Picture the scene: A rangy, leather-clad, wild-haired man with a frantic look in his eye jumps on to your train, throws a bag into the luggage stand and jumps off.
A ripple of unease flutters through the carriage as he stands on the platform panting, with a stormy expression and fidgety demeanour.
Unnerving, right? But that manic figure was cut by none other than my outraged boyfriend, the last time his mother came to visit Dundee.
After arranging for assistance on to the train due to her mobility needs, he dutifully waited with her at the allocated meeting point until someone came to… well, assist.
And they waited. And waited.
Until eventually, not only had the train arrived, it was about to depart.
No assistance had materialised so, wanting to make sure his mother and her belongings got on board safely, he helped her on and then proceeded to bolt from platform to carriage with each of her bags, in a race against time until the doors closed.
Around 30 seconds before the train departed, a station attendant separated from the cosy clump of hi-vis clustered in the ticket barrier booth under the station roof, and came ambling along to ‘help’.
In the case of a disabled woman for whom travelling comes with a lot of stresses, help at the last gasp is no help at all.
But it appeared no one had been on the platform to assist anybody who might need it, never mind those who had specifically asked for it.
And this week, the inevitable end point of such lacking safety protocols was seen – twice.
Warnings didn’t prevent pensioners falling through platform gap
Two Angus pensioners in the last five days have reported struggling with the gap between the train and the platform at Dundee’s train station.
Bill Nicoll, 79, ended up with an infected shin after falling through the gap and landing on the trackside while boarding an LNER train to London in December.
And 74-year-old Betty Russell was left traumatised after “hanging half in and half out” of a train to Edinburgh after trying to board carriage K, unfortunately situated on the bend of the Dundee platform where the gap is larger.
Yet ScotRail responded not with an apology or vow to change safety procedures on the Dundee platform due to repeated incidents, as one might expect.
In Bill’s case, they promised to ‘investigate’, trotting out the old line: “ScotRail takes any reports of incidents or complaints seriously.”
He has heard nothing from them in over a month.
And in Betty’s case, ScotRail cheekily said “any customers who need extra assistance are provided with that on request”.
In theory, maybe.
But even if that system worked (which it doesn’t) there’s something distinctly snide about shifting the onus on to customers to pre-arrange any help they may need on their journeys.
As if a failure to anticipate their own struggle to step across the gap makes these people responsible for the absolute lack of help available to them.
Laughably, the rail operator also defended their so-called safeguarding procedures with the wheedling reminder that “safety messages” are “continually broadcast” on station platforms.
“‘Mind the gap’ and ‘Be careful of the gap between the train and the platform edge’ are two variations of the messages you will hear at every station,” a representative told The Courier in response to Betty’s incident.
Of course! How silly of our elderly and infirm to fail to ‘mind the gap’ they are physically unable to navigate, even after an automated recording reminded them!
How irresponsible of them to fall through the canyon of space between the open train doors and a slippery outdoor platform during the busy Christmas crush, when the robot overlords were there, practically holding them up with their stern, echoing warnings.
ScotRail response shows operator is not taking Dundee concerns seriously
The whole debacle is embarrassing for ScotRail.
Not only the fact that any decent rail operator would have someone on the platform available to identify and assist anyone – small children, older people, single parents with babies, those with unwieldly luggage, cyclists, dogs – who might struggle to “mind the gap”.
But their lukewarm, shoulder-shrugging response to the very real danger and distress suffered by Betty shows them to be just as lacklustre as their tepid reputation suggests.
Surely the ScotRail staff at Dundee can use common sense and realise that not everyone who needs help is going to ask for it.
Or at the very least, the might show up for those who do.
Swift rise to fame for Perthshire clothing brand
It’s nice when celebrities keep it real.
Or at least, when billionaire pop sensations wear something that doesn’t cost the same as a mortgage deposit.
And like almost everything she wears, the dress sold out on the small business’s online store immediately.
But this time, the world’s hottest garment – for five minutes on Thursday anyway – had the fairly reasonable price tag of £60.
There’s something amusing and heartening about the idea that the world’s biggest music icon would still wear a £60 dress. And even more heartening that thanks to one fortunate paparazzi photo, a local business is experiencing a meteoric boost.
Fair play to TayTay.