Montague Street Tunnel

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpchan/8539510406/

Spent the midnight shift with a Signals crew as they worked on an ancient but critical piece of subway infrastructure inside the Montague St Tunnel. In a 24/7 subway system, the overnights are prime time for repairs and maintenance.

Every twenty minutes, we’d have to climb out of the trackbed and flatten ourselves against the tunnel wall to let a train pass. For safety, the train operator would slow to 10 m.p.h. as he travelled through our work area. But even at a relative crawl, the feeling of a 600 foot subway train passing inches from you is intimidating no matter what the speed.

The Signals crew worked as fast as they could between the trains, but sometimes a train would have to stop and wait a few minutes for them to finish up and clear themselves to safety. I’ve been on many a train in the wee hours that seemed to stop and/or lurch for no apparent reason. It’s a frustrating feeling that makes a long ride home feel that much longer, especially when you’re tried.

But now that I’ve literally been on the other side of that train, I think I’ll have a lot more patience next time I’m on a slow subway. And instead of being frustrated, I’ll think about those guys working just inches away and hope that they’ve all cleared up to safety.