London

Holborn Tube to trial standing-only escalators for second time

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Media captionWhat do Tube users make of the standing rule on the escalator?

A standing-only trial on escalators at a London Underground station is to be extended after an initial test resulted in improved passenger flow.

During a three-week experiment in November visitors to Holborn station were asked not to walk on escalators between 08:30 and 09:30 GMT.

Queuing was reduced and 30% more people used the escalators during the trial.

A new six-month trial starting on 18 April will have one of four escalators as always standing only.

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Two escalators will be standing-only at some times of day and one will allow walking at all times.

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

London Underground convention is for customers to stand on the right of escalators, allowing others to walk on the left.

But Transport for London (TfL) said at stations with very long escalators, such as Holborn, few customers choose to walk - meaning that much of left-hand side of the escalator is unused.

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

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Media captionProf Ed Galea of Greenwich University explains why standing-only escalators are more efficient

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.

London Underground's Peter McNaught said: "It may not seem right that you can go quicker by standing still, but our experiments at Holborn have proved that it can be true.

"This new pilot will help us find out if we can influence customers to stand on both sides in the long term, using just signage and information."


Vertical heights of the Tube's longest escalators:

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

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