Friday, 1 May 2015

Train travel in our sad, bad world

This week I went to visit my sister in Lyme Regis. I took the train from Leicester to St Pancras, crossed London on the underground via the Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square and then the Northern Line to Waterloo. The Axminster train was announced as soon as I arrived in Waterloo. At Axminster I knew there would be a lift waiting to take me to Lyme.

I settled onto the train. I had a table seat all to myself, lots of legroom, my newspaper spread out over the table. “This travelling lark is a doddle”, I thought. But 30 minutes into the journey the train stopped, never, it would seem, to move again.

We were told to leave the train. We were at a small, derelict station. We were taken under the tracks on a rubble strewn staircase that hadn’t been used for many a year. We were then told that we were being taken back to Waterloo. “But…” we all yelled and the staff patiently worked their way round all of us explaining over and over that there had been a suicide. Someone had thrown themselves in front of the train and so the entire line was now closed.

This brings me to the major issue of this blog post. The staff also said that this kind of thing is a regular occurrence. It has, in fact, affected me on a journey once before.
  • Why do we live in such a sad, bad world?
  • How can so many people throw themselves in front of trains?
  • How can it be such a regular occurrence?
  • We spend so much money and time trying to find cures for diseases, but when will we find a cure for this tragic social disease of sadness, alienation, desperation?
  • Something, somewhere has gone very wrong with our society. How did this happen?

Back to the journey: We were herded onto a train at Waterloo and taken to Basingstoke. We were herded onto the platform at Basingstoke and told to wait for a train that said Axminster on the list of destinations, or as the information man barked, “Go outside and wait! It’s going to be very, very late!”

I arrived in Lyme three hours after I should have done. How could I complain when I knew that somewhere in the UK there was a family in total grief and turmoil? I had only missed an afternoon with my sister. I’ll blog about the actual visit to Lyme Regis another time. I just needed to get this off my chest first.


  1. Hi Ros - the line from Eastbourne/Brighton was down due to an electrical fault at Clapham - I think you were caught up in that too - I'm glad I wasn't on the train to London. I feel for you .. misery indeed. People throwing themselves under the train - such a sad way to go ...

    The country is old and decrepit ... and sadly we don't seem to know how to help people, or more appropriately how to bring people up so they can help themselves ...

    I am so so sorry for that missing afternoon ... but as you say others are in grief and turmoil .. Hope you're safely home now .. all the best - Hilary

  2. As you know, I use coaches and trains a lot. Most are fine, but I think most travellers have tales of journeys - in the UK at least - that have been disrupted by a suicide.

    My experience is of the train companies doing everything they can do look after disgruntled passengers as best they can, but delays are inevitable. But not all passengers show the sort of compassion you have, Ros - I've been dismayed to see some carrying in as if the train company had organised this just to make life difficult for them.

    Every suicide is a different story. But the disabled woman who lost her housing benefit with the bedroom tax and was unable to find anywhere else to live without help - that was the one that made me despair about the society we live in now.

  3. such a shame, but there are many troubled people in the world. I wonder if that person truly meant to inconvenience everyone or was just so desperate for a final statement. Sorry you were late to your sister's. What was to be a lark became turmoil and certainly changed the whole mood. I appreciate your post and it does make one reflect. I hope the rest of your trip went well and that you had a good visit.

    1. It was a good trip apart from that which I will blog about soon, thanks, Joanne.

  4. Having been low enough some years ago to get as far as buying a bottle of pills and a bottle of scotch I know how easy it is to reach that stage. I never considered throwing myself in front of a train, but I guess people think it will be quick and no chance of waking up as a vegetable (which is what ultimately stopped me taking the pills). Something else to consider is the effect it will have had on the poor driver. It's apparently one of the most devastating things they experience.
    And of course, someone will have had to clear up, inform the family, deal with lots of very angry passengers, etc. Lots of people will have had a very bad day.

    1. I'm so sorry to read this, Anne, and hope I didn't cause you any more pain. I also thought about the driver. Tragic for him too.

    2. Don't worry. It was a long time ago and I don't feel bad about it now. You didn't upset me - but thanks for caring.

  5. You're so right, it can be such a sad, bad world. I knew someone who committed suicide ....we don't know why or what tipped him over the edge. But the thing that frightened me was the way he'd planned it. For someone you love to die is heart breaking enough, but to choose to die is even harder for their family and close friends.

    At least you eventually reached Lyme Regis!

  6. My personal opinion, is we need to acknowledge the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob again. Life seems to be derailing in many sectors.

  7. What an awful thing to happen. How bad must life be to compel you to do that? I read a story about a father and his son who was about twenty. They lived in a four bed council house ( not their fault) the ran into problems paying the extra bedroom tax for two spare bedrooms. They were eventually evicted onto the streets and slept there. The daughter helped them with food but she was living on the breadline too. Then the young boy devoted gangrene in his feet, he ended up loosing most of his toes. This was all because of the bedroom tax. They have finally been given a room in a hostel. Glad the rest of your trip went well.

  8. Sadly, this can happen anywhere. My aunt was just telling me how this happened one day last week on her way home from work in Chicago. Her train was also delayed several hours. I agree that so many people are unable to get the help they need. Sorry you were so late in arriving at your sister's. Glad you still had a wonderful time despite the rough start.


  9. I agree with Shelly. Well done Ros for drawing our attention to this.


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