Its a funny world from inside the train. You look out of the window as if looking at an alien landscape. Maybe it has to do with the fact that apart from the train interior, you never see the workings of the railway. The rails hidden from view, the occasional signal box. At stations you look out at people on the platform and you're not really in the station. They sit there and you sit there, silent while the train is stationary. your eyes wonder which train they're waiting for if not yours. and their eyes tell you how much they wish this train had been their's. But the faces try to look oblivious. "i don't want to get on your train anyway" You can observe them in an alien away because in a moment their faces will slowly roll from view and you shall never see them again.
You glide through towns, valleys, plains, the landscape rolling by steadily. An endless conveyor belt going past the window like on the generation game but with better prizes. In Accrington you rise high and it occurs to you that for some reason the houses are a long way below, because as far as you're concerned the viaduct may as well not be there. Things are seen from an angle you only get from trains. The back of pontins. The vast yard clumsily stacked with goods pallettes. A concentration of crane arms lifted, limbs crossing and intertwining. The sugar tanker behind fox's biscuits.These are the things you don't usually see. They are hidden away in impenetrable industrial estates. Estates that you only put by a railway. Who else would have them? And hence the tracks carve right through. Its like exploring the industrial hub of a simcity. All the odd buildings and businesses. The industrial thingamajigs. From here i can see into them and the interior is often even more ridiculous than the exterior.The old boat sitting behind a Blackburn warehouse. The eye makes up its own stories.
Little villages are rolling past going about their business. Transpennine. Through the Pennines. Thats pretty special. Flanked by hillocks, I am alone in the carriage. Another viaduct allows me to soar over a roof-populated valley. Why am I the only person here to enjoy it? I can almost reach into peoples' back rooms from here.
Valleys getting deeper. Caravans perched on hillside. Snow or frost or something. Roof-level with descending terrace houses. A chimney, one of those huge old mill ones, glides past. One second and its gone.
Hebden Bridge Station. Gone again. The platform signs accelerate past as a farewell. or a "too late!". Some people have joined me, but they are oblivious to all but the paper. Blurs of walls or trees intersperse each short moving snapshot of valleys.
That lady isn't reading any more. She's asleep.
Tunnel. All black. Somebody must be changing over the film reel. And, yes, then the light flickers back and the show continues.
written on the Transpennine Express on Wednesday 17 January 2001. write soon