Wednesday, 31 October 2012

This update deserves a separate post

My wife, who works the early shift so she can pick our daughter up from day care (while I work the late shift so I can drop her off), texted me today about an hour and a half before I left work to warn me that there were severe delays on the trains heading out to Hampton Court, Richmond, Kingston and the surrounding areas in Surrey thanks to yet another person throwing themselves in front of a train, this time at (or near) Wimbledon.

Duly armed, I checked the TfL live travel news moments before leaving work, and was pleased to find that there were no reported delays to my journey.  Not even when being specific and using Journey Planner.  So, I set out to use the District Line to Wimbledon and the connecting train to Hampton Court, since the timings worked best that way.

Best laid plans and all that...

The District Line was delayed five minutes after being held at a red signal.  Fortunately, I'd factored in plenty of time to make my connection.  Unfortunately, it became apparent after much, much waiting, that there were not going to be any trains to Hampton Court in the foreseeable future.  There were no announcements or notices to this effect, it's just that none appeared on any of the boards.  Station staff were nowhere to be found either, when usually there are plenty of them loitering about the platforms at Wimbledon.

So, I got on the next train I could to Kingston instead.  From there, I took the bus. Which was a further three minutes late.  In all, I arrived at my destination 37 minutes late for another £92.50.  That's a total of £200 from TfL today.  Generous!

Oh, and here's the updated Tube Bingo card.

How much do TfL's trade unions cost us?

It may well be impossible to say.  Certainly, I haven't turfed up any reliable figures.  However, has an interesting article on the cost of trade unions in the UK to the tax payer: £113 million.  £92 million of this is in 'facility time' (basically time in which we are paying the staff their salaries to do union work - organising strikes, as best I can tell).

The article references the Metropolitan Police and TfL in particular, saying:
"The Metropolitan Police has the equivalent of 16 members of staff working full-time on trade union activities, with Transport for London having the equivalent of 34 staff."
I did a quick search for the sizes of those organisations and, while the figures may be a little out of date, I suspect they're not horrendously wrong.  Here's what I find illuminating:
  1. TfL had 17,735 staff members as of 2004 (source)
  2. The Metropolitan Police had 55,377 staff members as of January 2012 (source)
  3. TfL is less than a third the size of The Met.
  4. TfL has more than double the number of work-shirking, strike-planning leeches on the public purse.  And that's excluding the cost of actual trade union action to businesses and consumers, not to mention the wasted time in delays this blog was set up to document.
TfL: in a world all of its own when it comes to public service.  My cup positively runneth over.

Another record-breaking score from TfL

TfL's really going for gold.  A bit late for the Olympics, but perhaps in keeping with the secret ideals of what I will laughingly refer to as their 'service'.

This morning, my train in was delayed by 10 minutes owing to congestion/overcrowding ahead of us.  I found out just before Vauxhall (when it was too late to do anything about it, like change at Wimbledon for the District Line) that the Bakerloo Line was suspended between Elephant & Castle and Piccadilly Circus (so including the bits of it I need) due to a person under a train.  Take a look at the Tube Bingo card now.

All this meant I had to take the next best route I could find (since I also discovered there were delays on the Victoria and Central Lines, for reasons that were completely inaudible): Northern Line to Euston, change there for King's Cross, and change again there for the Circle Line to Edgware Road.

I got to my final destination 39 minutes later than I should have, missing almost the entirety of a meeting with my boss.  This while I'm in my probationary period still.  Thanks TfL.  Thanks for nothing.  That'll be £97.50.  And I'll be blaming you if I don't pass my probation or receive a bonus and tardiness is in any way mentioned.  Oh, and charging you for it too.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Nope, right back on form again

I have a messy head cold at the moment, so after being in the office for about three hours, I decided to head for home during lunch and work from here to spare everyone else my germs.  Timing seemed to work best for the District Line route, so I aimed for the 12:45 from Edgware Road to Wimbledon, which would give me plenty of time to change to the connecting train to Hampton Court.  I forgot that 'plenty of time' is a relative measure.

The tube arrived at Edgware Road nine minutes late, and this had lengthened to 11 minutes by the time we got to Wimbledon, causing me to miss my connection and wait half an hour for the next one.  That train arrived four minutes late, and was six minutes late by the time it got to its final stop.

