Notes From Underground: How to Improve the Night Tube to Help Pissed People

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

The process appears to have taken an age, thanks to certain silly claims made by certain careless toffs, but the Night Tube finally feels like a real fixture of London. How ever did we get by without it? The Jubilee line gets the 24-hour treatment today, with the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line following suit next month.

Having spent a few early-morning-hours on the Victoria and Central line night services over recent weeks and knocking back a few shots at my desk this lunchtime, I’m confident enough to lecture TfL on how I think it could improve the service for drunk people in the future.

Toilets, Toilets Everywhere

What do you get when you stick a load of hammered people Underground? A slippery mess. I’ve seen guys aiming their, ahem, pistols at platform corners and have read particularly disturbing reports of people doing their business in that precarious bit between carriages that only really confident/creepy people use. Not ideal.

As this map shows, plenty of undergound stations have toilet facilities, but loads of people just don’t know where they are. Clearer signs would help, as would… more toilets, I guess. Perhaps a small hole in a curtained-off area on each carriage too. Scratch that actually, it’d just end up being used for quickies.

On a serious note, ridiculous toilet charges at certain stations need to go. I don’t care how desperate I am, nobody’s getting my bodily fluids AND my money. If I end up wetting myself in public because of my principles, so be it.

Louder Announcements

It can be frustratingly tough to make out Tube announcements in the middle of the day, so what chance do you have when you’re two shandies in and incapable of listening to anyone but the demons in your head? Somebody crank up the volume.

While we’re at it, the first time I used the Night Tube I woke up shivering in a carriage full of grumpy Saturday morning workers at Fairlop. It's the one and only time I’ve been there in my life, but I’m sure I’ll be back soon.

Falling asleep on the Tube is an all-too-common problem for the capital’s revellers, and louder announcements could help tackle that too. Maybe an ear-splitting alarm should blare out as you pull into a station too. Perhaps each carriage should have a designated suspicious-looking person to keep travellers on edge. All great ideas.

Clearer Entrances

Scores of Night Tube users have been complaining about having to exercise a bit by walking around Night Tube stations in search of a way in.

Shutting off certain entrances has numerous practical benefits for Tube staff, who understandably don’t want to be stretched too thinly in the middle of the night. Focusing on a limited number of routes, passageways and ticket barriers gives them greater control, and larger stations often have entrances that lead to rail services, as well as the Tube.

However, it wouldn’t take a great deal of effort to place signs at closed entrances directing people to the correct way in. That said, watching confused drunk people who feel like they’ve been wronged can be incredibly entertaining.

Plastic Seat Covers

People can be stupid, mean and more than a bit mischievous when drunk. Oh, and add vomiting to that list too. Lots of it. Can you see where this is going?

Though I didn’t witness the actual vomiting episode, I got a good look at the aftermath on a particularly lovely journey. A seat covered in what looked vaguely like scrambled eggs. Scrambled eggs that were becoming harder to see as the puke slowly soaked into the fabric.

Sure enough, neither myself nor my fellow travellers said a word as an oblivious young man jumped on the carriage a few stops later and parked his well-dressed behind in the soiled seat.

Seriously though, the cleaners must have an awful time dealing with the late trains. Plastic seat covers wouldn’t be especially comfortable for travellers, but they could prove a godsend for cleaners and save innumerable bums from stinky, part-digested meals.

Platform Edge Doors

OK, this one’s a bit less silly than the others. It isn’t nice to say, but we’re all quietly expecting somebody to fall onto the tracks or get hit by a train sooner or later. It happens during the day, and the likelihood is that it’ll happen at night too. Booze may or may not be a factor.

Customers are kept off the tracks by platform-edge doors (PED) on large sections of the Jubilee line, but all that protects them on the rest of the the underground network is a yellow line and a person with a loudspeaker.

The majority of underground Crossrail platforms will be fitted with PEDs, but installing them on the rest of the network would require an immense amount of work. PEDs would be impossible to align on lines that accommodate multiple types of rolling stock. Beyond that, there’s also serious cost and disruption from building works to consider.

Regardless, TfL needs to think proactively, because Tube platforms are far from the safest places in the world.

A No Kebabs Policy?

This is a controversial one, but bear with me. According to scientists, the Night Tube could help create a new breed of stress-resistant super rodents, monsters that could grow fat on our tragically fallen chunks of kebab. A fast-food ban on the Night Tube would be stupid, impossible to implement and make everyone seriously angry, but for how much longer can we ignore the scurrying threats from below?