The One Where I Was Genuinely Terrified, aka the worst shift imaginable

It is rare that I admit I am scared or terrified. I am stoic. I am brave. I am… not ashamed to say that this shift I was absolutely terrified to the core. Working a 458 down to Reading, and all was smooth. We lost a few minutes between Winnersh and Reading, spoke to the driver at Reading when he was changing ends and he said the traction was a bit rubbish. We laughed it off, and looked ahead to Waterloo.

…The unit did not make it to Waterloo.

The unit barely made it to Wokingham. Leaving Winnersh, midway between Winnersh and Wokingham, I felt the telltale lurch of the emergency brakes, at the same time that every light in my cab went off. Immediately, I checked for anything; cab to cab, PA, anything. All dead in my cab… pull open the door to the passenger saloon… also dead.
…Uh oh.

Pelt forward to the next cab, in the front unit. Cab to cab not working here either. Second time in as many weeks I’m running through to the train to speak to the driver then. I am really not fit…

Long story short, 88 minutes later the driver somehow released the breaks, and we were able to get into Wokingham and let people off. But for that 88 minutes… by Jove was there a lot of disruption to SWR and GWR services.

Oh. And what made it terrifying? Well, we lost one of the two rear taillights. And the inside of the rear five coaches looked like the attached photo… walking through with the driver, we both ended up needing to use our phone’s torches!

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