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.


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!