It’s raining once again, well it is England. I’m on the Piccadilly line. The faces are staring blankly at nothing, avoiding all eye contact. The damp carriage steaming from the heat that 100 bodies create in an enclosed space. The train is for Heathrow, the busiest airport in Europe, the largest in the country. The Piccadilly line runs from Cockfosters in North East, through central London to Heathrow Airport in the South West. If any of the London Underground lines should run without major incident or infrastructure issues then it should be this one. It is the first sight of historic London that most tourists get and lets face it, anyone who uses it for anything more than a midday journey will agree that it’s crap.
So we are travelling from central London (Leicester Square) to Heathrow and we have passed the first hurdle, of not getting thrown off at Acton Town. Now what happens? – an easy 20 minute run to the Airport? – ha ha, you must be a tourist right?
No this is where we travel for two stops to a station called Northfields, at this point we get thrown off. We are only told that this train will not be going to the airport, no more information like the next train will be arriving at… Why? Because there is a depot at this station and while the driver may say the train is faulty, the train is late, or more often, says absolutely nothing. The real reason is that the driver and/or line controller wants a cup of tea before it gets too late, so what that the passengers who pay their wages are late home or worse late to catch a flight. They must have their cup of tea.
Only ten minutes away from my destination. Oh the pain… the heartbreak, but it is only a five minute wait until the next train, it could have been a lot worse. As it pulls in everyone on the platform waits in anticipation for the doors to open. Looking through the windows we see how full the train is and make calculations to see if we can all fit in… We can’t, the train is apparently running late, so now there are two train loads of passengers with their cases and backpacks on the platform.
We have two trains full worth of passengers waiting to get onto one train, which will also be full and hopefully not late or defective. We wait, we can see the Tube stop at South Ealing, only half a mile up the track. The train arrives and we all see very, very little space. Now is not the time for Victorian values and Christian morals on which the London Underground was built. It is time for everyman for himself, to squeeze and make sure that every last person that can get on, gets on. Okay you cannot move, your nose is in someone’s armpit, someone’s hand is on your crotch, but you must get this train or you’ll be waiting until the last train which will no doubt arrive late and be cancelled.