Thursday, August 19, 2010

Keeping Track

I was fortunate recently to have been given access by Transport for London (TfL) to some of the behind-the-scenes work that keeps the tube system moving.

The 3 million passengers who use the London Underground each day take it pretty much for granted. But it’s actually a minor miracle of engineering and logistics, most of which takes place on the tracks in the middle of the night, when the system closes down, or through the day in out-of-sight depots and workshops around the capital. The locations were fantastic to photograph, interesting both visually (albeit with some tricky lighting), and for the detail and complexity of the operations that were being carried out.

Getting access to document such places is something that is becoming more and more difficult, and photographs of real people at work – as opposed to sanitised PR shots - are hard to come by. In this case obtaining clearance was simplified by the collapse of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements with failed private contractors Metronet and Tube Lines, handing complete control back to TfL, where it should have been all along.

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