We had the first snow of the season in this part of England this morning. I hadn’t looked at a weather forecast for days (or more), so I was unprepared for the sight of snow falling as I waited at the station. I was waiting for my usual train, which was already late because it was broken and therefore going very slowly, and by the time it arrived it made more sense for me to get the next train, because I would have missed my connection on the earlier one and the later one goes straight through…well, usually.
The snow continued to fall (and indeed continues to do so until the end of this story), but the second train arrived only a few minutes late, so we all got on it. Everything was reasonably OK until we we were about five minutes away from a station which is one of those stations with very little shelter and no actual railway staff. At this point, we stopped, because (the mumbled announcement said) there was a “failed train” in front of us (the one I would usually have got on). So, we waited for said train to move out of our way. And waited some more. Worryingly, during our wait, the lights went out and the motors of the train stopped whirring, at which point I had to overcome a slight feeling of panic. (I worry about being trapped on trains if the power fails and the doors won’t open). It also got colder and colder as, understandably, the heating only worked when the power was on.
At last, after about 45 minutes, the guard said the train in front had moved so we could carry on, but when we tried to continue the journey it became clear that the train we were on wasn’t going anywhere very fast. The computer system was not working properly, and the train had “lost air” because of remaining stationary for so long. I’m not really sure what that meant, but it wasn’t something anyone wanted to hear! We eventually made it to the next station in little, halting steps, not getting any warmer.
When we got to the station, the nice Welsh Revenue Enforcement Officer Lady said our train had failed – which people had suspected for a while! – so we all had to get off and walk across the bridge to the other side of the tracks, with the idea that we could get a train back the other way to a more major station when we could catch a train back again towards our original destinations. So we all went over to the other side of the tracks (across the slippy bridge and stairs which was a bit hazardous as no gritting or salting had been done, and you can imagine how much I enjoyed that given my love of snow and ice) and waited for the next train the other way. It took about 20 minutes to arrive, by which time we were all frozen.
While waiting for the train, I decided to go home. I was ridiculously cold, and I didn’t want to risk getting stuck anywhere en route again or getting to work and then not getting back again. The train that arrived was perfectly OK, and I got home without further incident. Fortunately, I’m able to do part of my work from home, and the Manager in Charge of Everything in the Library said it was OK for me to do this for half the day and take the other half as annual leave, which was good of him. So, I’ve spent the rest of the day doing metadata for the repository, with the heating on, while wearing my extra-warm slippers, a blanket and fingerless gloves!
I’m just hoping the weather (and the health of the trains) will be better tomorrow. The irony of it is that there wasn’t even all that much snow – it’s melted away here already!