If I don’t come back, avenge my death

The tube sucks.

This is a very common line to hear from Londoners, no matter how little time they have ever spent actually trying to use the tube. It is cultural heritage, baggage, if you will, with which even young babies are indoctrinated. No-one, except perhaps the people charged with running the thing, refers to the tube as ‘efficient’ except in moments of the subtlest irony.

Let me give you an example. Six weeks ago, the motor fell out of a train. Even worse, the train was full at the time. Even worse, it was arriving into Chancery Lane station. Even worse, over 30 people were injured, and people on the scene said it was lucky no-one was killed.

That was six weeks ago. Although being promised over and over again that the Central line would be up and running ‘in a couple of weeks’, it is still suspended. Over eighty trains run on that line, and they all need to be checked (to make sure the motors aren’t, you know, going to DROP OUT or anything). Last Monday (and let me remind you this is over six weeks later), the eighth train was certified as safe to run.

The tube sucks.

Last week, my local tube station was closed unexpectedly because ‘the lifts need to be repaired’. No biggy, we all thought, because how long can it take to repair a lift? The answer is three weeks, my friends: these must be either

(a) some very finicky lifts, or (b) some very lazy workmen.

I can tell you which way I’m betting.

The tube sucks.

It’s expensive, it’s crowded, it’s potentially life-threatening, it stops running if someone sneezes in the wrong direction, and it’s the primary mode of public transport for one of the world’s busiest cities.

Edited to add that the day after I posted this, the tube ran a test of trains on the ill-fated Central line. They ran two of the recently repaired trains down the line. One crashed into a maintenance trolley which had been left behind. Another derailed.