Sunday, December 24, 2006

New Year's Day Train Services from Watford Junction

I am a creature of habit and will once again be travelling through Watford Junction, towards London Euston on New Year's Day.

My second post of this blog was a rant at the timetabling of trains from Watford Junction during engineering works.

Silverlink Trains do not appear to be having to endure significant engineering works from Watford Junction this year on New Year's Day and appear to be offering a pretty good service. Good News. A link to their timetable page is here.

Click the image if you are struggling to read the micro-print. A larger image will open in a new window/tab.



Have a very Happy New Year!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Christmas

Best wishes to everyone. Thank you for reading my blog.

As there is absolutely no chance of a White Christmas in West London (unless fog counts), I thought I would share with you my idea of how Christmas might be in warmer climes.

I took this picture on Mt Kinabalu, Borneo, in November last year. You may spot a little bit of post production.

Do please have a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.Happy Christmas. Based on a photograph taken from Mt Kinabalu, Borneo, November 2005. Click picture for more detail.

Year in a Nutshell

January: I'm not one for New Year's resolutions, but I thought I would at least start 2006 by starting this blog.

February: An early trip to Heathrow Terminal 4 this morning to meet my father who was returning from a five week visit to Delhi in India.

March: I was fortunate enough to be skiing last week in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

April: Having seen off the Spring downpour at lunchtime today, it turned into a pleasant afternoon.

May: A short while ago I made a post entitled 'Chavs On The Line'.

June: Central Line users will be well aware that Queensway Station has been closed for over a year for refurbishment work.

July: Sorry about the gap, almost as big as the one between the train and the platform at Bank.

August: Baker Street London Underground Station was closed today between about 09:30am and 6:00pm due to a major gas leak outside the station.

September: Following my post earlier in the week, here are the brief descriptions again, along with the names/locations of the airports to which they refer.

October: Today is the day of The Great North Run.

November: It was only after chatting about this with a former station announcer earlier this evening, that I remembered that I had forgotten to blog a recent incident.

December: Actually, what I mean is they are poo.

If you need any clarifications, please scroll down to the Archives on the right.

Thanks to The Coffee Table for the idea.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Travel Arrangements over Christmas and the New Year

I have received quite a few hits to this blog seeking information about travel arrangements in London over Christmas and the New Year, including those for the Central Line on Boxing Day.

The full tfl (Transport for London) leaflet detailing the arrangements for the holiday period is available here (411kb pdf file).

The Central Line information for Boxing Day, Tuesday 26th December 2006 is:

"Reduced train frequencies on all lines. The first
trains will run through the central area at
approximately 0830. Services finish at Sunday
times. The following exceptions apply to the Central LIne:

no Hainault to Woodford service.
Buckhurst Hill, Chancery Lane, Chigwell,
Fairlop, Grange Hill, Roding Valley,
Ruislip Gardens and Snaresbrook closed."

My research suggests that the first train from West Ruislip to Central London will leave at 08.21 am on Boxing day (and every 15 minutes thereafter). The last direct train from Oxford Circus back towards West Ruislip will leave around 23.38. You could alternatively catch an Ealing Broadway Train 10 minutes later and change at North Acton.

This would then be your absolute last chance of getting back to Hangar Lane, Perivale, Greenford, Northolt, South Ruislip or West Ruislip. As stated above, Ruislip Gardens will be closed all day, but it is a relatively short walk from South Ruislip station.

Warning: Do not bet your life on these times. They have however been obtained from the tfl Journey Planner.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Small earthquake in Chile. Not many dead.

Something strange is going on:
  • Central Line: Has run to time and with no problems everytime I've been on it this week.
  • Chiltern railways: Have run to time and with no problems everytime I've used them this week.
Ive got my 8 year old nephew all day tomorrow and am taking him to a Childrens' Christmas Party in Docklands. I have no doubt just put the kiss of death on the Central Line, the Northern Line, South West Trains and the Jubilee Line for tomorrow!

Now you've got to admit that the title "Small earthquake in Chile. Not many dead." is mildly more interesting than "Trains run to time".

Could I just say that I think Chile is a lovely country (I plan to go there next year) and earthquakes are not funny. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Central Line Runs Well - Commuter Relieved

Got up before six this morning. Had proper breakfast and had 15 minutes to shower etc and catch train. Didn't feel right, went back to bed. Slept two hours more, woke up feeling under the weather, went to work.

Felt awful all day, would have come home (I don't do 'ill' well, and it was only a headache) but had a late afternoon customer meeting in the diary.

Moped around all afternoon, unproductive.

Went to meeting, should have got an Oscar for being normal. Literally seconds to Oxford Circus, first train is going home. Get seat, head in hands till home, straight to bed. Thank you Central Line!

Now... wide awake.

And, it would appear that the London Underground network has not had a good night. This image is a shrunk down version of the live tube map. If you can see a line's colour, it has a problem. See what I mean? Good night.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Travelling Home on Chiltern Railways

I know the train times all changed last Sunday.

Nevertheless I zipped up to London Marylebone tonight to catch 'my' train. As I was haring along the platform (two minutes to spare) I noticed that the monitor suggested that the train was not stopping at my prefered station. Doh!

Never mind, I thought. I'll get off at the adjacent station. It's my fault. I should have checked. Silly Billy.

Sat down on the train.

What does the rolling dot matrix say? Well, the train is stopping at my station after all. We then set off and eventually approach 'my' station. The train slowed down as if to stop and then rapidly accelerated away. It's a good thing I hadn't stood up, else everyone around me would have known I had got on the wrong train!

Back to plan B and onwards home. Thanks Chiltern for getting my hopes up.

Enough blogging for one day.

Christmas Shopping (and Blogging) Splurge

Traveled like a maniac today around North West London, Hertfordshire and Central London in an attempt to get my Christmas Shopping nearly finished. Nearly was the end result.

I travelled on a bus, Silverlink County, Silverlink Metro, Southern, the District Line, the Central Line and Chiltern railways.

All ran to time (though another mini-rant about Chiltern later).

I used to live in the Watford area 20 years ago and it is now definitely a major regional shopping centre. It has everything from Poundland (no, I didn't go in) to a John Lewis, with much else beside. It is also full of track suited, bangled and blinged up individuals.

PS Although I have included a link to Poundland, they seem to be so cheap and cheerful that their website is currently slow enough as if to appear to be running their site off a ZX80 or similar. Either that, or my ISP is having a really bad hair day.

Mobile Phone or Smoking - Which is more dangerous?

Young man stood on platform at Harrow & Wealdstone Station smoking and using his mobile phone. Nothing unusual in that... except...

