Bunhill: Cruise on the Tube

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The Independent Online
I AM SURELY not the only person who is utterly dumbfounded by the news this week that London Underground is to spend up to pounds 150,000 to equip its train drivers with Ray-Bans. The news, in case you missed it, means that the drivers on the Piccadilly Line, will each be issued with a pair of pounds 90 aviator- style designer shades. So London's already desperate commuters are going to face the prospect of watching their shabby, elderly train creak into the station driven by a polyster- clad driver wearing sunglasses that make him look like a cross between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson without the charisma. It is surely madness, especially as Bunhill has pottered along with an ordinary pair of Polaroids for years.

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.

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