Returning from a shopping expedition the day before yesterday at about 14h45, Much Better Half and her sister saw a train, like the one pictured, crossing a bridge above the road well ahead of them.
MBH remarked casually that it was a pity little granddaughter R wasn’t there to see it (she loves them), and her sister responded, ‘Yes, and it’s a passenger one, too.’ She clearly recalls seeing the typical yellow and blue diagonal stripes.
It was only as they got to the lights at the intersection that it occurred to them that there isn’ta railway bridge there. There are trains, certainly, but they go under the road before arriving at Wentworth Station.
‘Ghost trains aren’t seen in the early afternoon, and they don’t look modern,’ they told themselves firmly – but uneasily.
I checked timetables: indeed, there had been one from Wests to Jacobs arriving at Wentworth at 14h37.Could this have been a reflection of it, I wondered, caused by humiture and/or the dust from the particularly disgusting truck access there? If so, it appeared to have had perfect mirror clarity.
This has niggled away at me since, and today I investigated the subject of mirages. It is indeed fascinating how light can be refracted to create quite amazing illusions. One such type is known as the Fata Morgana.
The origins of that name go back to Morgan Le Fay, the enchantress of Arthurian legend who was said to be a fairy rather than human, and/or Arthur’s half-sister (it depends on what her second parent had been) which side-tracked me very well for a while.
When I returned to the main issue, though, I had to admit defeat. Remarkable though those mirages can be, and even though accompanied by inversion layers of the sort we undoubtedly have locally, there was nothing which would really explain our mystery train. The latter would require that the atmosphere had created an actual mirror, but in all cases what actually happens is that light is refracted.
There had to be another explanation, or else my first one – that they had both gone potty – would have to do. I went for a drive to the area and took photos, ending up none the wiser. The protective barrier for the cutting can be seen, but certainly nothing like a bridge.
Then I came home and thinked thunks. MBH said my pictures were taken from too nearby, and tried to point out on the map approximately where they had been when they saw the train. Something significant struck me. I noticed a bend which was probably what had driven them round the bend.
Some investigation on Google Earth has convinced me my theory is now the right one. If you take a look at the line I have put into the picture, you can see that by looking straight ahead down the road, one is seeing past some of the buildings to where the train is - presumably – still visible on a slightly raised section of ground before it starts the plunge under the road to the station.
With trees screening the bend, and in exactly the right circumstances, there will be an illusion that the train is crossing over the road on a bridge. Of course, the actual road has turned well to the right, where the train goes underneath.
*adjusts deerstalker cap* Elementary, my dear Watson.
Colonialist February 2012 (Letterdash/WordPress)