Technology helps the train go — right past the station!

I've always been slow to adopt new technology, partly because I know how quickly I become dependent onSatnav
it. Just the other day, I needed to switch the channel on TV and spent 10 minutes searching for the remote. Then it finally occurred to me: why not just ask one of my kids to walk up to the TV and push the buttons there?

Technology can make our lives easier, but it can also make them more complicated. Just ask the passengers on a British train:

Passengers
on a Southern service from East Croydon were stunned when they were
told that their stopping train would skip six stations and go direct to
the end of the line in Caterham, Surrey.

When they got there the driver said the reason was that the train had lost its satellite link.

Because
some stations have shorter platforms than others it meant that he could
not open the right doors at every station on the route. The loss of the
satellite link meant that passengers who had wanted stations in between
had to wait half an hour for another train.

One
passenger said: “It’s absolutely bizarre. We now have trains that can’t
let the passengers out because they fail to pick up signals from outer
space.”

A
spokesman for Southern said: “A lot of our trains have GPS which
recognises where the train is and allows it to open the doors at the
station, depending on the length of the train and the length of the
platform.”

He added: “Doors can be opened manually in an emergency but we would not recommend it at other times.” [Link]

They're a little too dependent on technology, wouldn't you say? But they're not the only ones, of course. Don't be surprised if you ask a Wal-Mart employee to show you where the coffee-makers are kept and he says, "Sorry, I can't help you. My GPS isn't working."

Photo by asplosh

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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