Justifying the purchase, London Underground says that the sunglasses enhance the colours of the signal lights when the trains are going in and out of tunnels. But why Ray-Bans? 'We did a nine month trial on the Metropolitan Line with various brands and found that Ray-Bans were best for the job,' says a spokesman. 'We found the glasses actually enhance the colours of the lights.' Also, they say, the tube drivers are not the first to go down the fast track to fashion eye-wear. Four years ago, British Rail issued each of its 15,000 drivers with a pair of Randoph shades which retail at around pounds 80.
The new accessory adds a bit of dash to what is otherwise a pretty ropey standard issue uniform. Just in case you were wondering, here is that haute couture underground kit in full: Two pairs of Doc Marten shoes (black), four pairs of polyester trousers (navy), one lightweight and one heavier blazer, four shirts, one waterproof anorak, one padded jacket, two polyster clip-on ties, one cap, a belt, buckle and badge and one orange dayglo jacket. Oh yes, and cleaning tokens to keep all that polyster in its prime. Total cost: pounds 225 (plus pounds 90 for the shades.) London Underground says it is very pleased with the specs. 'They come in a nice leather pouch,' said one source.