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A train is always a bit travelling and meeting strangers

Thursday had a special ending to it. While boarding the train home, the intercom came alive to tell us that there was a problem with the mains in Halle station. We would be delayed ‘for an undetermined amount of time’…. after which the train left anyway.

We continued our trip until just before Halle – where we stopped, and the train conductor told us that we would have to wait between 30 to 60 minutes for the six trains before us to clear. Apparently there was only one track that was still working, and trains had to take turns going forward.

Kudos to the train conductor, who the whole time was upfront with us and shared with us the news when he got it himself. We were not too happy though to hear about these delays, especially those people who had to travel normally for another hour or two . I asked if we could not go back to the last station, so those who would wish to could get picked up there , take the bus, or even go on foot from there. He told us that this was not at the moment possible, but would look into it.

After another half hour, he had permission, and we finally went in reverse and traveled 200 meters or so back to the last station (Buizingen), where most of us got of the train. Most people had somebody waiting to pick them up, it seems, as only a few of us walked home.

Together with another lady I started talking to, we walked the 40 minutes home in the pouring rain. At least it wasn’t freezing ! After a while, we hardly noticed the rain or the dark night, as we discovered what each of us had experienced. Turns out she had been an ex-Sabena air stewardess, so we started comparing planes, trips and air traffic and feeling scared or not during flights.

In the end, it was that experience that made it all worthwhile. I did not think of the long walk home or the long boring wait in the train – I had nice, good long talk with a total stranger !

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