Thursday, April 26, 2012

One under

I've been caught up, from time to time, in delays on the Tube caused by a person falling under a train, or in tube-speak a "one-under". These are usually suicide attempts rather than a dreadful consequence of platform overcrowding or a murderous attack. Yesterday I came much closer to one than ever before, though I hasten to add I was not actually in the station when it happened. I was walking back to Finchley Road station in mid afternoon to catch a northbound Metropolitan and saw, as I walked up the road, firstly a considerable traffic jam, then a row of emergency vehicles outside the station and finally the inevitable closed metal gates with a couple of grim faced Tube staff standing on guard.  As there was nothing to say what the problem was, I asked. I was told that it was a person under a train, that the Met was suspended but that the Jubilee was running normally and that the best thing was to walk to Swiss Cottage to board one. Advice I duly took and as our train came through into Finchley Road there was a Met stopped just inside the platform, with a big canvas screen between the train and platform, and emergency crew standing on the tracks.

Having watched the recent BBC TV series "The Tube", where there was plenty of coverage of such incidents, I had some idea of what was going on behind the canopy and that the need to turn off the power would screw up the Met for the rest of the day. And my journey was completed with the aid of the 114 bus from Harrow, there being so few trains running it was not worth waiting for one.

Seeing for real all the paraphernalia surrounding the one under was a bit of jolt. Somewhere in the welter of blue flashing lights and visibility jackets was a person, whether dead or severely injured I don't know.  It's a reality that severely disturbs the familiar - and safe - routine of the daily commute.

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