He was talking into (and listening to) his flip-top mobile phone as though it were a walkie-talkie, holding it about six inches away from his face.

Someone had obviously told him that mobile phones emit dangerous microwaves.

Petrol Prices- I Don't Usually Notice

As it's the last full weekend proper before the Christmas break I've been whizzing around on public transport a lot today (more later) and noticed a couple of petrol prices.

Normally I never notice- It's only occasionally that I fill up, when using a hire car.

Anyhow;
  • Not a million miles from home, in North West London: Unleaded is 85.9p per litre
  • Just off a well known shopping street just to the west of Hyde Park: Unleaded is 118.9p per litre
I know it's a free market etc etc, but an uplift of 38%? Outrageous.

Monday, December 11, 2006

District Line shows favouritism towards Ealing

Today I experienced one of those nightmare journeys that come along every now and then.

Heading from the Ealing area on the District Line, I had to change at Turnham Green to go down to Richmond for a meeting. I did not anticipate having to wait 42 minutes for a train.

I think the score was Ealing 6, Richmond 0. Eventually Richmond scored but there were a lot of seriously hacked off people, myself included.

My customer was fine (apparently she used to commute from via Richmond to Ealing), but I get embarrassed at being 1 minute late, never mind 25 minutes.

There has been some sort of track problem in the Gloucester Road area all day- roll on the era when all sub-surface lines use the same train stock. Hopefully it will then be easier for the service to recover from problems.

At least they appear to have solved the issue of the signals failing on the Richmond branch whenever it rains.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Central Line Continues to Behave

I have previously mentioned that new National Rail timetables start this weekend- as my local Chiltern Railways service is going from mediocre to rubbish in the evening peak, I have been getting used to the Central Line over the last few days.

To my surprise the Central Line service is currently fairly good.

Last night we had our work Christmas party at a hotel near South Kensington tube station. To get there involves changing onto the notoriously unreliable Circle Line at Notting Hill Gate. Door to door each way was 40 minutes (including late journey home). This is pretty good given that Uncle Ken's Journey Planner has journey times ranging from 48 to 59 minutes.

Another party today. Yippee.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Coded Manual on the Central Line

Many people do not realise that the Central Line Trains on London Underground virtually drive themselves as 'Automatic Train Operation' means that in theory trains can operate faster (and safer) than with the human touch.

As I understand it, drivers are allowed to drive in 'Coded Manual' on open air sections, on Sundays and when there are no other known problems.

I think that the driver of Train 032 currently on his/ her way from West Ruislip towards Epping is exercising the dispensation and having a practice at real driving. And a very pleasant ride it is too!

Of course, it also means that the Central Line is behaving itself, as it seems to have been for the last few days.Good news.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

First Great Western have no sense of history

Actually, what I mean is they are poo. They couldn't catch a cold, are as much use as a chocolate teapot and do not deserve the word 'Great' in their company name.

Today there are some invisible engineering works which mean that the Heathrow Connect services from London Paddington have been cancelled. Also the 1/2 hourly service between London Paddington and Greenford has been replaced by an hourly train between Greenford and Hanwell plus a replacement bus service between Ealing Broadway and Greenford.

I suggest the works are invisible only because I have just spent 45 minutes standing at Hanwell waiting for a train to Greenford and can confirm that (1) all four mainline tracks are in use and (2) there is no mention of engineering works in the are on either the National Rail site or the First Great Western Site. There may well be some works going on somewhere, but goodness knows where.

The train to Greenford never arrived. Other travellers and myself ended up catching a train back to Ealing Broadway, then getting the Central Line (changing at North Acton) back out to our destinations. Not so much as a by your leave from the cretins at the railway company in charge of communicating with their passengers.

Dictionary.com has an abundance of definitions for the word Great. You may wish to remind yourself of some of them. The company has 'Great Western' in its name as a historical reminder of the Great Western Railway. There is no comparison. Anyone with any sense of railway history will know that a mention of GWR is highly evocative: Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Box Tunnel, the age of steam and Victorian Britain. The modern day company has purple trains that run late, stations with clocks that don't function for months on end and no real evidence of appreciating that their passengers are anything other than cattle.

First Great Western should remove the word Great from their name forthwith. They do not deserve it and certainly will have no positive impact on the history of railways in this country, if my experiences are anything to go by.

I also missed out on the unusual train journey from Hanwell to Drayton Green, a very short stretch of line that does not usually carry passenger trains.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

It seems that those who run Chiltern Railways couldn't run a bath

It wasn't so many years ago that Chiltern Railways were promoting South Ruislip Station as being the main interchange in West London with the Central Line. The other option being West Ruislip.

There is no Central Line in West London this weekend, so one could reasonably expect Central Line users to travel out from London Marylebone, using Chiltern Railways' so called services.

Can anyone therefore explain to me why today they only had one train calling at South Ruislip, in each direction, approximately every two hours? Crazy!

The Weather Forecast is Rubbish

For the first time ever, I have posted an image directly into this blog.

The image is an extract from the BBC Weather page with the forecast for today's weather where I live, in West London. It is now just after 10.00am. I woke up just after 7.00am this morning.

It has been persistently raining (rather heavily) since I woke up, with no sign of any break in the clouds or the weather. The forecast is, to be blunt, wrong.

I know it's not quite of 'Great Storm of 1987' proportions, but it has certainly put paid to any plans to hang washing out to dry.

Oh and, by the way, No Central Line west of White City this weekend and I am not going to mention again (today) that the replacement bus service yesterday afternoon was poor.

Later: "Doh! I've just posted a blog about the weather. Aaargh."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Yet more Vandalism at North Acton

It has happened before and now it has happened again. Apparently no service again this morning between North Acton and Ealing Broadway due to vandalism. Grrrr.

I do hope that matters are being put in hand to improve track side/ equipment security in the area (Finger in dyke?) and also hopefully find and appropriately punish the perpetrators.

Public service link: London Underground Realtime Information

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

And So It Continues.....

The tfl website currently states:

CENTRAL LINE: Minor delays are occurring due to signal systems failure. Message received 03:13am

Note the time
- they clearly don't have a clue how to fix the 'Signal Systems Failure" that started on Monday morning.

For those who need to know, the current position can be seen here, but to be honest the way I am feeling, they might as well just have two options for the website: "Broken" or "Fixed".

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Yesterday's Chaos on the Central Line

Well, there are clearly ongoing problems- there certainly appears to be a shuttle service running between West Ruislip and North Acton. Still, at least I've got home, courtesy of Chiltern Railways.

tubeprune on District Dave's message board appears to have come up with the most succinct explanation for yesterday's total chaos.

