Posted 10th March 2016 | 8 Comments

London Underground discards 'stand on the right' rule

LONDON Underground is discarding decades of tradition in a new trial at a busy station where passengers will no longer be asked to 'stand on the right' when using two escalators.

Instead, they will be invited to stand on both sides on the Central line escalators at Holborn. Previous tests last November and December have suggested that capacity is increased by up to 30 per cent if everyone is stationary and allows the machinery to do the work.

The next challenge for London Underground will be to get the message across, changing the habits of a lifetime for many Underground users, when the six-month trial starts on 18 April.

A variety of messages, developed with the help of the behavioural science department at the London School of Economics, will be tested at different times to see which work best. These include standard instructions and ‘light’ messages that play on words about standing.

These will be communicated in various ways, including using a talking projection of a staff member, electronic versions of the triangular ‘stand on the right’ signs that passengers pass as they travel up the escalator, signs on the floors, foot prints on the escalator steps, handprints on the handrails and station announcements.

LU operations director Peter McNaught said: “It may not seem right that you can go quicker by standing still, but our experiments at Holborn have proved that it can be true. This new pilot will help us find out if we can influence customers to stand on both sides in the long term, using just signage and information. Anyone who wants to walk on the other escalators will be free to do so, but we hope that with record numbers using the Tube, customers will enjoy being part of this experiment to find the most efficient ways of getting around.”

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Kevin Boyd, Sutton Coldfield

    Would it be a good idea to consider speeding up the escalator speeds? This would contribute to add capacity for the escalators. This was done by KCRC on the East Line more than 15 years.
    [London Transport reckoned that the optimum speed is c.45m a minute, at which the total of passengers carried is up to 10,000 an hour, which would seem to be the maximum achievable. Any faster, and more steps remain unoccupied -- people cannot board quickly enough to make best use of the space. It is true that the journey for each passenger is quicker on a faster escalator, but occupancy falls and so capacity does not increase beyond 10,000/hour.--Editor.]

  • John B, London

    Common sense prevails! The majority who use escalators as they are supposed to be used no longer need to be inconvenienced by this old-fashioned rule. Those who want to walk can use the stairs where they are available. Otherwise, tough!

  • James palma, London.

    Being able to walk up the escalators is essential, but at holborn they are so long, very few people want to.

    Where i travel to on the tube, i walk up three sets of escaltors to get from the train 22m below ground to surface level, as do thousands of people every day.

    What concerns me, is people doing this everywhere, or even London Underground introducing this outright, which would be guaranteed to slow things down generally.

    Btw, people with suitcases stop at the top of escalators anyway!

  • Chris Green, Huddersfield

    The rules seem old-fashioned to me, so glad they've been lifted at one station. Hopefully this trial will lead to the rules been lifted across London.

  • Torqueback, York

    They're assuming that everyone is running on schedule. But what if you're late? Will they stop people overtaking each other in corridors as well?
    And it'll be interesting to see what happens when TWO clowns with suitcases stop to wonder where they go next, immediately after stepping off the escalator.

  • Graham, Basingstoke

    Where there are long escalators (those with a height of over 18.5m) very few people want to walk. In these cases almost everyone is standing on the right. As such it is not surprising that more people can use the escalators when both sides are used for standing.

  • Sam the Green cat, Kettering

    I can see this causing a lot of fights and commuter rage !

  • Sonning Cutting, andover

    Intuitively it makes sense that everyone travelling at the same speed maximises throughput on an escalator.
    I believe that using differential calculus it was determined that the maximum capacity of a motorway was obtained if ALL vehicles were travelling at the same speed viz.25mph, allowing for optimum reaction times and breaking distances.
    Clearly therefore walking passengers on an escalator degrade the capacity.
    LUL already demonstrate this on Tube Lines where all trains have the same performance characteristics. Compare this with a Mixed Traffic line where Intercity, Regional and Freight services all interact.