Rail Holiday

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Train Station, Saint-Charles, Marseille, France

Train Station, Saint-Charles, Marseille, France

How many stories? And where are they going?

How many stories have woven through old train stations like this one in Marseille, France? How many short journeys to work or school? How many romantic rendezvous, family holidays, trips to the beach, mountains, or abroad? How many of these stories have unexpectedly overlapped?

As they wait for their trains the passengers feel excitement, anxiety, stress, devotion, boredom, escape, duty, dread, relaxation, and relief. They all hear the departure boards’ rapidly turning letters spelling out destinations. They hear the chimes and the train announcements, scraps of conversations as people pass by, the rolling luggage, and the heavy train machinery. They smell mixed fragrances, sometimes worn in excess, sometimes a little too natural.

In countries where train travel is prevalent, like France, every kind of story includes some time within beautiful old halls like this. Fortunately, these stations were constructed with artisitry. Each station has unique architecture beyond what is required for functionality. When I look at this photograph I see a painting. A painting of a beautiful building with interesting people. Each person brings their own story and travels on their own journey, but shares experiences.

Where are they going? I have made up my own stories about some of the people in this photograph. My favorite is the woman in the burgundy dress, standing alone, facing away from the camera. I imagine that she is going to visit her daughter to help with her grandchildren. Maybe they live in a village nearby. She has no luggage or coat. It is a warm September morning and she looks at ease. Her story is probably filled with frequent train travel. She may not have a car. She may not need one, since public transportation is pervasive, comfortable, and reliable (well, except for the strikes).

Photo:  1/250 s at f/4

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