Sunday, November 30, 2014

The end of the endless tube upgrade?

Something rather bewildering to report from the commuter front. A poster at the station announced it first and now the calendar of planned engineering works on the TFL website confirms it, at least for the next two months. Barring one weekend there are to be no closures for upgrade work on the Metropolitan.

If this is not your tube line of choice then you may ignore the rest of this column and shrug. But for those for whom this steel road is the transport lifeline that makes living on the edge of London possible, then this is amazing news indeed. We have been living with regular weekend closures for so long it is difficult to grasp that the Met can run all through the week on a regular basis. Fancy that! Come Saturday we can stroll down to the station expecting (oh, joyous word) that normal services will be provided. The dreaded phrase "Darling, the trains aren't running, can you give me a lift to..." will become otiose. Hanging about in the car, in teeming rain, parked on the yellow lines outside a station where the trains are terminating short, with one eye open for traffic wardens and the other on the precious phone app that shows the arrival of the train one hopes is conveying one's loved one, will be one of those quaint memories one dredges up in later life to bore one's great-nephews and nieces when they ask "What was it really like in the bad old days?". They won't believe a word of it, of course. That's the trouble with modern youth. Soft. Given everything on a plate. [We seem to be digressing a bit: Ed].

Anyway, we've had years of it and I'm heartily glad that the current round is completed. Once upon a time the Met trains used to hurtle at speeds of over 60mph on some sections, swaying and jerking sufficient to hurtle luggage off the racks. Well they did away with the racks on the new "S" stock units (sod them) but they have promised a return to faster journey times when the track was improved. I'm looking forward to a bit of adrenaline-pumping action in the new year. [Is this a euphemism?: Ed]


  1. I suspect we won't see significantly faster journey times till all the sub surface lines are completely all S stock and then they can switch off the software restrictions that make them accelerate like the old A stock (note how they still pull out of Wembley park at westbound like an asthmatic snail). I think the real benefit in speed and service comes with the signalling upgrade and full automation like the Central, Victoria, Jubilee and Northern currently have. Unfortunately that is a few more years of weekend closures away.

  2. I think you're right, sadly, especially about the signalling. Oh well, maybe one day...