Thursday, 20 December 2012

OK, can't resist sharing this little tidbit...

My morning train is the second-most overcrowded in the country, running at 164% capacity.  Nice.

Think I may have to change my commuting patterns next year...

Last post this year?

It seems likely this will be the last post from Signal Failure this year (as I'll be working from home tomorrow and out of the country thereafter for Christmas), though I'll be making every effort to go on strong once the New Year starts.

Last night, the tube was on time to take me to Waterloo, then I took the train to Hampton Court, where my wife had parked the car after dropping our daughter off at the childminder's.  The train was four minutes late arriving.

This morning, the train was a minute late arriving in Waterloo (because it simply sat outside the final station for ages, otherwise it would likely have been early), and the tube was delayed by four minutes.  That brings the grand total since the last update to nine minutes and £22.50.

And finally, I leave you with a little news digest:
  • TfL's commissioner has called for sustained investment in the network as passenger numbers rise faster than expected.  If you read the article, he takes rather more pride in what they've delivered so far than I personally think is warranted, and he doesn't say where all this money is going to come from - which makes me worry it's from price hikes - but at least he actually does seem to 'get' what we, the customers, want from his organisation.  Which is an improvement, as far as I can see.
  • Good news for wheelchair users: it looks as though TfL will actually be keeping those manual ramps they employed during the Olympics.  Though that's very much still to be confirmed, I'll risk saying I'm coloured surprised: the previous statement, that they'd 'consider' it, felt very much like a statement to get people off their backs while they quietly shelved the plan.
  • If you live in Sutton, it's the safest place on the network for public transport, though I'm not providing a link because the Sutton Guardian's James Pepper is an ignoramus and doesn't know when to use 'less' and when to use 'fewer'
  • The mid-Winter Arsenal vs. West Ham game has been called off thanks to the London Underground strike, which puts me in the unusual position of sincerely thanking those who decided to quit working and start shirking: less football on TV is always a good thing.
That's all I have the time and energy for.  Or, more grammatically (since I don't want accusations of pots calling kettles 'African Kitchenware' flying around), that's all for which I have the time and energy.  If I don't talk to you beforehand, have a great holiday season and New Year - thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

An old story

I knew it couldn't last.

Last night was a journey home from hell.  The tube bit to Waterloo actually worked fine, but all trains out of Waterloo were subject to horrendous delays and cancellations thanks to a person hit by a train 'in the Earlsfield area'.  Arriving at the station, I hopped onto the (delayed) 17:50 to Hersham.  It was rammed, but by going right down to the very tip of the platform, I managed to find a seat just before that carriage too became not only packed, but with a crowd outside the doors 10 people deep,pushing and shoving.

Sat on the train for a further half hour, before the driver announced it was being cancelled.  Got out.  Crossed the entire station to get on the (delayed) 18:24 to Hersham.  Just as rammed.  Found seat just in time in the same way.  Was smug.  Sat on train for another half hour.  Less smug.  Train cancelled.  Getting a little irritated by now.  Announcement that the 17:50 would now depart after all.  Couldn't make it back to that platform before it set off.  Got on train to (ironically) Hampton Court, thinking I could change at Surbiton to a suitable one (working on the assumption they're run services up to there and then turn them around so at least that part of the line would be frequent (wrong, by the way).

Sat on that train for ages, and it eventually left.  Changed at Surbiton.  Train to Hersham coming in from Waterloo about 20 minutes later.  Impossible to get on - for me, or any of the 100 or so other people waiting for it on the platform at Surbiton.  Had enough.  Got taxi home.  Made it home for 21:15 against an original (planned) arrival time of 18:21.  That's a one hour, 54 minute delay.  £285.00.  Plus £20 for the taxi: £305.00.

This morning, the 06:20 from Hersham to Waterloo was five minutes' delayed, and the connecting Bakerloo Line tube to Edgware Road as further two minutes.  That £17.50 more for a grand total of two hours, one minute and £322.50.

I am very, very unimpressed.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A new beginning

I moved house last week, and accordingly my travel situation has changed.  I now take South West Trains from Hersham to Waterloo, and then the usual Bakerloo Line to Edgware Road.

And it was a promising start this morning: 'just' one minute's delay on the train and a further minute on the Bakerloo Line.  Total of two minutes and £5.  (Please note, the train goes into TfL's network, so I'm adding delays on this line to their charges - only, however, if the delay accrues after I have departed Surbiton, a stop on the way (or, on the reverse journey, before Surbiton), since delays before (after) then are not within zones 1-6.  That's being fair, see?  Clear?  Tough!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

About last night... and this morning

UPDATE: two minutes' delay on the Bakerloo Line to Waterloo from Edgware Road and then four minutes' delay on the connecting train to Hampton Court.  £10 (since the first delay doesn't count as I didn't miss the connection because of it.)

