Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Son of Signal Failure

Well, I'm back.  Son of Signal Failure was born on Friday, 19th April 2013 at 06:44.  Hence lack of updates in some considerable while.  Mother and child are doing well.

In view of this momentous occasion, and because I'm feeling a little lazy, I am waiving delay charges to TfL for my travel home on Thursday, 18th April.

This morning, the train from Hersham to Waterloo was delayed by a minute within TfL's sphere of influence.  This didn't matter, because the tube I would have been able to catch had the train been on time was delayed by two minutes (three by the time it got to Edgware Road), so I was able to catch it after all.  Still a three-minute delay, however, so that's £7.50.  Glad to see I didn't miss any big changes in my absence, then!

I've obviously missed a lot of news while I was out of service, and I'm afraid I don't really have the time to summarise it all now (I may backtrack in later posts), but I will offer this one tidbit: if you're still marting from the 10th consecutive fare rise from TfL, you can rest easy in the knowledge the organisation is sitting on a £900m budget surplus, none of which will be used to cut, or even freeze fare hikes.  Lovely.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Goodness me!

A lot of people were waiting for this post, weren't they?  At least that's what my stats show.  I was at a meeting from 8 a.m. until now, but I hadn't forgotten about you!  Nor have I (yet) entered into Fatherhood squared.

So: on to the updates!  Tube was on time yesterday afternoon, taking me neatly to Waterloo in time to catch my connection to Hersham.  This, however, was three minutes late - all within Zones 1-6, so that's £7.50.

This morning, the train from Hersham was a minute late arriving in Waterloo, despite being a minute early to leave Hersham.  This means, even though I can only charge TfL for the one minute late I was, TfL actually cost that service two minutes once it entered the TfL network.  Nice.

The connecting tube was delayed by nine minutes, owing to a fire alert at some station or other.  It sounded like they said Queens Park, but that's not on the Bakerloo Line, is it?  Well, go figure.  All I know is I spent a godly amount of time sitting in tunnels listening to semi-inaudible announcements about fires.  That's three strikes on the Tube Bingo card to add to the strike on non-explanations I've received all week.  Still no Bingo in the frame though.  I guess the £30 Signal Failure's earned since last night will have to be compensation enough.

What else is on today's fab menu?  As part of its continuing plan to suck all the joy out of the universe, TfL's line closures will disappoint fans of The xx.  The band has had to reschedule and relocate its upcoming gig because your friendly evil London transport Czars have made it next to impossible to get to or from the venue.  If only Justin Bieber had thought to blame his recent lateness on tube delays, perhaps he wouldn't have pissed off so many of his fans!  Or, more accurately perhaps, their parents.

Also in the news, remember that satisfaction poll for the cable cars that TfL has been promoting selected snippets of but refusing to share in its entirety?  It cost £150,000.  This is, apparently, equivalent to what TfL would have earned from 35,107 full-price fares on the gigantic folly fairground attraction beloved transport service.

And speaking of satisfaction surveys, no-one likes the Boris Bikes anymore after TfL doubled the price.  (OK, I admit 'no-one' was an exaggeration.)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Celebrating pretty much a week of only minimal delays

It has to be admitted that TfL have been doing rather well for the last week or so.  Even today, with Thatcher's funeral on, my commute was not that bad.

Let's start with last night: tube was a minute early arriving at Waterloo.  That didn't let me get an earlier train, but the train was only a minute late arriving at Hersham, and that delay accrued outside of Zones 1-6, so it doesn't count.

This morning, the train from Hersham to Waterloo again arrived a minute early.  This was spoiled slightly by a two minute late connecting tube (the one I would have been able to get anyway had the train been simply on time).  So TfL still ends up £5 down, but that's practically a win for the organisation!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The long and winding road

Yesterday afternoon's tube from Edgware Road to Waterloo was a minute late, but this did not cause me to miss my connection to Hersham, which ran on time.

