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Tuesday, August 24, 2004


What is it with people and trains?

I'm going to rant about this because it really annoys me that people are so stupid or, at the very least, find it difficult to engage their brains when entering a station.

Every day I arrive at Farringdon station on a Moorgate-bound Thameslink train. Now just south of Farringdon station the line splits in two. To the right is the Snow Hill tunnel for trains towards Blackfriars and London Bridge and, ultimately, Brighton. To the left is the short run down to Moorgate and the end of the line.

As my Moorgate train pulls into the station the platform is awash with people wanting the London Bridge train. 99% of them use the station every day; I recognise their faces. The train has a little window on the front which says "Moorgate". The platform indicator says "Moorgate". The station announcer says "The train arriving at platform 3 is for Barbican and Moorgate only". The train driver, upon opening the doors, says "This train is for Barbican and Moorgate only".

Now this is failsafe, is it not? Every possible precaution has been taken to make sure that people don't get on the wrong train right? Well, no. Now it should be obvious from the fact that the train is empty that it is going to Moorgate and the fact that most of the people on the platform don't get on it should hint that it's not going down the busy branch to London Bridge.

So on gets your typical commuter - mid-30's, woman, talking on her phone not paying the slightest bit of attention to anything around her. And she breaks off to ask me (the only person in the front carriage) "does this go to East Croydon?"
Sometimes I say "yes" because I'm mean. Other times I say "why don't you look at the screen and listen to the announcements like everyone else?"

Occasionally, you get the person who doesn't ask where it's going and suddenly looks confused when Barbican station appears and not City Thameslink. "Excuse me, where's this train going?" "Moorgate." "Shit" they say. To which I reply "well the driver DID say at Farringdon."

One thing that IS likely to confuse passengers however, is the arrival on a tube station platform of a freight train pulling stone wagons. Not many people see these elusive trains on the underground but I was at Camden Town the other day and a strange looking set of lights was coming down the tunnel towards us accompanied by a noise that definitely wasn't a tube train per se. It turned out to be one of those yellow things they use to cart the freight wagons around. Amusingly, the indicator board said "Check destination on front of train" as if it was actually going to stop and let people climb into the wagons. It was obviously going to the section of the Edgware branch north of Hampstead where they were doing engineering works last weekend.

I managed to take a picture of it but I have to admit it's probably the most useless picture I've ever taken as I didn't use flash and the train was accelerating away as I got the camera out. But here it is anyway:

(And not a pun in sight).

; Posted by Neil Tuesday, August 24, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon