The London Dunder-ground

London Underground sign

One of the pleasures of living in London has to be adventures on the public transport system. I’ve decided to keep a log of how many times I am delayed on the tube and the creative excuses that come over the tannoy… Do check for my updates because you know they’ll be frequent!

July 2008: I’m resigned to the fact that the H&C line is never going to be the quickest line in the world, but my annoyance has now shifted to the ongoing Oyster card fiasco. Due to a recent crash of the Oyster system, many commuters were left with useless cards as the system had wiped them. That’s bad enough and I count myself lucky not to have been affected, however, I haven’t escaped completely unscathed. On three occasions recently, I have touched in and out as usual on my way to or from work, only to note at my destination that a total of £4.00 has been deducted for a single journey. One morning, I was running late for work. I touched in and touched out for the first part of my trip and then had to touch in again at the H&C line. Having had £12.50 on my card when I left home, I now had £0.50. I argued with the tube supervisor who insisted I top up and then walk back to the first line to ask for a refund. I chose to do this when I got to my destination, instead. “We can’t refund you that money. You didn’t touch in and out properly,” came the surly response. “Well, I can assure you I did  , and I know that you can refund my money, so I will stand here until you find a way. No London tube ride should cost £12.00!” I was incensed. The manager was summoned to show the grumpy ticket person how to give me my money back, so I was refunded after all, but a few days later, another £4.00 was deducted from my card. This time, the (different) ticket person refunded it without a quibble. I can only say that this has taught me to watch how much is coming off my card each time I use it. Thank heavens I use the pay-as-you-go approach to top up. Otherwise I might never have noticed how much money was going down the Big Tube Drain.


1 April 2008 Yet another fire alert at Paddington, just as I got there. How many can that be in the past few weeks, I wonder. I was in no fit state to be delayed on the way home. A bug makes me feel as if I’m going to throw up all the time (and sometimes I do just that) so in the best interests of London’s unwitting commuters, I had to get home fast to avoid spraying projectile nasties all over them.

I walked to the bus stop. My bus didn’t even feature on the display board which had filled up with 8 other buses due between now and 12 minutes’ time. I walked to another main road, hoping to jump on a bus there, but 4 suitable buses went straight past the stop; they were already full. So I had to grab a cab, again. I simply did not have the strength to walk.

I’ve worked out that London Underground owes me about £12.50 in unnecessary cab journeys for the past two fire alerts. When it gets to £20 I might just submit a claim. And that doesn’t count the wasted deductions from my Oyster Card when I can’t even get all the way home. Grrrrr.

25 March 2008: Severe delays on H&C line due to a signal failure. Got to work 15 minutes late, which isn’t too bad, but a colleague arrived 45 minutes after me as the line had then been suspended completely. Ah, the joys of the Hot and Cold line, as I’ve heard it called. When it works, it’s fast. When it doesn’t, it’s hell.

20 March 2008: Should not have spoken so soon yesterday! On my way back from work was thrown off the train one stop from home. Tried to walk but then thought better of it because this involves taking a long, dark underpass which is scary enough by day. Waited for a bus. The next one was 12 minutes away. As it started to rain I managed to hail a cab and the driver told me that the guy he’d just dropped off was going to see his brother who’d just been diagnosed with MS. That sort of thing puts travel issues in perspective.

19 March 2008: Early Easter means early holidays. Immediately it becomes easier to get a seat on the train and the trains seem to be more frequent. Haven’t written much about the Dunderground recently because I’ve only experienced boring situations that are sadly repetitive. 20 minutes for train to arrive. Sit freezing with book on platform because by the time I try a different route, I might as well have stayed still. Train stuck in tunnel. No one talking. The only sounds are someone’s hand rustling in their crisp packet and a man turning the pages of his free evening paper. That sort of thing. No drama is good news. Will write more when the tube returns to its normal, frustrating self.

18 February 2008: A.M. Severe delays on Hammersmith and City Line. Wait for about 10 minutes for a train (this is quite normal) until the tannoy says the next train won’t be there for another 20 minutes. I decide on alternative routes and walk across the station to the Circle and District lines. Their tannoy says that there are severe delays on the Circle line, with the helpful suggestion that passengers make their way to the H&C line. Hmmm. Someone isn’t so bright up there in the control room. Meanwhile, a muezzin call sounds above the platform. Quite a surreal experience. 30 minutes late for work

4 February 2008: A.M. Waited for 16 minutes for a Hammersmith and City Line train. This is normal, but makes me think I should be walking, not wasting precious time this way. Can’t wait for the weather to improve so I can start walking to work again.

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