They say London swings, but it’s more like seething, straining or struggling

“Commuters, by their nature, are creatures of habit. They get to the station, come down the escalators, and wait for the train at the spot which will drop them at the most convenient place at the other end. Unfortunately, for all concerned, this means there is a huge bottleneck at one end of the platform. The other end, as the adjacent monitor indicates, is completely empty. But as each individual ignores the request to move up the platform, the collective result is that a dangerous mass of bodies is crammed into one place. To avoid an accident the station assistants stop letting people through the barriers. Now there is a bottleneck in the concourse. Anxious people in three-quarter-length coats are fuming. The concourse fills up. Back at the platform the trains keep coming, but it will take several more before it is safe to let more people down.”

Posted April 23, 2001

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