In reverse chronological order, just to confuse you.

Train into Waterloo delayed by three minutes.  A further two minutes on the connecting Bakerloo Line.  Seven minute delay against original arrival time in total.

Last night, a two-minute delay on the District Line to Wimbledon would have caused me to miss my connecting train, though that was happily delayed too.  Arrived home seven minutes late.

7 + 7 =14 minutes, which is equivalent to £35.  Ta muchly.

EXCITING NEWS: on Thursday, NFC payments go live on TfL buses.  If you see someone smugly tapping their mobile phone against a reader, rather than an Oyster card, it could be Signal Failure.  I pity all you technology have-nots.

Oh, and London's black cabs are to offer you free WiFi, as has been reported by nearly everyone and in a variety of languages.  Just do a news search: I can't be bothered to pick a link, nor to use the likely ad-riddled service which would in any case make me feel travel sick.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Boxed in

Well, this week is the big house move for Signal Failure: is it a coincidence, or have things gotten so bad that I'm moving house to try and get a better commute from TfL and friends?

The current home is getting more and more full of packed boxes, while the new home soon will be, thence to be unpacked.  And then there's all the cleaning and repairing and decorating of both places.  Upshot is, I'm taking Thursday and Friday off this week, so it'll be another short week as far as updates are concerned.  Perhaps it's best, since the silly season is starting for most all of us.

This morning, my train into Waterloo was 10 minutes late, and the connecting Bakerloo Line added another four.  Overall, that means I was 17 minutes late to work this morning for £42.50 (because of differing connection times).

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Alright then, one more update!

UPDATE: trip home was today (Friday).  Just one minute's delay, but it's £2.50 I need to log.  See you next week!

Travelled in to Clapham Junction this morning for my two-day corporate off-site.  Got a 14-minute delay for £35.  Several excuses offered: congestion caused by an earlier broken down train, and also held at a red signal.  Updated Tube Bingo card below.
Not sure when further updates will follow this week, but there'll be at least one more before the weekend.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

By a long margin, the biggest delay yet!

OK, so I normally just update the morning's blog at the end of the day, but this whopper deserves its own again.  Excuse was simply the weather again, so no Tube Bingo bonus there.  And I'm not even going to bother with the tube delay because it pales into insignificance next to the trains.

Waterloo was chaos.  A huge number of services had been cancelled or were operating a reduced service.  All - without exception - were running with severe delays.

My wife had warned me that there were problems as she went earlier to pick up our daughter from day care.  So I checked the TfL web site before I left work.  Nothing mentioned on my route.  So I checked the South West Trains web site: only one train an hour now to Hampton Court, instead of the usual plethora of two.  Never mind, at least it's still running.  I aimed to take the 19:36.

I got to Waterloo in plenty of time to make my way through the heaving crowds and waited.  And waited.  No information on the big screens about my train at all.  No PA announcements about that service either.  Plenty of trains calling at most of the same stops still running, albeit massively delayed.

Because my wife had had to get off at Norbiton and use the bus to pick our daughter up in anything vaguely resembling the right time, our car remained at Hampton Court station.  Because we will need this for the drop-off and pick-up tomorrow, and because there was no advice that my train was cancelled - even on repeatedly checking the South West Trains and TfL web sites on my mobile phone, and because it's really cold out and I wanted to endure the least number of changes on freezing platforms possible while my direct service was still running, I waited.  And waited.

A little while after 20:00, there was still no news, though the big screens were still featuring trains originally scheduled to depart before 19:00 that were idling - sorry, 'boarding' - on the platforms.  I looked around for a station employee to ask.  Not a one in sight.  Then, I found a single, roughly 39-inch flat screen TV, conveniently located about 10 feet above head height displaying a rolling text of several hundred words in micro-font from South West Trains.  And when I say micro-font, I mean it: I've had my eyes fucking lasered to get perfect vision and I have to stand on my tip-toes (I'm over 6 feet tall) and squint to make it out.

'Blah, blah, adverse weather, insincere apologies, lots of delays, reduced services, blah, blah.'  And then, as an afterthought 'there is a train shuttle service operating between Surbiton and Hampton Court'.  No hint that there might not be a full service running, but I know rank fucking inefficiency and thinly-disguised contempt for customers when I see it (I should do after more than a decade using London's transport 'services').