I've copied the text from the posting in its entirety, for no other reason than I cannot work out how to link direct.

" The problem started when they tried to upload a new timetable early Monday morning. It crashed the main computers and locked them up so they couldn't even reload the old timetable. They then started phoning round to get people in to operate local control panels so they could signal trains at each site. By 06:30 they had local services at the line ends but could not run a through service because the LCP at Queensway was out of service. They had to clip & scotch there for through running. They got the old timetable back into the computer by 07:15 but, of course, the crews are all still at depots waiting to get trains out at the new timetable times - result -chaos. Through service finally got going just before 09:00 when they had 50% of trains in service. They were still trying to sort out the mess with crews late into the evening. Not a good day."

Here we go again. Central Line Delays are really getting rather boring.

Apparently, this morning on the Central Line "Minor delays are occurring due to signal systems failure.". This was as of 4.02am, roughly an hour before the first passenger train of the day and is still the current position.

It's rather strange really that so far there is no sign of any ranting anti-Metronet email on the tfl website, though I have pasted below Metronet's version of the cause of yesterday's problems. These first manifested themselves yesterday with the initial total suspension of the Central Line service followed by ongoing problems all day.

Automatic Train Operation was fully implemented on the Central Line in January 2002. The new timetable introduced at the weekend will certainly not have been the first timetable change since 2002. I am therefore a little puzzled as to what has really gone wrong. I wonder whether, just perhaps, privatisation (sorry "the introduction of PPP") has meant the loss of expertese and perhaps the retirement or departure of the person who actually knows how to reprogramme the signalling system computer?


"Metronet apologises for today's service disruptions

Metronet has today apologised to passengers and to London Underground for the delays which occurred this morning on the Central line – and the District and Circle lines. For the Central line, the loading of new computer software containing LU's revised timetabling information caused a total break-down of the systems at the start of service. Through services were restored to the Central line service at 08.45 hrs."

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Central Line has gone horribly wrong this morning.

I went to bed last night with a general feeling of bonhomie towards public transport. A jolly good weekend 'Up North'.

First thing I heard this morning on the radio was 'Total suspension of the Central Line". Aargh!

I quick rejig of the diary then followed. At about 8.15am services were resumed at the outer extremities of the Central Line, but the service is still totally suspended between White City and Leytonstone (ie the central bit of the Central Line is missing at present).

"Signal systems failure". Happy Monday.

Later: At 8.46am I believe trains started to run to all destinations. Even assuming the signalling system doesn't fail again, expect delays, alterations etc for many hours to come.

I don't generally have the technical ability to 'blog live' so there will be no more updates on this matter. Probably. There is however a brief BBC News article here.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

With Clockwork Precision...

The plane touched down at Heathrow at 22:45 and got to the gate at 22:50, five minutes early.

Straight to the bus station (my toothpaste had been dutifully wrapped in a clear plastic bag), Night Bus within two minutes and in the front door 45 minutes after landing. Result!

I now have to spend £1,500 renewing my season ticket. Back to the Central Line in the morning.

A Flying Visit

Caught a flight yesterday morning from Heathrow up to Durham Tees Valley (Teesside Airport to you and me). The flight landed 15 minutes early and I was at my Grandmother's by 12 Noon.

Today we went up to Washington, Tyne & Wear, to visit relatives and to have a sumptuous tea. When I spoke to my Aunt last week she had said "I'll bake a cake." My Grandma and I turned up to be faced with a fantastic entirely freshly home baked high tea.

By the time we left at 18:35, the weather had got fairly squally. Down the A1M to North Yorkshire and then off to Teesside (DTVA) at 20:10. Appalling weather so no chance to put the speedy sporty whizzy hire car to the test (well hardly). I'm now sat in the departure lounge waiting for the 21:50 flight as the rain batters against the windows. Let's hope the flight doesn't get cancelled as the weather really is grotty.

I am so looking forward to getting back to London and to work tomorrow (NOT)!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Yesterday's Problems

Someone seems to have beavering away overnight, as the Central Line service appears to be operating a normal service this morning.

Hurrah!

Apparently it was indeed 12 signalling cables cut in the vicinity of North Acton Junction.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Vandalism at North Acton

There have been major problems at the west end of the Central Line today. This has led to extensive delays all along the line.

Official word is that it is due to vandalism at North Acton. So far as I can gather there have been no trains all day between North Acton and Ealing Broadway, with the service ranging from shuttles to 'No Service' out to Northolt.

The following is based on hearsay, observation and supposition (but not hard facts). I believe that certain toe rags have managed to cut out and remove a length of signalling cable west of North Acton, where the westbound line splits to Ealing Broadway and West Ruislip. I think that the points have had to be scotched & clipped (ie fixed into one position), which is why there have been trains on only one branch today.

As of an hour or so ago, London Underground appeared to be operating a service to White City/ North Acton and a separate shuttle service between White City and West Ruislip.

I am but a CentralUser and all of the above may be total tosh.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lancaster Gate Reopens

According to the tfl website, Lancaster Gate Station on the Central Line reopened today, after several months of refurbishment work.

I am not sure which is worse- the fact that my journey will now take a couple of minutes longer again, or the fact that I didn't notice the extra stop on the way home today!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

New Chiltern Railways Timetable

Chiltern Railways (who operate from London Marylebone Station) are launching a much revised timetable from 10 December 2006. A full .pdf version of the timetable is currently available here, it is a large file. [Edit March 2008: Link updated to the Chiltern Railways generic timetable download page. Lots of visitors still reach this particular post via various search engines.]

It is the most comprehensive timetable change that I can recall- largely because of the two additional platforms now in use at Marylebone.

For me personally, the changes to the morning peak timetable are neither here nor there and will simply become the norm. The evening peak is an entirely different story however. There will now be a gap of over an hour between trains, about which I have feelings of discontent.

I guess that the Central Line will be getting an extra home time customer. Chiltern Railways probably couldn't give two hoots - they only seem to care about long distance passengers, from whom they take big money.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

When Does Four Plus Two Become Three and a Half?

It was only after chatting about this with a former station announcer earlier this evening, that I remembered that I had forgotten to blog a recent incident.

I have previously mentioned that Marylebone Station now has six platforms rather than four, as was previously the case. Yomping is optional to Platforms 4, 5 & 6.

One day last week while travelling in to London during the rush hour, we sat in the tunnels outside Marylebone for 25 minutes with not so much as a by-your-leave. An explanation was given as 'congestion at Marylebone'. Strange- that shouldn't happen with an extra 50% platform capacity.

