London

Holborn Tube's standing-only escalators 'quicker'

People standing on the left in Holborn Image copyright Abdullah Al-Mazyad
Image caption People were asked to stand on both sides of the escalator during the morning rush hour

A trial in which Holborn's escalators became standing-only improved the speed customers got through the station, Transport for London (TfL) has found.

During the three-week experiment people were asked to stand and not walk while travelling on escalators to the ticket hall between 08:30 and 09:30.

Queuing was reduced and 30% more people used the Tube's escalators during the trial, analysis showed.

However, TfL said it would not ban commuters from walking on escalators.

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Research by London Underground (LU) found people tend to stand when escalators have a height of over 18.5m, leaving empty space on the left side.

By making them standing-only, the test showed 16,220 people could travel on Holborn's 23.4m high escalators during rush hour, compared to 12,745 in normal circumstances.

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Media captionQuickest way to use an escalator?

The station also shut only once because of overcrowding, compared to the more usual several times a week.

Mark Evers, LU's director of customer strategy, said the trial demonstrated "at stations with very long escalators we can reduce queues and keep people moving".

But he said feedback had shown "some customers want to be able to walk" so "if we bring in this arrangement... we'd expect to keep at least one escalator for a mix of standing and walking".


Vertical heights of the Tube's longest escalators:

  • Angel - 27.4m
  • Holborn - 23.4m
  • Green Park - 22.7m
  • Tottenham Court Road - 19.3m

While commuters might think walking would allow people to move through a station more quickly, studies have suggested standing-only escalators improve overall "efficiency".

Prof Ed Galea of Greenwich University, who has researched escalator etiquette, said it no longer "made sense" to leave an empty lane for walkers on the Tube as it added to congestion.

While the trial did "exceed expectations", TfL said it was still considering the results.

"Nothing has yet been decided about how the project might be taken further," it said.

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