January 24th 2017.
Would this be the moment that future generations looked back on? Would this be the moment that would instill fear into the hearts of a nation for generations to come? Would this be the moment that would forever be remembered as the beginning of the end?
Leaving the house as I always did, ensconced in the warmth of blissful ignorance, who was to know the horror that was to greet me a few miles down the road? Little did I know that this would be the week that London transport stepped up
…and tripped over.
My concerns were initially triggered when I arrived at Crayford to a ghost town of a platform. In any other situation this would be a moment of unparalleled joy. But this was early morning; something seemed off, something was wrong. I could feel it in the air, lingering like the bad smell associated with the post-Brussel sprout process.
Lo and behold, my feelings were not misplaced. At this point, it’s hard to deny that I’m a fully TRAINED Jedi (Yeah, I’ll get my coat). As I approached the station entrance, I saw a badly hand-written sign and a departures board:
If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of what happened. A freight train derailed itself around the Lewisham area, causing considerable damage to the tracks and the train. This was never going to be a quick fix. Southeastern have been known to close train lines for half a day because a car merely looked at a bridge. Japan managed to repair an earthquake destroyed motorway in a little over 4 days. I am writing this 3 days in and there is still no sign of improvement. Says it all really.
It has now come to light that the cause of the derailment was essentially railway speeding. It has been said that the driver was travelling too quickly, ignoring the speed limit for the bend. A quick bit of maths will reveal the consequences:
Bend + Freight Train x (Too Much Speed + Very Heavy) =
Finding this out has sent multiple reactions into my brain. On the one hand, I feel like I cannot personally judge this driver for speeding, I’m hardly a saint when it comes to obeying speed limits on the road. A speed limit on a bend is seen for me as more of a challenge than a warning. So yeah, in one sense, I get that. He was a colossal idiot, but I get it.
On the other hand, I really do feel for that train driver. Imagine knowing that you are the cause of massive delays, cancellations and misery for the many thousands of Southeastern users. If it was me, I would have gone into instant hiding, to save myself from the armies of the commuters, hellbent on hunting me down. Unless of course, this person is some kind of sadist, in which case well done to him; the pain has indeed, been spread unto the masses.
I have travelled with Southeastern for many years, and I don’t remember one event causing such long-lasting problems. We are not just talking delays affecting one line. We are talking a complete and utter halt to all Southeastern services. Of all the places it could have happened, the incident happened at near enough one of THE busiest junctions on the Southeastern route.
So with all the disruptions and cancellations, there were only a few lines that were left running. I say running, their schedule was more random than planned, including just the other day when I heard a train announcement:
“We are sorry that the next Southeastern service has been delayed by 100 minutes”
Yes, I too thought it was a misprint that the announcer had read out. It was in fact one-hundred-over-effing-turned-freight-train-minutes. There are few occasions in my life that leave me speechless. This is most definitely one of them.
How could it get any worse than this?
And so now, one of the only remaining functioning (I am being vague with my use of the word functioning, but you get the idea) train lines was now blocked by a train that had set itself on fire. Were the trains themselves fed up of constantly disappointing people? Was the stress just too much for them? Was this a train version of a mental breakdown?
But seriously, what on *insert higher power of your choosing here* green earth is going on here? So much carnage in such little time? What could it be? Was this perhaps just two random events that happened to occur within a day or two of each other? Was this the result of years of financial malnourishment and efficient upkeep by the Southeastern rail bosses? Both perfectly plausible concepts. But I reject them both. This must be more than that.
Something is happening. Something is going on that is clearly bigger than any of us. This is a sign. Everything is starting to collapse.
The world has been thrown out of balance. The apocalypse is now. The future generation, should they survive this doom, may look back to this moment as the beginning of the end.
Enter the horsemen…
Christianity speaks of four horsemen who shall set a divine apocalypse on the world as harbingers of the Last Judgement:
Train derailment causing delays, cancellations and anger, set up by a sadist? We have the White Horse ridden by the Anti-Christ.
A train sets itself on fire, making Southeastern suffer even more? We have the Red Horse that brings Civil War onto a once prosperous (ish) institution
Two horses now remain:
The Black Horse of famine, mourning and imperial oppression.
- Could it be that Southeastern will simply write these problems off as nothing, further increasing their prices, increasing management bonuses and of course, the subsequent suffering of their customers? The problems will continue, and the services will become more and more scarce.
And then the White Horse, the bringer of death. It all ends here.
In the words of Star Wars:
Every Generation Has A Legend. Every Journey Has A First Step. Every Saga Has A Beginning.
The end is coming. The apocalypse is now.