I was zipping along today when I saw a football lodged between the posi rail and the running rail on the left-hand side. ‘That’s odd’, I thought. ‘I don’t remember that being there last time I passed through. Somebody could get rear-tripped on that. Oh well, it must be OK as none of the trains in front have had problems here’. I’d have known if there were problems because it would be incredibly slow going in the area. When a train is rear-tripped there is a full brake application and the driver has to reset by pressing a button at the back of the train. Plus it’s obvious what’s going on because there’d be lots of radio traffic.

By this time I had passed over the football and was zipping on my way. Then I stopped. Sigh. So I did a PA to the customers to tell them we’d be here a while, shut down, grabbed my radio and started walking. As I went I thought it odd that the train seemed to be so long. It took an awfully long time to get to the rear. Shortly thereafter I discovered why. Once I’d reset the rear tripcock and checked the air was charging up properly again I walked back to the front. And only then realised that I was on a slope and had actually been hiking when going the other way.

Once I got to the bottom front of the train again I drove on and called the Voices again to let them know I was moving. The Voice wanted to know what I’d been rear-tripped on and I again said a football but that I’d had a check of the track and couldn’t see it behind the train so it must have got knocked underneath. He then got busy organising a DMT go go and fetch it in case every other train going through got tripped also.

After that there was lots of radio chatter as they organised trains to go through the section slowly to see if they could find out exactly where the football was. Once a location is known they can put a train in the platform behind for protection, turn of the current and have someone walk in and fetch the offending article.

So as I continued to zip I heard a strange message on the radio. The DMT being told it wasn’t a football but a hardhat. Now, I’m no expert in either subject; but I’m damn sure I know how to tell the difference between a football and a hardhat. It’s like penguins and whales. There’s no way you could mix the two up. But despite feeling extremely insulted I declined to phone the Voices and get shirty with them as I was having a stressful enough day as it was. So I kept quiet and just listened. And also pondered the fancy nature of hardhats these days because that one was white with hexagonal markings. Then I did the classic traindriver thing and started to doubt myself.*

I started going over what I’d seen. OK it was dark but I had headlights. And they showed a spherical object. While that automatically sends me careering towards ‘football’ I’m prepared to accept that a hardhat could be somehow stood on its end and look..er…sort of…hmmm. Fortunately they hadn’t quite sent the DMT walking yet because a report came back that there was both a football AND a hardhat in the tunnel. At least that saved him from having to go in twice. And it meant I could once again be assuredly on the side of Right.

Which still leaves the question of how they got there.

*’So the signal was red?’

‘No, it was green’

‘Are you sure it wasn’t red driver?’

‘I think it was green’

‘And you’re sure about that?’


‘Definitely green?’

‘Ummmmm…I think so….I’m…um…..I’m not sure, I think it was red – I mean green…um….’

‘So red then?’