Really? Short Trains?

24/5/2015

Richmond – Waterloo – Green Park – Langham Place – Return

To get to Langham Place from Richmond I’ve got a few choices, and none of them are great. They all involve a decent wheel at the other end. Apparently there are bus alternatives, but I’m damned if I can get TfL’s journey planner to share them with me, and I just haven’t put the time or effort into working them out for myself.

Or at least I usually have choices.

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend so very sensibly, and unusually, there’s not much engineering work on the TfL network. Sadly, and it feels like this is often the case, there is work going on affecting Richmond, so my usual choices of Overground to Euston or Underground to Green Park aren’t possible.

It’s okay though, there’s a normal Sunday service to Waterloo. In my experience these services are often full, after all Mummy and Daddy want to educate little Isaiah in the cultural riches our capital has to offer and that requires the use of a pram which shares the size and go-anywhere-ability of Daddy’s Landrover Discovery. The trains get to bursting point when you cancel Underground and Overground services and everyone opts to avoid using the Dreaded Rail Replacement Bus Service ™. In this situation it makes complete sense to halve the length of the trains from 8 to 4 coaches. NOT.

I asked @SW_TRAINS on twitter for an explanation (I asked without using the sarcasm above) but didn’t get a response.

The upshot of all of this was that when the train pulled in and the doors opened there was simply a wall of bodies. Fortunately many of them got off, but as the ramp wrangler fought with the ramp, people attempted to push past him to grab the now vacated spaces. They rapidly regretted this choice as I pushed my way on board. Ankles are no match for wheelchair footplates, and whilst I am careful amongst those who are considerate, I take no such precaution in the presence of the ignorant and selfish.

Interestingly, and frankly amazingly, a scooter also managed to board. He had tried to get off at Putney on a previous train, but due to a broken lift had to come on to Richmond and double back. It’s not just me that has event filled trips.

I got off fine at Waterloo, though did have a little battle with the lift to the Underground. It went up and down smoothly enough, it just didn’t want to open it’s doors unless you leant on the button. Rumour has it that it’s been playing up all week.

Green Park was straightforward, if a little busy. In fact, I met, briefly, another Transport for All member coming out of the lift as I attempted to make my way to sunlight, and another one as we queued for the final lift. As he said to me as we waited “it’s amazing what riff raff they allow on the tube these days”

The final wheel was very pleasant, it being a decent spring day, except for the ever present dawdling tourists.

The trip back didn’t have any major, or even minor, failures. The weather definitely took a toll on me though. It wasn’t hot, perhaps 18 degrees, but it was humid and both the tube tunnels and trains, and the train back to Richmond were unpleasantly hot and close. The pleasure to be gained from being on the street and able to breathe fresh (? My tissues are grey where I’ve blown my nose, yes I know, WTMI) air is immense.

The sting in the tail of this particular trip was the buggy Dad who boarded the bus in front of me and parked in the wheelchair space before sitting down. When asked, twice, he did eventually return and move the buggy, into the other half of the space, blocking my path even further. The stupidity of some people, and their inability to see the consequences of their actions, never ceases to amaze me. He did eventually let me past and we were both able to get settled and finish our journeys.

I’m not sure what, if any, conclusions can be drawn from today except perhaps that people are a problem, and that I am one of those people. Just ask the people from the train with the bruised ankles.

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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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