Spare a Few Coppers

Oh dear. The information screens at Vauxhall this morning were awash with turquoise – the colour they’ve chosen to highlight cancelled trains. The signs said merely that this was caused by ‘vandalism’ and the announcement from the platform was that it was vandalism at Barnes. Odd, I thought. Barnes is the leafiest of leafy suburbs, a true London Village with a properly rural feel. It was hard to know what sort of vandalism its locals could muster that would disrupt half the morning rush hour out of Vauxhall station.

Passing through Barnes made things no clearer. The station was still there, and only marginally more graffitti’d than normal. It was only when we’d pulled out of Barnes Bridge at half speed and then ground to a halt in the environs of Chiswick that the true problem was revealed: not vandalism per se at all, but theft. Of the signalling cables. So each train had to be ‘talked through’ each signal at walking pace from Barnes Bridge to Kew. This meant thirty long slow minutes to complete the last few miles of our journey* before we finally pulled in at Kew Bridge. And no doubt by then the queue had built up even further behind us.

The problem I suppose is that copper prices are so high that signalling cables have become valuable enough to steal. In fact I read somewhere – and it was on the internet, so check before setting up your own smelting plant – that the price of copper is now so high that old style 2p and 1p coins – those minted before 1992 – are now worth more melted down than they are used as actual money. Our course of action as responsible passengers is now clear. Get out your penny jars and search under the sofa: all tickets should be paid for in coppers from now on, so that the rail companies can keep the infrastructure patched up until the crisis passes. Only please don’t try and do this when I’m behind you in the queue …

* Made longer and slower for me because a woman had – once more – plumped herself down right next to me when there were four other empty seats she could have chosen. Why do people do this? why why why why why? This time she was at least foreign, so had some potential excuse but even so why? Is this the way people behave in Slovenia? And why is it always me? Aaargh…


10 responses to “Spare a Few Coppers

  1. Perhaps you have one of those friendly “come sit next to me” faces. Actually, does it happen at extreme hours?… I know some women feel a little frightened of train travel in the early/late hours so will sit near to another female if there’s one there. Just a thought.

  2. Hmm. Must work harder on my boot face, obviously… this was regular commuting hours, I think she was just a bit wierd.

  3. London City Soul™

    Maybe you smell nice.

    Or everybody else stinks

  4. i use to love travelling in eastern europe on the trains, well at least before it became to much like western europe, and of course you could always get a seat or even an whole compartment to yourself mind you i never got to slovenia.
    cheers john

  5. Do you think these double-sized persons that invade your buffer-seats are loyal readers of your blog that really want a mention?!
    OK not sure how they might recognise you, but you never know…

  6. I heard about this copper theft problem on our local news a little while ago. It seems to be a common problem ‘up north’.

  7. Nik – I think I give out enough information that any reasonably determined stalker could probably narrow it down to a few possibilities …
    LCS – I’m clearly giving off commuter pheromones of some sort. I wonder how to stop
    John – if the SWT carriages are anything to go by, those Eastern European trains are probably empty again …
    Yorks – d’you reckon it’s northern bastards coming down and stealing our copper? Or is it just that our southern bastards are a bit more slow on the uptake regarding international commodity prices?

  8. why dont you move…?

  9. It’s a good question, and one that I was asking myself for a good 30 minutes as we sat on the train in the outskirts of Chiswick… Partly because why should I have to move, when I was there first. But mainly because it looks very rude if you move the moment someone sits next to you, and the longer you leave it before moving, the ruder it starts to look…

  10. Pingback: Help! Some of our Platform is Missing! « Disgruntled Commuter

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