1. Transport
  2. Metros
September 4, 2015

Facebook users helped a woman count the number of Tube platforms for her train-obsessed son

By Barbara Speed

There’s a small chance that, as a committed reader of CityMetric, you occasionally think we write about metros a little too much. But today, we came across a story that we feel justifies our affection for them, and for London’s Tube – and its users – in particular. 

Earlier this week, user Laura Flora posted a request on the Facebook group Shit London, usually used to document “the unintentional human comedy of the city” via photographs of stupid pop-ups, inexplicable shop windwows and the like. Laura’s post, however, was slightly out of the group’s standard remit: her 23-year-old autistic son “who is OBSESSSED with trains” wanted to know exactly how many platforms there are at each station on the entire London Underground. So, instead of reconciling herself to a years-long odyssey to find out, she turned to the kindness of the internet.

From her original post: 

I would REALLY like to not have to spend the next 3 months of my life getting on and off trains counting platforms, so how about if you are at a tube station you could count the platforms if you can see them and tell me which line you are on and North/South/East or Westbound.

I am aware that this is a tall order. But I would like to buy a massive wall poster and be able to put notes at each and every station. Unless someone works for the underground and knows that a list exists somewhere with this information.

First, some technical background, before you jump down our throats: TfL has indeed released 3D maps of every London Underground station which would allow you to count the platforms, but, as Laura explains in her post, “autism doesn’t work in black and white. He will have to know who went to which station” to be satisfied with the final result. 

So how did the group respond? Incredibly rapidly, and to an impressively high level of detail:

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Within 24 hours, Laura had 700 responses. Over the past few days, she has collected the responses and kept a running tally of what stations are still to be completed. Yesterday, only three days on from her original post, she had data for every station on the network. She has also been offered large Underground maps, of the kind on display in Tube stations, so she can log the number of stations and any notes by each station for her son, who is slightly visually impaired. She’s also planning to note down the names of everyone who helped in the map’s border. 

Laura posted a thank you to Shit London when the last station was filled in: 

You have no idea of the impact that you’ve had, and of the hours and hours of pleasure that you will bring to a young man’s life. He will never move on from trains and I am going to make sure that this map is available to him forever… I know that he will get a huge kick out of memorising it (and telling me how many platforms there are at each station when we tube travel for eternity)

…Shit London, you aren’t shit at all.

We have contacted Laura for comment and have also asked for a picture of the map when it’s finished – don’t deny it, we know you’re dying to see. 

This article is from the CityMetric archive: some formatting and images may not be present.
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