Friday, January 18, 2008

DLR Days

There was a report in the free newspaper about a woman who had fought off a gang of 9 on the Docklands Light Railway, and managed to retain her bag.


I was riding in the front carriage yesterday evening, where you would expect the driver to sit. Great views as we swooped along the concrete track: past hotels, over and under roads, round bends, paralleling docks and passing London City Airport. I believed for a while that, in a miracle of modernity, the trains were driverless. No, there is an inconspicuous chap whose job is restricted to occasionally pressing the odd button. Seems the epitome of mindlessness to me: sometimes he sits at the back and faces the wrong way.


Tuesday evening I bought a return ticket from Canary Wharf to my hotel at the end of the line, Beckton. Wednesday morning, pre-dawn, en-route back to work, an inspector checked my ticket.

“This says January 15th.”


“Today’s the 16th.”

I explain that I had bought a return ticket the previous evening, and was now in fact returning.

“You can’t travel on a 15th ticket on the 16th.”

“That’s crazy, you can see the time I bought the ticket - 7.14 pm. I’ve paid the return fare and now I’m returning.”

“You can’t travel on a 15th ticket on the 16th. That’s the regulations.”

I should add that the DLR doesn’t do manned ticket offices – it’s only machines.

“Nowhere on the ticket machine does it say that a ticket has to be used on the day of issue.”

“I agree, sir, and I’ll let you off this time. But be aware, if the London Transport audit people check you, they won’t take any excuses. It’ll be a £20 fine on the spot.”

Secure in my moral righteousness, I have to say I was not reduced to a butterball of fear by this final threat. Nor, as it happens, did the LT inquisition haul me in. (By the way guys, if you’re reading this – I just made it up – it isn’t real!).

I do understand the reason for this apparent idiocy – it’s just a mechanism to make ticket evasion harder, as they have uncontrolled access to the platforms and trains. However, this is one case where to understand all is not to forgive any of it.


Due to the Boat Show at the Excel Centre which has filled all adjacent hotels, I’ve been in the Beckton Premier Inn this week. Plain fare, but clean and comfortable. I struggle to get used to the girl – yes, it is a girl, who takes orders for food – terminating every sentence she speaks to me with “darling”. I’d be the last person to understate my own charms, but really! This morning, as I left the hotel for the last time, I crunched out over broken glass – great!

Next week it’s back to Business Class and the Ramada.