Mind the gap
"Mind the gap" is a warning to train passengers to take caution while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform. It was introduced in 1969 on the London Underground. The phrase is also associated with t-shirts that Transport for London sells featuring the phrase printed over a London Transport symbol.
Because some platforms on the Underground are curved and the rolling stock that uses them are straight, an unsafe gap is created when a straight car stops at a curved platform. In the absence of a device to automatically fill the gap some form of visual and auditory warning was needed to prevent passengers from being caught unaware and suffering injury by stepping into the wide gap. The phrase "mind the gap" was chosen for this purpose and can be found painted along the edges of curved platforms as well as via a recorded announcement played when a train arrives.
The recording is also used where platforms are non-standard height. Deep-level tube trains have a floor height around 200 mm (8 inches) less than sub-surface stock trains. Where trains share platforms, for example some Piccadilly Line (tube) and District Line (sub-surface) stations, the platform is a compromise.
"Mind the gap" is played at Central Line platforms at Bank and Bakerloo Line platforms at Piccadilly Circus. The markings on the platform edge usually line up with the doors on the cars. This can be useful when catching trains.
While the message is often played on some lines over the platform's public address system, it is becoming more common as an arrival message inside the train itself: "Please mind the gap between the train and the platform."
Origin of the phrase
The phrase "mind the gap" was coined around 1968 for a planned automated announcement after it had become impractical for drivers and station attendants to warn passengers. The Underground chose digital recording using solid state equipment with no moving parts. As storage capacity was expensive, the phrase had to be short. A short warning was also easier to write on the platform.
The equipment was supplied by AEG Telefunken. According to the Independent on Sunday, sound engineer Peter Lodge, who owned Redan Recorders in Bayswater, working with a Scottish Telefunken engineer, recorded an actor reading "mind the gap" and "stand clear of the doors please", but the actor insisted on royalties and the phrases had to be re-recorded. Lodge read the phrases to line up the recording equipment for level and those were used.
While Lodge's recording is still in use, some lines use other recordings. One was recorded by Manchester voice artist Emma Clarke. Others, on the Piccadilly line, are by Tim Bentinck, who plays David Archer in The Archers.
The phrase worldwide
"Mind the gap" is used by transit systems worldwide, but most new systems avoid stations on curves.
- The French version, Attention à la marche en descendant du train ("Watch the step while getting off the train"), is occasionally written on signals on the platforms in the Paris Métro.
- In Hong Kong's MTR, the phrase is announced in three languages, namely, Cantonese, Mandarin Putonghua, and English.
- In Singapore's MRT, the phrase is used in announcements in four languages (English, Mandarin, Tamil and Malay) and on signs in stations.
- The phrase can be heard in New Delhi Metro in two languages (English and Hindi).
- In the Athens Metro, the message "Mind the gap between the train and the platform" is heard in both Greek and English language at the station of Monastiraki.
- In Stockholm's tunnelbana and on Stockholm commuter rail's stations two versions can be heard: "Tänk på avståndet mellan vagn och platform när du stiger av" and "...när du stiger på", meaning "mind the distance between carriage and platform when you exit", "...when you enter", respectively. It can also be shown as text on electronic displays "Tänk på avståndet mellan vagn och platform".
- The Tianjin Metro uses the phrase extensively: stickers on train doors, platforms and announcements mention the gap (as well as to "mind the gap") in both English and Chinese. (The Chinese phrase is 小心站台空隙.) Some Tianjin Metro stations are on slight curves. The Beijing Subway uses Mind the Gaps (note the plural). (In the recently-opened Line 4, the phrase has gained more prominence, being played in the station every time a train comes in and, in some trains, every time before arriving at a stop.) Both the Shanghai Metro and the Nanjing Metro use versions with slightly mutilated grammar ("Caution, Gap" and "Care the Gap", respectively, although the Chinese is the same).
- In early 2009 the phrase was also being used on Metro Transit (King County) buses in and around Seattle, Washington.
- At the stations of the São Paulo Metro and CPTM in São Paulo, Brazil the sentence that can be heard is "cuidado com o vão entre o trem e a plataforma" (beware the gap between the train and the platform).
- At almost all stations of SuperVia, Rio de Janeiro suburban trains, the driver speaks "observe o espaço entre o trem e a plataforma", and sometimes "observe o desnível entre o trem e a plataforma" (beware the level difference between the train and the platform).
