Sometimes information ruins a trip


Intended Route

Taxi – Lincoln – Newark Northgate – Kings Cross – Earls Court – Richmond – Est time 3.5 hours

If you’ve not read my previous entries there are two bits of information that you need to know to put this post into context. Firstly, I recently began to use the tube after living in London for the last three years. This has met with some success but also there are caveats, one of which is the second piece of relevant information, specifically that Hammersmith doesn’t have ramps on the District line. You can find the full story under “The Imaginary Ramp”

Most of this trip was fine. Again there was the overcrowded “Dogbox” from Lincoln, but the leg down to Kings Cross passed entirely uneventfully. There was the usual 10 minute wait for a ramp at Kings Cross, but this is so normal as to be not worthy of mention. Oops, looks like I mentioned it.

The significant part of this trip was the interchange at Earls Court. Leaving the train on the Piccadilly line is a mildly unnerving level access trip across a gap almost but not quite big enough to swallow my front wheels. Whilst I never feel comfortable doing this it is an exemplar of independent travel suitability. Boarding a train on the District line is regrettably not so simple and requires a ramp. That needs a staff member to assist.

I’ve said before that Staff represent a lifeline for me and are almost exclusively friendly, polite and helpful. There’s often an issue with finding them, but at Earls Court this has never been a problem as there’s always been one on the ticket barrier, and so it proved today. Whilst we waited for his colleague to arrive to assist me he mentioned, in passing, something about lift maintenance. Whoa, that sounds important, but I was whisked off by his colleague before I could get details from him. No matter, for the next 15 or so minutes I had my own personal tube employee. I was prepared to grille, to interrogate and question. I don’t believe Waterboarding works, but I was prepared to consider it if I had to. Anything was fair game to get the information I needed. But damn, I’d wasted too much time thinking and he launched the first salvo in this cat and mouse game of espionage and misdirection. “You know the East bound lift is out for the next four weeks do you? Followed by the Westbound lift for the four weeks after that.” Then just to prove his point he showed me the closed lift. Curse you and your customer focused ethic. Fortunately I was heading west and made it back to Richmond.

How come I’d got through the station three days before and not learned this important piece of information?

If the lift in one direction is out then my journey is scrapped. Most journeys are returns, but in a wheelchair alternative return routes available to others often aren’t accessible. Ramps at Hammersmith would give an option, but as I discovered on my last outing there are none available.

I have questions…..



About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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