Signalling a failure

This morning my train terminated after two stops due to some signalling failure further down the line.  

I wasn’t annoyed at all, considering I was running late this morning and had run around like a headless chicken trying to get to the station on time.  

Still, there was nothing I could do. My train was terminating and soon I was going to have to get off my warm, virtually empty train with the comfy seat, and stand out on a frosty platform to await a packed sardine tin of a train that everyone else was going to be getting on.  

But, as expected, the two people over the aisle, who clearly didn’t know each other, decided to bond by mutually moaning and whining.  

I could go into detail around the guy complaining about the price of tickets and the fact that he only needed to go one more stop blah blah blah…but it was what she said that made me smirk.  

“What I don’t understand is why they don’t just go back to manual signals. All these computerised electronic signals; all they do is break down”.  

A fair point, I thought to myself.  

It’s not like there are literally thousands upon thousands of varying types of signals up and down the country is it? That would suggest that, somehow, railway capacities, schedules and speeds have increased over the years…which is nonsense.

His reply was brilliant, if not a little understated,  “They just don’t have the staff”.  

Really? They don’t have, like, a billion staff members to man these signals day and night? That’s ridiculous… I’m writing to my MP.  

Surely there’s an opportunity here to tackle our unemployment issue in Britain. I’m sure there are loads of people out there who’d love nothing more than to stand out in the cold, right next to a live rail, risking being hit by high speed trains, for hours on end, for minimum wage.    

And will it be a set salary for this job? Surely it should be graded somehow based on geography? The signals at Clapham Junction are far busier than, say, Coombe in Cornwall.  

And what if someone falls asleep on the job, or is close to a high score on Angry Birds? Surely then it could be said that we have a signal failure…only this time with no advance warning sent ‘electronically’.  

Manual signals indeed. What next?

Should I wash my clothes on a mangle to avoid the inconvenience of a washing machine breakdown, or go to a library if my ISP let’s me down and I need to look up one of britains quietest stations to contrast Clapham Junction?  

Sorry love, you’re talking bollocks.

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