- In the Rio de Janeiro Metro, the sentence "Observe atentamente o espaço entre o trem e a plataforma - Mind the gap" also can be heard.
- In the Lisbon Metro at the Marquês de Pombal station on the blue line, the announcement "Atenção ao intervalo entre o cais e o comboio" (Pay attention to the gap between the platform and the train) can be heard.
- The New York City-area Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North use signs that read "watch the gap" on trains and platforms, and, owing to reports of people falling through the gap, a warning is now played at every station and with automated announcements on board the trains on LIRR and MNRR.
- Plaques on Toronto subway and RT station platforms warn riders to "mind the gap". Announcements about the warning on the public announcement system in each station can also be heard intermittently.
- On most Sydney CityRail stations, there is an automated announcement reminding passengers to mind the gap as well as posters informing riders about the number of people who fall down the gap each year.
- On the Manila Metro Rail Transit System, a pre-recorded message is played at certain stations reminding passengers to "watch your step and watch the gap between the train and the platform as you get on and off the train". This is simplified in its Filipino translation, which simply reminds passengers to be careful in boarding and alighting the train.
- On the Berlin U-Bahn the phrase "Bitte beachten Sie beim Aussteigen die Lücke zwischen Zug und Bahnsteigkante" (please mind the gap between train and platform edge when deboarding) is used, followed by the English "mind the gap between platform and train." (The English is only heard at a limited number of stations.)
- On the Madrid Metro, a recorded warning message can be heard inside the trains when approaching a station with curved platforms: "Atención: estación en curva. Al salir, tengan cuidado para no introducir el pie entre coche y andén" (Warning: curved station. Please be careful not to place your foot between the train and the platform). No warning messages are heard when arriving at a station with straight platforms.
- On Schiphol in Amsterdam, "mind your step" can be heard when approaching the end of a conveyor-belt.
- The standard Amtrak conductor announcement when approaching any station stop concludes with "Mind the gap between the train and the platform."
- On the Buenos Aires Metro, warnings on platform floors and on the door windows in the convoys read "Cuidado con el espacio entre el tren y el andén" ("Mind the gap between train and platform").
- On many trains in Japan, the message "Densha to homu no aida wa hiroku aite orimasu no de, gochuui kudasai" is spoken. This means "there is a wide space between the train and the platform, so please be careful."
- The message can be seen on some train stations in Ireland, as well.
Despite its origin as a utilitarian safety warning, mind the gap has become a stock phrase, and is used in many other contexts having nothing to do with subway safety. For example, it has been used as the title of at least two music albums by Scooter and Tristan Psionic, a film, and a novel, as the name of a movie production company, a theatre company, and a board game. At least four non-fiction titles use "Mind the Gap" as their primary title - the books are about generations, class divides, social science policy and the origins of human universals. It is used in many video games, including Portal, Halo, and Armadillo Run, and in animated series such as The Clone Wars, usually in an ironic context. It is also the title of a Noisettes song on their album What's the Time Mr. Wolf?. The phrase is used in the songs 'Bingo' by Madness, Someone in London by Godsmack, and New Frontier by the Counting Crows. It was a prominent utterance by the subterranean cannibal killer of the 1972 movie Death Line. The phrase is also featured in the soundtrack of the game "Timesplitters: Future Perfect" in the Subway level. The phrase was used as the name for a campaign in December 2010 to lobby the UK Government to allow Gap Year students to defer their university place and not pay the higher tuition fees in September 2012. The Karotz wi-fi rabbit occasionally says "Mind the gap!" at random as part of the 'mood' setting.
- Objects in mirror are closer than they appear, another safety warning that has become a cultural reference.
- ^ http://www.gradewinner.com/p/articles/mi_qn4159/is_200312/ai_n12746493
- ^ By four12 No real name given. "Mind the gap (Seattle style) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/four12/3240555536/. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
- ^ http://enelsubte.com/noticias/metrovias-coloca-advertencias-andenes-y-puertas-formaciones-1480
- ^ "Mind the Gap (2004)". http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/19576/mind-the-gap.
- ^ "Star Wars: The Clone Wars - "Destroy Malevolence" Review". http://tv.ign.com/articles/921/921688p1.html.
- ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068458/
- ^ http://search.ign.com/products?query=timesplitters:%20future%20perfect&sort=relevance&so=exact&ns=true&genNav=true
- ^ http://bauk.org/mindthegap
- ^ http://mindthegapyear.org
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