Swindon Artist

The door opens from the outside

English people love DIY. Propelled by a sense of self-destiny, we’ll tackle almost any household task. Whether by independence or pure impatience, we’re also adept at ‘self service’, especially when there is a long queue in the supermarket.

It won’t come as any surprise, therefore, that certain UK trains have a ‘self service’ system to open the doors when the carriage comes in to the station platform. This is not, however, an innovation, but rather an old protocol that dates back to the days of steam, where each door has to be opened and closed manually. The routine is as follows: wait for the signal; the ‘click’ sound, lower the window, reach your hand out and down, and then lower the handle from the outside to release the door. Forget automatic buttons, the door only opens once you’ve passed the ‘self service’ test. It’s a subtle, exercise that catches out many a new traveller, who may find themselves temporarily imprisoned in the vestibule.

In the long term this ritual will be replaced by modern automatic doors, but for the moment, when the train arrives in to Swindon station, you know what to do…