{29/01/2013}   Train delays and tetchy passengers

Over the past almost two weeks of commuting into central London from zone 2, bearing in mind there was a week of snow carnage, I have concluded that, while my usual HS1 javelin train is hideously, financially cripplingly expensive, it is the least stressful commute I have ever had.  Over the past couple of weeks there have been snow issues, “inclement weather” issues, technical issues, signalling issues, rail replacement buses and problems with the boards displaying incorrect information.  I have as a result witnessed some hideous passenger behaviour, from mild scuffles to very, very raised voices.

Last night, London Bridge was in disarray, though I am not sure why as there were no announcements and I didn’t see any staff on the ground to pester.  People were everywhere and the bridge area over the tracks was rammed full of people, all looking confused and harassed.  Occasionally,  a flock of people would battle their way in one direction, clearly alerted to a train they could get on from a platform it wouldn’t usually go from.  I fell for this too.  The boards were wrong and some trains just didn’t exist.  Very odd.  In the end I got a train to a nearby stop.  That train was full and there were issues with the doors so it left late, by which time I had been at London Bridge for half an hour.  By this time, everyone was hot and bothered and there was much tutting, sighing and “excuse me”s.

However, that was mild compared to one journey a friend and I got together last week.  We got on at City Thameslink and were travelling for six stops, only the latter three of which people properly start getting off the train.  It was as full as a train could be and was an already late train leaving from a platform that hadn’t seen that many trains for a while – rush hour, of course.  It was horrid.  I heard at least three actually quite nasty arguments, one about a passenger’s bag in a seated passenger’s face (two women; I thought they would come to blows) and one was a bloke who was trying to get off the train but people weren’t getting off to allow him and others the room to get off.  It got very heated and very tense and I also thought there would be fisty cuffs.  The other argument was as a result of someone shouting into the carriage from the platform, trying to get people to move up.  What he couldn’t appreciate is that we were already nose to head and there was nowhere to move, which somebody informed him in no uncertain terms … and so it went on.  That didn’t end with handshakes and cheery greetings either.

As for the issue of rail replacement buses, that was on Sunday at Charing Cross, from where there were no trains – planned engineering works apparently.  Actually, I don’t think there were rail replacement buses (three words that send shivers of dread through me), passengers were sent to Cannon Street instead.  Like that’s close by.  Oh, and the Northern Line wasn’t running on that stretch of tube track.  Again, lots of stressed and confused passengers.

I don’t know how “we” so often get it so completely wrong and chaotic where train travel is concerned.  I think it is awful that so many weather conditions provoke train station and train carnage and it’s not really that surprising that passengers get angry, stressed and nasty, though the latter shouldn’t happen.  I wonder what further disruption and chaos I will endure over the rest of this week.


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