Thursday, October 28, 2010

Metropolitan madness

Stupid incident at Harrow last night. There was some signal trouble on the Uxbridge branch. About 100 passengers were waiting with me on the usual platform (3) for a train up from Baker Street. Unannounced and unnoticed a train crept in to platform 1, the fast southbound platform. Then there was a single announcement, on that platform (so not obviously aimed at us) that mentioned Uxbridge but before anyone could move the train left, reversing back across the southbound tracks to go to Uxbridge. It was empty because nobody knew about it and all the passengers waiting on that particular platform were going south. Great. We all stand there like lemons and an empty train is run.
I and another passenger bothered to climb the steps to the main entrance, there to remonstrate with a bloke by the gates with a radio. He expressed surprise at our story but seemed disinclined to be concerned, other than to promise to find out when the next Uxbridge was due. And to give him his due there was an announcement a few minutes later to reassure us that our train was imminent.
Moral? None. The platform signals at Harrow are a disgrace to the line. But even with modern ones, we would not have realised that our train was standing at the wrong platform because you are only told about trains coming in for the platform you are standing on, unless you wait in the ticket hall where there are no seats.
However the idea of a ghost-like train that leaves from a deserted platform bearing a few lost souls onto the line that leads to damnation (or shall we say Hillingdon) has a powerful resonance and I may work it into a popular short story. Editors and Radio 4 play producers, place your bids now.
[and I get 10%: Ed]

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