The other day on the train, we got to a stop early.
This often happens and we just have to sit and wait until the timetable allows us to continue on our merry way. This is the buffer zone. The extra time added to the timetable to allow for any minor mishaps.
It is all part of managing the expectations of the passenger. Set yourself a generous timetable so that any minor incidents will be covered day-in-day-out. And it works. If you expect the train to arrive at 7.43 and it does (or it even arrives early) then you are happy. It doesn’t really matter that they have added a good 4 minutes or so to the timetable, it is all about expectations. I have noticed that my evening train consistently arrives 5 minutes earlier than the publicised train. Great! I can get on the train and wait in the warmth of the train rather than waiting in the chilly winter air on the platform.
Furthermore, they like to tell you that you have arrived early so that you don’t think we are getting delayed while the train sits there idle. This is all sensible stuff and makes sense. Instead of getting irate and stressed out by the feeling that we might be late, we know that it’s ok because we are even ahead of schedule and that NEVER happens on public transport, right?
Anyway, the point of this entry is a small matter of something on of the announcers said. The tannoy came on, and the man spoke out to the captive audience,
‘I would like to inform you on behalf of South Western Trains, that we are currently ahead of schedule and are not due to depart from C…… until 07.43.’
Hang on a minute, South Western Trains? Am I on a different train? I thought it was called South West Trains, has it been taken over? Is it experiencing a brand overhaul directed by the Marketing and Branding team over at Head Office? Or did it used to be known as South Western Trains back in the day, and this chap has never gotten over the change?
Well, it had me intrigued for a minute of two. And then I returned to my book, ‘Winter in Madrid’ by C.J Sansom. It’s really very good.