Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Free at last

As normal, I set off for work at 8am yesterday. I arrived at work at 12.20pm. Just in time for lunch on the course that I was meant to be running.

I had the somewhat dubious pleasure of being on one of the five jubilee line trains that had to be “detrained” i.e. we had to walk along the tunnel to get to a station. I think the train I was on must have been the last to get the passengers off because according to news reports the last passenger on the five trains got to a station platform at 11.30am, which was about five minutes after I finally made it to the platform at St John’s Wood.

The tube train came to a standstill at about 8.50am and two and a half hours later (for all of which I was standing – and on a very packed tube train) we all finally got off the train by stepping down onto the tracks and walking through the dark tunnel to the nearest station. I was actually walking pretty close behind someone, and there was a whole trail of people in front of him, but it was very dark in the tunnel, so you can’t pick them out in the photo below.



There has been some criticism in the media of how TfL dealt with the problem – and two and a half hours in far too long to have left us on a train for – but a lot of it seemed to be down to the line controller not being able to decide whether we should get off the train or not. At about 9.30am we were told that we were going to have to walk through the tunnel to St John’s Wood. This plan then got shelved as we were told the train should be able to continue. At about 10am we were told that we would have to walk along the tunnel to Baker Street. About 20 minutes after that we were told that we would be walking through the tunnel to St John’s Wood and then a while later police officer and TfL staff arrived and walked through the packed train and eventually, gone 11am, things were finally in place for us to get off the tube.

At no point did I feel unsafe and actually our driver was really nice, and kept us as up to date as he could given the changing situation. A woman did have a panic attack where I was standing but passengers helped her and gave her an asthma inhaler and a doctor, who was also stuck on the train, came and helped her. For once, it was also fine to talk to your fellow passengers and compare awful travel stories form years gone by.

When we finally got to St John’s Wood, a girl of maybe six years old ran up and down the platform shouting “free at last”. Free at last indeed.



I have to say my colleagues were lovely as well. A few people had tried to contact me on my mobile as they were really concerned about where I was, and there were three messages on my home phone when I got back last night with people trying to track me down. It was nice to feel missed.

8 comments:

ChrisB said...

Oh dear, how awful! Sounds like my worst nightmare. Glad you coped with the situation so well.x

Tom Foolery said...

Blinkin' 'eck Randon what a nightmare. hope you got a refund?

Wordy thingy is INSTEP!

Random Reflections said...

ChrisB - There was a woman who had a panic attack in our carriage and I think it was her worst nightmare. It was hot and humid and every time we thought we were going to be able to get off the train the plan changed. In the end that is what I found the hardest, lots of false hope and there was nothing we could do ourselves to make any progress.

TF - I will be putting in for a refund, but nothing was automatically offered.

Perhaps INSTEP was describing us walking down the tunnel!

Kahless said...

F'ing hell!

You poor thing.

I must say I was being rather selfish reading your post; I am on the jubilee line tomorrow....

Random Reflections said...

Kahless - if it is any comfort, I have commuted into London for about a decade and have never had anything like this happen before. But the tube seems particularly bad at the moment.

Make sure you go to the toilet before you get on the tube and bring food, water and a seat - just in case!

I hope your trip to London goes well.

Annie Mole said...

You dealt with it all very well. Luckily it's never happened to me, but I always make sure I go to the loo before getting on the Tube too - you just never know how long you could be on the train for!

Random Reflections said...

Annie - Thanks. I used to always make sure I went to the loo before getting on the tube, but had rather got out of the habit. I am now going to return to that strategy.

This week I have also now been less likely to squeeze on to a packed train too.

Maths private tutor said...

HI

Great information in this post and I think there has been some criticism in the media of how TfL dealt with the problem – and two and a half hours in far too long to have left us on a train for – but a lot of it seemed to be down to the line controller not being able to decide whether we should get off the train or not.