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Tube Talk

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

by Stephen Andrews (単語・表現リスト by Shigeri Nishide)

Taking the Tube today? This is the sort of conversation you might have if you’re travelling with a friend …

David: Enjoying your first trip to London?

Emma: It’s fantastic! I can’t wait to travel on the Tube.

David: Let’s visit the British Museum, shall we?

Emma: How do we get there?

David: Our nearest Tube is Tufnell Park. So we get the Northern Line to King’s Cross, then change for the Piccadilly. From there it’s only one stop to Russell Square.

Emma: Should I buy an Oyster card?

David: Contactless using your credit card is just as easy. You just tap in and tap out* on the ticket barrier.

Emma: Can we take the escalator?

David: Sure. Did you know that they used to be wooden? There was still one wooden escalator in 2014.

Emma: No way!

David: You should stand on the left, so people can walk down on the right. First time I went on an escalator I stood on the right and people started “tut-tutting*” me.

Emma: I’ve heard Londoners can be a bit impatient!

David: Here we are on the platform.

Emma: It’s not very busy.

David: You should see it in the rush-hour, it’s jam-packed* with commuters. Five million people use the Tube every day.

Emma: Really? The arrivals board says 1 minute for the next one to Morden.

David: Listen out for the “Mind the Gap” announcement they make when the train pulls in* … there’s a really interesting story about it. I’ll tell you about it later.

Emma: Here’s the train. Let’s find an empty carriage and sit down, shall we?

David: Here we go!

Emma: We’re off! Mind the doors!

‘Mind the Gap” – a Romantic Story

Every time a train arrives at a station, you’ll hear the phrase "Mind the gap" announced over the station PA system. It’s a warning that you should look out for the gap between the platform edge and the doors of the train.

Today, the voice is by an actress called Emma Clarke. However, there’s only one station where you can hear the original, by a man called Oswald Laurence – at Embankment station.

When the Tube updated the announcement a few years ago, they did away with* Oswald’s recording and then, one day, a lady asked what had happened to it. It turned out that Oswald was her husband and, after he died, she came to the station every day to listen to his voice. Hearing her sad story, the Tube management restored her husband’s voice – and that’s why you’ll still hear his voice every time you pass through Embankment.

Fascinating Tube facts

Here are some weird and wonderful things you might not know …

· The Tube is the oldest underground system in the world.

· On 9 January 1863, the world’s first underground train pulled out of Paddington station to make the first passenger journey – around three and a half miles to Farringdon.

· It has 11 different lines and 270 stations, making it one of the biggest underground systems in the world. Its total length is 402km. At peak times, there are more than 543 trains whizzing* under our feet around London.

· The Tube travels 43 million miles every year. That’s halfway to the sun!

· The longest continuous tunnel is on the Northern line and runs from East Finchley to Morden (via Bank), a total of 17.3 miles.

· In 1933, Harry Beck designed the first map of the Underground as we know it today. He based his design on an electrical circuit instead of drawing the Tube lines exactly where they are geographically.

· From September 1940 to May 1945, most Tube station platforms were used as air raid* shelters during World War II. People spent many nights sleeping on platforms to escape the bombs that were falling on London from above.

· Approximately 50 passengers a year kill themselves on the Underground. (When this happens, you’ll hear the announcement “Delays are due to a person underneath a train.”)

· There are approximately 49 abandoned or “ghost” stations. Perhaps the most famous is Aldwych, once known as the Strand, which closed in 1994. You’ve probably seen it hundreds of times, but might not realise it. That’s because it’s been used for lots of film productions including Sherlock, Fast & Furious 6 and Stan & Ollie. There’s also a ghost station called British Museum between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn, which hasn’t been used since 1932.

· Five babies have been born on the Tube – so far!



tap in/tap out: touch in/touch outとも言う。

tut-tut : Disapprovalを表す目的で、歯茎のあたりで舌打ちする

jam-packed : (人、又は物)でいっぱい、満員

pull in : (電車などが)着く、駅に入る

do away with: 使わなくなる、(使わなくなった物を)処分する

whizz : 素早く動く、ピューン!という音が聞こえてくる感じの動き

air raid : 空襲


wooden escalator : 意味はもちろん「木のエスカレーター」です。私がロンドンに来た頃は、St John’s Woodのエスカレーターもまだ木だったと記憶しています(別の駅だったかもしれませんが・・・)。初めて木のエスカレーターを見た時、かなりの衝撃を感じたのを今でも覚えています。ブログには関係ありませんが、懐かしくなったのでコメントしました。





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