And then there was the time I snuck up on two six year olds…..
Mostly when a train enters a platform it will do so at 30mph – it’s an LUL standard. Some stations have slightly odd layouts though and may be on a sharp curve or be a little shorter than usual, or the tunnel beforehand might have some equipment such as points. In all of these situations the train should be brought in a little slower to avoid problems.
At one station I slowed down to enter but realised I’d braked a little heavily and entered at about 10mph. So I took the brakes off and let the train drift down the rest of the platform. Now trains are big (obviously) but they can be oddly quiet at times. Most of the noise heard when trains are entering and exiting stations centres around either the brakes, the motors or the air compressors. So if you brake a little bit and then coast none of these things will be operational and the train will be relatively quiet. Sometimes in the tunnels when I am drifting up to red signals all I can hear is a quiet rumbling of the wheels and the creaking of the inter-car-barriers. So there I was in a near-silent train entering a fairly crowded platform with lots of people standing chatting and station announcements going off.
About halfway down the platform I noticed these two little kids. Both were about six and both were standing next to an adult well back from the platform edge. Yay for sensible parents. But these girls seemed a little odd. Both were bent over and peering round the legs of the adults just down the platform from them. As I slowly drifted closer they kept staring intently off down the platform. Most peculiar. I found myself peering up there and wondering what it was they were looking at but I couldn’t see anything unusual.
So inevitably the train drew up level with them and at that point one of the girls glanced round, possibly wondering what that quiet rumbling noise was. And then they both shrieked in alarm and I worked out what was going on. They had been looking for the train to enter the platform. But being only six they hadn’t known how to tell from which direction it would arrive. So they picked one and given that my train was near-silent didn’t hear the approach from the other direction.
I have told this story to several friends and they invariably disbelieve me. They ask how on earth I could manage to tiptoe up on someone in a 200 ton train. It’s a reasonable question but I swear it’s possible and something I’ve done.