This morning the platform was looking pretty crowded when I got to Hackney Central and when the announcement came that the westbound train was running 7 minutes late my heart sank. It’s hard to be accurate about these without going down the platform counting heads and drawing attention to myself (can’t have that) but I estimate about 80 people usually catch the 7:15 at Hackney and during those seven minutes of delay, an extra 25 people arrived on the platform who would otherwise have been on the later train (and yes, those I did count. There wasn’t anything else to do, after all). So I was expecting a train that was about 25% more crowded than usual – ie. making the transition from the usual battery commuter farm to the sort of conditions that the EU has banned for the shipment of live animals. Accordingly I girded my loins and sharpened my elbows and generally prepared to battle my way on to the approaching train, and was gobsmacked when it arrived about a quarter full. And that’s a quarter full as in a quarter of the seats taken, not a quarter of the total volume of train taken up by people. Summer is over, the schools are fully back and yet there were fewer people on this train than I had seen all summer.
Naturally we suspected a trap. Some of the more alert passengers checked that this wasn’t the Camden Road shuttle desperately trying to drum up more trade by pretending to be a Richmond train. I cast a wary eye over the surviving inhabitants of the train looking for traces of trauma, cannibalism or alien abductions, but there was nothing. By Highbury the train was back up to its normal complement and no explanation was ever given – after all why give an excuse for things actually going right for once?
Just one of life’s little mysteries. And now I’ll never find out the reason because tomorrow is my last day on the Silverlink…
Total time wasted today: 10 minutes
Total time wasted to date: 11 hours 45 minutes
No. of Silverlink days to go: 1