The tube service in London always reminds me of the Hong Kong comparable: the MTR.
Every now and then you listen to the broadcast on the London Underground: “all lines are now operating a good service”. Surprise surprise. You never get that in Hong Kong. Any such broadcast would invite sniggering.
Today I spent almost an hour travelling from West End to London Bridge by the Underground. Each time as I travel by the District Line, I am shocked by its likelihood to run late, or to stop in the middle of the rail-track without much warning. Passengers seem to take this so calmly, except for one or two of them who might winge or grimace somewhat.
The most acceptable reason for train delays or suspension must be signalling failure. Signalling failure is the golden phrase that explains everything. To make matters worse, there’s no mobile phone connection in the tube, so if you are running late and you are meant to be meeting up with someone, there’s no way you can call to explain or postpone the meeting: you will simply have to turn up late and say sorry. I read from the news that London passengers actually prefer not to have mobile phone connection on the Underground because the last thing they wanted are phone calls on the train.
If you happen to live along the Jubilee Line, you will be surprised by the money you can save, since the frequent weekend suspension of a major section or even the entire line is more than likely to keep you at home. The weekend suspension is a necessary move to improve public infrastructure and to prepare for the London Olympics.
In Hong Kong, where time is a luxury, turning up late for work because of a train delay is a very lame excuse. A train delay lasting ten minutes or longer always becomes the headline story for the next day, and would call for an in-depth inquiry by a Legislative Council committee. Repair and enhancement work is always carried out at night.