No trains went past us, leaving the station.

When we eventually arrived at the terminus, there were two empty platforms, we pulled into an otherwise empty (third) platform and a train immediately left, totally vacating another platform.

So, within one minute of arriving there were two long full platforms, one (with our train in) half full and three empty platforms. Hardly congested.

Clearly the 'A-Team' were not on duty that morning at the Network Rail Signalling Centre. Probably nothing to do with Chiltern Railways.

I am only a passenger so clearly have no knowldge on how a railway is run, but it did seem daft that we were delayed for 25 minutes for no real reason.

Oh- And my maths may be out!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Those Pesky Engineering Works - Again!

There I was on Saturday morning, doing nothing in particular, as per usual. The telephone rings- it's work... To cut a long story short I had to go in to the office to sort out a problem.

The trouble was, I hadn't planned on going anywhere, so the fact that the Central Line was again suspended from Marble Arch out to both Ealing Broadway and to West Ruislip had completely passed me by. What's more I didn't realise that engineering work was taking place until I got to my local tube station.

No matter, in no particular order, there then followed:
  • Two bus journeys
  • One tube journey
  • One overground train journey and
  • A four hundred yard sprint
and I made it to work in less than an hour. What a waste of energy.

Perhaps I should read my own blog entries and take note!

I have to go down to Hampshire next weekend and see that the Central Line will again be suspended between Marble Arch and North Acton. Will I remember?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wem? How do you Spell that?

I spent last weekend up in Shropshire and traveled from London to Wem by train. I bought my ticket a few days in advance at Marylebone. It made me chuckle when I was asked by the ticket clerk; "Wem? How do you spell that?". Clearly I was going to a small place.

On Saturday morning I traveled to London Euston to catch the Virgin train to Crewe. Fortunately no engineering work on the Central Line so no problems getting into central London.

The train from Euston was fine, though whoever had distributed the seat reservation tickets seemed to have lost half of them. No matter, most people were seated roughly where they should be. The train did a passing impersonation of a rush hour tube train when, between Coventry and Birmingham New Street there was some severe overloading. Long distance express trains should not have to have people standing, jammed in along the full length of each carriage.

We pulled into Crewe about 10 minutes late.

The two coach train to Wem left half an hour later. I realised I was heading to an area of small towns and villages when the guard announced that three of the first five stops were 'Request Stops' and to let him know if you wanted the train to stop.

A fun family weekend then followed.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Lesson for the Day: How to Turn Sheep into Wolves

Last night. Going home time. Pouring with rain. Central London.

Delays on the Central Line. Problem at Mile End or Newbury Park, depending on source of information. It happens.

Passengers prevented from entering Tottenham Court Road Underground Station ("TCR") due to overcrowded platforms, caused by aforementioned delays. Sensible course of action- I am sure it is all planned for, risk assessments will have taken place etc etc.

One of the entrances to TCR Station consists of a long foot tunnel runing from Charing Cross Road and underneath fountains by the side of the Centrepoint, a landmark tall building. At the end of the tunnel are concertina style gates at the top of the steps into the underground station.

Yesterday evening at about 17:40 the gates at the end of the tunnel were closed by London Underground staff and regular tannoy announcements were made apologising for the delay to journeys.

No passengers were being allowed through the gatelines and by 18:00 a queue of approximately 200 people were waiting at the concertina gate at the Charing Cross Road tunnel entrance.

It then became apparent, certainly by about 18:05 (vision was a little restricted) that passengers were being allowed to enter the station. A reasonable number of people had by this time been waiting 25 minutes, like good little sheep waiting patiently to get home.

What happened next?

A member of staff (clearly a reject from any London Underground school of Customer Service) wandered round the corner and looked up to see the dozens of faces peering through the closed barrier. We politely queried (and it WAS polite) when the gate would be opened. Rather than saying "now" or "in a minute" he then produced a temporary canvas barrier belt and placed it across the foot of the stairs. We told him that there were a couple of hundred people waiting to come down the stairs- he shrugged his shoulders and simply said "You'll have to use entrance three."

In the space of two seconds the oaf employee managed to turn 200 queuing london sheep commuters into 200 extremely hacked off commuters, I suspect many of whom would have gladly chewed his head off.

By the time I had negotiated the busy road junction above the station, the concourse was about the quietest I have ever seen seen it during peak hours, the half wit member of staff had disappeared, the Central Line platform was thankfully uncrowded and the train that appeared within seconds was only half full.

Absolutely no evidence of a sensible reason for the entrance at which we had waited, needing to remain closed for Health & Safety reasons, or indeed for any other reason.

Another member of staff in the ticket area did at least appear to take on our concerns at the total lack of empathy with waiting passengers displayed by his colleague.

The man concerned is a twat.

This rant, even in its current incoherent form, has been severely moderated for intemperate language. This is in the knowledge that my words are occasionally read by members of my family.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A sensible bus driver

There was an accident at the Target Roundabout late this afternoon. A car had caught the back-end of one of the aforementioned rail replacement buses. The struck bus had a few passengers on and the accident, though apparently minor, had all the signs of causing absolute gridlock with two lanes blocked.

What did our driver do? He pulled infront of the stranded bus and then escorted the handful of passengers to our bus- we were on our way within seconds.

This action shouldn't be worthy of a mention, but it is. Why? Because in my experience there are very few bus drivers in my part of London who demonstrate any sense of empathy with their passengers- tonight's should be applauded for having good, perhaps old fashioned, customer service values.

If London is so good, why do those who can, escape?

As I have already mentioned, there has been no Central Line in my part of London this weekend. Late this afternoon the A40 Western Avenue was choc-a-bloc, exactly how I imagine it is during the weekday morning rush hour. Except this was Sunday afternoon and the bulk of the traffic was going towards London.

Reversing the journey (ie me heading westwards along the A40) a short while later, the road was still jammed going in and free-running going out. My guess would be three times as much traffic heading into London at the end of the weekend as there was leaving.

I have a very simple (rhetorical) question:

If London is all it is cracked up to be, why do so many peole choose to leave it and spend the weekend elsewhere, only returning when they have to (presumably to go to work)?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

How to go to Greenford by bus from Hounslow?

Why would you want to?

Hounslow covers a fairly large area to the east of London's Heathrow Airport while Greenford appears to be a poorly defined area (based on state of the public transport infrastructure) in the London Borough of Ealing, neatly bi-sected by the A40 Western Avenue.

While I say 'Why would you want to?', I am not questioning anybody's desire to leave Hounslow, or their desire to get to Greenford. I am simply questioning the rationale for limiting the transport options to bus only as, so far as I can see, there is no direct bus link between the two towns.