That gives us a grand total of... wait for it... 36 minutes' delay over Journey Planner's advertised times.  No explanations were offered at any point.  So that's another £90.  Is that the record?  I can't remember.  And, for those curious, my Tube Bingo card stands thusly for this week, just two days in:

TfL apologises for yesterday by doing its job properly this morning

Just a one minute delay yesterday on the Bakerloo Line going home for £2.50.  The connecting train from Waterloo, and indeed the whole journey in this morning, ran smoothly to the published schedule.  Presumably this is in apology for yesterday's troubles, and one I'm willing to accept (though not refund).  Long may it continue - though I doubt it.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Public transport back on form!

Well, after a quiet week last week, owing to illness and working from home more than usual because of my wife's business travels and our infant daughter's needs, TfL and South West Trains are back in the saddle.

This morning's train into Waterloo was delayed by 28 minutes, owing to overrunning engineering works.  Then by a passenger taken ill on the train in front of us at Clapham Junction.  Then by another passenger taken ill on my carriage as we waited to pull into Clapham Junction.  Flu season, eh?

After that, the Bakerloo Line was delayed by two minutes (no explanation offered), so that I arrived at Edgware Road (my final destination) 31 minutes late (remember the connecting tube wasn't the 08:34 I should have been able to take).

After that, not that it's relevant to my travel, I'd just set up at my desk when we were evacuated for a fire (a real one, not a drill), and I got to go back out into the cold.  I'd also forgotten to take my security pass with me, so I had to argue my way back into the building.

So a flying start to the week, which at least gives me £77.50 in honorary money (yes, I realise the irony in describing anything about TfL as 'honorary') with which to console myself.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Cheese and wine evening

Decided to have a little cheese and wine evening with my best friend, who lives a couple of kilometres down the road.  (I know, you didn' think I was such a civilised sophisticate.)

Took the bus in and back.  The weather, if you've not been abroad today (as I hadn't since dropping the little one off at the child minder's), is somewhat on the nippy side.  For that reason, it was more than usually annoying to be left waiting for a bus to arrive for what felt like hours, but turned out to be only three minutes - a delay it kept on the short way into town.  Coming back, I waited two minutes longer than should have been necessary for my bus, but it arrived home only a minute late.

Still, it's another four minutes and £10 to the tally.

A couple more news updates

Hey, remember that awesome Skycycle idea?  It's not going to happen.

And here's a rather more direct example of TfL's attempts to remove passengers from its network by any means necessary - whether temporarily, or permanently.  Little as I've come to expect from TfL employees, that one surprised even me.  Still, I suppose it's only fair: if bus drivers are expected to have and use specialist skills (in this case making change), they should receive spot bonuses for it.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

News round-up

So there have been some interesting stories around TfL this week.  We'll start with this story on the upcoming recreation of the first London Underground train journey.  Despite not being an accurate recreation of the route (it includes the original stations, but is a longer journey overall), it's quite a sweet little story.  I do wonder what effect it will have on journeys for normal purposes on the day in question, but I'm sure that's been considered and discarded as unimportant.

Next up, The Guardian reports on the closure of the Hainault loop of the Central LineTwelve days without, commuters there will have to go for.  But TfL assures us that this action will save it £2m (in comparison to a string of weekend closures), which it will undoubtedly spend on giving its tube drivers more money.  It further assures us that this is the least disruptive way these essential maintenance works can be carried out.  As opposed to, say, the usual practise of overnight repairs.  Who knows?  There might even be a reason that overnight repairs won't work, but TfL isn't telling.

Next, we can all look forward to a game TfL has spent money on that's targeted at teenagers to help reduce the number of road casualties caused by them pissing around with phones and other mobile devices and not paying attention to the road.  A worthy goal.  The game will see players 'avoid traffic as they navigate themselves and lead a group of friends on a walk across a city'.  In a world of Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and the like, I'm sure it will be terribly popular, but I hope no-one takes my sarcasm amiss, since this might actually be a good thing.  After all, how embarrassing would it be if even one of next year's teen road casualties was found to have been playing TfL's game at the time of the accident?

And finally, the Evening Standard tells us that tax payers bailed out LOCOG to the tune of £41m.  Why is this relevant?  Apparently, some of the total £1bn cash paid by us has been passed on to 'other public bodies such as Transport for London'.  So that's the tube and bus driver Olympic Blackmail Bonus again.

