It will only be a ten minute delay. That’s what they said. Three times in all they said it, which by my reckoning is half an hour. Then, all of a sudden, it was as though a bomb had gone off.
“Clear the train now.”
People right at the front of the train were clearly scared, I could tell that by their faces as they walked along the platform on their way out of the station. I’ll be honest, I was thinking the worst. I did think it was a bomb. That’s the trouble when people say, “incident.” My imagination starts working overtime.
This happened to me on Monday evening, when I was travelling home on the District Line.
“There’s an incident in the tunnel. I’m sure you’ll all understand that we have to deal with incidents properly. We’ll only be held here for ten minutes.”
My journey had been going fantastically well up until this point, so this “incident” really came as a bolt out of the blue. Admittedly, after the second ten minute message had been announced, they did suggest that people find another route, but the trouble is, at Blackfriars, which is where we were, there is no other fairly direct route close by. Walking to the next tube station can cost you quite a lot of time. Plus, it reduces the amount of refund you get back from TfL (I’m on it with that, I think it’s grossly unfair, because that’s what I ended up having to do).
So, it was as I was leaving the station that I learned that there was a fire in the tunnel. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely want TfL and LFB to deal with “incidents” in the correct fashion. I know what damage a fire can cause. But the word “incident” is not a good word for me. What does it mean?
Does it mean that someone has leaned on the doors and they’ve opened and someone has fallen out of the train (I’m never sure whether it’s true that that can happen, but the drivers do keep on about not leaning on the doors)?
Does it mean a bomb? The last thing that crossed my mind was a fire. How does a fire on the track start? Is it dodgy wiring? Do you see where I’m coming from? I discussed this with a friend yesterday but his view was that telling people it was a fire might have caused greater panic. What do you think about that?
I admit, I was starting to get a bit tetchy, but I was by no means the only one. The woman opposite me was very irritated and threw in a few expletives before she exited the station as fast as her little legs would carry her.
Eventually, the station was evacuated, so I had to walk to St Paul’s, which is on the Central Line. I’m not really sure what happened but there was a sort of “thwack” noise. (I’m still thinking electrical, which doesn’t fill me joy, I’ve got to be honest.) When I rejoined the District Line, further along, I was very lucky again. A group of school boys joined the train and serenaded me until they got off. Seriously. They couldn’t have been more than 14, but they were very, very good. The harmonies were fantastic. I rather think that they’d have been in trouble when they got home, when they were chatting to me – between serenading me – the time that they had left school didn’t quite fit so methinks they’d been somewhere they shouldn’t have been…
I eventually got home at ten o’clock, which was half an hour later than I’d hoped for. Still, I suppose I should thank LFB and TfL for their efficiency in dealing with the fire though.
© Susan Shirley 2014