UK rail lines blocked by unexpected Windows dialog box

It looks like you’re trying to run a rail service. Do you want some help with that?

Office 365 dialog on line information screen

The train now arriving on platform 14 is… Office? (pic: Rob Dyke)

Window admins rejoice! It isn’t just you that can’t get Office 2010 to uninstall silently. The mighty brains behind the UK railways have had just as much trouble.

As well as the usual passenger information boards, detailing the day’s cancellations and delays, London’s Victoria train station also features displays on every platform showing the state of the lines around the building.

Station staff, taking a break from stopping passengers boarding trains due to inexplicable ticket restrictions, can use the screens to get a handle on what is happening outside the terminus.

Except when an Office 365 upgrade is being deployed.

Twitter user Rob D noted all the screens last week were requesting permission to go ahead and remove Microsoft Office 2010 with a dialog box obscuring some minor information like, er, the lines from platforms 13 to 19. Regular users of Victoria will know that those serve trains heading to, among others, Gatwick Airport.

Why a copy of Office is needed on a PC tasked with showing line information is anyone’s guess (and two Internet Explorer icons indicates there is double the fun to be had). We asked the UK’s rail operator, Network Rail, if they were having some IT difficulties but have, alas, yet to receive a response.

Rail users who enjoyed spending an expected early morning hour on station platforms earlier this week due to overrunning engineering works can take comfort that perhaps it wasn’t simply down to bad time management. Maybe no one had managed to click “OK” to get Excel to install. ®

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