The 1710 from London Kings Cross empties half its commuter load at Hitchin. The doors close but we do not move. People look around and exchange knowing looks and thinking similar thoughts: useless bloody trains. A few minutes later the tannoy chimes and the driver tells us a large plastic bag is on the overhead lines. The whole East Coast mainline grinds to a halt – don’t tell ISIS or they’ll cripple our infrastructure supplied by a raid on self service checkouts.
My carriage is sat next to some vending machines on the station platform. Seeing them is making me hungry, I could happily scoff down a snickers, but I worry if I jump off the train it’ll start moving again. Then I start thinking perhaps I could get the attention of one of the people waiting for the Cambridge train. I could pass some coins through the window and rely on good ol’ train-delay-blitz-spirit that they won’t run off with my cash.
The driver comes on the tannoy again. We’re moving to Arlesey. Arlesey station is bleak. The wind outside is blowing a gale and rocking the trees. It whistles through the overhead cables and I hope it carries no carelessly discard bags.
I take to Twitter because I’ve read the Standard and what else do you do in a time of minor crisis. @GNRailUK’s tweets are wildly optimistic compared to our driver’s updates. I’m inclined to believe him since he says he’s talking to the signalman who in turn is in touch with Network Rail. Twenty minutes perhaps and we might be on our way, not the first time I’ve heard that. I go back online to check the Delay and Repay scheme terms; its starting to look like I’ll be able to claim the full fare, well 1/520th of my season ticket.
Some passengers are starting to talk to each other, but I can only think of that Day Today sketch, the one with the broken down train where the commuters go feral. Is this how it starts? Conversation between strangers? If so then I’ll sit in a corner and quietly start blogging. It’s something to do and then I’ll read my book…if I don’t chew it first because my stomach is rumbling. I wish I hadn’t dithered at Hitchin.