So Cat and I were taking the train from Fareham back to London today, and we decided to go to Waterloo and get a bus home. I laid my head against the window in order to sleep as I always do on trains. About 10 mins into the journey, I opened my eyes to find that we’d stopped. I didn’t feel jerking or hear any noise that I recall…but the other passengers said that they felt the train stop abruptly with a jerking motion. We were in the first or second car and were inside a tunnel. A few minutes after we stopped…Cat asked me if I smelled smoke. I did and for a second I panicked, thinking the train to be on fire. I calmed myself down just as a lady ran past yelling that the train was on fire, EVERYONE GET OUT!
People were definitely panicking as the conductor came on the loudspeaker to tell us that there was a fire aboard the train, and no to panic, but at this time they did not know where the fire was exactly. They told us to move to the back of the train. As I recall there were a few people scrambling over one another…a bloke cursing his head off at people pushing and trying to get out as quickly as possible. The smoke got worse as we walked forward so that a lot of people were covering their mouths with their shirts. We found out later that we had actually walked over the fire which was underneath the train. As we passed where the fire was, the next train car was on the outside of the tunnel and I began to feel better seeing steps going up the side of the hill, knowing that we could bust a window out if we had to in order to get out.
Cat had been amazingly calm throughout the whole deal, and was pretty hacked off at a young guy that tried to climb over a young family with a baby. When the whole ordeal started she actually had the presence of mind to gather up her paper, which she had not yet finished reading…as people screamed and pushed past us.
They moved us to the last train car and as they could not get the fire out, had to evacuate us via a ladder pushed against the side of the train. They moved us up the side of the hill around a lot of posh houses….(all of whom refused us sanctuary in their driveways I hear) so we were stood on the side of a rocky embankment for around 2 hours until cabs came to take us in groups of 4 to the nearest train station so that we all could get home.
Cat was a jewel though all of this…not frightened, rallying every one’s spirits with cleverness and making friends on the rocky slope. She was also quite happy about being surrounded by some cute firemen. 🙂 All in all, not something I ever want to go through again, but happy to be in such good company. The people were all very patient and the train crew really did their best. The children amazed me the most. After we finally got back to the train station via taxi and back on the next train to Waterloo…we saw a family that had been sitting in front of us on the first train and a little girl that had been talking to us. They were visibly tired and shaken from the incident but all still smiling and happy. As they got off the train, we all waved goodbye having shared something deep and indescribable. And while I know I’ll not see them again, I’ll never forget their little faces, waving happily outside the window of the train.