Monday, September 26, 2005

Severe delays (again)

Sometimes you just have to document something. It may be trivial in itself but looked back at later, it forms part of a rich tapestry of experience, illuminating patterns and forms of daily life and providing historians with the essential details so vital to (get on with it: Ed)

Where was I? Oh yes, I arrive at my normal station, Ruislip Manor, to find a sign telling me there are “severe delays” on the Piccadilly line. There is no other information forthcoming. The first train is a Metropolitan and as usual I take it to Rayners Lane. We pass a Picc in the siding so I know that at least some trains are running. The London bound platform is more thickly crowded than usual. The station announcer at Rayners Lane tells us that there are signal failures in the Kings Cross region and we should take the Met if we wish. Had no alternative been available, I would have stayed on the Met and automatically added half an hour to my journey. But I trust my eyes more than I trust announcements, so alighted and sure enough the Picc came in a few minutes later. The journey to Barons Court was without incident or delay, albeit that the train was very full.

So the moral of the story? Once again London Underground information systems prove useless at assisting passengers in making the right decision. It seems very sad that nineteenth century systems continue to be used on a twenty-first century transport system. It is even sadder that LU continue to place the emphasis on telling us about delays rather than telling us which trains are actually running and where they are. A bit like the way the NHS is criticised for treating illness but not on keeping us well through preventative medicine in the first place. I have remarked on this before and I anticipate doing so again. Sigh.

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