That's all for now as I'm working from home today.  Merry Thursday all!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Why are commutes always more delayed in rush hour? -- REVEALED

So I need to work an early shift today as my wife's away overnight on business and that means I have to pick our tot up from daycare rather than drop her off.  It also means I'll need to work from home tomorrow in order to manage both drop-off and pick-up, since the missus won't be home in time to do either.  Given that I generally work from home on Fridays, don't expect much from Signal Failure for the rest of this week, unless I come across some really interesting news.  Oh, and I caught norovirus from our daughter, so was off work sick yesterday, hence the lack of updates.

Anyway, what I wanted to say was that I experience no delay whatsoever in this morning's journey into work.  In fact, I got to my final destination a whole one minute earlier than I had catered for (-£2.50 from TfL's invoice in the interests of fairness)!

This confirms something I've often noticed - namely that commuting seems to be less plagued by delays outside of the typical rush hours.  Like most people, I've generally assumed that this is because with more people needing trying to get on and off trains during rush hour, the trains spend longer in the stations than they otherwise would, and we accrue delay over long journeys accordingly.  Well, that and the occasional passenger action, which is more likely when there are more people around.

This morning, however, I've had an epiphany: you see, that can't be the problem because it would be so easy for TfL to rectify, for instance by amending journey times during peak hours so that, say, a 36-minute journey off-peak takes 40 minutes at rush hour.  This would mean TfL could claim a higher percentage of its services run on time, lead to fewer forward-planning passengers having cause to complain, etc., etc.  And, of course, it's inconceivable to even think that everyone at TfL is too thick to realise this and amend things accordingly.  All of which means the additional delays in rush hour must be caused by something more integral to the transport vehicles themselves.  Something, perhaps, a little insidious...

Here's the theory: trains can't function property when they approach (or exceed) capacity.  Naturally, every theory needs to be backed up properly, and luckily I have done that work for you too.  Here comes the science part, as those smarmy L'Oreal adverts would tell you: when you get trains that are too full, they quickly heat up.  This heat causes expansion of all the trains various parts (this is basic science, and if you don't understand it, go read a primer - I'm not your science teacher!), including - crucially - the wheels and locomotive mechanisms (so I'm not too technical on the names, big deal!).  But, because of the different parts' varying distances from the heat-radiating passengers, plus the exposure of some, but not all, of those parts to the cooler external atmosphere, they expand at different rates and to different degrees.  The parts no longer fit together as well as they should.  This causes friction, which reduces smooth locomotion and leads to inefficient travel and delay.  Furthermore, when the trains are hot, passengers often selfishly open the windows, letting in air that slams against the walls of the backs of all the carriages, increasing drag coefficient and thus exacerbating the delay problem by slowing the trains accordingly.

Here's the solution: more carriages on trains.  Of course, this means longer platforms at every station too, which is a major undertaking, but at least a one-time expense that would ensure trains are never running at anything close to capacity and therefore fully fix the system, with potential operating cost savings paying for themselves in just a few short years.  Oh, and adding air conditioning while sealing shut the windows couldn't hurt either.

The only problem to beware of is that, if the trains become too efficient, we may suffer from a macrocosmic version of the relativity effect, which I am the first to discover.  In its most basic form, the theory of relativity states that, the closer a moving object approaches to the speed of light, the slower time becomes for it.  If trains were to travel close to the speed of light, as they doubtless would with my improvements, those on the train would experience time more slowly than the rest of the world.  This means that as a commuter, your journey would subjectively last just fractions of fractions of fractions of a picosecond.  In the world outside the train, however, many years or even centuries might have passed (I haven't finished tinkering with the maths yet).  This would clearly make the problem of delays far worse than it already is, so perhaps we should choose just one of the above suggestions: either air conditioning or longer trains and platforms.  Air conditioning sounds cheaper, so I bet they go for that, TfL the stingy bastards.

So, yeah, Signal Failure's had a brief hiatus recently, and will likely do so again for a few days, but what have you done for science and public transport lately?  Man, I hope it's not too late to enter for this year's Nobel Prizes; I expect to at least be on the shortlist for this one.  Oh, and for Literature too.  And why not Peace, while we're at it, since fewer delays will mean fewer "random" acts of violence from frustrated travellers.  No need to thank me, just put my name down for the Nobel nominations.

