The Jubilee Line's priority seats

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Created in time for TfL’s #Travelkind Priority Seating Week beginning 24th April 2019, these innovative new seating moquettes are set to impress. The colours are more eye catching than the old seats and the message on each one of these seats cannot be ignored easily. TfL say the entire Jubilee Line fleet should be fully fitted out by the end of the summer with this new look seating. As my post will show the development of these seats hasnt been plain sailing and there were a number of earlier attempts before this design was settled upon.

This is a Jubilee Line 40th anniversary post even though its not really something that covers the history of the line in detail. What it does is cover the development of the line’s priority seating and I am sure many will not be aware there have been several stages of design leading to the current ones.

In terms of introducing this new style of priority seating to the world, GLA’s Heidi Alexander – who is the Deputy Mayor for Transport, – said: It’s vital that we make our transport network accessible to all Londoners and visitors, so I’m really pleased that distinctive new priority seats are being rolled out on the Jubilee line. I hope that they will build on the success of our ‘Please Offer Me a Seat’ badges to encourage even more people to offer their seat to those who need them.

I saw these seats as early as 12th April 2019 when I caught a westbound train from North Greenwich, taking photographs en route and was very impressed by these and have been on several trains with these since, usually in packed rush hour conditions thus very little opportunity to photograph these.

There are just a few Jubilee Line trains with these at the moment. When I decided to write about these seats and ventured onto the Jubilee specifically for this purpose, I had to wait and wait for a train with these particular seats heading to either Wembley Park or Stanmore. It was surprising there were so few in service – eleven trains passed before one with the new priority seats turned up.

Neither the pictures nor the post itself is here to educate but to give an illustration of what these seats look like and how the design probably evolved.

The six new priority seat designs:

There are six designs of the new style altogether, each having a differing emphasis. The classic labels denoting seats for the disabled, the elderly or woman in pregnancy etc are sort of tired and don’t really covey the importance of the need to give up a seat if necessary and that is why we have these new designs.

Before we start it must be stressed grey isn’t something that’s normally considered acceptable in terms of disability access. Its a very poor contrasting colour for the blind and less sighted. Quite unusually in this case the grey has worked quite well and the seats stand out splendidly compared to the others. The grey helps the other colours to constitute a unique and strongly distinct pattern.

Each of the pictures are self descriptive and in alphabetical order.

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Be prepared to offer this seat.

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The only one of the six with the word disabilities.

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1st ‘Please’ variation.

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2nd ‘Please’ variation.

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Someone may need this seat more.

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The most direct description of the six designs. Neither a request nor a suggestion.

None of the new designs use the connotations of being pregnant, disabled or less able to stand. The emphasis is clearly quite different and in line with more modern thinking on what etiquette should be in regards to those who would need to use the priority seats.

There is only one design that uses the disability word and that is the one with ‘Not all disabilities are visible.’ Its one that is quite widely accepted as having a strong message as well as being considerably PC.

How the seats evolved:

The idea behind these new designs goes back much further than last year when the Jubilee and London Overground conducted their #travelkind campaign using huge round stickers on the windows immediately above the priority seats. I wrote about those on the Jubilee. In fact it is both this and the earlier style of priority seating that formed the basis for the current trend.

The 1996 stock originally began service with mauve and grey seats that denoted the letter ‘J’ for Jubilee. I haven’t any pictures of that nor can I find any images or videos showing these.

For the purposes of this article the original seating isn’t really relevant thus we need to start with the present style of seating design which dates from 2005, the pattern being known as Barman’s moquette.

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Instead of the usual blue small label (seen at left) or a huge sticker on the trains’ windows as used last year, why not put the wording onto the seats?

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The old Jubilee Line priority seats based on the Barman’s moquette. The Northern’s are similar too and much of the Central also has this.

It seems the development of the new seating has been in three distinct stages. First the older design (with a picture of three people and a baby) was altered using a variation on the new moquette as a background. This was in fact made with a mainly grey colour to denote the Jubilee Line itself. The other colours in the design were reversed thus the design is essentially a negative of the original.

