22 July 2006

Kicking the door in

The train pulls away from Reading but suddenly there is excitement among the staff on the platform, with much waving of arms and talking into radios. Coach A is at the rear of the train today, and the action is clearly visible through my window. The train stops again before the rear has reached the end of the platform, and men in fluorescent tabards swarm around the rear power car. So do several passengers, who seem to have missed their chance to board the train when it was stationary and sense a new opportunity now.

This is what they call a technical fault, and indeed shortly the train manager announces it as precisely that. A door in the luggage compartment will not close, she tells us, and having watched several of her colleagues giving it a good kicking I guessed this to be the case. Fortunately the problem can be cured by using copious amounts of yellow-and-black striped sticky tape, and ten or fifteen minutes late we are on our way.

This evening, we have been presented with the latest written apologia from Great Western: a litany of problems that have afflicted the service this week. Suicides (or attempts), signalling problems, points failures, and speed restrictions (a precaution against rails buckling in the heat) have all played a part. Thankfully, no leaves on the line or the wrong kind of snow in the hottest July since 1911.

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