Ten of the Underground's 'worst stations' are to be refurbished. The pounds 60m four-year project will focus on the Northern Line stops between (and including) Clapham North and Morden, as well as Oval. Work has been delayed by a shortage of funds and the stations have had to wait more than a decade for a lick of paint.

To judge conditions, London Underground used marketing agencies to visit stations without the staff's knowledge. Over a two-year period they noted the deterioration of passageways, platforms and atmosphere.

When they awarded each an overall score these ten Northern Line stations were among the lowest.

At the Oval platform walls are devoid of colour and life, having been stripped of posters and paint has peeled away to reveal dirty white plaster.

Bundles of cables hang just above head height over the entrance to one tunnel, having fallen from wall clips; people riding up the escalator are greeted with bare wooden rafters holding up the ticket hall roof.

An overall sense of fear pervades the station, in contrast to the brightness of Waterloo and Embankment, a couple of stops to the north.

These ten stations are among the oldest on the network. Clapham South, Balham, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon all have listed buildings and LUL is working with English Heritage to preserve their characters. Work has begun at Clapham North and Morden.

Closed circuit television, help points, modern fire fighting equipment, mirrors and points where staff are visible are being added to platforms, corridors and ticket halls.