On the other hand, maybe TfL has already worked all this out and done the maths, and have concluded any improvements along the lines of the suggestions I have made will lead to delays stretching into the millennia, and so have discarded the notion.  Yes, that must be it.  And that's why trains are always more delayed during rush hour than at any other time.  We got there in the end.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Did you miss me?

Sorry, I was working from home on Friday (I almost always do at the moment), and and offer you no updates from the weekend as there was no relevant travel.

This morning, though, I experienced a five-minute delay on the train to Waterloo (no explanation offered), which caused me to get a later connecting tube, which was on time.  It still meant I was six minutes later overall than I should have been, so that's £15 added to the total.

UPDATE: Trip home involved a delay of five minutes on the train from Waterloo to Hampton Court, equating to another £12.50.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

A metre of German sausage

UPDATE: Just to round up the end of the day: three-minute delay on the train from Waterloo to Hampton Court for £7.50.

Last night's Oktoberfest at Stein's in Kingston was awesome!  The five of us, in addition to drinking lots of beer from two-pint steins, accepted the metre of sausage challenge:

(almost) Before


The slightly demonic look on that chap's face is known as 'meat rage', and is a good thing.

OK, no-one challenged us to eat this in any way, other than ourselves, and OK, I never want to eat another sausage ever again EVER, but overall this can only be described as a life-altering event.  This platter is designed for eight people and was eaten by five (excluding the filler foods of potato and salad - schoolboy error to fall for that!).  We are members of an elite group.  You, dear reader, are not, though you can always attempt to join.  I daren't even tell you the professions of the people around this table: it would shake your faith in the way the business of the country is run.  Quite frankly, I'm embarrassed by the behaviour of such captains of industry, and I count them as friends.  What you would think doesn't bear thinking about, if you'll pardon the wording.

Now, on to the travel updates.  To get to this salubrious event yesterday, I of course travelled to a different station than usual: Kingston.  That train got delayed by eight minutes, owing to signal failure (another scratch for Tube Bingo).

The night bus I took home from here was 12 minutes late, according to the notes I've found on my mobile phone, even if the typing is somewhat suspect.

This morning, we did fairly well: just two minutes' delay on the train into Waterloo, and the connecting tube was on time, though of course it was a later tube than I would have been able to catch had the initial train been on time, making me in total five minutes later than I should have been.

So, since yesterday morning, that's 25 minutes and £62.50 added to the tally.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Today will be a GOOD day

Just like that.  (Image credit: Stumbler)
Because I'll be having drinks at Stein's in Kingston after work with some friends - and they're theming it their own Oktoberfest.  Lederhosen and Dirndls all round, which should at least be amusing, while the high quality German beer is the icing on the cake!

If only travelling the TfL system was as pleasant: yesterday's journey home included a five minute delay on arrival at Hampton Court.  This morning, traffic caused me to miss my train (again) and the next one arrived at Hampton Court 11 minutes late (owing to a delayed earlier train - another tick for this week's Tube Bingo card).  It had caught up three minutes by arrival in Waterloo, to be 'only' eight minutes late.  Of course, this meant I had to take a later connecting tube than originally advised by Journey Planner, which was delayed a further minute.

All told, I arrived at Edgware Road nine minutes later than I should have, which adds up to another £22.50.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Another banner morning

Traffic stopped me getting the 08:24.  The 08:54 was five minutes' delayed in arriving at Hampton Court, but that didn't matter because it always arrives 10-15 minutes before it is supposed to depart.  However, it had accrued three minutes' delay by the time it arrived in Waterloo.

I then had to take a later connecting tube than I should have (that old story).  This tube arrived at Waterloo a minute later than it should have, and at Edgware Road three minutes late.  Total delay this morning of six minutes for £15.

Monday, 15 October 2012

It's cold enough to freeze the signals in red

At least, I assume that's the case.  My train into Waterloo this morning was delayed by four minutes with no explanation, and the connecting tube I then had to take was delayed by another two (arrived in Waterloo a minute late, and lost a further minute on the journey to Edgware Road owing to being held at red signals (first square in Tube Bingo comes nice and early this week).

Overall, because of having to take a later connecting tube with times that didn't work as well, I was delayed by 11 minutes for £27.50.