Train was two minutes late coming into Waterloo this morning, which made me miss my connecting tube.  The tube I ended up taking was also a minute late by the time it arrived at Edgware Road, making me four minutes late overall: £12.

At Kensington Olympia, a rare show of TfL listening to common sense: TfL has backed down form plans to put up ticket gates to block a public right of way used by residents of the area as a shortcut to their homes.  See, the bridge can apparently also be used as an entrance to the tube station, and 10% of people dodge fares here as opposed to the average 2% elsewhere.  I don't know who gave TfL the right to arbitrarily block paths that are public rights of way if it feels like it, but he or she wants his or her head examined: this was always bound to be abused.  Still, crisis averted for those of you who even know what I'm talking about.  And for those who don't, this is an important victory: if they get away with it there, they could get away with it near you too.  I'm reasonably confident without seeing any evidence whatsoever that TfL's eventual plan is to put up ticket barriers at your front door so you can't even use their streets and pavements without paying. 

Somehow, George Harrison's song 'Taxman' springs to mind:
"If you drive a car I'll tax the street, and if you take a walk I'll tax your feet"
Wasn't about TfL originally, of course, but I'm also relatively certain that's what George really meant.

Elsewhere, conservatives in City Hall have called for a ban on strikes by tube staff, something Signal Failure wholeheartedly supports.  Presumably this renewal of calls to crush the trade unions comes as a tribute to Margaret Thatcher's death.  Instead, the Tories say, strikes should be replaced by 'compulsory independent meditation' - which I assume is a typo (read it now before it's corrected or else don't bother telling me later I can't read).

That's it for this morning, really: the rest of the TfL-related news is more about travel around Thatcher's funeral, and another article from the HuffPo which doesn't credit me as its source (which I'm pretty sure I am, at least in the same way I'm sure of George Harrison's mind and TfL's plans for personal house arrest).

Monday, 15 April 2013

A late birthday present

This morning's train was a whole minute early into Waterloo, presumably in honour of my birthday yesterday.  It didn't affect which connecting tube I could take, but that tube was a whole minute early too, so TfL has clawed back £2.50 from the overall tally this morning.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Alright then: just one more

My tube from Edgware Road to Waterloo yesterday evening was delayed by a single minute, but this was enough to make the difference between catching my train and not.

Fortunately for TfL, that train was a fast one, so the overall delay had only lengthened to five minutes by the time I reached Hersham, my final destination.


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Your last (planned) post this week

Last night's tube from Edgware Road to Waterloo was a minute late.  It didn't make me miss my train, but as that was two minutes late Signal Failure still nets £5.

This morning, the train to Waterloo was on time, but the tube to Edgware Road was a minute late for another £2.50.

In the wider world, TfL puts itself above the law by installing a Boris Bike junction in Wandsworth without bothering to wait for planning permission.  Irritatingly, there are no signs as yet they will even get a slap on the wrist.

TfL is also planning on dealing with the extra passengers expected for the London Marathon (donate for my friend and fight Parkinson's disease here) in the same way they dealt with the Olympics: by asking people not to use the network.

Finally, a little warning/reminder that my paternity leave could literally start any day now (though a few days' grace at least are likely), so don't be surprised if everything goes dark here all of a sudden as I'll have other things on my mind.  Well, you're probably used to it by now as I've been training you recently.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Image management, by TfL

Good morning.

Yesterday's journey home featured an on time tube, but a connecting train to Hersham delayed by five minutes owing to overcrowding.  But overcrowding caused by a very special piece of incompetence.  You see, the train from Waterloo to Woking (Hersham is a stop on that line) is normally eight carriages long.  Last night, however, the decision was taken to disconnect half the carriages from the train while stationed at Waterloo, and send only four coaches forth on their usual journey.  Apparently, this is because the carriages were needed by another service.  And let's remember that the line I travel was recently shown to be the second busiest in the country.  Yeah, the carriages were needed elsewhere.  That makes sense. 

