diamond geezer

 Sunday, August 13, 2017

I hesitate to mention (again) the westbound Next Train Indicator at Bow Road station.

But they tweaked it again midweek, and now it's malfunctioning in a completely new and unbelievable way.

No longer is there any pretence that the screen is showing you what the next train might be.

Instead, when you get down to the platform, the display invariably says this.

1 Check Front of Train  
2 Check Front of Train 0 mins
3 Check Front of Train 1 min

Zero minutes. Seriously, zero minutes.

Most worryingly of all, it's the second train.

How does a train zero minutes away arrive into the platform second without there being an almighty crash?

What's more, the first train isn't necessarily in the platform yet. The top line on the display now says 'Check Front of Train' all the time, with no number of minutes attached, whether there's a train in the station or not.

Most of the time the second line says 'Check Front of Train 0 min' and the third line says 'Check Front of Train 1 min'. The third train being only one minute away is almost as untenable as the second train being zero.

But every minute or two, for a few seconds, the display flickers and changes to something even more insane.

1 Check Front of Train  
2 Check Front of Train 1 min
3 Check Front of Train 0 mins

How is that order even possible?

Either somebody at TfL has invented time travel, or there is something extremely wrong with this Next Train Indicator.

(Spoiler: Nobody at TfL has invented time travel)

The 'second train 1 min, third train 0 min' version of the display stays up for about ten seconds or so, then flips back to the original.

1 Check Front of Train  
2 Check Front of Train 0 mins
3 Check Front of Train 1 min

And this cycle then repeats, with the 0 and 1 shuffling around for no obvious reason...
...or at least it has repeated all the times I've been watching since the middle of the week.

How poor can a datafeed be to generate a zero, repeatedly, in the number of minutes? More to the point, how unfit for purpose is the underlying programming which allows these impossible orderings to appear?

Alas, it seems there's no longer any useful information being provided on Bow Road's westbound platform.

• Two weeks ago, before the upgrade, the display offered one minute's notice of the (correct) destination of the next train.
• One week ago the display offered the next three trains, but generally to incorrect destinations at incorrect times.
• Now have we 'Check Front of Train' as a permanent fixture, and no clue whatsoever as to what's going where or when.

On the bright side, at least people walking onto the platform can now immediately deduce that the information on the display is gibberish. Last week they'd have believed it, unless they looked up more than once and saw the seemingly random combinations flipping around.

I'll also remind you that a seriously archaic signalling system is being upgraded, in stages, and that the data arriving at Bow Road is reliant on what stage that upgrade has reached and where. It may well now be impossible to provide good information if enough connections have been broken, or if the data reaching the display can no longer be translated.

But if the best anyone can now do is...

1 Check Front of Train  
2 Check Front of Train 0 mins
3 Check Front of Train 1 min

...wouldn't it be less wholeheartedly misleading to cover the display or turn the damned thing off?


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