Oh dear. Barely a week into the summer holidays and already I’m tired of having over-excited teenagers on my train home. Youthful high spiritedness is one thing – acapella renditions of old Spice Girl hits are quite another. As is the habit the young lad opposite me had of dislodging his dental brace with his tongue and sticking it out his mouth for all to see.
But maybe I’m just grumpy because finally I have got to the bottom of the great train lengths mystery, which I know riveted you all in May this year. Since then, the 7:41 has become a consistently eight-car train, complete with an announcement to that effect and the special instructions for passengers at Isleworth to use the front four coaches, which was the clincher for me. More and more people have started using it, too. Which is when SouthWest Trains revealed their plan in all its dastardlyness. When the going gets tough (and the tough this morning was flooding in the Balham area, apparently), for maximum disruptive effect, it’s always the 7:41 that gets cancelled.
Or is it? For there is never an announcement to that effect. It simply and silently disappears from our screens and we find ourselves no longer waiting for the 7:41 in all its spacious glory, but waiting for the 7:56 sardine special to Weybridge instead. It is as though the train came and went, and nobody noticed it. I’m beginning to wonder whether in fact SWT aren’t actually cancelling it, but running it as a 0-car train instead.