Friday, September 29, 2006

New directions

Coming to the end of my first week travelling from Ruislip to Waterloo, it is time for some early impressions.  There are two – the journeys are both better and worse. Better because on the three lines I use – the Metropolitan and then a choice of Bakerloo or Jubilee – the services run at reasonable intervals and the indicator boards in the stations give you accurate information about the trains about to arrive. Worse because all three lines are so crowded in the morning. (The evenings are better, probably because I leave when the worst of the rush hour is over). The strangest experience was yesterday when I experimented with taking the Jubilee from Wembley Park. The train was full as it pulled in. Hardly anyone got off to use the Met waiting on the adjacent platform. We then progressed through the half a dozen stations to Finchley Road. At each a few more people squeezed on but nobody left. At Finchley Road I thought surely some would take the Met – there must be loads of people who work in the Euston Road area or Kings Cross or who go on to the northern part of the city. Nope. One or two left but more got on. And so we went on into the tunnels, jammed full, and not until Westminster was there a bit of breathing space.

Now the Piccadilly trains could fill up as well but generally not until Acton Town, more than half way into the journey. It is the sheer length of time that people have to travel in this way that is the most singular feature – and the lack of complaints. I can expect to sit for most of my journey because I start so far back up the line. Those who live in the inner outer suburbs (if you see what I mean) do not have that pleasure. The trains arrive full, and given the relative lack of seats on the Jubilee, it doesn’t take much to have all the seats occupied.

More next week

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Parting Shot #2

My last day travelling on the Piccadilly before my office moves to Waterloo and the Metropolitan becomes my normal route in to London. So you know what happened. Signal failure at Ruislip, some trains towards Rayners Lane diverted to Heathrow, no service offered beyond Rayners Lane. Your correspondent de-trained at South Harrow and took a bus, arriving home about half an hour later than normal.

As Harry Hill might have said “What are the odds on that happening?”. Pretty low Harry, believe me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Parting shot

Just two more days and I will be free from the Piccadilly, when my office moves from Hammersmith to Waterloo. Here are some of the things that make it unworthy of respect.
  • You come down to the platform just in time to see one leave, going to Northfields. You don’t know as you enter the station where a train is going, you only find out on the platform.

  • Trains do not normally go to Northfields. This one should have been for Rayners Lane. The station announcer tells us that a good service is operating. Plainly he is lying.

  • After a longer than usual wait my train arrives. It is packed, naturally because at least one train going on the same branch (to Uxbridge) was cancelled (see above).

  • People can barely get in at Hammersmith and at Acton Town. For all I know, standing very uncomfortably with one swollen foot, there may another just behind. But naturally nobody tells us, for the simple reason that nobody knows. Well, perhaps the line controller knows. But why should he tell us – we are only the paying customers. The indicator boards do not supply the answer because they are incapable of displaying this information. On other lines, they do so.
All of this happened tonight, as you have probably gathered.

There persists an uneasy feeling that, for all I know, things may be worse on the lines I shall be using from next Monday onwards. Watch this space.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A postcard from Cornwall

To Cornwall for a week’s holiday living in a 15th century manor house. No trains, no daily commuting and only the sound of birdsong in the evenings when the visitors departed. Ah well, I return to work tomorrow for a final week on the Piccadilly before the office moves to Waterloo and whole new era begins for this blog. What a contrast! Bowling along the empty lanes of the Tamar valley compared to a crowded and slow moving tube train. Mind you, the three mile tail-back on the Stonehenge section of the A303 was uncannily reminiscent of a queue of trains stuck outside Acton Town. Both are exercises in futility.