I do my best to cycle to and from work regularly, partly because it keeps you fit, but partly because the London Underground is the only other reliable option to get from Clapham to Westminster.

The system is old, and expensive and hot to travel on in summer. Those things won’t change. But some alterations might be easier…

Let’s face it – being stuck in a small train in closer proximity to a stranger than you ever would want to be is never going to be pleasant. But why make it worse still? Here are a few suggestions…

  1. Announcements are made to get people to move along the cars. This seldom really happens – there is often more standing space between the seats than there is close to the doors. Why not make annoucements suggesting passengers ask each other to move along? Collective action, rather than selfish ignorance could make a lot of difference.
  2. Design the carriages of the trains better. Areas to lean on when the train is busy (found on Jubilee and Picadilly Line trains – see the right side of this image) are a lot better than the fold-down seats on Northern Line trains – they simply give more space when the train is busy.

  3. The height of carriages has an impact on how passengers behave. People are more willing to move down carriages if the roofs of the carriages are higher. Lower floor trains could be introduced when old stock is replaced – this would ease boarding by bringing down the level of the floor to meet the level of the station platform, and would give more headroom. Click here for more from Wikipedia on this.

  4. When trains are busy, passengers still insist on reading books, and, worse still, newspapers. This considerably restricts the ability to get more people into the carriages. Maybe annoucements could be made to suggest to people to stop reading if the train is really busy, to allow more people on?

  5. Passengers seldom really stand back to let passengers off trains. On lines where all the trains have the same composition (Northern Line for example), it would be a good idea to paint yellow boxes on the platform at the points where the doors will stop, and announce that passengers should not stand in those areas to facilitate the exit of passengers from the arriving train.

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