Saturday, July 01, 2006

Faulty Communications

Just before setting off for home on Friday night, I checked the BBC London website for the Tube news. Awesome. My normal line, the Piccadilly branch to Uxbridge was suspended due to faulty communications equipment. Oh well I could use the Met – nope, suspended between Aldgate and Wembley Park. It seems the communications equipment was faulty. And for good measure the Hammersmith and City, Circle and District lines were also down, Yup, that danged faulty communications problem yet again.

I called London Transport’s enquiries number and asked if the withdrawal of 5 key tube lines for the same excuse meant a major terrorist attack. They refused to tell me but suggested I could go home by taking a train into town, getting the Jubilee to Wembley Park and then changing to a Met down to Ruislip. Yes, there’s nothing so much fun as making a 75 minute tube journey on a blistering hot afternoon. Much better advice would have been my normal fallback – Central line from Shepherd’s Bush to South Ruislip.

Opting for the latter I took a bus down to Hammersmith (I’d normally walk to Shepherd’s Bush but came back from holiday last week with an infected foot  - altogether now – “Ahhh”.) This was like being in a sauna. The traffic on Hammersmith Road has been congested all week, due as usual to roadworks, and it took more than 20 minutes to drive about a mile. You can’t leave the bus on the street opposite the road leading to Shepherd’s Bush because there is no stop there and of course these days the buses have automatic doors. So you have to ride into the bus station atop Hammersmith station. Actually on this occasion I was glad. Passing the entrance to the station I asked if trains were actually running to South Harrow and was told they were. So I went down to the platform and the first train in was actually headed “Ruislip”. Which was nice. It got turned round at Rayners Lane, naturally but another came in soon after and I got home at a reasonable time after all without having to slog abound on my still slightly dodgy foot.

Now how on earth can 5 tube lines go down at once due to problems with the radios? Either they share the same network, which is bloody stupid, or they all simultaneously suffered from the same problem, which is bleedin’ incredible. So which is it? In these days of heightened terrorist awareness, and given the criticisms of communications systems following the attacks on 7 July last year, you might think that the comms would be diversified and employ redundancy, so that a fault in one line would not hit others and that backups would come on stream quickly.  Well you might think that but let’s face it, this is the semi-privatised London Underground we are talking about here. Such intelligent systems might reduce the operator’s profits. No, much better to let hundreds of thousands suffer with yet another bad evening’s travel.

I used to support the Labour party, you know. Now I don’t. The forgoing is one of the reasons.

No comments:

Post a Comment