When Tube chaos strikes, who’s there to help?
On Wednesday night I was trapped on the London Underground for over three hours. After what seemed like a lifetime of TfL bods ‘faffing’, two train loads of passengers had to walk a mile down the tunnel for freedom.
But what was being done to ‘save us’ and, maybe more importantly, to help my fellow Tube travellers and I feel safe and listened to?
Just out of Baker Street station at 5.20pm on the hottest day of the year so far – 24˚C over ground and around 30˚C underground – the Jubilee line train in front of mine broke down, leaving over 700 of us stuck between stations in stifling heat with no fresh air and little if any water.
What was being done?
For around one and a half hours we were repeatedly told by the driver that there was a defective train, but we would hopefully be on the move shortly. This failed ‘promise’ became less and less reassuring and more irritating as time went on.
By around 7pm, the decision was finally made to move everyone to the front carriage of the first train, to presumably walk to freedom, although this still wasn’t clear.
In a stop-start fashion, with no information on what was happening, we made our way to the front. During this time we got brief glimpses of equally disgruntled and hot train engineers, police officers and paramedics trying their best to check we were surviving.
Finally the majority of passengers walked to freedom, while those unable to make the journey – a diabetic, someone with hip pain, an asthma sufferer and me with a heart condition – stayed behind to get a lift on the Tube trolley, adding another hour to the drama.
What next for unhappy passengers?
As I emerged, being one of the last to leave, I was kindly offered a taxi home (all paid for of course). But I highly doubt this was the case for everyone, many of whom then had greater distances to travel home.
How will we be compensated? After asking at my local station, I was told that £40 would be automatically credited to the Oyster cards of everyone stuck in the tunnel. But with an annual zone 1-2 travel card already paid for, I’d much rather the cash. I’m sure others across the country would rather not travel on a similar hideous journey again, rendering vouchers useless.
Sadly, many of us have no other option but to use train services in our daily lives. But when we don’t receive the service deserved, we feel there’s no one to listen or make changes; we simply have to put up with it.
As disruptions will no doubt continue to occur, at the very least there needs to be an overhaul of the communication system within rail companies and compensation policy.
So, how would you rather train disruptions were dealt with, both at the time and in the aftermath? And what do you think needs to be done to shake up the communication us helpless train travellers receive?
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