Sometimes The Voices get testy. They are stuck up in the light place and cannot physically get to us. They order us to do things yet sometimes we have the strength of mind to ignore them and not do the bad things. That’s when they have a stroppy turn.

Today I spent a while hanging around on the platform humming that tune. You know the one: “..where the fuck’s my fucking train?…”. There were track problems and everything was being held up in the rush hour. I got a phone call in the end and one of The Voices told me to go pick up my train somewhere else. So I ambled over, prepped the train and after catching up on the papers I phoned a mate. Ah, look at me, cool traindriver. Casually standing in the open doorway on the front of the train chatting away on the phone and enjoying the sunshine. Then I went and spoilt the effect by almost falling out. Thankfully there was nobody passing who would have seen and laughed at me. Although there were no power rails at the place I would have fallen it’s still a long way down and covered mostly in ballast. So a broken limb or two and some nasty cuts and grazes would have been a certainty. I can just see the back to work interview now: “How did it happen?”, “er….just sorta tipped over….”

Having survived the first thirty minutes of my duty (I always said this was a dangerous job!) I trundled the train onto the platform. I didn’t know where I was going though since I’d been assigned a random train but that’s no problem, it’s easy enough to call up The Voices on the train radio and find out. I called up a few times actually cos The Voice of the moment appeared to be inundated with calls from other drivers. And then called a few more times. It began to dawn on me as I stopped the train and opened the doors that maybe the train radio was not working. I tried the handheld to confirm and he picked up my call straight away, pointed out rather stroppily that he could hear me loud and clear and that there was nothing wrong with the train radio. Good news but it did cause me to wonder why he had been ignoring me so I called him again on the train radio. Nothing happened. I began to suspect that The Voice was a bloody liar and called him again on the handheld to point this out to him (in somewhat more diplomatic terms of course). He waffled for a bit and said a few random ranty things and ended up saying to go in service but take the nearby train maintainer with me because I was blocking things up by sitting there on the platform. Not that it bothered me. I could sit there all night and block things up quite happily. They try to guilt-trip us you see.

So off we set. The TM sympathised with my treatment from the eejit on duty and set about trying to fix things. We swiftly decided that verbal communication via train radio was never going to happen but that wasn’t really a concern since I had a working handheld. In theory I could remain in service so long as I had an OPO alarm. The OPO came into being when one person operation became the standard on LUL. Once opened up the TBC must remain held down otherwise all hell breaks loose. If it is let go for a minute an alarm sounds in the driver’s cab. It’s sort of a borg thing. The train is set up to see the driver as just another part of itself and should that part not do anything functional for a while then it gets to wondering what’s going on. The driver has 30 seconds to depress the TBC before the train sends an emergency alarm to The Voices and tells them spurious tales of drivers dropping dead. We sat there for a while listening to the train shouting about dead drivers but The Voices couldn’t hear. Hell, we even had a trio of railway rozzers wander over to check things were ok but still The Voices weren’t listening. I decided that the OPO alarm definitely wasn’t functioning properly and that I was going out of service after a grand total of three stations. One apologetic PA to the customers and a rush by station staff to detrain. There still remained the issue of who would accompany me in the cab to act as a human OPO alarm but fortunately the TM decided to stick around.

We drove off and arrived at the train depot where the Tower seemed very put out at my bringing a train home early. He asked me to get on a different train and head back out. My TM jumped out and disappeared for a chat someplace and said he’d get on my train to travel back to his start point. After prepping my second train in an hour I got clearance to leave. I was slightly delayed by waiting for the TM but ignored the Tower’s complaints since I believe in putting away equipment after I use it. I brought the TM out of his cupboard therefore I should put him away again. This appeared to put the Tower out even more as presumably they’d been given an earful from The Voices and were harrassed about getting me moving quickly. Nothing makes a traindriver move slower than somebody telling them to hurry, you’d think they’d have learnt that by now. It turned out the TM was delayed by chatting to depot staff and informed me that my first train had been taken out with identical problems the night before – seems nobody had fixed it!

After that I just had a bit of zooming trains about. I was in a bit of a hurry for my last trip as I had to stable the train and shoot back over to the platform to catch my own train home which was the second one behind mine. Thus, my train went like a bat out of hell and I received a (small) round of applause from another driver when I stabled. He’d been right in front of me and had noticed me chasing him up the road and then sitting on his behind. Luckily I hadn’t been held so I had enough time to walk back to the platform and get over to the opposite side to catch my train. Even if i did have to cross where the cool kids cross and not via the regular route. 😉

So a good night. Borg trains, zooming around and applause from other drivers. AND I get paid to do this job!

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