Wednesday, November 5, 2008

London Underground - Why you shouldn't stay late for work

London-Underground-tube-MoorgateWork, which came in towards the end of the day made it necessary for me to stay back beyond the usual time.

All was fine when I finally made it out and huddled myself in my North Face undecided whether to whip out my umbrella as the skies opened up to light drizzle - a typical English autumn weather.

In fact, I was still in a dilemma when I reached the Tube station and that pretty much solve my problem. Someone up there must be looking out for me when I managed to squeeze into the Northern Line train just as the train were about to close - only it never did.

'Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, due to a signal failure at Angel, the train will remain on the platform for the time being.' the train driver's apologetic voice came through the intercom.

Not again... Don't get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for this transport system that has served the capital for more than a century. There are bound to be glitches once in awhile...

'Ladies and Gentlemen, some good news for you, the signal failure at Angel has be resolved. The train will be moving off in a few moments'. The driver's voice came through again.

All's well, or so I thought.

'Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm sorry to inform you that though the signal failure has been resolved, there's is a point failure (whatever that means) over at Moorgate. The train will have to remain on the platform for the moment.'

Darn. A few passengers gave up began to alight the train in search of alternate routes. I stood my ground trying to think of happy thoughts.

'Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm afraid that the point failure at Moorgate is more serious than we thought. Please be advised that the Northern Line will be suspended until further notice. Please seek alternate routes.' I could smell the fear in the driver's voice - only a thin metal door was preventing the passengers from lynching him.

Me? I finally wise up, got out the Tube station and plonked myself down at the nearest Starbucks and typed out this post.

Lesson learnt: don't stay late for work.

Like I said, I have the utmost respect for the London Underground.

Read also...
5 quirks of the London Underground

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Eaststopper said...

Surprise Surprise. I live along the Northern Line and it is one of the more reliable tube lines. There was once where I decided to come in earlier for work and encountered signal meltdown at Kings Cross. Had to walk the way from Euston to catch the Eurostar. Well, I kinda admire the Brits for their resilience and taking-it-in-their-stride kinda attitude. Singaporeans would be up in arms and asking for our leaders' blood.

Joerup said...

wait till u get crap from tube AND the train!!! LOL

C K said...

I've got no issues with Nothern Line for most of the time. In fact, it is even more reliable than the much newer Jubilee line.

It's just that there are some stations along the way that cause frequent pile ups. eg. Bank, King's Cross etc. So that pretty much affects the entire line.

Euston to King's Cross is quite a walk. Why not take a bus instead? There are a couple of buses that link the two stations, no?

Hmm, wrt to the different mentalities of the two people, I would say that it boils down to the different expectations. At least over here, the Mayor did not go around saying that London Underground is the 'world class transport system'. :)

Say, I'll be popping my Paris for a weekend. Have you got any good restaurants to recommend?

I cannot even start to imagine that. So far my experiences on trains have been pretty pleasant... other than my recent Eurostar trip that was extended by an hour due to the channel incident. Oh well...

Do you need to take the train AND Tube daily? I know that some of my colleagues do that.

Dutchie said...

My hubby has the tendency to lose track of time. One evening, many years ago, he left his office n only realised that it was 2315hrs at the train station. He was glad there was still a train running. The next stop was 30mins later n to his horror, the train was stopping for the nite ! The bus terminal n taxi stand were deserted n he had no option but to walk the 22km home !

It was a horrendous nite for the both of us. My hubby eventually showed up at 3am - tired beyond words. He certainly has learned his lesson abt being on time.

The snag these days r the rides from the airport to our home (2,5hrs). If the flight touches down at 9pm, it's impossible to catch the last train out. Thank goodness for the 24hr Airport Taxi's (or vans) which is easy to book (1hr n advance). They cost double than a train ticket n u need to hv patience if the driver is driving to 6 addresses in different towns along the way, but at least my hubby gets to sleep in his own bed on the same nite !

Our local rails also has daily disruptions. Occasionally we hv to take the bus for the rest of the journey. It's a minor inconvenience compared to times when others were caught in the severe weather conditions n had to spent the nite at the train stations !

Having a starbucks to plonk down is a luxury ! Hope u got home in time for a warm meal.

jakill said...

Ah, the memories of my old commuting days. There was one time when everything on rails had shut down when I emerged from a meeting at 9.30 pm. In the end I walked back to my office which was part of a big company that had security to let you in day or night. There were no taxis to be had as everyone had the same idea. it was definitely too far to walk from the city to my home in Kingston. I had visions of bedding down in the sick room but in the end one of the building supervisors took pity on me and the one other lady who was still there and lived in the same direction as me. He drove us home in a company van. I was dropped off last at about 1.30 am. Everything was working again by morning (un)fortunately, so I was able to make my start time of 0930 back in the city.

Tim said...

@C K "I have the utmost respect for this transport system that has served the capital for more than a century. " - Not many native Londoners have, its crap and a disgrace.

@@eaststopper "I kinda admire the Brits for their resilience and taking-it-in-their-stride kinda attitude. " It is actually a "I-have-given-up-wasting-my breath-complaining" kinda attitude

Eaststopper said...

Dear CK,
Do try these out when you next come to Paris:
1. Berthillon Ice-cream (simply fantastic!!)
2. La butte chaillot (a little steep but worth pampering yourself once in a while)
3. Vietnamese Pho near Belleville Metro Station (line 2) - Recommended by another Singaporean fren - cheap and really good!!!

I am in Paris usually on the weekdays. Do drop me an email if you wanna meetup ;-)


Erik said...

