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.