In other news, it seems that ITV has cottoned on to the Beatles story I posted last week.  While I didn't uncover that one myself, better late than never ITV.  Better late than never.

UPDATE: now Reuters is playing catch-up with Signal Failure...

UPDATE 2: Just a two minute delay on the way home today, accumulated on the train from Waterloo to Hampton Court.  £5.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Abbey Road

Hi foreign readers, and specifically occasional tourists to London.  Did you know that Transport for London loves you (yeah, yeah, yeah)?

People who know me personally are likely surprised it's taken so long for me to shoehorn The Beatles into my blog, but I was just biding my time...

I was looking at that picture that's been doing the rounds recently, you know - the one which allegedly has 75 tube stations cryptically (or not, in some cases) contained in the image?  I got 48 unaided, in case you're interested, and have not managed to find all 75 yet.  Anyway, while comparing to a tube map to try and get the last 32, I noticed a DLR station I'd never seen before: Abbey Road.

We all know the image credit by now, right?

'That's weird,' I thought to myself.  'That's not where Abbey Road is.'  Of course, I knew there was likely to be more than one Abbey Road in London, but I figured the famous one was just so famous that no-one would name a whole station Abbey Road unless they were inviting confusion.  And, indeed, this has proven to be the case.  Tourists are falling all over themselves to travel to an inconveniently-reached station miles away from the site for which they are looking.

Not only are tourists wasting their time and money with these trips, but of course those businesses that have set up around Beatlemania in the pictured Abbey Road are, of course, losing out on business.  Luckily, we can count on TfL to handle the issue sensitively, right?
"A spokesman for Transport for London said it would not be changing the name, adding: 'TfL does all it can to make navigation around the capital as easy and straightforward as possible and it is unfortunate that some visitors sometimes get confused by the odd duplicate place names.
"'It is also a reminded that when visiting one of the world’s largest and varied cities, nothing beats some in-depth research.'"
So, TfL does 'all it can', does it?  But it won't be doing anything about the problem, like, say, changing the name, which would instantly put an end to the issue.  Yup, that certainly sounds like TfL's definition of 'all it can'.

There's some appalling grammar in there (and I honestly am not sure whether to blame the TfL spokesperson or the Daily Mail - both are deserving of ridicule and have yet to answer for their crimes against humanity), but that second sentence essentially means 'tough shit'.

While you might think TfL just doesn't want the headache and is trying to shift the blame, I actually think something far more cunning is going on.  I believe TfL deliberately named the station 'Abbey Road' to mislead Beatles tourists in the hope they would have to make more journeys and, therefore, spend more on extortionately-priced travel on the system.  It's good for business after all.  And who cares if it's bad for other London businesses or for their own customers, right?

So, if you're planning a trip to Abbey Road, be warned: one is for Beatlemaniacs, one is for... well... obscurity?  Supporters of a terrible football team?  Cockney rhyming slang?  Oh, and be wary of any stations popping up called Penny Lane...

Lastly, a quick update for yesterday.  Just a two-minute delay on the trip home, on the train from Waterloo to Hampton Court.  Just a fiver, but my faith, or rather lack of faith, in TfL has been restored.

I'm working from home today, so not likely to update on the transport situation again.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, 11 October 2012


TfL continues in its campaign to wipe out this blog by serving me up with no delays today, travelling from Kingston to Edgware Road this time (reasons for the unusual starting point to be revealed at a later date).  Just what is going on?  Can they have finally sorted out all their problems?

Tonight's journey home will be outside of rush hour, which is usually when TfL decides to arrange most delays in order to inconvenience the maximum number of people, so I may go 24 hours without a TfL delay, which (though I don't have documentation stretching back that far) I'm pretty sure would be a first for me in 11 years in the capital.

Still, it's a route that usually doesn't disappoint in disappointing me, if you know what I mean...

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A moment of existential crisis

Today the foundations of my world have been rocked.  I am starting to believe that TfL may be doing a good job.  Relatively speaking, at any rate.

I had to go to an event in Birmingham today, so my travel through the capital was a little different to usual.  My (usual) train from Hampton Court to Waterloo was six minutes late in the end.  I had to take a later connection because of this, of course.  I then took the Northern Line to Euston but, while it turned up two minutes late, it seemed to make up the time on the way.  That made for a total delay of six minutes and another £15.  Normally, I'd chalk that up as another average morning's piss-poor performance by TfL, but taking Virgin Trains to Birmingham was another story altogether.

