August 05, 2003
From coldest to hottest ...

… if there’s one thing that deserves to be consistent - it is the effect of climatic temperature extremes on London Transport. And true to form - London Underground didn’t fail this fantastic opportunity to be so either - and in BIG STYLE I would have to proclaim! Hats off to them! Yesterday - thought to be one of the hottest days in the year - almost precisely six months to the day since probably the coldest day of the year, London Underground demonstrate an almost comical ineptitude at getting me home in what mortals would call “reasonable time”. Yep - it would be London-commuter comedy at its best if it sadly wasn’t so true. For those who remember my London Transport Hell story from January this year - you will recall (Shockwavingly graphically) how 4 centimetres of snow brought the entire overground transport system (tubes and buses) to a grinding halt and made for a most-entertaining-for-you but frustratingly-exhausting-for-me 9 hour journey home from work that triggered in me a relentless, single-minded, doggedly-determined quest for answers from Mayor Ken to Brent Council, the Met Office and back again. (Click here if you missed out on my number-1-in-Google’s-search-index-if-you-type-London-Transport-Hell story from January this year.)

This time it was only around 2 hours of hell - and in some masochistic sort of way - it was actually quite enjoyable. No graphic shockwaves this time - just a simple schedule of events:

18:10 Left the office in Hammersmith. Proceeded as per usual to the Piccadilly Line Westbound platform. Ding Dong - delays occurring to all Piccadilly Line trains due to “a person under a train”. Next Uxbridge train: 12mins. No problem - I’ll get the Westbound District Line to Ealing Broadway instead - and change at Ealing Common. Ding Dong - the same problem affecting Westbound District Line trains as well. Annoyed by this point I decided to surface back to street level - cross the Hammersmith Broadway and go into the Ham & City Line platform instead: this is my fallback option - go to Baker Street and change onto the Metropolitan Line from there. That will get me to Wembley Park - whereupon I change to the Jubilee Line and proceed to Kingsbury - which is not too far a walk from home. When I got to the Ham & City Line platform at Hammersmith I joined what looked like ten thousand other people waiting for the same train! Ding Dong - signal failures in the area are causing severe delays to all Eastbound Ham & City Line trains. That’s when I knew things were going to be fun.

18:32 Ham & City Line train pulls up - doors open - and ten thousand waiting people get on train. Ding Dong - this train is now “out of service” - please get off train and wait in sweltering heat for the next train - which should be here in approximately 8 minutes. Apologies for the inconvenience.

18:42 Next Ham & City Line train arrives and we all get on again - and the train sets off. Ding Dong - this train is only going as far as Edgware Road station.

19:15 Arrive at Edgware Road. Ding Dong - all change please - proceed to Platform 1 for your next Eastbound Circle Line train towards Kings Cross. Ten thousand people dumped off train - and try to join ten thousand other people already packed like sardines on the train waiting at Platform 1. I didn’t even bother trying.

19:20 Got onto another train from platform 3 at Edgware Road - which reportedly was an Eastbound Ham & City headed towards Baker Street - which was only one stop away. Great - almost there I thought.

19:25 Got off train at Baker Street - only to be confronted by Ding Dong - No Northbound Metropolitan Line trains running due to points failure at Baker Street. OK. No problem I thought to myself - I’ll just get the Jubilee Line from here - and sit on it all the way to Kingsbury.

19:30 Got on Jubilee Line train at Baker Street. Ding Dong - this train will terminate at Willesden Green. (Please note the use of the term terminate.) OK - so I’ll just have to get off the train at Willesden Green and wait for the next Northbound Jubilee.

19:35 Train arrives at Willesden Green. Ding Dong - all change please - this train terminates here. Got off train with ten thousand other people. Waited on platform for ages. Took the following pictures with my Handycam whilst I was waiting: (Hover over image to see descriptions.)

19:38 Train arrives at Neasden Station - just two stops from home - and the power just cuts out very suddenly - like the noise of the experimental killing-machine robocop prototype that powers down with a dying whining sound. The lights go out and it is eerily silent.

19:45 Train driver announces that there has been a “minor hiccup” and that he has just rebooted the train - and is waiting for it to go through its system startup cycle. (I now wonder if the train is powered by Windows 2000 - and whether it is the Home Edition or the Professional Edition.)

19:52 Train departs - and moves v e r y slowly.

20:00 Train gets to Kingsbury and I make my way home.

The history book on the shelf
Is always repeating itself …

From Waterloo by Abba

Posted by jag at August 05, 2003 10:32 PM

you know, we can stalk you now. ;-)

Sounds like a loverly evening for you. At least it was nice and warm. Heh.

Posted by: Lisa on August 5, 2003 11:45 PM

Hey Jag you should join us fellow commuters at - it’s a group blog hosted on blogspot, although only seems to be me and the host Pete who have done most of the recent blogs.

Nightmare journey again and I spose it wasn’t as bad as the last one.


Posted by: Annie Mole on August 6, 2003 12:55 AM

I know what you mean when you say “in some masochistic sort of way it was actually quite enjoyable.” I often think the same thing as I find myself stranded at Arnos Grove station on the Piccadilly line. The evening of January 30th this year is not one I’ll soon forget. Most everyday delays (and they are, virtually, every day), pale in comparison. After a while you become resigned to it, and all you can do is laugh, as the only alternative would be to snap like Michael Douglas’s character in “Falling Down” (I’ve been close a few times). The worst episode I’ve had recently was a half hour delay between Oakwood and Arnos Grove (a journey which normally takes about 5 minutes). We never were given an explanation for why we’d all been made late for work/job interviews/planes/etc. Still “mustn’t gumble” eh?

Posted by: Stu on August 6, 2003 10:42 AM

When i read ur post its i felt a overwhelming sense of deja vu!!!! i live in Mumbai, India where local trains are the lifeline of the citizens. The whole city screeches to a halt if there are any problems regarding local trains. even i have had endured endless waits at different stations and many other many other problems. but the local trains are an integral part of mumbai’s culture adding to the uniqueness of mumbai. its like love it or hate it but u can’t ignore it. We more or less share the same experiences even though we live miles away from each other which is nice.….….….

Posted by: Shobha on August 6, 2003 06:03 PM

it’s a hot one.

thanks annie for the shout out - for those who tried visiting today, sorry if the site was down. blogger decided to eat the blog template. back up and running now - though probably reduced speeds due to the heat.

Posted by: pete on August 6, 2003 10:28 PM


Just updated my latest entry on my blog

with the fact that Hammersmith waiting room had one of the hottest temperatures on the tube network yesterday with temperatures up to 38.4C (101F).

Posted by: Annie Mole on August 7, 2003 01:32 AM

i am so glad i dont have to go to uni in this weather.…

Posted by: Jaina on August 7, 2003 06:17 PM

This one tops it:
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Anger as 70-mile train trip takes nine hours in heat

Posted by: Stu on August 8, 2003 12:13 PM

Hey, Stu! How`ve you been? I`ve been looking for a template and I found out your site, whose template is very similar to one that I`d already seen at Did you pick yours there?

Posted by: Marcelo on January 19, 2004 02:43 AM
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