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Jubilee Line - A necessary evil
Member Name: fulldonx
Advantages: Good coverage
Disadvantages: delays, closures, overcrowding
Ah, the Jubilee line, setting for my daily torture of neck ache and absorption into the dense mass of humanity that join me on it.
The Jubilee line runs from Stanmore in North West London all the way through Central and out to Stratford in East London. It is 22.5 miles long and serves 27 stations along the route - only 13 of which are technically "underground" It is coloured Grey on the standard tube map which is a fairly apt colour for the way this line makes me feel.
Before 1999 the Jubilee line only ran to Charing Cross in central London but the line was extended to meet the needs of the ever expanding Docklands/Canary Wharf area and the thriving business district which has found its second home there.
The planning for this extension began in the 1970s and the extended line was finally completed and opened just before Christmas 1999. The extension created 7 brand new stations including Canary Wharf, North Greenwich and Stratford.
It is now hard to imagine life without the Jubilee line, especially for those living and working east of London Bridge. With the financial hub at Canary Wharf and the new 02 arena at North Greenwich, the pre-existing Docklands Light Railway would have been simply overwhelmed by the numbers coming in and out of the area nowadays on a daily basis.
The Jubilee line is a real journey through the ages. Towards the northern end of the line you have stations such as Kilburn which was built in 1879 and as you travel out east you go through stations that are barely 10 years old. This is a line that was over 100 years in the making.
A lot of the newer stations have excellent facilities such as modern architecture (Canary Wharf is particularly impressive), step-free and wheelchair access from street level to platform level and station protection doors. I am a big fan of station protection doors as they effectively create a barrier between passengers and the track and only open when a train is pulled in at the station.
It can be quite nerve-wracking during rush hour when the platforms are crammed with people and there is literally centimetres between yourself and the edge of the platform - so these protection doors are an excellent and very welcome new feature.
Notable stops on the Jubilee line are Wembley Park (for Wembley Stadium), Bond Street (for Oxford Street shopping/Selfridges), North Greenwich (for the 02 arena) and Waterloo and London Bridge which are major terminals for mainline connections out to the South East and South West of England.
So the line is good in theory, it serves a good portion of London, a lot of the stations are relatively new and clean...yet let me tell you the reality from someone that uses it daily.
I go from Waterloo to Canary Wharf, a total of 5 stops. This can take me 12 minutes, or it can take me an hour. The sheer volume of people during rush hour is hard to describe. Suffice to say that I have seen the queues 20 deep at each set of doors. I have been locked in the ticket hall to prevent overcrowding, I have even been locked out in the street to prevent overcrowding. I have seen people literally fighting to get on a train. I have been annoyed by the obligatory smart-ass who bleats "Can you move down a bit please"? Yeah, ok, let me move down into this mass of free space you seem to think I have here - muppet!
Once I am on a train I am either in someone's armpit or I am squashed at an angle whereby my neck will be sore for the rest of the day. Seats are like the holy grail in rush hour, you're more likely to win the lottery.
In the summer, temperatures can get well over 100 degrees as for some strange reason no one has been capable of designing an air conditioning system that will work on the tubes. They've managed it in Singapore, yet not in London.
Now, I can't blame the volume of people on my route on the Jubilee line. Nor is rush-hour overcrowding a problem that is unique to this line. What I can blame the Jubilee line for, and in particular the management of it by Tube Lines, is the reliability issues. The signal failures, the defective trains, the line closures for upgrade works...
If you are unaware, all or part of the Jubilee line has been consistently closed on the weekends for as long as I care to remember. This has meant travel misery for people trying to get to concerts/events at Wembley or at the 02 arena.
These upgrade works were meant to be completed in March 2009. At the time of writing this article, they are still ongoing.
Tube lines keep telling us the upgrades will ensure more trains and shorter journey times...the jury is out, we shall see.
I'm sure whoever named the Jubilee line was unaware of the irony, but from someone that uses it daily I can testify that Jubilee is not an emotion this line gives me or my fellow commuters.
Summary: I get it because I have to, but once my bike is fixed it will be ciao from me