So, just how cramped are you?

Issued under a Creative Commons licence

Issued under a Creative Commons licence

Finding out about the amount of legroom on trains is like trying finding out the Queen’s inside leg measurement: it’s risky, fraught with difficulty, and tantamount to treason.

Legroom (or lack of it) is a pet hate of mine, having endured many journeys where I have had to sit perfectly still, lest my thigh come into contact with the stranger’s opposite. I mean, thigh rubbing is more a third date thing.

Having contacted all the major rail companies and been ignored/refused by all of them, the best figures available were courtesy of Justin Smith on railforums.co.uk. He measured the distance from the rear of the seat to where one’s knees normally would be. I converted them from inches to centimetres, and put them into a table, and a graph. The list is not exhaustive.

As you can see, Northern Rail is the worst train company, with all of their rolling stock offering just 66cm in legroom – that’s the same as a 26 inch telly. However, the worst single train is the East Midlands class 158, with 63.5cm of legroom. This train is a long-distance train that runs from Norwich to Liverpool – a journey that takes over four hours. Ouch.

At a third more room than Northern Rail, Hull Trains offers the most generous legroom for standard class passengers, at a capacious 86.4cm – the same as in first class. Finally, a reason to go to Hull! Out of the trains to offer ‘priority’ seating (generally for those who are disabled, with pushchairs or small children), only on Hull Trains is the priority seating more generous than in first class – but only by two centimetres.

The average length of seating in the eight trains with First Class is 90.8cm, whereas standard class in the same eight trains measures at an average of just 73.7cm. The biggest class divide is on the electric East Coast train (which runs on the West Coast Main Line), with 25.3cm difference between first class and standard class.

Part of the reason why it is so difficult to work out on which journeys you will be luxuriating in space or wedged in like a Lego brick at an orgy is because the seating layout is not dependent on the train company itself, but the rolling stock each company runs (i.e. looking at different carriages – trainspotting territory).

However, even if two train companies own the same type of rolling stock, they often refurbish the interiors to their own specifications. Therefore, it is highly likely that legroom on a train is almost as idiosyncratic as the train itself. Perhaps the best advice is to invest in a straitjacket, so you will be sure you can use the seat next to you to put your feet up.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

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The Commuter Community’s Twitter Faves

The commuter is only as strong as the company he or she keeps.  Forget fellow passengers, whose love handles we inadvertently grab as we stumble for safety; when we’re six feet under, it’s our Twitter feed that accompanies us into the abyss.

We at London Locomotion want you to be the best commuter you can possibly be. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the top 20 people and groups you simply must follow. This is all about becoming a true commuter community – so we urge you to get a-following.

After all, Germaine Greer may have trumpeted the rights of many groups, but commuters were clearly not one of them…so we urge you to prove her wrong:

“Even crushed against his brother in the Tube the average Englishman pretends desperately that he is alone.” Germaine Greer

So, here we we go:

1)   TFL Traffic News: Official road traffic updates by Transport For London. A bit dry, but does its job @TflTrafficNews

2)   TFL Oyster: Official feed for Oyster card customer queries and information by Transport for London. Same as above @TfLOyster

3)   Transport For London: Official Transport for London feed for news and information. And we’re done with the offish stuff @TfLOfficial

4)   London Grumblr: Hilarious Tumblr about what really “grinds Londoners’ gears”. No tourist will get it, which makes our community even more special @LondonGrumblr

5)   Tube Crush: Spotlighting the finest finds on the underground lines. Because there may only be mingers on your carriage @TubeCrush

6)   Time Out London: Now free and handed out at stations, this magazine should dictate everything (and every person) you ever do in our fair Capital @TimeOutLondon

7)   Everything London: Another guide to London living. Perhaps not as sacrosanct as Time Out, but still worth a referral @LDN

8)   People On The Tube: If Tube Crush didn’t  scare you enough with Orwellian gloom, fear not! We’re always being watched. Try to find yourself @PeopleOnTheTube

9)   Evening Standard: Free daily paper. ‘Nuff said @StandardNews

10)    Londonist: Telling us the best London places and events. Because commuting needs incentive @Londonist

11)    Boris Johnson: Because we love Boris and he loves us @MayorOfLondon

12)   Mayor Watch: Because sometimes even Boris needs to be held in check @MayorWatch

13)   Metro: A daily paper that’s just for us! It may or may not be The Daily Mail in disguise @MetroUk

14)   Stylist Magazine: Another reason why non-commuters miss out on life. Especially on a Tuesday @StylistMagazine

15)   Shortlist Magazine: Ditto for Wednesday @Shortlist

16)   Tweet The Tube: Live updates about the tube, checked every five minutes. Doing the job so we don’t have to @Tweetthetube

17)    David Cameron: Well, if we’re following Boris… @Number10gov

18)    Geri Halliwell: This Spice Girl is a fount of knowledge regarding all and every tube-related matter @GeriHalliwell

19)    Sarah Harding: The Girls Aloud hell-raiser has been banned from driving for six months, so we can expect to see her making some serious “Sound of the Underground” this Summer (sorry) @SarahNHarding

20)    London Locomotion: Yeh, we’re self-plugging. Whatta shocker @LocoLDN