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Could standing on both sides of the tube escalators actually be quicker?

Isabelle Aron

Back in November, Londoners were shocked and appalled that staff at Holborn tube station had decided to mess with one of the Underground's most sacred rules – walking on the left and standing on the right of the escalator. But apparently they weren't totally bonkers, because it turns out that – believe it or not – having people stand on both sides of the escalator actually got people out of the station quicker than usual. Huh?

The trial was conducted over a three-week period between 8.30am and 9.30am at Holborn, starting with the new rules on just one escalator and opening it up to all three by the third week. The results of the trial show that there was a 30 percent increase of passengers getting through the station during the allocated times, up from 12,745 passengers to 16,220. But before you vow never to walk up an escalator again, TfL also pointed out that the escalators at Holborn are 23.4 metres high, which means less people can be bothered to climb the endless stairs. But at stations where escalators were shorter and more people can face walking, the 'stand wherever the hell you like' rule might not be as effective.

The folks at TfL say they are still considering whether or not to roll out the new rule across the tube network. But even if science says standing on both sides is quicker – and provides us with a good excuse to rest our legs – we're still not sure it could ever really catch on.

Stroll around this massive 40ft tube map

Or take a look at TfL's shiny new tube and rail map


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