Tuesday 8 April 2008

Plus ça change...

...plus c'est la même chose

Despite several weekends worth of being close for the "TfL Investment Programme" (or whatever it calls itself) I don't know why I expected any improvement on the Jubilee Line since last we are acquainted.

I arrived at North Greenwich this morning to find sever delays being advertised (despite the fact that the travel news had been checked as I left the house). Thick crowds surrounded every door on the London platform, and I saw a train pulling in from my vantage point on the upper concourse which clearly had no more space left for passengers. I decided to take my normal course of action (since they decided to have roadworks across nearly the entire borough of Greenwich) which is to take a train to Stratford and then come back west on an empty train. Ah, little did I know. The delays were being caused by a failed train at Stratford; and lots of other people had the same idea as me. The train when it got to Stratford hardly emptied at all. This was exacerbated by the next train coming in full of more people with the same idea deciding to take itself out of service. Not much hope for anyone down the line by the time my train left Stratford.

Green Park station seems to be in the process of fairly sever renovations. The whole ticket hall and street access seem to have had the tiles stripped off and bits of ceiling taken down. The effect would be shabby were it no for the fact that it was already a pretty shabby station. I don't suppose it is getting any serious upgrade; I wonder who pays for the ticket hall when two of the lines are run by Tubelines and one by Metronet, I suppose it is TfL? Those not from London will be perplexed by the manner in which the London Underground is run (or maybe not, I don't know how it is done in other cities). Once upon a time the London Underground was completely run by... the London Underground. The stations, trains, track, staff, everything... all one company. Then the advent of the 'Private Public Partnership'. A very popular way for the government to get things done without paying for them. Effectively private companies enter into contracts to provide facilities/services/etc. For the London Underground this means that whilst TfL continues to staff stations and run trains pretty much everything else is governed by private companies. Basically all the bits which cause the trauma of the daily commute (excepting the few occasions where the drivers go on strike) are down to private companies. Small wonder one of them went into administration at the end of last year. I digress.

The journey home was fortunately not blighted in a similar manner to the morning journey.

I noticed on my way back through North Greenwich that at either end of the ticket barriers two new 'accessible' barriers have been installed. I applaud this; temporarily disabled with The Stick one thing I found very hard was negotiating the ticket barriers, but these new wider barriers make all the difference. One wonders when the rest of the network will be catching up. The underground still advertises the stations with step free access from pavement to platform with a special symbol as they are so few and far between. I'm relatively mobile (even with The Stick) but I still find the steps out of Green Park station quite an ordeal.