Out of ser­vice

The Daily Telegraph - - Letters To The Editor -

Thou­sands of rail trav­ellers found they could not buy tick­ets yes­ter­day be­cause ma­chines had bro­ken down. Such in­fu­ri­at­ing fail­ures punc­tu­ate daily life. Any com­puter that can fail does fail even­tu­ally, it seems, and any ac­count that has a pass­word can be hacked. We have grown to rely on ev­ery­thing work­ing au­to­mat­i­cally and quickly. Sta­tion book­ing of­fices are so called be­cause a man used to write your jour­ney in a book when is­su­ing a ticket. All that could go wrong was the man go­ing sick or rain get­ting in and mak­ing the book soggy. Once, a black­smith could mend a car; now no one can, with­out send­ing for new cir­cuitry. Trav­ellers used hap­pily to wait days for a favourable wind. Now we howl for com­pen­sa­tion at a three-hour de­lay. We ex­pect more, and if any­thing goes wrong – we’re sunk.

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