Wednesday, February 21, 2007

From the pulpit

“Thought for the day”, the obligatory religious slot on Radio 4’s Today programme informed us all of the onset of Lent. We are advised to give up something to mark our observance. Fair enough. I shall give up listening to Thought for the day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Keeping informed

It was quite a difficult morning on the Metropolitan today. The trains were delayed by a signal failure at Finchley Road and also by a tree on the track (some said on a train) at Chorley Wood. The platform at Ruislip Manor was busier than usual when I arrived and there was a wait for the first southbound Met. This was pretty full when it arrived and very full by the time it reached Harrow. Trains from Uxbridge come in on the “slow” down platform 5 and the fast trains from Watford and Amersham come in alongside on 6. There was a train on 6 as we pulled in, but unusually they announced that it was going no further and that our train had been promoted to be a “fast” (you save a few minutes by not stopping at the next three stations). Given that there were plenty of people on that train, and that ours was already full, this did not go down too well but, as I had a seat, I could afford to be a bit smug about it.

We crawled down the track and reached Baker Street twenty minutes late. Nothing too strange about this but what was remarkable was the number of announcements made to keep us informed. Not only by our very friendly driver, but also at every station stop. The electronic platform displays were absolutely useless, of course, telling us nothing at all but the announcers did explain that there was a problem and that there was another train just behind, which must have been reassuring to those standing on the wet platforms, because normally there is no information at all about following trains at Harrow and stations to the north and west of it.

When things like this happen, frustrating as the delays are, I still think about what would happen on the Piccadilly which was until recently my route to work. Answer – very few announcements and knee-jerk cancellation of trains on the Uxbridge branch so as to give priority to Heathrow trains.  With that in mind, the odd glitch on the Met, when it is handled like it was today, is easily forgiven

Thursday, February 08, 2007

2 inches

Exactly as forecast, 2 inches of snow fell over London this morning. London Underground performed magnificently. Not a train was cancelled, or even delayed. Compared to the dismal failure of two years ago, this was a welcome improvement.

The Metropolitan did have a faulty train stuck at Wembley Park and a points failure at Harrow. These made me half an hour late. The Bakerloo was closed between Marylebone and Piccadilly Circus (power failure some said, faulty communications equipment according to others), forcing me and thousands of others to crowd onto the Jubilee, which was itself suspended north of Wembley Park. There were serious delays on the Northern and who knows what else.

But the snow, you ask, did the snow play any part in the transport equivalent of England’s useless football display against Spain last night? No, a thousand times no. So that’s all right then.