I hopped on the next severely delayed train passing through Surbiton and was off.  The train's automated station announcement told me every station on the way to Surbiton was Surbiton, which was helpful, and at the real Surbiton, there was no mention of a train to Hampton Court at any time whatsoever on any of the boards on any of the platforms.  Nor were there any station or rail employees around anywhere.  Not even the nominally open ticket office.  I finally found some 'rail community support' officers outside the station standing around chatting.  They had no idea when the next train to Hampton Court was running, but advised me the shuttle had been running for hours (why wasn't it updated on the South West Trains web site?) and if I just stood around on the platforms one would turn up sooner or later.

Back into the station.  A few minutes later, a screen told me the next Hampton Court train would arrive at 21:05, roughly 20 minutes away.  Well, better than nothing.  Went down to the platform just in time to jump, Indiana-Jones-escaping-the-closing-cave-walls-style through the closing doors of an unadvertised train to Hampton Court.  Wankers.

Upshot: I left work in time to get the 19:06, had it been running.  I should have been at Hampton Court, therefore, by 19:42.  Instead, I arrived at 20:51.  All because of a quarter inch of snow, mostly melted away by the time I travelled.  That's a 69-minute delay.  I'm pretty sure that's a record.  I'm also damn sure I can claim even under TfL's and/or South West Train's stringent rules to prevent people claiming money back.  But I'm not going to, because I'm owed so much more than that.  A total of £177.50, in fact.  And that's not even adding a special tax for denying me time with my infant daughter and pregnant wife tonight.  Damn, but those fuckers are lucky I'm such a reasonable man.

Nighty, night readers.

Let it snow! (It makes me money.)

My wife, who leaves the house earlier than me so I can do toddler drop-off and she be home early for pick-up, texted me minutes after leaving today to warn me to plan extra time for de-icing the car windscreen, since she'd noticed ice and heavy frost on a number of vehicles on her way to the station.  Said ice and heavy frost turned out to be snow when I left an hour later.

To be fair, she claims it only began snowing later, but it reminded me of the first time I saw snow.  I was brought up an ex-pat in the Middle East, so I was 11.  I also remarked to my bemused dorm mates (I was at boarding school in Derbyshire at the time) that the frost was particularly heavy that morning.  Still, despite the travel chaos that ensued, it was nice to see Bushy Park covered in snow once more before we move house.

Now, about that chaos: a 31-minute delay on the train into Waterloo, accompanied by a veritable bonanza of excuses.  Adverse weather, leading to slow moving trains ahead of us, leading to lots of being held at red signals in order to regulate the service.  Add to this the one-minute delay on the connecting Bakerloo Line to Edgware Road for no explanation offered, and it's quite the Tube Bingo entry this morning (see below).
I believe there were quite a few problems on the TfL network this morning: can anyone top my Bingo experience thus far?

Sadly, it might be the last significant update of the week: I'm away all tomorrow and most of Friday for a company off-site.  Still, we'll see what we can manage - I don't want to leave you all bereft this close to Christmas!

And before I forget, last night's journey home (which I was too lazy to update then) was not without its minor difficulties.  The tube ran late but didn't cause me to miss my connection; however, there was a three-minute delay on the train.  All in all, that's £87.5 to add to the tally this morning.

Finally, a little tidbit of news for you: TfL is a good neighbour!  After refusing to do anything for a year, an intervention by Iain Duncan Smith caused TfL to cut back ivy on its side of the fence that was destroying someone's property.  Of course, it claims no such thing was happening and that this is simply a gesture of good will (duly praised by IDS).  Shame the good will had to be scared into them after 12 months of gleefully cackling and ignoring the poor claimant, but it's better than nothing.  Nice precedent there now, though, so if you live anywhere affected by the tube, I'd start thinking of good will gestures they could make towards you right about now.  It is Christmas, after all!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Good afternoon!

Sorry to have had no updates for you yesterday - decided to work from home last minute as was shattered after a few early starts last week and a busy weekend what with the toddler and the upcoming house move.

The biggest news is, of course, the pregnancy - not the royal one, which is boring, but my wife's: we found out this morning our second baby will be a boyby (there's a new series of Peep Show out, so I'm quoting again)!  One of each, that'll be, so I think I'll retire from the baby-making business now.

The less important, though strictly more relevant to this blog's mission, stuff is as follows:
That's all for now.  Busy day ahead!