We arrived in Birmingham International 15 minutes late because we had to make an unscheduled stop for the police to come throw off an 'unruly' passenger.  The incident took place in the next carriage along from mine, and I found out later from a colleague there that it consisted of a Somalian man reacting to being asked to turn down the volume of the music he was blaring through his lap top speakers by threatening - quite seriously and with much verbal abuse and physical intimidation that only just stopped short of violence - to cut the heads off several people in the carriage.  The guard was unable to calm him down, so we stopped at the very next station and waited for police to come and forcibly remove him.

The train back to Euston later that day was 29 minutes delayed.  No explanation was offered for this whatsoever, just a series of template apologies (you know the type: 'we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause').

Perhaps I should be thankful TfL runs transport here.  Even if my train home from Waterloo had another minute's delay for £2.50.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

That was a good one!

Awesome journey in today: my train from Hampton Court to Waterloo was delayed 32 minutes, thanks to a passenger taken ill on a train at Wimbledon (later corrected to 'between Wimbledon and Waterloo'), which caused a huge backlog of trains.  THAT'S A 32 MINUTE DELAY ON A TRAIN JOURNEY WHICH SHOULD TAKE 30 MINUTES!

The connecting Bakerloo Line train I had to take to Edgware Road was on time, but I still arrived at that final destination 34 minutes later than I should have, which adds £85 to the bill by my reckoning.

No for the burning question: where does that leave my game of Tube Bingo this week, if we include yesterday's fiascoes?
Nothing looks too promising yet, but it's only Tuesday morning!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Juat another manic Monday

UPDATE: I thought I'd try the District Line again today for the way home.  Big mistake.  A 10-minute delay on arrival at Wimbledon (held at a few red signals), causing me to miss not only my connecting train to Hampton Court, but the next train headed to Kingston (a not-ideal but workable alternative).  The train after that heading to Kingston was the 18:43, which was four minutes' delayed arriving at Wimbledon, and five minutes by the time of arrival at Kingston.  Kingston was also, coincidentally, where we got our apology and excuse - recorded and played over the station's PA system.  Signalling problems at Wimbledon, apparently.

I do have to record that the final stage of the improvised journey, the bus ride, was a good experience: the bus turned up a minute early, and arrived at Hampton Court a minute early too.  Nonetheless, I arrived at my final destination 30 minutes late.  Which means £75.  Which means I topped £1,000 in my first two months of blogging: hooray!

Bleugh!  Don't feel good today - I think that, after several weeks of good health, I've caught something from my daughter again.  Last weekend, she had what looked like a nasty cold and a 24-hour eye infection.  Sure enough, I started feeling pretty rotten yesterday, and this morning my eyes were all gummed up.  Seems mostly OK now, apart from being bunged up and having a headache, but then you never can expect much from Mondays.

Now for the journey: we arrived late in Waterloo by seven minutes, again seemingly due to accumulated small delays.  No explanation or apology offered by the train driver, of course.  I wonder if he won an award for last week's National Customer Service Week?

Well, that of course meant I had to take a later connecting tube than the one Journey Planner recommended.  This itself was three minutes' delayed in arrival at Edgware Road, despite the PA boast in Waterloo claiming all underground lines were operating a good service.  All in all, a 12-minute delay over when I should have arrived at my final destination, which works out to another £30.

I'm a little disappointed, to tell the truth: today marks two months since I started Signal Failure, and I had been hoping to rack up a grand in that time.  As you can see, however, I've fallen just a little short of that target at £927.50.  Never mind - there's still 10 months to go!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Buses on my private time

I didn't go out to town yesterday afternoon in the end - the weather was terrible and I couldn't face running my errand because of this.

However, my best friend got promoted yesterday, and I did meet him in Kingston yesterday evening for a few celebratory drinks at Stein's (highly recommended for top-notch German beers and food - not good for vegetarians, but then that serves them right for their lifestyle choice).  The bus into town was seven minutes late, and the one returning three minutes late.

Then, this morning, I went into town with my family, also by bus.  A four minute delay going in, an three minutes coming back.  In all, that's 17 minutes and £42.50.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Working from home again

I may have to pop into town using public transport around lunch, so there could well be an update later on delays, but likely to be a dull one.

