Friday, 30 January 2009

Friday 30/01

A smooth cycle home yesterday in the rather less than chaotic atmosphere of the national strike.
Then this morning, by the time I begun my outward journey (around 9 am) everything seemed to be working again. I even got one of those unusual non-stopping trains that go straight from Paris St Lazare to Bécon, before going on to St Cloud.
Total journey time quick = around 50 minutes

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Wednesday 28/01

Two relatively trouble free journeys on public transport today, although I couldn't get on a train to Bécon (pleasant enough walk from BOis Colombes, though)

I expected the worse on the evening commute home in view of tomorrow's national strike, but everything seemed to be working normally.

Thursday 29/01

This seems to be turning into my lucky week, transport wise.
no rain (but sub-zero temperatures) for this national strike day - perhaps a more treasured institution in my adopted country even than bank holidays.

As is often the case in such circumstances, it was eerily quiet and orderly out there, with no more traffic than usual. I enjoyed a smooth ride in with only my fingers and toes complaining of the cold.
Total journey time = 60 minutes

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Tuesday 27/01

Event-free cycle home yesterday, although my front derailer is still playing up. I may have to have it refitted, which is quite a job.

With rain forecast this afternoon I was back on the public transport network this morning. The trains seemed to be running pretty well on time (very quick total journey time of just 55 minutes), but there must have been a quite spectacular systems failure somewhere as none of the notice boards was functioning, on either RER R or the suburban train platforms. Unless of course this was just a coincidence.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Monday 26/01

Aside from the usual hazards (wet roads, vans parked in cycle lanes, buses blocking the street as they turn, pedestrians running for buses, buses pulling out sharply to avoid said would-be passengers..) a nice smooth ride in.
Tota journey time: 60 minutes

Have learnt that the train chaos on Fri was caused by the presence of a passenger on the line and several others carrying out a rescue operation.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Fri 23/01

hmmm two extremes today.

very quick journey in this morning (well 55 minutes), the only obstacle being driving rain on the walk in to the office.

But quite the opposite this evening. For some reason I did not investigate there were no trains at all from Bécon to St. Lazare. This gave me the opportunity to try out yet another route. It took 90 minutes in all, but much of that was in a crowded metro train, so its not an option I am all that keen on. Anyway, for the record it was:
- walk to Pont de Levallois Metro
- line 3 to VIlliers
- line 2 to La CHapelle
- lengthy walk to cut through to RER E at Magenta and then back to Noisy le Sec

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Thursday 22/01

Don't want this Blog to develop into too much of a weather report, but it was pouring down this morning - so no bike for a while.
The industrial action is now over at Saint Lazare but the services in the morning still seem to be disrupted by something or other. Perhaps its just sheer weight of passenger numbers.
Total journey time = 70 minutes

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Wednesday 21/01

Well despite the late finish at the studio last night and the low temperatures (although not by recent standards) this morning, I did return to my preferred means of transport.

I enjoyed a trouble-free ride in, even managing to complete the last 2 or 3 km in something vaguely resembling daylight.

Total journey time: 65 minutes (this is counting the time it takes to pile on the multiple layers of clothing - just the 5, actually- before setting out).

Techies corner: I’m having difficulty with my front derailer which does not want the chain to latch on to the large chain ring. I would tinker around with it myself, but this is just as likely to make matters worse as better. Looks like another stop at Decathlon is in the pipeline.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Tuesday 20/01

Good for me, but dull for the blog.
2 very smooth public transport journeys to report, with just one little train cancellation yesterday evening from Bécon to Paris Saint Lazare.

This morning, I left a little earlier to avoid the crowds and even managed to board a train from St. Lazare to Bécon, for the first time in ages.

Total journey time = 55 minutes

Showers are threatened for this afternoon, but I hope to be back on the bike tomorrow.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Monday 19/01

Well getting my chain fixed proved to be easier than I anticipated. A walk/scoot with the wounded bike to the 4 Temps shopping centre at La Defense, where the Go Sport branch has a well-equipped and well-staffed bike workshop.
I don’t imagine this facility is overused either as it is pretty well impossible to cycle into the sector, and walking a bike through a pedestrian shopping centre with escalators etc. is quite a deterrent.
So after 10 minutes, the careful attention of 3 technicians – each one apparently more senior and competent than the last – and for the princely sum of five euros I was back on the road.
I’m fairly certain that my local cycle association, the venerable MDB does not mention Go Sport’s repair and service centre on its web site. It should.

