On Monday my son and I returned from a short break in Berlin (Germany) to our home in Leicestershire (England).
The first train took us from Berlin to Cologne. The journey was notable for keeping perfectly to time, arriving at exactly the right time in Cologne after a journey lasting more than four hours. We therefore had no problem with making the connection for the next leg of the trip, from Cologne to Brussels.
However, that was when things started to go awry. Shortly after starting out, the announcement was made that the train would make an additional stop at Duren, which is a town between Cologne and Aachen. A later announcement said that everyone would have to leave the train at Duren and get on a train that would be on the opposite platform. All the seat reservations would still apply on the other train.
As our train arrived at Duren another train was approaching at the adjoining platform from the opposite direction. The two trains stopped at almost exactly the same time. We all duly got off our train – as did the passengers who had just arrived on the other train.
We then swapped trains! When everyone was on board, the two trains set off back the way they had come, carrying a fresh set of passengers!
There was no explanation given as to why this took place, and there seemed to be no reason why two trainloads of passengers, travelling between Germany and Belgium, should have to do what they did.
Odder still, from my point of view, was the fact that I just finished reading Christopher Isherwood’s novel “Goodbye to Berlin” and had started on his other “Berlin” novel. The title? “Mr Norris Changes Trains”!