I was preparing to return to Lucerne at around 7pm, knowing that it’ll be a one hour ride and a bit of a squeeze due to the fact that its rush hour. However, this was the sight that greeted me when I walked into Zurich HB:
I don’t exactly understand German, but a big red information board with a warning symbol replacing the departure schedules with my particular destination highlighted in red does not look good at all. And adding onto the confusion, my Lycamobile data ran out around the same time. I had to connect to the station WiFi and translate bit by bit of broken German into something legible.
A summary of what I got from the get go:
- Services are Lucerne station are suspended
- Cause: Derailment
- Starting: 22.3.2017 13:59
- Ending: Undetermined
The last one really sent me reeling. Ok… So now you have a derailment and you’ve shut down the station, so HOW am I supposed to go back? It turns out that the points on the blue background are instructions for alternative routes, which made no sense to me. So, off to the SBB information counter it is.
Similarly, my SBB mobile app had a large red notification posted on its travel alerts section, and it listed down which trains were canceled. The staff member however, advised me to return to Lucerne via the following route:
- Train from Zurich to Rotkreuz
- S1 from Rotkreuz to Ebikon
- Bus from Ebikon to Lucerne
Of course, it’s going to take way longer than I originally expected. But my woes didn’t end there.
I was advised that the next train to Rotkreuz is due to depart at Platform 4, so I went there and found a train waiting. The train started pulling away less than a minute after I hopped on, though I began to feel uneasy as it took a number of unfamiliar turns out of Zurich HB. I was like: “Wait a sec, this ain’t right.” The train was supposed to take a left turn into an underpass. Instead, it took a right and by that time I was like, wtf?
The first station it called at was the smoking gun. I wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near Zurich Wipkingen. It was the exact opposite direction that I wanted to go. Needless to say, I got off, got to the opposite platform and rode back to Zurich HB. This time around, I triple checked the destination of the train before I got on.
I only managed to get back to Lucerne at half past nine in the evening, courtesy of a delayed S1 train and staff confusion at Rotkreuz, and a full bus at Ebikon. However, I did some digging on the details regarding the derailment. Apparently, a Trenitalia train had derailed while on its way out of Lucerne, tearing down one of the caternaries in the process and tripping power to the whole station. Small wonder why they shut the station.
Since it was that late, I decided to go for McDonald’s as my dinner and get back to my hotel ASAP after that. However, even McDonald’s had a shocker of its own for me: they even charge for ketchup!
On my way back to the hotel, the bus passed over a bridge which was coincidentally overlooking the tracks leading to Lucerne station. I got a glimpse of the mangled wreck of the Trenitalia unit beneath and a team of SBB workers in fluorescent jumpsuits crowding around the site. Only by then did another hammer hit me: How am I supposed to get out from Lucerne to Geneva tomorrow if the station is still closed?