Thursday, April 12, 2007

Integration nation

Something truly remarkable happened yesterday morning. I was on my way to work, standing on a dusty, crowded platform in the hazy morning light, waiting for the 0751 to Kings Cross via Finsbury Park. My shoulders protested at the indignity of being made to bear such a burden as my lunchbox after a long weekend of sloth, and my newly cut hair lay matted across my scalp, seemingly the only part of my body still to wake up. My plan, such as it was, was to get off at Finsbury Park and pick up a Victoria Line train to Oxford Circus – as I have previously explained, it actually works out quicker than going all the way into Kings Cross and getting a bus which deposits me right outside the office, such is the early morning traffic in London. All around me, my fellow commuters were well into their daily routine, plugged into music players, struggling with newspapers, unobtrusively yet insistently trying to get further forward towards the edge of the platform – it was my first day back after an extra day off, and I found myself slow to get going, not even bothering to buy a ‘paper. And then, as if summoned by the commuting god to jolt me into life, it happened.

“London Underground have informed us that there are severe delays occurring on the Central and Victoria Lines this morning due to signal problems. Passengers are advised (and don’t you just love that word by the way? Advised? More like warned, but that would sound too negative) to seek alternative routes for their journey.”

I had to pinch myself. What this, an integrated transport system? The Tube and the trains actually talking to each other? Whatever next? I suppose in my industry the equivalent would be the admin staff and the creatives actually engaging in some sort of a dialogue about how they can work together to provide a better service to customers (it sounds really dull when you put it like that doesn’t it?). Seriously though, how many times in the past few years have I had cause to lament the apparent reluctance of the different arms of the multi-limbed transport network to talk to each other and communicate news about delays and problems to customers before they embark? Too many to mention, that’s how many. Remarkable. Was it just a one-off or the harbinger of things to come, of a happier, more efficient capital where passengers are able to actually plan their journeys?

It put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.


At 1:40 PM GMT+1 , Blogger Rish said...

So, given the decent weather, did you spend all weekend standing on platforms trying to decide which train you would like to take come Monday morning?


I hope the trains you take are well-ventilated. Like you, I am pretty much at armpit level to most people, so my train journeys in London were not pleasant on a hot day...

At 4:44 PM GMT+1 , Blogger JD said...

Ha! You've called me on it Rish, and I have to confess I lied about weekends - I love 'em.

This time, though, my weekend was actually little short of purgatory - The Wife working me like a slave in the garden (I'm not an outdoor person) and then ribbing me mercilessly about how worn out I was despite the fact that I'd had to dig a 3-foot hole in ground basically constituted of discarded building materials. Green fingers? They were red raw by the time I'd finished.

And I have to say the armpit factor doesn't often come into play on my train route - I tend to stick to the ones I can get a bit of elbow room on. Different matter on the Tube, but I've started getting the bus more and more.

At 7:27 AM GMT+1 , Blogger paddy said...

You never did watch Thomas the Tank with Ringo - on drugs - driving. If you did you would know that trains taxi's, all modes of transport communicate with each other. Y:-) Paddy

At 11:37 AM GMT+1 , Blogger JD said...

Not in London they don't. I speak from experience.

It turned out to be a one-off, by the way.


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