The East London line, now departing
If you ever seek to meet London's entire population of trainspotters, take a ride on the final service to an about-to-be-disused tube station. And if the last train runs well after midnight don't worry, because you'll easily spot them earlier in the day too. They're the blokes wielding big-lensed cameras on the platforms, and the blokes sitting by themselves in each carriage with a sad but contented smile on their face, and the blokes who stay aboard the train at the end of the line so that they can travel straight back again. And so it was yesterday on the East London line. It's not every day an entire line closes, even if it is only for 30 months, so any excuse to spend a Saturday well away from the wife and the Christmas shopping. Even if the last day is actually the very worst day to try to take photos, because every shot ends up full of other blokes trying to take photos.
All the stations on the East London line were busy, noticeably busier than usual. TfL appeared to have rostered an additional member of staff on every platform keeping an eye on the all the additional enthusiasts lest they accidentally misbehave. You know the sort of thing - using flash photography, or trying to walk into off-limits bits of the station, or leaning out in front of passing trains in search of the perfect photo. I'm not sure what grim fate faces these members of staff today now that their stations are closed until 2010. Pointing passengers towards replacement bus services, maybe, or perhaps redeployed in less important posts at other stations elsewhere. Amputating a limb from the Underground network has a human cost as well as a financial price.
I do wonder what the line's usual passengers made of it all. They expect to be sharing their carriage with the odd well wicked hoodied bro, not a crowd of excitable photographers. They expect to have plenty of room to stand on the platform, not having to walk round a phalanx of eager snappers. And they expect to be able to walk up the stairs at Rotherhithe unhindered, whereas yesterday afternoon I wandered straight into a bunch of paid-up enthusiasts on the Brunel Museum's Tunnel Tour. Thanks for turning on the floodlights in the tunnels, guys, I got a much better photograph as a result. Erm, yes, I admit, I was there taking a few photographs myself. Sorry if I got in the way of your shot.