Is there anybody there?

I got forgotten about this evening. In job terms I’m 300 feet long, bright red and blue and nobody is allowed to overtake me. This means I’m generally unlikely to slip anybody’s mind. Generally.

I was meandering up the road this evening when calamity befell a driver way in front of me. Apparently a signal had inexplicably returned to red from green just as he was going through it. The consensus among The Voices is that they’d rather we didn’t go hurtling through red signals so they’ve come up with a means of stopping us should we do so. Down on the track is a little metal plate which sticks up in the air whenever it’s associated signal is not green. In a matching position on the train is a lever which hangs down. This lever operates the emergency brakes should it ever be struck by something like…oh…I dunno…let’s say for sake of argument a little metal plate which is sticking up from the track.

The thing with these trainstops is that they operate whenever the signal is not on green. So if a signal is on red, or red and green, or with no aspect whatsoever or if the signal falls over or is held at gunpoint or associated points fail to throw or get kidnapped or any one of a myriad other failures the trainstop will stay up. It is a good system but I imagine more than slightly alarming to be suddenly tripped by a trainstop when you are hurtling past what was a green signal until three seconds ago.

The Voices were very on the ball with regard to this driver and started sorting things out straight away. There are procedures to go through when passing a danger signal and these take quite a while to work through. So the first obvious step for The Voices is to stop all the trains behind in platforms if possible. This was what I was told to do and so I waited. And waited. And waited…

After about my fifth announcement The Voices piped up telling everyone that they’d sorted out the train, reset the signal to green and we’d all be able to move again very soon. Obviously the train at the back of the queue can’t move til everyone else in front has got out of the way so I knew that I’d be waiting a little longer before it was my turn to go. So I waited. And waited. And waited….

And all this while my signal stayed on red. There are different types of signals (and yes, I’m aware that I owe a blog about signalling! It haunts my dreams!) and the one I was at could be red for a couple of different reasons. Either one of The Voices was deliberately keeping it red or there was a train immediately round the corner. In neither case did I particularly want to argue with the instruction to sit there. So I waited. And waited. And…you get the picture.

After a ridiculously long time I was just beginning to wonder if the defective signal had caused problems with another train when I heard an announcement from the station staff. There went the superviser apologising for the delay and declaring that somebody had forgotten about my train. Shortly thereafter a fairly flustered-sounding Voice called me and said he’d be releasing my signal imminently. And you know, nobody up there admitted to anything…but I know which way I’ll be betting.