Tube has tunnel vision for much better behaviour

HEADPHONE-wearing music fans playing their tunes loud and proud, piles of litter and smelly take-away food are just some of the typical sights and sounds of Camden Town

Andrew Shepherd

HEADPHONE-wearing music fans playing their tunes loud and proud, piles of litter and smelly take-away food are just some of the typical sights and sounds of Camden Town.

And as one of London's busiest transport, commercial and entertainment hubs, the area sees its fair share of problems in bus stops and stations.

This month Transport for London has launched a new campaign to encourage good behaviour among travellers, with the message "A little thought from each of us, a big difference for everyone."

TfL bosses hope the new drive, supported by posters and films in cinemas, will remind people to be more considerate and to turn down their music, offer seats to those in need, and not spoil other people's journeys with anti-social behaviour or littering.

At the often overcrowded Camden Town tube station, staff certainly believe the campaign is a step in the right direction.

Most Read

"As tube workers, it isn't our job to challenge commuters and finger-wag," said station manager Tony Keogh, who has worked at Camden Town for the past 10 years.

"Hopefully this new scheme will just get people to think. People who use the tube can be very inconsiderate towards each other.

"I've become used to seeing litter around the place and people shouting at each other down the telephone. Dropping litter at the bottom of escalators and people falling and tripping has been a big problem. That's the last thing you want after a long day at work.

"It's not just petty problems that commuters experience in places like Camden Town. Police teams and sniffer dogs are regular sights at the station, as the authorities aim to clamp down on drug and alcohol-related crime.

"Drugs are often found in stop and searches by police but that is a problem for the whole of the underground system, not just Camden," said Mr Keogh, 54.

"We probably have a couple of fights a month in the station and they are usually drink-related. Most violence is kept firmly above ground by the British Transport Police who are based just around the corner."

But Mr Keogh was clear that the biggest problem at Camden Tube Station isn't violence but just people being inconsiderate towards others, usually when drink is involved.

"There isn't much violence here as such but we do get a lot of horseplay, usually when people are drunk," he said.

"We have people falling around drunk and often they can't even hang onto their beer, meaning platforms and the like can become slippery, which is obviously very dangerous."

The TfL scheme was launched across the capital on February 1. The new posters, featuring five distinct caricatures, have been placed in underground stations and at bus stops to remind people of their responsibilities.

"As a city we don't ask much of our commuters and it isn't about quoting rules and regulations. People don't like to be legislated at. It's about lessening the risks and getting everyone home safely," said Mr Keogh.

"The posters that are part of the campaign are cute and humorous and just point out in a simple way that a small change in behaviour will make a big difference to everyone. They make me smile when I see them.

"It's just about getting commuters to do those little things that everyone should do anyway. People don't want to be disrupted on their journey by having rubbish thrown at them or music blasting out."

However, commuters were not so hopeful that the new campaign will work. Elizabeth Michelle, 41, from Swiss Cottage, said: "I don't think they will make a difference. They look nice so people won't take offence and feel like they are being ordered to do something. People just won't be that bothered."

Keith Stokoe, a 26-year-old postman from Kilburn, said: "The people that need to read these signs probably won't take any notice. I would already give up my seat for a lady or someone who needs it more than me anyway."

And Zahi Farhadi, 31, a builder from Camden Town, said: "I don't know if the posters will make much difference - people are pretty moody in the mornings on their way to work and mostly they just want to get where they're going as quickly as possible.

"Everyone is usually in a bit of a daze on the tube."