Monday, 9 July 2018

Rail Today

You will be delighted to know there are no more pictures of water.  Instead, with the temperature now lowered in this grubby room to a mere 79% from a height on Saturday night of 85, I consider the railways on which I travelled.

Running a railway has always featured one major problem, disruption!  That disruption might come from heat bending the rails as it did recently, points not working properly, signals failing, copper wire being stolen, doors jamming or some such technical problem, let alone the sole passenger taken seriously ill or the one jumping in front of the train, all these hinder the smooth running of the railways.
Last Monday as I arrived I noted the people gathered around the station, something was up.  Far away near Clacton the points had failed leading to an upset railway.  The trains could not get through, they thus blocked the main line hindering all services.  Too alleviate this the 9am from our station was turned around six miles away and left our people fuming in the heat awaiting the train at ten, my train. As I bought my ticket from the stressed sole representative of the railway all around me people gnashed teeth and muttered under their breath.  I smiled and stood back...

My journey was smooth enough, the carriage was not busy even by Stratford where I changed.  This marvellous new complex offered me the chance to spare my knees by using the lift, this I did and found myself totally lost!  I used the wrong lift!  The one I wanted was further down but nobody told me so I ended up wandering around, up stairs and down with no lift, until I eventually found my place here at the underground.  Sensible people would have checked where they were going and followed the signs before they came out!

This Jubilee Line is very busy but I planted myself near the front of the coach and with the window open it was not too bad.  The train is fast but the variety of passengers is amazing.  Many were passing through from one station to another, tourists transported fat cases full of her clothes, other tourists were set on sightseeing and paying for it also, locals, surly and ignoring the world around them, put their heads into the technology and lived apart.  
Checking the timetable I raced slowly for the train, it beat me.  Two or three of us were halfway up the platform when the first five coaches moved off, as did the rail operative... 
This was good as thirty minutes later, on the same platform, I took the remaining five coaches and found a decent seat.  Here I also found a guard who done her job well and with a slight degree of humour.  I asked when we would arrive and she said "Not soon enough" and giggled.  She had just had a run in with  man carrying the wrong ticket and demanded £140 from him for the real fare.  This had not gone down well.  We shared a few joke comments along with another passenger and the women selling coffee, she could not get the trolley to move, and settled down to half read my book and watch the greenery, where crops were actually green, pass by.  The hot weather has ruined many crops and while some can be gathered the size is much reduced. Prices will rise.

Coming back I cleverly let the fast train depart and waited ten minutes for the slow train.  This ensured a seat, even though it contained only four coaches and not five, and a relaxed atmosphere was around me.  Not everyone felt this, not the woman who had not paid and was forced to pay full price by the guard.  He however was good to me informing me of faster trains when he saw the details of my long journey.  I preferred the seat without crowds rather than speed and he understood.  However by journeys end I was changing my mind.  
Some railways are doing away with guards, now often called 'conductors.'  This I see as a foolish idea as many questions are asked on a train and the sight of a guard eases some peoples apprehension re travel.  It is funny how folks are more likely to converse on long distance travel, possibly because of nerves, than in local travel.  Maybe the excitement of the change brings this on.  Personally while I am happy to be pleasant (yes I am) I prefer folks to shut it and look out the window and enjoy the sights which are many.  The place of the guard however remains important on any train as he represents the company, gives reassurance, collects fares from dodgers, answers questions ("No idea love") and is a requirement railways cannot do without.  Yet to save money some wish to drop them.

In between trains!
A sweltering day and a constant flow of hundreds of passengers is it any surprise to see staff exhausted in such circumstances.  he has just answered the thousandth stupid question of the day and awaits a thousand more before rushing home, can you blame him...?

The Jubilee Line takes no chances with folks falling in front of the trains underground.  These panels open only when the train stops and always at the doors, so far, and facilitate passenger movement.  I must cease from using 'passenger' as they are all 'customers' in today's rail world.  What nonsense!

With the ever present danger of hold ups late in the afternoon I jumped on the first train at platform ten, once I had gone the wrong way in the wrong lift for the second time, this one being a four coach vehicle for Ipswich.  This appears wrong to me as there were five coaches of people aboard and standing was the only option, no guard appeared unsurprisingly.  Surely such trains require five or six coaches?  Later I discovered a train for Norwich was cancelled, all this because someone along the line had gone in front of a train!  Deliberately or what?  Who knows and I never found out.  This is at once tragic and annoying, for a variety of reasons people kill themselves but why do it on the railways?  Someone has to clean up the mess, pick up the bits, reassure the driver it was not his fault, why put others out while you are depressed or worried?  Trains could be held up for over an hour as I was two years ago when someone done that on the southern part of the route.  Is it cruel to say 'Kill yourself at home?

I had time to ponder this, but not set up this picture properly, while waiting for the connection.  Also cogitating on what was being transported in the long trains that come from Felixstowe docks where containers full mostly of Chinese tat race past.  Longer trains return the other way charging through at 90 miles and hour leaving a slipstream upsetting for girls in summer frocks.  Brexit will however end all this.  Long lines of lorries at Dover unable to cross without proper paperwork alongside container ports stuffed with goods we cannot get to Europe because Boris wishes to be Prime Minister.  A disaster waiting to happen and they continue with this farce in spite of it all.  Today's news of David Davies resigning is good, but will things change?

While waiting in cold wet weather can be irritating the chance to ponder and watch life go by in a rail station is quite enjoyable I say, the more so if it is a busy station.   Not only can you 'people watch' as some enjoy but a selection of trains from various regions passing through I find interesting, yet I am not an anorak!  Some I note know everything about every train, two such on the trip home got off at Eastleigh as they were train hunting there in the big depot, but I just like watching them.  This is like having your own toy train set yet on a large table.
I got home tired and weary, I ought to have stuffed my face while in Waterloo's rip-off shopping precinct, but instead I relied on my watered down now warm water bottle.  This was insufficient I say now.
Today I sit here planning my next rain journey, Studying the timetable and looking for inspiration, and the cash to pay for it, long live the senior rail card!   


the fly in the web said...

I've been enjoying your photographs...really brought the sea to my door without the risk of getting wet feet....but train journeys are a particular fancy of mine - not that I can often afford to indulge it - so today's post is a real winner!

As a student I used to save the pennies and go for a week on French railways...night trains to avoid paying for an hotel...there were still left luggage offices to avoid carting a bag around all day...and branch lines still running through real backwaters of the country.

Best fairly recent train was that from Barcelona Sants, taking mother to the house in Spain for her birthday when she was 98...superb assistance from the staff and cava and cake included in the ticket price!

However, when last at Barcelona I got lost on the metro system - taking the wrong lift...

Dave said...

Yes the Senior rail card is great although on some lines in Wales you can use your bus pass and get the same discount.

Adullamite said...

Fly, So sad about the wrong lift! :)

Dave, I think the Tory councillors here would be aghast at the thought of such a pass Dave.