THE TUBE


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THE TUBE

More than one billion (1,000,000,000) people use it every year, clocking up around three million journeys each day.

The network is over-stretched, under-funded and creaking. Yet it is also one of the world’s safest.

Now, for the first time in many years, London Underground opens its doors to television.

In a six-part series, THE TUBE gives a unique picture of the day-to-day life of London Underground’s 16,500 staff. It goes behind the scenes to meet some of the characters who struggle to keep it running smoothly.

They have a difficult job, under challenging and often stressful circumstances. The slightest disruption to the service can have serious consequences. When it is suspended altogether, the result is havoc.

With unparalleled behind-the-scenes access, THE TUBE gives a unique insight into the world’s oldest underground system.


HEATWAVE

In the final programme in the series, London is in the grip of a heatwave. On the streets, temperatures are in the 90s; on THE TUBE they are going through the roof.

Temperatures below ground are an average of 10 degrees higher than outside. In hot weather, London Underground has to contend with rush-hour carriages packed with overheated customers. Inevitably, some are overcome and faint.

At London Bridge, Brian Valentine has his first crisis of the day. A young woman has passed out and she needs to be taken off the train as quickly as possible. There is a queue of trains stuck in the tunnel behind, and they need to be brought into the station immediately if there are not to be more casualties.

The fine weather is a boom for the organisers of a pop-concert in Hyde Park. But for Darren Smith and his colleague Debbie Sowton catching fare-evaders at Hyde Park station, it’s work as usual – however sweaty.

At Victoria, however, it’s hats off and open collars for the staff, as the thermometer hits 77. But the heat doesn’t deter one of Station Supervisor Simon White’s least favourite buskers – the self-styled ‘Bob Marley’. London Underground is planning to offer pitches to a select number of approved buskers, but until they do it is forbidden. Despite Simon’s persistent efforts to move him on, ‘Bob Marley’ keeps coming back.

It is a Mosaic Films production for Carlton. The series producer is Lucy Willis, and the executive producers are Colin Luke and Adam Alexander. The executive producer for Carlton is Sue Davidson.


WOMEN DRIVERS

One year ago, London Underground ran an advertising campaign in Cosmopolitan Magazine in a bid to attract more female drivers.

Of the 6,500 who applied for the £30,000 plus a year job, 116 were successful. Jo Drummond was one of them, and for the last five months she has been learning to drive one of the Northern Line’s 160-ton trains.

THE TUBE follows Jo through one of her final lessons and on to her test day. If she passes, she’ll go out on what staff have nicknamed a ‘Sweat Day’ – her first time on her own behind the controls of a train carrying up to 1000 people.

Jo Brown, Trains Manager on the District line, has been called to an incident at High Street Kensington. Driver Miranda Sadgrove has just passed a signal at danger – known as a SPAD. Unlike the mainline rail network, the London Underground has an automatic safety system that stops any train that goes through a signal on red. But Jo needs to investigate why it occurred and make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to Miranda again.

It is a Mosaic Films production for Carlton. The series producer is Lucy Willis, and the executive producers are Colin Luke and Adam Alexander. The executive producer for Carlton is Sue Davidson.


RUSH HOUR

In the morning rush hour, more than three-quarters of a million commuters cram onto the tube.

Said Otmani - Station Manager

Getting customers onto trains is priority number one for Victoria station supervisor Simon White. At its peak, Victoria is the busiest station on the network, with more than 1,000 people a minute getting onto trains. Even the slightest delay can mean that Simon has to stop passengers moving through his station until the platforms have cleared.

At London Bridge a combination of signal failure and a broken train brings the line to a standstill. As Station Manager, Said Otmani, (left) puts it: "Rush hour on the northern line is cancelled."

At Earls Court, train manager Jo Brown has to deal with a broken down train that needs to be fixed and put back into service.

Meanwhile, back at Victoria, Evelyn Benjamin has to eject a beggar from a train and Simon White has his hands full, keeping one step ahead of the ubiquitous ticket touts selling used tickets to unsuspecting passengers.

It is a Mosaic Films production for Carlton. The series producer is Lucy Willis, and the executive producers are Colin Luke and Adam Alexander. The executive producer for Carlton is Sue Davidson.