While I am no fan of Uncle Ken, the Journey Planner on the TFL website is a useful tool to answer this sort of question.

Now, I am not going to start acting as a travel consultant to the rich & famous (or indeed to anyone else) but, to answer the question:
  • Catch a 120 Bus towards Northolt and then, after about 40 minutes change onto an E6 to Greenford.
  • Personally I would go at least part of the way by tube- I get really frustrated by the traffic snarl-ups in the Southall area (which is where the 120 bus usually gets stuck).

Weekend Engineering Work on the Central Line... Again!

This weekend, for the umpteenth time this year it is not possible to catch a Central Line train from West London into the heart of this glorious city. Forthcoming closures across the network can be viewed here- at least they've managed to avoid doing too much in the run up to Christmas.

Actually, the replacement bus services are fairly good. I've caught a couple over the Summer where I was the only passenger- a bit like having your own huge private taxi. When trains are replaced by buses, there are definitely only a tiny fraction of the usual number of people traveling. What happens to everybody? Where do they go?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Twenty Years Ago...

Today is the day of The Great North Run. Good luck to all the runners who will be crossing the starting line in Newcastle shortly.

What was I doing 20 years ago? Yes, you may have guessed it.... I was participating in the 1986 Great North Run. I completed the run (a half marathon) in something around 1 hour 37 minutes. I was considerably fitter then than I am now and was really rather chuffed with my time.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Burning the Candles at Both End

I had to go to Glasgow earlier in the week. Up at 04:45 to catch a bus to Heathrow Airport. Caught the 07:00 flight to Glasgow. Hung around for an extra hour because the colleague I was meeting's plane had been sat on the tarmac at Stansted for an unexpected extra hour and then we were off to a day of customer meetings.

The return flight touched down at LHR at just after 21:00 and I was home by 22:00, absolutely shattered. Travelling for work is NOT glamorous.

It became apparent the next morning that I had sapped too much energy, because I woke up with the begining of a cold. Grrrr!

Fast forward to last night. Straight from work to babysitting my Niece and Nephew in the Richmond area. Little darlings... eldest one (10) did eventually snap out of being half a nightmare, took herself off to get ready for bed and then read me a six page chapter from her book, really well.

Younger one (7) is very wearing. I have no parenting skills and didn't manage to get him off to bed (and to stay there) until 22:15. Dinner then went in the oven.

My little sister and her husband got back well after midnight but I chose not to stay over.

Sometimes... public transport in London can be brilliant...

Bus at 00:30 to the Piccadilly Line, very late train to Heathrow airport, Night Bus home. No longer than a two minute wait for anything (one connection was five seconds!) and home by 01:25. Result!

Dose of Nightnurse. Woke up at 11:00. Washing machine on. Haircut later.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

This one is politics

My blood pressure started to increase when I read the headline "Brown in pledge to devolve power" on the BBC News site this morning.

Until that nice Mr Brown came along, we had a private pensions system in the UK that was the envy of the world. Gone.

Until that nice Mr Brown came along, most people took responsibility for themselves, with Society helping those who couldn't. Now, through the tools of tax credits and means testing, we are in a position where more and more people rely on hand outs in some form or other to pay for life and its many luxuries. A fundamental relationship change.

Until that nice Mr Brown came along, we were beginning to get a grip on public sector costs. The proportion (%) of all workers employed in the public sector has gone up slightly since 1997 (Source: Office of National Statistics), but as the total number of people in employment has significantly increased. This increasing proportion is a sign of how inefficient the public sector is and how wasteful it is with our money.

Until that nice Mr Brown came along (and his mate next door, Tony), we had a governmental system in place that worked. Responsibilities were clear and extra layers of government (ie cost) were kept to a minimum. We are now in a position where devolution has occurred for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland [See: The West Lothian Question], and there has been pressure placed to have locally elected mayors, though thankfully the population seem to have seen through the sham.

Why does all this matter? Well, with Power comes responsibility.
  • If you destroy the future hopes and aspirations of millions, you must take responsibility.
  • If you increase peoples' reliance on state handouts you must be doing something wrong and must take responsibility.
  • If you increase the number of people YOU employ in the public sector, but choose to forget that everyone else has to pay for them, you must take responsibility.
  • If you crave power but pretend to devolve responsibility while retaining control of the purse strings, you are not only being irresponsible but you are hoaxing the British people. For this you must take responsibility.
I, for one, do not want Gordon Brown to be the next Prime Minister.

(Now, I'll get off my soapbox and back to writing about trains and stuff)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Extra Platforms opened at London Marylebone

The two new platforms (4 & 5) have now opened at London Marylebone as part of the Chiltern Railways Evergreen 2 project. [Chiltern Railways: Please update your website]

Hopefully it will mean fewer occasions of the late notification of platform numbers at Marylebone. Mind you, the new platforms 4, 5 & 6 at London Marylebone are so far from the concourse that two or three minutes has to be allowed to get to them, with hiking boots optional.

The platform barriers look as though they are having a significant upgrade and increase in numbers, though if my experience with the new gates is anything to go by, they need a bit of tweaking. My perfectly valid and otherwise functioning Oystercard received the flashing red eye of doom last week.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A New World Record, Two Lives Gone... and Chaos for Thousands

I saw earlier in the week that a new World Record had been confirmed for travelling to every station on the London Underground. The record beat, by five seconds, the previous one of 18 hours 35 minutes and 43 seconds set by Geoff Marshall and Neil Blake in May 2004.

So, on Thursday I though I was on course for my own record. From street level on Charing Cross Road outside Tottenham Court Road to setting foot on the Central Line platform at Ealing Broadway took 27 minutes. Now as the journey is only timetabled to take 27 minutes, even with Lancaster Gate closed, that's about as good as it gets!

At Ealing Broadway it was however absolute chaos. No-one was being allowed onto the First Great Western platforms, there were stationary trains in both west bound platforms and all passengers were being advised to use alternative routes. For those going to Reading that would involve going all the way back into London and catching the alternative Reading Line from Waterloo.

I subsequently found that the cause of the total suspension was an apparent killing and subsequent (linked) fatality on the line at Hanwell. How do things get that bad?

For me it only meant shopping at Marks & Spencer on Ealing Broadway rather than going to my original destination. For many it was an extremely long jorney home and, of course, two people never got there. It puts life in perspective!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

How The Heck Does Google Work?

I added a web counter to this blog last week. The number of visitors goes up (ever so slowly) every day and none of the hits are mine!

