Thursday, December 22, 2005

Back to normal (?)

Celebrations are in order. Let beer flow in the fountains. Let flags unfurl and fireworks ignite. The westbound platform at my home station, Ruislip Manor, has opened after six months of rebuilding and my journey from work is back to what it used to be.
There is a notice at the station congratulating the builders on finishing early. Actually they are only a few days early and there is still work in progress on both platforms. Now, just to be grouchy, here are several reasons why congratulations are not in order.
  • No disabled access. They could have put in a lift or ramps. They did nothing. The station remains inaccessible to wheelchair users and hard for anyone with pushchairs and the like

  • The awful shelters on the platforms. Inadequate. Almost no protection from the elements. And though there are seats on the platforms, there are none under the shelters. So if it rains you can sit and get wet or stand (and probably get wet). But not sit in comfort.

  • No information. South Harrow has a nice electronic display board and it only has Piccadilly trains. Metropolitan and Piccadilly trains run through Ruislip Manor and we are told nothing and must continue to wait in ignorance.

  • Destruction of trees. Many fine trees stood behind the platforms, especially eastbound where they effectively screened the station from the houses. We were promised that they would be replanted. When? The eastbound side has been a builder’s tip for a year. Yes, an entire year, just to rebuild a single concrete railway platform. Impressive or what?

It all feels like a missed opportunity. There was no consultation with the regular commuters before the rebuilding (we actually got just two weeks notice that first one then the other platform would be closed for six months apiece). So I feel no ownership and see no reason to be grateful. On the other hand it is Christmas. So thanks for letting us have our station back. Ho Ho Ho. Or not, as the case may be.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Refinery burns

Poison cloud hits London, screamed the headline in the Evening Standard. Err, up to a point Lord Copper. The skies were clear and there was no hint of oil-laded pollution in the air. Despite the awesome satellite photos of the huge black cloud covering most of southern England, following the fire at the refinery near Hemel Hempstead, there was little sign of it on the ground. The day the fire started, Sunday, was foggy, cold and very still and the air had a slightly prickly taste but then it does anyway on this sort of late autumn day.

Now the fires are out and the recriminations have begun. But this won’t deter London Underground who managed another round of “faulty communications equipment” problems last night with the usual cancellation of most of the Piccadilly trains up to Rayners Lane. Sod them. If only they would finish rebuilding Ruislip Manor then at least a further useless 10 minutes could be cut from my journey. Sometimes you just wish that the odd poison cloud would drop over Broadway and render helpless the “line controllers”.

And finally, as I ruminated a few weeks back a timely bonus from work has provided the means and the impetus to get a Creative Zen Sleek mp3 player. Lovely. The bloke fiddling with the dinkly little white box in the corner of the train - that's me you know