Last night I dreamt I went to Waverley again ...
... and was amazed at the changes 30 years had wrought. There was a screen listing all the departures in the next couple of hours with the Ultra High Speed services highlighted. The Paris and Berlin trains alternated each hour with the Rome and Madrid ones. As with the trains to London, passengers had to present themselves 30 minutes before departure to one of the two dozen e-passport readers. Despite earnest attempts to negotiate with the English government, trains between pan-Europe countries passing through England - still a staunch refuser of the pan-European concept - such formalities remained.
I watched a couple travelling with two children and their holiday luggage. When the father showed his e-passport to the reader, the gate beside the machine opened and allowed him to put his cases onto the conveyor. I remembered the system which was used in airports before they fell into disuse when air travel was banned within pan-Europe. The machine's voice welcomed him and his family (using the children's names - a nice touch) and issued a plastic card to give them access to the train's waiting lounge. As they went off I heard the mother tell the children how her parents had struggled with luggage when she was a girl.
I looked at the screen again. The Scottish services (all listed as ScotElec) were far more frequent than they had been - trains went to Glasgow every 15 minutes, but even those to Aberdeen and Inverness were now every 30 minutes. "Surely there can't have been enough passengers to justify such a frequency?" I asked one of the uniformed Assistants by the e-passport readers. She gave me a strange look. How else would people get to Aberdeen if there were no trains? I mumbled about being a stranger and she told me that until about five years earlier people had owned their own individual transport. "They banned them because they caused too much pollution. Now the only - cars, they called them - are police and emergencies. All the stuff that lorries used to carry are on the f-trains." As I looked blank at the mention of f-trains she explained that during the night special trains loaded with goods of all kinds ran to all parts of Scotland. "And in England too, I think. I took my kids to see a lorry in a museum once. Hate to see one of them rushing along."
As I was turning to leave I saw a handwritten sign on a board. It told me that a loop of some kind in the Far North was due to be opened by the Highland Commissioner the following week.