It’s always hit and miss on a Sunday. The opportunity for the train and tube companies to rip up and lay down tracks without annoying all the commuters… until Monday morning of course when it turns out they haven’t finished in time. I generally don’t bother straying too far on Sunday when one of my lines from SW19 is subject to diversion, cancellation or replacement bus service.
Today was different though and an appointment the other side of town meant I would just have to grin, bear and negotiate the changes. I knew things would be challenging: the line around Wimbledon was out completely and my Friday email from TfL showed a long list of tube lines, including a key part of the District, would be suspended.
I swear that list gets longer every week. I realise it’s cheaper and more efficient to take a whole block out than to do piecemeal, even more so given the financial mess they’ve got themselves into after the failure of PPP. Nonetheless, I trust City Hall is keeping them in check, that’s they’re not pushing the bounds of acceptability and setting future precedent? Hmmm.
From Bexley into Cannon Street and then a strange shuttle service from Cannon Street into Waterloo East/Charing Cross. Obviously not everyone had got the message, confused looks at Waterloo East abound with people waiting on abandoned platforms and ignoring any advice from fellow passengers. They’ll get a train there, just not until tomorrow.
The Wimbledon stretch was subject to the lesser spotted rail replacement bus service, usually using the dregs of 1970s traction, almost quaint. One thing you notice on these (less so with regular bus services where the path is better trodden) is how ill-equipped London roads are for any sort of ‘express’ road transport. Between speed bumps, perilously low bridges and suspect driving you start to yearn for the worst, overcrowded, noisy of South West Trains’ services.
Boris Johnson raised an interesting prospect the other day, to augment London’s over stretched rail network – express buses, linking Greater London ‘town’ to Greater London ‘town’ rather than the slavish hub and spoke approach of the trains. Ken has his own (very long term) plans for an orbital rail system but that’s never going to help me get from Wimbledon to Bexley any easier. Much as I admire the suggestion from Boris, I’m not sure a ‘Suburban Express’ is going to revolutionise London’s transport: getting in and out of these ‘Greater’ towns is a pig on the best of times, the quietest of Sundays, the flattest un-speed-bumped of roads.