At one level, tunnels are all the same. Mostly dark, ribbed, iron tubes. Yet teleport a driver to a random bit of their line and they’ll look around them and tell you where they are. It’s not that surprising a skill really, do anything over and over again and you’ll learn the minute differences. And really – due to the twists and turns of the line running under London’s streets – most bits of the tube are distinctive in some way. To the experienced eye at least.
There are some bits of my line that I really like. One part has a light set up on the wall to light up some points. The light shines down in a pleasingly ethereal way and I’ve mentally labelled the area ‘Angel Falls’. Another favourite is a part where everything opens out into a sort of cavern. And right in the middle, hanging over the track is a light shade. Again, it’s to light up the points in that area but it’s amusing nonetheless to whizz by and see an honest-to-goodness light shade in the middle of nothing.
One part (or to be more accurate, two parts) of the line I don’t really like are the run-ups to two consecutive stations. It’s nothing specific about those areas. It’s more that there’re just long, straight, uphill bits which leads immediately into the stations. Practically identical. And slightly confusing because if you tune out for a minute it’s then quite hard to work out if you are approaching the first station or the second. At least, it is for the idiots amongst us.
I present to you one such idiot. I’m not going to name any names. This particular idiot has been driving past these stations many times per day. And was routinely confused about which station they were approaching. Ordinarily this would make no difference whatsoever since to a driver a station is a station – but at certain stations we are required to test our failsafe brake. Occasional inability to locate oneself can result in a rather late and panicky application of the Westinghouse*. Unfortunately it was not until one day this week that the aforementioned idiot happened to glance along that long, straight tunnel and notice that the starter signal for the station ahead was on the left. And then remember that the starter for the station after was on the right. (The idiot in questions knows this second fact indisputably having sat and stared at that signal for quite some time while waiting for station staff to turn up and authorise the train off the platform. Ahem). The idiot now realises that there is absolutely no WAY the two stations can be mixed up.
Isn’t learning a wonderful thing? Some things just seem so obvious and we get it straight away. Though other times it takes a little longer!
*Actually, for a good while there I was better at panicky applications of Westinghouse than I was at doing it slowly and confidently.