Trains and Rituals

I like trains; I always have. No, I’m not one of the beings seen at stations around the UK from time to time, huddling at the end of the platform, wearing anoraks and frantically scribbling the numbers of passing trains into their notepads. Are trainspotters only found in Britain? It wouldn’t surprise me, and the fact that spellcheck doesn’t believe that ‘trainspotter’ is a real word rather compounds that belief.

The trusty OED says, ‘Trainspotter: noun, British (I knew it!), a person who collects locomotive numbers as a hobby.’

Really, I am not a trainspotter; I simply like trains.

Footpath to Cambridge 2

My favourite walk into town along the banks of the River Cam takes me under a railway bridge forming part of the busy line to the midlands, and it’s one of my ambitions (seriously!) to be walking underneath this bridge as a train goes over it. This would have to occur naturally, though. If I hear a train approaching I’m not allowed to hurry in order to be in position as it rumbles overhead, nor am I allowed to loiter if a train is on its way when I’m underneath the bridge. Today, to my dismay, a train passed over the bridge as I was only a matter of feet away; if I’d been a few seconds earlier my dreams would have come true, but no. Instead, I was left making a complete fool of myself, waving my hands at the train and saying ‘Oh, train!’ in my most admonishing tone as it trundled off towards Cambridge.

Railway Bridge

Grumbling, I carried on with my walk, passing under the bridge and emerging on the other side just as – you’ve guessed it – another train rattled over the bridge. I could almost imagine that the trains were laughing at me, but I’m not quite ready for the men in white coats to come and take me away yet!

About five minutes later I heard an impressive rumble behind me, and turned round to see a massive freight train going over the bridge. Oh what joy it would have been to stand underneath the bridge counting the wagons on that, but, alas, it wasn’t to be.

I wasn’t even close enough to spot the engine’s number.

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5 thoughts on “Trains and Rituals

  1. Ah, but what type of locomotive was it? As somebody who HAS stood at the end of platforms, notebook and pencil in hand (with our brother, I might add), I can’t see the problem! Oh, and I would almost certainly have hurried to be under the bridge in time…..

    • I didn’t turn round in time to see the engine. Once upon a time it might have been a class 50, or maybe a pair of 31s, but I don’t think they’re used any more. Perhaps it was a class 67?
      Of course, as I’m not a trainspotter I don’t really have any idea what the engine might have been!!

  2. I’m lucky enough to have grown up in a pre-diesel era and enjoyed the thrill of travelling in the carriages pulled by a steam train. When some small compartments had a door either side depending which platform they pulled in at but if you got in an empty one, there was no way anyone could disturb you, but you couldn’t go to the loo. Some of course only had doors at the end of the carriages with a passageway running past all the small compartments. The sounds of those running on the tracks and over bridges was magical and the sight of a train approaching was quite something as the pulling up at the platform was not as smooth as today.
    I’ve been under a bridge when one goes over and it’s great trying to count the carriages. Er, just a moment while I put my anorak on.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  3. A very cute post! I love trains myself. None here wheei live but there is a track near my dads wheni go there i love sitting and watching them out his window.

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