I’m as guilty as the next man of taking a pop at the London Underground. It struck me this evening, however, as I waited two minutes for the next train to arrive, that it’s the victim of its own success.
Two minutes is a trivial amount of time to wait for a train. It’s difficult to see how tube trains could arrive more frequently than this on a planned basis. Increasing the length of the trains, or making them double deckers, is hardly a viable option.
Travelling by tube is, for most journeys, measurably faster than any other means of transport. Granted, in central London, you do have to trudge underground to get on the tube, but that rather comes with the territory, I think.
Of course there are delays. The only rail systems I have encountered without delays are continental systems which either have simple toytown layouts (like the Swiss) or very, very slow trains (like the Italians).
I like to think that there is a time penalty attached to any type of journey. For Italian trains, for instance, you tend to pay the time penalty in advance of each journey, when you try to buy a ticket. In this misshapen country, where we don’t like to plan in advance, you pay the time penalty for several journeys all at once, at a randomly chosen point in a randomly chosen journey.
No, the tube’s not that bad. Could you do better?
Leaving the station today, the homeless bloke had a copy of a book called ‘Leeds United’ beside him. A cruel gift, a message of sympathy, or a badge of the fallen? (sorry Andy)