‘Ghost marks’ on the Elizabeth Line

Transport for London (TfL) is exploring new ways of tackling spooky ‘ghost marks’ on the walls of the Elizabeth line’s platforms, Sadiq Khan has revealed.

By Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Some ghostly shapes on the wall of a tube platform
‘Ghost marks’ on the Elizabeth line platforms at Liverpool Street. Photo: Noah Vickers

Transport for London (TfL) is exploring new ways of tackling spooky ‘ghost marks’ on the walls of the Elizabeth line’s platforms, Sadiq Khan has revealed.

The sinister shadows of past passengers have cropped up behind the benches on the line’s underground platforms.

The marks have been caused by people leaning back against the walls and damaging the paintwork over several months.

Now the London mayor has said TfL is trying out solutions to the problem, including by placing ‘vinyl coverings’ behind the seats.

The issue was raised in a recent written question to Mr Khan by Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat on the London Assembly.

She asked how TfL is ensuring the walls are regularly cleaned so that “the stations remain fresh for decades to come”.

The mayor’s office responded: “A rigorous cleaning programme is maintained at all of TfL’s stations to ensure a clean and safe environment for customers.

“However, TfL is exploring new ways to clean the walls behind seating at some of its Elizabeth line stations to try to remove any marks and protect the walls in future.

“TfL is also trialling the installation of vinyl coverings behind the seating area and is in the process of evaluating the results.”

people-shaped stripey vinyl stickers behind a bench on the Elizabeth line platform
One of the vinyl covering designs trialled by TfL. Photo:

Images of the vinyl coverings reveal a range of tested designs, including different coloured ‘pawn’ shapes and a block design which uses the Elizabeth line’s moquette pattern.

Opened in May 2022 and spanning 73 miles, the Elizabeth line runs from Reading and Heathrow Airport in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east.

It quickly became extremely popular with Londoners, and by the end of 2022 it was responsible for one in six rail journeys across the UK.

In December however the line recorded the biggest rise in train cancellations of all UK rail firms. A total of 5.2 per cent of Elizabeth line trains were cancelled between July and September, according to the Office for Rail and Road.

The line suffered a 4.5 point annual fall in punctuality in that period, though still had the second-best punctuality performance of all train companies, with 82.8 per cent of services arriving on time or within five minutes of timetable.

Shortly before Christmas, the mayor announced that four of the line’s most popular stations – Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon and Liverpool Street – had all been fitted with 4G mobile coverage, enabling travellers to make calls and access the internet from the platforms and escalators.

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