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Airline on Track

The people in charge of my local train service seem to think they are running an airline, judging by the tiresome and ever-expanding solicitous welcome with which, like their airborne equivalents, they now greet boarding passengers. Sorry, make that customers. Passengers disappeared years ago.

Good morning. This is your guard speaking. My name is Bert Sleeper, and your driver today is Fred Buffer. On behalf of the entire management and staff of South Western Railway, we would like to welcome you aboard this South Western Railway express service to London Waterloo, with intermediate stops at Surbiton, Wimbledon and Clapham Junction. We have been cleared for departure and will be leaving the station shortly. So, please stand clear of the closing doors until further notice.

For your further safety and comfort, and for the safety and comfort of your fellow-customers, would you please make sure that you remain safely and comfortably seated. Please try not to leave your seat while the train is in motion unless it is absolutely necessary as a sudden stop might be dangerous. As this is a rush-hour train, those customers without a seat are advised to grip the poles provided firmly and with both hands and not to attempt to hang to fellow customers as this may cause offence.

Our staff will now take you through the safety procedures on this South Western Railway service. In the unlikely event of an emergency, please use all available doors. These may be found on both the left and right-hand sides of the carriage, and are the same doors through which you boarded the train. If the doors fail to open, please use the windows, which may be opened by means of the axe which may be found in the guard’s compartment located somewhere near the middle of this eight-carriage train.

We shall be crossing the River Mole today, so in the unlikely event of a water emergency a single life-vest may be found in the guard’s compartment. In the unlikely event that you should secure access to the life-vest, please make sure not to inflate it until you have left the train as doing so while still on the train could impede your exit.

On our journey to Waterloo today, we shall be travelling at an altitude of six feet and at a maximum cruising speed of 60 miles per hour, depending on signals. These, I have been advised, are presently set at green. At various times you may notice a slight change in the sound of the engine. This is nothing to be alarmed about as it is just the driver adjusting the speed in the event of a red signal or an obstruction on the line.

Our forecasters report that weather conditions are favourable for traveling today, so we anticipate a smooth and uninterrupted journey and an on-time arrival at Waterloo of 12.15 British Summer Time. The weather in London today is overcast with the possibility of an occasional shower lasting several days, with a temperature ranging from 10 to 30 degrees Celsius. If any older customers should wish to know the equivalent temperature in Fahrenheit, they should ask the guard, who may be found somewhere near the middle of this eight-carriage train.

When alighting the train at any station, please mind the gap between the train and the platform, which in places customers may find alarming. We apologise for this, but the gap is not the fault of South Western Railway, which is responsible for operating the trains but not maintaining the platforms.

At the end of your journey, wherever that may be, please ensure that you take all your personal belongings with you. If you see anything suspicious, such as a bag marked ‘if found please return to ISIL’, please notify the guard, who is located somewhere near the middle of this eight-carriage train.

Just to remind you, your guard today is me, Bert Sleeper. I am married with three children, one of whom, sadly, is in reform school. I am a Chelsea supporter, like to rebuild car engines, and have been with South Western Railway for twenty-seven years, eight months and four days.
It remains only for me to wish you a pleasant and uneventful onward journey to London, or wherever you final destination may be, and to thank you for choosing Southwestern Railways. If I can be of any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can be found somewhere in the middle …..

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