Friday, January 19, 2007

Train nightmares

It was a bit windy and the British transport network ground to a halt. Plus ca change. I left work at 3.20pm and got home at 7pm. Schedule ran thus:

3pm - check the web and see that there are two hour delays on trains.
3.20pm - leave work
3.30pm - arrive at London Bridge and discover it's closed. The whole station. No reason being given. (Later we discover that part of the roof has blown off.) However trains are still running *through* London Bridge from Waterloo East and Charing Cross.
3.35pm - get tube to Southwark and walk through to Waterloo East.
4pm - sign boards covered in Delayed notices. Decide to get a train in to Charing Cross, and there is usually more info at the terminuses (termini?). Plus possibly more chance of getting a seat.
4.10pm - the gods were smiling! The train I went into Ch X on turns out to be the one going back to Tonbridge. Get a big whole seat all to myself. *:)
4.30pm - go through London Bridge again (one hour later)
5pm - train hits a large branch (aka 'a tree' - I think there would have been a larger clunk) the other side of Sevenoaks. Train stops quickly and driver gets out to inspect the damage.
5.30pm - train OK and we get going again.
5.40pm - arrive in Tonbridge
6pm - the next train to T Wells also hits a branch outside Sevenoaks.
6.05pm - I call Paul V and enquire as to whether he is near Tonbridge and/or bored.
6.30pm - Paul V aka The Cavalry aka Archangel Paul, having extracted himself from HMV, arrives and picks me up ('I'm parked opposite Lidl and opposite the sex shop.' Wha?? And this is supposed to help me, who never goes to Tonbridge?)
7pm - arrive home.
7.30pm - feed PaulV dinner as a thank you.

Actually, all this was not that gruesome. I left work early, so it didn't get stupidly late, and us commuters are learning to be very pragmatic at delays, so people just take it easy and after about two hours Actually Start Chatting. (Commuters deviating from the Norm of Silence only happens in extreme circumstances.)

Also, my half hour wait in Tonbridge station was the funniest people-watching session I've done in ages. People rocked up and looked at the board which basically said Delayed in long lists and went 'Oooooh... that doesn't look good.' Other people were asking the ticket people, 'Can I get to London?' and they were replying, 'Well, there are serious delays', which means 'No! Don't try it!' 'But I've got tickets to The Sound of Music!' they wail. I should have told them it had just taken me three hours to get there. Some builders arrived and asked, 'What are the chances of getting to Essex?'. The ticket man refrained from laughing at them, just. Some lady's husband dropped her off and you could see he was trying to telegraph to her not to go, but couldn't say it, as she was all dressed up and clearly looking forward to her night out. I hope she didn't have to sleep in a station in her posh velvet trousers.

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