The London Underground is a massive network of lines that move millions of commuters each year. The system is so busy that there is always research into methods to improve the experience of getting from here to there.
When descending to or coming up from the trains commuters often find themselves stuck in human traffic jams. To facilitate access escalators are abundant; moving folks up and down. The norm in the Tube, as the system is affectionately referred to, is for those who want to stand on the escalator and let it do the work to keep to the right, thereby leaving the left side open for those who want to expedite things by walking up the escalator.
However this division actually reduces the number of people on the escalator at any given time. While it affords those in a rush the opportunity to dash up, it holds back average uses. It is not efficient. In a trial at Holborn Station, several escalators were deemed ‘standing only’; no express lane. The result was a 30% decrease in line-ups to get on the escalator.
Over the last several years people using Montreal’s Metro have adopted the stand to the right method. No signs were posted, but a voluntary implementation in most stations. I don’t know about London, but in Montreal most escalators have stairs right beside them. It seems to me that if you are in a hurry, running up the stairs would make sense. Leave the escalators to those with time.