Thursday, January 06, 2005

New fares, old problems

Happy new year to you.

I've had an unexpected windfall. For the first time in living memory, tube fares have gone down. Well, most went up but there has been some sort of consolidation of fares from the outer zones into central London; and this, coupled with the reductions available on Oyster prepay means that by scrapping my annual season and paying as I go, I will save over £100 this year.
I don't think this is what Ken and co intended but I'm not going to tell them.

Meanwhile back in the real world, my normal station, Ruislip Manor, is being rebuilt. The eastbound platform is closed. I'm lucky that Ruislip is quite close but it still adds nearly 10 minutes to the morning journey. And on Wednesday, just two days into the new (travelling) year, I arrive at Ruislip to find long queues for the buses and a sign saying no trains were running due to a problem at Rayners Lane. At that very moment they announced that trains had begun to run again and the sign was rubbed out, but there was still a fair wait for the first train. This was a Piccadilly (cheers), stopping at Acton Town (boo) so another change required and a further delay. The announcements now claimed that the problems were down to signal failures in Ruislip.

I don't believe anything they say about signal failures. Points failures, yes, if a point sticks then the trains are stopped. But a dodgy signal? Given that there are many signals between each station, radios in the cabs and real live signalmen controlling the sectors, why the hell does a signal failure halt the trains? Why can't they just proceed slowly through the trouble spots?

I think that "signal failure" is the automatic excuse for the real problems (probably lack of staff or human error in the scheduling of rolling stock).

Let's see how it pans out in 2005. Got to admit that the trains ran better in 2004 than previous years. We shall see.

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