Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tube Overcrowding 'Is Turning Londoners into Selfish Animals'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tube Overcrowding 'Is Turning Londoners into Selfish Animals'

Article excerpt

Byline: Katharine Barney and Ross Lydall

OVERCROWDING on the Tube is forcing passengers to fight for space and to ignore the needs of the pregnant and people with babies.

A report today reveals that rush-hour travellers "shut down" to cope with the battle on packed trains. One passenger said: "I'm a different animal on the Tube from normal life. I'm not me. I'm a bit less interested in others."

The London Assembly report names the Northern and Central lines as the most overcrowded, with the Central line between Bethnal Green and Liverpool Street the worst, carrying 60,000 passengers from 7am to 10am.

Other major crush-points include the Northern line between the Clapham stations and Kennington, and lines arriving and departing at King's Cross.

Passengers told researchers that they would "suspend normal codes of behaviour" and look to secure a seat, regardless of whether other more needy people might need it.

Many listened to music or turned their back on other passengers as they went into "automatic pilot routine".

Overall, more than 80 per cent of passengers complained of overcrowding, with more than half sometimes unable to board the first train.

The transport committee report, Too Close For Comfort, criticises the "chaotic" Jubilee line upgrade -- which could last until next autumn -- for hastily arranged and inefficient closures. It fears this could have an impact on the Northern line, the next to be upgraded by private firm Tube Lines.

The Jubilee line has seen more than 100 disruptions in two years, with the ExCeL exhibition centre in Docklands losing 25 per cent of its turnover and paying [pounds sterling]500,000 a year in compensation to clients. The O2 arena has paid [pounds sterling]400,000 in the last year on replacement transport to help visitors get to North Greenwich.

The reports suggests "traffic light" information about crowding levels and details of alternative routes before people pass through the ticket barriers so they can pick an alternative route. …

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