I was going to get me revenge by travelling first class this morning on a standard ticket, but the train was too full to make my way to the first class carriages.

Instead, this morning's standing-room-only journey into Waterloo was delayed by a minute, causing me to take a later connecting tube than planned, making me three minutes late overall.

That's eight minutes in total since yesterday morning, or £20.

And finally, TfL gives another good example of How Not To Do PR: embarrassingly, I missed the Cable Car satisfaction survey results announced earlier this week, but the summary is that a few cherry-picked results showed satisfaction scores of 93 out of 100.  Why do we think these results are cherry picked?  Because TfL is refusing to provide anyone with copies of the original report to check it out for themselves.

Now, releasing news from a research report or survey a bit at a time is hardly uncommon practice in PR - after all, you've paid good money to create some news hooks and you want to eke them out over time to maintain positive momentum.  But the thing is, that's something private companies can do with private funding.  This survey was paid for with public money and is being promoted with public money.  Forcing people to fill out Freedom of Information requests to get hold of it has got to call your motives into question.  And let's not forget TfL has a history of unreasonably withholding the most basic information about itself as long as it possibly can for no good discernible reason.  What is this organisation trying to hide?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Aren't we all keen?!

Lots of people seemingly waiting for a post this morning in the absence of one yesterday.  I elected to work from home so I could get just that little bit of extra sleep before starting after the stag weekend.  If you've come here for pictures or stories of that weekend, you are going to be disappointed as normal stag do protocol applies: what goes on tour, stays on tour.

Though I will break that just the tiniest bit to let you know that Saturday night was considerably more successful than the Friday night was.  Which wasn't hard, given that the groom needed to be put to bed at 20:30.  Some of us are getting old...

On to the travel news: this morning's train from Hersham to Waterloo was actually a whole minute early.  This did not, however, affect which connecting tube to Edgware Road I could take, and that leg of the journey was delayed by a minute: £2.50 duly charged to TfL's account.

Elsewhere, I see that mobile phone network O2 has finally joined the tube station Wi-Fi bonanza (after EE and Vodafone), piggy-backing on Virgin Media's 120 station banquet.  Hasn't stopped them advertising the fact as if they came up with the idea in the first place.

I also note TfL has been wasting money unnecessarily renaming streets.  Isabel Street is now called Van Gogh Walk, in honour of the fact the artist once lodged in a house near there for a year.  I've noticed over the years a distressing tendency for blue plaques to pop up on buildings where someone famous once did something as simple as spend a night, or might possibly have seen once on his or her way past to somewhere else.  Puts me in mind of The Young Ones again, and Neil's cry of despair that his amp might be used to block an axe-wielding maniac's entrance to his room: 'Jimi Hendrix once pissed on that!'

Jimi Hendrix once pissed on that!

Surely it can't be far behind for a blue plaque to mark the site of a house where Liam Gallagher once puked...

Friday, 5 April 2013

A surprise Friday post!

I have eschewed my normal option of working from home on a Friday, since my office is near to Paddington rail station, and I want to catch a train to Reading later to attend my friend Noj's stag do.  Otherwise I'd have just had to come in past the office later anyway, so it seemed pointless to stay at home.  Especially since my daughter is at home all this week owing to the childminder's holiday, which means I would have gotten little work done in any event.

That said, I think I'll miss her like crazy: she was especially sweet and well behaved yesterday.  And, naturally, she's chosen this morning to re-enter a 'Daddy' phase, the morning when I'll be gone nearly the whole weekend.  Oh, well: good luck wife!

