Friday, May 30, 2008

Gallic Logic

Your town has a train station.
The train station has three tracks.
What do you choose to call them?

Track 1, Track 2, and Track 3, right?
(Or, alternatively, Track A, Track B, and Track C…)

Indeed, a traveler (French or otherwise) running to catch his train and throwing a (quick) look at the schedule in the main train station would expect to be able to quickly calculate where to go, i.e., whether his train is one, two, or three tracks away, with Track 1 (or Track A) being — needless to say — the first one built and thus the closest…

Not in places like Toulon or Saint Raphaël.
In the latter town, the first railway line is Track 1.
The second railway line is Track… A!
And the third railway line is Track 2!

Except that (just to make things a bit simpler) they go backwards: the main track (the one closest to the main part of the station) is not 1 but… 2, the second is A, and the third (the one furthest away) is 1.

(PS: Did we mention that the SNCF is run by the government?…)