Saturday, 31 January 2009

Collective Mistakes

It's nearly midday and I'm on a train from Reading to Basingstoke on my way to collect a landrover from a dealership there to take to a nearby RAF base.

The train has made it out of Reading station and past Reading West, but has now come to a stop at nowhere special. After about five minutes the conductor announces that there is 'trouble ahead', somewhere between here and Basingstoke, and we will have to go back the way we came.

I have been on countless trains that have not reached their final destination for one reason or another, but I've never before been on one that has turned around and gone back to where it started from.

After a few minutes I hear a couple of smartly dressed guys behind me talking about the delay. One of them has evidently located a guard and obtained a more detailed explanation. I can't quite hear, but it sounds as if a freight train has hit 'a load of diesel,' which sounds potentially catastrophic.

However, a couple of minutes later I hear a young woman with an american accent, further down the carriage but louder, explaining the situation on her phone. It turns out that what the freight train hit was 'a bunch of deer,' which seems less serious (although not for the deer)

We chug back into Reading station where an announcement on the platform confirms that the culprits were indeed 'a group of deer.'

I find that the only way to Basingstoke now is via a train to Farnborough North, a walk across to Farnborough Main, and then a second train from there.

If I had been the conductor on that returned train I would not have talked vaguely about 'trouble ahead' but would have announced straightaway exactly what had happened. The novelty of the incident makes the delay seem less dreary. I might even have described the deer as a 'herd' if I wasn't worried that this might be seen as showing off.

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