Letter from the editor: A source of unending wonder


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The Independent Online

It is a source of unending wonder to me that the commuting population of London and its environs does not rise up in peaceful revolution against the authorities responsible for our public transport.

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t trouble you with a whinge about my daily commute. However, many non-Londoners are unaware of quite how bad things are here - and get a nasty surprise when they arrive in the Big Smoke expecting a Tube train to roll up within, ooh, the next hour or so.

Here at i Towers, our bête noire is the Circle line, which, after a series of “improvements” (an extension to the line, closures nearly every weekend) is now closed for a month between High Street Kensington and Edgware Road.

The other evening, I saw a family of tourists trying to get to Paddington station, which is on this section of the line. Their two small boys were rubbing their eyes with weariness while the party tried to make sense of the alternative travel arrangements amid a plethora of announcements about signal failures on other lines.

It is this sort of thing that makes many London commuters rather sceptical about the capital’s ability to cope with the Olympics next year. Workers have already been told to prepare to use “alternative” routes; today Transport for London announces details of the traffic restrictions, road closures and bus stop changes involved.

We’re good at alternative routes – we have to be. But in moments of absolute desperation, they often involve taking the car. If the Tube is kaput, the roads are closed (to bicycles too, one assumes), and you can’t find the bus stop, how do you get to work? Answers, please!

Stefano Hatfield is away