When I was going to school and taking the various forms of transport that I insisted on taking so that I could join in on the pre school fun, there were never any announcements about delays. The train was delayed and it was always presumed to be TFL or the train company’s fault.
Later it may have been discovered through a friend or if it was serious on the news, what the matter actually was and I would (sometimes) feel a bit bad about blaming them.
Generally though everyone was left with the conclusion that the fault lay with the them and that they should step up, considering how much we paid (if only I appreciated how little we actually did pay compared to now) for a ticket.
Nowadays we suffer none of these issues. If there is a problem, there will be an announcement. They will say if it is because a driver is ill; a tree has fallen into the track; signal failure has meant that one train was delayed causing the other to be cancelled; someone has fallen or jumped onto the track. And my personal gripe, someone has pulled the passenger alarm.
Now I am sure that the point of informing everyone about the problem was in the interest of customer service. And to be fair, they have a point. Because sometimes when it is a problem that they cannot help, such as the tree on the line, I may roll my eyes and not get how this could not be prevented, but I will understand that sometimes these things happen.
But when it is the fault of an individual, albeit an unnamed individual, this gets me annoyed in a way that I never had to worry about before.
Excused are those who decide to end their lives via train/tube track/driver. Sometimes people are going through troubles and that is not something I can judge. Though if they could pick a time, perhaps rush hour is not the best; maybe try late in the evening…
But what I should be equally as understanding about but am not, is when the announcement comes on that my train/tube is delayed because someone has pulled a passenger alarm.
Now I can see the reasons for why they created a passenger alarm. If someone falls ill on the cylinder metal hunk of machine that has not necessarily got air conditioning and which more than often is rammed tighter than a tin of tuna, then they can pull a lever and there will be help. The person driving or the conductor can radio the next station. Or they may even be able to get assistance on the train itself if a nurse or doctor is available.
In reality though there are two issues.
1. There is no rule as to what counts as an alarm that should be raised.
2. Up until fairly recently they didn’t say what would be the result of pulling the alarm (now they say you get help in the station).
So what happens is that a person on a packed train start feeling faint so they pull the alarm as the train is hurtling down the tracks to the next station. The train stops. The driver/conductor make their way down to where the alarm was pulled. They make an assessment and then they radio ahead before continuing on their way. Help is given at the next station and this all causes a knock on delay which everyone else has to cope with.
Now I am not blaming the person that pulled the alarm. Granted, what help did they think could be given on the train. And yes if the train is packed and you feel dizzy then delaying the train by pulling the alarm will only cause you and everyone else to be in the situation longer, but the tool is there to be used.
I am blaming the train company. Now that is it established that help is given at the station. Why exactly is that kind of alarm there in the first place. I know little about how alarms can work, but wouldn’t it be better for a signal to be sent to the next station to get medics ready because someone is ill.
I mean, is the driver medically qualified or does he/she have special skills where if they stop the train and have a check they will be able to tell the people at the other end what the problem is? Would it not be better for the alarm to get in touch with the station so that one of the other passengers can say what the matter is? And ok my idea has flaw, such as, what if there is no one else on the train. And I maybe have not thought about it enough but there must be some other and more convenient way to get a person help that doesn’t involve stopping the train?
Because it seems to me and my view is kind of supported by the various posters and odd announcements that ask people not to pull it, that they are as useful and annoying as the open button on the tube.
Wouldn’t it be best to just have a station alarm, if the alarm only works when the tube/train is in the station? Because in my experience the main result of pulling it is an aftermath of delays…