Elsewhere, an interesting piece in The Guardian in its Bike Blog unsurprisingly complains about the harsh treatment cyclists get from other road users (and human beings in general).  It actually makes some very good points, backed up with solid facts - something I find increasingly unusual in any form of journalism, including (especially) my own.

I've mentioned cyclists before on this blog, rarely in a positive light.  While I can wholeheartedly agree that the vast majority of cyclists do not break the rules of the road, that does not mean a significant number of them still do.  Nor does it mean that the majority of them cannot still be inconsiderate road users without actually breaking the law (not that this is the claim I'm making here today either).

There are a few key points in the Bike Blog's post that need addressing, however: first, that not committing an offence does not necessarily mean an accident was not the cyclist's fault.  I would have thought this was obvious.  Second, the quote from Dr. Ian Walker warrants attention for a couple of reasons:
  1. He goes from 'wondering' if cyclists' status suffered from 'two known psychological factors' to accepting the as verbatim and saying he needed to hypothesise as yet unknown factors to explain general hatred of them in the space of six sentences.
  2. He also talks about the anger cyclists experience.  Now, this is just from my own personal experience, but I cannot recall a single incident in which I have seen a cyclist being harangued on the road by a motorist or pedestrian.  Every single set of angry words I have heard involving a cyclist on the road has consisted of the cyclist screaming - yes, screaming - at the top of his (and yes, always his) voice at a car standing next to them.  We're talking veins bulging and face red in apoplectic rage.
I can understand a cyclist who's just experienced fear for their life at some (real or perceived) threat from a motorist lashing out, really I can.  But it does rather grate to be told that the situation is actually the other way around, when real-life experience - at least in my case - does not bear this out.  Classic case of the perpetrators trying to cast themselves as the victims to justify their own behaviour.

I'm curious what everyone else's experiences are.  Care to leave a comment?

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Take 5 - no, make that 12

UPDATE: went to a meeting this afternoon in the City.  I took the 13:44 from Paddington, which was meant to arrive at Farringdon at 14:00.  Instead, it arrived three minutes late and was subsequently held in a tunnel between stations at a red signal.  After that, they decided to terminate the tube at the very next stop, Edgware Road.  Not only was no explanation given for this, it was in no way intimated that this hadn't always been the plan.  The next train along to Farringdon should have been the 13:52, which was a minute late.  I arrived at Farringdon four minutes late in the end.

Heading straight home from this meeting, rather than back to the office, my train from Chancery Lane to Waterloo was delayed, but not enough to make me miss my connecting overground, so it doesn't count.  The three minute delay of that train, however, does.  So that's another £17.50 for today.

Traffic caused me to miss my train this morning - irritatingly, I arrived in the car park in time to seem the train pulling away.  That doesn't count, though (I'd be considerably theoretically richer if it did).  What does count is the two-minute delay on the next train in I caught (no explanation offered), and the subsequent three-minute delay on the Bakerloo Line train I was forced to catch following that (again, no explanation offered).

Five minutes in total: £12.50.

In other news, Brixton's underground station was temporarily closed this morning, apparently due to an earlier signal failure at Vauxhall.  Quite how this causes a station elsewhere to close, I don't know, but TfL (according to information at the time of writing) couldn't be bothered to report the closure and pretended the Victoria Line was suffering from only 'minor delays', while allowing regular commuters to queue outside on the streets on this particularly brisk October morning.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

TfL braces for crisis

Does anyone else get the feeling that the dark clouds of doom are hovering over Londoners (and those travelling to and from London by rail)?

The Crossrail project, run by TfL and the Strategic Rail Authority, has asked PR firms to pitch for a £250,000 crisis communications account.

So far, consumers have protested about:
  • The £14.8bn price tag
  • A perceived lack of respect paid to environmental impact
  • Kicking businesses out of their properties to make way for stations and tracks
  • Spending a quarter of a million quid to prepare senior executives to deal with the inevitable shit-storms this project will kick up, both in its construction, and in its doubtless subsequently severely-flawed operation
OK, that last one's just me to date, but I said what you were all thinking.  Unless you're a crisis comms specialist.
"Crossrail external affairs director Louise Brooker-Carey said: ‘Crossrail is seeking specialist training and advice to review existing procedures and provide crisis comms training to our leadership team and those overseeing tunnel and station construction.’
I just bet it is.
"The pitch document calls for ‘high level’ crisis comms training and to test Crossrail’s comms strategy and plans."
'High level crisis comms training' translates into English as "learning how to respond to politicians and industry regulators whilst conveniently ignoring or trivialising any issues brought up by punters - I mean the paying public".

