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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Waiting for a Richmond Train is like Waiting for Godot

Help Point at Hammersmith - Oh why do you mock me?Angry Man on Hammersmith's Platform (with apologies to The Clash)

Last night there was not just an angry man on Hammersmith's platform, but an angry woman too (me), and also a pretty fed up, but less angry looking, platform of people. I have a theory that there are more District Line trains bound for Ealing Broadway than there are for Richmond. With statistically uneven chances, almost every time I get to Hammersmith from the Piccadilly Line, the next District train can be predicted to be Ealing Broadway.

Some of you will be saying, "Yeah, yeah, she's wrong again. There's a 50-50 chance of either train appearing first". Whatever (don't get me into a Sebastian 'Talk to the Hand' strop)! Last night there were seven - count em, seven Ealing Broadway trains in a row. Me and the other passengers waiting for the Richmond or rather Bermuda Triangle bound train were none too happy.

After the third Ealing Broadway train, I tried pressing the button on the little "Help" Point lollipop thingie which graces the platform at Hammersmith. A few rings and then nothing, so I gave up. It's about as much help as a chocolate teapot at the best of times.

After the fourth Ealing Bdwy train, a man managed to connect with the disembodied mumbling voice which came from the Help point's bowels. He walked away disenchanted. By now a small group of us had formed into a tutting moaning alliance, as we asked the man what the voice had said. "It's useless. They've no idea." he grumbled.

With the fifth train we were taunted with the appearance of Richmond bound Tube. Well, the indicator said Richmond. However, when the Tube pulled in it had Ealing Broadway on the front. A few people climbed on, for some bizarre reason actually trusting the platform indicator. The train hung around with passengers half standing in and half standing out of it, straining their necks to see if a member of staff had decided to make an appearance and tell us what was actually going on. Pigs have been known to fly!

I went back to the lollipop help thingie and almost punched it. More rings, and then nothing again. A rather angry looking man leapt out of the train and started running towards the driver saying "You're having a laugh aren't you?". Clearly the driver was far from laughing at this point. "This is the fifth bloody train to Ealing Broadway. Why change it at the last minute?" Shouty Man shouted.

The man who managed to get through on the lollipop help thingie, was one of the people hanging in and out of the train. In a futile attempt at passenger revolution, he refused to move from the doors as they were trying to shut. After a number of "Stand clear of the doors" automated announcements, he remained where he was.

Some of us looked at him with a mixture of quiet admiration and the benign amusement you have when you just know someone's fighting a losing battle. The doors attempted to close a few more times, and we marvelled at his Herculean strength at keeping them open. But in the end, sadly both we knew & he knew, that he wouldn't be able to change the train's destination by brute force.

When he finally gave up I half expected the platform to give him a little round of applause. But we just smiled benignly at him and waited. And waited.

And waited. And waited. Samuel Beckett would have had a field day. With the sixth Ealing Broadway train, I felt that I was going to be stuck at Hammersmith, sitting on a bench for the rest of my life.

Shouty Man was pacing up and down the platform muttering "Bollocks" at anyone who caught his eye. I was turning into a muttering mad woman myself, and went back to punching the button of the lollipop help thingie, just to take my frustration out on something. Remember during all this time (25 minutes) there had been no official announcement.

When the seventh Ealing Bdwy train pulled in, Shouty Man, fit to burst, ran to the front and screamed at the woman driver of the train. She appeared to give as good as she got and told him it was nothing to do with her, and she couldn't suddenly just change the train's destination.

When the eighth train showed Ealing Broadway on the platform indicator, I felt I was definitely on "You've Been Framed", or was part of a sick TfL experiment into passenger reaction when given absolutely no information about delays. However, when the Tube rolled in, it was surprise, surprise, a Richmond train. By then, we stood half in and out of the train again, as we couldn't believe it would actually go to Richmond.

And Hallelujah, not only was it for Richmond but we were treated to a innaccurate platform announcement saying the train bound for Richmond would be with us in approximately 6 minutes time and that London Underground apologised for the delay to our journey. Yeah, right.

Looks like I have another Customer Charter form to fill out! I'm still astounded that it took half an hour for us to get a piece of inaccurate information and no real explanation for delay. At times like this it's great having a blog to let off steam.

; Posted by Annie Mole Wednesday, June 07, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon