Monday, March 10, 2008

Rain, signals and failures

It’s been fairly quiet on the commuting front in recent weeks but today London Underground roared back in style. I was expecting trouble because there had been high winds and heavy rain overnight (with more to come tonight, oh joy) but naturally none of today’s little awkwardnesses were caused by the weather. Step forward our old friend “Signal failures” and let us read this morning’s roll of honour.

I arrived at my home station Ruislip Manor to find no Piccadilly trains due to signal failure at South Harrow. OK, no problem, I don’t travel on this line anymore. With a large number of wet and uncomfortable fellow travellers I took shelter from the driving rain waiting for the 8:32 Metropolitan. This of course did not appear but the next one arrived around 8:40. We made it to West Harrow and stopped outside Harrow-on-the-Hill for about ten minutes. This, I learned later was due to a signal failure there (our driver maintaining radio silence during this period).

At Harrow we found a crowded platform and an empty train on the adjacent (“fast”) platform. They announced that there was now a major signal failure at Finchley Road and the Met was running only as far as Wembley Park. The empty train reversed back towards Uxbridge (an extremely rare event) and we trundled down the line to Wembley Park with the hope of catching a Jubilee line. En route our driver, now a lot chattier than before, told us the problem was “partially fixed” (what on earth does that mean? - either the trains can run safely or they can’t) and he thought we might run on to Baker Street. Then he told us the problem had “recurred” and we were to terminate at Wembley Park after all. On arrival, my train emptied and another pulled in to the fast platform and also emptied. I had to let two Jubilee trains go before I could even get near to the platform edge. But in the end the waiting paid off with a seat on the third arrival.

As I arrived at my destination, Waterloo, I was delighted to find that the travelator between the Jubilee platform and the South Bank station exit was out of action, and thrilled to hear that the Bakerloo, my normal line into Waterloo, had severe delays. I don’t think I need to tell you what the stated cause for those delays was.

So a magnificent effort by LU to screw up this morning's journeys for travellers from NW London and barely a hint of apology from anyone, apart from the driver on the Met who did say sorry for all the “confusion” this morning. Nice idea, wrong word. Incompetence, mate, that is the hub, nub and crux of the problem.

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