Choo choo!

UPDATE: a seven minute delay to the train from Wimbledon to Hampton Court coming home this evening.  £17.50 more for the coffers.

Made it onto the 08:24, thanks to better traffic conditions than yesterday, and aggressive (but accident-free, at least in my immediate vicinity) driving.  That train was delayed by eight minutes for no particular reason, which meant I had to get a later Bakerloo Line train than planned.  This one, however, ran on time, so I ended up 'only' eight minutes late at my final destination, Edgware Road.  Or, as TfL likes to call it "on time".

In other news, if you're a retailer in Holloway, TfL is trialling the latest endeavour in its evil master plan to choke commerce in the entire city of London: fining people for shopping.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Hello Russia

A surprising number of Russians seem to read this blog, though I can't imagine why.  Are you all British expatriates missing the smooth running of London's transport system?  I know at least one is not.  And to any others that are not, I just want to take this opportunity to say Ваше здоровье!

Which I hope is a nice sentiment, and not a joke from my former client.

When is a delay not a delay?

Quite an adventure this morning: traffic problems made me miss my original train from Hampton Court, so I had to wait half an hour for another.  In the absence of any advice to the contrary from my previous post, I'm going to continue not charging for this form of delay.

However, I am going to charge for the three minutes' delay arriving in Waterloo on the train I did take, which was due to being held at a red signal outside Vauxhall because of overcrowding.

I'm also going to charge for the reasons behind this, which were chaos caused by the suspension of the Victoria Line (irrelevant to me) and an earlier signal failure on the Bakerloo Line (which I needed to take), the latter causing a further minute of delay.  I suspect that these delays worked in my favour, because given TfL was advertising 'severe' delays on the Bakerloo Line this morning, I think the 09:37 I caught was probably a very delayed earlier tube - and it's only my final delay that counts.  You lucked out, TfL!

Or did it?  I make this three new strikes for this week's Tube Bingo card: overcrowding, red signal, and signal failure, to be added to yesterday's sitting in a tunnel for no reason.  My card for the week is below, and I'll add another 4 minutes and £10 to the tally.

Finally, I note at Hampton Court station, South West Trains has removed its poster asking you to vote for their employees in National Customer Service Week.  Do we think this is:
  1. Because of reading my earlier post?
  2. Because they realised the absurdity of the proposition?
  3. Because they decided they were too cheap after all to offer those first class tickets?
  4. Because they'd already received so much abuse from passengers instead of nominations?

UPDATE: total of five minutes' delay on the way home.  No reasons given.  £12.50.

Monday, 1 October 2012

One bus-fare zone: £2m

Ever wondered what happens to the change you don't get given when buying a bus ticket at one of the bus stop ticket machines in London?  TfL pockets it all.  The call it 'legitimate fares income' and put it back into the bus network, which must mean 'make dodgy investments'.

The lesser-known 'no-armed bandit' (Image credit: BBC)
 TfL says it's OK to steal money from travellers, though, because it's only about 1% of them.  Happily, though, they plan to start removing these ticket machines from next January, instead accepting cash on all buses.  Expect delays.

That's a new one on me

I got a new excuse for delays today: an 'overhead line problem' between Clapham Junction and Willesden Green apparently caused the delay of my train from Hampton Court to Waterloo (which does pass through Clapham Junction, but on a different line) by seven minutes.  There was a further delay of a minute on my Bakerloo Line train from there to Edgware Road, which involved both stopping in a tunnel for no reason (or at least, none given) and a very poor lift service.

Three excuses and only one tick for my weekly game of Tube Bingo.  I may have to rethink the design!

But, that's a total of eight minutes for another £20 this morning.

UPDATE: no explanation for delays on the journey home this evening, but they were made up of:
  1. A District Line train arriving at Edgware Road two minutes later than advised, and at its Wimbledon destination three minutes late.
  2. An overground train to Hampton Court arriving in Wimbledon three minutes later than it should have and at its final destination six minutes late
I make that a total of nine minutes and £22.50.