I was having dinner a few weeks ago with a friend who, like me, had spent some time living in Japan, and our discussion turned to the platform markings at Japanese railway and underground stations. These consist of circles, triangles and lines to show where the doors will open and to indicate where passengers should stand while waiting to board the next train. Our conversation proceeded something like this:

—They should try those out here. It wouldn’t work, though, because they can’t stop the trains at exactly the same place every time.
—They manage it on the Jubilee line, though. They have to: it’s got doors on the platform.

A week or so later, I was amused to see some shiny new platform markings—yellow arrows and funnel shapes—around the platform doors at Canada Water station. Later on, at London Bridge, I encountered them again, also new, but slightly different. I began to suspect a test of some kind.

And now I have confirmation.

The trial will involve testing reactions to four different styles of marking (each style tested at at least two locations).

From what I’ve seen so far, though, the reaction of most travellers has just been to ignore the markings.

I’d love to see them introduce some more ideas from the Japanese transport system here: the Underground isn’t too bad, considering its age, but the Japanese system is uniformly excellent. Apart from the gloved attendants pushing passengers into sardine-packed carriages, arse-groping chikan perverts, and frequent suicides, that is.