The Circle Line is, let's face it, terrible. It's slow, it's often delayed, and it isn't even a real circle.
So NBBJ, an architecture design firm, has come up with a faintly outlandish solution. The firm has proposed that the line's tunnels be filled with three speeds of travelator (you know, those flat escalators) which could whizz passengers between stations at roughly the same speed as Underground trains, but with none of the waiting and claustrophobic carriages.
Here's a view of the proposed set-up, complete with food kiosks and a place to sit along the fastest channel:
The fastest walkway would travel at 15mph, and the slowest at 3mph. Based on these speeds, plus an average 3mph walking speed, passengers would get to their destination just as quickly as they would on a Circle Line train (which reach speeds of 20 mph), especially as the walkways wouldn't need to slow or stop at stations. The designers claim that using the walkways, 55,000 passengers could travel on the line, which stretches for 17 miles, at any one time. It's not clear, however, what would happen to Metropolitan and District line trains which share sections of track with the Circle line.
We've written about NBBJ before - they came up with a model which would reduce the shadows thrown by skyscrapers over cities - and, once again, this idea is interesting (if outlandish). Yet no matter who London's mayor is come 2016, we doubt they'd agree to a complete redesign of an entire Tube line, even if it meant the journey from King's Cross to Baker Street would no longer be a slow, human-stuffed nightmare.