My train stopped for a while in the City Thameslink station near St Paul’s. My attention was snagged by a sign directing the driver as to what he/she/they needed to do with their pantograph.

What I mused is a pantograph? And measuring tool for children’s Christmas entertainment? A comparator for various types of underwear?

We moved on, and I was none the wiser. All I could hope was the driver wasn’t about to chant ‘he’s behind you’ over the incomprehensible tannoy or had been forced to go commando.

PS. In case you’re interested (though why you should be, heaven knows)…

A pantograph (or “pan” or “panto”) isΒ an apparatus mounted on the roof of an electric train, tram or electric bus to collect power through contact with an overhead line.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in miscellany, thought piece, trains and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Idling

  1. Sadje says:

    You’ve solved the mystery 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  2. gordon759 says:

    You will be pleased to know I was also puzzled by the term Pantograph used for the electric pickup. Though it should have been obvious as it does look like a Pantograph, the sketching tool used to copy a drawing, at a larger or smaller scale.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pam Lazos says:

    So what happens is they forget and leave it in the lunch pail or something. So you all just sit for interminable amounts of time on the tracks?πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. willowdot21 says:

    I look the pantograph up and was surprised to learn that most trains have too and even high speed trains have them!
    I understand the trolley or the tram but I was surprised that trains still use them πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I think they’re quite common still. Because the infrastructure north of London is different to the south, the Thameslink service has to cater for the two systems. The trains are bespoke as they have two separate systems for taking power. This goes back to the 1840s and the legislation permitting the first railway companies to compulsorily purchase land for their lines. No company could build a cross London railway to preserve the concessions given to each company to radiate out of London. That led to the tube being built. The only cross London line was north-south and used by the army and government. Mrs T had it linked to the network in the 1980s and opened up as a public service. Hence thr tricky melding of incompatible systems

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You have enlightened me today! I was just calling it the doohickey that connects the train to an electric line!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Just what I’ve always wanted to know

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I thought it was a little gadget to enlarge drawings. So I would have been really confused. (turns out that is a pentagraph)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I did know that, comes of being married to an engineer!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. tootlepedal says:

    I have known about pantographs for many years. It is a word that appeals to me as does ‘Pantisocracy’ for childlike reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Widdershins says:

    Well, there you go. I am now wiser. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  11. HI Geoff, I didn’t recognise the term but at least I know what you are talking about.

    Liked by 1 person

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