Since then, I have bought myself a chain tool and have determined that one of the things I will do in 2009 is learn how to use it. All is explained apparently – plus everything else to do with bikes – herein.

Not a bad journey in this morning. 8.43 from Noisy RER (line E - Eole), then the 8.02 (which was more like the 8. 07 by the time it actually left) from St Lazare to Bois Colombes and then a walk in to the office.
Total journey time = 60 minutes
I didn’t even check if there were trains running to Bécon and how many hundreds of passengers were waiting. To be honest, I’m quite happy with the walk, as it is, in any case, my aim to walk an hour a day.
Unfortunately, looks like more of the same the rest of the week as scattered showers (rares averses), much beloved by Meteo France are forecast for the next few days.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Thursday 15/01

What is becoming a bad week continues.

Had thoroughly enjoyable ride in, despite the cold, right up until my arrival here at the office. Around 10 metres from the entrance, my chain broke. I carry spare inner tubes, but not chain links and tools. In any case I do not have the skills necessary to repair anything on the drive mechanism.

Total journey time = 60 minutes, but it will be a struggle to find a repairer for the chain this lunchtime.

Wednesday 14/01

Bit of a tale of woe this morning. I had got prepared for a bike ride in, but was greeted by a heavy shower of rain on opening the front door. Plan B then went into action, but this did not go much better. I hurriedly changed just in time to catch my neighbour who drives to nearby Levallois. Only, no sign of him this morning, for some reason.
Plan C was a different lift (from another kind neighbour – I bet you all want to live in my street) into Paris, 10th . From here it was a velib ride (in light but persistent rain) to St. Lazare which, so the radio informed us, was now working normally.

Needless to say it wasn’t, and I could only get on a train going to Bois Colombes, which meant another damp walk into the office.
Total journey time = best part of 2 hours.

Return almost trouble-free, apart from a signposting failure on the RER E network. This is worse than it sounds, as there are 4 platforms to choose from and if you don’t know when and where the trains are going you must take a chance on either 31/33 or 32/34. In the end, I waited no more than 10 minutes for the train to leave.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Tuesday 13/01

Now that’s more like it!

All was going well this morning until I got to St. Lazare.

I should point out that the RER E service into Haussmann from Noisy le Sec is really pretty good in the morning, most of the time.

At St. Lazare, to quote one of the SNCF passenger relation staff officers, it was a “Festival”. Not of happy commuters sharing a drink and a quick smile before being whisked off to their offices, but of empty departure boards and very full platforms.
Apparently, a public transport worker had been attacked the night before and all the morning passengers were being made to pay for this reprehensible action.
We were led to believe – although I didn’t check – that it was not only the overground SNCF trains that were affected but also the RER A line.

In any case, I had never seen so many hapless would be passengers staring vacantly up at a blank departures board.

I tried my usual trick in such cases of taking the less frequented and more comfortable train out to Bois Colombes, not a particularly long walk from the office, but one you would probably not choose to undertake on a rainy morning. All was going well with the platform board on 12 announcing that the train would be leaving at 8.12. To make matters even better, the train was virtually empty so I settled down for the ride.

Only problem was, at 8.32 we hadn’t moved. It’s one thing to run a completely shambolic service, but misinforming the public is pure malice. Either the controllers simply do not know which train is likely to go where from which platform, or they do know but they prefer to feed false information to the passengers. I don’t know which is worse – the first probably as this also suggests something of a safety risk as well.

Anyway to cut a long story long, I then waited on a slow train bound ultimately for La Defense for a further 10 minutes. This one went nowhere but filled up impressively. I eventually scrambled on to a train which did leave and arrived 8 minutes later at Bois Colombes, so I did get my damp walk in to the office after all.

The original plan, with temperatures now soaring well above 0°, was to return to the bike, but this was thwarted by persistent rain. (not the occasional showers threatened by Meteo France, but the real stuff). In the early weeks of 2009, the weather has not exactly been my ally in my daily quest to cross the Ile de France.

Total journey time = 100 minutes

Even by Parisian standards, this was disruption on an exceptional scale. We had been warned in the morning that transport workers felt aggrieved about one of their own being physically attacked the previous evening, but it was nonetheless something of a surprise when sudden and total industrial action was called leading to the closure of St. Lazare station.

Commuters were left entirely to their own devices and with almost no notice.

For my part, the return journey was not much longer and a good deal more agreeable than usual. A colleague kindly offered me a lift to Paris (Porte de Champeret), where I easily found a velib bike.

