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Old August 12th 03, 08:34 AM posted to uk.transport.london
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Default Information Problems at L.U.

In the message: ...
"CJG" wrote:

Classic example of this today. Points failure at Wembley park. So all
Met trains terminating at Harrow On Hill. Only trains heading to London
are Chiltern trains.
On Platform 2 waiting for Chiltern train. There is a big sign that quite
clearly states "Marylebone Only". There is an announcement that the next
train to arrive at Platform 2 is British Rail train to Marylebone. A
ghost train obviously considering "British Rail" hasn't existed in year.
But according to the Station Assistant it was a "British Rail" train.
Anyway forgetting that as its irrelevant.
Anyway waiting for the train to come in. And surprised to find a Met
line train with Baker Street clearly displayed on the front rolled into
Platform 2. Of course. Everyone on the platform was expecting a train to
Central London. The train clearly said Baker Street. So all the people
piled onto the train. Only for the driver to announce that the train
terminated here. The driver then walked down the platform ignoring all
the passenger pleas to know where the train was going. And a couple of
minutes in his cab announced the train was going to Rickmansworth.
Now you have a huge fixed sign on the platform. A station announcer. And
the front of the train. All saying Central London. And the train infact
is going the opposite way into Hertfordshire.
Now points failure may not be 100 the fault of L.U. The heat isn't. And
sure its better to be safe than sorry and have delays than derailments.
But if your going to do this. Then you need to give customers up to
date. Exact. Correct information. You can't treat passengers like the
example above and not expect them to get angry.
Personally I found the whole thing highly amusing. As I have found its
better to laugh at L.U's attempts to run the transport of a major world
city than to get angry about it.
But there were a lot of hot and angry people on that platform. And it
was probably for the best there was no staff around.

Maybe its not possible to have Dot matrix displays at every station for
whatever reason. But customers need to be kept informed of whats
happening. Especially with all the current delays. And that isn't
happening. At all.


ISTM that few if any designers of public information display systems
take such 'out-of-order' situations into account, so that for example they
fail to include a pre-defined specific message indicating that trains are
not running as advertised. And it would be desirable to distinguish between
minor delays and more serious disruption, such as that described above,
even if full details can't be given (due eg to lack of display capacity).
A practical compromise could be a generic 'Service disrupted - please
listen to announcements' message.

For that reason (and also perhaps because these systems generally
operate automatically, and can't be over-ridden locally), the existing
displays typically indicate what is *supposed* to be happening, not
what is really occuring - and travellers should bear that in mind. As
for the associated issue of terminology (eg saying 'British Rail' instead
of 'Chiltern Trains' ), ISTM that spoken announcements should
correspond to whatever is displayed by the local public information
system. And if that at Harrow-on-the-Hill still refers to 'British Rail'
because it hasn't been updated since privatisation, then the local
staff's announcements should be consistent with that.

Regards,

- Alan (in Brussels)



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