Thursday, November 09, 2006

Faster than a Speeding Locomotive...

This morning we're on the platform, in our usual spot awaiting the train. Since I logged a complaint on the NJTransit website the 8:23am train has been showing up at approximately 8:19 which is just early enough so that the "dinky" riders from Princteon Proper haven't managed to arrive at the station yet. While this tactic hasn't actually eased any of the excessive overcrowding on the train it does give those of us who drive to the station a leg up on the dinky riders. (Though this has meant having to run from the car to the platform as we hear the train approaching). A unique answer to my compliant that there aren't enough cars in the train.

Today, however, was different. Today they had a different engineer than usual (though, by no mistake not an engineer that we haven't encountered before). This morning the train was three minutes late. Perhaps in an attempt to make up this difference, the train barrels up to the platform. We all step within the "yellow" line, but it's one of those things where you can completely tell: THE TRAIN IS COMING TOO FAST. ITS NOT GOING TO STOP.

About three weeks ago we had encountered this problem for the first time. The train blew right past the platform. It ended up stopping about three hundred feet from the end of the platform. Waited there (as if it were at it's usual stopping place, ready to accept passengers), didn't back up to the platform to actually pick up the passengers... and then just rolled away. On that day, out of some sort of random miracle everybody was let on the Amtrak which used to come at 8:36 (which has now been permanently suspended after three mysterious fare hikes...)

So, this morning we're all pretty much expecting a repeat of the last time. As the front car sped past us on the platform you could see the engineer (who looked to be about 16) fumbling in the cabin frantically looking for the brakes. He managed to stop the train with three or four cars still on the platform. This, however, threw the conductors into a tizzy because they had to now figure out how to only open the doors in the cars on the platform and not any of the doors of the cars which were just suspended over open track. We sit. Waiting. There are people inside the train who want to get off. It's a tense moment. We're all half expecting the train to just pull away (because, that would be typical of NJTransit).

Surprisingly the doors open, people are let on. Its the usual stampede for seats. We politely ask the conductor to remind the engineer that when he gets to Penn Station, there will be a wall at the end of the track so he may want to take it easy.

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