Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Public transportation lets us down

After the Jubilee Celebrations had ended, we made our way back to The Grange St. Paul. We had checked out but could still use the warm lobby as a wifi hotspot. We did not want to go far for supper as the rain was pounding down by this point. There was a pizza express around the corner. We managed to spend over an hour there and another hour at the hotel lobby before getting our luggage and heading towards the tube.

Tired, cold, and wet I thought why not take a Circle Line train from Mansion House station instead of changing trains on the Central Line to get to Kings Cross. The stations were about the same distance from the hotel so it seemed like a good decision.

Boy what a mistake on my part. First we got on a District Line train instead of the Circle Line train. I was not paying attention until it was too late. So at the next station we still had to get off and change platforms/trains.

We managed to correctly get on a Circle Line train with plenty of time to get to Kings Cross. We made about 4 stops as normal. It seemed we were progressing at a fairly normal rate up to that point.

Upon departure from Liverpool Street Station though, things seemed to slow down. At first I thought it was just tracks shifting as a few lines come through the station. We moved a little then stopped again. After a few rounds of stop, crawl, stop the tube driver came on the overhead stating there was a disruption on the Circle Line near Kings Cross. It had been going on for about 45 minutes but would hopefully be resolved soon. He recommended getting off at the next station for anyone with time sensitive travel plans to get off and make alternate travel plans. My husband and I looked at each other and just decided we would see how things went. We weren't really sure where we were at this point and we still had nearly 30 minutes to get to Kings Cross.

Soon after his announcement the driver came on again stating he needed to do a "special procedure" to get us moving again as part of the problem on the line was electrical. He recommended holding on as he was about to begin this procedure. We then started to move, he applied the brakes hard and fast, stopped, then started again. There was a bit of bouncing back and forth during this process, but we seemed to be moving again.

We arrived to the next station and it seemed the line was cleared and we would move on no problem. The Tube driver came on again but was very difficult to hear. It had been hard to understand him previously but the noise on the train was getting worse. There was a group of young guys on the train who thought it was their opportunity to have a captive audience and act like stereotypical, self indulged adolescents. One girl even shushed them. She too was carrying luggage and obviously heading for a connection somewhere. They paid no attention.

We departed the station, everyone still on board. We continued at a very slow pace though. After another 15 minutes or so and very little progress, you could see people's frustrations build. Phones came out and people started messaging those expecting them, watches glanced at and tickets checked to calculate scenarios of still making the connection.

When we got to the next station, Barbicon, we, like most, exited the train and emerged above ground. At street level my husband saw a sign stating we were 7 minutes from St. Paul's, it had taken us more than 45 minutes to get this far.

At this point our train was pulling out of Kings Cross Station in about 5 minutes and we were far from making it on time. We shared a taxi with another girl from our train. I'm glad we hailed a taxi because we never would have made it on foot.

We arrived at the station about 5 minutes late. We looked at the screen with hope to see if any of the trains had been delayed by the same electrical fault that delayed the underground, but no such luck. We stood there for a couple of minutes debating what to do next. There was another train at 2200, should we just get on?

We decided to go into the ticket office and speak to an agent. He quickly sorted things out for us. The 2200 train obviously had numerous empty seats as we were switched to that train. He swiped our tube tickets to see that we were indeed on the delayed tube. Simple as that tickets with a hand written signed note stapled to them and we were cleared for the next train. No additional payment needed, just thank you and smiles from us.

We had a little time before our train left and the weather outside was cold and windy. So we did what all good tourists do, entertained ourselves at "platform 9 3/4" and tried to get to Hogwarts!

A 2-1/2 hour train ride to York, 15 minutes or so at the taxi stand, to the G families house to pick up our car and 30 minute drive home before we crashed into bed. So thankful to be there, cats thankful we were home, sleep came quickly. I would worry about details for the next trip in the morning!

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm... Seems like transit only partly let you down. As passengers with time sensitive plans were advised to get off the tube, its hard to criticize the tube for what happened next (they really mean it when they give that type of advise!). And while you missed your connecting train, the agent, as you said, quickly sorted things out for you, and got you on your way.

    I'd say you had an amazing recovery to what could have been a much more 'disastrous' journey. Good for you that you left plenty of time - this time you needed it!

    Hope you're still having fun!