Central Line – is it time to replace the nearly 30 year old stock?

This week I’ve been travelling on London Underground rather than South Western Railway, and there are a number of observations I have to make:

  • South Western Railway doesn’t have the monopoly on delays. We’ve had passengers taken ill, or defective trains across a number of days which has lead to me arriving late in Wimbledon despite leaving plenty of time to allow for such incidents.
  • The Central Line has sections of track which emit deafening high-pitch squealing as the train passes over it. It’s like somebody dragging their claws down a blackboard. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s loud enough that it could ultimately affect people’s hearing if they’re regular commuters.
  • Shake, rattle and roll. Again, the Central Line has a section of track – between Mile End and Stratford – which has the effect of the train rattling around like a baby’s rattle when the train is going at a decent speed. For the poor saps inside the train, this is extremely uncomfortable and I nearly threw my back out during to a sharp jerk or three. I was sitting at the end of the carriage at the time. I like my insides as they are: neither shaken or stirred.
  • On a couple of days, when the Central Line train left the platform, it’d start and then violently stop. Then start. Then violently stop. And then start again, eventually picking up speed. I’ve a feeling this is the train’s safety mechanism kicking in – perhaps people are leaning against the door (because, of course, the idea is to cram as many people into these carriages like sardines despite the frequency in which the trains run). In any event, the jerking brought on by these stop-starts-stops-starts isn’t conductive to a healthy back.
  • Apple Watch and Apple Pay. A number of times the Apple Watch had difficulties with the barriers – causing a Seek Assistance or Use A Single Card. Attempting the process again resulted in success (unlike SWR’s terrible smart card system). Similar problems on London buses too.
  • People will NOT stop looking at their mobile phones. Man, these people are seriously addicted, and liable to cause accidents. Their eyes are glued to the screens before getting on the train, during the journey, and when getting off. And it’s the getting off part that’s the worst, because you are then stuck behind them and they ain’t going to be moving fast any time soon.

I remember when the current rolling stock for the Central Line was first introduced. It was around 1991 or 1992 when I was enrolled at Epping Forrest College studying for my BTEC, and we suddenly saw these futuristic trains replace the older stock from the time of the dinosaurs. Alas, now, these trains are now behaving like dinosaurs.

I have high praise for the District Line which has been flawless throughout. Bigger trains thanks to bigger tunnels, and walk through carriages results in a much more open environment. Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention proper air conditioning. Unlike the Central Line, where any kind of relief from the boiling temperatures of the train is best to stand against the carriage doorway with the window all the way down.

Next week: The Return of SWR.

It’s genuinely pleasing to see the local high street make way for the unique restaurant that is not offering the usual fast food stodge. Where I live, the number of restaurants has been reduced to one Indian eat-in (and take-away) followed by kebab houses, chicken houses, fish and chips palaces, pizza take-away shops and multiple Chinese take-aways.

My father took me for an early birthday dinner yesterday at a Portuguese place that’s in the town where I grew up. The high street there is virtually unrecognisable now. But tucked out the way, behind one of the few remaining pubs in the area is a smartly presented restaurant that’s clearly very popular.

Grilled seabass and vegetables

It was a fantastic dinner. I started off with pork pieces and clams and potatoes, with a nice gravy to accompany it. This was followed by grilled seabass and veg. And it was absolutely delicious. My dad had clams for his starter and the same as me for the main course. This was accompanied by a light and fruity red wine which accompanied the fish well. We followed this up with coffee and a Portuguese brandy which was seriously smooth. I had a dessert (a chocolate mousse with Amaretto).

The Joys Of Commuting
(London Underground Edition)

After a great night, it’s a pity, then, that this morning I was greeted by the following scene at Notting Hill Gate in an attempt to see if I could sit down on the tube for as long as possible on the Central line before changing to the District line. Alas, Circle line problems were the cause of the delay. We were standing on the stairs to avoid having to stand with the rest of the crowd. Thankfully a District line train came 4 minutes after this and there was even a seat!

Isn’t commuting fun?