Information during disruption

14 May 2010

While it is probably easier to do practically (less destinations and routes), information on the London Underground has improved a lot in recent years. In particular information during disruption is now much better handled – drivers (sometimes a bit inaudibly) generally speak after a couple of minutes delay and major stations, such as Stockwell, have platform staff giving a constant commentary.

But sometimes, baffling, you do wonder what on earth is going on. If I am going on the tube I change at Stockwell and go up to Kings Cross – better than sticking on the horribly overcrowded Northern Line. This morning the very useful line indicator board at Tooting Bec indicates a good service on all lines. However, as ever, the depth of the crowd at Stockwell instantly tells you something is up. No trains shown on the indicator board for the Victoria Line. Three Northern Line trains disgorge hundreds more passengers and the platform rapidly is packed.

Finally the tannoy crackles into life. A recorded announcement states ‘There is a good service on all London Underground lines’ – no there is not, there is clearly something up. Still nothing else happens and then the tannoy crackles again, ‘Update from Stockwell control room – there is a good service operating on the Victoria line.’ A glance at the indicator board, a glance at the CCTV would tell anyone there is not – what is going on? Finally a train appears, followed five minutes later by another. Somewhere near Green Park the driver, in a very quiet, gruff voice, mutters something about signal problems at Seven Sisters.

The ghost in the machine somewhere must know what is happening.

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