Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tube English 3 - Ill on a train

The excuse "Somebody ill on a train" is becoming more popular on the Underground. This morning they halted London-bound Met line trains at Harrow due to "late running" caused by the mystery affliction smiting a passenger at Baker Street. Then they cancelled one and routed the other to Wembley Park, so we all had to get out there and cram on to the Jubilee line. And 'twas whilst dallying at this benighted spot that the station announcer told us he could not explain when the next Met was due because of "technical difficulties".

Laugh? I nearly bit through the cables on my headphones. They have radios. They have telephones. Possibly our man even has a mobile. But no, it was not possible, at one of the key stations on the Met, for the staff to ascertain when the next train to London might be running because of "technical difficulties". But my contempt for this inability to function was nothing compared to the disdain for the original excuse.

Look, if someone is ill on a train whilst it is running it proceeds to the next station. So the train in question must have been at Baker Street, not stuck in the tunnel. And then they get off. Or the staff help them off. Now maybe someone vomited so they had to get a cleaner. Or maybe "ill" is a euphonism and they mean they spontaneously combusted, or were abducted by aliens, or perhaps the police had to be called so that the train had to be held there. But the point is, there are three, yes three, available platforms at Baker Street (four in a real emergency). You can run trains into any of them and turn them round quick as you like. There is no excuse whatsoever, however poorly my fellow commuter may have been, to simply stop running trains and then blather on about late running and technical problems.

So what did they really mean?

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