My old and dear friend Alec Muffett has an interesting yarn up on his weblog about one of those train trips.

The trains down here on our line run pretty well comparing, I’ve been on 3 that have had, umm, problems.

There one that stopped as we left the station when all the power died (it was a 38C day and I suspect that the combination of all the trains with air-con going full pelt and pulling out tripped a breaker somewhere) but it came back on after a while of running between platforms as first it was announced that a train was going from the other line then, just as we got there, the power came back on our line so a select few realised that we could still dash back and get on our express rather than catch the stop-at-all-stations-and-then-change one.

Another time we stopped at a station to find that a horde of passengers from another train swapped over and as we limped along the news that a schoolgirl had somehow fallen from a platform much further down the track and been hit by a train, fatally. It was sad, but later when we were all waiting for trams and buses to arrive I couldn’t believe some people cursing the fact that this had spoilt all their plans for getting to work, or somewhere important, as if how could she have been so inconsiderate to have gotten herself killed now…. I know that I wasn’t the only one to have noticed these callous remarks judging by from the murmurings of some of my fellow travellers.

The most disturbing was when I was on a late night train coming back after the local Linux users group meeting, shortly after leaving a station there was an unearthly long drawn out scream from the cabin which made my blood run cold, followed by loud almost hysterical sobbing as the train coasted along, slowly drifting to a stop. A female staff member ran out down the train and returned a short while later with Police whilst the normal messages about the next station had been replaced with warnings about the emergency system being on and CCTV being active. We’d hit someone. Fatally. A bunch of youths smelling of beer and testosterone ran down the train shouting triumphantly “you took his head right off”. Eventually everyone was shepherded out through the cabin, down the precarious steps and onto the track to be led away over the easement to the road to walk the 5 minutes to the next station.

I’m glad I’m not a train driver. Apparently it happens so often it doesn’t even get reported.