I will Northern Line no more
12 July 2010
So, it is finally over. 17 years commuting from south west London on the Northern Line. Was I greeted by Underground officials with garlands and a long service clock? No, but my season ticket refund was promptly, courteously and efficiently done. Now I get around on a combination of cycling (more to follow on this vexed subject) and pay as you go (no doubt also more to follow).
What has changed in those 17 years? I am much older, got offered a seat once (cheeky!), a tiny bit wiser and have read a lot of Metro newspapers. The service has improved enormously. New trains arrived in the late 1990s. Overall, the system feels brighter, safer and cleaner. Station upgrades have restored Tooting Bec to its 1930 splendour (pity 10 times as many passengers are now using it!), drivers now actually tell passengers what is going on and, most importantly, the service is much more reliable. I still remember the indicator board that showed the next arrival as 17 minutes away – even for Underground minutes that was a long time. The Bank branch timetable change has paid off although not quite sure why it has to happen like that at weekends when the majority of passengers do want to go on the Charing Cross branch. However, it remains slow, grossly crowded and hot – all in return for what feels like a lot of money.
The biggest bugbear appears to still be ‘signal failure’. The whole signalling system looks like it is held together with sticky tape. Surely it should be gold plated and have a back up? The disastrous PPP initiative means the signals are still to be done and us passengers are really looking forward to that happy day...