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Violence, vandals and vomit: London's naughtiest tech Tube stations revealed

Here's what really goes down at Old Street after dark

New figures from Transport for London reveal just how much naughtiness goes on at the Tube stations nearest to London's technology firms.

At Old Street station – serving London's Silicon Roundabout tech district – there were two fights major enough for London Underground staff to log them as formal incidents, while on a Tuesday night last May someone else vandalised an escalator badly enough to take it out of service – and another rebel without a cause dared to stand too close to the edge of the platform.

Revealed in a response to a Freedom of Information request, the data from TfL describes the full scale of breakdowns, mishaps, accidents, incidents and customer-caused problems on the Tube network for the 12 months between March 2015 and March this year.

Across London's 11 Tube lines there were 278 fights bad enough for staff to have to log them, while 291 vomit-related incidents resulted in a carriage being “soiled”.

One vomit comet incident at Victoria station last April, on the last southbound train of the night, caused an impressive 44 minute delay – which, if nothing else, would definitely have taught the perp the importance of chewing your post-pub nosh properly. In contrast, the average delay caused by Technicolour yawns across the entire Tube network was nine minutes – or eight and a half, if you don't count the epic Victoria vom.

At Bethnal Green station, just round the corner from the oh-so-hip Shoreditch area, there were five fights – and one person even got down onto the live tracks. Two hipsters had so much to drink they were recorded on TfL's systems as “drunks/vagrants” – one on a Monday night, the other on a Tuesday.

Meanwhile at Baker Street station, which, among many others, serves Fujitsu's London HQ, seven people managed to obstruct the tracks – accidentally, according to the logs – while three naughty folk went for a wander across the rails. One person even attacked a member of station staff in February this year, with nine passenger-on-passenger fights being recorded over an 11-month period.

A vandal also managed to get into the cab of a Metropolitan Line train at Baker Street and damage it badly enough for the train to be taken out of service.

At Paddington, gateway to the Thames Valley tech corridor – and home to Vodafone, whose corporate HQ is next to the railway station – there were 30 “customer incidents” in total, including half a dozen trespassers on the track and one person who smashed the window of a Circle Line train at 8.30 on a Saturday morning. Yet, in a whole year, there was not one recorded fight there.

At its sister mainline connection station Waterloo, which serves such salubrious tech destinations as Guildford and Basingstoke, there were four instances of vomiting on trains, three of which took place on the Waterloo and City line. The Drain is the shortest of all Tube lines and has just two stations, the other one being at Bank. Waterloo also enjoyed seven recorded instances of "criminal behaviour" during the reporting year, and six "spurious" passenger alarms being set off.

And the rest of it

Across all of the Tube lines there were a total of 187 software-related incidents, the vast majority of which were snafus resulting in trains having to be taken out of service. In addition, the number of Automatic Train Operation faults – ATO being the catch-all term for the systems that drive the Central, Jubilee and Northern line trains – stood at a whopping 689.

Concerningly, there were 440 recorded instances of Category A SPADs – Signals Passed At Danger. This is the railway equivalent of driving through a red light and could lead to a collision, or worse.

And finally, no analysis of British railway woes would be complete without looking at signal failures – all 1,632 of them on London Underground in the reporting year. These comprised everything from simple blown bulbs in the signal head to train detection faults, where the signalling system can no longer tell where trains are on the tracks and so flicks all the nearby signals to red, causing – you guessed it – delays for everyone nearby. ®

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