Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Size and history

Our Victorian forebears were small people. We know this because if you put two average sized men into two adjacent seats on a typical Underground train (say, for the sake of example, the Piccadilly Line) then their shoulders will touch and forearms overlap. Such enforced bodily contact would have horrified the bewhiskered gentlemen in waistcoasts (and fob watches) and stovepipe hats (or is that IK Brunel?) who designed the system. They probably imagined people sitting comfortably, marvelling at how much personal space they had. Actually if Brunel had designed the Tube it would have been so much better. His wide gauge tracks would have allowed much bigger carriages, with space for luggage and for people to walk between the seats without tripping over legs at every step. And the trains would not jolt and sway so much, inducing fewer incidents involving clashes of flailing limbs.

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