05 March 2008

Blood on the tracks again?

If "fatality" sounds euphemistic, "a person under a train" is several degrees more indirect. That's what is causing "severe delays" today on the Circle Line, while on the main line it's a brick through the driver's window of a Swansea train - a horrible thing, and I have had it happen to a train on which I was travelling. I hope the driver is OK, but even if he or she has escaped physical injury they will be very badly shaken up indeed.
I took the 1821 from Paddington, thinking it a clever thing to do, but found that Didcot does not feature on its itinerary. At Reading - a very slow trip, no doubt on account of the attack on the Swansea train - there was a train waiting at Platform 8 for which Didcot would be the next station stop. I dived down the stairs to the subway that connects the platforms, sprinted through the tunnel and up the stairs to Platform 8 where I noted that the train was already seriously late. I climbed aboard and found a seat in Coach B, near the front for a shorter walk to the car park at Didcot - but a longer walk back to the subway entrance when it transpired that this train was not going to be leaving in the near future.
When that became clear, the required train was standing at Platform 4 and the announcements gave no clue about how long it would remain there, so another dash through the subway was called for. It took its time before getting under way, then halted just past the old abattoir at a red signal.
One of the laws of commuting, the natural principles governing this unnatural activity, that dictates that for any unusually early start to a journey there will be a countervailing delay, so as to make the time of arrival at one's destination no earlier than usual. For every early start there is an equal and opposite delay, I suppose. What other laws are there?
Of course, no-one can complain about a delay occasioned by an attack on a fast-moving train with a half-brick. One cannot moan about a trackside fire, as it is generally the fire service who determine what exclusion zone is necessary. One cannot blame the rail operator for a "fatality" or "person under a train", unless they drove the unfortunate to suicide, which is by no means impossible.

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