MY COLLEAGUE Christian Wolmar, writing in the Independent on Sunday, revealed 'gross discrepancies' in the operating company's punctuality figures for its trains serving Waterloo station in London. The station is not too hot on platform directions, either - bad news for foreigners who will be getting off Channel Tunnel trains there.

I wanted to catch a train to Chiswick. Platform 16 for the 9.17, the board said. The train looked improbably grand, so I double- checked. Platform 16, definitely. Right on time, the 9.17 pulled out - but from another platform. Sorry, said the platform staff, that was the 9.17 and there's not another one for half an hour.

This was a case of the wrong sort of numbers on the departures board. So which of South West Trains and Railtrack was going to help get me to Chiswick quick? Representatives of these factions claimed the timetable board is operated by a shadowy group called Solari, and nothing could be done. 'Try the Reception,' suggested one chap. The reception I got at Reception was a sign: 'Back in 10 minutes'.