In the Nile

The problem with SouthWest Trains is that whatever their talents in the transport area, they’re just not very good at the information side of things. For the past few days at least, one of the information monitors at Vauxhall has been displaying ‘please press Ctrl-Alt-Delete to log on’*. On platform four today the information board was sporting an attractive pattern of diagonal lines while the platform three monitor had taken another tack and was simply refusing to accept any unpalatable truths about late or cancelled trains until it absolutely had to. Thus at 7:41 I was tempted out of the warm waiting room by the information that my train was due at 7:42. Five minutes later, no amount of hard stares would persuade either the train to arrive or the information board to update its prediction. Only when the next train was almost on us did it admit that the 7:42 was late – first ten minutes, then (having persisted with this obvious falsehood like a child caught red handed with the cookie-jar) finally turning it seamlessly into the 7:56 Weybridge train.

I wouldn’t have minded the fifteen minutes delay so much, it was enduring it minute by minute in the freezing cold that bothered me. Had they just fessed up and cancelled the train right away I could have waited inside. Still, apparently Silverlink are still doing worse – cancelling a couple of trains and using ‘adverse weather’ as the excuse. OK so it’s cold, but it is also November. That’s what it’s supposed to be like in winter, guys. This had my colleague so annoyed he would have preferred SWT’s stealth approach to cancelling trains – there is such a thing as too much information…

* This is marginally better than the St. Petersburg Airport departure monitor which every five minutes reverted to its Windows screensaver. Obviously the person whose job it was to wave the mouse around periodically had gone off on an extended tea break that day.

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