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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Half the trains from Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City, Hertford, etc via Harringay and Hornsey in the evenings are now cancelled. The official explanation is "lack of train crews" but this is a load of codswallop - does the single driver of these 6 car trains constitute the  "train crew" that you'd expect to find on a mainline Intercity service (typically 8-12 members of staff)? Why can't they employ more drivers? 

This has been going on for years but lately it's gotten a whole lot worse. Great Northern's own website says the number of trains arriving at their destination within 5 minutes of the scheduled time yesterday, Tuesday 26th Feb, was 59.9% but this conveniently ignores the number of trains that don't arrive at all!

Waiting for a train at Highbury & Islington, you sometimes see a train listed on the platform indicator as being due in 2 minutes. Then it suddenly changes to 'cancelled'; how come a train that was 2 minutes away (presumably somewhere north of Essex Road) suddenly vanish off the line? Did it vapourise in the tunnel? Fall into a black hole?


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Could be to do with the fact that they are about to introduce new trains on the route (class 717) and are testing them. Those new trains may well have issues as they are tested, causing disruption. Then perhaps as the existing trains are about to go, they're not being maintained as well as they were, causing disruption. Then presumably the new trains will be introduced and have further teething issues, causing disruption. Then maybe after that things will improve??

Train spotting version of this speculation here : https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/gn-class-717.146166/page-48 (found this thread looking for a date for the new trains coming into service - as I'm hoping it will give an improvement!)

Always take care when relying on the musings of a forum of spotters as they (we!?) are a notorious bunch for fanciful speculation seeping in to the otherwise reliable fact!

This evening there was a meltdown due to a passenger ill on a train at Grange Park. No details given although a further scan of the above forum would probably give you a fairly trustworthy explanation.

You have a point there - Crossrail/the Elizabeth Line is being delayed by over a year owing to software testing, etc.

I have seen these new Great Northern trains - they slowly glide through stations without stopping, with 2 or 3 people sitting in the front carriage staring at laptops. A far cry from lying strapped onto a wheel bogie, just a couple of feet above the track wearing a hard hat and carrying a voltmeter (as my uncle did when seconded by GEC to the British Rail APT project in the Seventies).

I’ve had the misfortune of having to use the line 3 times in the last 7 days and had exactly the same experience as you Andy (except it’s during the day at Finsbury Park).  The indicator says 3 minutes, then wavers around for another 15 minutes promising something in 4/3/2 minutes then “cancelled” appears.  As I’m only going as far as Harringay it’s incredibly frustrating.  If they put up “cancelled” straightaway I’d go and get the 29 bus rather than hanging around.  Something to do with the published performance data do you think?

I really don't know. The same thing happens with South Eastern trains on the Dartford to London line - you can get to Bexleyheath station have just missed one of the half-hourly trains to Victoria or Charing Cross, wait 25 minutes as the platform indicator slowly counts down to about 5 minutes remaining and then it's suddenly cancelled! If they are telling the truth, the train has already departed from Dartford and passed through Barnehurst by then so where is the train if it was cancelled? Like you, if I had known I'd have got the bus to Woolwich and taken the DLR instead of shivering on an open platform with waiting room locked up, etc

Agree, there is often a 20-minute gap between trains from Moorgate to Hornsey.  E.g. they cancel the 17.55 so there is no train from the 17.50 until 18.10 which is then horribly overcrowded. We have alternative routes but people living further out have had an awful winter. Twitter is very active on this.

Another annoying thing about services from Moorgate is half of the trains don't stop at either Harringay or Hornsey, they go straight from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me - the majority of passengers on trains stopping at Hornsey get off there and on occasion I have seen crowded carriages empty completely when the train stops at that station.  

I suppose it saves a couple of minutes for those journeying beyong Ally Pally but I agree.  The stops between Moorgate and Ally Pally should really be treated as if they were part of the tube network with all trains stopping there.  If there was better signage, train announcements and a more integrated system people might understand that by changing at Harringay they can access the Gospel Oak to Barking line and that from Hornsey it’s an easy walk to the Piccadilly Line at Turnpike Lane.  It might even help with the terrible morning/evening crush at Finsbury Park

The two trains an hour that don't stop at Harringay+Hornsey (six others do) use spare capacity on the 'goods lines' so keeping the very busy slow and fast lines clear of two trains, it's more about max. capacity for longer distance trains through Welwyn and Peterborough than a quicker Metro journey. But yes you get irregular timetable times as a consequence.

Most recent post on Railforums site cited above:

"Went to Thameslink 'meet the manager' today, was told March 11th is the new date for introduction."

Well soon after that all the foreigners will have had to go home so happy days.

Bye John :-)

The 20:03 from Highbury & Islington to Hertford last night was one of the brand new trains. Very comfortable and oh so quiet - no underfloor compressors starting up every few minutes and roaring away for half the journey. But the train was packed & I had to stand all the way - I get the feeling there's fewer seats in the new trains? Instead of 2+3 seats either side of the aisle, there's now just 2+2.



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