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When will the commuter chaos end?

Another day, another story about the chaos surrounding the ‘improvements’ to the Jubilee Line.

According to the Evening Standard:

“Two million passengers who use the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines face years of delays after a major row broke out today over the amount that will be spent on the Tube network.”

Apparently Tube Lines, the company in charge of the upgrade want £460 million more for the job than London Underground are willing to pay out, despite being ordered to cut their fee by £1.3 billion. 

The news came with the sniping and blame-shifting that is now an all too familiar part of the Tube upgrade, with everyone from Mayor Boris Johnson to Bob Crow, RMT union leader, weighing in.

Well, I don’t care who is at fault – Tube Lines, London Underground, Gordon Brown or Thomas the Tank Engine – and I suspect I am not alone. I just want some action.

Living in outer London you get used to whiling away time on icy train platforms as the tannoy announces ‘good service’ but the next train is nowhere in sight.

Delays, abrupt terminations before your stop (announced once the train has already left) and a necessity to leave inordinate amounts of time for your journey ‘just in case’ are irritating but acceptable. The complete lack of transport from north London on most weekends is not.

Bad service is better than nothing

The congestion charge and the general drive to get Londoners out of their cars was launched on the understanding that public transport could compensate from the steering wheel.

When the Met, Jubilee and Northern lines are running poor service or not running at all, as has been the case recently, there is no incentive to trade in your car for something environmentally friendly. Sure, there are replacement buses in operation whenever there is a tube closure. But I suspect anybody who trumpets them as a viable alternative has never actually whiled away hours, and hours, of an afternoon on one.

Moreover, it seems increasingly unclear what benefit these alleged ‘upgrades’ will have.

The idea is to finish them by the time of the Olympics – something looking unlikely anyway – but is uprooting our transport for more than a year really the price we must pay for a few weeks of sporting glory? Harrow seems likely to enjoy little benefit from London hosting the games, far from the sites as it is, so why must we put up with the cost?

There is no question the Tube could do with some maintenance – a lick of fresh paint, air conditioning, better station facilities – but not if it means causing us chaos every weekend from now until eternity. Either stop bickering and sort it out, or stop trying to redo it.

Because as deficient as the Underground may be, bad service is better than no service.

Agree with my opinion? Have you say by leaving a comment below.

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