Now, on to the travel extravaganza: the 17:15 tube from Edgware Road was a minute late arriving yesterday afternoon, and two minutes late by the time it got to Waterloo.  However, I make no charge, since it did not cause me to miss my connecting train to Hersham.  That train, believe it or not, arrive a whole minute early, so I need to refund TfL £2.50.  I won't deny it's galling every time I have to do that, but I can always comfort myself in the knowledge that, while I've once or twice been deposited at my final destination one or two minutes early, I have never ended up there 10-15 minutes, or even one or two hours early.  Whereas when it comes to delays, this blog is a testament to the fact that, while that's not usual, it's far from unheard of.

This morning, the train from Hersham to Waterloo arrived a minute late, but since that minute's delay was incurred before the train even reached Hersham (i.e. outside of TfL's sphere of influence) I will not make a charge.  The connecting tube, however, was two minutes late, and the only reason I could deduce for this was a knock-on effect from the partially suspended, severely delayed Central Line, which was caused by a person under a train.

So altogether, Signal Failure's up another £2.50.

There's TfL-related news elsewhere in the world today but, frankly, it's boring.  So I won't reproduce or summarise it here.

Likely to be no more updates now till next week.  Have a good weekend everyone: enjoy the snow, and please don't speak too loudly to me on Monday morning, in case I'm still nursing a hangover...

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Welcome to China, Thailand, South Korea and The Philippines...

...new readers to this blog, so far as I know...

Has TfL finally got its act together?

A two-minute delay on the tube yesterday caused by being held at a red signal did not cause me to miss my connecting train home to Hersham last night, which arrived on time, so I will make no charge despite the ineptitude.

This morning, the train arrived in Waterloo a minute early, though this was not enough to allow me to catch an earlier connecting tube to Edgware Road.  The intended (and travelled) tube arrived on time too, so there's no charge at all for this morning's commute either.  Has TfL finally got its act together?  Only time will tell...

What else is new today?  Well, my old journalist friend (though I'm sure he'll barely remember me, if at all) Jack Schofield reports through ZDNet that we may after all be able to pay for TfL transport through near field communications ticketing on our smart phones in the near future.  This is, of course, in complete contrast to previous mutterings by TfL that I have covered in the past.  Jack also gives an uncharacteristic and gratuitous plug to O2's TrainTravel smartphone app, which is essentially the Trainline app branded by O2 (i.e. you can buy tickets on the app but you still have to go and collect a paper ticket before travel).  Now, I'll admit I have a horse in this race, but that's a development that seems a complete waste of time to me, bringing as it does nothing new to the table.

Aside from that snide aside, it's pretty quiet today.  Anyone read any good books lately?

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

You win some, you lose some. And some try and kill you.

Yesterday: tube on time, train three minutes late: TfL owes me £7.50.

This morning: train two minutes early, tube on time, making me three minutes early to work this morning as I was able to catch an earlier tube than I otherwise would have.  Credit TfL's account by £7.50.  Net balance since yesterday: £0.

Also, London buses are involved on average in two incidents with cyclists or pedestrians every day.  I guess TfL's so busy trying to kill Londoners that it took its eye off the ball with respect to my habitual morning delays.
(Image credit: Simgallery)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Thanks to those of you who bore with us...

Another loooooong gap to mind in Signal Failure's engineering works update schedule: should have warned you all beforehand, but I was on holiday last week, helping my wife get the house ready for the arrival of our second child later this month.  As a consequence, I did no travelling on the tube or indeed other parts of the TfL network.

As you can imagine, it's been a busy day back at work after that brief (for me at least) hiatus, so this is just a quick update.

Last Thursday's (I work from home most Fridays, remember?) travel home from work saw a two-minute delay on the tube from Edgware Road to Waterloo, and the train to Hersham was also two minutes late.  Just two minutes overall for that journey as I didn't miss my intended connection.

This morning's train was two minutes late arriving at Hersham, but that's outside TfL's network so it doesn't count.  It had caught up a minute by the time it arrived at Waterloo, which was still a minute late but made no difference to the connecting tube I took.  And that arrived a minute early.

So, one minute overall since last Thursday morning, which gives just £2.50.  A slow week indeed!