Friday, 29 October 2010

Let there be less light

Some time ago, when my wife Danielle was still commuting to work and therefore taking her bike on the train each day, she was told off by station staff for having left the light on as she wheeled her way across the platform one morning. Just the other day, I heard the same reprimand being dished out at my local station.

It seems that leaving a bicycle light on in a station can confuse the train drivers.

I keep trying to picture the confusion. Here’s the driver of the 7:17 to Euston coming into the station, minding his own business, perhaps already thinking of the cup of tea at the end of his shift. ‘Crikey,’ he cries out suddenly, jerked out of his reverie by a terrible sight, ‘there’s a very short, very thin train with a single light coming across the platform towards me. Stone the crows.’

Clearly, if station staff are so keen on preventing this kind of behaviour, they must fear the appalling consequences to which the confusion might lead. I find this puzzling. What do they expect the driver do? Take evasive action? Would he throw the steering wheel over in a panic-struck over-compensation to the perceived peril, mount the opposite platform and cut a trail of mayhem, death and destruction amongst the poor innocents waiting for the 7:22 to Manchester? A terrifying image.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see how anyone can reasonably object to turning off a bike light. It’s just that as a frequent passenger on British trains, I’m concerned that the people who manage our railways think their drivers likely to get that confused, that easily.

What does it say about the drivers? What does it say about the managers?


Danielle said...


Tom said...

are these the same drivers who threatened to go on strike with fears for their safety after noticing that the railway tracks became narrower in the far distance?

David Beeson said...

Thanks for a brilliant comment! It's particularly apposite coming from a sailor: don't you ever get worried as the horizon approaches about sailing over that edge?

Awoogamuffin said...

Maybe they're just concerned that you're using up the batteries

David Beeson said...

You mean the ones that power the trains?