What I find incredible is that:
  1. The most popular word that drives Google users to my words is "Leprachorns" and
  2. If you type "Leprachorns" into Google this blog is top of the list.
I can only assume that I've spelt the word wrong!

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Common Theme - Public Transport Seems To Be Working

You may have missed it, but according to a poll conducted by the TripAdvisor company, London had been voted the best city in the world for public transport (and is also considered to be the most expensive).

Here's a log of my recent journeys:
  • Saturday: Two buses to Feltham then one stop on the train to Twickenham to watch the rugby. Same trip back. All absolutely fine- the thousands of people piling on to trains at Twickenham after the matches did make us all give passable sardine impersonations.
  • Sunday: Some minor travelling locally on the Central Line.
  • Monday: Central Line to Tottenham Court Road. Then return trip to Canary Wharf using Central Line and Docklands Light Railway, then home via Shanks' Pony, No 27 Bus, Chiltern Railways and the Central Line. Not a blip.
Hurrah!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Airport Security Checks (Part 2 - The Answers)

Following my post earlier in the week, here are the brief descriptions again, along with the names/locations of the airports to which they refer.

All opinions are mine and are non negotiable unless negotiations include offers of free flights or similar!
  • a) Hi-tech (digital photo taken, barcode placed on boarding pass). Small queues. Efficient. (Durham Tees Valley)
  • b) Massive queue but well managed. Loads of tourists getting stuff confiscated. Grave danger of missing flight if extra time not allowed. (Edinburgh)
  • c) Ten Minutes from getting off bus to being in departure lounge. No queue. Efficient and effective. (London Heathrow)
  • d) Officious. Over the top. Plenty of staff. (Newquay, Cornwall)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I've Gone Off Chiltern Railways

On a number of occasions in the last few weeks, I've dashed up to Marylebone to find that Chiltern Railways have cancelled the 18:37 High Wycombe service.

It's quite annoying when this happens as my next train is not until 19:03.

Chiltern Railways don't seem to make a habit of cancelling many other trains. Just the 18:37.

It was particularly annoying today as I'd had to go to Cardiff today and had left London Paddington at 7:00 am. After a long journey back to London, to say that I was peeved at having half an hour added to my journey unnecessarily would be an understatement,

Grrr.

PS Cardiff was good - I even managed a side-trip to visit Llandaff Cathedral.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Airport Security Checks (Part 1)

For reasons I won't bore you with, I have travelled through four UK airports in the last week or so.

In alphabetical order, those airports are:
  1. Durham Tees Valley (Teeside)
  2. Edinburgh
  3. London Heathrow
  4. Newquay
Now, see if you can match the following descriptions of my experiences of the security checks at each airport:
  • a) Hi-tech (digital photo taken, barcode placed on boarding pass). Small queues. Efficient.
  • b) Massive queue but well managed. Loads of tourists getting stuff confiscated. Grave danger of missing flight if extra time not allowed.
  • c) Ten Minutes from getting off bus to being in departure lounge. No queue. Efficient and effective.
  • d) Officious. Over the top. Plenty of staff.
I'll provide the answers in a day or so.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I Like Chiltern Railways

Baker Street London Underground Station was closed today between about 09:30am and 6:00pm due to a major gas leak outside the station. Trains were running through (but not stopping). Baker Street is a major interchange so this will have been a major pain for many people.

When I got home tonight I noticed the following on the Chiltern Railways website. Chiltern operate from nearby Marylebone Station:

"Baker Street LUL station closure:

Due to temporary closure of Baker street station we will be operating a shuttle service during the peak to run between Marylebone & Harrow.

Marylebone - Harrow departure times: 16.10, 16.50, 17.35, 18.30 & 19.10.
Harrow - Marylebone departure times: 16.27, 17.07, 17.55, 18.50 & 19.27.

Update 18.20 hrs: Baker Street station has reopened, we will still be running the shuttle services as advertised.
"

I think this is a great example of Chiltern's approach to customer service. I have no idea of the economics of doing what they did, but it can have been no mean feat finding rolling stock and track capacity like this during peak hours.

Credit where credit is due!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Time to take a Chill Pill

Ealing Broadway... Again. West bound Central Line, wait 4 minutes outside station. Departing train goes past in opposite direction. Pull forward into station- both Central Line platforms empty... grrrrr.

Then, half an hour later, First Great[?] Western decided to cancel my train from West Ealing although at least this time they did announce the cancellation. I think the hot weather must be getting to me.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Central Line - Trainee Controller in Evening Peaks?

Sorry about the gap, almost as big as the one between the train and the platform at Bank.

Ealing Broadway, end of the Central Line. Two platforms.

Imagine... train in one platform. Another train arrives into second platform, train in first platform departs. New train arrives in first platform, train in second platform departs. And so on. It is not difficult and it's how any four year old child would organise their toy trains.

So [rant] why can't the Central Line Control Centre get it right?

In the last two weeks I have travelled into Ealing Broadway on three occasions in the evening peak. Twice, our train has sat outside the terminus while BOTH trains in the platforms have been allowed to depart. When it happened this week, not only did I miss my connecting train, but may I point out that standing for five minutes in direct sun, with an outside temperature of over 30 Degrees is not my idea of fun. [/rant]

Even the train driver mildly rebuked the line controller for causing an unnecessary delay. Ho hum.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Queensway Station- Two sides of a coin!

Central Line users will be well aware that Queensway Station has been closed for over a year for refurbishment work.

The station was due to reopen last month. The reopening date was then put back to today- the station has not reopened.

Now I am not too bothered by the further delay, as the closure has meant slightly quicker journeys in and out of London. I do however accept that the lengthy closure will have been a pain for some. By the way, no sooner will Queensway reopen than Lancaster Gate will close, I think for three months. Oh dear.


Anyhow, back on topic, your homework for now is to compare and contrast the following two press releases. The first is from London Underground, the second is from Metronet...

Enjoy!
  1. Queensway station opening delayed again
  2. Metronet completes Queensway Station

Monday, May 29, 2006

Leprachorns in South Ruislip

No Central Line anywhere west of Marble Arch for three days. Replacement buses out west are usually fairly good- except yesterday the entire London ex-pat community from the Emerald Isle seem to have descended on South Ruislip for a football match. I don't do football, but I've found this article (might as well be Double Dutch). Google news here (will dry up after a few days). Mayo? I don't even UNDERSTAND the score!

I ended up catching a train to High Wycombe from West Ruislip, bumped into a couple of friends while I was there but otherwise had a fairly quiet day (the first with no rain for a while).

