81. Catching the last train home

I’ve always thought there’s something special about the last Underground train of the night. There’s a very particular atmosphere on board. An unspoken camaraderie exists among passengers, you get a more relaxed and unselfconscious ambience than at other times, plus there’s a reassuring sense of the day being done and of being almost home, where sleep beckons.

It’s hard to capture the flavour of this atmosphere in words, so here’s – drum roll! – an audio presentation of what happened recently when I took the last Northern line train of the night from Embankment to West Finchley.

Along the way I encounter British teens attempting to impress American girls, a couple having a polite argument, someone asleep on a platform, and – what are the chances? – three men discussing disused stations.

Camden Town, my Camden Town

  1. Ian said:

    Love this post one of your best yet. What did you use to record with?

    • Cheers Ian. It’s a portable digital voice recorder – an Olympus. Quite discreet as well, which is handy when you’re eavesdropping on a train!

  2. Thanks very much for this too, it brings all of the experience to life. Because I have to get a mainline train back home out of London I have never taken the last Tube much as I’d like to. I’ve read about people seeing ghosts (and even ghost trains) at various stations around this late hour, but one will probably have to be really (un)lucky to see one!

  3. Malcolm said:

    The best thing about last trains is spotting the station staff – at every station the drivers wait for a green light from a handlamp . . not noticeable if the staff stand at the end of the platform to say goodnight to the driver. But very noticeable at places like Baker Street platforms 1 to 4 where the local residents won’t let the public address system be used at night – so you hear the shouting of “last Uxbridge”, hear the footsteps of a few souls running up from the tube platforms, then once they are on the train the green light is given and you’re on the way home. A bit of unexpected customer care . . .

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