It started with a door …

… on the 7 am Richmond train, which was still sitting at the platform at Hackney Central when I got there at ten past. This time the door was jammed open, so everybody got out and we were treated to a master class in Silverlink door repair.
Step 1: stand there poking around saying into your mobile phone ‘I can’t press it because the door’s jammed open’.
Step 2: unscrew the panel at the top of the door and poke around inside that for a few minutes to no effect.
Step 3: Get an enormous crowbar from the cab and discover it’s no good for levering doors shut.
Step 4: gather all your Silverlink buddies onto the now empty train and sail off into the sunset leaving all the passengers on the platform because one open door on one carriage puts the whole bloody thing out of commission.

What we missed, while we were watching the fun and games with the door, was that Silverlink had now quietly cancelled both the 7:15 and the 7:20. By now the platform contained the entire contents of the broken train, plus the Hackney passengers for the next three, minus those people who had the sense to bail out at that point. It was so crowded that moving along the platform was like moving around inside a rush-hour train but with the added excitement of the open platform edge to contend with.

By the time the 7:30 arrived I was sitting on the steps in the early morning sun, blogging away furiously in my head and not yet all that bothered. I thought I’d let that train take the strain of the extra passengers, and get the next one. But the 7:30 was already packed, and greeted with a laugh of disbelief from the waiting crowd. It took ten minutes just to close the doors, and when the train pulled out there were still more passengers on the platform than I’d ever seen at the station before today. The 7:45 was the same – late, packed, and made later by the determination of people to get on the train any how they could. Two of the passengers had to be sharply shoved onto the train by people on the platform, and the doors pulled shut behind them – it’s not surprising so many of them stop working. By the time the 8 am arrived – ten minutes late – I was not the only person who had been waiting for a train for an hour and by now the mood was getting nasty. The crowd at the door I was waiting at degenerated into a shoving match, with people forcing themselves in regardless of whether people were trying to get out – one man using a rugby scrum move to butt himself into the crush. People started shouting and swearing and the only thing preventing a fight breaking out was that everybody’s arms were pinned to their sides, and I decided to bail out before the biting began.

I know when I’m beaten. The trains weren’t getting any less crowded and neither were the platforms and I didn’t want to be around when tempers were really lost and the shoving became dangerous. Because – as far as Silverlink was concerned – the trains were running normally again, there was no option to use my ticket on other services, always supposing there was another way to get to Kew from East London. So I called up work and took a Silverlink day – back into the fray tomorrow.

Total time wasted today: 1 hour, without even moving an inch
Total time wasted to date: 6 hours 50 minutes


6 responses to “It started with a door …

  1. What a start to your day. Anyway enjoy the rest of it. Better luck tomorrow.

  2. Surely the worst line in London. My train has been on time once in the last 8 months…. oh what fun we have…

  3. I was late too. Train broke down at Tonbridge. Couldn’t re-boost the computer??? It puts you off your day doesn’t it?

  4. one hour, is that a record?

  5. Johnny – it’s a record since records began … but I have had worse journeys (3 hours to end up back where I have started) which is part of what prompted this blog.
    Collie – I did think that things were getting better up until the last couple of weeks… the worst line in London officially used to be the old Connex trains, but they may have improved.
    Chicken lit – given the (in)stability of my computer I find it a little worrying that the trains depend on them too (for what, though? Is the driver playing solitaire in there?)
    Flight buff – trains were back to ‘normal’ today and at least I did get a day off instead of having to slog in yesterday (missed a management meeting too – result!)

  6. Pingback: Silverlink No More « Disgruntled Commuter

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