I'm off work this week, so will nip into the office later to drop off some papers. To bed early tonight as I have to be up and out by six tomorrow morning. Explanations in a week.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Clarification: What is a Chav?

A short while ago I made a post entitled 'Chavs On The Line'. It has since become clear that I have a greater working knowledge of some modern useage of the English language, than many of my friends and acquaintances. This surprises me.

Anyway, click here for guidance from Wikipedia on what constitutes a Chav. Summarised as:

"Chav is a derogatory slang term in popular usage throughout the UK. It refers to a subculture stereotype of a person who is uneducated, uncultured and prone to antisocial or immoral behaviour. The label is typically, though not exclusively, applied to teenagers and young adults of white working-class or lower-middle class origin."
Just to carry on the theme, I chortled and chortled when I saw the attached on one of District Dave's Message boards. There is a perception that Chavham ought to be posh- it isn't!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Opposite of Rant?

Apologies for the delay in posting anything. The reason?.... Everything has been going just too well.

Over the last couple of weeks I have experienced numerous journeys using:

And in all those journeys, not a single delay. Not a sausage. Not a second lost. Pretty good.

This weekend no Central Line at all west of Marble Arch. Not a delay, as such, but still a pain.

BTW, hope you had a happy Easter and have recovered from any chocolate poisening. Toodle-pip.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Rant: The Art of Communication (First Great Western)

First Great Western (until last week 'First Great Western Link' and previously called 'Thames Trains') operate a service from London Paddington to Greenford and back. The service runs twice an hour for about 15 hours a day, Monday to Saturday.

Having previously checked posters for any mention of engineering work, I went to catch the 09:56 Greenford to Paddington service yesterday morning. The train never arrived. At about 10:05, I decided to proceed with my life and left the platform.

Please bear in mind the following points:
  • No announcements were made at Greenford station
  • At no time did the departure screen show any train times
  • Engineering works posters made no explicit reference to service altertions to the line
  • Despite extensive searching, I could find no reference on the First Great Western website to any amended service patterns. I am not saying they weren't there, just that I couldn't find them.

For those who have been bothered to read this far, the reality was:
  • Due to weekend engineering works affecting the main lines between Hanwell and Hayes, the services to/ from Greenford were reduced to one per hour, departing Greenford at xx:43.
  • The only place I could find any indication of the revised service was on the National Rail Live Departures page.

While travelling on the line later in the day, there were people waiting on 'opposite' platforms at most stations (ie they didn't know that there was only one train per hour).

I hope that ignoring the effect of service changes on Greenford branch line passengers from publicity material is not a sign of the new Franchisee's attitude to the line and its continued existence.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Chiltern Railways Celebrate Centenary with Steam

Having seen off the Spring downpour at lunchtime today, it turned into a pleasant afternoon.

Chiltern Railways were celebrating the centenary of the line through Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield by running a series of steam trains over the weekend.

West Ruislip is a convenient viewing point for me and a couple of the resulting photographs are shown here.

Despite the general tone of this blog, I am not what would generally be called a Train 'Enthusiast' (!) and these are, to the best of my recollection, my first attempt at train photography. That cannot be said for all the other people crowding the platforms!


Edit: October 2009. The pictures appearing on this page have always been hosted on a Yahoo Geocities webserver. For some reason the page is the most popular on this blog (to date), which is a bit unfortunate as Yahoo are shutting the Geocities servers down at the end of the month. The pictures have therefore been moved onto the Blogger platform - hopefully Google will still manage to find them!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Chavs on the Line

Well done to the Chiltern Railways' Ticket inspector on the 14:00 train from High Wycombe towards London Marylebone this afternoon.

A couple of female teenage Chavs got on the train at Beaconsfield and proceeded to play rap type music from a mobile phone and generally acting in a loutish manner.

Challenged by the Ticket Collector for their tickets they came up with the biggest bunch of lame excuses one can imagine for not having purchased any tickets. The best line from him was "Where are you going to?". They said "Denham". He said "Oh no you're not, you are getting off the train with me at Gerrards Cross". Class!

Baggage gets an extra day in Geneva

And the reason for another break in entries.... yes another holiday. This time to the 'La Marmotte' hotel in the great ski resort of Les Gets at the end of the enormous 'Portes du Soleil' ski area.

We had a huge amount of fresh snow while we were there, no really blue sky days and one day of sleet and rain. However over all we had a fantastic time because the skiing was so good.

As for the travel:
  • London Underground to Victoria, then the Gatwick Express (five minutes late, which shouldn't really happen at £14 a go).
  • British Airways Flight from Gatwick to Geneva (15 Minutes late arriving). Emergency aisle seats (good), one bolshy stewardess (not good).
  • Shared Airport Transfer Service transfer from the airport to resort. Good value, but with a scheduled pick-up of 17:40, we eventually left the airport at 19:45. Motto: "Book a private transfer". Still driver James got us to the hotel in time for dinner.

The return journey was, shall we say 'interesting.
  • The transfer back was booked with 2 hours to last check-in at the airport. Following a delayed start (bad traffic from Morzine), horrendous queues, snow chains and a side road, driver David got us to the airport with four minutes to spare. I think more by good luck on his part than good management on the part of the transfer company. Some of our fellow transferees will most certainly have missed their flight. Thank goodness for the BA Self-Service Check-In service. It helped us to catch the flight, bypassing a line of about 50 people in the process.
  • The flight back was great- we had our own little row of seats at the back of our Boeing 737. We got a choice of sandwiches, chatty and friendly crew and generally rather enjoyable.

  • Unfortunately it all went a little awry at Gatwick. After a few minutes it became apparent that only two of our bags had made it onto the flight, but my main luggage was missing. Gill had a taxi waiting so after ticking off her luggage receipts and us saying our goodbyes after a great week, I had to initiate the 'Lost Luggage' process. I have to say that we only just checked in on time at Geneva. By the time I got home, I was able to tell online that my bag was having an extra night's holiday in Geneva. By 9.45am this morning, I received a telephone call from Gatwick Airport to say my bag had arrived. I then had two automated calls- the second was at 2.45pm to say my bag would be delivered by 3.30pm. A man in a little white van delivered my bag at 3.05pm.
  • I decided to get a Southern train back from Gatwick to Victoria (£4.60 with my Goldcard)- it took the same time as my outward jorney on the Gatwick Express (£14), the train was cleaner and less crowded.

Oh and a little footnote to my underground journey home- what looked like a gang of steamers boared my carriage one station from home, moved from the rear carriage to the next (pity the 'Danger of Death' notices didn't work) and proceeded to act with menace at my home station. I was able to leave the station without incident, but there were BTP and Met police vans and cars whizzing up the road within minutes. "Welcome home", I thought to myself.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Thameslink & Midland Mainline (Oh - and a bit of skiing!)