25 minutes later I was at Gare du Nord and in another 15 minutes I was home.

I still fail to see how penalising the great mass of the traveling public (most of whom are commuting to work) can be considered an appropriate response to the attack. I guess you have to be a French trade unionist to get your head round that one.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Monday 12/01

Aha, so it looks like our troubles are far from over:

Read this...

Having said that, not a bad journey in this morning, as I was able to find a train leaving for Bois Colombes as soon as I got to St. Lazare. Got slightly lost negotiating the various bridges and tunnels to get here to the office though and the 20 minute walk actually took 30.
The good news is that the ice is now disappearing so I hope to be back on the bike this week. That should liven up this blog, if nothing else!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Friday 09/01

Surprisingly trouble-free journey in, which was just as well as I had to leave home somewhat later than usual. Journey time of around 50 minutes which just goes to show how much time I lose when it takes an hour and a half!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Thursday 08/01

Following a smooth albeit cold journey home yesterday eve, a surprisingly trouble-free RER ride into Haussmann station this morning. But then once again, there were crowds and cancelled trains waiting for me at St. Lazare (that last bit doesn’t sound quite right)

Finished up spending a stressful quarter of an hour watching the train I was sitting on fill up. But it never actually left the station. In any case, it had got way too crowded for me with office workers desperate to get to the towers at La Defense. After a mere 10 minutes I found another train which was bound for Bécon.
Total journey time: back down to 70 minutes.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Wednesday 07/01

I don’t want this to become a weather blog but I feel duty bound to report that the temperature at the moment is not only sub-zero but sub -5. According to reliable sources – a colleague I bumped into on reaching the office – the local temperature here this morning sunk as low as -11°.

OK back to the commuting. Again, a trouble-free return journey by public transport yesterday evening so perhaps the industrial action is finally petering out.

Different story this morning however. I got to Noisy le Sec RER at around 7.45, but the next scheduled train to Paris was not until 8.02. This implies the cancellation of at least 2 trains so something was clearly not right.
To avoid a 15 minute wait in Arctic conditions and to give myself some slim hope of actually getting to work, I took an RER train going the wrong way – out of Paris. This may seem counter-intuitive, but believe me it is the best tactic in such situations. At the ‘hub’ station of Val de Fontenay, and after a 10 minute wait, I was able to get a fast train going back into Paris – and past the still crowded platforms of the stations on the way in.
The alternative would have been less productive as I know from experience that I would never have been able to get on the ‘slow’ 8.02 train at Noisy and quite probably the one after that too.
Amazingly, and for the first time in weeks, I actually caught a train from St. Lazare to Bécon although it left late, was packed and crawled along for most of the way.
Total journey time = 90 minutes.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Tuesday 06/01

Surprisingly trouble free return commute yesterday eve, but fun and games again this morning.
RER E train stuck at Noisy le Sec for 10 minutes (this was actually good news for me as it enabled me to catch it) and then the usual scene of crowded platforms at St. Lazare. I have learnt that most of the problems are in fact caused by indutrial action, although it is said that the service should be returning to normal later this week.

As usual, I took the first train out to Bois Colombes and walked gingerly to the office on a mixture of snow, ice and semi-frozen sludge.
Total journey time: 70 minutes.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Monday 05/01

OK, so new year's resolution is to write every day in this blog - even if its just a couple of words to say how I completed the journey.
Well for the first day back at work after an extended break there was a light dusting of snow and sub-zero temperatures to contend with. Cycling ruled out then, so I was at the mercy of the public transport network.
Finished up completing the journey in a creditable 75 minutes, but this did mean taking a train out from St. Lazare to Bois-Colombes, rather than to Bécon.
As usual the scene at St. L was of hundreds of would-be commuters gazing hopefully up at the departures board for a train heading out on the lines towards Cergy or La Defense.
In such cases I now head immediately for platforms 9-12 where you can pretty well always find a train going out to Bois Colombes. The walk to the office is longer (around 20 minutes compared to 10 from Bécon) but the greater comfort and regularity of this service far outweigh this drawback.
Not sure if the problems at St. L are due to technical factors, industrial action or a combination of the two. Let's see what the SNCF itself has to say about it...

hmmm ..this is worrying. According to the transilien's problem alert web site, ABCDtrain, everything is hunky dory on the lines in question.
Looks like I'll be wearing out quite a few pairs of work shoes then...