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Pandemic Causes Change in London Underground Escalators

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Image courtesy of Grahame Carter for MyLondon

According to an article by MyLondon, after the beginning of the pandemic, many London Underground passengers noticed a strange black line that formed on the palms of their hands when using escalator handrails. Reportedly, this was an unusual occurrence, and many theories were presented to explain the phenomenon. One passenger hypothesized that the black stuff was tiny iron filings from the train that were falling in an “invisible rain” and landing on the handrails, thus being picked up by the passengers. It was noted that, due to the limited amount of people using the tube, the iron dust had more time to collect on the escalator handrails, ending up on the hands of passengers in bigger amounts than before. In an investigation commissioned by MyLondon, cleaning and maintenance teams for Transport for London (TfL) revealed that, while not completely accurate, there is some truth to the theory. “We think that sometimes the handrail can wear slightly where it goes in and out of the escalator machine, which can generate dust on the handrail,” said a spokesperson for TfL, who assured passengers that the dust is nothing to worry about. However, as the previous theory pointed out, it is likely that the lack of traffic is the reason for the sudden appearance of the black marks on passengers’ hands.

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