Here’s the longest you could get trapped in the train doors for on every London Underground line

Any second now... Image: Getty.

Did you read CityMetric’s recent story of a man who got trapped in the doors of a Northern Line train for 15 stations and think, “Pah, what a pathetic loser, I bet I could get trapped in the doors of a tube train for way more stations than that!”? Then read on, for we have for some reason attempted to calculate the maximum number of stations it would be possible for on each line!

In order to work this out we’ve looked at the which side the doors open on the train at each station: at some stations, it can actually be either, as there are 2 or more possible platforms for the train to stop at. If at the start of a journey the doors open on the right, then open on the left for 14 stations until finally opening on the right again, that makes 15 stops of “stuckness”.


In order of length, by number of stops, here are the longest ‘stuck’ journeys we could find on each line.

Waterloo & City: 2 stops

This might seem somewhat ludicrous given the Waterloo & City Line only has two possible stops but if the train arrives on the ‘wrong’ platform at Bank (and you aren’t otherwise rescued, which is basically a running assumption here), you’d have to wait until it returned to Waterloo (the trains always end up on the opposite side they started from at Waterloo and go out of the station to turn around, otherwise you could do INFINITE WATERLOO & CITY LINE).

Bakerloo: 5 stops

Queen’s Park to Edgware Road, in either direction.

Victoria: 8 stops

Warren Street to Brixton makes seven, and assuming we’re correctly remembering how the trains work at Brixton, if you get the ‘right’ platform you’ll be stuck until it goes back up the line to Stockwell.

Hammersmith & City: 8 stops

Royal Oak to Hammersmith for seven and, again, if you get a platform where the doors are still shut on your side at Hammersmith you might have to wait until the train goes back to Goldhawk Road.

Central: 10 stops

Holborn to White City, IN THAT DIRECTION ONLY, you fools (due to Notting Hill being weird).

Metropolitan: 10 stops

Northwick Park to Uxbridge and then back out to Hillington, assuming you get the right platforms at Harrow-on-the-Hill and Uxbridge.

Circle: 12 stops

South Kensington to Aldgate (that direction only because who knows what is going at Mansion House???).

District: 13 stops

South Kensington to Whitechapel. (Assuming you get ‘right’ platform at Tower Hill)

Northern: 16 stops

This is basically the route of the unfortunate Samir – Bank to Edgware – only you have to get even more unfortunate and remain stuck at Edgware until you are returned to Burnt Oak).

But the winner is…

Piccadilly: 19 stops

Credit to Henry Dyer for working some of this out before us.

Anyway: Assuming that a) you’re on a train that stops at Turnham Green, b) you get the ‘right’ platforms at Acton Town and Uxbridge, you could get stuck at Earl’s Court and not get freed until the train reaches Uxbridge, then reverses back out to Hillingdon. Then, and only then, will you be crowned best at getting stuck in the doors of the tube, unless you’ve been arrested by the British Transport Police, e.g. because someone has seen it, said it and sorted it.

Will you unlock the cupboard now, Jonn?

Addendum: We’ve just realised that of course that some train doors don’t open either side at certain stations with short platforms. Whether or not this opens up an even longer trapped-in-door situation is left as an exercise for the reader. If you find one, you will win the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve wasted even more of your life than we have.

With much help from Clive’s Underground Line Guides, Carto.Metro and this effort by TfL Tech Forum user Briantist.


Tackling toxic air in our cities is also a matter of social justice

Oh, lovely. Image: Getty.

Clean Air Zones are often dismissed by critics as socially unfair. The thinking goes that charging older and more polluting private cars will disproportionately impact lower income households who cannot afford expensive cleaner alternatives such as electric vehicles.

But this argument doesn’t consider who is most affected by polluted air. When comparing the latest deprivation data to nitrogen dioxide background concentration data, the relationship is clear: the most polluted areas are also disproportionately poorer.

In UK cities, 16 per cent of people living in the most polluted areas also live in one of the top 10 per cent most deprived neighbourhoods, against 2 per cent who live in the least deprived areas.

The graph below shows the average background concentration of NO2 compared against neighbourhoods ranked by deprivation. For all English cities in aggregate, pollution levels rise as neighbourhoods become more deprived (although interestingly this pattern doesn’t hold for more rural areas).

Average NO2 concentration and deprivation levels. Source: IMD, MHCLG (2019); background mapping for local authorities, Defra (2019).

The graph also shows the cities in which the gap in pollution concentration between the most and the least deprived areas is the highest, which includes some of the UK’s largest urban areas.  In Sheffield, Leeds and Birmingham, there is a respective 46, 42 and 33 per cent difference in NO2 concentration between the poorest and the wealthiest areas – almost double the national urban average gap, at around 26 per cent.

One possible explanation for these inequalities in exposure to toxic air is that low-income people are more likely to live near busy roads. Our data on roadside pollution suggests that, in London, 50 per cent of roads located in the most deprived areas are above legal limits, against 4 per cent in the least deprived. In a number of large cities (Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield), none of the roads located in the least deprived areas are estimated to be breaching legal limits.

This has a knock-on impact on health. Poor quality air is known to cause health issues such as cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and asthma. Given the particularly poor quality of air in deprived areas, this is likely to contribute to the gap in health and life expectancy inequalities as well as economic ones between neighbourhoods.

The financial impact of policies such as clean air zones on poorer people is a valid concern. But it is not a justifiable reason for inaction. Mitigating policies such as scrappage schemes, which have been put in place in London, can deal with the former concern while still targeting an issue that disproportionately affects the poor.

As the Centre for Cities’ Cities Outlook report showed, people are dying across the country as a result of the air that they breathe. Clean air zones are one of a number of policies that cities can use to help reduce this, with benefits for their poorer residents in particular.

Valentine Quinio is a researcher at the Centre for Cities, on whose blog this post first appeared.