4 Things About The Tube We'll Never Understand

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 19 months ago
4 Things About The Tube We'll Never Understand
As far as we know no one ever explained this. Photo by Stockcar Pete in the Londonist Flickr pool

Here Comes The Sun (again)

It's OK, we get buskers. But why is the only Beatles song that tube buskers ever seem play Here Comes The Sun, even though it's CLEARLY one of the worst Beatles songs? Did George Harrison make some kind of covert exclusivity deal with the GLC back in the day? More Revolution 9 on the banjolele, please.

Strange announcements

We love and admire the voices that chide and caveat us across the tube network. They've saved us from a fate with numerous gaps. But sometimes they do some weird things.

For instance, why does the voice on northbound Jubilee line trains announce 'Willesden Green' in such a fearful way? What happened in Willesden Green? Should we all stay away from Willesden Green? Was the women who says 'Willesden Green' being produced by a Phil Spectoresque gun-wielding maniac?

And why does the voice on the Northern line announce that the next station is 'High-git'? Is it especially posh for the benefit of the posh people who live there?

And why do trains at North Greenwich announcing the O2 go up at the end of the sentence as if there's more to come?

And why does something similar happen on terminating Bakerloo trains, when warning you to take your belongings with you?

What was going on in those recording booths? We just don't know and we probably never will.

Seriously though, what happened at Willesden Green? Photo by Simon in the Londonist Flickr pool

The steps lie

As is well documented by our resident sage of the tube, Geoff Marshall, commuters are often given completely false information on how many steps a tube station has. For instance, at Belsize Park there's a sign claiming there are 219 steps when there are in fact just 189. Does TfL have a step counter who can't count? Do they want to put people off using the stairs? If Geoff doesn't know, no one does.

I mean, how do we know you're not just lying TfL, HOW? Photo by Jack Gordon in the Londonist Flickr pool

Rogue signs

And it's not just the step signs that are inconsistent; despite the fact TfL has in-depth style guides, some of their signage brazenly flouts it:

And don't get us started on some of their dodgy spellings.

What mystifies you about the tube? Let us know in the comments.

Last Updated 11 October 2016

Jason Finch

'High-git' is not posh, it's just Londoners' way of saying it. So many non Londoners in London now that people think it's 'Hole-born' not 'Ho-bun' and 'Wolthamstow' not 'War-thumstow'.

Tube Geek

The announcer goes posh on the Circle Line at Sloane Square too.


"Here Comes the Sun" is the Beatles' best song. "Willesden Green" is probably the Kinks' worst.

Drew White

More mysteries, which don't seem to get noticed or corrected:
Piccadilly Line on-board announcements are often truncated at the start - "This is" becomes "sis Green Park", "sis South Kensington" etc.
Shared District & Circle Line platform announcements, such as at Westminster, state "The next train is to.. Circle Line via Paddington" - "to Circle Line"?
Several lines have announcements with the word "train" recorded in isolation - it wasn't going to be a boat or helicopter, was it? The word train could easily have been added to the line name!


I've always thought the delivery of 'Willesden Green' on the Jubilee Line sounded almost triumphal. Which I find equally mystifying, having been there.


Why when the train is full, people have their faces crushed against doors and you desperately hope you can find a space do the shouty rude people think they need to explain to let people off first?

Also how does one use ALL doors?


I blame mass literacy. Highgate should be pronounced High-git. Similarly Marylebone should be pronounced Marrerbn - not the bastard Marlybone.

Diego J. Tan

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who noticed the slightly-raised tone on the Jubilee Line train announcements before approaching North Greenwich.
"The next station is [with a longer awkward pause than usual] North Greenwich, exit here for the O2??? [and???]"
And what's with the pause? "This train terminates at [awkward pause] Stanmore."

Dave Moss

I'm surprised you don't know about the missing 30 steps at Belsize Park. They were long ago covered over, they go down to the old line that travelled between Belsize Park via Highgit to Willesden Green. Unfortunately many of the trains mysteriously disappeared at Willesden Green along with the passengers aboard, never to be seen again. Having proved to be a financial disaster the line was closed after only 3 years and 5 months of use. It's a very famous story. I recommend that Londonist writers learn a bit about London before putting pen to paper.

Greg Tingey

We love and admire the voices that chide and caveat us across the tube network
At least 95% of Tfl's "announcements" are at least 150% unnecessary.
They are also, far too often, far TOO LOUD
( Euston is bad & Victoria is so loud as to be disorienting )

I wonder how many tube staff will suffer long-term hearing damage?

Paul Dicken

I think we need sound file links to the strange announcements for those of us who live 275 miles from Charing Cross


The very posh ladies voice used in the lifts at Kennington Underground - love to know who she is and why they use such an upmarket voice!

Alice Violett

Me and my friends have made a bit of a joke out of the way the DLR lady says 'Lewisham' in an inconsistently deep and aggressive voice.

Also smile when I hear 'Bank Branch'.


I work on the Stratford end of the Jubilee line and that pa for The O2 has always made no sense.
It's like they want to say stadium but didn't (or couldn't).


I always wondered why different stations smell so different and why some have classical music playing and others don't.

Gareth Harris

Got to disagree with you on 'Here Comes the Sun'. I know that songs can be overplayed (especially when overplayed by dodgy buskers) but it's far less annoying than many songs that buskers play - remember that period in the late 90's early 2000s when you could hardly move for hearing a butchered 'Wonderwall' or 'Don't look back in Anger'?

Amanda Jones

Fair enough if you want to sound all cool and that, but starting an article about the tube by sharing with us your own (obviously) wrong views on music when it is not even to do with the tube is, at least, strange.

My Name

When the East London line announces the short platforms at Wapping, it plays an Emma Hignett announcement twice.

Then Julie Berry comes in through different speakers that sound as if she's muttering in your ear & tells you which coach you are in.

Emma: "Would customers please note that, you can only alight from the front: 4 coaches, as this station has a short platform. Please ensure you are travelling in the correct part of the train".
Emma: "Would customers please note that, you can only alight from the front: 4 coaches, as this station has a short platform. Please ensure you are travelling in the correct part of the train".
Julie: "This is coach number: 5 of: 5".

My Name

The Jubilee line uses separate voices for next station announcements & termination announcements. The one that announces the train's terminus sounds younger.