According to Transport for London’s latest number crunching, covering what it calls ‘period 4’ (the sweaty 4 weeks to 19 July), delays on the London Underground were 20% down on the same period last year. 

Not that there’s any great cause for celebration. Somewhere along the line, TfL lost 1.45 million hours. It calls them ‘lost customer hours’ or, to put it another way, the additional journey time you had to endure as a result of service disruptions.


Defective trains were the biggest culprit; they cost you 460,000 hours. Next was staff absence; 300,000 hours of it.

Then the one we all know and love so well; 260,000 hours’ worth of signal failures.

Finally, you. You delayed yourselves by 270,000 hours. Or at least those other passengers did. The ones who set off alarms, attempted suicide, trespassed on the railway, got drunk, lost your children, had a fight with a fellow sufferer, held the doors open or got ill on the train.

Of course, London Underground is keen to point out that the latest improvement “is a continuation of year-on-year decreases in delays on the Tube and demonstrates that LU remains on track to meet the Mayor’s commitment to reduce delays by a further 30 per cent by 2015”.

And that it carried 1.265bn passengers last year; a number that’s up by a third over the last decade.