Six month escalator trial at Holborn starts today

18 April 2016
"We hope that this can lead to improving congestion at Holborn, making journeys easier for all of our customers"
  • Previous trial found that standing on both sides reduced congestion by 30 per cent

From today, customers at Holborn Tube station will be asked to stand on both sides of two 'up' escalators as Transport for London (TfL) launches a six month trial to ease congestion at the station.

New signs and customer information are on display to encourage customers to stand on both sides. The third 'up' escalator is also available for people who still want to walk up.

The six month trial follows a three week trial that took place last year, which found that standing on both sides of the escalator reduced congestion by around 30 per cent.

Peter McNaught, Operations Director at London Underground, said:

'I look forward to this new pilot starting today. The etiquette on London Underground is for customers to stand on the right of escalators, allowing others to walk on the left. However, few customers choose to walk on longer escalators such as Holborn, so much of the left-hand-side is unused. We hope that this can lead to improving congestion at Holborn, making journeys easier for all of our customers.'

Tass Mavrogordato, CEO of inmidtown, said:

'The Midtown area has seen a substantial transformation as the destination of choice for businesses to locate in, meaning that the area is very busy at peak hours. It's great to see initiatives like the TfL escalator scheme underway at Holborn Tube station - a practical step that will provide some relief at one of the busiest stations on the Tube network.'

Different messages have been developed by the behavioural science department at London School of Economics and will be tested at different times to see which works best. These include standard instructions to customers and 'light' messages that play on words about standing.

These will be displayed in various ways, including using a talking projection of a staff member, electronic versions of the triangular 'stand on the right' signs that customers pass as they travel up the escalator, signs on the floors, footprints on the escalator steps, handprints on the handrails and station announcements.


Notes to Editors:

  • The 'standing only' arrangement will be in use for the two escalators closest to Central line platforms.
  • Holborn Tube station is one of the busiest on the Tube network, with more than 56m customers each year.
  • The Holborn escalators leading to the ticket hall are 23.4 metres tall, so most Holborn customers will prefer to stand on the 'up' escalators rather than walk. Research has shown that for escalators with a vertical height of more than 18.5m it might be more effective to encourage standing on both sides because few customers will want to walk.
  • London Underground is carrying out a huge programme of modernisation with major stations, trains, track and signalling being updated or replaced to provide more capacity and reliability for a growing city.
  • Redevelopment work to increase capacity at key stations and make them step-free is underway at a number of stations including Victoria, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street. More than half of LU's 270 stations have now been modernised or refurbished to make them brighter and easier to use, with improvements such as tactile strips, better CCTV and help points, electronic information displays in ticket halls and on platforms and improved seating and lighting.