Holborn station has today started a six-month trial of ‘standing only’ escalators. As anyone who has travelled on the London Underground will know, standing on the left of the escalator is an inexcusable crime, which will attract tuts from many angry Londoners running late for work. However, if the trial is successful, this could become the norm across more – or even all – tube stations.
A previous trial resulted in 30 per cent less congestion, according to Transport for London. This may be great for those who are incapable – but in most cases, simply too lazy — to walk up the escalators. It’s not so great for highly strung Londoners like me who get itchy at the thought of standing on a creeping escalator. In an age where we are being encouraged to take more exercise in order to curb rising obesity levels, surely encouraging more standing and less walking is counterintuitive.
The other danger is the confusion it will cause. How is a person to know which escalators you are allowed to stand on both sides of? Will staff need to be constantly on-hand to remind us how to travel correctly? The last thing the Tube needs is more overly cheery megaphone-wielding TfL staff. As for tourists, who already struggle with the rules of the tube, it’s going to cause all kinds of problems for them. They already find Oyster cards unfathomable; can they really be expected to get to grips with a new set of peculiar escalator rules?
For the sake of tourist safety – and commuters’ blood pressure – we need to preserve the rule that says you stand on the right, walk on the left. Tube etiquette is what stops London descending in to chaos. TfL, please don’t ruin this great city. Londoners have enough to be miserable about as it is.