Friday, 29 February 2008

Underground Music

Yesterday I went to London, unfortunately not for sightseeing or pleasure, but for work.

I jumped off the mainline train at Tottenham Hale and as I walked through the station towards the underground I could hear music all around me. At first I thought it must be one of the famous London buskers but soon realised it was a full blown orchestra! It took ages to work out where the music was coming from - it was being piped through an intercom system. Everyone was bustling along as usual, and nobody seemed to take much notice of the classical music presumably intended for their ears!

So today I did a quick search on the net for more information about London Underground music. I was curious to know why Transport for London is providing this unexpected but pleasant service. Is it to educate people or enhance their travelling experience? Well, it emerges that trials of playing classical music on the Underground started in 2003 and now extend to forty stations across the tube network. The original and official reason was to discourage anti-social behaviour. This makes sense but I have to say that the tube really seems to have cleaned its act up since I lived in London. It is a lot brighter and cleaner and, as a single woman travelling alone, I didn’t even feel vulnerable coming home late last night (yes I went for a few cheeky drinks after work!). Anyway, the powers that be now say that classical music is played simply to provide a more relaxing and calming environment for travellers in London and that “it is part of a package to improve the ambience of stations”.

I’m sure people will have their own views on the genre of music but I think it’s a lovely concept and suitably quirky for this diverse city. Don’t forget to listen out as you pass through the London Underground stations and see if you recognise your Beethoven from your Bach!

Incidentally, I have noticed that my big Ding Dong Discovery also offer travel cards when buying a London Pass. This includes use of all underground and overground trains within London zones 1-6, as well as regular red buses, the Docklands Light Railway and even the overground train to Windsor. This means that you could visit the Royal Albert Hall, look around the Cutty Sark exhibition or take the kids to London Zoo and then travel outside London by train to see the Queen’s other home - Windsor Castle. Pretty impressive! If you are going to London on holiday and buy a six day London Pass you get a seventh day of travel for free which is a great bonus for tourists who want to spend their last day shopping for bargains and souvenirs! If this all sounds a bit complicated then have a look at where they explain it much better than me!

If music be the food of London Underground… Play on!

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