I was walking to Vauxhall this morning at 7:40 worrying that I might have cut it a bit fine to get the 7:41 Hounslow train. In fact, this turned out to be the least of my problems. For the weekend’s engineering festivities had overrun and I realised that my journey to work this morning was going to be prolonged when I saw that not only had the entrance to my platform been taped off but there was a helpful man giving instructions to commuters on how to get to their destination. As it happened, the helpful man was a little redundant as the only advice he was giving was ‘go to platform 8 and change at Clapham Junction’ and not (as might have been more useful in the circumstances) ‘give up now and go home’. I forced my way up to platform 8 along with the entire contents of the rest of the station (think not so much migrating wildebeestes this time as the bit where the wildebeests all try to force themselves across the same bit of river at the same time while the crocodiles are occupied eating all the zebras) and the rest of my journey (for brevity’s sake) went like this:
7:44 – get train to Clapham Junction.
7:49 – discover that the train to Barnes I was promised is now the oxymoronic ‘replacement bus service’
7:50 – squeeze myself back onto train back to Vauxhall (life’s too short for replacement bus services)
8:00 – Vauxhall tube gates ask me to ‘seek assistance’ on my oyster. All assistance is safely hiding in the ticket office. Try again and card lets me through. Hope this doesn’t count as an incomplete journey costing me 400 million quid or whatever the maximum cash fare is these days.
8:10 – Victoria station. As I interchange to the District Line, a station assistant is busy chalking up ‘severe delays’ for the District line. Laugh a bitter laugh
8:30 – Realise that the only slower forms of transport than the District line are replacement bus services and continental drift. Possibly not in that order.
8:35 – Arrive Kew Gardens. Overhear an announcement to the effect that the Silverlink service is running ‘approximately 71 minutes late.’ Realise that I am in fact one of the lucky ones.
I was only 45 minutes late in the end, and as I got to work and surveyed the rows of empty desks I realised that the engineering carnage was general. As colleagues rang and trickled in the full horror emerged. One colleague wasn’t allowed onto the tube with her southWest train ticket and had to go via Richmond. One got dumped off a train at Willesden Junction, and then again at Gunnersbury and had to get a District line train for the final stop. And one colleague rang from Clapham to find out how to get to work and decided to risk the replacment bus service. He never showed up at all.
So, did anyone else catch that news item this morning about National Rail’s massive profits and how train services were better than ever? And was it the only thing you managed to catch all day?