Mind the gap …. ouch!

15 05 2007

I got caught again today. Caught doing what? – no, no, no! 😉

I was rushing to get onto a tube train on the London Underground, with my dog in tow. Luckily, I let Sir on first, and I followed. Unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough with the following part (need more practice?) and got caught between the tube doors as they shut. OOOWWW! I was grazed across my back and my backpack got stuck between the doors. Three men tried to open the doors until one fella grabbed my bag and pulled it in (as I tried not to laugh). Gawd, I felt so silly. And yes, I did thank them.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. I have been able to hear the beeping as the doors shut, but very rarely, and usually when I am on the inside of the train. To hear it, I have to be close to the doors (obviously) and my hearing aids have to be aimed in the right direction. It didn’t help that I had my iPod on at the time.

But at least I was quicker than I was on one occasion last year. Smudge got on the tube and the doors slammed shut before I managed to get on the train. OMG. Smudge’s. Lead. Was. Stuck. In. The. Doors. I was still on the platform, with a look of total horror on my face. Other passengers nearby leapt to open the doors and, thanks be to God, they managed to part them and let me on.

London has just taken delivery of a new generation of tube trains, which will be functional in 2009, at first on the Victoria line. So what’s new? The roof is 2 inches higher (whoopee), handrails are ergonomic, and in different blues to make them easier for sight impaired people to see. The floor is covered in a contrasting colour by the doors, to assist the sight impaired. Each carriage has windows at each end with bullet proof glass, and CCTV is installed – a nod to commuters’ safety. There are flip up seats for wheelchair users, buggies, bikes, trolls. Can we expect air conditioning? Sort of. It’s from the Stone Age – air is sucked in from under the train and dissipated at ceiling height. But Metronet plan to install air con by 2013, using a space at the end of each train section, for the District, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines. The train doors are wider, so there is less time for boarding at stations, heh.

Are there any improvements in store for people with hearing impairments? A liquid LCD display shows the next station – some trains have these already. Unfortunately the alarm system isn’t accessible, although there is a direct line to the driver, that’s no use to me is it? Why can’t they hook up the alarm to the CCTV and have text / BSL relay for deaf people? And what about those pesky train doors? There will be visual warnings when the doors are about to close, on the LCD displays. Why can’t there be a line of flashing light around the door edges warning people on the platform that the doors are about to shut, wouldn’t that be more useful? And how about making the doors close more slowly and gently? The new train doors will be electric rather than pneumatic, perhaps those will better.

There’s a big difference between the New York subway and the London Underground. I know which one I prefer.

Are the new trains worth waiting for? Are they worth the extra cost? Any improvement is better than no improvement, but I think more thought could have gone into these trains.

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4 responses

16 05 2007
Dale

I’m glad the trolls will be consigned to the flip-up seats, because I wouldn’t want one sitting next to me…

(Agree they should put lights on the door step so you can see when they are closing.)

16 05 2007
Dale

ps. Are you in that picture? Wearing the hat or the white jumper?

16 05 2007
funnyoldlife

Neither. I’m the one with the fingers in the door.

18 05 2007
Fintan

oh dear , just be thankful no kid was recording this and got it posted on you tube so they laugh at your expense.

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