London

Holborn Tube escalators become standing only for new trial

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Media captionWhat do Tube users make of the standing rule on the escalator?

A six-month "standing-only" escalator trial has begun at a busy London Underground station.

Passengers at Holborn station will be asked not to walk up two escalators after a previous experiment found it improved passenger flow.

During the November trial, station congestion was reduced by about 30%, Transport for London (TfL) said.

The third "up" escalator will remain available for people to walk on, the operator said.

London Underground convention is for customers to stand on the right of escalators, allowing others to walk on the left.

Image caption More than 56m customers travel through Holborn station every year

But in stations where escalators have a vertical height of more than 18.5m (60ft 7in), much of the left-hand side remains unused, causing queues to form at the bottom, TfL found.

During the last test, it said, 16,220 people could travel on Holborn's 23.4m (76ft 8in) -high escalators during rush hour, compared to 12,745 in normal circumstances.

Messages by the behavioural science department at the London School of Economics have been developed to persuade Londoners to adopt the change.

Different approaches will be tested during the trial to find out which is most persuasive.

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Media captionProf Ed Galea of Greenwich University explains why standing-only escalators are more efficient

Methods will include direct instructions from staff, electronic "stand on the right" signs, handprints on the handrails, and "light" messages playing on words about standing.

Peter McNaught, operations director at London Underground, said: "We hope that this can lead to improving congestion at Holborn, making journeys easier for all of our customers".

TfL have not said whether standing only escalators will be tried out in other stations.


Vertical heights of the Tube's longest escalators:

  • Angel - 27.4m
  • Holborn - 23.4m
  • Green Park - 22.7m
  • Tottenham Court Road - 19.3m

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