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Rarer version of the priority seating with light colours on the Jubilee Line.

This is the first stage and a sort of halfway between the original and the new, being a sort of negative derived from the original Barman moquette. This design obviously led the way towards the current one. There are still a handful of Jubilee trains with this earlier style of priority seat.

Secondly, the image of the three people and baby was dispensed with and the moquette made more stronger contrasting and colourful. The light blue tones were also dispensed with and black used instead – as shown below.

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The unmarked style of new moquette on the Jubilee Line, being the second stage of development. Source: Twitter

There are a couple of Jubilee Line trains with the second style of new moquette – this is the same as the new ones but without any text whatsoever – and these have been in service a while.

It seems at some point a decision was made to upgrade this to the third new style using large text within a blue circle (building on from the earlier campaign using window stickers in 2018) which is that we are now seeing being introduced across the Jubilee Line’s fleet.

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And this, being the third stage in the development of the new priority seating.

There have been various differing attempts to highlight the importance of these end aisle seats with some tube lines simply having the usual blue labels (and no special seat decorations of any sort) these being the Bakerloo, Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Piccadilly and Victoria lines.

Those with specially highlighted ‘Barman moquette’ seating are the Central, Jubilee, Northern. However the Central doesn’t have all its trains enobled with that older style of priority seating. A number of its trains also uses a theme more akin to psychoanalysis and this is not in any way linked to seat prioritisation.

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The Central Line’s particular brand of moquette – that isn’t a priority seat by the way! Its a shame the red was not used in place of the dull blue which is standard on the Jubliee/Northern’s priority seats.

This means the Jubilee and Northern Lines are the only tube routes that come complete with full train sets of highlighted seating moquette. Both the Jubilee and Northern’s priority seats (plus those that are extant on the Central) currently have an image based upon the underground’s blue priority labels and they’re not that visible.

Thus the Jubilee is really the odd one out in having this new seating moquette that stands out well and it is far superior to the older styles.

Some more perspectives/general views of the seats:

All the seats look basically the same but each of these seats are in different locations and different carriages!

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General view of carriage with the new priority seating.

As the above image shows, this train is one of the batch of recent refurbished stock. The floors have been renewed, the general appearance cleaned up and enhanced, and the handrails are now grey (previously they were yellow.) However this use of grey for the handrails ( even though it reflects the Jubilee’s identity) has not pleased everyone because its not a good contrasting colour as can clearly be seen.

There have been complaints that the refurbishment has done away with the floor plates that gave the builder and date of the trains construction. Those were replaced by a new metal strip with grey running along its middle and a yellow strip along the edge. These new plates are more visible than the old and an aid in terms of stepping on and off the train.

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Be prepared to offer this seat.

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Not all disabilities are visible #1

Both end aisle seats stand out much more than the others, and its immediately obvious to most which are the non-priority and which are the priority seats.

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Not all disabilities are visible #2

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Please give up this seat.

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Be prepared to offer this seat.

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Someone may need this seat more at Stanmore!

I didn’t realise there was a sort of poetic inflection when I took the above picture! It was only after reviewing the image that I decided to take further variations on this theme at both Stanmore and Wembley Park stations 🙂

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Please give up this seat.

Just in case anyone wants to know which carriages these pictures were taken on it was 96026 (the Stanmore end of the train) and 96215, 96226, 96415 plus one other whose number I didn’t get.

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I forgot to take a picture of the train the moquette was on. Realised this at the very last minute & just managed to grab this rear view as it sped out of Kilburn station!

One thought on “The Jubilee Line's priority seats

  1. Taking all this trouble about making these seats visible is not going to change a general tendency for younger men (and the occasional woman too) to race the elderly to a seat, sit in it ahead of them, ignore all looks and immerse themselves in mobile phone data. However, it will make money for moquette suppliers!

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