please empty your brain below

There was a touch of slapstick about the whole experiment this weekend.

First, there was a big poster on the platform at Paddington (Circle) indicating a “restricted service”. Restricted is a pretty odd way of describing the Circle line of the future, albeit quite accurate if you’re one of the many passengers who now have to change trains. As far as I can tell the new system has kept the interminable delays at Edgware Road but added two further irritations: the hassle of changing trains and the guessing-game of where the trains are actually going. Heading eastbound on a terminating train we were kept outside the station for almost 10 minutes waiting for a platform and were then treated to the maddening sight of the ‘through’ train on the opposite platform closing its doors and pulling out just as the doors on our train opened. The platform staff laughed. We laughed even harder when we got on the following Whitechapel train only to discover at Liverpool Street that it had been a Circle all along. Cue a mad scramble for the exits.

The geniuses at Tower Hill were at it again on Saturday night, repeatedly announcing that the platform indicators were “defective” when in fact it was the automated announcements that were incorrect. The result: everyone ignoring the correct information on the boards and listening to the totally false information broadcast over the PA. Aldgate and Aldgate East must have had their busiest Saturday evening in years with people trying to get back to where they had come from. Oh, and the new service pattern results in westbound District line trains being held at Whitechapel until the H&C westbounds have departed from the platform at the other side of the station – infuriating anyone following TfL’s own advice to change from the District to the H&C at Aldgate East. None of this was announced, you understand: you just looked out of the window in horror as the train you were aiming for pulls out in front of yours. Again, the bored platform staff at Whitechapel seemed to think this cat-and-mouse game was highly amusing. Perhaps TfL could add to the pantomime atmosphere by throwing custard pies in passengers’ faces?

All in all this would be a confusing enough system on any line, but to introduce it on a line where the trains do not have dot matrix destination displays in the carriages and several of the stations do not even have real-time indicator boards is a bit daft. It does have the advantage of giving Hammersmith passengers a proper frequency at long last, but elsewhere it was business as usual on the Circle line with yawning service gaps, misinformation and endless unexplained pauses.

On Sunday due to engineering works the Piccadilly line trains to Heathrow were going to Terminals 4 then 123 and 5 without passengers having to change.

I disagree about Paddington H&C. It's much more convenient for the actual trains (but not the ticket office or other facilities), and - for trains from Edgware Road - the Circle Line platform at Paddington has a horrible narrow steep footbridge that makes the yomping at the H&C platforms seem pleasant.

No TfL! Don't break my Circle!

Hands off!

But in fact only brought 60% more trains to Hammersmith (frequency going from 8.5 minutes to 5 minutes).

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