I was fortunate enough to be skiing last week in Kitzbuhel, Austria. This involved charter flights between 'London' Luton Airport and Salzburg.

The Thameslink fast service I caught was great and bang on time. The Midland Mainline service back to St Pancras last Saturday was even quicker (21 mins) and very comfortable. With my annual Gold Card, it was only £9.75 return. Bargain!

Mind you, I didn't think much of the station layout at St Pancras which is in the middle of a major redevelopment.

The skiing in Kitzbuhel was great. Claire, Elaine, Colin, Pauline, Frances and Zoe, thank you for putting up with me. It's been back to work with a bump this week.

A while to the next blog. Sorry.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Crossroad of the World

An early trip to Heathrow Terminal 4 this morning to meet my father who was returning from a five week visit to Delhi in India. He was well and was pleased to see my mother and I, though I suspect he will be glad to be home. There will no doubt be plenty of pictures and stories to see and hear over the coming months.

For those who don't know, London Heathrow is the World's busiest international airport and early morning is when a huge proportion of the long-haul flights arrive. You certainly see all sorts of people and every emotion!

For stalkers, the route today was:
Not a single hitch either way, so having got up at 5.30am I can now go for a snooze before I get on with my weekend tasks.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Too good to be true?

I've done a lot of travelling around this week. By way of example:

1 Day: Central line to Bond Street, Jubilee Line to Waterloo, South West Trains to Portsmouth Harbour, Fast Cat to Ryde, Train down Pier, Train back up Pier, Fast Cat to Portsmouth Harbour, South West Trains to Clapham Junction, South West Trains to sister's house, bus to Hounslow, tube home. On time all day. Fantastic! The reason for the journey was less happy.

2 Day: Bus to Heathrow, Plane to Glasgow, Bus to Glasgow City Centre, Bus back to Glasgow International Airport, Plane to Heathrow (left 20 minutes late, but landed on time), bus home. On time the whole day.

The above were on Wednesday and Thursday. On other days I have been using the Underground, Chiltern Railways and First Great Western Link. All without a single delay or problem all week.

Today I'm off down to Hampshire via Reading and Basingstoke. It usually works well, but I've no doubt just put a jinx on it.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

It's all going too well

My experience of the Central Line this week:
No delays, no gaps in service, no passenger action. Fantastic.

Don't tell Bob Crow.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Sad Day

My sister called today to tell me that her Father-in-Law had died this morning. He had been unwell for a while and died while playing golf at his local course on the Isle of Wight. Geoff was a busy man and lived life to the full.

I last saw Geoff on Christmas Day when my sister had eleven for lunch. An enjoyable day to remember him by. My Brother-in-Law with my young nephew spent Boxing Day Tuesday with Geoff at the rugby, so they will have happy memories.

My thoughts are with Pat and all her family at this sad time.

Now is not the time to go into my latest game of Travel Roulette while returning home.

Link added much later:

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Cumulative Effect of a Number of 'Minor Delays'

Public transport in London's suburbia is extensive. However, unless you are very lucky, it is highly likely that when traveling any distance you will need to change bus, tube or train at least once to reach your destination.

Sometimes the number of possible route combinations between A and B are so high that choosing how to make any particular journey can be like playing a game of Travel Roulette.

Last night I played.... and lost.

  1. Bus towards Hounslow bus garage. Driver: "There's an incident at the Bus Garage and I'm not allowed to go there. I'm only going as far as the Treaty Centre. I got off at the Treaty Centre, walked an extra half mile past the Bus Garage (noting absolutely nothing out of the ordinary) and joined the Piccadilly Line.
  2. When a London bound Piccadilly Line train arrived, all seemed fine. The train moved off and then crawled the whole way to Acton Town. The only announcement was made by the driver at Northfields when, after a three minute wait, he said 'I apologise for the delay. This is to allow the train behind us to catch up.' Total of 10 minutes added to timetable train running time.
  3. At Acton Town the wait for a Rayners Lane train had been so long that I decided to spin the wheel again and take a District Line to Ealing Broadway to catch the Greenford Flyer from there. Twenty minute wait in all.
  4. All was well at Ealing Broadway- my timings worked well and I changed onto the Greenford train within a couple of minutes. Then we stopped (presumably at a red signal) for seven or eight minutes before we even got to West Ealing. Other than a signalling failure/ blip I can think of no logical reason for this. No announcement.
  5. The interchange at Greenford back onto the Central Line was good- a train arrived within a minute.
  6. Ninety minutes door to door. My record on a similar variant to this route is 40 minutes,

It was the first time I had thrown the Greenford Line option into this particular route home. I was unlucky as I wouldn't usually need to consider it. On this occasion, maybe I should simply have caught the 120 Bus from Hounslow- the trouble is I have previously been delayed so much on that route that I only use it as a last resort.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

[Memo to Central User: Find something more positive to say]

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Watford Junction - New Year's Day Timetable Rant

See if you can fathom this one out:

New Year's Day, lunchtime.
Silverlink County operating hourly stopping services southbound from Northampton. ALL terminate (contrary to published New Year's Day Timetable), arriving at Watford Junction at xx.26

Silverlink Metro operating hourly stopping services southbound from Watford Junction departing at xx.22

Southern operating hourly service southbound services from Watford Junction departing at xx.22, first stop Harrow & Wealdstone then Kensington Olympia.

What sort of idiot makes up these timetables? I was of course aiming for Harrow & Wealdstone. In the end Virgin Trains agreed to accept southbound to Euston- so with 95% of the passengers having been herded outside to catch a 'Fast Coach' to Euston, a small number of us lucky cattle were able to get on a big fancy red train resulting in me going the long way round, probably quicker than any other means. Oh- and the screens weren't showing any Virgin Trains going south, because they are only timetabled to drop off.

What exactly is it that Network Rail do? Grrrrrr...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Welcome to 2006!

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions, but I thought I would at least start 2006 by starting this blog. I've had a website for a while now, but in recent times have found that technology has moved on so much that some of the old stuff now looks so ancient, it is probably best to start afresh.

Along the Central Line? Well, maybe a hint to where I live... and work... and just about everything else.

The only other blogs that I've ever posted to have all been Tube related so, while not an enthusiast in the traditional sense of the word, some of my forthcoming ramblings will probably be based on my experiences of using public transport wherever I may be.

Anyhow, whenever you read this, and wherever you are- Welcome! Oh, and all the very best for a peaceful and happy new year.