Public Spirited Tube Driver Gives Safety Tip To A Passenger

May 3, 2010

I saw this news item on the Metro paper last week. At lunchtime on Monday at Warren Street station on the southbound Victoria line to Brixton, a tube train driver ripped into a passenger for standing too close to the platform edge while wearing sunglasses (yes, you read that correctly). Anything is permissible in this great metropolis, but not that level of stupidity. This is what the driver said over the intercom:

“Excuse me, you in the sunglasses, yes you. You were standing over the yellow line when the train arrived. There’s a yellow line there for a reason. You need to take a bit more care. Perhaps if you weren’t wearing sunglasses on the underground, you may have seen the yellow line. You don’t need to be wearing sunglasses anyway, you’re 65ft underground. Take them off.”

The target of this ticking off eventually realised who the driver was talking to and took off his glasses looking sheepish, according to one commuter. Although they admitted that the person looked a little out of place wearing the sunglasses, they felt the person didn’t deserve the humiliation. I disagree. Safety is paramount on the London Underground system and the driver probably thought for those few seconds, as he emerged from the tunnel and saw this man on the edge, that this was the day he’d be joining a very unwelcome club.

I once knew a tube driver who would tell me stories about instances of what they call ‘one unders.’ It’s a term used to describe people who fall under a train whether it’s due to an act of suicide, or an accidental slip. At rush hour, when the narrow platforms are stuffed with people four deep, the chances of a ‘one under’ increases. As you can imagine, seeing someone fall off the platform as you’re just pulling into the station, with no time to put on the brakes can be a traumatic experience and the driver has to take leave, until such time they are able to drive again. Sometimes, time and counselling doesn’t heal and they have to find another job.

A London Underground spokeswoman admitted it wasn’t the sort of thing they wanted their tube drivers to say and suggested he may had been frightened by the situation and that was his response. She concluded:

“Had the passenger fallen on to the track then that would have been far more shocking than what the driver actually said.”

I could not have put it better myself.



  1. I’m with the driver, act like a child, be expected to be spoken to like one.

  2. I agree with you. If the passenger hadn’t been told off sternly, he might’ve done it again!

    • Possibly. Hopefully it was the lesson he needed to learn. He’ll be more careful next time – without the sunglasses.

  3. I’m with everyone else on it. Better an uncomfortable encounter than a preventable injury not prevented.

    • Uncomfortable encounters are always preferable when death is the alternative.

  4. I’m staying with the trend here. The passenger and potential “one under” wont make that mistake again.

    • Well, if he does, the notoriety of becoming a ‘one under’ among tube staff will define him.

  5. I enjoyed your article, it is timely as a while back an intoxicated woman fell off the platform and was nearly struck by an oncoming subway train. Thankfully she got out of harms way.

    • Hey, Joe. Thanks for taking a look at my blog.

      I remember that incident with the woman on the track. Didn’t it happen in New York last year? I saw it on YouTube and was literally holding my breath. That was one very lucky woman.

      • Yes, that was the incident I was referring to, I think since that time there were a few others that made the news. People ought really take care when on the platform catching a train or riding the subway.

        • That’s why I stand at the back when I’m on a platform, especially when it’s crowded. I’d rather miss a train, than have my friends and family miss me.

  6. I’m going to assume that this was not the passenger’s first ride on the tube, so was therefore aware of the yellow line and the risks it declared. Dumbass, comes to mind…one who obviously doesn’t take heed of the “nice” manner in which he was first made aware of the necessity of the yellow line. I say, good on the driver, for finally resorting to humiliation to drive the point home. Sometimes, it truly is the only option.

    • Dumbass, indeed. There are plenty of ’em.

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