Still enjoying your blog. No snickers this time. :D

LoneStarVintageClothing said...

Everything happens for a reason, even though it sucks that you had to stay late at work. :(

Anonymous said...

On the bright got this post up :) Cheers!

Nomadic Matt said...

i got stuck in the underground for 30 minutes after an overnight flight with an annoyingly loud women who sang and of course since it was london, no one said anything so when i did I looked like the bad guy...not a great first day...not at all!

C K said...

First of all, I would like to convey my admiration for your husband's endurance. If it were me, I would have performed kamikaze than trekking 22km home! The end result would probably be the same anyway. lol

I assume that the 24hr taxis' fare is covered by company expenses. It's not too bad isn't it? At least he could catch a wink on his way back. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if there are budget motels around train stations catering for those stranded by terminated rail services. Can they be found over at NL's train stations?

Er, no actually. I gave up on the Tube that evening and went to grab a meal at a local Asian eatery. Took the opportunity to do a write up about it. Do look out for it. :)

Hmm... at least you don't have to trek back home. Are there any 'sleep pods' (not exactly sick bays) in your office? I understand that some companies do have them (and shower facilities) in a bid to 'increase' staff productivity.

Well, Murphy's Law kicks in... the trains will work just fine when you need the service to break down. :)

LOL, you do realize that we are, in fact, passing a compliment to Londoners, don't you?

I think you got to give yourself (and the Tube) more credit. Considering its age and all, it's really a miracle that it's still chugging along till this day.

With regards to Eaststopper's comment, if you were to stop by S'pore, you'll realized that Singaporeans do really take their transport system for granted... and yes, we complain a lot. :)

Thanks for the links! I'm sure they'll come in handy during my next trip down south. But I'll be there for the weekend so I'm afraid that we won't be able to meet up for a cuppa. Otherwise, I'll just hang on to you and demand a guided tour of the city. lol

I understand that you have got an apartment in Paris. Just wondering, how does the price in Paris compared to London?

Aww, you have to rub it in, don't you? :)

Well, at least I got my dinner at an eatery and wrote a review on it. That gave me some material to blog about. So I'm not too sore about it, really.

@my bug life,
Yes, always look on the bright side of life. And if that doesn't work, I'll just pop by your site and gawk at those photos... (of scenery of course). Cheers!

C K said...

@normadic matt,
It seems that our comments crossed. :)

Anyway, I can picture the scene. Were you in the Tube before/after the ban on alcohol on public transport? Believe me, it was way worse when you have people in their 20s dancing and talking at the top of their voices while swigging bottles of cheap beer.

The last thing I want is to have a bottle smashed onto my skull. I'm morbid, I know.

Matthew S. Urdan said...


thanks for the comments on MTMD regarding Inside Government. We will be installing EC on it, it needs like 5 quality posts before that can happen though. Thanks for all your kind words! They're much appreciated, and I appreciate your support and validation of the concept.

C K said...

It's nothing really. I'll sure with these many people in the team, getting five articles out wouldn't be too much of a problem.

Once again, all the best to your new site. Oh, if anyone else is reading this, do check it out via the link in Matt's comment.

kyh said...

I can't believe you actually remembered all the driver's lines! *salute*

I think I'd go berserk if I were made to wait announcement after announcement, and finally to be told to seek for other alternatives. Guess how much time is wasted in between...

C K said...

After spending some time in London, I've learnt to take things in perspective. I wasn't rushing to go anyway actually so no point feeling frustrated.

Might as well used that time to browse through the newspaper, which I did, and to memorise what the driver was saying... so that it can be posted once I get out of that stuffy carriage. :)

That said, I cannot imagine being trapped in a lift for an hour. I would have strangled the others (and then myself, if that's possible in the first place) if I were you. lol

Dutchie said...

The passage from home to office is lined with huge grazing land/farms, clusters of factories n density of homes. Motels are usually found along highways instead of railways.

If long delays on the rails r expected during peak hours, commuters with a rail ticket r directed to opt for the bus (but it's a slow ride).

Yes, the 24hr taxi fares r reimbursed. Btw, cabs here charged by the head n not for the whole party going the same direction. How's that in London ?

Some folks in Sg wouldnt bother to walk much. They rather splash on cabs or busses to get to the MRT station. We dont even hv a bus service to take us to the local train station (2km) as the frugal folks here uses their bicycles (reason for the demise of the bus service in the first place :-/ ). Anyway, I'm expecting my eldest sis n niece, plus an old friend to drop by in the coming months n I hv told them to start exercising those lazy leg muscles bec life here involves lots n lots of walking ! My sis would probably drive me nuts bec she's so pampered. She commutes with her car all her life. Walking up the stairs of HDB blocks is already a big trial for her !

C K said...

Now, that sounds real dismaying. I cannot imagine trekking back home in the middle of the night. In fact, the longest that I've ever walked is around 45km and that was when I was in the army (and only 18). Thinking about that episode still gives me nightmare.

Anyway, the cabs here is charged per trip and most cabs go by the meter unless you are on private cabs, which fees are agreed at the onset of the journey. That's even for the case after midnight although there will be some surcharge.

Just curious, is the level of car ownership high in NL? But then again, to give your sis some credit, climbing and walking on level ground is quite different. :)

Dutchie said...

The stat on car ownership is 2,5 per household. Add on all the commerical vehicles n we hv road jams.

ERP has been put to the test n failed to get off the ground(truckers protest the loudest bec of the burden of the cost, which will be added onto consumers´ products eventually). Emission charges r in place with no visible results as yet. We do hv a few toll ports for entry into heavy traffic tunnels.