I took a train yesterday for a day trip out of London. As an irregular user of the national railway network, I’m pleasantly surprised by the experience these days. The trains are new, quiet, and reasonably punctual. All they need to do to perfect things is to get rid of the rowdy alcoholics who always seem to share my carriage.
The particular train I caught was one of those strange affairs that splits in two. I don’t quite know what the point of this is—it’s complicated and increases the probability of hiccups—so I can only assume that it’s something to do with signalling efficiencies or needing fewer drivers. But if you’re going to do this, it’s important that passengers know which part of the train is going where.
I boarded one of these magical splitting trains, and paid close attention to ensure that I was on the correct half. The automated announcement on board said something like this:
This train consists of eight carriages. At A—, the train will split into two parts. The first four carriages will go to B—, while the rear four carriages will go to C—. This is carriage three of eight.
All the information was there, but presented in logic puzzle format! They could so easily have added:
This carriage will go to B—.
But that would be too straightforward, wouldn’t it? I’ve written to Southeastern to recommend this improvement. I wonder what they’ll say. It won’t surprise me if there’s some technical constraint: I wonder how flexible the announcement software is.