Above is Stratford station at 6.55pm last night – the Jubilee Line service effectively suspended after a broken-down train became stuck at St John’s Wood, with problems further compounded by a signal failure at London Bridge and the Docklands Light Railway struggling to cope with the crowds.
Police had shut the platform entrances, yet the departure boards appeared to show business as usual. When an announcement came, it was to advise passengers for the O2 to take the 108 from the bus station – it’s very unlikely that particular pint pot would have coped with that quart; the single-decker bus is hopelessly unreliable at the best of times, and was about to drop down to a miserly three buses an hour.
When the gates opened, I legged it to the front of the train to bag a seat, but it was 20 minutes before we finally got the go-ahead to move off. But I can count myself lucky, considering people had to be led off trains through tunnels elsewhere on the line.
But it’s been like this all week. On Tuesday, both the Jubilee Line and Southeastern services were hit by problems; a signal failure at Deptford causing trains to be routed away from the Greenwich line. On the big equestrian day, 30 July, all it’ll take is a signal failure at Deptford and a broken bit of track at Green Park, and the big Olympic party will come sliding to a halt.
Where’s the contingency plans? Where’s the co-ordination between mainline and Tube lines? Who’s in charge? And with the woefully under-resourced BBC London website still implying it was some little local difficulty “in St John’s Wood, north west London”, who’s properly reporting on them?
(The crap BBC London web coverage bears out something I wrote for Snipe about the woeful state of London’s media now the Standard’s returned to joke status, with the BBC among the worst culprits for under-utilising their reporting talent in the capital.)
On the upside, maybe it will take an massive Olympic-sized failure this summer to finally see some action taken. Perhaps we need to keep our fingers crossed for more. Brace yourself for an interesting summer.
(PS. Don’t forget to claim your refunds, even if you have a travelcard.)