ONE UNDERS

Around 50 people a year throw themselves under tube trains.

Staff at London Underground call these suicide attempts a ‘One Under’. It is they who have to deal with the grisly consequences.

It’s the first day back at work for driver Karen Jordan. Three months ago, a man attempted to kill himself by jumping in front of her train as she was coming into South Wimbledon Station. The incident was profoundly traumatic for Karen.

Karen Jordan

"I have known people that have been unable to drive a train again," says Ken Gibberd, Train Manager at Golders Green on the Northern Line, where Karen works.

The programme follows Karen (above) through her first week back in the driving seat.

It is not just the driver who suffers when someone jumps under a train. It also disrupts the service for passengers.

At Earls Court, a suicide attempt is causing severe delays to the District Line. Control and Operations Manager Trevor Edmead has to get the service back to normal in time for the evening rush hour.

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual for ticket inspector Darren Smith (below) at London Bridge. His first task is to separate two commuters who have come to blows.

Darren Smith

With unparalleled behind-the-scenes access, THE TUBE gives a unique insight into the world’s oldest underground system.

It is a Mosaic Films production for Carlton. The series producer is Lucy Willis, and the executive producers are Colin Luke and Adam Alexander. The executive producer for Carlton is Sue Davidson.


24 HOURS

Around three million journeys are made on London Underground every day. At night, when the network is closed to passengers, it is nonetheless still a hive of activity.

Repair and maintenance teams work against the clock to ensure that the tracks are safe for the trains, the passengers and the occasional world record seeker.

Brian Valentine - Station Supervisor

It’s 12.30am and although the last train has left London Bridge, Station Supervisor Brian Valentine (above) will be working through the night. Engineers are carrying out essential maintenance on the track. There is a lot for them to do in just four hours before the power is switched back on and the first trains of the morning start to run.

Meanwhile, computer technician Geoff Marshall is having a sleepless night in a hotel in Chesham at the end of the Metropolitan line. He needs to be on the first tube out if he is to break the world record for the fastest time to travel the entire network.

Geoff Marshall

As Brian clocks off, Geoff (left) has already been travelling for nearly two hours. He is attempting to get in to the Guinness Book of records by travelling to all 275 stations on the underground in the shortest possible time.

The current world record stands at 19 hours and 18 minutes. This is Geoff’s second attempt and he’ll have to shave over 15 minutes off his previous attempt if he’s going to get into the record books.

There cannot be any problems on the network if Geoff is going to achieve his dream. But in any 24-hour period on The Tube, the unexpected often happens.

 
THE TUBE is a Mosaic Films production for Carlton. The series producer is Lucy Willis, and the executive producers are Colin Luke and Adam Alexander. The executive producer for Carlton is Sue Davidson.

"gentle and worthy stuff as long-suffering staff do battle with intransigent and thoughtless punters", TIME OUT LONDON January 15-22 2003

 


 

STRIKE

Filmed over the summer of 2002, the first programme chronicles the lead up to the September 25 strike when – for the first time in memory – there was a total shut-down, with no trains running anywhere on the network.

The Station Supervisor at London Bridge, Brian Valentine, has been with London Underground for 28 years. He’s a vocal supporter of the strike, and has to deal with hostile passengers and a visit from the management. But he’s having a tough start to his week – the escalators aren’t working and he needs to control the build up of passengers in rush hour.

At Green Park, Ticket Inspectors Darren Smith and Debbie Sowton are looking for fare-dodgers. But an emergency puts paid to that when a fire alarm results in a full-blown evacuation of the station.

Steve Bennett

25-year-old Steve Bennett (above) has been a Station Assistant at Victoria for the last two years. Unlike Brian Valentine, Steve doesn’t support the strike and will be coming to work … if he can find a way in.

On the day of the strike, the network comes to a total stand-still. Management are left to cope with thousands of frustrated and disgruntled commuters. With no service, half the staff at head office are seconded to help people find alternative means of transport. It’s a difficult day for those at work to keep their cool.

THE TUBE is a Mosaic Films production for Carlton. The series producer is Lucy Willis, and the executive producers are Colin Luke and Adam Alexander. The executive producer for Carlton is Sue Davidson.

 

 
 

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