This morning, the first London-bound Met at my home station has Harrow as its destination. This means it is going out of service there, an indication of a problem either with the train or further down the track. But nobody announces anything at the station. The driver remains silent. I board it, hoping that I can simply change at Harrow and continue as normal. We reach Rayners Lane whee one can take the Piccadilly as an alternative (though it takes 15 minutes longer to reach central London). There is no announcement. We arrive at Harrow where they now tell us that the train is going on to Wembley Park but no further due to some problem in the city. They make it pretty clear that there may be no more southbound trains, and if there are, well it's nothing to do with them and why don't we just take the Jubilee from Wembley Park instead. Yeah, great, 500 people packing into an already full little train. I've stood at that platform in my time, waiting for a reasonably empty Jubbly. It is an exercise that puts iron into the soul.
I considered going back to Rayners for a Picc but of course there were no northbound trains either. The people with the best idea were the hundreds packing the Chiltern Line platform who eventually all crowded onto a service for Marylebone. Then they announced that a train to Baker Street was coming after all and I got it and got to work ok (just 15 minutes late so I might as well have taken the Picc anyway had I but known). Aye, there's the rub. They really don't like telling you what is going on, do they?
Now you might say, ah, this problem occurred too late for the info to get out. But I refute this thus - not only was the problem obviously known to the driver of my Harrow bound train, but on the way south I counted no less than 9 - NINE - empty Mets waiting motionless on the fast track or queued up at the siding into the Neasden depot. So the problem had been known and acted on for about half an hour at least before my train arrived.
I used to moan about the Piccadilly being simply awful at communications, apart from when they could inform us, with tears of joy streaming down their cheeks, that due to problems at Arnos Grove (20 bleeding miles away), there were no services on my branch for the forseeable future if ever. Please, Met, don't go down the same hellish path to perdition.
On a brighter note, on our crowded homeward train (services are reduced as they do some incomprehensible repair work at Baker Street), the driver welcomed us all to the Metropolitan LIne, said we would travelling at normal speed and then requested those occupying seats to give them to the more deserving. Some hopes. Not a soul stirred. Nor did I. I had squeezed into a seat that others had disdained, due to the bulk of the man on one side, and I simply couldn't face the idea of standing for the next thirty minutes. These, my friends, are the joys and agonies of commuting today. Thank you. My assistants will now pass amongst you with hats. Please give generously.