Day 209 – National Express

I can’t honestly believe I wrote a story about the British Rail network without

a) swearing
b) going over 1000 words
c) not just being one long rant (it might be several smaller ones though)

Word count: 655

Tumbleweed blew down the grassy track. From either direction there was nothing coming. Not for hours, not for days. No train would be stopping at this platform. No one would be hopping on or getting off. No luggage, tired passengers and generic announcements notifying the weary waiting of yet further delays. Indeed, no ticket was valid for travel on this line.

It was the day of a strike. A cold clap of thunder rumbled over the valley as Samantha alighted from the train at Newark. Forty five seconds previous, she had been notified of the bus replacement service for her connecting train. However, the replacement service was not for another hour. There was the possibility of perhaps another train… from the station just over half a mile away.
Pulling her hood over her hairs, she set out, luggage rolling in tow. Splashing through puddles, she passed cosy fire-lit pubs and restaurants oozing with the smell of food. But further she kept on going until she reached the station. Samantha had been there once before – a sunny day though it was – it was not unlike the scenario she was currently in. Another delay; she attracted them or was psychologically addicted to them: either way they found a way into her life. Train delays, bus delays, pay delays, but especially train delays.
The station loomed at the end of the road. Her heart skipped a beat on the thought that she would finally be sitting down. Nothing. Nothing but the expanse of empty track met her. The board drew blanks, perhaps it was confused by the complete void of trains? But, hang on, there were other casualties of the railway network loitering on the other platform. Samantha ran back across to the other side to interrogate them.
Bus Replacement Service.
There was no end to the torment of the journey. Not only was it delayed, but the delay was further enhanced by the bus replacement service, which was due to leave an hour after the train service it was attempting to replace. How did that work – did it even work? Her legs had walked for no reason. Five minutes later she was stepping on to a shabby bus and admiring the view of the road she had just walked along. It was taking her back. Back to the station she had originally alighted to. In one complete circle she had gone. Back to the point of origin. But at last she was on her way out of this god forsaken petrol-station of a town.

The motorway was now her companion. Within the hour she would be at her destination, a full hour later than planned. At some point in the evening, she resolved to fight back though. National rail had stolen too many hours; too many wasted hours. Lives had been ruined by this awful and incompetent company. It was high time it stopped. No more could the British Public accept this socially acceptable rape of public transportation. She had to take arms. She had to encourage others to do likewise.
The farmers would raise their pitchforks, their combine harvesters would grind; the commuters would flap their wads of tickets in the air and the casual holiday makers would launch their bags into the sky. It was war now. Samantha was determined to win it. It would not take much; they did not want much: a little more leg room, a politer service; an accurate timetable and a little honesty when delays were announced. Was it too much to ask for storage space on a train? Perhaps for the repeatedly failing signalling system to not fail anymore? Perhaps the trains could align their timetables and make it easier to cross the country, instead of just from North to South. It could be done. It would be done.

And the British National Rail system, from the day that Samantha got exceptionally pissed, would never be the same again.

~ by S.G. Mark on May 3, 2012.

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