Of all the things that keep SouthWest Trains controllers awake at night worrying, I imagine that the one that has them sweating the most, the one that wakes them up screaming in the small hours, is the prospect of something serious going wrong at Clapham Junction. I don’t know whether some by law was passed in the 1860s making it compulsory for trains to pass through this station or what but it is pretty much the beating heart of the SWT network, and when I got into Vauxhall this morning and found the sign saying there had been a fire at Clapham Junction I nearly just turned around and went home again then and there. After all, if a single broken door could sometimes make the entire North London Line unusable for several hours, what unimaginable misery would this cause?
The answer was, er, not much… The handwritten sign in the ticket office window announcing ‘no trains’ which had been hastily crossed out and replaced with ‘severe delays’ did not bode well, and the trains were running very late – by 7:30 (when I arrived) the train information terminals were showing so many late and cancelled trains that there was no room for anything scheduled after 7am. But the trains that were running were so late that they had simply become their later equivalents so that while the train I was on was about half an hour behind schedule, as far as I was concerned I was only a mere 8 minutes late – the sort of delay that Silverlink wouldn’t even bother to apologise about.
So not a bad end to the week after all and tomorrow we’re off to Paris by Eurostar for a spot of looting, sorry, shopping. Back on Wednesday with tales of how rude Parisian commuters are to poor hapless tourists who try and buy tickets in a language they don’t understand, block the ticket gates, get on the wrong train and try and get off again when the doors are closing, walk slowly laden with backpacks … in short I’m looking forward to being my own worst nightmare.
ps. News just in: before SWT gets too pleased with itself, one of the other half’s colleagues apparently spent 6 hours getting in to work this morning … such persistence, and on a Friday too.