Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Train Station

The Wiesbaden train station is a hub of activity from early hours of the morning onto almost mid-morning. A dozen-odd trains per hour will pull in....sit for ten-to-twenty minutes and then take off.

I sat this morning on a bench....waiting for my ride, and sipped on a Dunkin Donuts coffee and munched through one of their fine white icing with sprinkles donuts.  I is kinda shocking over the equalivent of $6 to get a medium coffee and two donuts, but this is Germany.

It is an odd assortment of riders....the university crowd, apprentice-kids, the Frankfurt business crowd, and an odd grouping for Darmstadt or Mainz.

There is utter dependence on the train to run, and to be on time.  For a German, acceptance of anything less than an issue.

There are about ten different places where you can get a cup of coffee or some snack along the way within the Bahnhof.  Less than twenty percent are in that category....the vast crowd simply moves on through the entrance, the grand hallway, and onto the track.

Since smoking has been attacked so well in German society, we now have to mandate where smokers can stand and do a puff or two prior to boarding their train.  There's a little two meter by two meter area at the entrance of each track ....actually painted in a square....and noted by a sign as the smoking point.  Non-smokers tend to give a nasty look as they pass the poor smokers because they have to inhale a bit of smoke prior to boarding the train.  Twenty years could have boarded and huffed and puffed on board the train, but those days are long gone.  I can remember stepping into one room of a particular car in Frankfurt with five seats taken up already....and all five smoking as I entered.  It was in essence....a thick cloud that hang over the room.

Occasionally, you will notice a two-man cop team walking a circle around the station.  They still maintain a German police station inside.....with at least two cops there showing a presence around the clock.  Crimes not much of a problem within the station.  Occasionally, you will see someone weeping away with the guess is that they had something lifted off them while on a train and discovered this upon arriving in Wiesbaden.

If you walk through the station...there aren't any homeless guys hanging out and drug dealers are kinda rare (if ever) to be noticed.

As a kid, the one single Amtrak station near my home town shut down in the I never had a chance to really observe a train network or stations.  Frankfurt was the first one (when I arrived in 1978) to really stand and observe the architecture, design, and operation of a fairly significant mode of transportation.  Wiesbaden isn't a major urban does have 280,000 and a lot of people live in Wiesbaden but work in Frankfurt.  So the train station has some priority in their lives.  These people live by set standards.  They know such-and-such train bound for Frankfurt will leave at 7:42 and it'll be 102-percent full (standing room only), and they will know that at 7:49 (just a few minutes later) will be another train which goes also to Frankfurt (stopping off at the airport and taking six extra minutes) which will be fifty-percent full (meaning plenty of open seats).  They live their lives on this predetermined schedule and knowing the difference between train X and train Y.

I doubt if in 1906, when they were running up the grand opening of the Wiesbaden train station....that they really knew and understood how this would fit into the lives of a forty-odd thousand people in the town on a daily basis.  I would imagine that they'd be shocked over the utter dependence of the station and how things are built in such a way to be that dependable.

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