All aboard for the “please-don’t-faint-on-the-train” express! Lisbon to Setúbal operator Fertagus has launched a bizarre campaign with the symbolic offering of yoghurts and fruit to early bird passengers, exhorting them to eat breakfast before embarking, so that ‘sudden illnesses’ like fainting from hunger do not hold everyone else up. The campaign reveals that in the first half of 2016, 46 “sudden illnesses” held up 51 trains for 209 minutes.
For every train stuck at a station as the ‘suddenly-taken-ill’ passenger is dealt with, others are stopped in the middle of their journeys, with thousands of people left ‘hanging about’ – some of them not comfortably seated, either.
“The crushing majority of these incidences happen during the early morning rush-hour,” Fertagus’ Raquel Santos explains.
And for this reason, a railway think-tank has come to the conclusion the episodes could coincide with ‘empty stomachs’: people who haven’t eaten breakfast and so become suddenly ill to the point of fainting, and holding up trains for a company that is yearning for punctuality.
Santos admits that “no one can be certain” that this is the reason behind the high incidence of early morning indispositions, but Público has done some research and heard from a union source at CP that there was once a case of a woman “feeling bad” on an early morning train, and once the driver shared his lunch with her, she perked up.
Thus, Fertagus’ message to its travellers: “Never start a journey on an empty stomach, carry a bottle of water with you, and in case of indisposition, please leave the train at the first upcoming station and ask for help there, instead of staying onboard.”
It is not clear whether travellers will find this last bit a tad self-serving, but at least they will be able to mull it over enjoying a free yoghurt.