Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Downpours and delays

Torrential rain lashed our office building, high above Waterloo, all day yesterday. At times the sky was so dark, and the clouds so low that buildings just half a mile down the road could barely be seen through the mist. The few lonely tourists on the London Eye must have looked out from their near-empty pods and wondered why they bothered.
To match the awful weather the underground put in an awful performance. Arriving at Baker Street for the Metropolitan in the evening I found near-blank indicators and huge numbers milling about on the platforms. No staff to be seen and no announcements to be heard. Having dimly heard something about “minor delays” whilst enroute, I decided to try another route and took the Bakerloo back to Oxford Circus to take the Central home. Once more huge crowds jammed the westbound platform entrance. A suitable train appeared and another was signalled just behind. I stayed back and let the crowds surge on. No sooner had the train gone then the one behind vanished from the indicators. I took the next anyway, waited at North Acton hoping at least to get a seat and found when a Ruislip bound train eventually turned up that it was full. Finally, having reached Northolt we were unceremoniously turfed out so that the train could turn round there, and there was a final 5 minute wait for the train behind.
Signal failure at Finchley Road and a security alert at Bank were the reasons cited for 35 minutes added to the normal journey time.
Moral – better to have gone out at Baker Street and had a drink. Sadly the pub that used to be inside the station is long gone. A commercial opportunity missed, one may conclude.

On another note altogether, Mrs Commuter and I enjoyed a post-concert dinner at St Pancras station the other night. The restaurant, Carluccios, has an open section on the Eurostar platform so that one has the the glorious ironwork roof above one’s head and the statue of Betjeman (back to us) not far away. Even the constant whine of the diesel engines made for a suitable auditory backdrop, given the setting. What commuter could ask for more?

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