Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Longest Delay & Why I Love Being British

Last night, having had a pretty crap day in my still sweltering building, I decided to cheer myself up by nipping out of work a little early so that I could be back home in time to catch an early(ish) showing of Blades of Glory at the cinema. I didn't make it to the cinema.

My train was delayed by and hour and half. The longest delay I have ever experienced on a FGW train (only breaking the record by 5 minutes though!)

However I was not angry with FGW, no-one on the train was. Because as we passed through the rural, one-train-a-week station that is Pilning, someone decided to end their life by jumping in front of our train moving at 70 mph.

That annoys me. I feel deeply sorry for anyone who feels their life has come to a point where the only option is suicide. But having decided that sucide it is, Jumping in front of train is a pretty selfish way to go about it.

On the train there was a massive bang, lots of bouncing around and the sound of stones hitting the underside of the train. It felt as though we were derailing. I wonder if a train hitting someone can derail it.

The train then breaked relatively quickly, and the driver came out of his cab looking pretty shaken up. He walked down the train apologising, and explaining to everyone that someone had jumped in front of him and that we were likely to be here for a couple of hours

No-one complained though, instead, the usually silent commuters started chatting. In typical Dunkirk spirit; the usually silent British love to have a chatter and support each other during a crisis. We chatted about the incident at first, then joining in with other conversations further down the train. We answered "who wants to be a millionare questions" that one man was calling out from a game on his phone. At the end of the wait, a group of about five of us were joining forces to tackle the Times Crossword. It was quite good fun, and the hour and a bit we were there passed relatively quickly. I was slightly disappointed that, given this was not my regular train, these were not my regular fellow commuters. But I enjoyed their company for that hour. I can see how Stockholm Sydrome comes about.

Finally, having slagged them off time and time again I thought I should mention that I will be sending a letter to FGW customer relations praising the professionalism of their staff during the delay. The driver and the guard kept us informed, though it should be noted that they were wearing Arriva Trains Wales uniforms and were presumably covering the service as far as Bristol on behalf of FGW.

But it was new FGW staff who turned up to take over the running of the train, and a new train manager came down the carriage slowly, asking everyone if they had any questions, and apologising that the service would be (understandably) terminating at Bristol. He even had the excellent news to give me that a fast london service would be making additional stops at Keynsham and Oldfield Park. An excellent service from FGW, never thought I'd write that, especially after an hour and a half delay. Must be the Stockholm Syndrome.

Picture from the wikipedia entry for Pilning Station. Love the sarcasm in the Service entry.

P.S. Posts might not be that frequent for a while, my powerbook has gone in to be fixed. Might be gone 4 weeks they said. Sob.

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