Friday, October 28, 2005

Having a laugh

There were no warnings of problems on the LU website but when I arrived at Barons Court yesterday evening there was a warning about a fire alert at Hyde Park posted just ten minutes earlier. Great. I’d left specially early, still getting over a cold, and the last thing I needed was to hang about on a cold platform.

A District Line, to Ealing, came in. I took it to Hammersmith since there is no point in expecting any usable information at Barons Court. And lo, after I had descended from said train and after it shut the doors, they announced that all travellers for Rayners Lane and Ruislip should take the District Line to Acton.  Well not worry, at least there was a Piccadilly (bound for Heathrow, of course) waiting in the sidings at Hammersmith. Quite unusual that, I can hardly recall another incident when they used that siding. It came in a few moments later and the driver reassured us that there were trains for Ruislip waiting at Acton Town.

So we all get out at Acton Town and after a few minutes they announce the arrival of a Ruislip bound train. Except that when it arrives the lights are off and the destination sign is blank. I know this to be the sign of a train that is out of service. But not the station announcer. We all wait for another five minutes before he tells us that the train is defective. At exactly that time another Piccadilly pulls in on the adjacent westbound platform with “not in service” as its destination. Yes, folks, there is a problem on the line and the reaction of the line controller is to pull trains out of service. Not, as you might dare to imagine, at least to try to run one train to take delayed passengers on their journey.

Anyway the drivers and staff who hang about at the foot of the steps at Acton Town were having a great time. They stood in the doorway of the cabs and on the platform and laughed and joked with the announcer and the man with the clipboard who assigns drivers (this station being one of the main centres for drivers starting and finishing shifts). And those of us waiting around laughed and joked as well. Actually that’s not true. We stood and shrugged our shoulders and looked despairingly at the sky. But, you know, so long as the staff have a good time then really it’s all worth it. Isn’t it?

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