On The Right Tracks
Not a piece of cake.
Don’t let anybody tell you that rail travel is easy. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security and believe it is a piece of cake. It isn’t.
From personal experience I have found that it is a task full of pitfalls that requires a lot of organisation for it to run smoothly.
How many times have you missed catching a train because you misread the timetable or your watch was slow and you got to the station a minute too late?
On the other hand, you were there in plenty of time only to discover that it had been cancelled.
When you depart from a local station, like mine, there is no problem: there are just two platforms, one outbound and one inbound. If you know which direction you want to go, unless you are absent-minded and forgot, you can’t go wrong.
It is when you have to deal with a station that has more platforms that you have to worry.
Say that you have arrived on platform 1 and the station’s digital display shows that your connection will leave from number 4.
To get there you have to climb the stairs of an overhead bridge, most probably carrying luggage.
You then hear a message saying: ”The train on platform 4 terminates here”.
Panic sets in as nobody is around to tell you what to do next and the information office is closed.
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On long journeys it is usual for a train to stop at a junction station for as long as twenty minutes to allow carriages to be added or for the rolling stock to be uncoupled.
You may take the opportunity to alight to grab a cup of coffee or buy a newspaper. Knowing that your memory is not what it used to be and be able to return to the right carriage you must remember where it is.
A mnemonic technique to recall the carriage’s number is sometimes employed.
I am told that a guy did just that and as the number was 1492 he knew what that date represented.
His train had long gone and he was still frantically running around asking people if they knew when Christopher Columbus had discovered America.
You have been warned: make sure that you are on the ball and that your knowledge of history is up to scratch.
© Luigi Pagano