Epic signal failure at London Bridge stranded thousands. Staring into the eyes of damnation, we saw the future
Thousands of commuters were left stranded last night when London Bridge suffered a signal failure of biblical proportions. The Four Horsemen, in the form of flames, lay siege to London’s transport system after a small fire started in an equipment room at London Bridge station – the main artery for all south and south-eastern trains out of the capital. The results were a complete halt to the entire southern Overground service and man’s long overdue return to the kingdom of beasts.
We have been taught to expect our day of judgement at any moment, from any horrifying peak or trough of our disturbed little planet, and last night I involuntarily attended the preview screening. The mass signal failure sent ripples of disruptions throughout the transport network as people panicked, sold their first-borns and scrambled across London in their desperation to make it home for the Arsenal v Marseille game. It was a shit game, Arsenal won.
I was caught in the pandemonium and swept away in a tide of forlorn commuters. After being carried from London Bridge to Waterloo, to North Greenwich among hoards of livid Londoners, I eventually settled in a pub to flounder. As I sat, watching my Carling lose its gassy disguise, returning to the flat piss that it is, it occurred to me that our transport system is in dire need of attention.
It’s ironic timing for London Bridge to shit itself a day after the government revealed its bazillion page plans for another high speed rail, dubbed HS2. A link between London Euston and Birmingham looks to be a necessary connection, but at recent estimations of over £70billion many might agree that local transport systems, like the TFL, could do with some TLC first.
The TFL is a big-bollocked, world-class transport network, but for being the most expensive in the world, there are certainly some pitfalls that compete with the Brommies for attention. As the coldness descends and daytime is consumed by infinite drunken darkness, the dread of weather-affected commutes settle deep in many Londoner’s bones. “It’s like we’ve been transported to a fucking third-world country,” a fellow commuter whispered to me when we finally emerged at Greenwich North last night.
The problem is money. The only way for London to cope with adverse weather conditions is to throw around the pound. Every year salt and grit – which is surprisingly expensive and a pain in the arse to store – runs low, and with only 3,000 vehicles distributing it, London’s roads never stay clear long enough for you to unclench as your coxis quivers.
Every year the TFL and the City of London promise to reduce the effects of snow and sleet. Yet every year the network seizes as soon as the white mist descends. Salt and grit runs out and the county’s few snowploughs meander around like children looking for their parents – your parents abandoned you, they’re in Scandinavia doing a better job at dealing with the snow than you are.
The TFL are facing cuts, and as such have announced that ticket offices are to be closed, a move that will save the network around £40million a year. Though this is essentially a long-winded, slightly drunken whinge from someone that lives on the over ground network, the fact that a small, contained fire was able to completely disrupt an entire capital city’s transport for over three hours proves that the drawing board needs dusting off. People are continuing to bury their head in the snow about climate change, but no matter which bed you sleep in, the fact of the matter is that London is heading for its fourth year of serious weather-related transport disruptions. Until Elon Musk stops fucking supermodels, high speed rail networks seem to be the future, but perhaps the plans are too progressive and overlooking a developing issue in our capital cities.
London was established by the Romans, and perhaps we are simply suffering from the same mustard approach to expansion. Always looking forward and forgetting to maintain what we’ve already conquered. As much as I love drinking wine and fucking, I don’t think following the route of these specific ancestors will do much for London.
At the end of the day, trains don’t jell with snow, buses don’t have skates and our tube is like Helen Mirren – it looks good, but it’s old and the piping isn’t what it used to be. A high speed rail will be all good and well, but will prove little use when you alight for your horse and carriage at Euston.
Header Image: Travis Jayent via Twitter. Insets: Olly StJohn via Twitter; Mark Lantrok via Twitter