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"Bert's Crossing" is a story written by Loco123456.

Story

Bert’s Crossing

Inspired by a real event: http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/RAIB_Dymchurch2016.pdf


Bert was happily coming down the line with bolster wagons loaded with timber. In the distance he saw a sign which read “WHISTLE”.

“PIP! PIP! Engine approaching!” He whistled.

Up ahead was a level crossing. Since he was in the part of Arlesdale where farming took place, the level crossing was user-operated. This meant that the responsibility was placed upon the driver of any road vehicle to cross when no trains were around, and to always close the gates behind them once they passed. But not all the drivers follow these simple rules. Willie was one of them.

“GET OUT OF THE WAY!” Shouted Bert frantically as Willie and his tractor trundled slowly across.

“IT’S TOO LATE!” Yelped Bert, shutting his eyes.

“Huh?”

He opened them to find that he had stopped with his buffers inches from the gates, which were against him.

“Sorry Bert,” called Willie. “I’m running a little late with my load of straw for the sheep.”

Bert’s Driver and Willie set the gates against the roadway, and Bert started off again.

“How dare he put me and Driver in danger,” he grumbled as he continued down to Arlesburgh West.


That night in the sheds, Bert told the other steam engines about his near miss.

“First Rex, and now you,” chuckled Mike.

“It’s not funny Mike,” scolded Jock. “Willie, Bert, or Bert’s Driver could have been hurt if an accident occurred.”

“Then I suggest that we all go at slow speeds when working near Arlesdale,” proposed Mike. “Then we can easily stop should someone like Willie misuse the user-operated crossing.”


The next day the plan was put into action. But for the whole day, none of the engines saw Willie. And if they did see any farm worker using the crossing, they were obeying the simple rules listed on the signs on both sides of the crossing.

“Might as well not fear anything,” noted Jock one night in the sheds.

“Even so,” objected Bert, “there are still stupid people out there.”





Several weeks later Bert was still cautious when passing level crossings around Arlesdale. But one day he couldn’t be cautious. He was running late with his general merchandise train. When he arrived at Arlesdale, he left the bolsters and went to the Sawmill to collect bolsters loaded with freshly cut timber.

“Must make up time! Must make up time!” He said hastily.

He saw the board reading “WHISTLE”.

“PIP! PIP! Engine approaching!”

Up ahead was the crossing, with Willie in the driver’s seat of a tractor. He was hauling a trailer of straw again.

“Oh dear! That’s Bert’s whistle! I don’t want to have another near miss!”

His tractor was too close to the line, with the counterbalance of the tractor blocking the line.

“Must try to put things right,” said Willie worriedly as he put the tractor into reverse.

“CLEAR THE LINE! CLEAR THE LINE! PEEP! PEEP! PEEP!” Bert and his Driver were much closer now and could see the counterbalance overhanging the line.

“This might not work,” sighed the Driver, “but I suppose applying the brakes might help.”


CRASH!

Bert hit the counterbalance of the tractor, and fell onto his left-hand side, bringing his tender down with him. The first bolster wagon was derailed, but was upright. As for the tractor, it had been pushed sideways, hitting the gates and breaking them apart. Bert’s Driver had jumped clear prior to the collision.

“Bert? Bert? Are you alright?”

“I think so,” said Bert, who looked down at his front, which seemed only a little damaged.

“Sorry Bert. I w-”

“You’ve caused trouble for me and everybody else who works on the line. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

“Couldn’t have put it better myself,” agreed Bert.


The line would be closed for the next couple of hours as workmen cleared the line. Willie’s Employer and a Railway Inspector were on the scene.

“Why didn’t you obey simple instructions,” demanded the Inspector.

“I didn’t know,” said Willie gloomily.

“Even with signs telling you?! Ugh! You careless drivers!”

“You shall see me first thing in the morning,” said Willie’s Employer angrily.






Bert was mended in a week’s time and was pulling trains again.

“Looks like the level crossing is mended again,” noted Bert as he passed through.

“And it’s been named too,” pointed out his Driver.

Bert looked at a new sign reading “BERT’S CROSSING”.

“Oh bother!” Grumbled Bert. “Whoever did that will get a piece of my mind!”

“Now settle down. At least we won’t have to deal with Willie anymore.”

“Really?”

“Yes. He got his license taken away from him, and is no longer allowed to drive tractors or cars.”

“Well then,” thought Bert, “I suppose having a user-operated crossing named after me isn’t as bad after all due to the accident. But boy, the others will have a good time teasing me about it! At least I can tease back by recalling their embarrassing accidents.”

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