So there I am, driving along in an empty train and belting out Gloria Gaynor’s greatest hits* at the top of my lungs when the radio chirrups at me. Yay, it’s a signaller!
Signaller: Hello driver**, it’s the signaller here***. Your train is supposed to run empty from A to B and then get stabled at C. What say you we just skip the second part of that and just run you straight from A to C?
SD: Oh, ok. No problem whatsoever. And I must say the radio communication on this line has improved VASTLY because usually I have to explain all that detail when I come to write these stories out.
At which point I continue on my way to point C. My thought process went something like this:
Tum te tum…by my side…doo be doo…
So, lessee now. What do I need to know for this madcap scheme which I have never done before….? Got shot of passengers – check. Aware of the speed limits…um…well there’ll be signs. Know where the relevant signals are…they’re usually quite well-lit, skip that one, I’ll work it out when I get there. Fully understand the extent of the manouevre? Ummmm…I suppose I’ll stop when I run out of track. Actually…how *do* I get across there? There’s no route that I can think of…
OK, this looks like one of my signals…oh hey, why is it telling me to turn that way…oh wow, I never noticed points there before! I wonder where they go…probably down there…oh no, apparently not. OK, better slow this down a little so that I’ve got more time to watch points and check for more signals. Oops, not that slow, don’t want to run out of juice over gaps and end up stuck…there we go, that’s a nice trundle.
Now where am I going? Say, doesn’t this route take me into the station? OK, I know all routes by definition take me into a station but that generally involves a big hole in the middle of the station. This seems to be taking me…into…the station. How pissed off is the station superviser going to be if I end up in his office?…Slow down a bit more! OK, now that’s just ridiculous, you’re going uphill, you tard. That’s better. Oh, I see, we go up here now and into the wrong platform. Isn’t this the part they mentioned in training where you’re sposed to call the signaller before accepting the next signal? But I already spoke to him ten minutes ago when he told me to do this. Does that count? Should I call again? What if he thinks I’m a tard or gets annoyed or something? His signal cabin is only over there and his window is open. Would it be better to peep the whistle and ask him when he’s leaning out the window? But what if I interrupt him when he’s watching Corrie? He might be more annoyed at having to stand up and lean out the window than just answering a radio call. Are they allowed to watch Corrie when they are in between trains? It’s kinda quiet up this branch so they must spend a lot of their day just sitting waiting for trains. What time is Corrie on anyway? What if he’s watching X-Factor?
OK…well…the signal is clear and I know how to do this bit. Should I go ahead and do it? Maybe I should just wait here for a moment. The signaller might suddenly feel a need to stretch and look out the window and have a friendly word with a passing traindriver…oh shit, there are passengers coming on the platform now. I’ll bet they want to get on my train in a minute, I’m going to have to go. OK, I’ve done this before in training. How hard can it be? Well very hard obviously but I suppose if it all goes wrong I can just stop the train and we can sort it out and I’ve not been here very long so they might not tell me off too much even if I do shut down the line or set fire to something by accident…OK, in here now and I need to stop in a sec.
Where do I stop? Why the hell do we not have big flashing neon arrows pointing at the ground saying ‘stop here you tard’ on them? Who the hell thought that a stopping diamond on the track was a good idea? Say, if I write that idea down and send it to head office will I get a ten pound voucher for having saved the company money? Well, I suppose it doesn’t save money exactly. It would probably cost more to have big flashing neon arrows. But on the plus side, nobody would drive into station supervisers’ offices if there was a big flashing neon arrow so it saves money on rebuilding costs. Oh oh oh! I see it. Oh that’s easy. Now all I have to do is shut down and walk the unfamiliar route out of this siding and back to the station. No problem whatsoever. 🙂
Traindriving. Not always done by the competent professionals you think we are. 😉
* You think I’m joking but I assure you I’m not. Stop judging me!
** Does anyone else think it’s ridiculously funny that they start a radio call with “Hello, Driver”? It’s so cute!
*** So is that!