London Tube ‘Ghost Station’ May Be Brought Back From The Dead

A London Tube station that hasn’t been used for more than half a century may become the city’s newest attraction, the BBC reports.

Brompton Road station on the Piccadilly Line closed in 1934 because it was underused. During World War II, it served as the headquarters of the Royal Artillery’s anti-aircraft operations. The station has changed little since then, with much of the wartime equipment and signage still there. There’s even a vintage map of London still hanging on the wall.

Now The Old London Underground Company is going through the process of renting the site, which is still owned by the Ministry of Defense. It plans to preserve part of it for its historical importance while adding a restaurant to the roof and climbing walls to the drop shafts.

So-called “ghost stations” are objects of fascination for some Londoners. There are more than 20 of them and you can occasionally catch a glimpse of one if you look at the right moment on the right line. One good online guide is the appropriately named London’s Abandoned Tube Stations website. Their Brompton Road section has some cool photos and there’s also a spooky virtual tour courtesy Zodiac Blue here.

While the deal hasn’t been finalized, the company has announced its intention to develop more ghost stations.

[Photo courtesy Nick Cooper]

London Underground planning 24 hour tube service during 2012 Olympics?

The London underground may be one of the best systems in the world, but overnight service is still something not offered. Sure, there are plenty of late night bus services, and minicabs are usually everywhere, but once the 2012 Olympics come to town, chances are there won’t be enough buses to transport everyone.

Transport for London and the union representing tube workers are meeting to discuss the possibility of a round the clock service between July 27 and August 12, to help get visitors where they need to be.

As usual, 24 hour service will all depend on pay and staffing issues. To make matters worse, current pay issues have even raised the possibility of strikes during the upcoming Royal Wedding and the 2012 Olympics. Time will tell whether the workers get their demands met before these big events.

[Photo: Flikcr/fofiko]

London’s Tube will have (some) air conditioning next summer

Londoners love to hate the Tube. The London Underground is said to be overpriced, overcrowded, and prone to breakdowns and strikes, but perhaps the biggest (and most valid) complaint is that on hot summer days the lack of air conditioning turns the cars into ovens. I’ve even seen people faint, either from the heat or the stink of sweaty bodies.

Londoners and visitors alike will have some relief next summer as the city introduces its first air conditioned subway car, which was delivered this week.

But don’t throw away your water bottles just yet. The first air conditioned car will only be on the Metropolitan line, and that line won’t be entirely air conditioned until 2011. By 2015, the District and Circle lines will also have air conditioning.

That’s a long wait, and the nine other lines will have to wait even longer, perhaps forever. Some, such as the heavily used Northern and Piccadilly lines, are too deep in the earth to easily expel warm air. The Piccadilly is the one that goes to Heathrow, so you can have a nice sweat after several hours of cramped seating and airline food.

Oh, and there’s more bad news. Since this is part of a major revamping of the Tube system, prices will go up 3.9 percent, and bus fares will also go up 12 percent. The fare hikes will start in January 2012.

Travel quotations and underground philosophy

Travelers on the London Underground will soon get a dose of philosophy along with their overcrowding, noise, and proximity to body odor. The Evening Standard has reported that drivers on the Piccadilly line have been issued a book of quotations from famous philosophers to read along with their routine announcements. It’s supposed to make the journey go easier. Some of the quotes include, “Nothing is worth more than this day” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) and “Man is in a strict sense entirely animal” (Blaise Pascal).

Good choices, but they could have picked ones that were more travel-oriented. Here’s a sampling.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” (St. Augustine)

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” (Lao Tzu)

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” (Seneca)

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” (Anatole France)

You can read more travel quotes at Quotegarden.

London Underground strike brings chaos

Londoners found themselves walking or taking crowded buses today as a strike continued on the London Underground, popularly known as “The Tube.”

The strike started just after evening rush hour Tuesday at 6:59 pm and will last 48 hours. Not all lines have been affected, but most have been and the remaining lines are filled to capacity. For up-to-date information, check Transport for London’s website.

This is just one of numerous strikes in recent years as the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union fights a longstanding battle for better pay and job security. Both sides in the dispute point the finger of blame at the other, but London mayor Boris Johnson insists they are close to an agreement.

Extra buses have been ordered, but traffic is heavy and travelers should expect delays. BBC has written a handy guide to getting around during the strike. The best option for visitors would be to walk, which is the best way to see London anyway. Here are five areas that make for an enjoyable stroll.

Bloomsbury. Lush parks and long lines of Georgian houses make this one of the most scenic areas in London. Exhibits at the British Library and the British Museum provide interesting places to hide from England’s nasty rains.

The City. The financial heart of London includes some of its oldest buildings, as well as remains of the Roman city wall. The Museum of London makes for a good stop, as do the many pubs.

Mayfair. Lots of high-end shops and fancy homes here, as well as Hyde Park on its western boundary. Good for cafe culture, fine dining, and generally pretending you’re a millionaire.

Westminster and Trafalgar Square. The Houses of Parliament and a short walk to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery are the big draws here, but also stop by the often-overlooked St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, a beautiful church with an inexpensive cafe in the crypt.

Islington. An up-and-coming neighborhood with lots of bars, clubs, and international restaurant. Check out Islington High St. for nightlife, and Caledonian Rd. for Ethiopian restaurants.