Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 28/08/2003The lights go off all over London. Well, the southern bit anyway, which is fairly close to London.


Thursday 28/08/2003
The lights go off all over London. Well, the southern bit anyway, which is fairly close to London. I'm heading off into town via King's Cross, but when I get there by bus the place resembles an ant heap that someone's prodded with a very big stick. No tubes, no trains, no cabs, just a sullen stream of clotted buses and ten thousand commuters yelling into mobile phones. To cap it all, the first rain for ages is washing away the dust of a long, hot summer, so walking anywhere is massively unattractive. Give up, go home seems to be the message.

Get home, check out the London Transport Web. "Slight delays to Circle Line," the service update ticker said. No mention of the entire network spasming like a Warwick on a ring. I phone the London Transport advice line: engaged.  After a while, a message appeared on the site. "The service update feature of this site is not working", it said. "Slight delays to Circle Line", the ticker repeated.

I can imagine the chaos inside London Underground was twice as exciting as the milling millions outside King's Cross, so nobody can blame them when their ticker went wonky. But not being able to turn it off, to the extent you have to put up a message next to it effectively saying "Don't look!" while it continues to give out happy, chirpy nonsense, is more worrying -- especially since the Web site should have been the first source of up-to-date news on the situation.

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