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colliding with a bridge

May 18, 2019

I was at Victoria Station yesterday and an announcement came over the tannoy that a service had been cancelled because a train had ‘collided with a bridge’. Can anything collide with a bridge (except during an earthquake)? I was taught that a collision was when two moving objects came into contact, not when one moving object hit a stationary one.

But what else could the announcer have said? ‘A train crashed into a bridge’. ‘A train smashed into a bridge.’ These ways of putting it, though more accurate, sound rather emotive and violent and might have alarmed passengers. I can’t think of a neutral, official-sounding way of giving the information; so maybe collide, though not strictly accurate, was the best choice in terms of register.

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7 Comments
  1. I agree, the language used in public spaces sometimes does make me wonder about who is in charge. I blame the Tories to be honest, they have made so much cuts that your now seeing and hearing the side effects of delusions of grandeur.

    10 years of Conservative government is too much (2009-2019)! The Bankers robbed the British public and now trains collide with bridges! Stupidity at its best.

  2. Craig permalink

    How about “Bumped into a bridge”? Sounds childish but also quite amusing.

  3. yes, ‘bumped into’ would have been good.

  4. Mark Brafield permalink

    Returning, once again, to my son’s A Level Psychology revision, one experiment measured how witnesses assessed the speed of a car depending on the way in which a collision was described. If the interviewer asked the witness to assess the speed of the car when it ‘bumped’ into the other, the estimate was around 10mph less than when asked to assess the speed of the car when it ‘smashed’ into the other. So I suppose that saying that the train ‘collided’ with the bridge somehow spreads the blame around, which makes the train driver seem less stupid and / or dangerous to passengers.

    That would also be consistent with the remarkably large numbers of road traffic cases I have heard in court in which two stationary vehicles somehow managed to collide with one another or – better still – in which one stationary vehicle managed to jump out in front of the hapless claimant.

  5. John Dunn permalink

    Yes, but how does a train collide with/bump into a bridge in the first place? In most railway systems, even in the south-east of England, the tracks are carefully laid in such a way as to make this impossible. Was the train derailed? Had the bridge (or part of it) indeed moved? Was it the wrong sort of train (or even the wrong sort of bridge)? I think your tannoy announcer was remiss in not providing more information.

  6. I agree – it is rather a startling announcement and one would like to know more of the story.

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