Whilst the capital is a hub of creative expression, its Tube travellers are known for keeping themselves to themselves. Despite it being this way for generations, one man decided that the daily commute via the London Underground would benefit from a bit more chatter.

Jonathan Dunne is originally from Colorado and moved to London twenty years ago. As a result, he's accustomed to the shyness of UK citizens whilst retaining the confidence of his American roots. This combination led him to take action and create Tube Chat, a simple means of getting people to talk to one another during their journey, which has seen incredible results.

"I had some badges made with the message 'Tube Chat?' printed on them," explains Jonathan as we enjoy a coffee in Holborn. "I gave around 500 of them to passersby outside the Old Street station during rush hour."

Jonathan admits that the initial response was disappointing, with no one on his next couple of journeys sporting a badge, and only a couple of people talking about it on Twitter the next day.

"I'd given out all of the badges I'd had made, and it didn't seem to have made any difference," said Jonathan. "But then things took a turn."

Suddenly, Jonathan was invited onto BBC Breakfast News to talk about his idea. This was followed by Radio 4, various newspapers from around the world, and even Brazilian TV. Whether people loved it or hated it, there were suddenly thousands of them talking about Tube Chat.

Funnily enough, what made the campaign especially well-known was the amount of naysayers taking to Twitter to complain. According to many users of Transport for London, the Tube is a place for silence and privacy, not strangers disturbing you at random whenever they fancy a natter.

"But that's not what Tube Chat is about," explains Jonathan with a smile. "Those who want to take part wear a badge, whilst those who don't like the idea don't wear one."

It really is that easy, and it's worked a treat too. The Tube Chat Twitter account shares success stories and retweets of travellers that have made new friends thanks to their badge. With so much feel-good news being shared, we highly recommend giving them a follow.

"New batches are being given out all the time," added Jonathan. "Plus you can get a free badge in the post by sharing a picture request and tagging in @tube_chat. Even if you don't live in London, you can get involved the next time you visit."

Have you taken part in Tube Chat? We'd love to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment below or tweet @Hull_Trains and include the #tube_chat hashtag.

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  • 11 February 2022 Weekdays
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