Friday, September 29, 2006

New directions

Coming to the end of my first week travelling from Ruislip to Waterloo, it is time for some early impressions.  There are two – the journeys are both better and worse. Better because on the three lines I use – the Metropolitan and then a choice of Bakerloo or Jubilee – the services run at reasonable intervals and the indicator boards in the stations give you accurate information about the trains about to arrive. Worse because all three lines are so crowded in the morning. (The evenings are better, probably because I leave when the worst of the rush hour is over). The strangest experience was yesterday when I experimented with taking the Jubilee from Wembley Park. The train was full as it pulled in. Hardly anyone got off to use the Met waiting on the adjacent platform. We then progressed through the half a dozen stations to Finchley Road. At each a few more people squeezed on but nobody left. At Finchley Road I thought surely some would take the Met – there must be loads of people who work in the Euston Road area or Kings Cross or who go on to the northern part of the city. Nope. One or two left but more got on. And so we went on into the tunnels, jammed full, and not until Westminster was there a bit of breathing space.

Now the Piccadilly trains could fill up as well but generally not until Acton Town, more than half way into the journey. It is the sheer length of time that people have to travel in this way that is the most singular feature – and the lack of complaints. I can expect to sit for most of my journey because I start so far back up the line. Those who live in the inner outer suburbs (if you see what I mean) do not have that pleasure. The trains arrive full, and given the relative lack of seats on the Jubilee, it doesn’t take much to have all the seats occupied.

More next week

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