Ah, it was just like old times on the trains this evening. In a bad way. I got to Kew Bridge this evening with just a minute to spare to catch the nice long 17:26 only to find my fellow commuters all standing staring miserably at the train indicator and muttering into their mobiles. It turned out that the 17:26 had unaccountably disappeared and been replaced by the much less satisfactory and far shorter 17:41 without so much as an announcement, let alone an explanation. After about 5 minutes the indicator board did grudgingly admit that the train had been cancelled and it wasn’t that it had stopped at the station as scheduled and we had all been too dopey to notice it. But there were still no announcements. This did at least spare us from any more repetitions of the tediously complicated advanced notice of weekend engineering works in the Winchester area that had been being repeated at 30 second intervals at Vauxhall this morning, but it also meant we didn’t find out what had happened to our train.
Which is all a bit odd, because I’ve been sitting on the platform at Vauxhall every morning this week idly reading their new poster (under the tag line ‘SouthWest Trains, always first with the weaselly excuse’ – I may have paraphrased a touch here) about how they have introduced a revolutionary new system to make sure we’re always the first to know why there’s a problem with our train. Which means that as they didn’t tell us this time then either they’re lying about keeping us informed, or else they don’t actually know. Perhaps they cancelled the train on a whim. Perhaps the train just disappeared into the Winnersh Triangle. Or perhaps the revolutionary new system turns out (on closer inspection of the SouthWest Trains website) to be not some actual high-tech solution – or even just giving all the guards mobiles and using them to tell them what’s going on – but – and now I am quoting – “a dedicated project team” that has “reviewed the entire process”. Fantastic. They’ve had a a review. They may even have formed a working group. Well, that was jolly effective wasn’t it? Meanwhile I’m left squashed up in someone else’s armpit, glowering at the grocer’s apostrophe in the new ‘quiet zone’ window stickers, without even the feeblest of excuses to amuse me on the way home.