “Why can the Berlin U-Bahn run for 24 hours but the tube can’t, even though it has the same kind of track? is “Because the U-Bahn is the tube’s fitter, more energetic grandchild”. Yes, Mr FlemingDH, we could have said that right at the beginning, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as fun as the informative thrill-ride that was this post, now, would it?

For a good idea of the work on the underground that goes on during the night, we highly recommend watching the final episode of The Tube, which follows the network’s night-time workers. You’ll be surprised by how much is done while the rest of us are tucked up in bed (or binge-watching The Following). If you don’t fancy watching the whole thing just give our liveblog a once over, and you’ll get the gist.

How other subways measure up

  • New York: Runs 24 hours
  • Madrid: Runs from 06:00 to 01:30
  • Paris: Runs from 05:30 to 00:40am on weeknights, but until 01:40 on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Montreal: Runs from 05:30 to 01:00, or 01:30 on Saturdays
  • Beijing: Runs from 05:00 to 23:00
  • Berlin: Runs 24 hours
  • Moscow: Runs from 06:00 to 01:00
  • Tokyo: Runs from 05:00 to 01:00
  • Delhi: 06:00 to 23:00

Six reasons why St Pancras sucks if you’re a commuter

I know, I know. St Pancras International Station is a marvel. It combines beauty with functionality and upmarket chain stores. John Betjeman loved it. It makes the Daily Mail proud to be British. It manages to be cool and establishment all at the same time.

As I hail from the sunny climes of Luton town, it also happens to be my commuter station. And, just sometimes, I wish it was a bit more, you know, normal. Restful shades of mud brown; just one escalator to get to the surface. They’re simple desires, but not ones that are likely to be fulfilled. And that’s why if you commute, St Pancras is less ‘breathtaking’ and more something to be endured…

  1. It’s a Eurostar terminal, so there are endless gaggles of tourists, suitcases to trip over and romantic couples swooning on their way to Paris. When all you’ve got to look forward to is 40 minutes jammed under a predatory male’s sweaty armpit and a lasagna for one.



  2. Similarly, St Pancras has posh shops and a champagne bar that you have to walk past to get from the tube station to the National Rail platforms, meaning you have to dash past shiny glass shop fronts full of beautiful things you will never be able to afford. And, let’s face it, you never get to St Pancras early enough to shop there.
  3. The main concourse is ginormous, with people heading in all different directions like sheep on LSD. The result? Clashes worthy of Formula 1.



  4. Endless Instagramming of ‘gorgeous’, ‘stunning’, etc., etc., St Pancras. As if three million people hadn’t noticed it before that – gasp – the station has a roof.St Pancras roof
  5. Epic strolls to the Tube worthy of the London Marathon. It’s so long you suspect that St Pancras is colluding in secret government plans to make all commuters walk halfway to their destinations before allowing them on public transport.



  6. The pianos on the main concourse. Well, the last thing you need after a stressful day at the office is a tourist tipsy on overpriced champagne attempting to bash out Chopsticks for the twelfth time. If one of those pianos could speak, it would surely moan, “Did any of you get past grade 2 piano?”