Thursday, June 30, 2005

Delays all round

My normal journey home is on a Piccadilly line train from Barons Court to Ruislip Manor. In emergency I take a Central Line from Shepherd's Bush to Ruislip Gardens, a longer walk at each end but a slightly shorter train journey. Having a fall-back is a great comfort, meaning that I can easily change my travel plans if the Piccadilly has problems.

Imagine my feelings yesterday then, when the TFL website displayed "severe delays" on the Picc due a person under a train at Kings X (and signal failure at Hammersmith for good measure), and also severe delays on the Central due to some obscure problem miles away at Gants Hill. Things cheered up later when the notice about the Central disappeared. "Ah-ha", I thought, "At least my lifeline is working". When I left to go home the notice about the Piccadilly was still there (6 hours after the original incident!!) so I trudged up to Shepherd's Bush where a suitable train came in quite quickly. And then, having moved about 200 yards, we stopped in the tunnel. And waited. And waited. Then moved from one signal to the next. And waited. Eventually the driver informed us this was all due to 2 (yes 2) faulty trains at - wait for it - Leytonstone (miles away at the other end of the line).

Anyway I got home after a journey of about 85 minutes. Now for an interesting problem. The Customer Charter refund scheme gives you your money back if you are delayed by 15 minutes or more. As indeed I was. But the guts of the delay was because I had to take another route other than the one I had planned. The refund form asks you where you had intended to travel from and on which line were you travelling when the delay occurred. How on earth do I answer that? I had intended to go from Baron's Court but did not. I was delayed essentially by the absence of trains on the Piccadilly but the line I actually went on was the Central. There isn't a box to tick to say that you went one route (which itself may have been running normally) because your chosen route was not working.

Such are the dilemmas of modern life, and such indeed is the lack of imagination of the people who design refund forms.

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