Fortunately this hasn't affected me personally as I'm not back at work until Thursday, but over on the Chesham Commuters facebook page there is a bit of a furore over this, which is apparently being caused by a train "that went defective" at Chalfont & Latimer late last night. Apparently the decision was made to stable it at Chesham. It still being defective means there is no service until further notice. The question being asked by many, is why was the train not sent to Amersham where it could have been put in one of the reversing sidings without causing too much impact to the service. Normally I am one of the staunchest defenders of LU but the service we have had to endure to Chesham over the last few months has been consistently unreliable, and whilst I try and spread a bit of perspective amongst all the gnashing of teeth, it's becoming increasingly difficult. I'm sure there is a rational operating reason that the decision was made, but from what I hear the communication to passengers hasn't been great.
It does seem odd that once the defective Amersham train had been assisted back into the platform at Chalfont, by coupling-up another train, that a decision was then made uncouple the two trains and move the defective onto the single-line up to Chesham, rather than, aldenham says to Amersham. Passengers were on the train for 130mins before recovery back to Chalfont.
Is the line to the bay platform at Chalfont still accessible? Obviously the train wouldn't fit in the platform, but there is a lot more than a train length between the stops and the junction, so putting a train there would be (theoretically at least) out the way of everything.
The essential things in life are seen not with the eyes, but with the heart. --Antoine de St. Exupery
How much disruption would it have caused stabling at Amersham? Are both sidings routinely used at the same time?
I would have thought not, as with normally only two trains an hour now, there wouldn't be much need. There is a precedent, as a train of withdrawn D stock was stored there for a while before going off the network.
Original message taken from the Chesham Commuters Facebook group was as follows:
"I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no service from Chesham this morning, this is until further notice. There is a train that went defective very late last night, and the choices were to leave it at Chalfont until it could be fixed, therefore causing service to be suspended Rickmansworth to Chesham, or move it to Chesham so that tube services can still run from Amersham. This will be until they can get the defective train fixed enough to be able to move without decimating the rest of the service. The controllers and train techs have been trying to sort this since 2356 last night, and the decision was made at 0400 this morning to move it out of the way."
Messages on the group this morning are from commuters querying how to claim a refund as the doors to Chesham station were closed, preventing people from tapping in.
Having read some internal information on this incident, the defective train initially failed around midnight with no forward motoring available. Subsequently the defective train was found to have no motoring available from either cab hence the assisting train was required.
The assisting train takes time to arrange and implement hence the extended delay in getting customers off the failed train.
Once the customers were taken off the trains were uncoupled to allow the attending train technician an opportunity to try and resolve the defect (it's not ideal to have a 16 car train on the railway if one can avoid it as that presents its own set of problems). The train technician was able to successfully obtain motoring but with low confidence of the fix holding.
By now it was 3am. Although the assisting train was still present, as already stated a 16 car train presents its own set of problems to overcome and greatly extends any recovery of the railway as such a train movement has to be done at extremely slow speed. Moving such a combination to any particular location would have therefore impacted on the morning service start up.
The quickest and easiest way out of the situation was therefore to move the initial problem train onto the Chesham branch. It was able to move under its own power and this option would allow an opportunity to see if the fix would hold up. As it turned out the fix didn't hold up and it failed several times on the way to Chesham, eventually arriving there at 4.30am
The assisting train eventually got to Rickmansworth sidings at 0352 which at least allowed the morning service to start up on time.
Having that problem train on the Chesham branch did at least allow for the train to be further looked at by train technicians overnight and a test run to take place the following day within the confines of the branch in order to provide confidence ahead of allowing the train back onto the railway.
Whilst I can see the frustration of Chesham users, and don't doubt the communication from LU was poor, it looks to me to have been the right decision given all the circumstances.