Zagreb – A Story of a Rail Crossing

I needed to cross these railway tracks, but as I approached the barriers came down. This is a perfectly normal occurrence with trains and I thought that I’d stand there until they went back up again, as this is usually how these things work.

However, two people walking near to me decided to lift the barrier up a little and carry on their walk across the tracks. I assumed that they were locals and knew what they were doing, so I decided to ignore them and stay waiting where I was. Then two more people came along, although there was no sight of a train, and they did the same. Another small group came along and they also offered to hold the barrier for me. Friendly, but I still didn’t want to get run over by a train.

After another eight people had crossed, I was getting irritated at this situation. Being British and obeying rules, I decided that this was most inconvenient. And then, as can be seen in the above photo, a bloody pushchair is pushed across. By this time the barriers have been down for around five minutes and there’s a total absence of trains.

At this stage I decided I was just going to have to wait, as stepping onto railway tracks with a barrier that’s down just doesn’t seem sensible. Then I hear a train is coming, which pleases me greatly as I start to think that the barrier might go up. I’ve probably been here now for around eight minutes, although I didn’t time it exactly as I didn’t know I was spending the entire afternoon here.

Anyway, the train above comes along and then screeches to a halt. And two other people cross in front of the train as it’s stopped. This set-up that a train has to stop to let pedestrians across seems bloody ridiculous to me. This is all made more bizarre as that barrier isn’t easy to lift up, so everyone going through is either doing some kind of limbo move to get under it, or they’re struggling to lift it up.

At this point I’m now quite grumpy about the situation. I decide that I’m not going to walk in front of the train, so I pretend that I don’t want to cross. There’s a signal box to the right of the crossing and the man there was waving at people, although I wasn’t clear whether he was waving them across or waving at them that they might die.

After around another two minutes the train goes and the barriers go up. And I then get the above photo, but I was conscious that a bloody train was likely to come flying along just at this point.

When I got back to the hotel I recounted this story to someone who pretended to look interested. His reply was “we’re Slavs, we don’t do what we’re told” and he added “it’s the Germans and the Poles who do what they’re told, they would wait all day if that barrier didn’t move”. I’m sure there’s some truth to this, although personally I’d add that as a Brit, I’d have probably stayed there all day as well….