Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bloody Tube Swearbloggery

Transport for London and TubeLines I would just like to say that you're a bunch of fucking incompetent arseheads. Why you may ask am I angry this time. Well that's quite simple. I left the office at 5.15pm and I arrived home at, not 6.30ish, but 9pm. The reason? I was left, along with around 800 other people (as an engineer told me), on a Jubilee Line tube under the River Thames between Canary Wharf and North Greenwich for not one hour, but two hours.

Two hours, in a train with no air conditioning, emergency lighting, a non-functioning PA system and a driver who basically lied to us saying that we would be moving soon every 15 or so minutes until the PA system bust and then we just didn't have a clue what was going on. Eventually someone from the station appeared at the back of the train to inform us that they had not realised there was a train in the tunnel we were in and had instead been looking in other tunnels for us.

When we finally got moving it wasn't by train, it was by foot, up through the train and then walking through the tunnel to the station. A form was then slapped in our hands to apply for compensation. The thing is, handily enough, when Londoners are stuck in a can for two hours together they do actually start talking to each other. One of my fellow stranded worked for TfL and informed us that there are emergency procedures with time limits for leaving people in trains. It's meant to be an hour apparently.

Sure, I may have got a view of the tube that I'd never had before. It doesn't change the fact they're incompetent fucking wankers of gross fucking idiot proportions.

Update: According to the BBC report linked in the comments there were only 200 of us. That figure is complete bollocks. The train was packed and was terminating at North Greenwich.

When they finally found us the guy who entered the carriage from the back (I always sit at the back of the train) said that there were around 800 peope on the train in total. The back is always the least packed part, so when the space is limited there you know what it means for the rest of the train. I and some others ended up smoking and hanging around for 15 minutes before we even attempted to catch a bus because of the sheer volume of numbers.

The point really though is that the line had a catastrophic failure. A Jubilee Line employee I spoke to later on last night told me that there was 'complete chaos' when it all went wrong. The computer systems failed, the radios failed, and there was a complete breakdown of comms.

It beggars belief that the Tube network does not have the necessary repeaters in it to enable cellular signal to operate in the network. This is especially the case for the deep level lines where I can tell you now, it gets very very very hot. It was like a sauna.

Update II 8.15am: I have spoken to someone working at North Greenwich. A Jubilee Line train can carry 2000. Last night there were at least 700 people according to the member of staff.


David Bodden said...
3 Apr 2008 22:01:00  

I am too scared to go on the underground because I am afraid of having the same experience as you. Just thinking about it fills me with dread. “Looking in the wrong tunnel for you”! After all that, they think it is unreasonable that their staff get abused.

Middle Englander said...
3 Apr 2008 22:28:00  

Good Job they did not send another train into what they thought was an 'empty' tunnel...

Bill Quango MP said...
3 Apr 2008 23:33:00  

How do you lose a train?
Imagine all those Tfl guys looking down the back of the sofa?

I was once delayed at East Croydon for two hours.Some clever Kiwis had even ordered pizza on the platform saying they were the ticket office. After half an hour it arrived! Then they sent a double decker for us. This was great because the driver had never been to Wimbledon.He let me drive. No word of a lie.

Adrian Yalland said...
3 Apr 2008 23:36:00  

Dizzy - if you have never heard the 'London Undergournd song' go here - - hilarious!

I was also delayed cos of the Jubilee going down. The District, Circle and Northern LInes were a nightmare. I hope you had a seat!

Anonymous said...
4 Apr 2008 00:24:00  

Sounds horendous Dizzy - that sort of nightmare on the tubes is a big reason why I left London. Now I live in another city, commute by train, in in twenty minutes, always get a seat and a table.

The labour force is mobile today. More people should up sticks to work somewhere civilised. The market in action..

wonderfulforhisage said...
4 Apr 2008 00:30:00  

I blame the Oyster cards. Stands to reason, if you've got all those computer chips in peoples' pockets going round and round the Underground , there is going to be trouble.

Same with T5. I bet there are at least 2 or more computer chips per traveller on various credit cards and things in peoples pockets and hand baggage etc. Stands to reason the computers running the baggage system are going to get a bit confused.

Am I not right Dizzy? You seem to know a bit about these things.

Alan said...
4 Apr 2008 00:34:00

Hey, at least you made the news ;)

Personally, I don't know if I'm designed to be in such a confined space for such a length of time.

