Monday, 20 December 2010

London's other underground lines

We're rightly fascinated by London's disused tube stations, deep-level shelters and secret rivers but last week I gained an unexpected insight into the underground telephone infrastructure. I thought the lines lay a few feet beneath pavements but five nights of work outside my flat - until 2am and beyond, zzz - has shown me otherwise.

Two very enthusiastic and loyal BT workers showed me the three-storey drop they had to descend to fix phone lines on my road; at the bottom was water. According to one of them, there's a route at Tottenham Court Road that runs beneath the Underground; he said it's known as the German line because it was built by prisoners of war, though I'm not sure if the chronology tallies on this. If anyone knows any better do let me know.

The repairmen were here as a length of cable had been stolen from along the whole road, affecting 1,600 homes. I was told cable can fetch £5,000 a tonne and, in this case, the thieves had probably made away with £7,500-worth.

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