London commuters "psyche up" for the underground

Tue Dec 1, 2009 5:20am EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - London's underground train system suffers from so much overcrowding that passengers have to "psyche" themselves up to cope with the stress of using it, according to a report on Tuesday.

A survey by the London Assembly's Transport Committee found that 80 percent of travelers endured overcrowding which caused discomfort, while more than half were unable to board the first train at a station because it was packed.

The situation was so bad that "Tube" commuters had to prepare mentally themselves for the their journey in order to cope, researchers found.

Their methods included "psyching oneself up for the 'struggle to clamber on board,'" a "dog-eat dog or survival of the fittest attitude" or suspending usual behavior such as going for a seat even if a pregnant woman or someone with a baby wanted it.

"The overwhelming majority perceived the experience of overcrowding as a highly unpleasant and abnormal situation," said the "Too close for comfort" report.

"That said, it was apparent that regular commuters and hardened travelers had become resigned to overcrowding on the Tube and accepted it as an uncomfortable aspect of their regular journey."

The survey found that in morning peak hours, some trains carried more than four people per square meter.

The busiest section was between Bethnal Green in east London and Liverpool Street on the Central Line between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. with an average of almost 60,000 passengers.

Overcrowding around King's Cross station and between Clapham and Kennington in southwest London was almost as bad.   Continued...

<p>A London underground sign is pictured below Big Ben, London, September 3, 2007. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>