Monday, 20 December 2010

Kidnapped by Koleje Mazowiecki

For the first time since the introduction of the new railway timetables last Saturday week, I chanced a ride to work on Koleje Mazowieckie. Since the snows began, the performance of Poland's railways has been dire. My experiences so far this winter have been of cancellations and delays longer than the usual journey time. The introduction of the new timetable is usually entirely virtual, since trains keep running (on my line anyway) to the old timetable for weeks regardless.

And so it was this morning. The advertised 07:38 train arrived at 07:54 (i.e. as per old time table). Just a three-car set of EN-57 rolling stock (above) - totally inadequate for the jam of passengers trying to board. But by W-wa Służew I manage to get a seat.

So engrossed was I in Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, that I fail to notice that the train pulled into W-wa Centralna rather than W-wa Śródmieście... The train emerged from the Tunel Średnicowy on the wrong track, passing W-wa Powiśle without stopping. Soon, I am being whisked, against my will, across the Vistula (below).

The train continues past W-wa Stadion and arrives (no doubt on time according to the old schedule) at W-wa Wschodnia, the eastern gateway station. I look round to see what's happening. I see the following sign (below) and challenge my bilingual readers to translated this a) literally and b) usefully into English.

The cause of this notice soon becomes clear; the station is undergoing a remont. I use the Polish word remont rather than 'repair', 'renovation', 'refurbishment', 'remodelling', 'restoration' (or one we saw last week in the Old Town, 'revitalization'), because it so direct and to the point. Indeed, I urge my English-speaking readers to start using this word in English - it is so useful. Which of the many different possible translations into English of remont most accurately captures the flavour of what's happening at the station right now? You'd need to be a consulting engineer to come up with the one English word that precisely defines this type of work. But remont - we all know what it means!

Above: Warszawa Wschodnia station undergoing its remont. Ticket booths are outside in the open air, most of the facilities are closed. The outside clock (click to enlarge photo) says 05:45. Trains are running late or very late. Finally I board a west-bound train and 50 minutes later I'm back at W-wa Powiśle, and late for work.

10 comments:

showme said...

"So engrossed was I in Bulgakhov's The Master and Margarita, that I fail to notice that the train pulled into W-wa Centralna rather than W-wa Śródmieście... The train emerged from the Tunel Średnicowy on the wrong track, passing W-wa Powiśle without stopping. Soon, I am being whisked, against my will, across the Vistula (below)."

Slightly unfair this. Perhaps the last line should say something like "Soon, I am being whisked, due to entirely my own fault, across the Vistula (below)."

Decoy said...

Ok, a literal imterpretation of the sign: "Passage to the city no!"

An attempt to usefully translate: "No exit to the city centre"

I also like the word 'remont' as it just is one of those words that just seems to fit snugly into that piece of air available when you are looking for a word that covers refurbishment, remodelling, repair, etc.

And finally, good work on Master and Margarita, a favourite of mine since my wife introduced me to it a few years ago. I think you've got Bulgakov's name slightly wrong, although with different spellings in Polish and English, you could be forgiven.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Decoy

Our CEO today spoke (in English) about 'the office remont' showing how once you learn the word, you adopt it!

Thanks for the Bulgakov correction; indeed this is the accepted version. There's always a problem with transliterating Cyrillic into various languages and then from one to another.

@showme: Don't I know you from somewhere:-)

Anonymous said...

Micheal - is there something in the water? The country seems to be melting down piece by piece. (faster and more dramatically than usual)

Bob

Vintage Mint said...

More like "PASSAGE TO THE CITY MISSING", I guess. Useful, as literal as possible and still contains the comical value.

student SGH said...

NO PASSAGE TO TOWN

I took the train last Friday. My boss and I barely squeezed onto the train and in the EN-57 we learnt that the train wouldn't stop at W-wa Ochota and at W-wa Śródmieście, but we duly got off at W-wa Centralna.

I'm still in two minds about taking a train to town regularly. If they were reliable, they'd make a considerable alternative to Puławska.

Mistrz i Małgorzata - definitely my favourite set book from high school. Now I should re-read it, to understand more

Anonymous said...

That is a funny story. What was the real reason? :-)
Brak means lack of.

Anonymous said...

In such circumstances that sign reads:
"No, Michael, you can't get to town today, no matter how hard you try"

scatts said...

I also use 'remont' but that's because I'm lazy. There are distinct meanings for most of the English versions although some do overlap.

Repair - to fix something that is broken

Renovation & Refurbishment - very similar and the closest in meaning to 'remont'

Remodelling - changing the size, shape, layout or significant design changes, usually to adapt to a different function to what it was originally built for.

Restoration - restoring something to its former glory, usually historical.

Revitalisation - Government or developer language to explain massive investment into run-down areas.

What appears to be going on at your station is none of the above but is rebuilding or reconstruction.

So there! Let's not succumb to the lowest common denominator!

WilkBury said...

Michael, the answer to avoid any future kidnapping is timetable from KM website: http://www.mazowieckie.com.pl/site.php5/getFile/5935 :-)

Several trains (including 07:38 & 07:58) go through W-wa Centralna istead of W-wa Srodmiescie.