Labour MP for Erith & Thamesmead

Teresa Pearce MP

A pretty normal commute

Posted on February 03, 2011 by Teresa Pearce

Tonight I left the office got tube to Embankment and I got to Charing Cross at about 18.35 hoping to go home. Yes I know…. Me and my crazy dreams eh?
On the board the 18.48 had delayed next to it so I went to the help desk to ask if there was “a problem” on my line.

 She looked at me as if suggesting “a problem” was akin to asking if there were any Martians about. The woman said “no” I pointed out the delayed train and she said no it was just that train. As another was due at 19.07 I thought I would wait.

I could have gone to London Bridge to get a train on Cannon Street line but I believed her. Yes I know how foolish that sounds now.

So I waited only to hear that the next train due on my line would now be fast to Dartford, therefore not stopping at my station. So then (20 mins) after arriving at Charing Cross I go to London Bridge. Trains all running late but board says Greenwich train due on platform 2 at 19.13 so we all troop to platform 2 and are surprised to see that there is a Greenwich train also due at 19.14 at platform 1 but not as surprised as all the people who were expecting the Hayes train on platform 1 next.
So the 19.13 train at platform 2 pulls in and it’s a short train so there is no way in a month of Sundays we are going to get on it but some poor souls try. I and many others think oh well there is another in 1 minute on platform 1, although I did wonder how they were going to run 2 trains within a minute of each other on the same line. But I digress.

So the jam packed train pulls out and I say to the man in the office, pointing at platform 1, is the Greenwich train next? He says oh no it’s just left. I point out that the board said another in a minute on platform 1 and he shrugged and says oh they are automated notices it’s wrong. Now the Hayes train pulls in but loads of the passengers for Hayes have left the platform, to go to see the indicator boards on the bridge, as they like everyone was expecting the next train to be Greenwich.

 Eventually at 19.20 a Greenwich train arrives and I eventually arrive home at 20.10. A mere 1 hour 40 minutes after starting my 15 mile journey home. Marvellous.

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  1. Dave Holladay says:

    Hmm – a bit puzzled by your commute route – building in time costs as you walk and wait between Embankment and CHX, and presumably an onward connection at GNW, limited frequency of trains and more than one route from the platform. By rail a better bet might be Jubilee line – only one route per platform and a train every 2-5 minutes 07.00-00.00 (first trains 05.40) travel to Canary Wharf for a train every 4-5 minutes to Greenwich or stay on to North Greenwich for a bus service (108 runs 24 hours and every 8 minutes)

    Both DLR and JLE have applications for iphones that provide you with real time platform displays on your phone screen, and frequency means you won’t be waiting long for a train, or a connection.

    Greenwich is actually just in the range of as fast to cycle as to catch the train, and you might consider the Brompton option of having a bike which you can take on the bus or train to provide both contingency and a rapid way to complete the final mile, without having to wait for a bus or taxi,and get right from door to door. You might consider leasing one of the South West Trains machines, which are at present available from the Lost Property Office at Waterloo – (South West Trains is the first rail operator of ‘sell’ a complete door to door commuter travel package, although it can be argued that Boris bikes can deliver this)

    Don’t be too surprised – many commuters fall in to a routine and fail to realise the alternatives – witness the zombie-like queues waiting for the Tube to re-open at Victoria, who might easily use the No 38 bus (every 3 minutes) which effectively runs parallel to the Victoria Line to Tottenham Court Road.

    Change can happen and dramatically so – when the Waterloo & City tube was closed for 6 months there was a massive surge in cycle use at Waterloo, which has been sustained such that 15% of cycles crossing Blackfriars Bridge Northbound now start their trips at Waterloo.

  2. I see where you are coming from but perhaps for reasons on story simplification I may have mislead you in mentioning greenwich line. My final destination was Erith my car was parked at Abbey Wood. On days when I have a late start in London I drive to Jubilee line and go in that way on days like today I drive to Abbey Wood ( as there are double the number of trains from that station compared to Erith). I really dont think that cycling from Westminster to Erith would be an option for me but thanks for the advice.

  3. miles says:

    I think the significant part of this mess that is Southeastern Trains centres on the cost cutting Go Ahead Group has demanded as profits have fallen. You can not run a huge infrastructure like a railway in a classic business way. Southeastern/Govia/Go Ahead keep being hauled in front of MP’s but nothing happens. Yesterday I met with Charles Horton the MD, literally bumped into him at Cannon Street. He is totally handcuffed by Go Ahead group and the UK franchise system. Our railways will continue their downward spiral as policy stands because it costs £12 billion to run the national network and income sits at £6billion. Therefore the TOCs will continue to raise ticket prices in an attempt to close this shortfall. At some point in the next 2>3 years prices will cross over the line of viability for tens of thousands of people.
    I was at London Bridge like you last night, sadly I have become somewhat immune to this chaos as its a weekly occurance. If one didn’t I strongly believe the rise in violence on the railways could manifest itself.
    All the best.

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