Anonymous said...
4 Apr 2008 00:34:00  

Sometimes, things do go seriously wrong, and as someone who works for TfL, I do apologise. But I don't think there's any need for your venom... chill out and remember the vast number of people the Tube DOES move every day from A to B, without any problems. Years of underinvestment have created the situation we have today, but things WILL get better, I promise. Advocating the abuse of Tube staff is just unacceptable though, and YOU should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...
4 Apr 2008 05:17:00  

Conditions seemed to have resembled those of the old slave ships. Perhaps this outfit should change its name to Transportation of Londoners.

Anonymous said...
4 Apr 2008 08:38:00  

anon 00.34

Don't abuse the poor foot soldiers on the front line, but it's time that the management were dragged out for full scale public abuse. They and their political masters deserve very rough treatment.

JuliaM said...
4 Apr 2008 08:39:00  

"...Transport for London and TubeLines I would just like to say that you're a bunch of fucking incompetent arseheads."

You mean, you didn't already know this before last night's incident...?

JuliaM said...
4 Apr 2008 08:48:00  

"Eventually someone from the station appeared at the back of the train to inform us that they had not realised there was a train in the tunnel we were in and had instead been looking in other tunnels for us."

I'm no Tube driver, but don't they run, um, on rails? Or is that how it works now, they can go where they please?

A driver can roll out of the sidings and think 'sod it, I don't fancy the Met line today, think I'll head on over to the District instead, it'll be nice and sunny'...

"Sometimes, things do go seriously wrong, and as someone who works for TfL, I do apologise. But I don't think there's any need for your venom... chill out and remember the vast number of people the Tube DOES move every day from A to B, without any problems..."

Well, there's a novel excuse, they should have used that one back in the days of the White Star line: 'Yes, I know our unsinkable ship went down faster than Kerry Katona and your relatives were all horribly drowned, but think of all the ships that made it across!'

Here's a thought for you, anon - instead of wasting time on a blog defending your utterly incompetent and highly overpriced service, you get to work, find the idiot that caused the problem and the idiots that did nothing to resolve the problem (and the PR disaster) and have them sacked.

That might do more to resolve such issues before they happen than shovelling even more public money down the Tube.

monoi said...
4 Apr 2008 08:58:00  

Anon at 00.34,

Very grand of you to apologize.

But let me tell you that we really don't give a flying f..k. Years of underinvestment that may be (you've had a 12 years run, so come with something new), but if I recall correctly, the jubilee is fairly new. So that excuse won't wash. It was not even working when it opened, I remember fondly (not) the time wasted going into Stratford.

You are a bunch of incompetent nincompoops, which is why I have been riding my motorbike for the last 8 years.

Funnily enough, on the rare occasions when I have to use the tube, there is something wrong half the time.

And thats on the central line, which has also been refurbished fairly recently.

As for transporting millions of people, plenty of other cities in the world manage to do it better than you.

Edland said...
4 Apr 2008 09:10:00  

Years of underinvestment have created the situation we have today

Has no-one told this TFL twit that the Jubilee Line is less than ten years old?

Anonymous said...
4 Apr 2008 10:55:00  

There is more information on the incident here

Andrew said...
4 Apr 2008 11:33:00  

I live in Moscow which has an underground system first opened in 1935 and designed for about 1/5 of its current traffic. Trains come every minute in peak times and no more than 2-3 minutes apart even late at night. I have never known it break down and it costs 19 rubles - equivalent to 40p to anywhere with no zones. When a bomb went off in a train they had it open and running again in 48 hours. The trains are old and tired but they keep it running. It doesn't have signal failures, computer problems and it doesn't go on strike every year. It is far deeper underground than London and has escalators which go on for three times the distance and they always have them running.

The London Underground on the other hand is a national embarrassment.

Anonymous said...
4 Apr 2008 12:43:00  

Hand over TfL to TfSingapore. They'd have it up and running very efficiently in no time.

Anonymous said...
6 Apr 2008 15:57:00  

Just for the record: a Jubilee Line train is designed to carry 1050 passengers (150 passengers/carriage x 7 carriages).

And you are quite right about the "management" - the sheer number of them is staggering (no wonder the tickets are so expensive) and most of them are just sitting around, devising new ways of insulting the drivers, who are in fact trying to do their job, under very trying circumstances.

An ex-driver

Anonymous said...
7 Apr 2008 21:50:00  

Great to see that those lessons about 'communication' from 7/7 have been learnt.

I live in Bristol, which is a bit shite, but I do thank my lucky stars that I don't live in London. I used to commute there and am frafully glad I don't any longer.. is a participant in the Amazon Europe S.à.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to