Thursday, March 15, 2012

A dry spring

We are having a beautiful ascent into Spring. The air is warming, the skies an inviting light blue (once the early morning fog lifts), our snowdrops are finishing and the daffs and tulips are opening.  Two things are a little worrying. Firstly, the lack of rain - it has been a very dry winter and now, when there should be plenty of it, we see very little. Secondly, where have our frogs gone? One or two have appeared briefly in the pond but only to vanish again after an overnight stay. Perhaps these are just the scouts for the main force. Or are they deterred by the dry ground and lack of moisture in the air?

I'm sorry that there is very little to report on the commuting front. I travel into London roughly twice a week now, mostly at off-peak times, and therefore escape much of the mayhem that has inspired many of my blatherings in the past. It is worth noting that the Jubilee Line, where the old signalling system has been scrapped (so much so that they have wrapped up the signals in black sacks), appears to be running a superb service. Travelling north from Finchley Road, I regularly see them coming through at 2 minute intervals. The Met needs greater intervals between trains. The other day my journey into London was slow, with the train stopping at red signals about 6 times between Harrow and Finchley.  My smartphone app showed me several Mets lined up ahead of us going to Baker Street. The Jubblies can handle this sort of traffic with ease but the creaking old Met system cannot. I have no idea if things will improve once all the new "S" stock trains are in service.

The TV series "The Tube" continues to be excellent viewing, showing many angles to the running of the system of which we ordinary commuters are unaware. There is, as one might expect from a TV show trying for mass appeal, a little too much emphasis on emergencies and things going wrong, but the latest programme showing the massive work going to build the Crossrail station at Tottenham Court Road - where after months of disruption all the travelling public could see was a few hoardings, hiding the engineering work - was instructive. Once again the cheerfulness and positive attitude of the tube workforce shone through. What is also amazing is that, despite the relatively high cost of tube fares, the volume of people using the system continues to grow, defying the best attempts of planners to build stations, and entire new lines, to match the demand.

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